During my time at university, Dave the Chef was the heart of St Anselm Hall. One of my first memories of Slems is of him standing near the dining hall entrance, greeting students and staff alike with a smile and word before meals, as he did most nights. His disposition was indiscriminately warm, and it was visible he was universally liked for it. When I found myself wandering back to hall at sunrise after a long night of drink and dance, I sometimes joined Dave on his bench outside Slems, chatting and laughing over a smoke. This openness, humour and the effort he so clearly put into all his contributions towards community life made him a core figure in Slems.
Every time I returned to formal dinners at Slems after having moved out, Dave made me feel like his guest. Shaking his head and waving me through when I first asked to purchase a meal ticket, he refused to let me buy one, saying 'there's only so much damage you can do' with a wink. His generosity left a lasting impression on me, as it did on countless others; Dave was a welcoming, safe and kind presence through and through. I can earnestly say that university life would not have been the same without Dave and that he will always be one of my most positive memories of living in halls of residence. When visiting, he was always among the people I looked forward to seeing again.
I was thus extremely saddened when I learned that Dave had passed away after a brief illness in late April 2021. Having read the news, I called Dan [Jones, 2017-21] to see if he had, and after a pause he responded, solemnly, 'what a loss'. We talked about how much we regretted that incoming Slems students would not have the privilege to meet Dave. Quickly, from that regret, came an idea. Dave should be memorialised at Slems because he deserved to be as much a part of his present as he had been a pillar of its past. There were a number of benches at Slems, including the ones where Dave liked to sit, but no picnic tables; this simply made sense, as a dedication to a chef would welcome any and all to sit at his table.
Things moved forward quickly. After contacting Father Hugh Bearn - who graciously offered his assistance in acquiring permissions and organising a dedication ceremony for Dave's family and loved ones - we did our research and decided on a beautiful, high-quality oak table. The paved courtyard seemed perfect, as one would be able to see it when walking through the dining hall entrance. With all the details coming together, I drafted up the bid for donations and created an account on GoFundMe. By early June, the fundraiser was up and running and we began to raise funds for Dave's memorial.
The response we received while raising funds was incredible. Two days after the fundraiser's launch, over half the picnic table's cost had already been covered. Slems alumni from various generations reached out to offer their support, sharing the fundraiser page with their contacts and assisting in the bid for donations. The number of people who contacted me stories about Dave and offers of help is testament to the profound mark he left on the Slems community. After a final call for donations, a few generous contributions pushed us to and even beyond the set goal of £1,100. Within nine days, we had raised £1,250 thanks to our 39 donors and the many more who spread the news of our fundraiser.
Shortly after raising the funds, we placed the order for Dave's table a dedication plaque. It was manufactured in time to be installed for the start of the academic year, and on 30th October 2021, the Slems JCR and Fr Hugh coordinated a dedication ceremony with the excess funds raised. It was lovely to see Dave's family, colleagues and friends come together on a warm autumn day to remember him. His granddaughter Sophie brought with her a beautiful bouquet of leaves which she lovingly decorated the table with. With a touching speech from Fr Hugh followed by refreshments organised by Esperanza [Hughes-Salinas, 2018-22], the afternoon was a wonderful celebration of Dave and all he gave to St Anselm Hall.
We would like to, once again, thank all who supported us in commemorating Dave Lindsay, our Slems chef.
Sophia Steel, 2017-18