Mansfield’s annual Commemoration Service and Summer Garden Party was held on June 23rd, and managed to avoid the worst of the rain that has beset the nation’s summer thus far.
The day began with the Commemoration of Benefactors Service, led by our Chaplain Tanya Rasmussen, which was as ever a wonderful opportunity for Fellows, students and alumni to give thanks to those members and friends of Mansfield whose generosity throughout the years has provided the platform for our successes today. John Oxlade and the choir provided a wonderful accompaniment to this service.
Over 100 attendees, a mix of students, fellows, staff, alumni and their family and friends, were welcomed by a champagne reception under ominous clouds. Fortunately, these receded fairly quickly (for a while, at least) and we were left to eat a wonderful barbeque and salad lunch (lovingly prepared by our fantastic College staff) under relatively sunny skies. It was great to see so many of our alumni’s children, as well as those of the Fellows and staff, enjoying games of cricket and croquet, as well as arts and crafts with some of our students.
Inside the chapel, exhibitions of our architectural plans for the redevelopment of the East Range and the construction of a link building to the Chapel were on display, as well as the results of last term’s 1887 Society student photography competition, and a display of photographs from our forthcoming book on Mansfield’s first 125 years. Also on display in the Chapel was painting recently created by one of our first year theologians, Joseph de Quay, as a gift to the retiring John Muddiman, one of our longest-serving Fellows, as well as the remarkable 1970 film about the life of Mansfield that was recently rediscovered in the Development Office.
Outside on the quad, the soundtrack to the afternoon was provided by some of our musically-talented students, beginning with Abigail Rose and Alex Chalk, who played the guitar and ukulele. Following Abi and Alex, the Mansfield quad was graced by the spectacular Dot’s Funk Odyssey, who filled the quad with brass-driven classic Motown and soul, and had alumni and fellows dancing in the mid-afternoon sun.
That, of course, was before the rain arrived, and - in direct contravention of the Met Office’s promises - arrive it did, if only for twenty minutes or so. Just enough time for us all to troop into the main lobby to hear our Principal give a short thank-you, and to ask us all – Fellows, staff, students and alumni – to pull together to help the College through what will be a difficult period, beginning in December this year, when the current kitchens will be out of action while they are refurbished as a part of our building plans.
No sooner had Helena finished speaking than the rain ceased, and we are able to relocate outside once again, before afternoon tea was served in Hall as the clouds began to gather in earnest. No matter, however, as the rain only returned long after we had all departed, another successful year at Mansfield (and our new Principal’s first full year) marked by a thoroughly enjoyable day.