Donors’ Festive Tea 2022
In December, donors gathered in College for a winter-themed tea and entertainment-filled afternoon. The towering Christmas tree in Hall made the venue even more stunning and inviting than usual!
The Catering Team prepared a fantastic feast including the famous St John’s sausage rolls, pigs in blankets, cranberry and brie tartlets, mince pies, stollen bites and brownies alongside mulled wine, hot chocolate, tea and coffee. Guests enjoyed mingling with one another and getting to know the many students who would be performing later in the day. They also received a small token of our thanks – a bespoke wooden St John’s ornament.
To conclude the time in Hall, the Master thanked guests for their kindness and generosity in supporting the College. She shared moving stories about several exceptional St John’s students who have benefited from College funding – evidence that your generous donations are changing individual lives and opening doors that would not be possible otherwise.
Afterward the group split up for sessions in either the Main Lecture Theatre in the Old Divinity School or the Combination Room. In the Lecture Theatre, guests enjoyed the Gents of St John’s Choir in an opening set of traditional Christmas carols. Their red choir scarves could not have been more fitting for the occasion, and their vocal talent astounded the audience. The session also included entertaining poetry readings (including originals) by Brodie Kane (2020), Saffron Retter (2021) and Oliver Cooney (2021), outstanding solo performances by oboist Jenny Ryan (2021) and pianist Daniel Liu (2021), and original songs by up-and-coming singer-songwriter Alice Markham (2022) … find her on Spotify – you’ll be amazed!
It was dusk as the other guests entered the historical Combination Room, and as darkness fell outside, abundant candlelight added to the magical atmosphere. Vocal group Aquila – comprised of female St John’s staff, students and Fellows, and directed by George Herbert (2019) – kicked off the session with original arrangements of some beloved songs. Guests were also treated to incredible violin solos by Yao-Chih Kuo (2019) and Emily Trubshaw (2019), and a selection of original poetry read by the College’s wonderful Writer in Residence, Vona Groarke. Jasper Cresdee-Hyde (2019), an MPhil student who has been steeped in the performing arts during all of his years at St John’s, concluded the session with a dramatic reading from the Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol.
The Donors’ Festive Tea was one final opportunity of 2022 to thank the College’s donors again for their generosity. They impacted the College as a whole and enhanced the lives and opportunities of hundreds of students over the course of the year. We hope the tea and the display of exceptional Johnian talent communicated our deep gratitude!
Photography by Ben Minnaar at www.benminnaarphotography.com