Eliza McCartney - special guest at our Valedictory Dinner

The College's Valedictory Dinner took place on Sunday, 7 October with New Zealand's pole-vaulting champion, Eliza McCartney, as the guest speaker.

As many will know, Eliza catapulted to public attention as a 19-year-old with an unforgettable performance in securing a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. In doing so she became the youngest ever Olympic medallist in women's pole vault. Her current best of 4.94 m set in Germany in July this year makes her the NZ, Oceania and Commonwealth record holder. She is now the third highest women's pole vaulter of all time.

We felt very privileged indeed to have Eliza join us for our final and biggest formal dinner of the year during which she gave an excellent valedictory address to a crowded Dining Hall. Her talk was delivered most eloquently and personably, with a four-point message for Members taken from her own experience: (1) be open-minded; (2) face your challenges; (3) give 100% every day; and (4) laugh (her personal favourite).

The evening began with a pre-dinner function at 5 pm in the Valentine Common Room for guests, College Leaders, the Executive Committee and the Tutorial Co-ordinator, and included wonderful background music provided by some of our talented musicians. At 5.40 pm, guests, Staff and Members were piped in to the Norris Dining Hall by Murray Tannock, a bagpiper and Otago PhD candidate.

In his opening welcome, the Master noted that a Valedictory Dinner was a farewell dinner – the final formal dinner for 2018 - where we reminisce about the events of the year gone by, reflect on what we have achieved and learned, and bid goodbye to fellow College Members. It is also a time of celebration where we recognise our many contributions to the community of St Margaret’s College and beyond.

Capably led by Head Chef Bede Beaumont, the Kitchen at St Margaret's provided a top quality three-course meal (see accompanying menu) and Members enjoyed being waited on. It's no mean feat serving a restaurant-style meal to around 200 people but the staff did a magnificent job. By way of thanks, they were surprised by a lovely waiata sung by a group of Members which was very touching and greatly appreciated.

During the course of the evening, special presentations were made to the Executive Committee, Mentor and Tutorial Co-ordinators, and College Leaders in appreciation of their exemplary service to the College during the course of the year. Members were also treated to a haggis ceremony performed in the traditional Scottish manner, assisted very ably by Members Liam Heath, Jessica Kirton-Luxford and Krishan Nain.

As is part of the St Margaret's tradition, our 49 trophies, each accompanied by a certificate, were awarded towards the end of the evening. The guest speaker, Eliza McCartney kindly presented the trophies to the winning Members after which they each posed for a photo with her.

Two of the trophies were presented by the trophy benefactors who were present at the Dinner, namely: (1) the Barbara Duncan Trophy for Special Service, awarded to Libby Christophers. Barbara is a Member of the College Council, a College alumnus and for over 20 years was a chemistry tutor at the College; and (2) the Likhit Dukkipati Award for the Returner of the Year Award, awarded to Troy Gouk-Macdonald. Likhit has been a Member for three years, the last two of which were as a College Leader.

The musical performances during the evening were amazing and included singers, guitar, piano, violin, drums, cello and bodrhan (Irish drum) and of course the amazing choir who performed the song Africa. 

With the excitement of  the Valedictory Dinner behind us, Members' attentions now turn to the upcoming examinations which begin on 17 October.

(Story by the Master, Dr Charles Tustin)

Posted: Friday October 12, 2018