In their element
Last month, alumni from 1966 Chemistry and related subjects attended their second reunion to celebrate a very special 50 years since graduating.
The weekend started at the School of Chemistry where the 1966 graduates from Chemistry, Biochemistry, Chemical Physics, and Chemical Technology met at an informal sandwich lunch in the Chemistry Museum. Most of the group had travelled from various parts of the UK however; one graduate had travelled from Reykjavik, Iceland for the occasion. The lunch gave the former classmates a chance to catch up with old friends as well as meet with a number of current and past members of staff.
Following lunch, the group enjoyed a lecture from Professor Colin Pulham, Head of the School of Chemistry, on the topic of ‘How Chemistry has changed in the last 50 years’ and included a look at current research projects at the school. Next was a guided tour of the School of Chemistry, Led by Prof Pulham, Dr Peter Kirsop & Dr Chris Mowat that included visits to some familiar haunts and a look at some of the new features. The afternoon concluded with a visit to the Noreen and Kenneth Murray Library at Kings Buildings, which holds the book collections in biology, chemistry, engineering, geosciences, mathematics, physics, and statistics as well as the Edinburgh Mathematical Society's book collection.
It was a short wander to the Pi in the Sky room in Kings Buildings House, perhaps better known to the past students as the KB Union, for an informal buffet supper, with past members of staff invited as guests.
[We all] recalled [our] student days in Edinburgh with pleasure
Most of the Saturday was left free for out-of-towners to revisit and explore the city of Edinburgh, while classmates from related disciplines, Biochemistry and Chemical Physics, held their own reunion lunches.
On Saturday evening, the group reconvened in St Leonard’s Hall at Pollock Halls for a welcome reception. After a group photograph on the stairs, the classmates moved into the elegant St Trinnean’s Room for a banquet. One of the number, Dr George Mieras, gave an after-dinner speech. While reunion committee member, Lindsay Sawyer, gave amusing reminiscences and was joined by John Bone to sing 'The Gas Liquid Chromatography Machine'.
This was followed by participation by most of the group in recitations of the verses of ‘The Trial’, a light-hearted dig at their lecturers presented at the end of their honours year in 1966. 'The Trial' (of the lecturers) consisted of satirical poems and songs focussed on individual staff members. This reprise performed half a century on from its debut was enjoyed by all present.
Health and Safety
Many memories were shared, of smells, fires etc. in the laboratories, and the amusing quirks of lecturers, including a recollection of one lecturer who insisted that the students learn the skill of pipetting arsenic solutions by mouth, in the days before the advent of Health and Safety!
After graduation, a number of the class remained in Edinburgh to do PhDs and post-graduate roles in Edinburgh and other Universities, while some went into teaching. Many of the group went out to work in industry in chemistry-related roles, leading to management positions, all over the UK and in countries such as Australia, Canada, Malaysia, New Zealand, and the USA. A few changed direction completely, with careers in finance and human resources.
Shortly before the reunion, the class was notified of the award of a Nobel Prize to Prof Sir. Fraser Stoddart, one of the group’s former demonstrators and widower of their classmate Norma Scholan.
It turned out to be a great success...we met up with our friends from 1966 and caught up on the years.
Videos along with the many photographs taken during the event are available for viewing on the reunion website, which also contains many photographs of student days including Charities, Graduation, and the last reunion in 1991.