Valediction- Goodbye “God be with You”

Goodbye to all.

As this academic year draws to a close, it is also time for us to say goodbye to many people who have been with us over the years.

On Friday 15th June, our annual evening of Valediction took place. We celebrated the hard work of students and teaching staff, who have worked tirelessly throughout the year bringing great results all round.

The night began with a service in the Chapel. Joyous hymns, readings of thanksgiving, and blessings to those continuing on in to the Ministry of the Word and Sacraments marked the end of the academic year for Westminster College.

Revd. Samantha White read a beautiful Sermon titled ‘A Firm Footing’, including the meaning of ‘goodbye’. According to the Cambridge English Dictionary the definition of Valediction is “the act of saying goodbye, especially formally, or a formal speech in which someone says goodbye”.

To be of firm footing, requires a keeping close to Christ. It is so easy, when times are busy, or there are decisions to be taken, or others expectations for you seem to cloud your judgment as you care for their needs, to give up the spiritual disciplines that help to underpin your faith and that have helped you to be resilient while you have been here.

‘So Valedictorians, ‘Goodbye, farewell, Auf Wedersein and Tuss’. ‘Goodbye’, is an adaptation of the phrase ‘God be by you’ and that is exactly what we wish for you.’

Following the service, we all joined together in a meal and celebrations when the successful students came to the stage to collect their leaving certificate. Followed on by several speeches to thank various members of staff and wishing farewell to Revd. Dr Yak-hwee Tan, tutoring New Testament studies for the past three years and Liz Cazwell, our Chaplain.

A special mention must go out to the amazing Tutorial team, who have worked consistently hard throughout the academic year to provide high quality support and assistance to the students and Senatus.

Last but by no means least, we cannot thank the Hospitality staff enough for their exquisite meal and attentive service throughout the evening. Thank you not only for this evening, but for the entire year where you provide us with only the best food and impeccable service, filling the needs of all who enter our community.

A wonderful evening enjoyed by all.

Congratulations, and well done to: 

Those who will continue on in to the Ministry of the Word and Sacraments:

Ted & Cristina

Jo & Bernard

Helen & Tessa

Alison & Paul

Josh & Gillian

Those who have successfully completed or who will soon complete their studies:

Jane , Jill & Lan

Those who have shared in Westminster’s community on sabbatical this year:

Iain & Peter

Stephanie, Ron & Bronnie

Allan, Terry & Karlotta

Doug & Barbara

Once again, congratulations to everyone for their successes over the year. We wish you all the best for your future endeavours. 



Employee Profile: Meet Our Team!

Name: Igor Iglev
Title: Sous Chef
Start Date:  2014
Promotions: 4

Meet Igor, our Sous Chef!

I moved to the UK on February the 24th of the year 2014. I began working as a kitchen porter at Westminster College. Whereas, when I lived in Bulgaria my job was to manage an automotive garage, I kept the position for 11 years before moving to the UK. I moved to Cambridge, together with my family, with the desire to offer my children the chance to receive the best education possible.

When I started working, my English was at a basic level, therefore I was incredibly grateful to Westminster College for providing me with such the great opportunity of working there. Unfortunately, a few months later our kitchen’s head chef left Westminster. The kitchen was experiencing a shortage of chefs at the same time when I was asking our manager for more working hours. I was a part-time worker, which didn’t allow me to earn as much as I needed. She arranged for me to receive the training required for me to become a traditional English breakfast chef.

I had never cooked before, however, thanks to the training I was provided with I learned a lot. I enjoyed learning all the new skills and providing our guests with the best catering service I could.

A couple of months later I received an unexpected call from my line manager – Hannah. She asked me whether I was interested in studying a professional cookery course at Cambridge Regional College (CRC). On the next day, I visited the reception of CRC, for the first time in my life. Soon after, I began my NVQ Level 2 Professional Cookery course at CRC. My biggest challenge was learning the English language, while simultaneously progressing through the course. I received a lot of support from my assessor Karen, who went through the vocabulary, grammar and punctuation with me after every cooking assessment. Fortunately, Westminster College happened to start an English course shortly after I began my course at CRC. Thanks to the extensive and helpful support provided to me by Karen, my English teacher at CRC and the English lessons at Westminster I was able to complete my course in a year and a half.

I enjoyed the time I spent at CRC due to all the exciting new knowledge that I acquired. I was stunned by the amount of skills and facts that I was able to learn in such a short amount of time. Thankfully, I was granted the opportunity to practice what I was learning about. Gradually, my confidence in my own abilities grew proportionally with my knowledge. Happily, my boss, Magalie Cooper, offered me the opportunity to progress further, to Level 3.

Presently, I am at the verge of completing my Level 3 course. I have completed all my paper work and all I have left to do is a few practical examinations with my new assessor, Will. In the meantime I have been promoted to CDP, and a few months after that to sous chef.

I am infinitely thankful to Westminster College. Especially to Magalie Cooper, who saw the potential in me. This allowed me to develop my passion for food. I am looking forward to developing myself to become a better chef. I am grateful for being able to work in the industry, where learning never stops.

I would like to express my gratitude towards the best chefs and teachers that I have ever met: Chris Burrows & Graham Taylor.

Douglas Strachan- Stained Glass Windows at Westminster College and beyond!

Douglas Strachan (1875-1950) was a Scottish artist who designed the stained glass windows in the chapel at Westminster College. Our chapel was commissioned by Sir William and Lady Black Noble in memory of their son William Black Noble, 2nd Lieutenant in the Northumberland Fusilliers, who died in World War One at Ypres in 1917. They asked Douglas Strachan to design the stained glass windows on the theme of the Benedicite- ‘O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord’- and Strachan’s windows are full of strong, beautiful colour, and dynamic movement: dancers, worshippers, the heavenly fire descending on Mount Carmel, the swell of the stormy sea.

Detail of ‘Womanhood’, at All Saints Church, Cambridge. Photo by Adrian Powter

If you’re visiting All Saints Church on Jesus Lane, Cambridge, then while you’re there, take a moment to admire another Douglas Strachan window- this one on Womanhood (it’s immediately to your left as you come).

The Womanhood window at All Saints is a work from 1944, some twenty years later than the Westminster windows, the gift of John Murrish. Blue, green and purple tones dominate, with silvery opaque highlights. The central panel shows the Virgin and the Child as a mother with a baby, standing benignly behind a young boy dressed as a Scout; he’s just taking his first step down from the rock on which she stands, out into the wider world. Though she is still, the landscape around her is full of movement in the form of curves: the path, the tree, the leaves, her gown. She is flanked by women caring for strangers and for the sick, and by four portraits of famous women of compassion, charity, and bravery: Elizabeth Fry, Josephine Butler, Cecile Isherwood, and Edith Cavell.

As well as the Strachan window, take time to admire this incredible building, full of colour and craftsmanship. Designed by GF Bodley and built in 1863-1871, the decoration of the church was finished in the 1920s and includes work by key Arts & Crafts names: Bodley himself, Morris & Co, Kempe, and Leach. All Saints is now managed by the Churches Conservation Trust.




Employee Profile: Meet our team!

Meet Adam, our Trainee Domestic Supervisor.

Name: Adam Illes
Title: Trainee Domestic Supervisor
Start Date: August 2016
Promotions: 1

Adam in January 2017 after winning newcomer of the ye

Job Title Changes / Transfers: 3

What I like about Westminster:

Westminster College for me is like a big family. What is good about a family? Every member of the family cares about each other. It doesn’t matter if it is a professional or a personal issue that you come across, you can count on your colleagues.

You are heard at Westminster College. There are no bad ideas, only ideas that needs more time to put it in action. You can develop yourself in different ways because they provide the resources for that. The college appreciates hard work.

I often don’t even feel like I am at work – I feel I am at a place with different people from different countries. This diversity makes us so unique, especially so close to Brexit. We work together to make everybody’s stay in Cambridge pleasant, to make a company’s conference effective and efficient, or make a couple’s wedding their most memorable day of their life. I have to say this last example is my favourite as I really enjoy working weddings.

My favourite thing is going the “extra mile” for anybody. Sometimes the little things mean a lot, and I think I have good skills to detect these. Because on the end of a little effort I can see the joy and the overall satisfaction, or that small half smile what proves to me I did something right.

What an average day is like…

We haven’t got average days at Westminster College. Every day is special in its own way. No day is the same, which is sometimes it is a blessing and sometimes isn’t! Obviously we have our daily routine, which starts with a nice cup of coffee and a couple of words with anybody who also needs their daily caffeine input. On a general day I supervise the catering assistants work, and make sure all of our guests get the maximum of the famous Westminster breakfast experience. Then I brief the housekeepers about their daily jobs, check conferences and B&B rooms, communicate with the kitchen, and pay maximum attention to everyone’s queries with the aim of exceeding their expectations.

On a bad day…

When I need to face any challenges I always give myself a minute or so to think it through, count from 0-10, take a big breath and go for it. Sometimes the biggest problems only require common sense and a little patience to solve them. Although this is not always the case, for instance when there’s a lack of ice 5 min before the disco kicks off with an open bar! In these cases you need to think very quickly, step up effectively and act straight away. But I have an ultimate weapon against anything that is always with me, it is free and inexhaustible: a smile!!! It might not solve the problem but it still feels good to do.

The Woolf Institute’s Royal Opening

On Monday 16th April, our neighbours over at the Woolf Institute were celebrating a Royal opening of their permanent home on this site. The Woolf Institute was founded in 1998 by Dr Edward Kessler and Reverend Professor Martin Forward. The aim was to provide an ‘academic framework and space in which people could tackle issues of religious difference constructively’.

HRH The Princess Royal arriving with Dr Ed Kessler.

HRH The Princess Royal, the Patron of the Capital Appeal, and supporter of the Woolf Institute was welcomed to the site by Dr Ed Kessler MBE, Founding Director of the Woolf Institute.

In his speech, Dr Kessler said “The brief research presentations demonstrate a pursuit of wisdom, understanding and knowledge, not for their own sake but rather, to foster a society at ease with itself, in which individuals, groups and communities feel at home, and in whose flourishing all wish to take part.  Our new home will house many such actions; in the UK, with new research projects on religious fundamentalism and building resilience in Muslim communities, new courses on migration and immigration as well as a summer school, new audiences reached through our media suite such as the new podcast series, ‘Encounter’”.

Congratulations to everyone involved in the hard work and dedication it took to bring the Woolf Institute to life in its new home, and the continuous work to educate and bring communities together to coexist peacefully.

To read the full speech and see pictures from the special day, please visit:

Castlebrae, the twins’ home!

Castlebrae, 13th April 2018

What an inspiring site visit today!

A small group of domestic bursars interested in our co-founders, the twin-sisters,  were on their second-leg of their discovery journey. We met today at the Colony, a site owned by Clare College for centuries now. There we were welcome by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable Clare team whose housekeeper was genuinely delighted to show us around today!

Castlebrae was built between 1888-1890 to the partial design of S.S. Lewis and by Marshall & Vickrs architects of Bedford square in London. The land was leased for 125 years by our famous co-founder Agnes Lewis and her husband, and her twin sister Margaret Gibson after becoming a widow suddenly. Their life was well captured in Janet Soskice’s book ‘Sisters of Sinai’, a video for the ones who haven’t read it yet –

I attach some picture to show the excellent efforts by Coulson and Clare College to revive and restore this stunning building. It now offers 26 student bedrooms but it has conserved some of its quirkiness, a grand job!

We never saw the infamous ghost (apparently of a maid sitting on the bed), I will remember a warm, welcoming and beautiful gem’ that truly feels like it could be on Westminster College, it is in keeping with the sisters’ exquisite style.


Contact me , if you would like further details.

All best,


We’re getting ready…

If you’re working with any data, you’ll no doubt be aware that the new General Data Protection Regulations are coming on 25th May.

We’ve been working busily in the background to get prepared for it and you might soon get an email from us on the topic. We’ll also be making a few small but important changes to our website, both as part of our work to prepare for the changes and also to make finding what you’re looking for a little easier.

Stay tuned for more!

Employee Profile: Meet our team!

Thinking of Westminster College as your future employer? We thought it would be nice for you to meet all our support team, and show off all the amazing things they do for the college and why they like working here!

Meet Emma, our PA to the Bursar and Office Manager.

Name: Emma Brown
Title: PA to the Bursar and Office Manager
Start Date: September 2009
Promotions: 2
Job Title Changes / Transfers: 3

What I like about Westminster…
No two days are ever the same.
It’s a bit of a mixed blessing this one! As a relatively small organisation, we’re quite a tight knit family and it means we all pitch in wherever help is needed; many of us hold more than one title, and those who do have one title have a fairly diverse set of things to do. Those of us who’ve been around for a few years have knowledge about things which might not be anything to do with our job title. If something needs to get done, we’ll find a way of doing it, and doing it well.

Working for a non-profit organisation.
Any surplus is invested back into either the people or the building. I’m really proud of that; it makes the occasionally long, challenging days very worthwhile. Every penny we make enables us to invest in the future.

We’re very much an equal opportunity employer.
We’ve a very diverse team here, with people from a multitude of countries, all bringing their own unique experiences to add to the Westminster experience. The thing which stands out most for me, as a woman in management, is that our current management team has more women than men – that is unusual even in these times, but most particularly in a Cambridge college. We invest in our people, so it is natural to see internal promotions or transfers; I started as a temp for 2 weeks. Since then, with my most recent role change being from PA to the Principal to PA to the Bursar back in October 2015, I’ve had quite a few changes within what I do as part of my dual roles of Office Manager and PA as the college and the team have grown. I’m also really proud to work for an accredited Living Wage Foundation employer, which is one of only two Cambridge colleges which pays the Living Wage, as set out by the Living Wage Foundation. That’s phenomenal!

We’re not afraid of change.
We don’t “do something that way because it’s always been done that way”. It’s important that we acknowledge our history and legacy – why we’ve done something that way before – but it’s also important to constantly reform. Both as part of the United Reformed Church, and as a forward thinking organisation! I started here when we had 2 full time members on Reception (including me), opening the building at 8.30am and closing up as we left at 4.30pm, closed at weekends. We’re now open 7am to 11pm, seven days a week and I manage a team of 5 to cover reception. Back when I started, we didn’t have any en-suite bedrooms – it was all shared facilities along draughty corridors – and our building was beautiful but in need of some serious updating in many different ways. After raising £7 million, we underwent a major building refurbishment and we’ve now got 38 bedrooms and 2 cottages, all en-suite. Gone are the days where we had an occasional overnight guest alongside our students. The extra income from B&B goes back into keeping Westminster sustainable for our students and the URC, and into ensuring we look after our Grade 2 listed building – she’s a gentle creature and we need to nurture and protect her!

The food!
I’m not going to lie, a lot of us put on a few pounds when we start working here! The food is delicious and I get fed a very tasty two course lunch every day during the week. They cater for my rather weird dietary requirements; though I should try harder to resist pudding, making the healthy choice is incredibly difficult when you’ve got Igor’s chocolate brownie in front of you…

What an average day is like…
There’s no such thing! I oversee Reception, and whilst we certainly have daily tasks to do, our focus is customer service, be that interactions with our students as they collect their post, welcoming in a contractor arriving to service a piece of plant, directing conference delegates to their meeting room or checking in our B&B guests. People, by their nature, are all different and have different needs and expectations. We try to anticipate what they need and exceed their expectations. That, in turn, makes every day different. Then we get queries and challenges that, even with 8 years under my belt, haven’t come up before.

On a ‘bad day’…
They do happen to us all occasionally! I try to do three things.

Firstly, look back to my very first day and remember how many positive changes we’ve been through. Even the very hard changes have lead to new opportunities that we might not otherwise have had.

Secondly, I spend a moment just quietly in our stunning chapel. I’m not a Christian, but I’ve always adored churches and cathedrals, and simply being in such a beautiful, spiritually rich space recharges the batteries.

Thirdly, I visit the sisters. They were rather phenomenal women with a very quirky, rich history and fascinating lives. Their portraits hang in our Dining Hall, so we eat with them looking over us most lunch times. In a world which didn’t allow them to attend university or get a degree, they let very little hold them back from doing exactly what they wanted to; i.e travelling through the desert on camel back fully garbed in their Victorian outfits, complete with their china tea set. I visit them because I like to think that we continue their legacy. They would certainly not have let a singular tricky email (letter?) or long, difficult meeting get to them so why should I?

(PS – the photo is of me on my wedding day in June 2014 and proves that I do, ever so occasionally, wear bright colours)

Keep up to date with our blog to meet more of our team!