St Mary's College

St Mary’s College Society 2019 Annual Reunion

From Friday August the 30th to Sunday 1st of September over 100, following a tradition dating back to 1904, alumni of St Mary’s College gathered in St Mary’s. This reunion marks the beginning of a year of events that will celebrate the St Mary’s 100th year of being a college of the University of Durham. A decision in [University} Council in November 1919 conferred the then Women’s Hostel with college status and the name of ‘St Mary’s’ was subsequently chosen by the college to recognise its new standing.

The weekend began with a sparkling reception and hot buffet, as members representing all decades from the fifties to the present day mingled and formed new friendships, whilst old friends reminisced, before a quiz tested the grey matter of all! Alumni had travelled from far and wide, including one lady who had flown in from Australia.

On Saturday Marysites visited our old homes, the present-day Chorister School and Abbey House, which is the present day Theology Department. A large group enjoyed a fascinating tour of the school, seeing where Mary’s girls of old lived and studied, finding that student life really has more similarities from then to now than there are differences. In Abbey House all were treated to stories from the archives and a fascinating insight into the history of women students in Durham from Professor Dougie Davies.

After Lunch in college, the AGM of the Society was well attended and allowed the Society to highlight the many contributions it makes to current college life, from book funds and bursaries to organising an annual lecture in college. All agreed that alumni contributing to the current college community is a very good thing and the committee was renewed with elections for another year of hard work.

The centrepiece of the whole weekend, the Grand Reunion Dinner, followed a service in the College Chapel. In a resplendent hall and by the light of candelabras, 116 alumni, guests and college staff, including three former principals and the incoming principal, as well as former staff and the current JCR President, enjoyed a sparkling reception in their gowns, before taking their seats for a sumptuous meal. The Society were grateful to Professor Maggi Dawn, on the day before she became college principal, for giving a wonderful speech that showed the spirit of the college will be safe in her hands.

The evening continued with a lively set by the folk band ‘Skerne’, matched by an equally lively audience who danced along with enthusiasm that was a match for any freshers’ party. A memorable reunion was concluded with the traditional Sunday roast, at which the magnificent Mary’s catering staff were thanked for their contribution to a celebration that befitted the centenary it honoured.

We, the St Mary’s College Society Committee wish to thank all involved in making the weekend such a success, and invite all Mary’s alumni to join us in college next year. Watch out for the emails with dates and details in the near future.

St Mary’s College Society Committee

Development and Alumni Relations Office
The Palatine Centre
Stockton Road

0191 334 6305

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