News and Events at St Cuthbert's Society

Cuth’s celebrates 50 Years of Women Students

This year is the 50th anniversary of the admission of women student to the Society in 1969. We were the first Durham college to go mixed, three years before Oxbridge. We are celebrating in a variety of ways, and would be delighted to receive memories and photographs for the Chronicle and the website.

Inspiring Women at Formals

Inspiring Women are being invited to give short talks at the beginning of every Formal this year. Among the speakers so far we have had Laura Barker, Development Manager at St Cuthbert’s Hospice; Dr Fiona Gameson, Fellow and SCR member who has been blind since the age of three; Professor Charlotte Clarke, the new Executive Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health, who described her remarkable journey from sixteen-year-old school leaver to distinguished professor specialising in social care policies, dementia and health inequalities; and former JCR President Cat May on her experiences as a social worker in London, and why she enjoys her demanding work so much.

Celebration Drinks in London

It isn't often that forty alumni from six decades gather together! On 23 November 2019 an afternoon reception was held at the Whitechapel Gallery to celebrate the admission of female students in 1969. Stories were shared, memories rekindled, photographs identified, and a great time was had by all. Guests included four female JCR presidents past and present (seen here with the Principal), one of the first women students, and the 1969 JCR President with his daughter who also came to Cuth’s. At least one man present initially voted against the admission of women, but later married one. Half of the current students in the Society are now women, and there have been five female Presidents in the last eight years, two of whom went on to be Student Union Presidents.

Annual Fellows’ Lecture

Elspeth Talbot Rice QC (Elspeth Lindsley, Law 1986-1989) gave a witty and incisive talk on 29 November about legal definitions and controversial cases which have gone as far as the Supreme Court: Is a whale a fish? Is a flapjack a cereal bar for VAT purposes? Do you own your own limbs? Joan and John Norton (Principal in Elspeth’s time at Cuth’s) were among the fascinated audience of Fellows, SCR members, students, and members of the wider Durham community. Over lunch next day the Nortons reminisced with Elspeth and Robert (Robert Talbot Rice, Philosophy and Politics 1987-90) about Boat Club triumphs and other highlights of their years in Durham.

Staff News

In 2019 we were shocked by the unexpected deaths of two highly valued members of staff. Wayne Turfrey was the evening porter and a key figure for many generations of students; he could be both stern and supportive according to the situation. We applaud the Boat Club’s decision to name a boat after Wayne; his family will be invited to attend the launch in early February. Mandy Patterson was for fifteen years the Society’s housekeeper, and was particularly helpful to students living at Parson’s Field where she was based. We hope to have memorial benches with plaques commemorating Wayne and Mandy, one on each site.


Our staff have had a challenging six months with extensive building work on the Bailey, so we were delighted that the hard-working Housekeeping Team won the Best Team award at the Operations Directorate’s recent Celebration and Recognition evening. Two members of the team were also individually nominated for awards, as was our wonderful chef Marc Reavley.

IAS Fellow and Artist in Residence

It has been a pleasure having geologist Dr El Abdullayev, from the French- Azerbaijani University in Baku, living in college during Michaelmas Term while working on an Institute of Advanced Study project on the anti-bacterial properties of clay. He has enjoyed Durham so much that he hopes to come back as a post-doc in the near future. You can read more about him in the next issue of the Chronicle.

This term our Artist in Residence will be filmmaker Paul Sng; a possible project is a film about women students at Cuth’s made in collaboration with students, as part of our 50th anniversary celebrations.

Upcoming Events

St Cuthbert’s Boat Club Ceilidh and Boat Naming ceremony:
1 and 2 February

Thanks to the generosity of Cuth’s alumni £3300 was raised for SCSBC and I am delighted to announce that over the summer the Boat Club were able to purchase a new 1st VIII for the Men’s and Women’s Squads. The remainder of the funds will be put towards a new coxed four/quad with the aim of a making a purchase within the 2019/20 season. The new boat is a 2012 Resolute 8+; an American brand which is very popular among the US collegiate rowing programs. We have decided to name the new boat ‘Wayne Turfrey’ - this was suggested by members past and present and is a lovely acknowledgement to someone we all knew very well.
The boat naming ceremony will be 12noon, Sunday 2 February at Cuth’s Boat House. All are welcome.

The annual Boat Club Ceilidh is taking place on the evening of Saturday 1 February at the Durham Masonic Hall (drinks at 6.30pm) and alumni who would like to attend the Ceilidh can do so by contacting Giles Matthews. This is also the weekend of Durham Small Boats Head in which some of our crews will be racing.

Alumni Reunion Weekend – Save the date

The proposed dates for the Alumni Weekend are 11-13 September 2020, more information to follow as soon as possible.

Summer Events

Alumni are very welcome at the Principal’s Garden Party, which will be held on the afternoon of Sunday 14 June. There will be a variety of events in the following week, including an Arts Formal to celebrate student music and drama and culminating in Cuth’s Day on Saturday 20 June.

St Cuthbert's Society Bursaries

Thanks to the generous support of our alumni community, we were able to award the first set of St Cuthbert's Society Bursaries for this academic year. These bursaries provide up to £1500 in support for students. Look out for reports in Cuthbert's Chronicle.

Cuthbert’s Chronicle

The next edition of Cuthbert’s Chronicle will be out at the beginning of February.

Become a JCR Trustee

If you feel that you have the skills to support and assist the JCR in achieving its charitable aims, please consider applying to be a Trustee. The JCR are currently looking for candidates with a wide range of skill sets to join the Board, particularly those with financial and student welfare experience. Applications are being taken on a rolling basis. For more information, including how to apply, please email:

St Cuthbert's Society
12 South Bailey

+44 (0) 191 334 3400