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JOHNIANnews St John’s College Cambridge

Issue 30 | Lent term 2012


Lent term 2012

Welcome to the Lent 2012 issue of Johnian News

Contents College news............................... 4-7 The greatest show on Earth.......... 8-9 Happy birthday to St John’s ......10-11 Fighting diseases of poverty......12-13

The Quincentenary year may be behind us, but 2012 promises to be no less exciting as we look forward to the launch of a new online community for Johnians, the 30th anniversary of women studying at St John’s and the opening of the restored Divinity School. Not forgetting the London Olympics, of course, which will undoubtedly be a fantastic event and a major talking point for the next few months! You can read about all of the above in this issue of Johnian News, alongside some inspiring stories and experiences from students and Johnians. We hope you enjoy this newsletter; please do send us any feedback you have so that we can try to include more of the things you want to read about. Contributions and ideas for the Michaelmas issue are welcome up until early August. the editor Development Office, St John’s College, Cambridge CB2 1TP. Email: Tel: 01223 338700

A brighter future .......................14-16 St John’s celebrates 30 years of women .....................................17 A very mighty pen ....................18-19 Return of the night climbers ......... 20 An Amazonian adventure........ 21-23 The future of rowing at John’s ...... 24 Celebrating LMBC anniversaries ... 25 Glittering Prizes ............................ 26 Big Bob’s legacy ........................... 27 Events calendar ............... Back cover

Editor: Jennifer Baskerville; Design and artwork: Cameron Design 01284 725292 Print: Esson Print Cover image: New Court cloisters. Inside: Laura Plant, Nicola Coles, Stefanie Giblin, Alice Hardy, John Thompson, David Hope, Adam Storring, Matthias Dörrzapf, Ryan Cronin, Yuko Okamoto, Kim Sheard, Andrew Houston, Alex Balfour, Oleander Press, Samuel Butler archive and Sarah Westwood.

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Lent term 2012

College news Undergraduate rooms:

a new deal

As of October 2011, undergraduates studying at St John’s have been benefiting from new accommodation arrangements worked out by the College authorities and the Junior Combination Room (JCR).

make use of their rooms at any time from late September to late June. Students and their parents will be delighted to note that possessions will no longer have to be transported to and from home at these times.

St John’s is now able to offer accommodation in College for the duration of any undergraduate course. In addition, under the new model, our undergraduates will not have to give their rooms over to other purposes during the Christmas and Easter vacations. The new licence, which is similar to that governing many graduate students’ room allocations, will allow them to

Waheed Chaudhrey, President of the JCR during 2011, said, ’This model is a tribute to the College’s aims to encourage academic excellence and social development. Environmentally friendly and wonderfully convenient, the model will make John’s all the more homely and comfortable for students – albeit a very grand home!’

Pick a portrait or two

New essay prize for sixth-formers Last summer, three sixth-form school and college students beat off a strong field to become the first winners of the new Wilkinson Quincentenary Prizes. Hector Janse van Rensburg from Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge; John McConnel from Sedbergh School, Cumbria; and Rebekah Smith, from Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Horncastle, Lincolnshire were presented with their awards by Professor Eric Maskin, Nobel Laureate (Economics, 2007). Each student received £750, with a further £750 going to their school or college to purchase academic materials. The prizewinners were also invited to stay in College for a week over the summer vacation, working in the well-equipped College library and in other Cambridge collections on a project of their choice.

In autumn 2011, two new portraits were unveiled at St John’s – one of the Master, Professor Chris Dobson, and the other of Professor Sir Jack Goody. In modern times, every Master of the College has been invited to sit for a portrait. In Chris Dobson’s case the artist is Paul Hodgson. Like those of his recent predecessors, the Master’s portrait hangs in the Fellows’ Lobby at the foot of the stairs to the Combination Room.

Chef’s Michelin-starred experience St John’s Apprentice Chef, Adam Desmond, received an early Christmas present in December in the form of a week’s work experience at a top Lancashire restaurant.

Occasionally, the College also commissions portraits in oils of particularly distinguished senior Fellows. The striking impression of Jack Goody by Maggi Hambling will hang prominently in the restored Divinity School when it opens later this year.

Northcote restaurant in Langho has one Michelin star and is owned by Nigel Haworth, who set up the placement with St John’s Catering Manager, Bill Brogan. Both Nigel and chef Lisa Allen have been finalists on BBC2’s Great British Menu programme in recent years. Adam is currently on a three-year apprenticeship programme and is learning about all aspects of the kitchen at St John’s – from visiting local suppliers, to seeing those ingredients presented on the plate. ’It was a great experience,’ said Adam. ’The standards [at Northcote] were very high; it was very impressive. The work was rewarding after a long, hard day and the food was incredible.’

Left to right: Paul Hodgson, Dr Mary Dobson, and the Master.

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Jack Goody’s portrait.

The Wilkinson Quincentenary Prizes are awarded to the authors of essays of between 2,000 and 4,000 words on topical subjects set or approved by the College. Entrants are currently in Year 12, or equivalent. The competition assesses entries for distinction, measured by reference to mastery of relevant detail, the fluency of argument, the level of analytical skills, the degree of originality shown and evidence of personal initiative. St John’s was able to launch this prize in its Quincentenary year thanks to the generous support of a benefactor: Heather Hancock, née Wilkinson (1984). Eighty-three schools submitted a total of 180 entries in 2011, and it is hoped that competition will be even tougher this year. Dr Mark Nicholls, College Librarian and one of the judges, said, ’Compiling a shortlist and picking the winners from so many fine essays has not been at all easy. The judges feel that the winning entries are a testament to the candidates’ flair for writing, to a commendable degree of hard work and mature thought, to excellent research, and to some very good teaching.’


gets facelift Have you visited the St John’s website recently at The site has been improved and now contains a wealth of information about the College and its activities, as well as regular news stories. And it doesn’t stop there. As part of the redevelopment of the website, the Johnian pages will be revamped this year. Alumni will soon enjoy a fully interactive section, where you will be able to book online for events and join discussion boards, among other features. Look out for details in the monthly Johnian enews. St John’s has also recently joined Twitter. If you’re a tweeter, you can follow us @stjohncam.

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Lent term 2012

Butler archive project begins A project is underway in the library at St John’s to catalogue the extensive collection of material produced by and relating to the Victorian polymath Samuel Butler (1835–1902). The aim is to make the materials more accessible to researchers, schools and the public through a Samuel Butler in his room at range of exhibitions, Clifford’s Inn, about 1890. events and activities. The Heritage Lottery Fund and St John’s College are jointly funding the project, which will run for two years.

The collection includes around 100 boxes of papers, articles and correspondence; more than 650 printed books; around 450 paintings, watercolours, drawings and prints; 50 artefacts; and a substantial photographic archive, comprising more than 1,500 glass plate negatives, five albums of snapshots and 550 loose photographs, plus 125 prints produced more recently for exhibitions. Rebecca Watts is the Butler Project Associate, responsible for most of the cataloguing and for organising exhibitions, events and visits. ’Butler’s is one of the most varied of the library’s special collections,’ said Rebecca, ’and a range of unexpected material has come to light in the first few months of the project, from snuff boxes to double-sided picture frames, and an autograph letter from a prominent novelist detailing a paper-stealing escapade on the Isle of Wight!’

Continuing in harmony Over a year ago, in February 2011, St John’s launched a new fundraising campaign to safeguard the future of its celebrated choir by creating a Choral Foundation. The campaign, which aims to raise £5 million by the end of 2015, kicked off after a performance by the choir with the Britten Sinfonia at St John’s, Smith Square. Those of us who were there remember how the lights of the wonderful Baroque church lit up the chilly London sky, and how the voices of the choir and soloists thrilled the audience with their performance of Haydn’s Creation. Since then, over £300,000 has been donated to the foundation by Johnians and other friends, in gifts that

have ranged in size from £10 to £62,000, and which have included the bequest from Mary Fuller of £197,000 (see page 27). Such generosity represents a fabulous start to the campaign and is a testament to how much the choir is valued both within and beyond the Johnian community. To find out more about the Choral Foundation campaign and how you can participate, please contact: Sarah Westwood in the Development Office ( or 01223 330724), or Duncan Dormor, the President and Dean of the Chapel ( or 01223 338633).

You can find full details of upcoming events, and follow Rebecca’s progress via her online diary, at

New Year honours

The wait is almost over It’s not long until the hoardings are removed and the newly-restored Divinity School on St John’s Street is revealed. Hundreds of builders, stoneworkers, bricklayers, plasterers and other specialist craftsmen have been involved, with the St John’s College Maintenance team holding the project together. The focus in January was on the stonework and you can see the beautiful work that has been done in these pictures. Some of the stone features are completely new, but have been carefully designed and crafted to match the existing parts. The old stonework has been cleaned using high-pressure water and steam, a method known in the trade as ‘doff’ cleaning. In February, the team worked on valiantly, despite the obstacles presented by the wintry weather. The 100-foot crane arrived to place the glass panels for the lift into the lift shaft from above, and had to start work early in the morning to avoid the high winds that picked up as the day went on. It also proved to be a good time to carry out internal work, such as electrical wiring, insulating pipes, fitting new timber doors and secondary glazing, while it snowed outside. Look out for a special feature on the Divinity School in the Michaelmas issue of Johnian News, with photos from all stages of the project and news on how the building will be used.

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Three Johnians featured in the New Year honours list for 2012: Professor John wallwork (1983), Honorary Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Director of Research and Development (former Director of Transplantation) at Papworth Hospital, Cambridge received a CBE for services to healthcare. matthew norman hawkshaw moss (1990), Private Secretary to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge became a Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO). Lieutenant Colonel robaird James (robbie) Boyd (2008), of The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, was awarded an OBE for command of his battalion during an operational tour of Afghanistan.

Raphael James Loewe MC MA, 1919–2011 The College is sad to note the death of Professor Loewe, Honorary Fellow of St John’s and former Bye-Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, on 27 May 2011, aged 92.

Egan wins

Pulitzer Prize American author and Johnian, Jennifer Egan (1985), won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2011 with her inventive and unusual book, A Visit From the Goon Squad. There has been much discussion in reviews as to whether the work is a novel or a collection of 13 linked short stories, but it has been very well received by critics and is reportedly being developed into a television series by American cable network, HBO. The Evening Standard review commented that ’almost everybody who reads [this book] is going to recommend it to everybody they know’, while the Guardian said, ’This is an incredibly affecting novel, sad, funny and wise, which should make Jennifer Egan’s name in the UK.’

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Lent term 2012

The greatest show on Earth Alex Balfour (1990) is Head of New Media for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). He joined the project as employee number 73 in 2006; by July, Alex will be one of 100,000 staff and volunteers making the Games possible. how did your career take you from St John’s to the olympics? When I left John’s in 1993 I spent a few months working as a researcher for Peter Mandelson MP, enough to disabuse me of the notion that I wanted a career in politics, and then found a job as a trainee financial journalist. A back injury forced me to leave my desk job. The silver lining was hours spent lying on the floor of my Clapham house-share with a laptop, exploring the internet. I wrote about emerging internet businesses for various publications. I quickly realised I knew as much as anyone else at the time and moved from writing to doing. In 1997, I helped create the first ever General Election website, put the first government white paper on the internet, joined the team that built the Guardian’s websites and helped found a cricket website called

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CricInfo. CricInfo was serving 20 million users as early as 2000 and I sold the site, as Chairman, to the Getty family (who sold it on to ESPN) in 2003. After a brief interlude in sports marketing, creating the first Indian Premier League franchise, I joined LOCOG in 2006. what is your daily role like at the moment? We have delivered our Games-time website, mobile applications and Twitter, Facebook and Google integrations for final testing, to make sure they are ready to serve an online audience potentially bigger than the total number of internet users in North America. We have over 200,000 pages to test across 305 different sporting events comprised of more than 7,000 heats. And the small matter of over 10,000 events, which are part of the Olympic Torch Relay and Festival 2012. I’m trying not to panic and, with my best Clive Dunn impression, regularly telling my team not to panic.

how much interaction have you had with past organising committees to learn from their experiences? We had very generous help from our predecessors in the last [winter] Games in Vancouver in 2010. Looking back any further, the landscape has changed so much that it’s hard to learn from the past. In 2008, there were only 100 million people on social networks and not many smartphones. There are almost 3 billion people on social networks today and by next year more people will access the internet using phones than computers.

It makes me extremely proud to be British. we provide comprehensive and unbiased results, and appeal to all audiences, irrespective of location, ability, age, background and level of sporting knowledge. Therefore, we have spent a lot of time in user testing and accessibility testing to ensure that ordinary users can and will use our services.

Presumably you will be working long hours while the games are on, but will you get a chance to see any sport? I’ll be on shift so will be unlikely to see much, unless it’s on a screen. As a former vice captain of LMBC and more recently a competitive cyclist, I’ll be watching out for the rowing eights and road races. I’m also looking forward to the Paralympics which, as I learnt in Beijing, is often a better spectator experience than the Olympics.

what level of traffic are you expecting to the website and other new media while the olympics are on? We are planning for a billion visits to the website,, and over 5 million downloads of our apps. The Vancouver 2010 site reached 50% of all Canadians online; we hope to top that.

how are you coping with the international demand placed upon London 2012 new media? There are 205 competing teams – more countries than are in the United Nations – and 15,000 athletes. We will only offer services in English and French but it’s essential that

what’s the best part of your job? It’s simply a massive privilege to be part of a team delivering the largest and, I’m certain, best sporting and cultural event this country has ever staged. It makes me extremely proud to be British.

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Lent term 2012

Happy birthday

to St John’s!

After a thrilling and exhausting Quincentenary year, Alumni Relations Assistant and organiser of many of the fantastic events, Nicola Coles, finally gets a chance to put her feet up and look back over the highlights.



Saturday, 9 April 2011 marked the 500th anniversary of the foundation of the College, and Johnians were encouraged to organise their own events to celebrate. In Exeter, Dr David Smith (1968) and his wife, Christine, generously hosted a garden party at their home for 40 Johnians and guests – who no doubt enjoyed eating the two beautiful, homemade cakes, each featuring an image of the College.

June began with a family garden party at Barrow Court, just outside Bristol. The event was hosted by the Johnian Society’s Honorary Secretary, Graham Spooner (1971), and his wife Virginia. Guests enjoyed tours of the garden and a strawberry afternoon tea, and there was entertainment for the children too. Meanwhile, back in College, we held a unique lunch for over 160 former and present Title A Fellows – a chance for many old friends to catch up.

April took the choir on tour to the US and we held a reception hosted by the Master, Professor Chris Dobson, after their performance in New York. Needless to say there was a rush for tickets, and the concert and reception were a huge success. The next day, the Master travelled on to Toronto, where he joined alumni for a dinner at the University Club.

…the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh made the journey to St John’s to celebrate the Quincentenary with us. Just two days before the Royal Wedding, HM the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh made the journey to St John’s to celebrate the Quincentenary with us. They had lunch with Fellows and students in the Combination Room, after which they headed to the Backs for a special garden party.

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Fireworks filled the night sky for the May Ball. Each courtyard was turned into a tribute to a prominent Johnian from history; daffodils were on display in Second Court for Wordsworth and New Court was decked out in Indian finery for Manmohan Singh. By Kitchen Bridge, the punts spanned the river so people could watch the tremendous display in style. The first Quincentenary Week in early July was packed full of activities. Over 1,000 Johnians and their guests attended, from as far afield as Australia, South Africa, the US and Canada. The week started with a welcome from the Master, followed by Honorary Fellow, Professor Eric Maskin, who posed the question ’How should members of Parliament be elected?’ The Pol Roger, Adnams, port and wine tastings all went down very well, and July finished with the Choir Reunion Weekend in a packed-out Hall.

Autumn September had a sporting theme to it, starting with the LMBCA Regatta and Dinner, which filled the College with red blazers! This was followed a few weekends later by the Field Clubs Dinner. A second Quincentenary Week completed the month of events and we were delighted to welcome Hugh Dennis (1981) and Sir Derek Jacobi (1957) as speakers. Hugh Dennis, unsurprisingly, had the audience in hysterics, and the question and answer session with Sir Derek was full to bursting. A magician, a caricaturist, hidden prizes and ‘I love St John’s’ cupcakes were the order of the day for the Unbirthday Party in November. Over 50 alumni joined us at Broadgate Circle for this informal event. Party bags were dished out and a BBQ wasn’t that out of place with the unseasonably mild weather!

Winter A flurry of events greeted us in December. In College, we held the Family Lunch for first year students and their families. The Hall looked very festive with the Christmas tree fully decorated and it was nice to see so many guests. Once again John’s was at Twickenham for the Varsity Match. Although Cambridge lost, the food and company in the Carling Room was excellent and we were delighted so many Johnians and guests could make it. Roger Smith (1951) attended his 60th Varsity Match, having not missed one since the age of 20. The Quincentenary year was brought to a fitting close with a performance of Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast. The concert, which was held at the Royal Festival Hall, also featured the choirs of Clare, Gonville & Caius, Jesus and Trinity colleges. Before the concert, St John’s had a reception for 150 alumni and guests on the Roof Pavilion. There were beautiful views of night-time London – illuminated by the Christmas street decorations.

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Lent term 2012

Fighting diseases of poverty

Adam Storring (2001) took leave from the Civil Service to work for seven months as a volunteer for LEPRA India – a charity specialising in leprosy and diseases associated with poverty and social discrimination. Leprosy is one of the world’s forgotten diseases. The World Health Organization claimed in 2000 to have eliminated it, but defined ’elimination’ only as reducing incidence to less than one case in 10,000 people. At the end of 2008, over 213,000 people across the world had leprosy, and hundreds of thousands more, although cured of the disease, still suffer from disabilities caused by it. Meanwhile, the widespread perception that leprosy no longer exists has caused a fall-off in funding to combat it. I worked in LEPRA’s head office in Hyderabad – a teeming metropolis of nearly seven million people that exemplifies modern India. A technology city, it has an increasingly wealthy middle and upper class. On its chaotic streets, the population routinely risk life and limb among swarms of motorcycles (India’s favourite mode of transport) and three-wheeled auto-rickshaws.

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With no medical training, my work was mainly administrative: helping with strategy development, writing papers and administering LEPRA’s governing board. What I really enjoyed, though, was visiting the field to see the extraordinary work being carried out through LEPRA projects. LEPRA is one of the few organisations in the world that still has expertise in treating leprosy. It trains doctors in diagnosis, as the disease is no longer a standard part of the medical curriculum and must be diagnosed early before it causes disabilities. LEPRA clinics perform reconstructive surgery by repositioning muscles to replace those withered by leprosy and giving patients back the use of their hands and feet. Technicians make rubber sandals to allow those who have lost the feeling in their feet to walk without developing ulcers.

LEPRA is also an expert at engaging with communities, including some of the poorest and most marginalised in India. It pioneered work with India’s tribal people, including some tribes that are very hostile to outsiders. On one field trip to a project teaching HIV prevention, I was introduced to a room full of male and female sex workers, who were asked by LEPRA staff to spread messages about safe sex to their peers. In another project, picture books were used to teach basic sex education to illiterate rural women. Many women learnt for the first time the mechanism of sex determination in reproduction, and that it wasn’t their fault if they gave birth to a girl!

You can find more information about LEPRA India’s work at To donate to LEPRA in the UK, please visit

There is one auxiliary nurse/ midwife for every 5,000 people.

My time in India gave me a whole new perspective on things we take for granted in Britain. The problems of the NHS seem small when you learn that, in remote parts of India, government clinics are often unable to recruit doctors at all, and there is one auxiliary nurse/midwife for every 5,000 people. What inspired me most was the skill and commitment of the people I worked with, and the dedication they showed in helping some of the poorest people in India. Helping to support their work was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

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Lent term 2012

A brighter future Following on from the success of other international scholarships, a new partnership has been formed between St John’s and one of the most successful and inspiring schools in Kenya. Afternoon assembly at the boys’ school.

Can you remember your first day at university? even if you’d rather not admit it, it was probably a little bit daunting – living away from home possibly for the first time, having those awkward first conversations with your new room-mates and getting lost on the way to your first lecture. attending St John’s may well have added to those first day nerves, knowing that you were walking the same corridors as great Johnians such as william wordsworth, John dee and manmohan Singh. Imagine how Peter Muriuki will feel on his first day at St John’s this autumn. Peter comes from Nairobi, Kenya and will be the first student to benefit from a new scholarship arrangement enabling him to study here for an undergraduate degree in Engineering; a dream he probably never thought possible. The Moody-Stuart Scholarship (founded through the generosity of Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, 1960, and his wife Lady Judith) is open to students from the Starehe Schools in Kenya, which offer academically-talented children from impoverished families a completely free secondary school education.

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Even though some Kenyan secondary schools now waive their fees, there are still many associated costs in the form of boarding, uniforms, books and other materials; Starehe is the only opportunity for orphans and children whose families cannot afford such luxuries. Founded as a dormitory for orphaned street children in 1959, Starehe has grown into a thriving boys’ school with around 1,000 pupils, and a separate girls’ school 20km north of Nairobi opened in 2005. Competition is fierce: there are around 23,000 applications for 200 places at the boys’ school each year. It therefore comes as no surprise that many of the determined and bright individuals who make it to Starehe go on to great things. One third of trainee doctors at public universities in Kenya are alumni of Starehe. Other former students have studied at Stanford and Harvard, and hold positions in investment banking, law, the Kenyan High Commission in London and the BBC World Service.

Senior Tutor at St John’s, Dr Matthias Dörrzapf, visited Starehe in September 2011 and conducted 12 interviews (with six boys and six girls) to find the recipient of the very first Moody-Stuart Scholarship place. ’Every student comes from an extraordinary background,’ said Matthias. ’Every CV you see is heartbreaking. The schools actually go out to the families, once they’ve decided who to take. They go out and check that it’s indeed as they say – that they have no money. They really try to reach out to the poorest in the whole of Kenya. ‘I was very much impressed about how confident all the candidates were. They were very confident and very hard working. Almost all the candidates were either interested in Engineering, Law or Medicine, which is probably understandable. It would be nice to have a musician or a historian, but I can see this is something they probably wouldn’t consider.

’I asked them if they would consider studying Biology, but they didn’t see the point in studying Biology. They want to do Medicine. They didn’t want to do Medicine to invent a new drug or something that would ultimately cure millions and millions of people; they wanted to do Medicine to be out there on the ground. And they considered helping the people as being there and helping, say, five people a day rather than helping millions.’

I was very much impressed about how confident all the candidates were.

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… A brighter future

Every CV you see is heartbreaking. During the interviews, it became apparent that the male candidates were much stronger than the girls, which is understandable given the length of time that each school has been open. In order to help the girls’ school, one of their teachers, John Mwaura, visited St John’s in December, so that he can give his students first-hand insight into what student life is like here. It is hoped that the girls’ school will, in time, help to inspire more girls to study and challenge the traditional stereotypes that are holding them back.

Matthias Dörrzapf at Starehe Girls’ Centre on the day of the interviews, with teacher John Mwaura and the Director’s Assistant Regina Mitheu.

’It’s probably even more important to have the girls’ school than the boys’ school,’ explained Matthias. ’In Kenya, the families very often take a view that for girls education is wasted, because ultimately they will marry and will run the family. If families have a bit of money, they will send the oldest boy to school, but they will certainly not send girls.’ Matthias was quick to point out that the Starehe students were not treated any differently from other applicants and will certainly have plenty to offer during their time at John’s. ’These were proper interviews; I asked interview questions of the same standard that I would ask applicants here. There were, of course, others who performed extremely well, but Peter is clearly very bright and he’s certainly up to the standard to come here. I was very much impressed by his mathematical skills. I am quite excited really.

(Left to right) Matthew Kithyaka, Director of the Boys’ Centre; Joseph Gikubu, one of the three founders; and Maryana Munyendo, the Director’s Assistant.

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’No doubt at some stage the Kenyan president will be from the school. Perhaps not in the next 10 or 20 years, but the children at these schools are of that kind of calibre to at some stage run the country.’

St John’s celebrates

30 years of women This year marks the 30th anniversary of the admission of women into the College and a celebratory event will be held in May. In line with a number of other colleges, John’s explored the possibility of admitting women in the late 1970s. on 1 october 1981, dr Kathleen wheeler became the first female member of College to be admitted to the fellowship. on the same day, seven female graduate students matriculated. A year later, in October 1982, 44 female undergraduates joined the College. These pioneering women threw themselves wholeheartedly into College life and simultaneously changed it forever. The number of women at John’s has grown steadily each year to reach the equal division of male and female students that we have studying in the College today. To celebrate the contribution of women to the life of St John’s, we are holding a special event on Saturday, 26 May. The day will consist of a series of talks and discussions. This event is generously supported by Baillie Gifford, who also sponsored the 25th anniversary symposium in 2007. Invitations have been sent out and further details are available on our website at For full coverage of the event, check out the Michaelmas issue of Johnian News. Our first women’s networking event was held in October 2011 at The Soho Hotel, with the kind support of Kit Kemp. Over 100 Johnian women gathered to hear from Claire Craig (1979), Deputy Head of the Government Office for Science, and Jennifer Jonas (1983), Founder and CEO of New Real Films, before networking over drinks and canapés. The second event will be held in autumn 2012 – keep an eye on the website for details.

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Lent term 2012

My degree course had little difficulty convincing me that I would not shine as a physicist. My first job was as a studio manager at BBC World Service, then a news and current affairs producer, ending with a long reporting stint in India. Aged 30, I left the media (temporarily, as it turns out) and set myself up as a business consultant focusing on the sales problems of small, specialised companies that sell to large companies. The cartoon strip is my other job.

A very mighty pen Arasan Aruliah (1985) studied Natural Sciences (Physics). He and his brother script and draw the ’Ripped-off Britons’ cartoon strip for the Guardian, and publish their own independent blog. why create a cartoon strip on corporate rip-offs and government sleight of hand? why not one about daft cats, or relationships instead? well, cats are surprisingly hard to draw, and navel-gazing on relationships is a sure way to lose all interest in the real thing. anyway, there are far too many of them already and, amazingly, Britain has only three properly news-led political cartoon strips: ’If’ in the Guardian, ’alex’ in The Telegraph, and ripped-off Britons. It seems all the others are sort of soap operas about relationships. or cats.

big, fat example of many rip-offs by the banks. Tax evasion and avoidance is estimated at between £35 billion and £100 billion, but nobody can know for sure whilst we allow tax havens to keep their secrets. Other sectors are responsible for further billions: the airline industry’s questionable exemption from VAT and fuel duty costs us all £10 billion, and overpriced bills from the cartel of energy suppliers add £4 billion. No one has yet calculated the sum total of all the rip-offs perpetrated across all sectors of the economy.

There is another reason. Stopping Britain’s two biggest rip-offs alone would easily pay off our £50 billion annual national structural deficit – the main cause of government cuts currently causing us all so much pain. The biggest ones are the taxpayer subsidy of banks, and tax evasion and avoidance. The £50 billion of taxpayers’ money still required to underwrite high-risk ’casino’ investment banks is just one

What we don’t cover is common fraud. Merely worrying about dodgy double-glazing salesmen can be a persistent distraction. We go after the people, companies, sectors and regulators that are the true rip-off rain-makers. This lets the strip cover just about every aspect of our lives: leisure, food, the media, transport, taxes and benefits, education, employment, pensions, housing and property, and more.

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The strip is the work of myself and my brother, using the pseudonyms Hari and Jake. It all started with an attempt to write a book about dastardly sales techniques. The idea meandered into writing a comedy, which we submitted unsuccessfully to the BBC. As we dug deeper, we were shocked by the scale and ubiquity of rip-offs perpetrated by our most respected businesses. We went back to the book and added cartoons in our own cheap attempt to liven it up. By pitching it as ’Freakonomics plus jokes’ (Freakonomics was the surprise 2005 bestseller that made forensic economics accessible to the lay reader) we secured an agent. While he struggled (and continues to struggle) to find a publisher in a non-fiction book market that is only interested in ’cookery and celebrity memoirs’, we noticed our cartoons stood up on their own. So we tailored 30 cartoons and pitched them at the Guardian just after the 2010 general election. Soon after our debut in the Guardian, we launched our own independent blog of articles that dig deeper, authored by us as well as guests with expert knowledge. Some of the most important and baldest facts and insights are too often ignored by, or buried in, the mainstream media. We have successfully got campaigners to write angrier stuff than they would allow themselves to write in a newspaper, and have found an

We go after the people, companies, sectors and regulators that are the true rip-off rain-makers. undercover banker willing to spill his beans. We would dearly love to have whistle-blowers from every major sector. We are now doing our best to learn how to drive traffic to the blog using Twitter, Facebook, Zonk (I just made that last one up) and any other social media that we had never heard of two years ago. This all took around five years. It just goes to show that there is no point sticking to a grand plan. Just keep stubbornly breasting forward and see what happens. In case you were wondering, we are not anti-capitalists, and neither are our three cartoon characters – Chris, Fee and KJ. While the world looks for the right mix of public and private enterprise, everyone should be fighting rip-offs. Expose and stop the rippers-off, and the benefits will be felt by all, not least the private sector. Every pound spent on over-priced and sometimes useless products and services, is a pound not spent on genuinely useful and innovative businesses. Who on Earth would object to that?

You can read Ripped-off Britons at and follow the blog at

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Lent term 2012

Return of the night climbers The feature on ‘The Night Climbers of St John’s’ in the Michaelmas 2010 issue of Johnian News prompted several Johnians to contact us with their own stories. Dr Richard (Dick) Bramley (1959) reveals his daring escapade. I was only ever a night climber through necessity rather than choice, but possibly have the distinction of being the only Johnian to climb out of College and back in, twice in the same night. The occasion was the night of a King Street Run, when ‘Schoolie’ Cobb, the Education Sergeant in my army unit in Malaya, came over from Oxford to do the Run. Just to make it easy, he arrived on crutches with his leg in plaster. No problem, he duly accomplished the drinking feat and set off into the night without a gown (which we were required to wear after dusk in that era) to seek out the proctors, so that when asked if he was a member of ‘the university’ he could proudly answer ‘yes’ and give his college as ‘Brasenose’!

Nares Craig on top of the ‘wedding cake’ in New Court. Sadly, Nares died in February this year, aged 94. He took part in many daring night climbs during his time at Trinity in the late 1930s. Image taken from The Night Climbers of Cambridge by Oleander Press

Summer 2011 saw two intrepid Johnians, Laura Plant and Tomos Prys-Jones (both 2009), head out to the Amazon jungle to set up what is planned to be a long-term environmental project. Laura sent us her report.

On returning to College after the pubs had closed, someone enquired what had happened to my friend. We had arranged that, if he got lost and didn’t make it back into College by midnight, he would wait outside North Court gates for me – and there he was. This, I thought, was going to be easy because in my freshman year I had discovered that one of the bars in my gyp room window, which overlooked the Master’s Garden, was loose and that, rather than climbing over the railings, an easier after-hours way into College was to enter via the gate to the Master’s Lodge and climb up the drain pipe into my gyp room. After first making sure the window was open, the next task was to climb out over the Forecourt railings. After escorting the newly-qualified nine pint (one penalty pint) King Street Runner into the Master’s Garden, then came the rather more challenging task of getting him and his pot leg up the drainpipe. First, he got on my shoulders and got sufficient purchase on the ivy to pull himself onto the roof of the corridor that ran behind what was then the Palmerston Room. After passing up the crutches, I followed and then climbed into the gyp room before hauling Schoolie up with the aid of a crutch. The noise of his plaster cast clattering on the slates was enough to wake the dead, let alone the Master or any patrolling porters. Mission accomplished! Well, almost – we both let go of the crutch at the same time and it went clattering back down the roof into the Master’s Garden. Apart from the effect of the loss of a crutch on Schoolie’s ambulatory ability, which was already somewhat impaired by alcohol, leaving it there until morning risked it being found. So, there was no option but for me to climb out again and retrieve it. This was duly achieved and, I like to think, a new record was set.

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An Amazonian adventure

our trip came about because of a project conceived by Stuart Clenaghan (1976), who is one of the London-based directors of green gold forestry (ggf) – a sustainable logging company in Iquitos, Peru. Stuart wanted to launch a scientific investigation into the environmental effect that responsible, low impact logging practices are having on the rainforest. Green Gold Forestry was set up in 2007 and currently operates 110,000 hectares of forest concessions granted by the Peruvian government. It is the only Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified company in the Loreto region of Peru, which covers around one-third of the country. Unfortunately, most of the logging companies in the region are local operators that have low capital, and so they lack equipment and do not implement best practice, at the expense of the environment. FSC certification criteria include fair pay and safe working conditions for employees; protection for indigenous communities within the company’s concession; and also that environmental costs are taken into consideration.

Examples of this in the field include, only harvesting trees above certain diameters, cutting lianas (vines) prior to felling to prevent pulling down other trees linked by the climbers, directional felling, and the creation of conservation and regeneration areas. An assessment of the sustainability of the practices of a forestry company seemed like a large task for us, as Natural Sciences undergraduates whose previous fieldwork experience consisted of the odd department visit to the South Downs. However, armed with 100% DEET mosquito repellent and thick wellies (the footwear of choice for the discerning rainforest-dweller) we set out for Iquitos, in the heart of the Amazon jungle in the north of Peru. Iquitos prospered at the start of the 20th century during the rubber boom and despite being the largest city in the world without road access (you have to reach it by plane or boat), it still sustains 370,000 inhabitants and lively ecotourism and hallucinogenic, traditional jungle medicine industries (note: we did not experience the latter!).

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Lent term 2012

… An Amazonian adventure human workers? Sadly, Tom and I realised that it was not going to be pleasant to use a mixture of sign language and our poor Spanish vocabulary to request the excrement of our fellow workers. Relief came upon the discovery of a small zoo in Iquitos where, after much hilarity, the zoo-keeper allowed us to remove dung from the cages of a variety of jungle mammals including monkeys, pumas and jaguars. Once all the equipment was assembled, including a box of dung, we met up with a group of workers to begin our fourday boat ride out to a newly-leased concession, where we were to set up camp for three weeks. Living in the jungle is certainly an experience; the description ’basic bathroom facilities’ would be a wild over-exaggeration of the poles of wood balanced across a small stream where you perched and scooped water out of the stream with a Tupperware tub. However, after a hard day of walking through jungle bogs carrying equipment in near 100% humidity, the first dousing from the Tupperware tub was heaven.

Having arrived safely and been welcomed by GGF’s Iquitosbased (but fervently Welsh) CEO, Gareth Hughes, we settled down to discuss our plan of action. Our chosen method was to establish permanent plots in the concession that each contain a tree of commercial species and size. Half of the plots will be harvested, and all plots will be monitored over the next five years of the project to analyse growth rates and composition of the trees. This is with the expectation that the growth rates could then be extrapolated to show that at the end of one felling rotation period – 20 years – the forest would have recovered to a sufficient level to sustain re-harvesting.

Other moments to treasure included the wildlife. We saw many species of hummingbirds (whose rapid wing movements sounded like car motors starting) and monkeys, as well as a herd of stampeding wild boar (Huangana). The plants were formidable, with their dense canopy effectively blocking out the sky from our view, and their aggressive ant or prickly defence systems made them a danger to anyone who had a habit of tripping over and grabbing them for support. Some definite low points included the insatiable army of mosquitoes that were unfazed by the 100% DEET, which would melt plastic if you weren’t careful to wash your hands after application, and the occasional stomach illness that was made more uncomfortable by the fact that the nearest bathroom was four days’ journey downriver. Ultimately our time in the jungle was made bearable by three camp workers who acted as our jungle babysitters and looked after us as we adjusted to life under the canopy, as well as teaching us a lot of Spanish vocabulary (most of it rude). We managed to identify, tag and measure 337 trees and collect 1,146 dung beetles, which we are still trying to get exported back to the UK to be identified by experts.

We also decided to monitor the fauna of the areas. It is known that mammals are very sensitive to forest disturbance and so the presence or absence of mammals could be used to assess the impact the forest harvesting is having on the jungle. However, it is also well-known that sightings of large mammals in the rainforest are rare and therefore unlikely to yield good data. Instead, we measured the diversity of dung beetles as a proxy for the abundance of mammals in the area that were producing the dung.

We hope that students in the coming years will be able to continue collecting data and generate an interesting insight into how forest dynamics are altered by GGF’s attempts to sustainably harvest tropical timber.

The first problem we encountered was that in order to trap dung beetles, we needed bait and the obvious bait required is dung. What is the best source of dung in a jungle camp full of

We would like to thank Stuart Clenaghan and Gareth Hughes of Green Gold Forestry, and Dr Chris Jiggins and Dr Toby Gardner of the Zoology Department, Cambridge.

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The first problem we encountered was that in order to trap dung beetles, we needed bait.

Page 23

Lent term 2012



The future of rowing at John’s The LMBC Reunion event held on Saturday, 3 September 2011 served as the launch of the Embracing Participation and Excellence in Rowing campaign. This marks the beginning of a long-term commitment to secure the LMBC’s future at a time of increased pressures on College funding.

Celebrating LMBC anniversaries After such a memorable day in September, we wanted to reflect further on the wonderful past achievements of LMBC crews. Below are some of the anniversaries sent in so far. Please keep us posted with your news and memories, and we will do our best to include them in future issues of Johnian News. 1872

The campaign aims to build up an endowment of £5 million to sustain and develop the club’s activities. This continues a tradition of Johnian support for rowing through the LMBCA, which has been an economic lifeline for the LMBC since 1913. At the event, the Master, Professor Chris Dobson, reiterated the need to safeguard the LMBC and ensure that it remains a centre of rowing excellence and participation for future generations of Johnians. Annamarie Phelps (1984), member of the LMBCA committee and Deputy Chairman of British Rowing, spoke of the many sporting, professional and personal benefits of being part of the LMBC. Annamarie noviced in her second year and went on to row in the 1996 Olympic Games. The campaign launch followed a wonderful afternoon on the river, where over 160 Johnians participated and cheered on the crews at a Scratch Regatta. In between racing, the Panamanian Ambassador to the UK, Gilberto Arias (1986), officially named the newest member of the LMBC fleet – the Dame Margot. Congratulations to Guy Pooley’s crew, who won what was a fiercely contested race all the way to the finish. Thank you to all those who were involved in making this such an unforgettable reunion.

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The crew went Head of the Mays with Goldie stroking. On the last night when they had chased Trinity First Boat for four nights and not made the bump, Goldie hired a coach to take the crew down to the start to conserve energy! Proof of the pudding, ’they made the bump’. LMBC rowed over easily on the last night. Contributor: John Hall-Craggs (1953). First Boat crew: F Harris (bow), 2 H Brooke, 3 W Burnside, 4 EE Sawyer, 5 HD Bonsey, 6 PH Laing, 7 PJ Hibbert, JHD Goldie (stroke), FC Bayard (cox).

1951 At the Marlow Regatta, the First Boat retained The Grand Challenge Cup for the third successive year, after a hard race in the final. Contributor: John Worlidge (1948). Crew: HH Almond (bow), 2 JSM Jones, 3 JR Dingle, 4 DD Macklin, 5 EJ Worlidge, 6 RFA Sharpley, 7 NBM Clack, CBM Lloyd (stroke), P Prestt (cox).

1952 The crew stayed Head of the Mays and at Henley, won the Ladies’ Plate with virtually a 2nd VIII. There were 10 members of the club in the GB Olympic rowing squad, all of whom had been up in 1951. What a year! Contributor: John Hall-Craggs (1953).

1961 The Lady Margaret Boat Club’s 50th anniversary event took place at Henley in July 2011 giving the 1961 First Boat crew (pictured above) the perfect opportunity to get together with the Ladies’ Plate, won on 8 July 1961. Contributor: David Hope (1959). Crew: NJC Walkinshaw (bow), 2 MJ Gallop, 3 JB Peddie, 4 JR Simmons, 5 Hon RA Napier, 6 AJ Collier, 7 RS Symonds, J Parker (stroke), JAD Hope (cox).

1982 The first women joined the LMBC. Contributor: John Hall-Craggs (1953).

1992 The Lady Margaret women went Head of the Lents and were Head of the Mays. Contributor: John Hall-Craggs (1953). Finally, congratulations to the Minotaurs, who are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year.

2012 key dates Wednesday, 13–Saturday, 16 June: May Bumps Wednesday, 27 June–Sunday, 1 July: Henley Royal Regatta Look out for weekly fixtures on the new LMBC website, going live in April!

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Lent term 2012

Souvent me souvient:

Glittering Prizes


Big Bob’s legacy


Conscious of its heritage, the Beaufort Society is building traditions of its own, one of which is to invite distinguished Johnians to speak over lunch.

Bob Fuller, Head Porter 1969–1985, and his wife Mary were a much-loved team, and it seems that the College’s affection was more than returned. On Mary’s death in 2010 she bequeathed the couple’s estate, a total of £197,000, to the Choir of St John’s.

At the third annual Beaufort Society meeting in Quincentenary year, we were delighted to welcome Frederic Raphael (1950) – one of the College’s most celebrated alumni. The Oscarwinning screenwriter and author of The Glittering Prizes trilogy of novels, spoke movingly and hilariously of his memories of St John’s from the 1950s and the inspirational Johnians he met there. Here are his own reflections on the day:

Bob and Mary married in 1945 after a wartime courtship. Bob relished his time in the army, despite four injuries that left him carrying shrapnel for the rest of his life. Mary forbade any return to military service for Bob after the war, much to his disappointment. He later wrote that ’settling down was hell’. The couple lived for a time at Corpus Christi College, where Mary was in service to the Master, and Bob found work at St John’s in the vegetable garden. This role was not to his taste and Bob was pleased to be appointed New Court Porter in 1960, which suited him much better: ’It was like being a lance-corporal in the army again.’

’I relied, rather rashly, on the genius loci, to supply suitable words with which to amuse, if I could, the eminent (and somewhat greying) company of Johnians who attended the Beaufort Society luncheon on 29 October and, fortunately, it was enough to enter Hall for memories and verbosity to be served on the same plate, so to say. Merely to hear that Latin grace being read, with its Ciceronian timbre and sonorous clausula, recalled with what pride I stepped up, as a Major Scholar in Classics, to deliver it in my first year – 1950. I was reminded also of how much better a scholar my friend, the late Professor John Patrick Sullivan, soon showed himself to be and with what relief I ceased trying to hold a candle to him. It is the way of these occasions to alleviate solemnity with a joke or two, and this I did. I was told afterwards that I may have been the first person to utter the word “penis” coram publico in such surroundings. The Lady Margaret Beaufort did not fall from the wall, nor did the ghost of Richard Bentley denounce my brazenness. I was, in truth, telling a joke which John Sullivan had threatened to tell, in the same place, some 50 years ago, and refrained.’ John Sullivan graduated in 1953 with a starred double first in Classics and went on to become the Professor of Classics at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Chair of the Department. Glittering prizes indeed.

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Julian Gregory (2009), accompanied by John Challenger (2008), rose to the unenviable challenge of following Frederic’s speech with a moving performance on the violin, after which members chose between four opportunities to learn more about St John’s – its history, portrait collection, catering operations or financial management. Members reunited for tea in the Master’s Lodge with Professor and Dr Dobson, and many stayed on for Evensong in the Chapel, drawing a day of enlightenment, music, good food and wine, and much laughter to a close. Long may such traditions endure! The Beaufort Society meets next on Saturday, 13 October 2012. Membership is open to anyone who has made provision for St John’s in their will. For more information, please contact Sarah Westwood in the Development Office ( or 01223 330724).

Known as Big Bob on account of both his stature and temperament, Bob became Head Porter in 1969 and loved the increased contact it brought with students and Fellows. His motto was, sensibly, ’See all, hear all and say as little as possible.’ In 1974, Bob and Mary were appointed keepers of the graduate hostel at 12 Madingley Road, where their kindness to the students in their care was exceptional. Bob’s career at St John’s was not without controversy and his opposition to the admission of women was well known, although he grudgingly conceded on his retirement that the women undergraduates were ’not so bad’. It seems that his initial antipathy was not shared by the new intake of women, and Bob blushed at being referred to as a ’cuddly bear’ by one of their number in a BBC documentary. He remarked later that he never lived this comment down amongst his fellow head porters.

The Fullers’ long relationship with St John’s did not end with Bob’s untimely death a few short months after he retired. Mary outlived her husband by 25 years and on her death, at the age of 93, she made the couple’s final gift to the College. Bob and Mary had been devoted attendees at Sunday evensongs in Chapel and this had clearly meant a great deal to Mary. She specified that her bequest should be used to establish the Bob and Mary Fuller Fund, with the aim of providing a gift to every chorister leaving the College School, commemorating their time in the choir. The generosity of Mary’s bequest will enable the College to fulfil her wishes and also support choristers’ bursaries, which enable gifted musicians who might not otherwise be able to afford the fees of the College School to join the choir.

‘See all, hear all and say as little as possible.’

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Edinburgh reunion Senior Bursar presentation

may 5 17 18 19 23 26

Port Latin Feast Johnian Evensong MA Dinner MA Lunch Johnian Entrepreneurs Networking Event 30 Years of Women Day

June 15 19 21 21 30

JuLy 1 7 8 15 26-27

Johnian Society London Drinks May Ball New York event Garden Party for Graduands Johnian Dinner (1957, 1973, 1975 and up to and including 1951)

SePtemBer 3-17 Telethon 8 25 Year Dinner (1987) 15 50 Year Dinner (1962) 21-23 Alumni Weekend 22 Johnian Society Day oCtoBer TBC Women’s networking event 13 Beaufort Society event TBC Winfield Society event 16 Johnian Evensong novemBer 15 Johnian Entrepreneurs Networking Event 22 Thanksgiving Dinner deCemBer 1 Family Lunch TBC London Christmas Drinks TBC Varsity Match

Johnian Lunch (1967 and 1968) Larmor Award Dinner Donor Day Family Day Johnian Society golf competition

St John’s is now tweeting news and updates. Follow us @stjohnscam

The Johnian professional network is extending through LinkedIn. Join the ’St John’s College, Cambridge’ group to find out more about the amazing careers of Johnians. Do you receive our monthly enewsletter? If not, send us an email at to make sure you don’t miss out on upcoming events.

Development Office St John’s College, Cambridge CB2 1TP Tel: 01223 338700 Fax: 01223 338727 Email: Registered charity number 1137428

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Johnian News issue 30  

Newsletter for St John's College, Cambridge

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