CHARTER DAY DINNER 2016 - A NIGHT OF CELEBRATION!
30 November 2016
Ninety members and guests of the Queen's Graduates' Association (QGA) gathered for the annual Charter Day Dinner on Friday 25 November in the splendour of the Great Hall – and it certainly was a night to remember!
Charter Day marks the establishment of Queen’s College Belfast in 1845 and the creation of Queen’s as an independent university in 1908. The black tie Charter Day Dinner is organised by the QGA in conjunction with the Development and Alumni Relations Office each year.
Proceedings got underway at a lively pre-dinner drinks reception in the Canada Room, where guests were treated to some mesmerizing – not to mention humorous – sleight of hand by magician Trevor Price.
Patrons then moved to the splendid surroundings of the Great Hall where top table guests were escorted in by piper Bradley Parker from the Lisburn-based world champion Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band. Once everyone was seated, members and guests were welcomed by Association President Feargus McCauley and Lord Erne of Crom Castle in County Fermanagh, who delivered a toast to the University.
Before dinner was served Queen’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McElnay continued the celebratory tone when he updated those present on the latest news from around the campus.
Professor McElnay reflected on the recent launch of three Global Research Institutes at Queen’s, the successful ‘close out’ of the £140m Beyond Campaign, the opening of the School of Law in the old library stack building and the new £6m William Wright Technology Centre supported by Wrightbus.
He also singled out the achievements of Queen’s Student of the Year Diane Murdock, Graduate of the Year Jonny Bramley and the Dinner’s Guest Speaker Jonathan Scott for special celebration before acknowledging the contribution of the QGA. He concluded his address by offering a formal toast to the Association.
After dinner, the Keynote Speaker Jonathan Scott – a Queen’s 1972 BSc Zoology graduate, award-winning wildlife photographer and BBC Big Cat Diary broadcaster – took to the podium and delivered a well-received presentation on the plight of animals in the Serengeti Desert and the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya where he lives.
Jonathan, who was Queen’s Graduate of the Year in 2008, started by describing his four years at the University in the late 60s and early 70s as among the ‘best in his life’. He said that his degree ‘gave him confidence’ and that Queen’s allowed him to address his need ‘to be adventurous’.
Taking as his theme the importance of the environment, Jonathan’s multimedia presentation focused on his love for the leopard and cheetah and included a special clip recorded exclusively for the Zoology Department at Queen’s in the Serengeti.
Featuring a range of photographs taken by himself and his wife Angie, many of which are included in the couple’s latest book, Sacred Nature: Life's Eternal Dance, Jonathan highlighted the vanishing wilderness, the major corruption problems, the importance of wildlife tourism and the need to stay connected to natural world, in what was a thought-provoking and poignant address.
The evening also included the presentation of the First Trust Bank Queen's Graduate of the Year Award, to BBC Sports Producer Jonny Bramley and an interview with him by BBC journalist and Queen’s alumna Tori Watson.
QGA President Feargus McCauley responded to the Toast to the Association outlining the valuable networking opportunities which the QGA afforded graduates and on the Association’s busy events programme throughout the year.
Commenting on the evening, Feargus said: “Charter Day is a celebration of the founding of our University and as the most prestigious alumni event of the year, it was fitting that we were able present our First Trust Bank Queen’s Graduate of the Year Award to Jonny Bramley. My congratulations go to him and all those who helped make this evening so special.”
The evening was wonderfully rounded off by Queen's Musical Theatre Society who sang three numbers from popular West End shows.
For further information on the QGA or membership of other Queen’s alumni associations, please contact Alumni Officer Natasha Sharma, telephone +44 (0)28 9097 3135.
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