President’s Report for the Year 2015-2016, for the AGM on 23rd April, 2016
It has been a delightful and rewarding experience to serve as President of the Society over the year 2015-2016. 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. During my term, we have established or renewed links with several overseas Oxford and Cambridge societies around the region, from Mainland China, Singapore, Malaysia and also reaching further to Japan and the Middle East. Our members have had opportunities to attend overseas events and also a number of visitors have come to Hong Kong to attend our major events. Another initiative is to allow verified alumni to join our mailing list and stay updated on our events, and many of those who attended our events subsequently decided to join us as paying members in order to qualify for our members’ rates. As a result, I am very proud that our Society has continued to grow in numbers as shown in the chart below, and that it has become more diverse, with a very even mix of members: male and female, local and expatriate, young and mature as well as from more different countries while living and working in Hong Kong. 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 695 members. Of this total, 57% attended Oxford University and 43% attended Cambridge University. Some 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 Michael Wong 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 respon-sibility of our Committee to deliver a broad and diverse programme of ac-tivities to our members. I am proud and pleased that we have continued to do so, holding 24 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 2015 with our traditional Boat Race Dinner, or-ganised by the President, which was well attended by some 127 guests. We were delighted to have Mr. Andrew Wells (King’s College, Cambridge), Director of Por Yen Charitable Foundation, proposing the toast to Oxford University, and Mr. Peter Mann (Exeter College, Oxford), Chairman of the Royal Commonwealth Society in Hong Kong, proposing the toast to Cambridge University.
We held a well-attended joint school alumni mixers from Oxford, Cambridge and Tokyo University in May 2015. This was followed by our ever-successful Garden Party in early June, our popular and now traditional True Blue Dinner at the Java Road Cooked Food Centre in July, and a succession of musical events, mixer drinks events and dinners of the student societies.
The next memorable event on our calendar was the Biennial Varsity Ball with the theme “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” held on Saturday, 10th October 2015 at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel. I must thank our sponsors for their generosity in supporting this event, as well as our Ball Committee for their dedication and devotion in organising this splendid evening, which with over 500 guests also broke our attendance records and must have counted as one of Hong Kong’s greatest social events of 2015. The Ball is meant to be hugely enjoyable but has a serious purpose, and so we are very pleased that it raised substantial funds for our scholarship programme, on which further comment will follow.
The Ball was followed shortly afterwards by a memorable speaker dinner with The Honourable Jasper Tsang, President of the Legislative Council, who shared his thoughts and discussed with our members regarding a Quality Think Tank for Hong Kong.
In November, we held joint mixers with alumni of Harvard and Stanford Universities and a joint U.K. university alumni drinks. This was followed by our classic Christmas cocktail party at the Hong Kong Club on 8th December 2015. Attendance was high; the servings of Swiss Raclette cheese and honey glazed York ham remained a hit; and we raised a considerable sum for Hong Kong Liver Cancer and Gastrointestinal Cancer Foundation Limited.
The Society started 2016 in style with a speaker reception with The Hon-ourable C.Y. Leung, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Adminis-trative Region, who spoke to our members and guests at the Ladies’ Rec-reation Club on Friday, 8th January 2016. While the topic of his speech was “Hong Kong’s unique role as the super- connector”, he also answered many questions from our members and guests on Hong Kong’s latest developments afterwards.
A mentorship programme lunch and a mixer drinks evening were also held in January. In late January, we held our regular Chinese New Year Dinner at Luk Yu Teahouse Restaurant, which was organised as impeccably as ever by our Honorary Secretary David Fu. This was followed by a mixer drinks evening, further musical and opera events and an art brunch at Galerie Ora-Ora.
The Committee allocated about HK$113,000 for scholarship grant awards for this year to 6 students studying in Oxford and Cambridge. The awards are summarised below:
. (1) CHAN, Chi Hang (Ray) (Cambridge): To attend the Human Rights Brigade Programme in Panama in June 2016.
. (2) CHAN, Crystal Fu (Oxford): Rapid Selective Electrochemical Detection of Single Influenza Virus.
. (3) CHOI, Sing Fung (Thomas) (Cambridge): Lighting the developing world with solar-powered LEDs – A trip to Catdang, Vietnam in conjunction with the “Cambridge Hong-Kong Operation International Children’s Education” (CHOICE).
. (4) NG, Ankie Hay Mun (Oxford): Summer placement at the UK Cabinet Office with the Social Investment Team.
. (5) TANG, Ryan Chung Wang (Oxford): To attend summer school at the British School at Rome in September 2016 for studying diplomatic relations between the western and eastern halves of the Roman Empire during the early fifth century.
. (6) WONG, Kar Hin Andreas (Cambridge): To construct a library for a primary school in Catdang, Vietnam under the “Cambridge Hong-Kong Operation International Children’s Education” (CHOICE).
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.
President 2015-2016 23rd April 2016