73 of us sat down for the usual sumptuous lunch at Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant on 26 February, having overcome the challenge of parking in Padstow on a sunny Bank Holiday weekend. Our speaker was deemed to be one of the best ever, helped for the first time by having a fully functioning sound system.
Four more events have been planned and probably one or two more will be added by your Committee next month:
Visit to Kresen Kernow in Redruth on Saturday 21 May
21 people have booked and there may be space for a few more on a first come, first served basis. The details are being worked on.
The Sixteen Concert at Truro Cathedral on Friday 10 June
Normally close to 40 people enjoy this annual event, but so far I only have 13 bookings. Not only may that prove to be unlucky, but soon I will have to relinquish the additional seats which are being held for us. If you are a Sixteen enthusiast, please get back to me right away. Please note that although our seats are near the front, they are not the usual front-row seats we have enjoyed in the past.
The Antony Lunch on Thursday 30 June
This is our annual fundraiser for the Bursary Fund and the outreach work we do to encourage bright Cornish students to consider applying to Oxford. There is no charge for this always enjoyable crab and fish lunch, all paid for by Andrew Willoughby and prepared by him and his family. The Halfway Harmony singers will be there to entertain us and to lend to the atmosphere. Don’t miss this!
Lunch and Speakers at Trelissick in November
This annual event is still in the planning stage – more news later.
The Committee is delighted to confirm that Oxford now has a fully-fledged Cornwall Society for current students. It has 14 members and a similar number planning to enrol. It has already hosted two pasty suppers, the first preceded by a guided walk around the city. The Society has been developed following a suggestion by Andrew Willoughby at his lunch last year and has been actively encouraged by him since. It is hoped that a formal dinner can be arranged for the summer term, perhaps featuring Cornish food and drink.
This Society provides the missing link between our outreach work in Cornish schools, the Bursary scheme for current students and our Society for alumni.
Please consult your diaries and let me know which events you would like to attend.
With best wishes
Richard Cockram Secretary
Another delicious lunch was enjoyed by 31 members and guests in Andrew Willoughby’s garden in August. Early rain cleared in time for lunch, which we enjoyed to the singing of Halfway Harmony, the folk-singing section of a local male voice choir. Fenella told us about the current bursary holders and one, Alex Midlen, explained his plans to visit Kenya as part of his DPhil. Huge thanks to Andrew and his family for all their hard work in laying on the whole occasion. So far we have raised nearly £1500 for the Bursary Fund, including donations from members who were unable to attend.
The University has cancelled Medical Electives this year, but is going ahead with Internships and we are offering our bursaries as usual in the hope that some projects will be able to go ahead during the long vacation.
I’m sure you are aware that Oxford has been awarded £100 million by Ineos to create an institute that will research ways to deal with the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. This donation will be used immediately for research rather than being invested in a new building. Instead, the institute will be based in a building already under construction, close to the laboratory where Ernest Chain and Howard Flovey helped to develop penicillin, research which led to them sharing the Nobel Prize with Alexander Fleming. Last week The Times reported that our tireless Oxford scientists are planning the Principle trial of Covid treatments, aimed at finding medicines that could be used at home in developing countries during the earliest stages of infection in order to prevent severe illness. A particular medicine – ivermectin – has been hailed as a Covid ‘wonder drug’, but no proper trials have been arranged to date. Chris Butler, professor of primary care at Oxford, is co-chief of the Principle trial and volunteers are being recruited.
We will let you have further news of events as restrictions are eased and we very much hope that we will be able to resume something like normal service as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, keep safe.
With best wishes
16th December 2020
There has been little to tell you about forthcoming events, except to inform you that they have been cancelled. However, now that it seems highly likely that next year will be a mirror image of this one, with circumstances improving rather than deteriorating, your Committee will soon be able to start reinstating some of the plans which fell by the wayside this year. Indeed, I have been in touch with The Seafood Restaurant and we have already booked 26 February 2022 for our next flagship lunch, having had to postpone next year’s event.
On the assumption that the virus will largely be brought under control by around Easter, we are hopeful that we will be able to award our usual long vacation bursaries to Cornish undergraduates next year. As you know, our Medical Elective candidate was hijacked by the NHS and had to cancel his plans to travel to Malta, while two other bursary recipients were forced to postpone their plans. We remain committed to support those two students if and when they are able to take up their projects. Medical Electives will not take place in 2021.
The Group’s finances remain strong, in spite of our main fundraising event, Andrew Willoughby’s fish and crab lunch in Antony, having to be cancelled. No fewer than four members have made three-digit financial contributions to our Bursary Fund since our financial year started in June, while many more have added smaller amounts to their annual membership payments or made one-off donations. Many thanks to you all! In the past six months the Fund has grown by a total of £940, putting us into a strong position to extend our student support back to the schools. We have established an Outreach Group to help determine how best to encourage talented sixth-form students to try for Oxford. Members of this Group have typically established relations with the Oxbridge lead at a local school and offered their support in a variety of ways – if you would like to join the Group to exchange ideas and experiences, please let me know.
As well as applying our own funds to support and encourage Cornish students to consider Oxford, our relationship with Exeter College, which is responsible to the University for attracting applications from West Country schools, has been much enhanced by the generosity of Rick Stein and his restaurant group. In spite of inevitably being adversely affected by the hospitality restraints, Rick has reaffirmed his commitment to donating £1,000 p.a. to Exeter for five years for the benefit of Cornish students and has recently made the third payment. As soon as circumstances permit, we will be working with Exeter to organise a coach to take suitable Cornish students to Oxford to see for themselves what it has to offer, completely free of charge.
It only remains for me to wish you and yours a very Happy Christmas and a progressively more positive New Year.
With my best wishes
RIP David Cornwell (Lincoln 1952)
27th November 2020
I expect that most of you fellow Oxonians will, like me, feel a small or even quite big, swell of pride that it is our alma mater that has produced in record time what promises to be a world-healing vaccine. This may not be the first to the finishing line, or should that be the start line, but it is still a wonderful performance and the researchers involved deserve great credit and huge thanks. Unlike the developers of the two earlier vaccines, neither Oxford nor partners AstraZeneca will make any profit from the initial worldwide roll-out of their product. Again, they deserve great credit for this. As a sop to the ‘other place’ in the damp fens I note that the AstraZeneca HQ is in Cambridge. Credit for that perhaps?
Anyway, this wonderful news has prompted me to undertake a first, a brief Chairman’s message to all Branch members here in Cornwall. I wish I could call it a “newsletter” but there is so little else to say. Our Committee is already beginning to stir again and is optimistic that it will be possible to resuscitate a worthwhile programme of events for the second half of 2021. Our first thought will be to try to carry forward much of what was planned for this year. We are also looking at ways of strengthening and perhaps widening our support for students from Cornwall who are either up at Oxford or considering applying to enter. Branch finances are reasonably healthy, but obviously in terms of both finance and human resources we cannot afford to stretch ourselves too widely. One idea is to work with two or three secondary schools with which we already have contacts to see whether the donation of a laptop to bright pupils who cannot afford to buy one would be helpful.
Our hard-working Secretary/Treasurer, Richard Cockram, to whom we all owe many thanks, will be keeping us all up to date in the coming months. I also invite anyone who has ideas or comments on any existing, or possible future, Branch activity to contact either Richard or myself.
I hope we will all be able to meet up again before too long since fellowship is an important function of the Society. Meanwhile, stay safe and we should all keep our minds as active as possible. A dog helps enormously to keep our bodies active. Well, mine does!
With thanks for your continued participation with the Branch and my personal best wishes.
Yours ever, Jeremy Varcoe
We have been populating our new website with news of the amazing work being carried out in Oxford into developing new Covid-19 tests and identifying a vaccine. To access the website, google Oxford Alumni Groups and click on UK and South of England.
With best wishes to you and yours in this extraordinary time.
Our Group is now officially known as OUS Cornwall and this is the name that should be used on all cheques and bank transfers please. Lloyds Bank has informed me that any deviation from that may result in delays or cancellation of payments in the future. If you have a Standing Order, please make sure the recipient is OUS Cornwall and not any variation.
Attendance at Events
Please note that partners of members are more than welcome to attend all our events, as are friends when availability allows.