Mystery of archive photo solved

8th February 2019 in Alumni, News and Events, People

A recent College mailing featured a group of six students in a 1960s-era photograph. We were only able to identify one of the group as Ray Williams (U64) so we included a plea for more information. 

In January the College launched a new initiative called the 1960 Club, named after the year of our Foundation, to help raise money for the new Winston Churchill Top-Up Bursary Fund. The mailing was sent to 60s matriculands. A week after the letters went out, we were absolutely delighted to have the mystery of the image solved by the photographer himself, Les Deacon (U64):

'I was delighted when I opened your letter about the Winston Churchill Top-Up Bursary Fund to hear of the good work achieved by the fund. I was also surprised by the enclosed postcard to see a photo which I instantly recognised as one I had taken during my second year at Churchill. Looking back in my records, I found the original negative, just to reassure myself that I was not just imagining having seen the photo before! The photo was taken in Staircase 12 and the students I immediately recognised as, clockwise from Ray Williams (U64) at bottom right: Ian Dennett (U64), Ian Gibbons (U64), Tony Peaker (U64) lying on the floor and Geoff Hawkins (U64) in the top right corner.’

Les recalls that he did not have any further contact with Ray, Ian Dennett or Tony Peaker, but remained in touch with Ian Gibbons for many years beyond his PhD years and during the rest of his life in California, visiting there once in 1992. Les is still actively taking photographs and still has many photos from his Cambridge days. He recalls that during his time at Churchill he felt privileged to be asked by his tutor, Dr Kenneth McQuillen, to photograph all the current fellows of Churchill. This included a memorable meeting with Francis Crick! The collection was completed with the help of his friend Ron Fidler (U64), whose son Paul Fidler (U91) later followed his father to Churchill.

The 1960 Club offers a range of benefits to donors and is open to all those who choose to make an annual gift of £1,960 (excluding gift aid) in support of the Winston Churchill Top-Up Bursary Fund. However, gifts of any level are also being sought by the College to help fund the Top-Up Bursary scheme as an urgent matter of priority. You may have read previously, the College has traditionally had one of the highest proportions of undergraduate entrants from the state sector amongst Oxbridge colleges and has historically excelled in student bursary provision. Over 100 undergraduates currently receive a means-tested Cambridge Bursary and students in the greatest need also receive a top-up bursary of £2,000 mostly funded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT).

Churchill is distinctive in having an unusually high number of undergraduates from very financially disadvantaged backgrounds. The top-up bursaries provide relief from the pressure of immediately having to find work in the holidays to pay rent to their parents or allow them to stay in College to study. Contrary to other institutions, students from this group excel at Churchill — a College that has been placed 5th/29 across the last decade in the Tompkins Table. We attribute our success to the very close individual support we offer to students and to the top-up funding they are receiving. As a matter of urgent priority we would like to continue to fund the top-up bursaries as the funding previously received from the WCMT for this initiative is now ending. This is why we have set up the Winston Churchill Top-Up Bursary Fund.

Gifts made to the new Winston Churchill Top-Up Bursary Fund will help ensure we can continue this story of success for our neediest students.

The 1960 Club

Winston Churchill Top-Up Bursary Fund

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