Beaufort Society Annual Meeting 2019
On Saturday 19 October, as the Boston Ivy shone red on New Court, St John’s welcomed members of the Beaufort Society for their annual meeting in College.
This community of friends and Johnians gathered together to enjoy a memorable day in College, which included welcome drinks in the Old Divinity School, formal lunch in Hall, a choice of afternoon activities and tea in the Senior Combination Room.
Of course, this year’s event was held under extremely sad circumstances, following the passing of our late Master, Professor Sir Christopher Dobson, who was a Beaufort member. We also missed the Society’s President, Professor Peter Hennessy, who was unable to attend due to health reasons, and both were in everyone’s thoughts throughout the day’s festivities.
The Vice-Master, Professor Tim Whitmarsh, kindly stepped in at the last minute to host the day and welcome everyone back to John’s. Professor Whitmarsh spoke about the tremendous impact that bequests have on the College and took the opportunity to thank the Beaufort Society for their current and future support of our great College.
The theme that encompassed this year’s festivities was ‘sustainability’, and the Rev’d Canon Mark Oakley, who was appointed Dean in 2018, entertained everyone with his superbly witty and motivational lunchtime speech touching on this subject. His closing words uplifted us all in looking to a more sustainable future:
‘You might think that an eminent and historical College such as this places loyalty to the past high on its agenda. It does. But not at the top. At the top is loyalty to the future. On this 10th anniversary of the Beaufort Society I want to thank you for being part of that adventure of being loyal to the future — of humanity and of the world it will either embrace or destroy. It gives us hope; a hope similar to Martin Luther’s when he said that even if he knew the world would end tomorrow he would still plant his little apple tree. I have seen it already and I am proud to say it: this college provides rich soil for the saplings.’
The programme of afternoon activities also highlighted how College members are using their expertise to help the environment. Professor Erwin Reisner discussed his research on how sustainable fuels and chemicals can be produced from water, air and polymeric waste such as biomass and plastics using sunlight as the energy in a post-fossil era. Dr Joana Meier (the College’s William Bateson Fellow, a research fellowship funded through a legacy from the late Derek Austen) also presented new insights on evolution and sustainability from her work on cichlid fish and butterflies. In an age of global warming, understanding factors that increase biodiversity and allow adaptation to changing conditions is of high importance. Both talks were recorded and are available to listen online.
The third activity was the ever popular ‘behind the kitchen screens’ tour with Bill Brogan, Catering Manager, who showed how his team are exploring ways to reduce their environmental impact and improve sustainability while feeding students, staff, Fellows and guests throughout the year. Highlights included talking about the sourcing of sustainable wines and olive oil, how they are promoting College branded reusable hot drink cups, and condiment packets made of seaweed!
Since Lady Margaret Beaufort’s founding bequest, St John’s has enjoyed a long tradition of recognising its benefactors, whose support has allowed the College to flourish over the last five centuries. The Beaufort Society was established in 2009, in honour of our foundress, to show gratitude for the enormous contribution made by those kind-hearted individuals who have promised a gift to the College in their will.
If you are interested in more information about leaving a legacy to St John’s and joining the Beaufort Society, please email Emma Talibudeen or ring her on 01223 338605