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Best of Bristol: Alumni Weekend 2015

Alumni Weekend - Tour of the Richmond Building

Guests enjoy a tour of the newly refurbished Richmond Building Bhagesh Sachania Photography

Alumni Weekend - Reunion lunch

Lunch in the Great Hall of the Wills Memorial Building Bhagesh Sachania Photography

Alumni Weekend - Dr David Brown

Dr David Brown (PhD 1975) gave an enlightening talk on antimicrobial resistance Bhagesh Sachania Photography

21 July 2015

On Friday 10 to Sunday 12 July, more than 450 alumni and friends from all over the UK returned to campus to catch up with friends old and new, and reminisce about their student years, at the Best of Bristol: Alumni Weekend 2015.

The festivities started on Friday evening with a tour of the newly refurbished Richmond Building, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary as home of the Students’ Union.

The 1960s concrete building has since undergone a complete overhaul to meet the needs of modern-day students and be more energy efficient, and now boasts a ‘brown roof’ made from recycled aggregate, felled timber and local flora, as well as moss growing on the walls of the new Balloon café bar.

Inside, there are more than 200 additional study spaces with spectacular views across the city, a digital media suite, and the new state-of-the-art Pegg Studio Theatre, which was opened by its namesake Simon Pegg (BA 1991) earlier this year.

After the tour, guests enjoyed a buffet reception with current and former Students’ Union Officers, as well as a performance by the University of Bristol Latin American and Ballroom Dancing Society.

On Saturday morning, guests had the chance to revisit their former departments and hear from current staff about some of the research taking place here in Bristol today. We were delighted that so many groups planned mini reunions to celebrate the anniversary of their graduation over the weekend, including Civil Engineering (1962), Physics (1965), Electrical Engineering (1965), Geography (1965) and Economics and Economic History (1965).

Guests then gathered in the Reception Room for the 2015 Convocation and Alumni Association AGM, which this year included elections for both Convocation and Alumni Association Committee and University Council representatives. The AGM was also an opportunity for members to express their thanks and bid a fond farewell to outgoing Chair of Convocation and Alumni Association, Bill Ray (BSc 1975).

After lunch in the Great Hall, Dr David Brown (PhD 1975), whose career includes more than 40 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, gave a topical and enlightening talk about his experience working on the development of Viagra, and his current role as trustee of Antibiotic Resistance UK (ARUK). Dr Brown shed light on the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance, and explained some of ways ARUK hope to help curb one of the biggest global health threats facing mankind.

Both Churchill Hall and Wills Hall hosted black-tie dinners in the evening, featuring guest speakers Professor Sir Eric Thomas (Hon LLD 2004), Vice-Chancellor, and Dr Michael Gunton (BSc 1979), Creative Director at the BBC Natural History Unit, respectively.

The drizzle on Sunday didn’t deter guests from continuing to enjoy the sights of the city: some chose to take a boat trip around Harbourside, while others attended a morning service in Monica Wills Chapel led by Canon Lisle Sharp (BA 1955) and Professor Julian Rivers (PhD 2004).

Many thanks to all of you who joined us for the weekend, and to everyone who worked tirelessly to make the weekend such success. Photos from the weekend are now available to browse on Flickr. 

Further information

If you would like to share your thoughts on the weekend, or have any suggestions for future events, please get in touch at:

Next year’s Best of Bristol: Alumni Weekend will be held on Friday 8 to Sunday 10 July 2016. Details of how to book will be available in February 2016.