Christ Church Chemists’ Affinity Group Committee


Minutes of the Third Meeting

th September 2014, 5.30 pm, The Keene Room, Christ Church



Present: Martin Grossel (1973), Tristan Smart (2006), Will Peveler (2007), David Dunmur (1959), Richard Wayne (1965), Ann Holloway (1989), Mike Tuddenham (1983), Fiona Holdsworth (1981).

Apologies: Alex Ashcroft (1985), Judith Fox (1989), Sarah Allatt (1996), Ian Jones (1964), Graham Allatt (1967), David Franks (1973), George Marston (1980), Alex Robinson (2002), Kiri Stevens (2004), Tony Law (1965), Simon Hall (1975), Charlie Vincent (2000).


1. Minutes of the Last Meeting and Matters Arising


The question was raised as to Andrea Angel’s status as a tutor. His status was complicated but he had been a Christ Church undergraduate, did teach chemistry in Christ Church, and had a permanent University position. It was agreed that the minutes be amended to clarify his status.



2. July 5th Event Report


Fiona Holdsworth reported on the first Affinity Group event, which was held on the 5th July. It comprised a picnic, a tour of College, and a talk by Martin Grossel. 29 chemists (accompanied by members of their families) attended the event, of whom 11 completed a survey afterwards.

The results of the survey are indicative, rather than definitive, given the relatively poor response rate, but were generally positive. The mean “enjoyment” score was 4.36 out of 5, and 78% of people had liked bringing their own picnic. The tea was very popular, as was Martin’s talk. The tour, which followed the talk, was also very good, and there was an interesting “Alice” display in the library, which people enjoyed.

As a result of the inclement weather there was a change made to the order programme on the day and one complaint was received from someone who wanted to hear only Martin’s talk. It was decided that in future the order of events on such a day should not be fixed so that changes could be made at the last minute if the weather was bad. It was also noted that backup indoor wet weather activities should be planned for future events.


It was noted that the College staff support of the event had been excellent and that thanks should be extended to Trevor and particularly to Adam. The harpist who was booked was also excellent, and a number of 4th year students helped, particularly with construction of the gazebos. It was agreed that we should write letters of thanks to those who helped.


Most people said that the cost of the event was about right and that they’d like to attend a similar event next year.

The photography competition was very successful, although there was some discussion as to whether such events should be dominated by children’s activities. Those who brought children reported that their children enjoyed activities such as the treasure hunt, drawing, and photography.


Unfortunately the College punts were not available for people to use. If people wish to go punting at future events then they will have to go privately because of issues with insurance. However, if a team of current students was available to take people punting that might mean that punting trips could be arranged.


It was not known at the time of the meeting whether the charge for the event had covered the costs as the Development Office had not yet completed their final accounts.

Will Peveler offered to investigate event ticketing websites and so on in order to make organisation of such future events easier and in order to enable people to pay fees via Paypal. Martin Grossel noted that at some point the Christ Church Chemists’ Affinity Group as a whole would need to establish a constitution and officers, including a Treasurer. David Dunmur offered to help.


It was also noted for future reference that Allan Chapman would be delighted to give a talk at any time. Next year is the 350th Anniversary of the publication of Hooke’s Micrographia and a talk related to that would be very interesting. Allan is signed up whenever we need him and it was noted that the talk and tour on July 5th were very popular. Will Peveler also has links with Andrea Sella at UCL and said that a “flash bang” chemistry demonstration would be good.

In conclusion, July 5
th went very well. A lot was learnt for future events, but it was a great success, particularly as there was limited time to organize it and it couldn’t be announced very far in advance as it was the inaugural event.



3. Regional Events


Mike Tuddenham and Martin Grossel both attended the Christ Church Association event at Alnwick Castle and reported a very enjoyable day with a good turnout. It included a long tour of the Castle. It was suggested that the dates of Association events should be noted and that we should tell the Association that we are interested in attending.

Martin has also had a word with Peter Morris at the Science Museum – there is a distinct possibility that we could hold an event there.



4. Graduate Events


Craig Mills was working on how we can involve former graduate students with Affinity Group events. He has helped with a survey for graduate students, but has now moved to New York. Fiona Holdsworth will liaise with Craig on the results of the survey.



5. 2015 Dinner Update


Martin Grossel now has a promise from the College for a dinner in January 2016 and one in the Easter vacation of 2018. These are dates that are logged in the College diary, and now need following up with the Steward’s Office.



6. Future Events


The Committee needs to consider what sort of event might be organized in 2015. Options include a lunch, perhaps a buffetin the McKenna Room (which holds 47 seated but more for a buffet. The Hall holds greater numbers but is expensive and difficult to book at short notice. If SCR premises are used then it should be noted that SCR members will still need to have somewhere to eat lunch, although the advantage of using SCR premises could include use of the SCR lunch menu and wine.


People do like family events, but events are also needed for those who don’t wish to attend with families. Perhaps the next event should either be for old members alone or old members with just partners?


It was agreed that the next event should be partner free and should be a lunch with talk either around Easter 2015 or during summer 2015, on a Saturday. Martin Grossel agreed to talk to the Steward’s Office and the Development Office.


There were several suggestions as to further possible events. These included: a drinks reception at the RI or a similar event in London; something at the Oxford and Cambridge Club; an event at the RSC – Richard Wayne has contacts there; or a visit to the House of Lords – Fiona agreed to talk to David Neuberger.


It might also be worth considering Gresham College, or any Guilds with which old members might be associated. Whether the London event includes partners or is member-only will depend upon the venue.



7. Web and Social Media


Pete Biggs is working on changing the website and forum so that other people will be able to upload material. We should also try to work on using the forum more.

Other social media was discussed. It was agreed that we should have a Facebook group and a Twitter feed.

8. Funding and Membership


It is necessary to have free access to the website in order to draw chemists in. We should reimburse Pete for the website domain, and long-term we need to consider whether we can use College webspace. Martin agreed to talk to Dirk Aarts and possibly also the Treasurer.

If we are to have a constitution, as discussed above, then it might be advisable to have a Web Manager.

It was agreed that there should be no membership fee for the Affinity Group but that we should continue to charge for events.



9. A.O.B.


David Dunmur had been speaking to Paul Kent who had suggested the idea of helping young people who were searching for employment. Martin wondered whether an intern event for current undergraduates would be good. Perhaps 5-10 old members could be invited to give a 3-5 minute presentation. This might also be a good way of involving the undergraduates from the moment of their arrival at College. Old members would sign themselves into dinner at such events.


It was noted that the Association organized careers forums but that they weren’t well attended. However, the son of an old member had successfully completed an internship through another old member, so contacts made through the Affinity Group have already been useful.

Perhaps a trial pre-dinner event of this type could be organized.

10. Date of Next Meeting


It was agreed that the next meeting should be in January 2015 with the exact date to be confirmed by e-mail.