Our previous alumni events
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We were delighted to be able to welcome back some of our alumni to our Biomedical Science 21st Birthday celebration on Saturday 29 February in the Students’ Union bar. The event was attended by alumni, students and staff – current and former - and Principal Jenny Higham and Course Director Fran Gibson reflected on the achievements of the course over the last 21 years.
Throughout the evening, guests could visit the photo booth, sign a lab shirt with a message to the Biomedical Science department and add to the 21-year Biomedical Science Timeline for their own predictions about the future of the course. Guests also had the opportunity network with guests in a game of 'Human Bingo', a challenge to find out a number of facts about other guests' careers and interests in order to be entered into a prize draw.
Our tours of the Archives Collection, run by archivist Carly Manson, were highly popular. There will be the opportunity for guests who attended to appear in a video recording sharing their memories of the course. These will be stored in our Archives Collection along with the lab coat and timeline to mark this milestone in Biomedical Science at St George's.
The class of 1989 had a fantastic reunion weekend at the Beaumont De Vere Estate, Windsor, on Saturday 12 October.
This was the first time the group had officially caught up as a year group since 1989. Dr Nick Silver, who organised the event, says, “Most people had not changed very much, although some women commented that it was hard to recognise some of the men who no longer had much hair! Overall, I think most of us have aged extremely well and the black tie dinner was very chic, with beautiful people attending, inside and out”.
The group caught up about their time at university, and glasses were raised for alumni Chris Varty and Melanie Shaw, who are sadly no longer with us. Reflecting on life since leaving St George's, Nick adds, “It is clear that such an important time in your life creates the feeling that we are all part of a big family, as we really went through so much together from coming in as naive teenagers (most of us), to having to really face tough issues and decisions in life, with huge responsibilities on our shoulders”. He adds, “Most of all we left the event renewed by a sense of optimism that most of us have been extremely fortunate in our lives and we treasure the love and friendship of our year!”
The group plans to hold the next reunion, to celebrate 35 years since graduating, in 5 years’ time on 5 October 2024, when many members of the group will be considering retiring or will have retired. Nick comments “the collective good this group of 150 or so students has contributed to the health and happiness of the UK will have been substantial”.
If you would like to register your interest for the group's next reunion, please email us.
In June, 35 of our alumni attended the Class of 1979 alumni celebrated their 40-Year anniversary with a reunion weekend in London. The weekend started with a dinner at The Lanesborough on Saturday 22 June and ended with a trip to Tooting to enjoy a lunch at local curry house Radha Krishna Bhavan on Sunday 23 June. Some alumni visited St George's for a short tour ahead of the Sunday lunch to see how the campus had changed and meet some of our current students.
120 guests enjoyed dinner, drinks and live entertainment provided by physiotherapy students, staff and alumni at our Celebration of 20 Years of Physiotherapy last month. The event was held at the Students' Union bar and was attended by alumni, current students, physiotherapy staff, old and new and other guests who have supported the programme over the years.
Principal Jenny Higham and School Head of Department Dr John Hammond reflected on the history of the course and how it has developed over the years, and Dr Hammond shared his own anecdotes and memories with guests. The event raised money through online donations for the St George's Annual Fund, which supports a range of student causes across the university, from scholarships and hardship funding to mental health and wellbeing.
Students of all disciplines across the university can apply for funding. To find out more about how the annual fund supports students, visit our website. We would like to thank our alumni who donated for their generous support. Guest Joanna Dawes, Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy and course director of MSc (pre-reg) Physio programme, says, “I thoroughly enjoyed the 20 year reunion event. It was a lovely opportunity to catch up with colleagues and students past and present. It was fantastic to have people from throughout the years and present time together in one place. I hope we have more events like this in years to come!”
Rebecca Le Seve and some of the old Fashion Show crew caught up in April for a reunion, starting at student favourite Lahore Karahi for a curry. The group then headed to the Students’ Union bar and to enjoy listening to some of their favourite tracks from their time at St George’s.
Rebecca said, "Thanks for all those who attended the Fashion Show reunion - we had a great catch up and want to do it again!"
Look out for information on other upcoming reunions in our newsletter and on our social media!
In April, a reunion lunch was held for members of the 1976 intake of St George's Hospital Medical School. Being the first cohort to study pre-clinical sciences at the newly-built Medical School at Tooting, the group was known as the ‘Guinea Pig year’.
There were originally 80 students on the course, and the majority of these have stayed in touch with one another. Sadly, two of these alumni are no longer with us but are remembered fondly by their peers.
A reunion is held each year at the RAF Club in Piccadilly, courtesy of Group Captain Andy Green, near the old St George’s site on Hyde Park Corner. The group very kindly donated a surplus of over £100 to the St George’s Hardship Fund.
Alumnus and group committee member Tim Garrett-Moore added, “chatting about 'the good old days' again refreshed and renewed fond memories of our student times”. The group plans to continue holding the reunions every three years, reconvening in in 2022.
Photo (left to right): Andy Green, Teresa Jennings (nee Boyle), Regina Milaskiewicz and Tim Garrett-Moore (nee Moore).
The St George’s Class of 1957 held their last qualifiers reunion on St George’s Day this year, 61 years after they were first set up.
The group initially met for their 25th, 40th and 50th reunions, and then subsequently met every year. The 40th and 50th were held at the Lanesborough, our former site for St George’s, with many attending from overseas. This photo was taken at the group's 1997 reunion at the Lanesborough, in what were once the St George's House Governer's and Matron's offices.
The qualifiers were part of a very small intake at the old St George’s site in Hyde Park, with very few women attending the University at this time. The group has enjoyed catching up with old classmates over the years and talking about their time at St George’s, which they look back on with fond memories of evenings at the old common room overlooking the campus. Marlene Robinson, who regularly attended the reunions, adds, “We considered ourselves so fortunate to have spent such a happy time at a small and intimate St Georges”.
In March, we welcomed Paul Sinha back to St George’s to host our Quiz Night following his highly successful comedy reunion last year. The event was opened by Deputy Principal Professor Deborah Bowman and President of the SU Muhammad Omar Hijazi, who joined Paul for an official opening of the Students’ Union stage. The 'Sinha Stage' has been named in recognition of the money Paul has helped us raise for student causes- including the stage itself, which has been used for a number of student events and performances.
Over 100 alumni, staff and students came to the quiz to pit their knowledge against each other. The quiz generated over £2,500 in ticket sales, raffle ticket and plaque sales and bar sales, with all profits being dedicated to our annual fund. The annual fund supports student causes across the University such as mental health support, scholarships and support to students facing hardship. We would like to thank Paul for coming back to write and host this exclusive quiz for St George’s, our bar staff, our estates team and the Students’ Union for their help with making the event a success.
Competition was tough and two teams came head-to-head for first place in a tie breaker question about the number of restaurant reviews on Tripadvisor for well-known student favourite Lahore Karahi. The eventual winners, SCBU do you think you’re looking at?, were awarded an engraved plaque carved from a piece of our old Students’ Union bar. Plaques from the old bar, which many of you will have frequented during your time at St George’s, were on sale for the very first time during the quiz and only 250 of these will ever be made. To request further information on purchasing one of your own, please email us.
Second place went to Just here for the autograph, and Desperate Dragons came in at third place. Paul also awarded a prize for ‘best team name’ to The Sinha Takes it all, the loser's standing Paul.
The quiz was followed by a raffle, and some generous local businesses provided some excellent incentives for you to return to Tooting. We would like to thank Graveney Gin, Broadway Hair Studio, Love Art Tooting, Unwined and Broadway Studio for providing some wonderful raffle prizes, as well as Lahore Karahi for providing our third prize for the quiz.
Thank you to all of our alumni who attended and we hope to see you again soon at St George’s.
On Friday 30 October, the MBBS Class of 1987 held its first ever online event - a live, pre-Halloween quiz on Zoom.
Invitations were also extended to class of 1986 (many of whom joined for the intercalated year) and the event was attended by 15 alumni.
‘Medicine, Monsters and Magik' was the inspiration of alumnus Dushyant Mital, and was hosted by former school secretary and fellow classmate Dr Khalid Khan.
The quiz included several video cameos - including Australia-based alumni Jim and Debbie McAlister and Julian Wilcox. Many thanks to several other alumni who contributed some spooky remote video recordings with the group (including Neil Bhatia, Alex Keogh, Nik Johnson, Paras Jethwa, Pauline Leonard, Camilo, Annabella and Lucas Zapata, and Sheila Richards).
Dr Khan comments, “It was educational, inspirational, team-building and terrifying all at once! The group complained bitterly that the questions were too hard - so not much has changed since 1987, then …”
The Development and Alumni Team recently launched a new event series, ‘Alumni Perspectives’, to celebrate the achievements of our alumni and allow them to share their stories, advice and expertise with the St George’s community. On Thursday 18 February, we held our first event in the series, ‘In Conversation with Professor Frank Chinegwundoh MBE’. The event was attended by alumni, staff, students and external guests.
Professor Chinegwundoh graduated from St George’s in 1984 and was the UK’s first Black British urological surgeon. He has specialised in cancer care and raising awareness about prostate cancer symptoms throughout his career, making great strides in raising the awareness of cancer-related diseases and receiving an MBE for services to the NHS in 2013.
As well as sitting on a number of government advisory committees, he also volunteers for a number of charities and acts as a mentor and career advisor at a school in Hackney, where he shares advice and guidance with aspiring young Black medics.
There’s no doubt that there is structural racism in the NHS; having said that, one of the things I impress upon people is the importance of networking and mentoring. When you share your experiences, you learn from each other.
In this live event, medical students Khadija Owusu and Lucrece Wasolua-Kibeti used questions submitted by staff, students and alumni to speak to Professor Chinegwundoh about his career journey and achievements since he graduated from St George’s.
When asked about the challenges that black medics face pursuing a surgical career, and how he navigated them, Professor Chinegwundoh replied, “Things are a whole lot better now than they were, and things are more meritocratic than they used to be. There’s no doubt that there is structural racism in the NHS; having said that, one of the things I impress upon people is the importance of networking and mentoring. When you share your experiences, you learn from each other.”
When asked what could be done to increase the representation of black men in Medicine, Frank said, “It’s not ‘one size fits all’. I think it’s a wider issue than just Medicine. I think we have to help black boys to do better in the education system from quite a young age. We have to make a conscious effort to inspire and encourage and inspire young Black males.”
Among the advice he shared for aspiring black surgeons was, "Do as much as you can to make yourself appointable. Get a great portfolio; it’s difficult to turn you down if you’ve covered all bases and excelled.” Speaking about some of the qualities which are important in Medicine, he added, “I think the thing patients appreciate the most is kindness. When I’ve been a patient myself, I really appreciate when someone is kind and compassionate.”
Diversity and Inclusion Advisor Liz Grand spoke at the event about the Black and Beyond Campaign, which featured Professor Chinegwundoh and was a staff-student collaboration launched during Black History Month. This campaign is a student/staff collaboration and was prompted by student interviewers Khadija and Lucrece, who were keen to see increased representation and celebration of our Black staff, students and alumni at St Georges, recognising the importance of role models from Black backgrounds.
Khadija said, “Hosting the live interview with Professor Chinegwundoh was amazing. He shared the importance of staying resilient and determined, especially as he experienced several barriers in relation to career progression due to being black. Truly an inspirational SGUL alumnus!”
Professor Chinegwundoh commented, “It was great to be able to share some of my experiences with the students and demonstrate it is possible to achieve much despite pushbacks that you will encounter.”
He concluded, “Compassion, integrity and communication skills are requisites to be the best doctor you can.”
St George’s second ever Careers Week took place during the first week of March. The theme this year was ‘Career Inspiration in Challenging Times’ and took place remotely due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Throughout the week students and recent graduates had the opportunity to watch Q&As from St George’s alumni, who spoke about their career journeys and the lessons they have learnt along the way. Topics ranged from ‘Work-life balance and managing stress’ to ‘Changing career paths and moving into management’ to ‘Non-traditional routes into healthcare’. If you missed them, you can catch up on our alumni Q&As on the St George’s, University of London YouTube channel. You can also read more careers advice from fellow alumni here.
The Careers Service ran sessions focused on helping students to feel empowered in these uncertain times, including ‘Postgraduate Study – advice on taking your studies beyond your first degree’ and ‘Job hunting in a pandemic’.
In addition to this, there was a full programme of careers talks from academics and alumni across a range of disciplines and courses. The speakers shared their own career journeys and gave advice on how to successfully navigate your career.
Associate Dean for Student Outcomes, Julie Hendry, said of Careers Week, “It was great to be able to host our second Careers Week and showcase to our students and recent graduates the career paths open to them as St George’s graduates. Despite the challenges that the pandemic has brought, the team have worked exceptionally hard to deliver Careers Week and I’m proud of the content that is available to the students and alumni at the start of their own career paths.
"This incredible repository of resources, available on our website, will be useful to all students and potential applicants looking to study with us. Many thanks to everyone who gave up their time to make the week the success that it was, in particular I’d like to thank our alumni who volunteered to deliver talks, they were all inspirational.”
As alumni of St George’s you are entitled to two years of free career support from the Careers Group, which includes support with planning your next steps, from building and using your network, to making applications and impressing at an interview. Visit our alumni pages to find out more about the benefits available to you, or get in touch if you have any questions about any of our alumni benefits.
Monday 8 March was International Women’s Day, with the theme of the day this year being #ChooseToChallenge. To mark the day, Diversity and Inclusion Manager, Liz Grand, held an event with Dr Cecilia Akrisie Anim CBE FRSA, who discussed her career to date, the challenges she has encountered along the way, and her advice for nursing students joining the profession today.
Dr Anim began with a glowing tribute to nurses across the globe for the work they have done throughout the coronavirus pandemic commenting, “The nursing profession have been unstinting in their professionalism throughout the pandemic. Healthcare professionals have really gone above and beyond.”
This was followed by a minute’s silence in tribute to those nurses who have lost their life while working in the pandemic.
Dr Anim then outlined her career journey which has taken her from her home village in Ghana to becoming the first Black African President of the Royal College of Nursing in 99 years.
She explained how she was initially inspired to become a midwife by her auntie who was working in the profession in Manchester. After qualifying at 21 and spending a period working in the western region of Ghana, Dr Anim moved to England and completed her nursing qualifications in Hull over three years, where she first experienced a cup of tea, and fish and chips. She also spoke of the challenge of homesickness and navigating a new culture as the only black African woman in her class.
After subsequently moving to London, Dr Anim discussed how she focused on women's health, taking up a role in sexual health at the Margaret Pyke Centre. She noted she also discovered her activism there, and became involved in trade union work, drawing inspiration from her father who had been a trade unionist for railway workers.
In 2014, Dr Anim became the first Black African President of the Royal College of Nursing in 99 years, a post she held for four years, having been the first Black African Deputy President prior to that. A question and answer session followed where audience members had the opportunity to probe Dr Anim further on a range of issues from her career.
Throughout the talk Dr Anim spoke warmly of the public support for nurses referencing on more than one occasion the clap for carers initiative that was a feature of the early stages of the pandemic. The importance of mentorship and support networks for young nurses, particularly those from minority backgrounds, was emphasised with Dr Anim surmising, “Happy nurses make happy patients”.
Dr Anim further reflected on the challenge of advancing gender equality, challenging the set backs created by all forms of sexism and structured disadvantages, noting that the time for data collection had to end and the focus should now be on actions and achievements. When asked what her message to student nurses and midwives would be, she shared the simple and powerful statement “Believe in yourself”.
Diversity and Inclusion Advisor, Liz Grand, commented, “It was brilliant to be able to hear from someone as esteemed as Dr Anim for International Women's Day. Listening to Dr Anim discuss her life journey was truly inspirational, and I hope the other attendees got as much out of the event as I did."