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Donor Day 2023

Posted on Jun 20

2 min read

Fundraising Events & News

On Sunday 21 May, recent donors to the College gathered for our annual Donor Day. The Central Hall of the Old Divinity School was quickly bustling once again as guests arrived to enjoy champagne and elderflower pressé. As in previous years, everyone was delighted to have another day of beautiful weather, which allowed guests to enjoy mingling outside in Corfield Court as well.

The group strolled through the Great Gate and First Court to gather in Hall for lunch. Soon after arriving, all eyes were fixed on the balcony as the St John’s Voices choir majestically sang grace. If you’d like to hear it again, the choir recently recorded the song they sang, ‘Angel Vopiyashe (The Angel cried out)’, by Pavel Chesnokov (1877–1944), and you can listen on Spotify.

As usual, the St John’s Catering Team provided an exceptionally delicious meal (with a handful of guests remarking that it was the best beef fillet they’d ever had!), and Hall was abuzz with new friendships being made and many enjoyable recollections of life in College.

As guests enjoyed coffee and truffles, the Master welcomed everyone and provided many examples of St John’s students whose funding has helped them to flourish in both their academic and extra-curricular endeavours. Then one of those students, Teodor Grama (2020, Human, Social, and Political Sciences), spoke about his experience at St John’s and how he’s been impacted by the generosity of donors. Originally from Romania, he has been heavily involved in participating in and coaching the debating communities there and in the UK during his time at Cambridge. College funding has made a world of difference for him:

That is the gift you have bestowed upon me and others like me – the gift of spending these golden years of our lives, when we should be most at ease and eager to explore the world and ourselves, academically and otherwise, in a state of freedom. Freedom from want, freedom from anxiety, freedom from worry, freedom from fear. Freedom to pursue our passions and ensure that the time we spend here is well-spent and not wasted.

Teodor Grama

After lunch the group gathered in the Main Lecture Theatre of the Old Divinity School to hear from Professor Usha Goswami, a College Fellow and a leading researcher in Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience. She delivered a fascinating lecture on ‘Dyslexia, Rhythm, Language and the Developing Brain’, and drawing on her expansive knowledge, she answered several questions from the audience. An audio recording of Professor Goswami delivering a similar talk for St John’s 2023 Linacre Lecture is available here, or if you’d like to view her lecture with the accompanying slides at a recent University of Surrey event, you can do so here.

Taking full advantage of the lovely weather, the group then migrated to the Backs for Afternoon Tea. It was the first time that the Donor Day Tea has taken place there, and it was a beautiful setting for the final part of the event. The Catering Team provided tea, coffee, brownies and Victoria sponge cakes as some guests relaxed in chairs under the riverside trees, reminiscing of their courting days as students, and others stood chatting in clusters around the paddock. When the event drew to a close, some visited the new Buttery, Bar and Café, and others stayed for the organ recital and Evensong service in Chapel.

If you’d like to view the full gallery of photos from Donor Day, please visit the photos section of Johnian Hub. To those who joined us for Donor Day 2023, it was wonderful welcoming you back to College! And to all of you who have donated to St John’s, we look forward to our next opportunity to thank you in person for your generosity.

All photography by Ben Minnaar at