Over the weekend of 3-4 September 2011 more than 130 alumni and friends descended upon Allen Hall to toast its 50th anniversary in style….
It was the culmination of months of meticulous preparation led by members of Allen Hall Advisory Committee in conjunction with the current Hall Warden and Tutors, former JCR Committee members and various friends of the Hall who all offered the benefit of their skills, expertise and enthusiasm.
The challenge of re-establishing links with thousands of Hall alumni in order to invite them to the celebration was a considerable one. Alumni were urged to help raise awareness of the reunion through emails, letters and Christmas cards to as many of their ex-Allen Hall friends as possible. The University of Manchester Alumni Association helpfully agreed to co-ordinate a large-scale mailing of invitation letters to former residents, whilst more recent alumni were invited to join specially created online groups on Facebook and Twitter.
Thankfully, this sustained promotional push yielded a fantastic response and alumni from all over the world contacted us in droves to enquire about the event and purchase tickets for themselves and their partners.
Guests arriving throughout Saturday afternoon were treated to informal tours of Allen Hall and many enjoyed the opportunity to take a look around their old bedrooms. Various alumni had kindly donated photographs and ephemera documenting Hall life in years gone by, and these were proudly displayed around the building for all to enjoy.
Later that afternoon guests assembled in the entrance hall to enjoy a champagne reception before taking their seats in the dining hall, a room which has remained largely unchanged over the years and is still under the watchful eye of Cardinal Allen, whose portrait hangs at the far end of the room.
Guests were warmly welcomed by Maureen Mulholland, Chair of Allen Hall Advisory Committee, Norman Gillson, current Warden of Allen Hall, and former Warden of the Hall, Dr. John Flynn.
A sumptuous four course dinner was served in the traditional ‘formal dinner’ style beloved of generations of residents. The years seemed to melt away as guests chatted away excitedly with old friends they were encountering for the first time in many years and the walls echoed with laughter as people recalled their fondest memories of student life in Allen Hall.
After dinner guests were treated to an entertaining speech delivered by specially invited guest Lord Brennan. Daniel Brennan, a former resident of Allen Hall, has enjoyed an enormously successful career as a barrister and is now a British life peer.
The celebrations continued upstairs as residents reminisced with old friends and mingled with members from other eras. They were delighted to discover that the Bar’s prices were still the cheapest for miles around, and the wine continued to flow into the early hours of the morning.
A large number of guests returned the following morning to participate in a traditional service held in the Chapel.
The weekend was a resounding success. It was great for members to be able to rub shoulders with those who had resided at Allen Hall throughout different stages of its history, particularly those who recalled its origins as an all-boys hall exchanging tales with those who had lived there more recently since its transition to becoming a mixed hall.
It was fascinating to hear how everyone had lived under different wardens and tutors, yet their memories shared many similarities in their recollections of the traditions and happy atmosphere which had prevailed throughout half a century.
If you would like to share your memories of the 50th anniversary reunion weekend please add your comments below. If you have any photographs from the event which you would be happy to share with others please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.