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Beaufort Society Annual Meeting 2020

Posted on Nov 16

2 min read

Beaufort Society Events & News

On Saturday 17 October, members of the Beaufort Society joined their first ever virtual meeting together. This event exists to thank those kind-hearted individuals who have promised a gift to St John’s through their will, and to keep them closely connected with the College community.

Although members could not be together in person, they were able to celebrate collectively online in place of the usual festivities at St John’s.

Heather Hancock’s welcome

The Master Heather Hancock gave her inaugural speech to the Society from the warmth of the Lodge to welcome everyone to the event. Heather acknowledged the commitment of the Society to the College, which is essential in times like these. She wishes St John’s to be renowned for its dedication to free places and the success of the Free Thinking campaign. It is critically important to Heather that young people with talent and ambition can realise their potential, free of crippling financial anxiety that might otherwise make them dismiss St John’s.

Heather emphasised resilience, and particularly how financial resilience is integral to wider access, academic excellence and world-leading research, while also ensuring an enriching life in College. The economic environment ahead and the shocks of the pandemic are stark reminders of the importance of the endowment – driven largely by centuries of legacy giving – in supporting every aspect of Johnian life and learning. She thanked the Beaufort Society for their support of the College, and she looks forward to meeting everyone face to face as soon as is possible.


After Heather’s speech, Society members enjoyed a beautiful, exclusive recording of Aïda Lahlou (2018), who is in her third year reading music at St John’s, performing the third movement of Bach’s Italian Concerto in College.

Guest lecture on creating health

Special guest speaker Lord Crisp (1970) read Philosophy at St John’s and was Chief Executive of the NHS and Permanent Secretary of the UK Department of Health from 2000 until 2006. He is now an independent crossbench member of the House of Lords, where he co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Health, and is a co-Chair of Nursing Now, the global campaign on nursing.

Nigel talked about his latest book Health Is Made at Home, Hospitals Are for Repairs, which demonstrates his radical research that implies health can be created; an important subject for everyone in the post-coronavirus world. Nigel celebrates people who are creating the conditions for society to be healthy, and he believes that there are clear roles for all of us in tackling the causes of health issues. You can find out more about Nigel’s research in the next issue of Johnian magazine, which will be mailed early December 2020.

President’s round-up

Lord Browne (1966) closed the event by speaking of his honour to be there, albeit virtually, and reinforcing the College’s reliance on legacies to continue to be that ‘beacon of enlightenment, open-mindedness and diversity, that St John’s stands for’.

He expressed his thanks to the Beaufort Society for their generosity, friendship and forward-looking philanthropy, and summed up their support by quoting the President of one of his other alma mater’s, Notre Dame University in the US: ‘the mark of a healthy society is a willingness to take risks for the education and wellbeing of its young.’

On that note, he made two toasts and invited everyone to raise their glasses (or mugs!) to the College and one another.

Hopefully next October we will be toasting with champagne together in College… Let us drink to that!