World Humanitarian Day

On Sunday, 19th August, we’ll be remembering the UN’s World Humanitarian Day.

Their key theme this year is #NotATarget, reflecting upon the appalling reality that frequently a host of the most vulnerable become targets in armed conflicts around the world. Sometimes people most involved in bringing aid and help to those suffering amidst conflict are, themselves, the targets. The UN are highlighting the ways in which children (girls especially) and women, civilians,  aid workers, displaced people and refugees, journalists, medical workers, schools, ambulances and hospitals are targeted so often and with such deadly consequences.

They are showing us evil.

At a time when we are caught up in the rise of many forces that drag us towards the politics and culture of an increasingly isolationist, my-country-first vision of the world, it’s vital that we affirm a very different story of who we are, where we come from, and where we wish to go. The world’s great faiths have, at our best, consistently affirmed the infinite worth of human life and the need to especially protect and support the vulnerable and those at most risk in our world. As I’ve thought about the UN’s call and read some of the stories they have gathered of those on the world’s front lines I’ve turned to other words as well. In his book The Dignity of Difference, former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes:

“One of the most important distinctions I have learned in the course of reflection on Jewish history is the difference between optimism and hope. Optimism is the belief that things will get better. Hope is the faith that, together, we can make things better. Optimism is a passive virtue, hope an active one… Hope is the knowledge that we can choose; that we can learn from our mistakes and act differently next time; that history is not what Joseph Heller called it, a ‘trashbag of random coincidences blown open by the wind’, but a long, slow journey to redemption, whatever the digressions and false turns along the way.”

I think the UN rests upon a great deal of hope. I think the current state of the world requires a very great deal of hope to feed and fuel and foster our actions so that we turn away from the twilight that labels others as collatoral damage and into the bright sunlight of the love for one another that is God’s gift to us. In another Jew, Jesus the rabbi in Galilee, I believe that God’s profound hope took human flesh and lived amongst us. The attacks the UN are highlighting in their campaign turn precious children of God, which I believe everyone is, into pawns in games of power and ideology waged by some to benefit a few. The Bible tells first the Jewish story and then the Christian story of what God says into such contexts. When Jesus was asked to sum up life in all its fullness, life obedient to the will of God, he reached back deep into his Jewish tradition and scripture and found the summary that still stands today as test and possibility:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind… You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

That’s the text I want to hold in my heart, and carry through in my living and supporting, as I honour those the UN is honouring, remember those the UN is remembering, and encourage those the UN is encouraging. Evil doesn’t speak the last word, ever.

-Neil Thorogood, Principal


Gregg Brown Wedding Photography

Gregg Brown is an Essex based Professional Wedding Photographer with over 10 years experience in his field- and is also one of our recommended suppliers.

You may or may not know that Gregg photographed our Hospitality Manager Hannah’s own wedding two years ago.

“I love being a wedding photographer and it is a privilege to be part of every couple’s special day. I have been photographing weddings for more than 10 years and find my own experience of walking down the aisle helps me understand how important every moment of the day is.”

“Working in a relaxed, considerate and unobtrusive manner, I aim to capture all the special moments without interrupting the celebrations. I take great pride in my photography and am delighted to receive such wonderful testimonials.”

Gregg shoots a range of reportage, contemporary and candid wedding photography, creating perfect images to tell the story of your big day. Gregg is a popular Essex wedding photographer and also covers weddings in Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, the East of England and London.

We have an exclusive offer to all Brides and Grooms celebrating their day at Westminster College, with 15% off Gregg’s prices.

For more information and to view Gregg’s beautiful portfolio, and the Bridal magazines he has featured in, visit his website: Gregg Brown Weddings.

Twitter: @GB_Weddings

Facebook: @greggbrownweddings

Instagram: greggbrownphotography


Flying Colours for Adam!

Our Hospitality Supervisor Adam recently completed his Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Hospitality Services!

Adam underwent a ten module course, passing every one and earning himself a well deserved Diploma, awarded by Cambridge Regional College.

Originally from Salgótarján in Hungary, Adam now lives in Cambridge and has worked at Westminster College since 2016.

Adam is a highly valued member of the Westminster team and his service has proved nothing but excellent.

Well done Adam!


Ladies of Quality and Distinction

In this, the centenary year of women’s suffrage, the Cheshunt Foundation has been asked to join in with a fascinating celebration of influential women from the 1720s and 1730s- the 21 ‘ladies of quality and distinction” who helped philanthropist Thomas Coram set up his Foundling Hospital in London. Long before women were given the right to vote, these ladies were influential in helping Coram secure a Royal Charter for his Foundling Hospital, which was set up to support and care for some of London’s abandoned ‘foundling children’.

One of the ladies was Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, who also founded Trevecca College for young men to train for ministry- which later moved to Hertfordshire and became Cheshunt College.

Portrait of Selina Shirley, Countess of Huntingdon.

  These marvellous ladies are being celebrated this Autumn with a remarkable exhibition at the Foundling Museum in London. The Collections Manager, Alison Duke, came to visit the College recently to look at the painting in situ, and to discuss how best to transport it to London for the exhibition. Alison has written about her visit for Art Funding here .

We look forward to seeing the Countess surrounded by her peers- or, strictly speaking, her Peeresses- on September! The exhibition opens to the public in September and will run through into January 2019.

To find out more about the exhibition at the Foundling Museum, have a look at the Foundling Museum website

…And to find out more about the 21 Ladies, and about Thomas Coram, visit the website of Coram, the charity which continues their work today.

To see all the oil paintings at Westminster online, visit:


Blog by Helen Weller- Westminster College Archivist.

Help Luisa Meet Needs!

Our Business Development Manager- Luisa, will be running the Royal Parks Half Marathon on 14th October 2018 for Meeting Needs Charity.

“I’m running for Meeting Needs the Event Industry Charity an industry I know well and that I’m passionate about. I have seen the positive effects for those who attend, and the wider community that support the delivery of, events. Meeting Needs reaches further supporting people much less fortunate than ourselves in the name of the events sector.

They support approximately 30 projects each year, distributing £130,000 in cash to worthy causes in the UK and Overseas to organisations that find it difficult to access mainstream funding. The Royal parks Half Marathon is a major source of income for the Charity.”

In the past year examples of the sort of projects they have funded are:

• “South London Cares” a charity that seeks to alleviate the issues of loneliness and isolation amongst older and younger people in South London. Our grant of £4,000 will help fund their winter Social Clubs so that older and younger neighbours can share time, company, laughter and friendship

• “Clowns without Borders” is a Charity whose purpose is to provide relief from need and suffering of people, in particular children and young people, who are resident in areas of crisis. Our grant of £4,099 towards providing opportunities for play and laughter to during the colder months of the year” for 600 children living in the refugee camps of Athens.

Luisa needs to raise £500 to be able to run and to send to Meeting Needs. If you are able to contribute in any way, we would be so grateful. This is a tough challenge that not many could do- but the reward is incredible.

Thank You for all your donations.

Go Luisa!

Westminster College 

Anglia Ruskin University appoints Revd Canon Dr Andrew Todd as Senior Lecturer and Director of the Professional Doctorate in Pratical Theology

The Cambridge Theological Federation is delighted to confirm that Reverend Dr Andrew Todd has been appointed to take up the Anglia Ruskin University post that falls vacant upon Zoe’s retirement.

Andrew Todd is currently co-coordinator of the Centre for Contemporary Spirituality, Sarum College in Salisbury.

Previously Director of the Cardiff Centre for Chaplaincy Studies (and an Honorary Research Fellow of Cardiff University), he is a practical theologian and ethnographer, who has been published widely in the chaplaincy studies field.  Earlier in his career, Andrew was Vice-Principal and Director of Studies for the East Anglican Ministerial Training Course (now ERMC), and was also President of the Cambridge Theological Federation 2000-2001.

This post will draw significantly on his research in practical theology and the sociology of contemporary religion and spirituality. He is looking forward to working with doctoral students as they develop as practical theologians in interaction with their professional practice; and to the privilege of nurturing students in their research and in skills of critical and creative theological reflection. Andrew’s appointment to this role represents an opportunity, not only to develop his work in practical theology, but also to return to East Anglia and be nearer to his family.

His new post comes at the same time as one for his wife Catherine, which will also be based in East Anglia.

Publications: John Caperon, Andrew Todd & James Walters (eds.) A Christian Theology of Chaplaincy (Jessica Kingsley, 2017); Chris Swift, Mark Cobb and Andrew Todd (eds.), A Handbook of Chaplaincy Studies (Ashgate, 2015); Jonathan Prye, Peter Sedgewick and Andrew Todd (eds.), Critical Care: Delivering Spiritual Care in Healthcare Contexts (Jessica Kingsley, 2015); Andrew Todd (ed.), Military Chaplaincy in Contention: Chaplains, Churches, and the Morality of Conflict (Ashgate, 2013).



Employee Profile: Meet our team!

Name: Emma Kind
Title: Receptionist
Start Date: 2014
Promotions: 1

Meet Emma, our Receptionist!

What I like about Westminster

Emma at the 2017 Staff Party with Meerkat Tullulah.

Attention to Detail

At Westminster we like to ensure that everyone who walks through our doors feels special, which is something I absolutely love doing. We make sure that even the smallest of things are tailored to the individual to instil a happy, positive memory. Our motive always stems from a place of care and compassion. Any time I ask my Manager, Emma Brown, what I should to do to make the best decision, I often hear the words, ‘If you were the guest, how would that make you feel about that’ or ‘If you were the guest, what would you like to experience’, which helps me to make the best decision for that individual.

From welcoming each and every person through our doors with a smile and genuine interest, to going the extra mile to making sure our guests have a comfortable experience and smooth journey to where ever they are setting off to next, our attention to detail makes me feel like I have been able to take any worries or possible issues that could confront our guests and help them to plan their day ahead so they are able to focus and enjoy being in Cambridge, without the worry of planning for somewhere you are not local to or familiar with.

The community atmosphere

Working in a College is refreshing and means you are able to work in a real community atmosphere. Not only do you have your co-workers there for you but you also get the lovely students popping in now and then, who are always a pleasure to talk to and keep me topped up when I need a ‘pick me up’.

Having such a community also makes our social events a lot more entertaining as students and staff are able to relax together and share their experiences.

Our Summer 2017 summer event was really memorable for myself as we had Oreo and friends come down, where I got the pleasure of meeting Tullulah the Meerkat! (The one in the photo).

Our Winter party was also very memorable for myself as this year we had a golden ticket draw to win London Theatre tickets and a night’s stay in the London Mayfair Hotel, which I will be getting the honour of enjoying soon!

What an average day is like…

An average day in Reception is never really that average! Sure you’ll answer the phone, emails and greet guests each day, but the vast differences in requests and needs of these guests are what keeps the day interesting and lively. You will get to witness and interact with some really interesting events that we get the pleasure of hosting and the multitude of fascinating people that come along with them.

Reception is so diverse with different tasks we do each day, I’ve never had the threat of becoming bored or being without something to do. I often find that the time flies by and I have been able to learn new things about the way Westminster works, that allow me to keep on learning.

On a ‘bad day’…

Being in a position that deals with the Public and all manner of requests means that I experience stressful work days that can leave my brain in a bit of a whirl! However I feel it very empowering to handle with whatever comes my way, the way I feel is right for the guest and the College. It is also the indispensable fact that I have my colleagues and manager to support me all the time or to pick up where I left off, which can turn that around.

The most comforting thing is having understanding colleagues who are ready and willing to help you carry the work load. If I ever have a busy shift, I know I can count on the Morning Receptionist to help me out and if I ever find myself in a unusual situation, which can be a common case in Reception, I know Emma is always there when I need some direction or have quirky issues to resolve.

Above all else, seeing the relief and the smile on a guest’s face after helping to get through a rather challenging situation is well worth any added work or interesting challenges that present themselves, it really helps me to feel satisfaction within my work.




I recently happened upon an interesting image from 1877 entitled “Shark Attacking A Boatman”, in our series of The Children’s Messenger in the library here. It’s an illustration from one of a series of articles by Rev. Archibald Hewan, describing the journey to the Old Calabar Mission, and this one is specifically about “the sharks at Lagos”.

The Children’s Messenger  was a monthly magazine produced by the Presbyterian Church of England for young members, and, as well as moral stories and Bible studies, it included many letters from missionaries describing life in far parts of the world – and the Messenger tried to accompany its articles with illustrations. Nowadays, television and photography and zoos and the internet mean that we are familiar with wildlife from around the world; but it seems pretty clear, looking at this picture from 140 years ago, that it was drawn by someone who had never actually seen a real shark.

This shark has a pointed snout and (rather strangely placed) gills, but the eyes and head are more like those of a seal. Its fins are reminiscent both of the fins of a bony fish, and of the flippers like a sea lion or a walrus- but are nothing like the smooth cartilage fins of a shark. It has a leaf-shaped tail straight out of a Mediaeval bestiary, and strangest of all, it has fur!

Archibald Hewan (1832-1883) was a Jamaican medical missionary to Calabar in Nigeria, appointed in 1854; but the artist is unknown.

The anatomical descriptions in Hewan’s text are very vague, if you don’t already know what a shark looks like: it only says “Look at his flat head. You can’t see his mouth; that is quite under” and later refers to his “great eyes”, “great fins” and “great tail”…though if you look closely, you can see that someone has also told the artist that sharks have more than one row of teeth.

However, if the artist had only heard or read descriptions of sharks before beginning his illustration, then he’s not alone in the task of trying to draw an animal he’s never laid eyes on. Albrecht Durer’s woodcut of an enthusiastically-armoured rhinoceros from 1515 is one of the best known pictures of an animal by an artist who has never seen his subject. Another famous example is George Stubbs’s portrait of a kangaroo, with a very long tail and no pouch, held at the Royal Museums Greenwich, which was based on descriptions given to the artist by Joseph Banks on his return from voyaging with Captain Cook in 1771, and painted soon afterwards. So our shark is in illustrious company!


Blog by Helen Weller- Archivist