Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.
The College recently held its Valedictory Dinner celebrating the achievements and collegial bonds of our 2021 student cohort formed over the last three years.
During his speech to those bidding farewell, the Rector underscored the importance of individuals’ dedication to the pursuit of knowledge and truth in a time characterised by uncertainty, challenge, and transformation.
You are the second group of third-year students I have had the privilege to lead during my relatively brief tenure at the College. However you signify my first full year with a third-year group. The transition in College leadership with the change in the Rector serves as a poignant reminder of the ever-present force of change in our lives. It prompts us to assess our ability to adapt, to consider whether the change leads to improved outcomes, and to determine whether it nurtures unity, truth, goodness, and fruitful growth.
The evening commenced with Valedictory prayers and hymns led by College Council Member Fr Richard Waddell and in the presence of Council member Matt Gordon. Fr Waddell’s own blessing for our students read:
Go forth into the world in peace. Be of good courage. Hold fast that which is good. Render to no one evil for evil. Strengthen the fainthearted. Support the weak. Help the afflicted. Show love to everyone. Love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit; and the blessing of almighty God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.
The celebrations then gracefully shifted to the College’s glorious quadrangle for pre-dinner refreshments, with our sandstone walls draped in the radiant hues of a masterpiece sunset. All College students were warmly invited to join and celebrate the valedicts of 2023. The air resonated with narratives of origin, conversations abounding with the beginnings of cherished memories, lasting friendships and the multitude of splendid events that unfurled within this quadrangle over their past three years.
To the sound of the tolling of a bell, the proceedings shifted to Formal Dinner in Hall, the entire College population upstanding as the 2023 Valedicts entered the Hall.
Speeches were given by students from each year group, creating some of the most memorable moments of the College year. The First Years’ Address was given by Frances Duffy and Dougal Lane, who spoke to the leadership and example set by the 2023 Valedicts, their admiration for the departing Valedicts, and a touching parting message of gratitude and goodwill.
The incoming 2024 House Presidents, Anna Garnsey and Oscar Crowe delivered the Second Years’ Address. Both spoke of the immense challenges faced, tackled, and overcome by the 2023 Valedicts, the valued guidance provided by the departing cohort, and their lasting bonds of friendship.
The departing 2023 House Presidents, Darby Turner and Glenn Hui, captivated the audience with a blend of tears and laughter. Together, they reflected upon their year group’s collective journey, which started as the Year 12 cohort of COVID 2020, only to encounter successive lockdowns as College Freshers in 2021, and the lasting bonds forged through their shared resilience and strength of character. Their speech recounted times of triumph and disaster, of milestones big and small, and of the lasting bonds of friendship formed between this happy few.
Numerous awards and prizes were presented by the Rector, including the prestigious 2023 Benning Prize. This esteemed award, recognising leadership in college life inspired by the principles of intellectual distinction and the Christian ideal of service, was awarded jointly to both Imogen Morris and Noah Coomas.
In his parting remarks to the Valedicts of 2023, the Rector said
As you go out of residence in the College in coming weeks, I welcome you warmly to the next stage of your membership of the College – you go from being resident members of the College to being alumni of the College.
And importantly, you step into the world having graduated from one of the most impressive institutions in the country. Do not take that for granted, and always represent your former home with good humour, faith, and honour.
Click here to view photographs from the event (Password: 1858).