Report of The Brasenose Alumni Society 2023

By Narmada Thiranagama (Modern History, 1996)
A Society that helps its members maintain a strong connection with the College Community
 and each other


This report covers the 12 months up to and including the Society’s AGM and Dinner in September 2023.

The Brasenose Alumni Society

The Brasenose Alumni Society is Brasenose’s alumni association. 

All matriculated Brasenose members automatically become members of the Brasenose Alumni Society when they go down, as do certain former employees and academic staff of the College. 

There is no membership fee.

The activities of the Society

The society exists to:

  • Foster closer relationships between BNC alumni and between alumni and the College Community (students, fellows, staff, the Alumni Office and the institution itself)
  • Hold a President’s Summer Party and Society Dinner annually
  • Support professional networking with past and present members of the College
  • Support and foster social networking with past and present members of the College and encourage special interest groups and societies
  • Encourage (but not finance) alumni attendance at or participation in College events
  • Bring less-connected alumni and their ideas and skills closer to the College.

Anyone is welcome to apply to join the committee (members are elected once a year at the annual AGM, and an application form is in the Nose). Our aim is to represent all alumni generations and types on the committee. The committee meets 3 times a year in February, July and September. If you are interested in applying to join and would like to observe a committee meeting, do get in touch with the secretary.

A full copy of the Society’s Rules (its name, object/purpose, membership, Committee, general meetings etc) is set out on the College’s website at

Report on 2022–23 events

The President’s Summer Party

On 5th July 2023 the 2022-23 Society President, Narmada Thiranagama hosted an evening Summer Drinks Party at the UNISON Centre in King’s Cross, London. The venue is the site of the historic Women’s Hospital founded by Dr Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first woman to practice as a doctor in the UK. Attendees had exclusive access to a gallery space dedicated to her work and refurbished to its original 1890 appearance. This was a well-attended and enjoyable event with around 89 alumni attending.

Annual Society Dinner and AGM

The Society’s Annual Dinner and AGM was held on 16th September at Brasenose and was fully booked for 124.  Vice Principal Ed Bispham welcomed us in John Bowers’ absence.

Narmada Thiranagama, President, spoke of the friendship and community that Brasenose and the Alumni Society brings, a community we enter as students, and which sustains us through our lives.

Monthly Drinks

The Society’s monthly drinks take place on the first Tuesday evening of most months with an ‘R’ – October, November, February, March, April, and also, May. They are now held at the Red Lion pub, Crown Passage, London, which has the advantage of being very close to the previous venue (the Oxford & Cambridge Club). All alumni are welcome to come to these; no prior notice is necessary.  Details are advertised on the College website and by email. The Society generally puts a small sum of money behind the bar, meaning those who turn up earliest may get a free drink.

September 2023 AGM

The Society’s AGM was held in College at 6pm, before the Annual dinner. 20 alumni attended.

The AGM gave a profound vote of thanks to Nigel Bird, who had been Society Treasurer for just under 20 years having been elected at the AGM on 18 September 2004, and who had decided to step down. Formerly college accountant at Pembroke, Nigel understood the Oxford system very well, and the Society feels it has been very fortunate to secure his guidance, diligence and expertise for so long. In addition, we thanked ex-President Sir Paul Silk, stepping down as an ex-officio member, for his similarly agreeable committee presence, well-considered counsel, and imaginative and well-remembered venue-finding.

The following officers and Committee members were elected or confirmed at the AGM, to run for the year from September 2023 to September 2024:

  • President: Dan Chambers (1988)
  • Vice President: Jane Johnson (1987)
  • Committee members elected/re-elected:

David Bradbury (1981), David Clark (1970), Paul Dawson-Bowling (1962), Rosie Duthie (2016) Drusilla Gabbott (1982), Penny Gilbert (1978), Amanda Holland (1988), Jane Johnson (1987), Alexandra Marks (1977) and Sarah Jackson (1977);

  • Treasurer: Amanda Pullinger (1984) – replacing Nigel Bird
  • (Committee members not requiring election/re-election:

Penny Andrews (1979) Secretary, Nigel Bird (1969) and Rod Clayton (1986); ex Officio College members John Bowers, Principal; Julia Diamantis, Director of Development; Ed Bispham, Academic Representative)

Sarah Williamson Atkins (1984) had decided to step down and the Committee wished her well.

Dr Julia Diamantis gave an update on progress and necessary fundraising for Frewin Hall, showing us the architects’ plans.

The accounts were presented, and Drusilla Gabbott briefly explained that The Society has limited funds (closing at £10,080.49 in 2023). These had been raised from previous decades’ surpluses on Society social events. These funds are used to underwrite small deficits on the Society Summer Party, which it is increasingly difficult to find a venue for nowadays in London at an affordable ticket price. Apart from this use, the Society proposes to ‘run down’ its funds slowly with careful strategic expenditure supporting the Society’s social and networking objectives. A spending protocol is shortly to be finalised by the committee. Drusilla circulated examples of two events held by recent graduates which had received such a small subsidy (expanded on below).


Ideas for relevant and interesting Society activities

With the Alumni Office we will be sending out a survey in late 2023 or early 2024 to gauge interest in various ideas for alumni events. Do please respond, as your thoughts are very valuable to us. To do so, you will need to log into your alumni account. The Alumni Office can help you with that. The Society welcomes your ideas for new events or improvements to existing ones whether smaller and informal such as local walks, pub meet-ups or curry evenings, or larger ones like BNC career, social or life-stage interest networks.

Subsidies for younger alumni gatherings

In response to a query from Rep, Miles Overton (2015), the Society decided at its 28th February and 5th July 2023 meetings to make small sums of money available as ‘starter funds’ for informal social gatherings organised by Year Reps. It was felt these should be focussed on alumni who have recently left BNC to support maintaining ties, since a formal gaudy is not held till 7 years after graduation. Also, because those in the first 10 years after graduation are the least likely to have yet established themselves financially, it is felt they may benefit most from the smaller sums we can contribute. Covid-affected cohorts in particular will be approached and prioritised. 

We circulated reports from Miles Overton on his Regent’s Park picnic on Sunday 23 June for 25 alumni, which the society had subsidised by around £123, and Rosie Duthie, who had recently held an evening party on her apartments’ shared roof terrace for her 2016 year group, again receiving a small subsidy. Both Reps felt these events would mean their Year Group stay in closer touch going forward. Applications for similar funding should go to the Secretary.


The Committee has now arranged four Alumni walks. The most recent in Putney, 17 April 2023, along the Boat Race route; a second to St Margaret’s Church, Binsey and The Perch on 17 September, on the morning following the annual dinner. A third, four-day walk for ten alumni is scheduled to take place 23-27 April 2024 on Hadrian’s Wall. David Clark is thanked for his commitment and organisation, as are David Bradbury and Drusilla Gabbott for their administrative and research contributions.

For further information or to volunteer ideas or help, please contact the Society Secretary via the Development Office.

For further information and support, please contact the Society Secretary at [email protected].

The Society also runs the Year Rep scheme. Please see here and here.