The impact felt by the University of St Andrews during the First World War will be the special focus of this year’s London Christmas Service.
The Service, on Friday 19 December, will include contemporary readings from the First World War by novelist Bill Bryson, actor and St Andrews graduate Crispin Bonham Carter, and former speaker of the House of Commons Betty Boothroyd.
Guests, expected to include alumni, friends and family from all over the world, will hear about the contribution the St Andrews community – both Town and Gown – made towards the war effort.
It will be held in the stunning setting of the Great Hall at Methodist Central Hall in Westminster, with 2000 attendees expected. The Service is now the largest annual gathering of St Andrews’ graduates.
Readings will include reflections on the University’s own contribution to the war, honouring the 972 students enlisted, of whom 130 died on the front line.
The Service will also feature the London premier of Paul Mealor’s new WW1 commemorative anthem “The Shadow of Thy Cross”, sung by student a capella group The Other Guys.
The event, the tenth of its kind, is organised by the London Alumni Club. Chairman James North said:
“We look forward to welcoming fellow graduates and their families to the Christmas Service which has grown in scale since the Club first started it in a small chapel 10 years ago. As well as celebrating the joy of Christmas, in this 100th anniversary year we shall also be commemorating the University’s contribution to the First World War.
“Juxtaposed with traditional Christmas readings and carols will be the stories of students who were involved in the conflict. As usual, we hope the evening will be a great opportunity for graduates to reunite and see their friends, but also to take part in a commemoration of the important role the University made in the events which began 100 years ago this year.”
The service will draw inspiration from the University’s own First World War archive, which has grown to become a valuable resource for today’s teaching and research. Items in the collection include poignant letters, photographs and diaries sent from the front to their families in Fife, letters from student soldiers to their professors and the University’s own Roll of Honour and Roll of Service list.
The special event will also pay homage to J.M. Barrie’s famous ‘Courage’ speech given to students of the university in 1922. In his renowned Rectorial address, the Peter Pan author reflected on the great loss of the First World War and the young people who had made the supreme sacrifice in the 1914-18 conflict.
Readings will also be given by the University’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson, Dame Anne Pringle, The Principal of St Mary’s College Rev Ian Bradley, Dean of the Thistle The Rev Iain Torrance, The Moderator of the General Assembly The Right Reverend John Chalmers and current student President Pat Mathewson.
As in previous years, after the Service, guests will make their way to the Queen Elizabeth II Centre where a Reception will be held until Midnight. The party will feature a live DJ and a performance by London’s leading ceilidh band “Licence to Ceilidh”. The evening is being held to raise funds for the London Scholarship Fund, established in 2012 with the aim of providing scholarships for students from the Greater London area to study at St Andrews.
The London Alumni Club Christmas Carol Service takes place at Westminster Central Hall on Friday 19 December at 7pm. The event is open to all alumni, staff, students and their families. Tickets can be purchased online at: http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/events/title,250330,en.php
For the third year running the principal sponsor of the Carol Service is S. W. Mitchell Capital. Founded by St Andrews graduate Stuart Mitchell in 2005, S. W. Mitchell Capital is a specialist European equities investment manager based in the West End of London. For more details visit: www.swmitchellcapital.com
NOTE TO PICTURE EDITORS
A photograph of the St Andrews student Peace Procession on Armistice Day in 1918 is available from the Press Office. Contact 01334 462 108 to request a copy.University news