On 8th July, Anselmians from across the ages gathered for the annual Association Summer Reunion. After the Annual General Meeting, tea was enjoyed in the Open JCR (weather not permitting the quadrangle to be used). Like much of St Anselm Hall itself, the weather in Manchester was wonderfully familiar. This may have dampened what little remaining hair was in evidence but certainly did not dampen the spirits.
We welcomed the Rector of Newton Heath, the Revd. Andrew Wickens, to the Hall as he deputised for the Revd. Daniel Valentine who was away on official business. Andrew presided at Evensong and offered grace ahead of the meal. Whilst not his first visit, Andrew was highly complimentary of the ethos, the atmosphere and the value of St Anselm Hall.
At the dinner, Jon Boddy, as Chair of the Association, proposed the toast to St Anselm Hall, and spoke of the enduring value of Slems down the years and, in unleashing his inner Joni Mitchell, referred to her line from the hit Big Yellow Taxi, “You don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.” Jon highlighted that whilst each year brings new students to Hall, the value of the community and all that it provides remains in place year on year. The fact that the community is run by St Anselm Hall students for St Anselm Hall students is a great strength and of great value. The Association is more involved in Hall than ever before and will continue to protect and support that community by whatever means it can.
It was a pleasure to welcome our keynote speaker and special guest Professor Sir Shakeel Qureshi, a true pioneer in his field of paediatric cardiology. Through his charity work with Chain of Hope, he has made a real impact and positive difference to many lives around the world.
Shak told of his journey as a child, coming from rural Pakistan to Rotherham in South Yorkshire. He spoke of how his parents set him on his career path and how, whilst at school, he led a pupil action against incompetent teaching that threatened to end his career as a surgeon before it had begun. He shared the story of becoming a major in the Pakistan army whilst establishing the first paediatric cardiology unit in Pakistan, and how he came to be awarded Pakistan’s highest civilian honour, despite his reputation as a troublemaker within the military. This troublemaking was even commented upon by General Musharraf, then the leader of Pakistan, at his award ceremony.
A theme throughout the story was his battles against the prejudice he encountered. However, his time at St Anselm Hall was personally uplifting and a revelation for him with its welcoming and inclusive culture. Shak told of his time as President of the JCR in the early seventies and how was the first person to welcome the newly arrived Tutor, Dr Arthur Mawby, to the Hall, giving him his first tour of the place - a real claim to fame!
Shak was knighted in the New Year Honours List in 2022 and continues to work at Guy's and St Thomas’ Hospital in London and for the charity Chain of Hope.
After the speech, Shak made two presentations to individuals who have done a great deal for the Hall. The first was to Avalon Roberts, winner of the Preston Scholarship, for outstanding contribution to Hall life. This year there were five high quality candidates for this award, all of whom made significant and positive contributions, however Avalon as President of the JCR was a worthy winner.
The second presentation was a farewell gift and thank you to Irene Del Mar Fariñas Lucas, a member of the ResLife team (tutor) based in Hall. Irene has been a very popular figure during her time with Slems and many students have benefitted from her encouragement and support. We wish her every good wish for her future travels.
Our senior member, Bill Halson, closed the proceedings at dinner with a rousing “Floreat Aula Sancti Anselmi,” a rallying cry for the ages!
An open bar in the Closed JCR formed the opportunity for longer catch ups to renew acquaintances, retell the tales of the Slems legends now in their Valhalla and of course the inevitable reminiscing… The older we get the wilder we were.
Thanks to Doug Henderson and Esperanza Hughes-Salinas for all their work in coordinating the dinner and also to Carolyn and her team for looking after us so well on the night.
Floreat Aula Sancti Anselmi