I was Master’s Secretary at St Edmund’s College from June 2002 to November 2016. At the time of my arrival, the College had just celebrated the formal opening of the Richard Laws building and the Millennium Garden.
On my first day at St Edmund’s, I was shown into an office on the first floor of the Norfolk building, next to the Master’s study. I had never worked in an office overlooking a garden before and the view was so lovely from my office and that of the Master’s study windows. Down the corridor beyond ‘the Master’s suite’ was student accommodation and a shared kitchen which overlooked the back of the College, with squirrels running up and down the trees; I felt very much ‘at home’.
My arrival coincided with the start of the long vacation and in those days the summers in College were relatively quiet, so I was able to read through files and meet up with the previous Master’s Secretary, who very kindly explained how the College worked and the importance of governance, teaching and the students. My role was mainly administrative, but I was also involved in arranging a number of annual events. The College has held many notable occasions: the inauguration of Fellows and admission of students; the Norfolk Commemoration; the College Garden Party, and the Graduations. The College lent itself so well to these formal occasions with a backdrop of beautiful flowers, candelabra, black tie and the ladies’ gowns making it all very exciting and special.
Just before the Master Sir Brian Heap retired, plans were drawn up to build three new buildings, which we now know as The Brian Heap building, The Library building and The Geoffrey Cook building. The new Master, Professor Paul Luzio, presented the plans at the first Government Body meeting in the Michaelmas Term, where they were given the go ahead. The Development Committee was created to oversee the building work, chaired by the Vice-Master, Revd Dr Geoffrey Cook; I was the secretary. When the building project was completed, the Master and Fellows invited HRH Duke of Edinburgh to the Opening Ceremony, to formally name the three buildings. On that October day the whole College came together: it was autumnal and quiet, as if even the weather was holding its breath – I certainly was! The morning began with a line-up of everyone who had been involved in the construction of the new buildings, the Master and the College Officers; a reception was held in the new Garden Room with the Fellows, followed by a tour where Duke of Edinburgh was introduced to a group of students in each of the new buildings. The tour ended in the marquee where the Duke met the College Blues, the wider Fellowship, academic visitors, students and members of staff and ended with a formal lunch in the dining Hall. I have many happy memories of that day, of how well it went and how splendid everyone was.
I was very fortunate to work for three amazing Masters: Professor Sir Brian Heap, Professor Paul Luzio and Mr Matthew Bullock. I knew some wonderful Senior Officers and Fellows, many of whom were very helpful and great to talk to and thankfully had a very good sense of humour which was needed at times! I loved our overseas visitors and the brilliance and diversity they brought; I was lucky to know a few of them well and always looked forward to their return visits.
Since those days, I have been able to do lots of gardening and planting over at the allotment, but much more importantly, I am the proud granny of Francesca 2 and Max 6 months. I still have the cat that sat on top of my lovely retirement cake, and the actual cat who is quite elderly now!
I am delighted to be a part of the College’s 50 years of Women Celebrations and honoured to be included with such wonderful and talented women.