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JOHNIANnews St John’s College Cambridge

Issue 31 | Michaelmas term 2012


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Michaelmas term 2012

Welcome to the Michaelmas 2012 issue of Johnian News It’s incredibly exciting to finally be able to see the restored Divinity School on St John’s Street. I hope you enjoy the photo feature on page 14 showing the detail of the craftsmanship involved in this project and some of the amazing original features of the building that the College Maintenance team have been able to preserve and work around. This issue is a great celebration of the achievements of musical Johnians, some of whom have played at the Olympic Stadium and the legendary Abbey Road studios this year! We’re also proud to report on the phenomenal success of the Raspberry Pi computer, created by Johnian Eben Upton and a team from the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory. Please do send me your feedback on Johnian News so that I can try to include more of the things you enjoy reading about. Contributions and ideas for the Lent 2013 issue are welcome up until Christmas. Jennifer Baskerville, Editor Development Office, St John’s College, Cambridge CB2 1TP Email: Tel: 01223 330722

Contents College news .................................. 4 Learning on the job ........................ 7 Playing it straight .............................8 Introducing Tim Watts ...................10 Tackling educational

Design and artwork: Cameron Design 01284 725292 Print: Swallowtail Print

disadvantage..................................12 Simply divine ................................14

Cover image: Divinity School by Ben Lister

30 years of women

Left and above right: New Court by Alice Hardy

at St John’s ....................................18

Inside images courtesy of: Susannah Clark (Action Tutoring), Laura Plant, Dr Ricky Metaxas, Professor John Rink, Rebecca Costello, Dr Mark Nicholls, Ben Lister, Tim Watts,

A home-grown solution ................ 20 Back to the musical roots ............. 24

Nic Marchant, Iain Farrington, Dave Clarke and the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Thanks to Jenni Morris, Professor John Rink and Kathryn McKee

Inspirational support ..................... 26 Events calendar ............... Back cover

for their submissions to the news section.

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College news New piano arrives In September, Professor John Rink, College Supervisor in Music, was given the enviable, or perhaps unenviable, task of choosing a new piano for the Divinity School. In John’s words, it was not unlike buying a car, but the stakes are higher when selecting an expensive instrument whose personality can change enormously over time. ‘I set out with a sense of trepidation,’ said John. ‘My mission was to choose a new Steinway grand – an eight-foot “Model C” from the Steinway factory in Hamburg. Dozens of gleaming instruments awaited me in the showroom, including three Model Cs.

Professor John Rink with (left) Ulrich Gerhartz (Director, Concert & Artist Services) and other members of the Steinway team.

‘Having provisionally picked one of the three, I proceeded to the Qualitätskontrolle room, where a fourth Model C was undergoing the last stages of preparation. I saw; I played; I was conquered. It was love at first chord: certainly not love at first sight, as the lid, legs and other appendages had been replaced by prostheses to keep the originals pristine. But what a sound! This was it – a pianistic soulmate for the Divinity School.’

Record-breaking Telethon This year’s Telethon raised an impressive £273,736 for the St John’s College Campaign through 385 donations. The amount completely smashed the original target of £180,000, and exceeded the totals of all previous St John’s Telethons!

Over the course of two weeks, the 12-strong team of dedicated student callers spoke to 610 Johnians, more than two thirds of whom (69%) decided to make a gift to the Campaign, despite the current economic climate. This included a substantial number of new donors. Over the last five years, the Telethon has raised more than £1.8 million (with matched funding in the first year) towards the Campaign. A significant proportion of the funds from this year’s Telethon will be directed towards student support and the endowment fund. Other initiatives that will benefit from this year’s funds include the LMBC, the Field Sports Matched Fund and the Choral Foundation. The Development Office would like to give a heartfelt thank you to all those who contributed to this year’s Telethon and everyone who helped make it such a success.

The 2012 Telethon calling team.

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Michaelmas term 2012

A new addition A bronze bust of Sir Percy Cradock was donated to the College earlier this year, created by international sculptor Angela Conner. The donors were a group organised by Hugh Thomas, Lord Thomas of Swynnerton.

Sir Percy Cradock (1946), former ambassador to Beijing and Honorary Fellow of St John’s, died in January 2010.

BBC films in College A BBC film crew came to St John’s in late August to use several parts of the College as a location for World War II spy drama, Restless. The two-part drama is an adaptation of the book by William Boyd and is due to be shown in late 2012. Cambridge City Football Club’s ground on Milton Road was used as a base for the duration of the filming, as the crew travelled to St John’s, Madingley Hall and the city centre to shoot scenes. Restless stars British-born actress Hayley Atwell, most famous for her roles in box office hit Captain America and another William Boyd adaptation Any Human Heart, shown on Channel 4 in 2010. The cast also includes Rufus Sewell, Charlotte Rampling and Michael Gambon.

Laura wins lacrosse gold spite of all her extra training and commitments she managed to achieve a First and also win one of this year’s Larmor Awards. Twenty different nations took part in the European Championships in Amsterdam, in both a men’s and women’s tournament. The English women’s team beat Germany in the semi-final and then sealed their gold medal ambitions with an 11-5 win over Wales in the final. The England men’s team beat Ireland in their final to win gold as well.

Recent graduate Laura Plant (pictured above in white) celebrated a gold medal win with England at the European Lacrosse Championships in June.

Laura, who read Natural Sciences, has been accepted to stay on at St John’s to study for an MPhil in Environmental Policy. She said, ‘Being part of the European Championship team was a big milestone for me as selection will begin soon for the World Cup in summer 2013 in Canada.’

Laura joined the Senior England Lacrosse Squad as a midfielder in November 2010. Since then she has been successfully balancing her national lacrosse commitments with captaining the Cambridge Blues Lacrosse Team and working towards her degree. Training and keeping fit for the championships whilst also revising hard for her finals was a mammoth task, but in Laura’s own words ‘clearly a healthy body means a healthy mind’, as in

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College news Milton first editions donated The College Library’s holdings of the works of John Milton have been augmented significantly, thanks to a most generous donation from Brian Fenwick Smith (1959). A first edition of Milton’s best known verse epic Paradise Lost has now been added to our collection. The first three editions of this work were small, unprepossessing volumes. Only when Jacob Tonson bought up the rights after Milton’s death and produced a large format, lavishly illustrated version did sales take off. Displaying the modest first edition next to Tonson’s bestseller demonstrates this aspect of literary publishing history vividly and is a great exhibit for school classes studying English literature and sessions for postgraduates in the History of the Book, both of which feature regularly in the Library’s educational outreach programme.

Brian’s donation included a first edition of Milton’s Collected Poems published in 1645, which bears the signature of Thomas Buck on the title page (pictured). Library staff are investigating whether this could be the same Thomas Buck who was appointed University Printer in 1625 and also printed the first edition of Milton’s Lycidas in 1638. Milton also wrote highly influential political works, and we are absolutely thrilled to add a copy of Milton’s Areopagitica to the collection. This tract is an eloquent defence of the right to publish without prior censorship: a key text for the history and politics of mid-seventeenth century England. Researchers have already consulted it, and it will be used in undergraduate teaching.

Lifetime honour for Metaxas

Depicting a model of a magnetron source for generating microwave energy, the award itself (pictured) is of the same composition as Steuben glass and was made at Corning Incorporated from a block that was cut by water jets, engraved by lasers and polished to give its frosted appearance.

worldwide and has co-authored more than two hundred publications, including Industrial Microwave Heating – a book which is regarded as the bible for researchers working in this field.

The award recognises the outstanding contributions made by Dr Metaxas to the field of electrical engineering, specialising in the use of radio frequency and microwave energy. Over the years he has been invited to lecture

‘This is extremely rewarding as it was totally unexpected, and especially because it was instigated by one’s own peers,’ said Dr Metaxas.

Dr Ricky Metaxas was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Second Global Congress on Microwave Applications held at Long Beach, USA in July 2012. The award was presented at the gala dinner held on the RMS Queen Mary docked at Long Beach.

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Michaelmas term 2012

Learning on the job St John’s is celebrating the tenth anniversary of being part of a scheme that helps local teenagers with learning disabilities to find jobs in the catering and hospitality industry. The scheme enables students to study and work fulltime Monday to Friday at St John’s, and participate in all aspects of kitchen life. They also get the chance to work alongside the butlers to prepare formal tables for dining, and help maintain the Buttery stock and serving areas. Students leave the three-year course with a City and Guilds qualification in Hospitality and Catering. On top of that, they develop their ICT, numeracy and literacy skills, and also learn valuable life lessons such as how to work in a team and how to work efficiently.

Laura Singh would like to progress on to a higher hospitality course and hopefully find a job in

Lawrence Speakman from Buckden joined the

an environment such as St John’s,

course in September because he wants to be a

where she can put her skills to use.

chef and is already enjoying his work.

Jeanette Popham is the Course Leader and has commended College staff for welcoming the students. ‘This academic year we have six new learners and they are settling in really well,’ said Jeanette. ‘It is a huge change going from school to learning new skills in a work environment, although our learners benefit fully from this way of learning.

Dave Clarke

Former Development Officer for Cambridgeshire Mencap, Chris Waters, had the idea for the scheme in 2002 because of the plethora of catering and hospitality jobs available and the lack of employers willing to give students with learning disabilities a chance. Chris enlisted the expertise of Huntingdon Regional College, St John’s College and the Cambridge Evening News to put together the course, teach it and advertise it.

Course students at their graduation ceremony in College in July 2012.

‘Christopher Turner and Nia Watkins, who are past learners, both have jobs working with the Buttery and Platewash teams at St John’s, and James Anderson who started his working life at St John’s now works at Darwin College. Two of our learners who are in their third year, Philip Mclean and Jessie Coates, have paid work in the Buttery and Platewash on the day they do not attend their course. This is an opportunity that Ray Stevenson, the Buttery Manager, has given them. It has inspired our learners that if they work hard they can find a job, which is one of the main aims of the course. There is a waiting list for the next academic year so it is evident that there is a need for courses such as this.’

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Playing it straight

One of the most memorable parts of the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony was the performance of the Chariots of Fire theme featuring Rowan Atkinson as Mr Bean. The pianist sitting beside him and valiantly playing on throughout was in fact Johnian Iain Farrington (1996). Here Iain gives us a behind the scenes report on his appearance.

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Michaelmas term 2012

In May, I received a phone call asking whether I could play the piano in a comedy sketch for the London Olympic opening ceremony. Once I had checked that this wasn’t some elaborate prank, I accepted. Would it be a Morecambe and Wise style routine, I wondered? Would I have to take on any eccentric Victor Borge characteristics? As it turned out, thankfully all the acting was by that comic genius Rowan Atkinson in a rendition of the Chariots of Fire theme, complete with a big romantic piano part. We met at the Olympic Stadium the week before the show, without the orchestra, and the advice he gave was simple – play the music straight and don’t look round. Rehearsals were fun and relaxed but always professional, with nothing left to chance and all elements scrupulously prepared. With the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle performing, the standard was exemplary but with some delightful ironies. As the show was taking place outside,

On the night, the usually sedate off-stage scene for a classical concert (players milling about in tails) was replaced by a carnival spectacular, with riotous colours, costumes and cacophony. It was impossible not to be swept up in the excitement or the quirky nature of the event, such as waiting to go on stage behind a hundred nurses with fluorescent hospital beds. Although I’ve performed in large and unusual venues (an aircraft hangar being one of the strangest), the Olympic Stadium was certainly the most thrilling in terms of scale and atmosphere. No amount of rehearsal prepares you for hearing 80,000 people laughing together, but as the whole event felt like a big party, there were no nerves at all. I only got the sense of the vast global audience when I later received a flood of emails and text messages from friends who had seen it around the world. Watching it when I got home was the first time I had seen the routine, and I was amazed by Rowan Atkinson’s comic brilliance – a humour that crosses every language barrier.

Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images.

the string players couldn’t use their normal concert instruments in case the rain or extreme heat damaged the wood. So, one of the world’s great orchestras was kitted out with bargain-bucket instruments, the sort you can buy from a shopping catalogue! Secrecy was a major issue, so rehearsal announcements used pseudonyms of all kinds (‘conducted by Joe Bloggs’) and Simon Rattle, one of the most amiable of conductors, had to act as the stern taskmaster, ticking off the errant keyboard player.

A few days later, I was at the Royal Albert Hall for more British excellence, to hear the Wallace and Gromit Prom, where my new jazz guide to the orchestra Wing It was premiered. It was a fitting end to an extraordinary few days and I feel lucky to have been part of it all, but the occasion was overshadowed by difficult personal events. My mum had been taken seriously ill just before the first rehearsals, and passed away on the morning of the opening ceremony. It was an emotional day, but I hope I would have made her proud.

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Introducing... St John’s new College Teaching Associate in Music, Tim Watts, explains what his role encompasses and also gives an insight into his passion for music and composing. Composing music is, for me, most interesting when it is a collaborative activity. It’s often portrayed as a solitary struggle to ‘find a voice’ and make it heard – a search for originality, which demands a degree of introversion best achieved alone. There’s truth in this (probably more for some people than others) but it’s only half the picture. The other half is the element that comes from outside oneself – the question or provocation supplied by another person that ignites the creative spark. In my experience, performing and teaching have frequently provided the arena in which I have found such catalysts, and they are integral to my conception of being a composer. After graduating from Girton College, Cambridge, I studied piano accompaniment at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and went on to work as a freelance répétiteur and accompanist. I spent three years as Composer-in-residence at Bedford School before becoming a professor at the Royal College of Music (where I continue to teach one day a week). I arrived at St John’s as College Teaching Associate in Music at the start of Easter Term, and since the start of the new term in October I have been working with Professor John Rink as SubDirector of Studies in Music, as well as being an affiliated lecturer at the Faculty of Music. Alongside giving supervisions in composition and analysis, and running revision classes and mock exams, I have enjoyed getting to know the interests and enthusiasms of the College’s music students and starting to formulate ideas for future musical events. Early fruit of this relationship came in the form of a short madrigal called A Maze of Error, which I composed in response to Andrew Nethsingha’s request to contribute to the May Week concert on 18 June. The piece was written in a burst of postexam period energy for four of the Gentlemen of St John’s (Alex Simpson, Guy Edmund-Jones, Julian Gregory and Geoff Clapham) with a piano part, which I performed at the premiere. To make a text for the piece, I filleted a selection of sixteenth century madrigals for references to the names of women (and a few nymphs and goddesses) and strung them together in a loosely narrative (but essentially nonsensical) sequence. Aurora, Daphne,

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Michaelmas term 2012

Sylvia, Flora and Nigella lead their admirers from ardent appreciation to frantic confusion as they become lost in the eponymous maze. Whether through identification or imagination, the Gents sang it with great understanding, and the alert musicianship and sensitivity they brought to it made working with them a joy. Working with singers has long been a particular love of mine, both as a performer and increasingly as a composer, too. Individual qualities of sound, a particular way with words, a feeling for shaping a phrase, for emotional colouring, drama, humour – all this acts as both stimulus and palette. In combination with the right text it can feel as if the music writes itself (but it’s easy to blot out the various false starts, peterings out and interesting failures that occur along the way). I wrote two very different song cycles last year for two wonderful singers. The first, Six Songs to Orpheus, was for tenor Andrew Kennedy and premiered as part of a conference examining Literary Britten; each song sets a text by a poet important to Britten in an attempt to create a multifaceted portrait of the musician as a figure of myth. The second cycle, White Shadow, sets Don Paterson’s versions of poems by the Spanish poet Antonio Machado, and was written for mezzo-soprano Cerys Jones. Cerys and I built a programme based on texts in translation, which we

called Songs from the Exotic, after a cycle by Judith Weir (who also composed a piece for the College’s quincentenary celebrations in 2011). Following the premiere at Madingley Hall, where I co-ordinate a Sunday afternoon concert series, we decided to stage the piece at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington. We worked with lighting designer Matt O’Leary and in consultation with Judith Weir to find ways to bring out the theatrical dimension of the songs and to mould them into a ‘through-composed’ performance, a little like a miniature opera. I’m keen to explore further the intersections of song and opera, poetry and drama, and am planning another project with Don Paterson for next year, as well as a number of operatic ideas in collaboration with Kate Kennedy, a Research Fellow at Girton College. Plans are also underway to stage my recently completed chamber opera, Bonnie & Clyde, based on a play by Adam Peck. Words play a part, too, albeit covertly, in my next instrumental commission: a bassoon concerto for my wife, Shelly Organ, designed as a companion piece to Elgar’s beautiful Romance and based on the composer’s Windflower letters. Meanwhile, I look forward to meeting more of the Fellowship and student body at St John’s, and, I hope, to creative engagement with both.

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Assisting pupils in Islington with assessed coursework.

Susannah Clark (2007) recently founded an educational charity, Action Tutoring, working to provide free tuition to pupils in inner city schools to tackle educational disadvantage. The increasing chasm between rich and poor in the British education system is well documented; 96% of children who attend private schools go on to university compared to only 16% of pupils on free school meals. Yet, education is a key resource in encouraging social mobility, and as further education and training Susannah Clark with Chair increasingly become requirements of Trustees, Doug Heard. for a well-paid job, the pressure on achieving in school grows. This is reflected in the rising number of students receiving private tuition, with a Sutton Trust study reporting that a staggering 43% of children in London have been tutored at some point in their academic lives between the ages of 11 and 16. However, private tutoring, usually starting at a minimum of £30 an hour, is simply not a viable option for many families. I founded Action Tutoring with the belief that children of all backgrounds should be given equal opportunity to achieve academically to the best of their ability. I’ve worked in the

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charity sector since graduating but alongside this have regularly tutored privately. Having got involved in youth work in my community in Peckham, I became increasingly aware that while private tuition was a booming industry in some areas of London, it was not an option for many others, and was therefore putting those that could not afford it at an even further educational disadvantage. By applying the private tuition model to inner-city schools, Action Tutoring aims to broaden the horizons and opportunities for pupils from underprivileged backgrounds, by providing free tuition to pupils for one hour a week, for six to eight weeks. Action Tutoring began life in March 2011, with a pilot programme for 20 GCSE pupils at the Petchey Academy in Hackney and Harris Academy, Peckham. Johnian Patrick Bidder (2007) volunteered as a tutor in Peckham. ‘I thoroughly enjoyed the mornings I spent tutoring, helping my student prepare for his English GCSE,’ said Patrick. ‘He already had a good grasp of the concepts involved but his main challenge was expressing his understanding on paper. We therefore worked together to prepare sentence structures that he could use and adapt depending on the question at hand. We also had a good time chatting about football!’

Michaelmas term 2012

Since summer 2011 Action Tutoring has grown rapidly, with the organisation receiving its registered charity status in May. During the academic year 2011/12, 300 GCSE pupils in 15 schools across London have benefited from tuition. The charity works in partnership with the schools to deliver the programme effectively and tuition all takes place on the school premises. Tuition is currently provided in the key subjects of English and Maths, particularly targeting pupils on the grade D/C borderline at GCSE in these subjects. It is important not to underestimate the difference between a D and a C grade at GCSE; a C grade opens up many more opportunities in further education, training and work, allowing pupils to pursue their ambitions. Tutoring engages pupils in a way that is impossible to replicate in a class of 30. Students’ unique problems with the material can be directly addressed and they have the opportunity to ask questions and get immediate feedback. Furthermore it allows them to bond with their tutor, who can encourage them to work towards academic success and act as a role model. Gustave, a pupil at the Peckham Academy, simply lacked confidence and found it hard in a large class to get the help he

needed with the things he didn’t understand in Maths. Gustave and his tutor worked so well together that they arranged to carry on for extra sessions after the programme had finished. In July, Action Tutoring hosted an event at the House of Lords to celebrate the work carried out so far and Gustave proudly told the assembled audience of volunteer tutors, teachers, supporters and other pupils that he now hopes to achieve a B grade in his exam, having been predicted a D earlier in the year. Action Tutoring has ambitious plans for the future and in the academic year 2012/13 we aim to work with at least 30 schools across London supporting 1,000 pupils. Science tuition will be introduced, as well as a GCSE resits programme for pupils who did not achieve a C in English and Maths the first time around, to support them in a second attempt. Enthusiasm and commitment from volunteers has been very encouraging, and so far it seems clear that as the gaps in education widen, there are no shortages of schools and pupils who will benefit from the help. If you would like to volunteer or make a donation, please email or visit for more information.

Tutoring at Parliament Hill School, Camden.

Pupils from the Peckham Academy at the House of Lords event.

Revision underway at the Peckham Academy.

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Michaelmas term 2012

Simply divine

After two years behind hoardings, the newly restored Divinity School has been unveiled as a masterful marriage of traditional craftsmanship and modern features.

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Standing opposite the Great Gate, the Divinity School on St John’s Street was built in 1878–9 by the University of Cambridge and designed by the architect Basil Champneys. The College took full ownership of the building in 2001 and for several years various ideas were considered for how the Divinity School could be used, including a restaurant, a piano bar, a tourist information centre, a hotel and a research centre. Then in 2007, the College made the bold decision to turn it into a multipurpose venue made up of offices, teaching rooms, an auditorium and a central hall. It was a huge engineering



feat to turn what was once described as a ‘dark and gloomy maze’ into the light and mainly open-plan building you see here. Mike Finch is Deputy Superintendent of Buildings in the Maintenance department at St John’s and he has spent the last two years based in a temporary office adjacent to the Divinity School overseeing the works. ‘We started building works officially in January 2011,’ said Mike, ‘but before that, in May 2010, we started with the archaeologists. They were there for nine months’ solid work and then for another six months on what they call a



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“watching brief”. We had to provide stability for the building while they were excavating down, so two thirds of the basement has been dug out and is now used for toilets, storage and plant [utility] rooms. ‘The hardest part was the underpinning, and working in water with the archaeologists and the temporary supports. We had to underpin the whole building and support every wall. It was really nice to see the first slab go down at basement level. The building phase, actually putting something back rather than removing things, was maybe 15 months down the line.’


1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

The ground floor hall/reception area. One of the original stone bosses in a Tudor rose design. The old front door facing onto St John’s Street. The existing south staircase brick vaulting. The new auditorium has a lime-washed oak acoustic wall behind the seating. The original stonework, like this ‘Grotesque’, has been cleaned and the new stonework crafted to match it. 7. The Admissions Office. 8. Hand-stencilled paintwork in the Lightfoot Room using a period pattern designed by the architects. 9. One of the teaching rooms. 10. The north staircase used to be the main way up the original building, but now that the front entrance is no longer in use, the south staircase off All Saints’ Passage will be used most. 11. Any original windows that had to be taken out have been used elsewhere in the building.

As with all restorations of old or listed buildings, it’s a difficult balance to retain as many original features as possible and yet still integrate all the necessary technology. To ensure that absolutely every conduit was hidden from view, the Maintenance team and the project’s architects, Annand and Mustoe, painstakingly planned the route of every single pipe and wire, from beginning to end, in their original plans. ‘It’s an old building and it will look old,’ said Mike ‘but with all the modern equipment and IT and communications and power inside it. And of course all the heating, because


Michaelmas term 2012


the original heating was coal fires in the basement. Coal was delivered from St John’s Street down the chutes and it was like the old Roman hypercourse systems: the heat went up the outside walls and there were grills around the halls that passed the heat back out. So we’ve used a lot of those voids in order not to see the mechanical ductwork system.’ Carrying out such a huge restoration project with so many specialist sub-contractors takes impeccable co-ordination and planning. This makes it all the more staggering that the Maintenance team are able to manage several major projects at once.


‘At the moment we’re renovating E and F staircases of the Cripps building and we’re also converting the School of Pythagoras into an archive centre as well,’ said Mike. ‘So we’ve got three projects on the go and we still have to run the College day-to-day maintenance. Sometimes you think “I don’t know how we do it!” It makes the job very interesting, because we get to work on some really different buildings as well: School of Pythagoras is 1200, Cripps 1965, Divinity School 1870s, so you have this mix of buildings and a mix of materials. Every day is definitely different!’


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30 years of women In May 2012 the College held a day-long event to recognise the contribution of women over the last 30 years, and we were delighted that more than a hundred female Johnians attended. The day started with a speed networking session, followed by lunch in Hall and then many fascinating Johnian speakers in the afternoon. The event concluded with afternoon tea, sponsored by Baillie Gifford. Here, three attendees describe their experiences of the day. Amy Lonton-Rawsthorne (2010) is a current student reading Education with English and Drama. ‘Receiving the invitation was at once exciting and depressing. Having just celebrated St John’s quincentenary, I was deeply saddened at the 470 years it had taken the College to allow women through its gates. I was also disappointed by my lack of knowledge of women’s history in the College, of our journey here over the last 30 years and of my own place in this story. The event itself – empowering, positive and humbling – expelled this pessimism as I discovered the extraordinary and diverse lines of work and domestic politics in which Johnian women are leading the way. Running throughout the event were brave and sobering discussions on the state of feminism, the daily struggles of even the most mobile of women and the pain of ever-present sexism still pervading our universities today. What a relief, in a world often complacent on these matters, to hear such intelligent discussion about the way forward for the next generation of professional women! ‘The problems of the past may not have disappeared completely, but nonetheless women at John’s are thriving. If anything, certain hurdles have made me more aware, passionate and determined. I have developed a greater

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confidence to contribute in lectures and male-dominated Cambridge societies, to debate at dinners and to challenge supervisors who want me to write with more arrogance. I can only hope to be able to use these skills to as great an effect as the Johnian women who came before me.’ Amanda Boyle (1992) is a film-maker and was one of our ‘Reel Women’ speakers. ‘The event was organised with such warmth by the Development Office. Cures for cancer, understanding risk and the evils of Daniel Craig were just some of the topics discussed. It was humbling to meet women from all three decades shining in their very varied fields. ‘The day ended perfectly when I caught up with my Director of Studies, someone who, although I was no model philosophy student, still inspires me today. Professor Heal told me that she is retiring this year and that St John’s had generously given her a room at the College to continue her work. As I strolled through the College with the evening sun backlighting the arches with nostalgia, I kept thinking there might only have been 30 years of women here, but all is right in the world when there’s a permanent room at St John’s that is Jane Heal’s.’

Michaelmas term 2012

Amy Dynock (2000) is a Client Service Director for Baillie Gifford, the day’s sponsor. ‘Strange as it may seem, there is a strong connection between St John’s College and Baillie Gifford, an independent investment management partnership established in Edinburgh more than 100 years ago. A number of alumni have found their way to Baillie Gifford’s door, be it the recently retired Joint Senior Partner Alex Callander (1979), myself, Investment Manager Brian Lum (2002) or our most recent recruit, Fraser Thomson (2002). ‘Having supported the twenty fifth anniversary symposium in 2007, it seemed a natural opportunity to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of women studying at St John’s this year. For much of our history, our firm was similarly the domain of the male of the species. Much has changed over the past 30 years, but we continue to explore issues surrounding the attraction and retention of female staff in the world of investment management. The topic, amongst myriad matters, was hotly debated on a day of discussion and networking among Johnian women past and present, all rounded off with a champagne tea in the sunshine.’

A second women’s networking event was held on Friday, 5 October at the Charlotte Street Hotel, courtesy of Tim and Kit Kemp. Look out for details of next year’s event in our monthly e-newsletter.

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A homegrown solution

Right: Raspberry Pi Trustee Pete Lomas.

Far right: The Raspberry Pi itself (courtesy of Switched On Tech Design

Around four years ago, a group of University staff set themselves on a mission to inspire the next generation of computer science students. That mission resulted in a very small but very sought-after computer called the Raspberry Pi. Eben Upton (1996) and Robert Mullins met when Eben took over from Robert as Director of Studies in Computer Science at St John’s in 2006. During their time working at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory they became worried by the decreasing numbers of computer science applicants and their lack of programming knowledge. So, they formed a team to create a basic computer that would inspire a new generation of programmers. The team became the Raspberry Pi Foundation, which is now a UK charity with a board of six trustees. After some teething problems, the Raspberry Pi was finally launched in February this year to worldwide interest. Initially, orders were limited to one per customer and demand was so high that one supplier’s website crashed. More than 300,000 units have been distributed so far and new ones are being manufactured at a rate of 4,000 per day. We spoke to Eben and Robert to find out how the project started, how it has evolved and what effect the Raspberry Pi has already had on its global audience.

What is it? Courtesy of The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video.

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Above left: The University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory.

Above right: Raspberry Pis being checked and packed into antistatic bags for shipment.

Michaelmas term 2012

Selling units at the Cambridge Raspberry Jam event.

Co-Founder Eben Upton conducting a teaching workshop.

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Eben Upton works as an SoC (system on a chip) Architect for Broadcom based in California.

What was your goal when you started the project? Rob: Initially it was to create a computer that would encourage the sort of hobbyist programmers that we were seeing less and less of during the admissions process. The idea of a ‘BBC Micro for the 21st century’ was mentioned and things grew from there. The opportunity was there because mobile phone chip technology, which is Eben’s day job and my research area, would allow us to build a very small, low-cost, low-power, yet powerful computer for around $25 (£15). Eben: There’s a big problem: there’s a shortage of people applying [for computer science courses]. Although we’re still able to get a good supply of bright kids, we wouldn’t want that number to go down much further. It’s certainly the case that the level of built-in technical skill that you can assume in students has gone down, at the point where they come in the door. It’s about trying to give people that 1980s experience of programming your own computer.

Has the shortage of computer science students had an effect on the computer industry in the UK? Eben: Anything that’s a problem for us in the University in year x, will be a problem for the industry in year x+3, x+4, etc. Particularly because there are things you don’t teach on the computer science tripos. Knowing your way around a computer is not necessarily something that you teach. Rob: Another thing that’s interesting is that a lot of people who study computer science don’t then go on to work in the industry. A lot of them get hoovered up by the City and other places that just know that people who do computer science degrees have got a good set of skills that can be put to use in other jobs.

Where did the name Raspberry Pi come from? Rob: I think we fixed on a fruit-related name because it would appeal to children and also because it’s a tradition in the

What are people making with their Raspberry Pi?... Voice-controlled robot > wildlife camera > high-altitu number plate recognition system for car park entry > telephone answering machine > home heating thermostat > camera f

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Michaelmas term 2012 computing industry. The ‘Pi’ bit came from the plan to use the Python Programming Language. I remember thinking I didn’t like the name, but with hindsight it has proved very popular and perhaps a little quirky and British.

that they use programming to play and create, and that many have become hooked who had shown no interest previously.

How are Raspberry Pi owners influencing how it’s used and your future plans? Did you have any inkling how popular the computer would be? Rob: Going back through my emails from around Christmas time it was obvious we didn’t. We even had a plan to pack and ship them ourselves at one point. I think early estimates were 1,000 per month.

Rob: One of the strongest parts of the project is the community that has built up and that’s great because they’ve made a huge contribution to the platform and they’re now producing really fun projects with the Raspberry Pi. Also, if you go online and read the forums you quickly realise there are people with very little experience and people with a lifetime of experience coming together and sharing ideas and explaining how to do things with each other.

What challenges did you face? Eben: We had some problems finding a UK manufacturer for the device for a variety of reasons. The technology level of the board is a bit high for UK manufacturers, and in general the cost structure [was a problem]. There are issues with how the UK electronics manufacturing industry is set up, in terms of its cost base. In terms of getting the thing designed, we had all the skills we needed within the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

‘We even had a plan to pack and ship them ourselves at one point.’

You’ve both had full-time day jobs throughout the project, how have you found the time to work on Raspberry Pi? Eben: Weekends and evenings. And we just don’t do anything else! Rob: My daughter was born 16 months ago too. The whole project is lots of fun, which helps enormously. There is a lot of goodwill out there too, from companies and individuals, which makes all the difference.

What excites you most about Raspberry Pi? Rob: The feeling that we’re beginning to have some impact. There’s a lot of energy around the project and it’s helping as a catalyst to spark children’s interest in computer science and learning to program. The hope is that it will really make a difference over the next few years. The government has begun to take notice and there’s hopefully going to be a very good new GCSE in computer science. We’ve also had feedback from parents whose children have started to program as a result of the project. It’s great to hear

Robert Mullins is Director of Studies for Computer Science and a Fellow of St John’s.

ude helium balloon webcam > firewall > musical instrument > media centre > autonomous boat to cross the Atlantic > flash trigger > vacuum cleaner > model railway controller > miniature arcade machine running ‘Street Fighter II’ >

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Back to the

musical roots

Photo: Annelie Rosencrantz.

In performance at the 100 Club, Oxford Street, London.

Classico Latino, the Latin-American trio comprising Graham Walker (1996) playing cello, Iván Guevara-Bernal (1996) on piano and Elizabeth Ball (1999), violin, recently visited Colombia to launch their third album. Graham describes their musical influences and also the experience of playing locals their own music. In April this year we enjoyed the great privilege of being able to visit the famous studios at Abbey Road to record our third album: a collection of some of the most iconic songs from across Latin America, entitled Latin-American Classics: a Musical Journey through Latin America. The album, which includes contributions from a number of British and Latin-American musicians, including the Gentlemen of St John’s (in their guise as the Gents of London) and Colombian superstar Andrés Cepeda, was launched at concerts in Bogotá in June and at the Union Chapel, Islington in October.

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Classico Latino draws its repertoire from what is described by Latin-Americans as ‘folkloric’ music. This does not correspond accurately with the genre of folk music as it is understood in the UK, but refers instead to traditional popular music in a wide variety of styles and rhythms, from the familiar tango, bolero and samba to the less-well-known joropo, currulao and bambuco. Each rhythm would traditionally have been performed by a particular group of instruments, and the only thing these individual ensembles have in common is the absence of a piano, violin or cello, those very instruments used by Classico Latino.

Michaelmas term 2012 Although we take a very European-classical instrumental ensemble, the piano trio, and apply it to the folkloric music of Latin America, local audiences in the continent seem to respond very positively to our music. Before we visited Colombia for the first time, we were rather apprehensive to see how a native audience would react to us as a British group essentially appropriating their cultural heritage. We needn’t have worried! Colombians are not by nature restrained in expressing their feelings, and even in the relatively formal setting of the Teatro Colón, the old colonialstyle Opera House in Bogotá, there were hats thrown in the air, cheers, whistles and shouts (after we had finished playing, thankfully). And in the small, sleepy town of Ginebra, where the most important festival of Colombian Andean music: the Festival Mono Nuñez, takes place, the reaction was simply unbelievable. In 2011 at this festival Lizzie sang the old song ‘Pueblito Viejo’, a song as iconic for Colombians as ‘Danny Boy’ might be for the Irish. The entire auditorium of 1,200 people, and probably a million more watching live on TV, were on their feet shouting and cheering. I think she could have married twenty times over after that performance! At the same performance, I was proud to be presented with a plaque in honour of my contribution to Colombian Andean music. St John’s has had a seminal influence on Classico Latino and the lives of its members: the group began as a duo in 1997 (A Latin Serenade was the original name) whilst Iván and I were students at St John’s. Our first recital, in January 1999, took place in the Master’s Lodge in front of the largest-ever audience at a Lodge concert. The duo developed into a trio soon after when Lizzie arrived as an undergraduate in 1999. Lizzie remembers her time at St John’s as ‘an experience which taught me the true merits of perseverance, selfconfidence, and striving for excellence. These valuable life-skills have been vital to my career in the music industry.’ Iván, who had lived in the UK for only a year before arriving at St John’s, writes that ‘there was such a warm, welcoming and friendly atmosphere in the College that I felt immediately at home. Those happy times which I spent at Cambridge have stayed with me ever since.’

Photo: Ben Wright.

Graham, Ivan and Lizzie.

Photo: Nicolas Forrero.

The trio with their transport and driver Alonso in Ginebra, Colombia.

Ivan and Graham with former Master, Peter Goddard, after the first Master’s Lodge concert in 1999.

For me, having been a chorister in earlier years, the College has had an enormous impact. It is clear to me that I would not be the musician I am today without St John’s. Not only did the choir teach me the values of disciplined and heartfelt musicianship, but were it not for the presence of overseas students such as Iván at St John’s, I would most likely never have encountered the world of Latin music, which has taken my life in such an unexpected direction. You can find out more about Classico Latino on our website at or you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter at @classicolatino.

Photo: Ben Wright.

The trio plus the Gents and other musicians at Abbey Road at the end of the recording.

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Inspirational support Miserable weather and Andy Murray’s disheartening loss at the Wimbledon men’s final was not enough to dampen the spirits of our donors this July! Rebecca Costello from the Development Office reflects on Donor Day 2012.

Donor Day is designed to show our immense appreciation for recent contributions from the Johnian community towards the St John’s College Campaign. This year we were also able to celebrate the successful completion of the Campaign, having raised our £50 million target 10 months ahead of schedule. In total 2,718 donors have contributed, with 19% donor participation worldwide. Gifts of all shapes and sizes have been welcomed. Many donors have been inspired to give to the College for the first time during the Campaign, while others have renewed their ongoing commitments. Regular contributions have provided a sustainable source of income and enable the College to plan for the future. See your enclosed copy of the Campaign Report for more information.

cutlery, concluded by the Master’s speech of gratitude and hope for the future.

The day’s celebrations began with drinks in the historical Combination Room, followed by a formal lunch in Hall. Esteemed academics, munificent donors and their welcome guests sat down together in a merry buzz of chatter and clinking

We are now entering the second phase of our Development Programme. Despite achieving what has been the most ambitious and successful fundraising campaign of any college in Oxford or Cambridge, there is still a great deal to be

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A series of talks and activities in the afternoon included a violin performance by the wonderfully talented Julian Gregory (2009) and an inspiring talk from our Admissions Tutor, Dr Helen Watson, on the challenges facing Cambridge colleges in admissions policy and practice. Many guests braved the self-guided tour of the historic College gardens, just as the rain stopped and the sun began to emerge. A small group gathered in the JCR to watch the Wimbledon final, assembling around the television screen on tenterhooks! The day was brought to a close with the welcome treat of tea and cakes in Hall.

Michaelmas term 2012

‘Since the 1944 Education Act there has been remarkable progress in transforming educational opportunities for children from families previously not accustomed to going on to university. However, schools, universities and individual students now face serious pressures that could put such progress at risk. I therefore welcome initiatives taken by St John’s, such as outreach activities and bursaries, and have been pleased to contribute to their support.’ Colin Greenhalgh (1960) Chairman, The Johnian Society, and donor

accomplished. We are honoured, but by no means surprised, that the Johnian community has rallied in this way and proud that it is our shared belief that St John’s is a sound investment for the future. It is an encouraging and inspiring feat then that even after an event designed to thank our donors for their financial contributions, many have contacted the Development Office to further increase their regular gifts. We are confident that with the support and effort from our loyal and generous donors we can continue to build on the Campaign’s foundations with vision and assurance over the coming years. By continuing to strengthen our endowment and funding for the College’s core activities we hope to continue to be able to attract and nurture the world’s brightest minds, regardless of their background or financial situation. Thank you to everyone who helped make this event happen and to all those who attended for making the Donor Day a memorable occasion once again.

‘Enjoying three very happy and highly beneficial years at St John’s was a privilege beyond my desert. The least I can do by way of recompense is to contribute to making it possible for future generations to have the same advantage.’ Sir David Kelly (1956), donor

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EVENTS CALENDAR 2012-13 DECEMBER 2012 12 London Christmas Drinks JANUARY 2013 26 Literary Day FEBRUARY 16 Winfield Society Dinner MARCH 8 IWD Lecture 15 Cripps Feast APRIL 14

Donor Day (by invitation only)

MAY 6 11 12

Port Latin Feast MA Dinner MA Lunch

JUNE 15 18 20 29 30

Exeter Lunch May Ball Garden Party for Graduands Johnian Dinner Johnian Lunch

JULY 6 7 26-27

Benefactors’ Dinner (by invitation only) Family Day Johnian Society Golf Competition

VARSITY MATCH 2012 ANNOUNCEMENT We are disappointed to announce that our annual Varsity Match event at Twickenham Stadium will not be going ahead this year. This is due to the substantial increase in the price per person. We are sorry for any disappointment caused. For full details and for information on the alternative Twickenham event please see our website.

Do you receive our monthly enewsletter? If not, send us an email at to make sure you don’t miss out on upcoming events. St John’s is now tweeting news and updates. Follow us @stjohnscam

Join us on Facebook to keep up to date with what’s going on in College. Visit

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.

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

Johnian News Michaelmas 2012 issue  

Biannual newsletter for alumni of St John's College, Cambridge

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