By Siân Daniel

Just over one month ago, Josephine Butler College unleashed its latest group of keen graduates into the ‘real world’, eagerly anticipating the chance to find out what lies beyond our cosy Durham bubble.

For the Class of 2012, and all those before them, graduation formed the culmination of 3 -4 years of hard work (for most!), countless hours of revision, 3 weeks of gruelling final exams and 3 more of non-stop partying. One of the rare occasions, it seems, where the calm comes after the storm! Of course, 2012 was a special year for graduation ceremonies: the year in which the Chancellor’s baton was passed on from the much loved Bill Bryson to world-renowned opera star Sir Thomas Allen. So how would Sir Thomas compare?

Durham's new Chancellor: Sir Thomas Allen

Durham’s new Chancellor: Sir Thomas Allen

One thing’s for sure: Sir Thomas Allen loves Durham. His passion for the Land of the Prince Bishops was bursting at the seams as he spoke about his thrill at returning to the county that kick-started his career in the Arts. Indeed, it was Arthur Hutchings – a Professor from our very own Music department – who secured the seventeen-year-old Thomas Allen his audition for the Royal College of Music back in the 60s. His gratitude to Hutchings and the University was consistently evident throughout his speech; it is clear that Sir Thomas Allen does not intend to watch from the sidelines, later telling Palatinate that he is a “natural joiner-in” with intentions to involve himself in a vast range of extracurricular activities, particularly in the Arts.

The most warming part of Sir Thomas’s speech was his genuine belief that we, as Durham graduates, really do have the entire world at our feet. He spoke of past Durham Alumni – the likes of Nasser Hussain (former England cricket captain), Gabby Logan (gymnast & TV presenter) and Richard Adams (pioneer of Fair Trade) to name but a few – with an indisputable confidence that every single graduate sitting in that mighty Cathedral possesses the potential to make it as far, or further, in the future.

He also spoke, rather confusingly at first, of his love for the letter ‘E’. After sitting through the remainder of the ceremony pondering quite how a single letter could sum up our entire University experience, it all slowly became clear… As we exited the Cathedral, to be greeted by an overwhelming sense of emotion, achievement and anticipation, the roller-coaster journey we’d all experienced over the past few years could suddenly by encapsulated with a single, contented sigh of “eeeeee…” – exactly as Sir Thomas Allen described.

Butlerites at Graduation: June 2012

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Remember: graduation is not the end! Be sure to stay in touch with Butler College via Facebook (Butler Alumni), Twitter (@butler_alumni) and LinkedIn – and don’t forget the upcoming Reunion Picnic event to be held at St James’s Park in London on August 25th! Join the event here: Butler Alumni Picnic, LDN


About butleralumni

The Butler Alumni blog is aimed at all alumni of Josephine Butler College, Durham University. We aim to keep you in the loop with interesting interviews with alumni and current Butler students, reviews of Butler events and updates on what is going on in both the College and alumni communities. The blog is edited and managed by the Alumni Relations Assistant, Sally Crawford, but she is always looking for ideas or volunteer writers to help make the posts more interesting and interactive! If you're interested in contributing to the blog, Sally would be thrilled to hear from you at jbalumni.association@durham.ac.uk.
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