Conservation of the past
Early on in my Fellowship, I heard that my colleagues from the National Portrait Gallery had been investigating an enigmatic painting of Lady Margaret Beaufort, held in the foyer of the Master’s Lodge. They thought it could be associated with the Netherlandish artist Meynnart Wewyck from the sixteenth-century, which happens to be my period of expertise (medieval and early modern art).
Financing from the Annual Fund allowed the cleaning, conservation treatment and new technical analysis of the painting. The grant also acted as a cornerstone for further collaborative research on the portrait, confirming its artist and his culture.
Conservation of the past provides culture and enrichment to all of society but most especially to students on the verge of discovering so much more about the world. I am delighted to have had the opportunity to help re-establish something of such value to us and our College’s history.
Dr Andrew Chen, Research Fellow
Weightlifting for women
I was initiated into powerlifting when strength-training proved necessary for my rehabilitation following a knee operation. The weights section of the gym was male-dominated and admittedly intimidating. I found that lifting improved my physical power and also built my mental strength and emotional resilience. The perseverance and discipline lifting taught me even trickled into my studies.
In my final year I was excited to see St John’s finance an Annual Fund project where complimentary weightlifting instruction sessions for women were organised to create a more welcoming fitness community regardless of gender. Projects like these make me proud to be a Johnian. I will forever be grateful for the generous donors who allowed me to pursue both my degree and my sport.
Katerina Gkorila (2012), Medicine
Success in sports
We began 2016’s campaign as third on the river, and by the time we finally caught Caius and the Headship on our final day, there was only a quarter of the course left to go.
An integral part of our victory was the equipment we used. Through the Annual Fund we were able to invest in a top-of-the-range new VIII+ boat for M1 to row in. Two weeks before the Bumps, the additional financial support of the LMBCA meant we were able to purchase a new set of lighter oars for the M1 crew.
Having experienced first-hand the benefits that the Annual Fund bestows on the LMBC, I decided to take part in the College’s annual Telethon. I loved chatting with our alumni, especially those who live too far from Cambridge to make it down for dinners.
Hatem Sadik (2013), Medicine
All-female a cappella
St John’s has a very prestigious all-male choir. Even with the mixed choir [the St John’s Voices] now existing, it felt like most of the attention fell on male singing. It’s great to have Aquila as the College’s first all-female a cappella group to act as a counterbalance and give women a harbour to make music too. The fact that a system exists to fund these projects is just another reason why I love being at St John’s.
Elisabeth Gaberdiel (2016), Natural Sciences Physical
I love the friendship and enjoyment in the rehearsals. There’s a real sense of College community, with students singing alongside Fellows and staff. Aquila helped me get through my exams – it gave me a break from studying and a space where I could focus on the music and relax. I’m grateful that the Annual Fund supports projects like this; becoming a member of Aquila has radically enriched my time in College.
Käthe-Marie White (2016), Engineering
The hidden costs of rugby
The Redboys have a reputation as the best rugby team among the Cambridge colleges, and most of that success is owed to the amazing facilities that St John’s provides the team. Despite the perceived simplicity of the sport, there are many hidden costs associated with training equipment and team kits. Having the financial backing of the College for a new scrum machine or team kit allows students to have fun and enjoy the sport rather than stressing about the costs of playing. Experiencing the benefits of the Annual Fund first-hand inspired me to be a caller for the summer Telethon, so I could help other students benefit in the same way I did.
Judah Aiyenuro (2015), Engineering
Live-streaming the Chapel
In 2015 I joined St John’s as a Research Associate. I sought a college that had social action in its bones and a history of making real change in society. Together with my colleague Dr Amy Ludlow, I founded and direct Learning Together, an initiative that provides opportunities for students from higher education and criminal justice institutions to study together. Prisons and universities both want to be individually transformative for a broader social good, and we know from research that access to higher education corresponds with increased social mobility and reduced levels of reoffending.
We support a student initiative called Sing Inside; Cambridge choristers go into prisons to run workshops and perform concerts. I applied to the Annual Fund to think about using technology to make our Chapel more accessible to those who cannot come to College and worship with us – people in prisons, yes, but in time perhaps also people in care homes or those physically far away.
Equipping the chapel for live streaming will open our community spaces to parts of our society that are isolated and reinforce the inclusive, independent and leading nature of St John’s College. The Annual Fund supported the first step in what we hope will be an ongoing programme. There is power in bringing together different voices to learn together and join forces to create something beautiful. It reminds us that we are all part of the same community, and we can do more when we work together.
Dr Ruth Armstrong, College Research Associate