OUS Gloucestershire

Cheltenham Municipal Offices. By Saffron Blaze (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Welcome to OUS Gloucestershire. We are one of the largest OUS groups - with nearly 4,000 members. We typically organise at least one event a month. These are extremely varied, from the Annual Boat Race Party to musical events, lectures, visits and purely social opportunities.

Many events are initiated by members themselves, which we encourage. Membership is not limited to those living in county, events often take place in the neighbouring counties and in London.
If you'd like to join and receive information about forthcoming events - or alternatively if you have any suggestions for future events please email Group Secretary Sam Tolley.

The committee/AGM documents

The committee:






Frank Smith Chairman University 1956  
Sam Tolley Secretary St Hugh's 1987 gloucestershire@ousoc.oxon.org
Andrew Mitchell Treasurer St Catherine's 1985  
Robert Dibley Committee Member New 1985  
Charlotte Fuller Committee Member Lincoln 1986  
Nick Haycock Committee Member Keble 1988  
Julian Sternberg Committee Member Pembroke 1965  

Forthcoming events

May 2018 - Annual general meeting - date/location to be announced shortly

Whisky tasting with John Harris - date to be confirmed in due course

Wine tasting with Mark Chamberlain, Balliol - date to be confirmed in due course

Past events

Event reviews:

  • Birdsong at the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham on 24 February 2018

    Marking the centenary of the end of the First World War, and following a previously sold-out run, the very popular play Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks returned to the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham this February. Although the novel was written in 1993, it was adapted as a stage play only in 2010. Its plot is set in the period just before and during the Great War.

    OUS Gloucestershire arranged a block booking of Centre Circle seats together with exclusive use of the Director’s Lounge before the performance and also during the interval. Our group of 25 alumni thus enjoyed a social drink with canapés beforehand and returned to the Lounge during the interval for a further drink.

    We would also like to express thanks to Aidan Rose (Keble, 1976) for facilitating this event through the Friends of the Everyman Theatre.

    Julian Sternberg, OUS Gloucestershire committee (Pembroke, 1965)

  • Lecture on “Oceans and Climate Change” in Schools and Alumni Series on 22 February 2018

    OUS Gloucestershire held its spring lecture, entitled “Oceans and Climate Change" at Ribston Hall High School, Gloucester. About 70 people - including pupils from local schools, parents, teachers, and alumni - attended the event.

    Guest speaker David Marshall, Oxford University Professor of Physical Oceanography and Head of Atmospheric Oceanic and Planetary Physics, introduced his talk with two revealing numbers: the top 2.5 metres of all oceans have the same heat capacity as the whole atmosphere, and the top ~50 metres of all oceans have the same CO2 capacity.

    Having thus convinced the audience of the crucial roles of oceans and currents, the talk went on to describe the history of how oceanic data have been measured, ranging from dropping a line from a ship to advanced satellite altimetry and the use of floats, gliders, and even sensors on marine mammals. Before the 1990s, only a limited amount of data was obtainable, but - more recently - there has been an explosion in oceanic data, leading to (among other things) greatly improved weather forecasting.

    There was a presentation of  various models which help understand the vast amounts of data now being collected. The speaker left the audience in no doubt that the presently observed climate trends (CO2 and temperature) were indeed caused mainly by human activity, in correlation with the increasing use of fossil fuels, despite efforts from some quarters to deny this link.

    As a result the oceans are becoming more acidic, resulting in sea shells starting to dissolve. The overturning circulation (a system of surface and deep currents) is seen to be weakening, which will further affect climate.

    Professor Marshall finished by advising students that more Oceanographers are required if we are to better understand the above phenomena. Interested students should study Maths, Chemistry, Physics at A level. Questions were taken from the audience.

    Our thanks go to Professor David Marshall for providing such a stimulating and interesting lecture and also to the staff of Ribston Hall High School for hosting the event.

    Andrew Mitchell, OUS Gloucestershire Treasurer (St Catherine’s, 1985)

  • Event at Marling School, Gloucestershire in Schools and Alumni Series

    OUS Gloucestershire held its autumn lecture in the Schools and Alumni series at Marling and Stroud High School Sixth Form on Wednesday, 18 October 2017.  About 80 pupils from local schools plus parents, teachers and alumni attended the event, entitled ‘What is sleep and why does it matter?’

    Dr Christopher-James Harvey (Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford - pictured right) described the science behind sleep, exploring how different sleep cycles can affect academic attainment, health and wellbeing, particularly in teenagers.

    Chris provided a very interesting lively talk for about an hour, which was followed by 30 minutes of questions from students.

    It was good to see some new schools represented at this event. They included: Bishop’s Cleeve, The Crypt, Gloucester Academy, Gloucester High School for Girls, Marling, Ribston Hall High School, St Edwards School, Stroud High School and Tewkesbury Academy.

    OUS Gloucestershire is grateful to Marling and Stroud High School 6th Form and to Louise Leggett for hosting this event. 

    The next lecture in the Schools and Alumni series will take place at Ribston Hall on Thursday 22 February 2018 and will be given by David Marshall, Professor of Physical Oceanography. Details will follow shortly.

    Andrew Mitchell, OUS Gloucestershire Treasurer (St Catherine’s, 1985)

  • Admissions event: Ribston Hall High School, Gloucester - Wednesday 20 September 2017:

    As Pakistani activist and Nobel Prize Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai takes up her place at Lady Margaret Hall Oxford, to read PPE, the college's principal Alan Rusbridger, joined OUS Gloucestershire at their event to encourage more young people, from all backgrounds, to apply to study at Oxford.

    Over 600 people, from more than 20 schools, attended the group's second admissions event with parents and teachers, opened by OUS Gloucestershire committee member Andrew Mitchell.

    Alan Rusbridger (pictured at the event, left), former editor of The Guardian and principal of Lady Margaret Hall since 2015, talked about the radical history of the college and the Foundation Programs they have developed to widen participation at Oxford. He shared the great success of the foundation year, which has enabled ten of the 12 students to gain places on a full undergraduate course at Oxford.

    Marrium Khan, Senior Access officer from Lady Margaret Hall, here for the second year, shared her personal experiences of applying and studying at Oxford and talked those present through navigating the seemingly complex applications process, breaking it into milestones with advice on every step.

    This included the writing of personal statements, what to expect at the interview and various hints and tips on how to be successful. Marrium also talked about how prospective candidates should be engaging in “supercurricular” activities, demonstrating learning and interest beyond the prescriptive examination syllabus.

    The evening also included a student panel of four undergraduates, all educated at Gloucestershire schools, chaired by Luke Walpole, who studied at Marling and graduated from St Hugh’s this year. Luke was on the 2016 undergraduate panel and is committed to widening access, he said.

    'It was immensely encouraging to see so many people interested in applying to Oxford. Access work is imperative in helping to challenge stereotypes and empower people to apply for the 'Best University in the World' regardless of their race, gender or socio-economic status,' he added. 'Thankfully, the University is changing, and the more we can do to feed students' aspirations, the better.'

    The 40-minute questions and answers session was particularly popular with the audience. It focussed on the reality of current undergraduate life at Oxford. Subjects covered included academic workloads, support, clubs, sport, food, gap years and accommodation, amongst others.

    Rebecca Ogden, a current student at St Anne’s College, who was on the panel, said afterwards, 'I wanted to help at the event in order to share the true experience of an Oxford undergraduate to help them decide whether it's an environment in which they would thrive'

    'I thought the event was really informative and wish that I had been able to go to something like that before I applied!'

    After questions from the audience the evening was closed by group secretary Sam Tolley, Secretary OUS Gloucestershire, who encouraged people to fill in the feedback forms.

    Subsequently, over 300 feedback forms were collected on the night and many emails received. 99% stated that the evening was very useful, with over half stating that they were now more likely to apply to Oxford.

    Becky Ogden said: 'I hope that any students who felt under-confident about applying to Oxford have been encouraged and that we have counterbalanced any stereotypes that may have previously put them off.'

    The feedback, when analysed suggests that the evening achieved what it set out to do.

    Student quotes:

    'Really like the undergraduates’ comments'

    'Great advice from students'

    'The student comments were very reassuring, which increased my confidence'

    'Very useful to hear from the students'

    'It was useful to have some current and ex-students there'

    'Questions and answers with undergraduates was very helpful'

    'Very good to hear from current students'

    'Very useful have students and ex-students to listen to and answer questions'

    'Very interesting having people from local schools'

    'Student panel especially useful'

    Schools attending:

    Cleeve School, Bristol Grammar, Cheltenham Ladies College, Chipping Campden, Cirencester College, Cotswold School, Crypt, Dean Academy, Forest High School, Cinderford, The King’s School, Farmors, Hartpury College, High School for Girls, Marling, Pate’s Grammar, Ribston High School for Girls, Severnvale School, Winchcombe School, Tewkesbury School, St Edward’s School, Wyedean School, Stroud High School for Girls.

    Bookings and feedback forms were received from the above schools, it would be good if next year, students from all 53 secondary schools were encouraged to attend. If that happened we would be looking for two venues, if you might be interested in hosting please email: gloucestershire@ousoc.oxon.org

  • Worcester Lodge: Badminton Estate visit - Wednesday, 21 June 2017:

    Hilary Peters, (St Hilda’s) opened up her home and gardens at Worcester Lodge on the Badminton estate, to host a cello recital by Rosemary Wennick (St John’s).

    Nearly 40 alumni and guests enjoyed Pimms and soft drinks in the Lodge gardens before making their way up to the magnificent upper dining room with extensive views over the Badminton Estate.

    Rosemary Wenninck (St John’s) is an Anglo-Dutch cellist who, at the age of nine, in 2003 was accepted into the Yehudi Menuhin School of music.

    She has performed as a soloist extensively in venues across London, such as the Royal Academy of Art, St Martin in the Fields, and the Cavalry and Guards Club in collaboration with the Royal National Ballet, as well as appearing across Europe in Frankfurt, Zurich, Stuttgart, Basel, and the south of France.

    Rosemary’s programme for the evening lasted around 30 minutes and she played Casals Song of the Birds, the Bach: Cello Suite No. 5  and Vasks Pianissimo.

    Afterwards alumni and guests returned to the gardens and enjoyed a picnic.

    Andrew Mitchell, OUS Gloucestershire Treasurer (St Catherine’s, 1985)

  • Madresfield Court visit - Thursday, 25 May 2017:

    A total of 50 alumni and guests enjoyed a guided tour of Madresfield Court near Malvern; home of the Lygon family for nearly six centuries.

    The house is an architectural masterpiece and played a significant part in nurturing the Arts and Crafts movement, as well as acting at least in part as the inspiration for Evelyn Waugh and Brideshead Revisited. It also contains a fine collection of paintings, furniture and ceramics.

    Andrew Mitchell, OUS Gloucestershire Treasurer (St Catherine’s, 1985)

  • Schools Event at Cleeve School, Gloucestershire in the Schools and Alumni series:

    OUS Gloucestershire held an event in early March 2017 at Cleeve School for Gloucestershire pupils interested in Medicine, Biomedical Science, Biology and Biochemistry. Nearly 80 pupils from local schools, plus parents, teachers and a few alumni attended. The evening was opened by OUS Gloucestershire Secretary Sam Tolley (St Hugh's, 1987), who introduced John Morris, Emeritus Professor of Physiology, Anatomy and Medicine.

    Professor Morris spoke about his research in hormones as neurotransmitters, particularly Oxytocin. He then took questions from the audience on this and its potential impact on understanding Parkinson’s Disease and autism.

    A presentation followed on the admissions process at Oxford, including expectations in terms of grades, the interview, and the college and tutorial system.

    Professor Morris explained that successful applicants demonstrated curiosity, independent thinking and learning and that the tutorial system suited students with this learning style.

    He also advised the importance of candidates having outside interests such as music, drama and sports. He elaborated that being able to cope at school with such extracurricular commitments demonstrated the capacity necessary for the high workload at Oxford.

    Professor Morris then described in detail the three-year medical science degree, followed by the four years in clinical study before qualification. He explained that students of medicine should expect to continue learning and studying throughout their careers.

    After questions on the application process, the formal part of the evening was closed by Pam Bright, Cleeve School’s Vice Principal. Pupils and teachers were then given the opportunity to talk to Professor Morris.

    Comments from more than 40 feedback forms collected from Cleeve School, Cheltenham Ladies College, Pates Grammar, The King’s School Gloucester - among others - confirmed the evening’s success. These included:

    “Very interesting talk, made me curious about something I had never thought about before”

    “It was an amazing talk, thank you”

    “Very interesting to hear about the current research being undertaken in the medical field, as well info about the University”

    “It was very informative and the first talk helped me find a new interest in a particular field of modern research”

    “Statistics were used to prove why Oxford may be a good choice, also enjoyed listening to his presentation”

    “I found this event very informative and thought provoking”

    OUS Gloucestershire is grateful to Cleeve School for hosting and making pupils so welcome. Special thanks to Katie Rolph of Cleeve School, graduate of Cambridge, for her passion and aspiration for young people and helping make the event such a success.

    The next lecture in the Schools and Alumni series is on Dark Matter by Kathryn Boast and takes place at 7pm on Wednesday 3 May at St Edwards School in Cheltenham. Please see the 'Forthcoming Events' tab for further details.

    Andrew Mitchell, OUS Gloucestershire Treasurer (St Catherine’s, 1985)


  • Inaugural academic lecture for the OUS Gloucestershire Schools and Alumni series:

    On 29 September 2016 OUS Gloucestershire ran the first of a series of planned lectures for local Schools and Alumni. The first event took place at Marling School in Stroud.

    More than 100 people, a mixture of students, parents and Oxford Alumni attended a lecture on “Seven things you need to know about prime numbers” by Dr Vicky Neale Whitehead Lecturer at the Mathematical Institute and Balliol College. Further lectures by various Oxford Academics have been arranged for Schools across Gloucestershire.

    It is hoped that the lecture series will enthuse and entertain school students as well as continuing to raise the profile of the University across Gloucestershire.

    Andrew Mitchell, OUS Gloucestershire Treasurer (St Catherine’s, 1985)

  • Admissions Event - Wednesday 21 September 2016:

    OUS Gloucestershire ran its first University Admissions event at the Crypt School in Gloucester, with more than 350, year 10 to 13 pupils from 15 different schools attending, as well as parents and teachers. The meeting was opened by OUS Gloucestershire Secretary Samantha Tolley, who welcomed guests and introduced the speakers and panel.

    Marium Khan, a recent graduate of the University and Outreach officer for Lady Margaret Hall, then talked for 30 minutes about her own journey to Oxford from Slough from a family where nobody had previously been to University and a school where few went onto University. Marium then talked about the Admissions process including the writing of personal statements, what to expect at the interview and various hints and tips on how to be successful. 

    The second half of the evening was a Q&A session with eight current undergraduates, all of whom attended a freshers' drinks evening at the Parliament Rooms of Gloucester Cathedral the night before. The Q&A was chaired by James Green (Jesus, 2009, History). The 30 minutes was very much focused on what it was like to be a current undergraduate at Oxford. Subjects included academic workloads, clubs, sport, accommodation and even quality of college food.

    After questions from the audience, everybody retired for coffee and biscuits where parents, pupils, teachers could talk to present and past members of the University. There were some very good questions including attitudes to GAP years and whether a foreign language is necessary to secure a place at Oxford.

    Over 200 feedback forms were collected on the night and 99% stated that the evening was very useful or useful and 1% said quite useful! 

    Andrew Mitchell, OUS Gloucestershire (St Catherine’s, 1985)


  • Freshers' Drinks Party, Gloucester Cathedral - Tuesday 20 September 2016:

    OUS Gloucestershire held its first drinks for party for Freshers. Freshers joined current students from the University and assorted Alumni at the Parliament rooms of Gloucester Cathedral. With 62 new entrants across Gloucestershire to the University, 32 freshers attended the evening which they all enjoyed and found meeting current students of the University particularly helpful. A total of 50 people attended the event.

    Andrew Mitchell, OUS Gloucestershire (St Catherine’s, 1985)

  • Celebration of Royal Music at the Queen's Chapel, London - Sunday 3 July 2016

  • Drinks Reception in Cheltenham - Friday 6 May 2016

  • Drinks Party: Montepellier, Cheltenham - Friday 5 February 2016


  • View a review of 2014/15

Did you attend an event? Please submit photos and a review by email to Group Secretary Sam Tolley.

Recent group letters