Past Events

Members and their guests have been busy attending a wide range of events. Reports and photographs are below.

Thursday 29 OCT 2020

Emmanuel Society logo

Emmanuel Society Book Group Zoom


Tuesday 27 OCT 2020

Discussion with Dr Jonathan Aldred


Tuesday 29 SEP 2020

Live Zoom with Lucinda Hawksley - Virtual tour of the Charles Dickens Museum


Saturday 26 SEP 2020

Gathering of Members - 1981, 1982 & 1983 Zoom


Wednesday 2 SEP 2020

Children's Emma Themed Activities: Word Search

Thursday 6 AUG 2020

Children's Emma Themed Activities: Bee Maze

Wednesday 22 JUL 2020

Live Talk with Professor Chris Burgoyne


Chris joined us to discuss his ongoing work in developing a VR 3D model of Emmanuel. It was great to see some wonderful parts of College brought to life. If you weren't able to join us, the recording of the talk is available to watch here.

Tuesday 14 JUL 2020

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Live Zoom with Charles Dowding


Emmanuel members joined us on Zoom for a talk by Charles Dowding (1977) entitled 'No dig gardening for health - soil, plants and people'. In this fascinating talk, Charles explained the many benefits of the no dig method of gardening including speed, ease and productivity.

Thursday 9 JUL 2020

Dame Fiona Reynolds - Walking for Country Life: the challenges of writing a monthly walking column


Emmanuel members joined us for a YouTube talk by Emmanuel Master, Dame Fiona Reynolds, on her experiences writing a monthly walking column. A video of her discussion is still available for members to enjoy here.

Wednesday 8 JUL 2020

Emma connects: Art Quiz Answers

Friday 3 JUL 2020

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Emmanuel Society Book Group Zoom


The college Book Group reads and discusses books with Cambridge connections. Our latest discussion was about Period Piece: A Cambridge Childhood, by Gwen Raverat (granddaughter of Charles Darwin), an autobiographical memoir published in 1952.  

Wednesday 24 JUN 2020

Live Zoom with Gerald Davies - The Future of Rugby


Honorary Fellow, former Welsh Rugby international and current President of the Welsh Rugby Union, Gerald Davies, joined us for a fascinating Zoom talk on the future of rugby.

Thursday 18 JUN 2020

History of Gardening Quiz and Zoom with Gin Warren


Emmanuel Society member, Gin Warren (1978), hosted a live Zoom on the history of gardening. Members also enjoyed testing their botanical knowledge with Gin's intriguing History of Gardening quiz.

Wednesday 10 JUN 2020

Children's Emma Themed Activities: Spot the Difference Answers

Wednesday 10 JUN 2020

Emma connects: Weekly Quiz

Wednesday 10 JUN 2020

Children's Emma Themed Activities: Virtual Duckling Hunt

Wednesday 10 JUN 2020

Emma connects: Word Search (People)

Thursday 4 JUN 2020

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Live Zoom with Chris Mansi - Start-ups and Covid-19


Chris Mansi (2003) read Medicine and is now the CEO and Co-Founder of,, which uses artificial intelligence to synchronise stroke care and improve access to life-saving therapies. Their developments include a module to help respond to Covid-19. Chris joined us to talk about entrepreneurship in the light of the current crisis.

Thursday 28 MAY 2020

Children's Emma Themed Activities: Spot the Difference

Thursday 28 MAY 2020

Emma connects: Art Quiz Answers

Thursday 28 MAY 2020

Emma connects: Dickens Crossword Answers

Friday 22 MAY 2020

Emma connects: Dickens Crossword

Thursday 21 MAY 2020

Live Zoom with Lucinda Hawksley - Tales from the National Portrait Gallery


While the National Portrait Gallery was still in lockdown, Lucinda Hawksley joined us on Zoom to give a virtual tour of some of the gallery's most fascinating personalities and quirkiest stories. Lucinda has been a freelance lecturer at the NPG since 2007 and has drawn extensively upon its collection and archives in her work as an author.

Tuesday 19 MAY 2020

Live with Dr Amy Orben: Screens During Lockdown: What do we know?


Amy joined us on YouTube to provide a concise and engaging overview about what we (don’t) know about screen time and social media use, and how it affects teenage mental health and well-being. She also spoke about her work informing UK policy, including the screen time guidance issued by the UK Chief Medical Officers, and her current research around teenage mental health during the Coronavirus lockdown. Members can watch a recording of her fascinating talk here.

Sunday 17 MAY 2020

Emma connects: Mindfulness - Live Zoom Session


Claire Thompson (2005) joined us for a Mindfulness session, giving members a chance to reflect on what the natural world has brought us during lockdown. Members were able to informally discuss their Mindfulness activities from the past six weeks, as well as sharing experiences of nature.

Wednesday 6 MAY 2020

Emma connects: Word Search

Wednesday 6 MAY 2020

Emma connects: Weekly Quiz

Thursday 30 APR 2020

Live with Nigel Spivey: A World of Make-Believe: The Art of Visual Storytelling


Nigel joined us on YouTube to give an insight into a project to write an account of narrative art from its prehistoric beginnings to the present day. Members can catch up on his talk here.

Wednesday 29 APR 2020

Emma connects: Word Search

Wednesday 22 APR 2020

EMMA Connects: Children's Emma-themed activities (word search)

Wednesday 22 APR 2020

Emma connects: Virtual Easter egg hunt - Unwrapped

Thursday 16 APR 2020

Emma connects: Children's Emma-themed activities (paper duck)

Thursday 16 APR 2020

Emma connects: Children's Emma-themed activities (lion dot-to-dot)

Saturday 21 MAR 2020

Gathering of Members


Thursday 19 MAR 2020

Tuesday 10 MAR 2020

Giving Day

Emmanuel College & Online

The college’s first ever giving day, Emma gives, was a big success thanks to the kind support of members and friends of Emmanuel.  Over 500 generous donors contributed, raising over £134,000 for Student Support donors – and part of this sum will be put to quick use helping students facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Staff, students and members also took part in a Bake Sale in College, which also contributed to the total.  Thanks to everyone who donated, baked or shared our videos and posts online!  You’ve made a real difference to Emma students.  

Wednesday 4 MAR 2020

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London Drinks

6:00pm – Phoenix Artist Club, 1 Phoenix St, London WC2H 8BU

We were very pleased to see around 50 members at the annual drinks party in London. There was a diverse group represented across several decades from those who are well established in their careers to recent graduates. Throughout the evening a lively buzz filled our area of the bar as friends reunited and new connections were made. We hope all who came had a good time and look forward to welcoming everyone back next year.

Tuesday 3 MAR 2020

Emma women and the law: celebrating 100 years of women in the law and 40 years at Emma

7:30pm – Emmanuel College

To mark the combined anniversaries this year of 40 years of women being admitted to Emma and 100 years of women being permitted to practise law in England and Wales, we were delighted to have a panel of inspiring Emma Lawyers back at the College to talk about their experiences.

Thursday 13 FEB 2020

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Medics' Dinner 2020

Professor Sir Simon Wessely, President of the Royal Society of Medicine

6:45pm – The Great Hall, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, West Smithfield, London, EC1A 7BE

We were pleased to see members who studied medicine or are working in the medical field at the Emmanuel Society’s regular dinner for medics. The dinner was held at the Great Hall, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital on Thursday 13 February 2020. We were honoured to have Professor Sir Simon Wessely, President of the Royal Society of Medicine, speak at the dinner, and he was introduced by Dame Clare Marx, Chair of the General Medical Council, also a former speaker at the dinner. The dinner was well attended and we were able to provide a place for all current med students who wanted to attend courtesy of sponsorship provided through generous donations from members.

Monday 3 FEB 2020

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Book Group

8:00pm – Fellows' Breakfast Room

Pax by John Harvey

Bloodsmith and Blackadder: would you like to mention two things they have in common apart from both being polysyllabic surnames beginning with ‘B’?

An obvious one (assuming you’ve read John Harvey’s Pax, and have been living in the UK in recent decades) is that they are both fictional characters. The Emma Society book group greatly enjoyed discussing Pax the other evening. Well, one of us enjoyed discussing it, but he hadn’t enjoyed reading it and had put it aside at what his ereader told him was 27% of the way through. The problem was that there are sentences which change tense as they go along, and some on the hoof slithering and sliding around of pronouns. Also, this reader simply disliked Bloodsmith as a character, finding him to be immoral and A Nasty Piece of Work (he was, but you often need a smattering of such characters to make fiction work).

A quick poll revealed that some members of the group had noticed the grammatical quirks but not been bothered by them, and that others had not noticed them. It raises the blood pressure of a book group organiser (English understatement here) when there is active criticism of an author for poor grammatical practice when said scribbler is not only a Professor of English but is IN THE ROOM! Quick! find something less controversial to discuss. The rest of the group, using wordless communication, plumped for sex and religion.

So Prof Harvey was warmly commended for the quality of the writing about the characters' sex lives. Not an entirely successful tactic, because it led to him revealing that he had shared the Literary Review’s 2019 Bad Sex in Fiction Award, for Pax. Dare I say, we got in a hole and kept digging?

Religion did restore equanimity to the conversation. Had it been a conscious decision to use the cadences of Cranmer’s English in the contemporary passages more than in the 17thC ones? No: the 16thC influences were subliminal. And so, having negotiated the conversational perils and dangers of the night, we segued onto which characters were real and which fictional. Charles I, Rubens* and Cardinal Richlieu were easy. Real, for everyone’s money. Cornelis Drebbel, actually one of the founding fathers of modern engineering, raised doubts for some. With hindsight, though his submarines were impressive, his big contribution to the wellbeing of humankind has been inventing feedback loop control systems, specifically a thermostat for his egg incubator. And the poor bloke was reduced to keeping a pub near The Tower.

* The kitchens had sent up a truly Rubenesque, cornucopic, fruit bowl for us to savour with our cheese and port: anxious to get us up to our Five for the Day, clearly.

There was a lot about producing fine art, both the human aspects about finding inspiration for works, and finding models for figures within the composition, and the technical side about how the images are made on whatever the surface is on which they are depicted. Hats off to Prof Harvey - he knows about dry point etching (for starters) because his PhD was about the illustrators who worked with Dickens and other 19thC greats, and he had a go himself. Lots of us have spare vacuums in the garage, few have etching presses.

All in all, it is a very good book, and one I shall reread it in the short to medium term with the expectation of getting more from it on second reading. It feels like one of those novels which would be worth reading when one has another decade or two’s life experience, because then it would reveal yet other ideas and lead to other reflections. Wonderfully succinct wording too.

That other thing about Bloodsmith and Blackadder? Both were the names of doctors whose paths the writers crossed. Dr Blackadder was an Occupational Health physician at the BBC, and Dr Bloodsmith was apparently a doctor at Addenbrooke’s, though the GMC Register doesn’t support this idea - Bloodworth, perhaps?"

Dr Gin Warren, 6 February 2020

Postscript by Dr Harvey

Gin has kindly copied to me her report on last night’s meeting of the Book Group, which discussed my novel PAX. I was grateful for the invitation from the Book Group and enjoyed the meeting and learned from it. Gin’s report is excellent and I wouldn’t want a word changed. I did wonder if I could add two words in postscript.

About the changes of tense inside chapters, even paragraphs, which greatly irritated one member, could I say that I respect his irritation? But all sorts of authors do switch at certain points between say the present tense and the past tense, between the first person and the third person, between an impersonal style and a personal ‘the author’s voice’ sort of style. Normally they make these switches between big chunks of narrative, like chapters or ‘Parts’ of a novel, but such large-scale changes seem to me, often, pretty heavy-handed. Each time you do make one of these switches, you gain a little more emphasis, a slightly different accent, for that particular moment in the story, and I wanted to use such switches (of tense, person, and authorial ‘voice’) in a much more free and fluid way than is normally done. This was my aim, and I have been equally pleased when readers have hardly noticed them, or have liked ‘the writing’, but I do understand this experiment of mine may displease some readers quite a lot and I apologize for their annoyance.

About good and bad sex, it is not hard to make fun of intimacies in a novel if you take a sentence quite out of context, which I would say is what happened with the ‘award’, while on the other hand one member of the Book Group did commend the writing even about sex, and I do believe, modestly or immodestly, that PAX contains some good writing about intimacy. I don’t of course claim the book has no faults (few books have no faults).

Dr John Harvey, 6 February 2020

Monday 3 FEB 2020

Talk by Simon Singh

6:00pm – Queen's Building Lecture Theatre

We were delighted that Simon Singh (1987) spoke to us about his experiences and career since leaving College: ‘20 Years as a Science Writer – from Fermat’s Last Theorem to The Simpsons’.

Friday 10 JAN 2020

Emmanuel Society logo

College 'Birthday' drinks in Chicago

5:30pm – J W Marriott, 151 W Adams, Chicago

On January 10, 2020, Emmanuel members met for drinks to celebrate Emma's anniversary at the J.W. Marriott, 151 W. Adams (close to Chicago's Union Station).  This event was held in lieu of the past pre-Christmas drinks meeting. It was an enjoyable evening for all those who attended.