The 2014 Friends' Winter meeting on November 28th at Ruskin College


The meeting was held in one of Ruskin College's fine new conference spaces in cooperation with Dr Chris Wilkes, the Principal, who kindly allowed the Friends very favourable rates for its use.

The evening's talk was a two-hander, entitled "The Rookery and Ruskin"; Nicola Creed spoke first, giving us the history of the Rookery, and using words, images, and maps to show the house in its historical and geographical context, drawing out the educational aspects of its pre-1940s life which foreshadowed its purchase by an educational institution in 1947.

Dr Wilkes spoke next, and told the story of Ruskin College's establishment, its division into two sites (Walton Street and Dunstan Road), and its early espousal of equality for its male and female students. He brought us up to date with an account of the College today, now settled entirely in Old Headington, and providing students with a variety of courses and excellent facilities. Chris is also busy establishing collaborative relationships with local residents and organizations, and reminded us that the Cafe and free evening events are open to non-students.

The two speakers presented between them a fascinating tale, highlighting changes across 350 years of activity in one corner of Old Headington.

After the talks, the Chairman announced that the President of the Friends of Old Headington, Penny Richards, had decided to stand down after 9 years in office. The Chairman expressed the Committee's regret, and thanked Penny for her long service to the Friends, which began with its establishment in 1959. Penny thanked the Chairman and members for the flowers presented on her retirement.

The Chairman then explained to the members that she had worked with Penny and the committee to seek a new President, and announced that they were all delighted that Lady Nancy Kenny had agreed to step into the role.

The formal part of the meeting closed, and the 70 members present were invited to introduce themselves to the new President over a glass of wine, having thoroughly enjoyed both the talks and the venue.

Nancy Kenny's message to members:

"I am absolutely delighted to have been made the President of the Friends of Old Headington.  We are privileged to live in a very special place, and I hope I can be useful in helping to preserve its uniqueness through The Friends".

I would like to thank everyone who worked to make the meeting a great success, and particularly Nicky Creed for her research and hard work, Chris Wilkes for his generosity, and the staff of Ruskin who made sure that everything worked smoothly throughout.

​Veronica Hurst