St Catharine’s looks forward to hosting the Acheson-Gray Sports Day on Saturday 23 April after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions. As students and alumni alike prepare for a day of friendly rivalry and teamwork, it is important to reflect on the origin of the event.
Acheson-Gray Sports Day: 23 April 2022
Location: St Catharine’s sports ground
Start time: 11am
To sign up to play, visit: caths.cam.ac.uk/acheson-gray-sports-day-sign-form
No registration necessary to attend as a spectator – all-comers welcome.
Location: The Olive Grove, Cambridge
To register for the dinner, please sign up no later than 18 April at: caths.cam.ac.uk/acheson-gray-sports-day-dinner-booking-form
The history of the Acheson-Gray Sports Day
An annual sports day has been a long-standing tradition at St Catharine’s for many years. From the Second World War onwards, a focus of the College sporting calendar was a cricket match in the Summer Term between alumni and current students.
During the early 1990s, Charles Acheson-Gray (1991, Social & Political Sciences) was an avid sportsman at St Catharine's. He was Captain of the College lawn tennis team and played for the University team. Following his graduation, Charles continued his enthusiasm for tennis and encouraged an equivalent tennis match to be included alongside the cricket match. This brought about the idea of expanding the annual event to a recognisable sports day.
However, the purpose of the event is now more poignant for the College and goes beyond sporting achievements. After struggling with depression, Charles very sadly passed away in 2001. This annual sports day is now named the Acheson-Gray Day and held as a tribute to his memory, providing an opportunity for our community to remember the importance of talking openly about the subject of mental health.
In 2004, as President of the Society’s London Branch, John Oakes (1961, English) encouraged the Acheson-Gray Day to host additional sports matches, including hockey, following the completion of the all-weather pitch that had been kindly donated by Peter Boizot (1950, History). In recent years including 2022, Dominic Harding (1993, Economics) has kindly supported planning for the day and helped to prepare the fixtures schedule based on players’ availability.
Dominic explains, “John asked Charles late in 2000 if he would help organise our alumni v College sports matches. He readily agreed and was involved up until the time of his death. I am pleased that the Acheson-Gray Sports Day remains a College fixture to this day. We have benefited from the support of Charles's parents and our teams now compete in a range of sports for an engraved silver salver that once belonged to Charles.”
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic and public health restrictions forced the College to cancel sporting and social activities between students and alumni in 2020 and 2021.
Deborah Loveluck (2007), Fellow and Development Director, adds, “On behalf of the College, I am looking forward to alumni returning to take part in the Acheson-Gray Sports Day after two years’ interruption due to COVID-19. I hope our current students will help us extend a warm welcome and, subject to academic commitments, give a good display of their sporting talents!”
The College also regrets that is unable to host the 2022 dinner or celebratory drinks due to the Examination Quiet Period starting on 21 April 2022, which is designed to enable students to prepare for and sit their examinations without avoidable disruption.