Dan Mills lived at Allen Hall for three years between 2003-2006 and was JCR President in 2005-6. Here he shares some of his memories of Allen Hall life….
As soon as I visited Allen Hall for the first time I knew that it was going to be the place where I would spend my student days. There seemed to be a great sense of community there; the staff were incredibly approachable and friendly, whilst the students who were conducting the Open Day tours had a real enthusiasm for the place.
On moving into Allen Hall for the first time I was immediately welcomed by members of the JCR Committee, who took a few early arrivals like myself on an impromptu pub crawl around Fallowfield so that everyone could quickly get to know one another.
Once Fresher’s Week was up and running we were thrown into a whirlwind of activities where the emphasis was very much on having fun – highlights included a ‘three-legged pub crawl’ into Manchester where residents would be tied to a random drinking companion for the evening, and outings to some of the University’s most popular student nights, including the fondly-remembered ‘Club Tropicana.’
The JCR Committee were instrumental in helping me to make so many new friends in such a short space of time. Highlights of my first year included a weekend trip to Prague with a number of other residents and the end-of-year formal ball, held in Manchester’s Renaissance Hotel.
Allen Hall Bar was fiercely proud of its reputation for having the cheapest drinks anywhere in Manchester, and we took full advantage of the ‘random cocktails’ on offer (three random shots of spirits accompanied by a mixer of your choice) and the measures of vodka costing just 50p!
In my second year I was elected as Social Secretary for the JCR Committee and set about organising an array of social opportunities and fundraising initiatives for the benefit of other residents. We were charged with the organisation of some of Allen Hall’s most fondly remembered and long-stranding annual events, such as the ‘breakfast on the crossing’ event where residents poured out onto Wilmslow Road in their nightwear at the break of dawn and set about collecting funds for the BBC’s Children in Need Appeal. There was always a friendly rivalry between ourselves and those from previous JCR Committees as everyone battled to raise more money for good causes than the previous years’ residents had done.
There was always a great sense of camaraderie between current residents and recent alumni of Allen Hall. Residents from different years would often socialise together, and those who had moved out in the previous June would return to Allen Hall Bar on a regular basis to take advantage of its jovial atmosphere and bargain beverages and invite newcomers to attend various parties in their student houses.
In my third year at Allen Hall I was delighted to be elected as JCR President, something I’m immensely proud of. Over the next few months I worked together with the JCR Committee to organise a huge range of social events including regular quiz nights in Allen Hall Bar, the annual formal ball and some hugely enjoyable parties in the Chapel.
I was closely involved with the organisation of Allen Hall’s successful attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest line of simultaneously dancing drag queens(!) in 2006, which also helped to raise funds for Manchester’s Christie Hospital. The event really demonstrated the fantastic sense of community which characterises the traditional halls of residence such as Allen Hall. Everyone was up for a laugh and willing to make fools of themselves in the name of a great day out and a chance to raise some money for charity. It took the co-operation of some 58 male residents, who took part in the record attempt, together with the enthusiasm and dedication of our female students (who worked as event staff and helped to supply the lads with clothing and make-up on the day) to ensure that the attempt was a huge success.
A significant factor in Allen Hall’s continuing success was its dedicated staff – the Warden, tutors, kitchen staff, cleaners and office staff who always provided a friendly face and helped to sustain the sense of community for which Allen Hall is so renowned.
It was a sad day when my time as a student drew to a close and I moved out of Allen Hall after three incredible years, but I am pleased to say that it was only the beginning of my association with the hall.
I currently work in student communications at the University of Salford and am also involved in the institution’s welcome and induction programmes for new students. The work I had previously done as a member of the Allen Hall JCR Committee made a great addition to my CV and proved instrumental in helping me to secure my current position.
I am still in touch with many of my fellow residents from my time at Allen Hall and we often get together and reminisce about some of the antics we got up to during our student days. A couple of years ago I was delighted to be asked to join Allen Hall’s Advisory Committee, and was part of a group of former students and staff who organised the successful reunion weekend to mark Allen Hall’s 50th anniversary in September 2011.
At the moment I am part of a small voluntary group who are working to establish an Alumni Association for Allen Hall, which should hopefully continue to grow and grow over the coming months.
I’m proud to have been a resident of Allen Hall and look forward to the day when it is able to welcome a new generation of students through its doors once again.