Association of Open University Graduates

Guildford Gala Evening

Alice Status

Packet Boat

Graduates' Guildford Gathering

All the cares of the world were forgotten as we glided along the River Wey, with no engine, except the power of Bobby, the magnificent horse, which pulled us along gently, in Iona an old narrow boat, on that beautiful Friday afternoon. Passing though stunning scenery, our knowledgeable guide, related a brief history of England’s, waterways, the locks, and the goods which were transported on water all over the country. We admired the boat art on Iona, and other boats along the banks, were enchanted by the ducks with young broods, hastily paddling to safety form the boats gentle swell, and were impressed by the expertise of the staff effortlessly operating the locks and ropes using systems passed down through time: a time long gone, but hopefully, never to be forgotten. Elizabeth Mount - Region 03

Friday evening was different - we had Story Telling! Sue Lawrence came, (from a group of story tellers who collect folk stories and go to various festivals), to entertain us, wrapping her stories around a young girl who had fallen in love with a beautiful waistcoat. To go with the waistcoat, the girl adorned herself with various garments from around the world, collecting a story from each place and these stories formed our entertainment. Some were sad, some were funny, but all enjoyed by the audience. Time flew with rapt attention from the graduates, all agreeing that it had been a great evening. A collection of £48 was raised for the local youth group in lieu of a fee. Ann Taylor - Region 13       

During the evening the AOUG Foundation for Education charity raffle was drawn with prizes of a coffee machine (donated by Elizabeth Mount), a picnic basket (donated by Ramsey Hertzog) and two books (donated by Dave Etchell - one being his own poetry) all well received.

My first AGM, as an ordinary member, or a newly-elected Executive Member for 02, proved to be most interesting, with a wide range of interests covered. The Officers of AOUG obviously put in a lot of hard work – physical, mental and paper - towards the successful running of the Association and towards keeping the running costs down as far as possible. It was slightly disappointing that these efforts did not seem to be fully appreciated by the members and guests, one or two of whom seemed to have their own agendas. Changing and legitimising one or two of the Association's articles should have been straightforward but did not always turn out that way.  Mike Bechley - Region 02
The Eggheads Quiz followed immediately after. There had not been enough teams to hold regional heats, but pitting the South against the North was a good idea. Inside information revealed the South had a strategy to leave Paul Emerson (13 - quiz expert!) available for the general knowledge. So Tony Ransom played the first round, (history), against Paul Stobirski (08). Paul went first putting the North under pressure. This worked, as Paul only having 1 right - that a ballista is a medieval catapult.- meant Tony didn't need to answer a third question! Mark Birchall (06) won 2-1 against Ruth Allen (11) in the science round, Kate Macve (03) lost to Malcolm White on sport and Margaret Burgess lost to Lesley Sleigh (07) on books. Then an exciting finish in the general knowledge round, the South winning with two correct to the North’s one. Patricia and Peter Cowling compiled the questions and Patricia acted as Question Master. Having been enjoyed by participants and spectators alike, everyone hoped it would be repeated. Pam Pearce - Region 03

The highlight for me of the weekend was the visit to the Denbies Wine Estate at Dorking. First of all we had a film show detailing how the wine was made and then we had a trip on a train down to the Cellars with a commentary giving more detail of wine production. In the cellars, we tasted three different wines, which were very good, and we were shown the correct way to taste the wine. After sampling the delicious wines, we had a trip over the Denbies vineyards themselves and saw such landmarks as Box Hill. Finally, before we left the vineyards, we were able to purchase wines on offer at a discount. I myself bought two bottles of white wine Surrey Gold which was voted best British wine 2010.  Paul Emerson - Region 13

Both weekend attendees, and local members, gathered in their finery to share the Gala Reception with  invited guests, Mayor of Guildford Councillor Marsha Mosely, and her Consort, Councillor Terrance Patrick, along with our speaker Jeff Thomson and a representative from OU in the South East, Linda Robson, with her partner, Chris Simpson. Then taking their seats for the Dinner itself, we were most impressed by the beautiful floral arrangements donated by the South East members, the speed of service throughout the meal and quality and quantity of the food. The Mayor`s Consort enjoyed his roast potatoes so much that he had to re-adjust his cummerbund! Then some of Denbies wine purchased earlier in the day, formed part of the raffle prizes donated by members from the South East, that were drawn after the Gala Dinner. Jean Hertzog - Region 07

After dinner speaker, Jeff Thomson had worked for BBC World Service, and national and local radio networks. Sketching out his “theatre credentials“, he explained he had learned much from his nomadic life in “flower power 60s” when his parents constantly travelled to seek theatre or film work. Living in a tent or rented caravan, he expressed his childhood envy of a “normal life” with the luxuries of “…a pine effect Formica table, a larva lamp and Yeoman potato flakes..”After unwilling stage appearances as “youth with a banner” or “youth with a spear” he escaped and joined the Corporate world for a regular salary and later into Public Service. Voluntary work for Sam Wanamaker, when recreating Shakespeare`s Globe Theatre, led into radio and he listed many people he had subsequently interviewed, recalling with affection, Ken Dodd, Sandi Toksvig, Simon Cowell and Sir Alan Ayckbourn. Interrupted often for laughter, he ended to warm applause. Ramsey Hertzog - Region 07

The skirl of the pipes is the usual introduction to Scottish country dancing, but a very talented trio made use of  keyboard, guitar and violin to entice people on to the dance floor. The expert caller played his part very well and soon had the delegates dancing the Gay Gordons, eight-some reels, Virginia reels and splitting willows in time-honoured fashion. The talents of the dancers were varied, and I doubt there was a potential Kenneth McKellar in our midst, but everyone had a good crack at the steps and enjoyed themselves immensely. The floor was never empty, the lure of the Scottish Country dance being hard to resist for too long, and most people had a go at some stage. Music buffs will be able to do better than me in commenting on the music, but I was delighted to hear 'Marie's Wedding', an old favourite of mine, among the selections played.   Bill Clark - Nation 10

Despite the previous late night, a large number of members boarded the service bus into Guildford for a Blue Badge tour. Having split into two groups, we walked all around the town, stopping at each landmark to learn more and more of Guildford`s history. The magnificent clock, designed and made by a craftsman seeking permission to set up business in the town, the almshouses (Hospital) bequeathed by George Abbott (and then later his statue), the castle and its tailored gardens, statues to remember Lewis Carroll, one of Alice sitting by the rabbit hole (partly featured on Winter OMEGA) and one depicting “Alice through the Looking Glass”, and all the historical features connected with a market town with coaching inns. All enjoyed their tour with the knowledgeable guides and we chatted non-stop about what they had learnt all the way back. Jean Hertzog - Region 07