The award of UK City of Culture is made every four years to a city that demonstrates it’s belief in the transformational power of culture. So far the story of the City of Culture 2017 has been ambitious and thrilling, delivering a transformative programme of events and developments that have celebrated the unique character, people, geography and history of Hull. On the weekend of the 16th-18th of June, we welcomed back almost 400 alumni and guests to take up their part in the story and to share in the excitement and pride of our city and our University.
Over a weekend of themed events, alumni were treated to tours of the campus and the city, a trip to the theatre, special guided tours of ‘The Hessle Roaders’ and an evening of food, drink, music and poetry ‘by tide of Humber’ at the Stage@TheDock, an outdoor amphitheatre in an old dry dock in the shadow of The Deep. This blend of past and present was the perfect visual metaphor for a weekend which attracted alumni from three continents and from every decade since the 1960’s to revisit the city, many for the first time since graduating. Hull may be the City of Culture for 2017, but the culture and the identity of the city and the University have been built on a strong historical tradition that is never far from the surface.
After opening the weekend with a trip to Hull Truck Theatre to see ‘The Mighty Atoms’ on Friday evening, we were excited to spend Saturday afternoon with a team of Student Ambassadors taking alumni around the university. This provided an opportunity to see familiar old buildings, recognisable from student days, and also inspiring new buildings, such as the Allam Medical Building, which will be a significant feature of the campus landscape for future students. The tours ended on the top floor of the Brynmor Jones Library with its panoramic view of the campus, the city and the county of East Yorkshire.
On Saturday evening we gathered for the main event, Alumni@TheDock. Following a special greeting from the Town Crier and an address from Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Glenn Burgess, Chair of City of Culture and class of 1987 alumna, Rose Millard welcomed guests with a story from her own experience as a journalist writing for the New Statesman. Rosie recalled meeting fellow alumnus Anthony Minghella, illustrating that special feeling when you meet someone and discover that you have the shared experience of studying at the University of Hull. Russ Litten followed Rosie with a performance of the poem that launched City of Culture, Shane Rhodes’ ‘The City Speaks’. DJ Mike Robbo then performed a set, and the night closed with a fantastic performance from Hull treasures, Pearls Cab Ride, a jazz/funk fusion band.
We were delighted to present a snapshot of the cultural life of Hull to our graduates, but were especially pleased that so many of the performers, caterers and drinks suppliers were also graduates of the University of Hull. This underlines the important symbiotic relationship between the University and the city.
The weather was perfect for the weekend, with the sun revealing the city in its best possible light and contributing to a very warm and festive atmosphere. We would like to thank everyone who joined us for helping to make the celebration such a great success. Your warmth towards the University and the city made this a special occasion for everyone involved with the events and it was a delight to meet you and to welcome you back to Hull. We hope that we will see you once again at a future event.
Alumni Engagement Manager