Student winner, Monica Taylor, shares her experience of the Alumni Awards Gala Dinner.
– Monica Taylor
Having never won so much as a raffle in my life, I never expected to receive an email saying I was to attend the Bristol Alumni Awards Gala Dinner in London with Sir David Attenborough! Anna and I cleared our schedules for Tuesday 12th March, dug out our best cocktail dresses and spent the rest of the day jumping up and down in excitement!
When the date rolled around, we met the other student winners and their guests on the coach and headed off to London along with the Bristol Gospel Choir – who sang beautifully all the way there, rehearsing for their performance that night. Descending on Mansion House at 6pm, the evening kicked off with a champagne reception in the Salon; an elaborately decorated room with sky high ceilings adorned with a stunning row of crystal chandeliers. It was like stepping into Buckingham Palace!
“One couple shared their heart-warming story of meeting as students many years ago, and going on to call Bristol home ever since.”
Red carpet covered the floor and glorious bouquets of flowers hung left, right and centre. The room was filled with University of Bristol alumni of all ages and professions, including the Lord Mayor of the City of London, who was hosting the event. On the sound of a gong, everyone began to migrate into the Egyptian Hall, an even grander room with giant columns supporting an immaculately gold-decorated ceiling.
We were seated on a table with some lovely alumni who we got to chat to throughout dinner. It was amazing to hear all their stories of being a University of Bristol student and the adventures they’d been on since graduating. One couple shared their heart-warming story of meeting as students many years ago, and going on to call Bristol home ever since. They were all keen to hear about our current MSci Biology projects and future aspirations.
“The love for the University and the city of Bristol shone through in every speech.”
Dinner started off with beetroot, goat’s cheese and marjoram, molded beautifully into a sphere. This was followed by a honey and lavender glazed duck fillet and finished off with a dessert of mandarin and mascarpone cremeux. The wines had been carefully selected to complement the food, and each dish really was a work of art!
The awards were given out between courses and each recipient gave a short speech, expressing their gratitude to Bristol for some of the best years of their life and reminiscing about old times. The love for the University and the city of Bristol shone through in every speech and it was an honour to cheer them on as they were recognised for their achievements. The final award of the night was presented to the legend himself, Sir David Attenborough, celebrating a lifetime achievement. We cheered him onto the stage with a standing ovation; the atmosphere was incredible and the crowd hung onto his every word.
“Sir David has inspired generations of people and he had an important message for the younger generation…”
He spoke with modesty and gratitude, describing how although he is the voice behind the well-known BBC natural history documentaries, the real stars of the show are the film makers and the talented people on the ground who spend years following groups of animals – skillfully recording every detail of their behaviour. Sir David has inspired generations of people and he had an important message for the younger generation; one which urged us to come together to save the planet. His conclusion was hopeful, insisting that if we all take action, there is still time to save this beautiful planet and the species that inhabit it.
The night’s finale was a stunning performance from the balcony by the Bristol Gospel Choir, after which we said our goodbyes and shared well-wishes with our new-found alumni friends, snapped a few final photos under the beautiful chandeliers and headed back to the coach.
WHAT A NIGHT!
Thank you so much University of Bristol for such a wonderful, memorable evening. We haven’t stopped talking about it since!