It was over two years ago that a group of ex-Wills friends sat around after dinner one night and realised that, with the twentieth anniversary of our meeting on G staircase in Wills Hall gradually approaching, a party was on the cards. I phoned Lindsey Prescott at Wills the very next day to book the hall, contacted the tremendously helpful alumni office, launched into the task of contacting as many old faces as I could and, on Saturday 3rd September 2005, finally took part in a happy evening celebrating twenty years of Women in Wills.
My girlfriends and I have always considered ourselves a very lucky lot: it wasn't until 1985 that the JCR voted for women to be admitted to the Hall (and I understand it was a close-fought battle). Certainly the decision wasn't made until after the University had printed its accommodation prospectus that year, because the announcement that women were welcome to apply to Wills was on a little slip of paper sticking out of the brochure. But, apply we did, and my best friends are still those other women I met on my first day at university. There were about 70 women and 200 men - a highly favourable ratio, in our eyes.
The party to celebrate this anniversary was not only for women, of course: husbands, partners and friends of both sexes were welcome too, some of whom were visiting Wills for the first time. Many guests had travelled long distances to attend; they came from all over Britain (including Aberdeen and Ireland), Paris and even Chicago.
The evening sunlight on the stone certainly showed the Hall off to its best advantage and was a perfect backdrop to drinks on the Quad. Seventy people sat down to a delicious dinner - many remarked that the standard of catering was far better than they had remembered it! There was a real buzz in the dining hall as people caught up on twenty years of news. Afterwards, conversations continued over drinks in the bar and embarrassing evidence of former exploits was on display in the shape of the Wills Archives (kindly placed in the lounge by Donald Shell) and other photo albums. Those with sufficient energy danced to 80's music. The evening fled by and people were reluctant to leave when midnight struck and the shutters of the bar were drawn down.
I'd like to thank everyone at Wills who helped to make the evening such as success, especially Donald Shell for all his support, Lindsey Prescott for her kindness and expertise and all the catering staff. Be warned: lots of people have already expressed enthusiasm for a similar event to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Women in Wills. We'll be back!