Bradford College and Kala Sangam held a vintage tea dance and entertainment at St Peter's House on Thursday 31st May. This was the first of a series of Diamond Jubilee celebrations the College will be holding this year, and since the College is enjoying 180 years of serving the city, it was keen to hang out the bunting to pay tribute to 60 years of dedicated service by the monarch. Although the afternoon’s festivities were themed around a Coronation tea dance, it also reflected pride in the diversity of Bradford today.
There was a surprise appearance by Her Majesty, when former College Lecturer, Ruth Caswell (better known as an award winning costumier and fashion designer/ maker, who was the Textile Advisor on the BBC’s Pride & Prejudice and costumed numerous stage shows and TV programmes, plus Shakespeare in Love and both the Elizabeth films!) arrived to the delight of everyone. Other former members of staff returned to join in the celebrations, including author Frances McNeil (who writes as Frances Brody) and Stan Topliss, the optician and author who was instrumental in raising the status of Ophthalmic Dispensing internationally and who had been both a student and lecturer here. We were also delighted to welcome a party of visiting students who are spending four months studying in College as part of the Future Leaders of Vietnam programme.
Old traditions and new influences combined to ensure that the Diamond Jubilee weekend began in royal and retro style. Entertainment was provided by gramophone DJs It’s a Wind Up and there were performances by South East Asian dancers Odissi and Kathak, Dance United and College Performing Arts students. The event was opened by College Vice Principal, Kath Oldale. Distinguished guests included The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress and the Deputy Lieutenant for West Yorkshire, Anita Craig.
In her address, Anita Craig said, “In 1947 Princess Elizabeth gave a radio broadcast in which she said: ‘I declare before you that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family, to which we all belong.’ Her Majesty is a truly remarkable. I am sure the love and respect of her people are a great support.“ She spoke of the value of the Commonwealth in bringing people together and said that the tea dance was a perfect celebration of this year’s Commonwealth theme of ‘connecting cultures.’ Anita concluded, "This has been an amaziing event and I hope that you all enjoy the jubilee celebrations beginning this weekend as much as I have enjoyed this afternoon."
The event was organised by Clare Lamkin, Arts and Cultural Events Manager at Bradford College. She said, “Our students were really excited by the concept of a tea dance with a multi-cultural twist as it reflects the College’s and Bradford’s diverse community. The event brought together students across the College: performing arts danced the foxtrot, hospitality and catering students prepared a traditional tea and served the guests; make-up and hairdressing students provided a salon service for those attending who wanted to have a nostalgic 1950’s look and photography students captured the day. Guests included notable alumni and former staff. I am really delighted by everyone’s enthusiasm to celebrate HM the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in this way and I am sure we will all have very fond memories of this tea dance in years to come.”
Memories of the coronation were evoked by a collection of memorabilia loaned by staff and alumni, and this was displayed on a stunning tablecloth created for the event by student Gemma Louise Foster. The second year BA (Hons) Contemporary Surface Design & Textiles student explained that she devised the design as part of a project on trends. She said, “I chose jubilee but I didn’t want to do anything obvious or that would date once the jubilee was over. I wanted to create a nostalgic design that that had more applications and which could be used in more colour ways than red, white and blue. I looked at the way the coronation was celebrated and street parties, basing all the elements of my design photographs. I envisaged it as covering notebooks, journals and keepsake boxes but it could be used for cushions, table linen, wallpaper for a feature wall or even dresses.”
Kath Oldale, Vice Principal of Bradford College, thanked Kala Sangam for providing the venue and such fabulous dancers, and all the students and staff who had created such a super occasion. She said, “This is an example of what partnership working can do.” This theme was taken up by Richard Wightman, Chair of the College Corporation, who expressed his pride in the way that everyone had joined in to create such a marvellous celebration. He said, “On one level this has been a huge amount of fun. However, an event like this also displays the variety of activity in the College and its relevance to Bradford society. When we come together we can achieve synergy and interact with the city. Today has shown the city how valuable the College is to its people, giving everyone opportunities to learn and you can see some of these areas in action today.” Frances McNeil’s verdict was that the afternoon had been “absolutely brilliant. The attention to detail has been so impressive.”
You can enjoy a flavour of this fabulous day, courtesy of images from our Photography students Tom Haigh, Michael Laprocina, Eamon Ward and Olivia Wilford, plus our award winning Head of Photography and Director of Innovation & Projects, Trevor Griffiths.