A tour of the gardens between the showers

Dr Rachel Katz leads a watercolour session

Alumni from throughout Darwin’s history returned to the College over the weekend for a joyful celebration of our first 60 years and to look ahead to our future.

Over 400 people engaged with the weekend in some form, with 140 attendees at Saturday evening’s sold-out Family-friendly Formal, giving the children of Darwinians a taste of Cambridge tradition. In an extraordinary feat of efficiency, the catering team had no sooner completed the two-course sitting, than they were welcoming a further 120 diners for a three-course Celebration Dinner, as the sounds of the children’s gong-ringing still echoed in the air.

Friday night also saw a packed Dining Hall for dinner, preceded by fizz and canapes on the lawn accompanied by a string quartet. Though torrential rain did its best to drown out the music, while guests huddled under a series of hastily erected gazebos, the Master valiantly spoke to the assembled umbrellas, introducing outgoing DCSA President Niamh Hartley, who unveiled a board to ensure her predecessors and successors are listed for posterity.

The weekend began with a celebration of Darwin’s earliest cohorts, with alumni who attended the College between 1964 and 1974 joining the Master and the Development Director for lunch and a chance to pore over photos from the archive.

A varied programme throughout the weekend offered treasure hunts, garden games, colouring competitions and watercolour workshops; tours of the gardens and buildings from horticultural, ornithological, architectural and historical perspectives; a chance to consider the ways in which research and higher education can respond to global challenges from climate change to health in a fascinatingly engaging panel discussion; and musical contributions from the College choir as well as a viola and harpsichord recital.

From the seemingly limitless rotation of delicious meals, to the beautiful prepared floral displays, the clean-up effort required to ensure that the College continued to look presentable throughout the weekend, the exhibitions and histories researched and prepared, and the time and effort volunteered by staff, Fellows and students to welcome and entertain visitors, it was a truly collective effort on the part of the College community. Congratulations to the Development team for masterminding such a celebratory and multifaceted birthday party, and thank you to everyone who made it possible, as well as all those who braved the weather to come and be part of it.

The Master leads a birdwatching walk

Afternoon tea

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