Oxford University Society East Kent Branch

The East Kent Branch organises several events each year, including a spring lunch, a summer garden party, the AGM and a pre-Christmas lunch, as well as an outing to Oxford if there is something going on that appeals to members. Often we have informal talks on these occasions, given by members. These are mostly daytime events, normally on a Saturday or Sunday.
Many of these events support our student grant scheme.
On Saturday 22nd July we hope to return to the Walpole Bay Hotel for a strawberry cream tea – watch this space!

 Our member Sir John Mummery, Pembroke 1960, a former Lord Justice of Appeal, gave a talk with the title “Decisions in Public Affairs”. He is troubled by the way that some big decisions relating to the public sector have been taken in this country and thinks it is a subject worth examination and discussion. The talk was largely a series of witty, but relevant, anecdotes, starting from decisions taken in his own life before proceeding to higher matters. Fascinating and illuminating.

The talk was held on Saturday 29th April at 11.30 am in St. Dunstan’s Church Hall, a new venue for us, which proved most convenient – we shall bear it in mind for future events.

Our AGM was held at the King’s School, St Augustine’s library undercroft, on Sunday 1st October.
Full minutes will be added later, but two items of business need special mention:
Following the collapse of the West Kent branch, some of their former members have asked if they could cooperate with us in some way – our wise President suggested a straw poll to see what EKB members present thought about this, the result of which was that full merger and total rejection were both ruled out in favour of a very gradual approach. This will be further discussed by the committee.
And the committee will be strengthened by the addition of Li Zhoa and David Hornsby.
Afterwards we had presentations from three those who have received grants, Apollon Alexopoulos telling us about his research into HIV vaccines; Alice Scharmeli recounting experience as a medical volunteer at a refugee camp on Lesbos; and a video sent by Jenny Evans setting the background for her studies at the Sorbonne.
This year we had a finger buffet lunch, in the first instance in order to save costs, but which turned out to be a welcome improvement, allowing members and guests to circulate freely.
And, miracle of miracles, Jayne, our Hon Secretary, out of hospital and seemingly well on her way to recovery, was able to be with us!
On July 30th we took tea at the Walpole Bay Hotel in Cliftonville: a long-awaited get together –  traditional strawberry cream tea in atmospheric surroundings. Jane, the proprietor, gave a delightful presentation on how the hotel became what it is today, with its vintage atmosphere, including its own museum with an astonishing array of artefacts, even a table napkin with a sketch by Tracy Emin.
Nigel Beevor writes:
“On 2 April eight members of the branch met at Rochester Cathedral for a tour of the Cathedral, organised by Nigel and Sheila Beevor. The numbers applying were disappointing, this was a side-effect of the lockdown due to the pandemic, which had discouraged outdoor visits. The Cathedral was the second English Cathedral, having been started in the 7th/8th century. The main parts were built in the late 11th and early 12th centuries. Stone from Normandy was used, as at Canterbury. The interior gave a feeling of great spaciousness. We had a good guided tour, followed by refreshments in the crypt, which is beautifully illuminated. “

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting on Saturday 2nd October 2021, held at the St Augustine’s undercroft at the King’s School Canterbury, with around 40 members and their guests present.

The President took the Chair. The Chairman, Deputy Chairman and Treasurer were present. The Secretary was not present as she had been taken to hospital the previous day. About 30 members of the Branch were present. Apologies for absence had been received from 25 members.

The minutes of the AGM for 2020 were approved. The Treasurer presented the accounts for the year to 31 August 2021, which were approved. He asked that members ensured that they correctly address their cheques to East Kent Branch Oxford University Society. The following members of the Committee were re-elected, Dr Patrick Wheeler, Mrs Diane Worth, Mr Andrew Joynes and Dr Mark Fernando.

The Chairman, Mr Peter Morgan presented his report. He thanked members of the Committee for their work in a difficult period, caused by the pandemic. He drew attention to Jayne’s unwavering commitment to the Society, even when in poor health, and he spoke for all present in wishing her a full and speedy recovery.

He reported that the Branch had staged two events, one a talk by Zoom by Hubert Pragnell on JMW Turner and the second was a summer party at Eastry Court, the President’s home. He expressed his gratitude to the Freuds for opening their garden for the event and for declining reimbursement for the excellent lunch, which had benefitted the Branch’s accounts. He said we had been worried that, because of the pandemic, no requests for grants would be made but this was not so. He raised the idea of a merger with the West Kent Branch, which the Committee had discussed and had shown a lack of enthusiasm, because of the size and shape of the county and West Kent has no grant scheme. He asked the meeting for views. The feeling was that we should co-operate in discussions but not merge with West Kent, as their ideas are rather different from ours. He added that West Kent did organise a successful Zoom meting for Freshers. He added that we would announce a social event for the New Year and, possibly a Zoom meeting before Christmas. The President reported that the Branch had made four grants in 2020/21 despite the pandemic and we would hear shortly from two grantees.

Peter Berg reported on the Branch’s web-site. He emphasised that he would welcome more contributions from members who attend events.

The President asked if anyone had other business to raise. There being no point raised the President declared the AGM closed.

Diane Worth then reported that the Branch had made four grants in the year.

  1. To Bartol Sikora at St.John’s, reading engineering Science. He wanted to take up an internship at Imperial College, London, working on the design of various nano-structures to be used as drug delivery systems, to help with encoding DNA strands.
  2. Nicole Szekeres-Tappat at University College, reading bio-chemistry. She wanted to stay in Oxford for 6 weeks to take up a placement in Professor Peter McHugh’s laboratory, which focuses on genome integrity and DNA damage and repair.
  3. Cara Fuller at St.Catherine’s College, reading bio medical sciences (neuroscience). She wanted to stay in Oxford during the long vac to extend her work in Professor Trevor Hugh’s laboratory, researching neuro psychopharmacology with a particular interest in serotonin and the effect of anti-depressant drugs. This research aims to delve deeper into the neurochemistry of depression.
  4. Alice Scharmeli at Wadham, reading medicine. She wanted to volunteer with Medical Volunteers International on Lesvos, Greece as part of the medical team. She is a 4th year medical student and has been working with medical teams in hospital helping with Covid patients. She wants to work in disease control and has a long standing interest in public health and health inequalities.

Cara Fuller spoke on Glutamate and its role in the neurochemistry of depression.  Nicole Szekeres-Tapp spoke on synthetic biology, involving venoms and toxins and intermediate bacteria.

Both talks were warmly applauded by all present.

In closing the meeting the President spoke for all those attending in saying what a talented lot of undergraduates we had been fortunate to support.

The meeting was closed at 1.20pm

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