It has been a delightful and rewarding experience to serve as President of the Society over the year 2014-2015. For many years we have been one of the most active and thriving Oxford and Cambridge alumni organisations worldwide, and we have been able to maintain and reinforce that success over the past twelve months. I am very proud that our Society has continued to grow and that it has become more diverse, with a very even mix of members: male and female, local and expatriate, young and mature. I hope that our great balance and our broad spread of interests will encourage even more new members to join us.
Our purposes as a Society remain unchanged. They include networking, building links with other university organisations, and building links between Hong Kong and the U.K. with a focus on Oxford and Cambridge. We have a definite charitable function in offering project-based scholarships to Hong Kong students of limited means studying at Oxford and Cambridge; we also support various charities, mainly educational in nature, in the Hong Kong and China region through our annual Christmas Party and biennial Ball. But perhaps our key purpose is to act as a forum or community in which the Society can help broaden our members’ horizons by introducing them to new or different ideas, activities and people. Long may this community continue to flourish.
We have been very conscious of our membership drive this year. The membership currently stands at 645 members. Of this total, 368 members or 57% attended Oxford University, 265 or 41% attended Cambridge University, and the remainder attended both. We continue to make every effort to attract new and younger members, partly through close cooperation with official university bodies such as the Oxford University China Office, and partly through continuing to widen both our range of events and our range of venues.
Committee and Administration
I should like to thank all members of the Society’s Committee for their support and assistance over the past year. Without such an outstanding and hard-working committee, it would not have been possible to hold over thirty events within twelve months. Considerations of time and space prevent me from mentioning every Committee member by name. However, besides those Committee members listed below in the enumeration of the Society’s events, I must extend particular thanks to Felix Lai as Vice-President, Kenneth She as Honorary Treasurer, Gail Southward as Co-Chairperson of the Ball Committee, Michael Wong as Co-Chairperson of the Ball Committee, Arthur Shek for his continuing support of our undergraduate mentorship programme, and of course David Fu, our Honorary Secretary, whose indefatigable and inimitable work has been invaluable to the efficient running of the Society for so many years. I must also express my sincere thanks to our administrator Irene Lee for her constant and diligent maintenance of our website and membership list and her support of our events.
As one of the most active alumni societies in Hong Kong, it is the responsibility of our Committee to deliver a broad and diverse programme of activities to our members. I am proud and pleased that we have continued to do so, holding 26 events over the course of the year. I cannot mention all of our events in this report, but I have pleasure in pointing to some of the particular highlights.
The year began in April 2014 with our traditional Boat Race Dinner, organised by the President, which was well attended by some 120 guests. We were delighted to have Rebecca Dowbiggin (Emmanuel College, Cambridge), the Cambridge cox for three years in a row from 2007 to 2009, proposing the toast to Oxford University, and the President (Christ Church, Oxford), proposing the toast to Cambridge University. We held a well-attended dinner talk with Mr. Anoop Singh, former Director of the International Monetary Fund’s Asia-Pacific Department in May 2014 (organised by Shelly Gao), who examined the trajectory of key Asian nations after the 1997 financial crisis and discussed whether the trend of resilience and momentum would continue in the future. This was followed by our ever-successful Garden Party at the start of June (arranged as always by Rupert McCowan).
After our popular and now traditional True Blue Dinner at the Java Road Cooked Food Centre in July (organised again by Yong Kai Wong), and a succession of musical events, mixer drinks events and lunch talks, the next memorable event on our calendar was the whisky tasting on 7th October 2014 (organised by Andrew Haskins and Divya Vaze). This was followed shortly afterwards by a memorable speaker dinner with Mr. Paul Niel, climber of Mount Everest (organised by Andrew Haskins).
In October and November, we also held joint mixers with alumni of Harvard and Stanford Universities (organised by Shelly Gao), a charity Interclub Speed Dating Event and All Alumni Social Mixer at the Play Club (organised by Jonathan Young, Shelley Gao, Jessie Zhang and Arthur Shek), and a dinner talk with Mr. Robert Chua, broadcaster and producer (organised by Herman Yong and Andrew Haskins).
We held a hiking trip to Lantau on 22nd November 2014 (organised by Herman Yong and Kenneth She). I would like to thank Peter Stuckey for acting as our guide for the hike and the Bunkers for serving cream teas to the hikers at their delightful home in Mui Wo after the hike. This was followed by our classic Christmas cocktail party at the Hong Kong Club on 9th December 2014 (organised by Roger Lin). Attendance was high; the servings of Swiss Raclette cheese and honey glazed York ham remained a hit; and we raised a considerable sum for Oxfam Hong Kong.
The Society started 2015 in style with a mentorship programme lunch (organised by Arthur Shek), a mixer drinks evening and a curry dinner and quiz night (organised by Lizzie Fraser, Arun Nigam and Jessie Zhang) in January. This was followed in February by our regular Chinese New Year Dinner at Luk Yu Teahouse Restaurant, organised as impeccably as ever by our Honorary Secretary David Fu. After a mixer drinks evening and further musical events, the final event of the year was our Annual Rowing Regatta held at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s facilities on Middle Island. My particular thanks go Gail Southward, Lizzie Fraser, Jessie Zhang and Irene Lee for arranging yet another highly successful event, with many members and their guests enjoying the races and accompanying buffet lunch under blazing spring sunshine.
The Committee allocated about HK$100,000 for scholarship grant awards for this year to 5 students studying in Oxford and Cambridge. The awards are summarised below:
(1) CHEUNG, Chun Hin Bryan (Cambridge): To reconstruct a new library for a middle school in Catdang, Vietnam under the “Cambridge Hong-Kong Operation International Children’s Education” (CHOICE).
(2) CRUZ, Hubert (Oxford): To participate in a business volunteering project organised by Global Brigades Oxford in Darién Province, Panama.
(3) PUN, Kwok Hung Jack (Oxford): To attend the USA Lingusitic Summer Institute, at University of Chicago during 6-31 July 2015.
(4) YIP, Man Wa (Oxford): Internship at the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business in Yangon, Myanmar.
(5) ZHAO, Elaine Yiying (Cambridge): Eight-week volunteering work on an empowerment programme for local women living in slums in India.
The projects should deepen the recipients’ learning experience and help them to make significant contributions to the disadvantaged through their volunteer work.
Once again, it has been an honour as well as a pleasure to serve as the President of the Society. It only remains for me to thank all the Society’s members for their friendship and continuous support. Please join me in wishing the incoming President and Vice- President every success in the year ahead.
Jeremy Young, President 2014-2015 25th April, 2015