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Reaching out to each other: Marking Acheson-Gray Day 2020

Thursday 30 April 2020

Bringing together alumni and students, the Acheson-Gray sports day was to have been an eagerly anticipated event on Saturday 2 May 2020. Understandably, the planned sporting activities and dinner for this year’s Acheson-Gray Day were cancelled as part of a range of measures implemented by the College to safeguard the safety and wellbeing of students, alumni, staff and Fellows during the coronavirus pandemic.

Nonetheless, Acheson-Gray Day persists as a poignant reminder to our close community about the importance of talking openly about the subject of mental health. On Saturday, members of St Catharine’s are invited to honour the spirit of the day by reaching out to each other with phone calls, messages, emails and other safe forms of social interaction.

  • Perhaps you were expecting to attend Acheson-Gray Day and could instead call an old teammate or send a note to a friend?
  • Perhaps you are in regular contact with your teammates and friends, but want to reach out and offer support to the current generation of students? Alumni can offer advice through our mentoring hub, CatzConnect.
  • Maybe you are a current student and want to support our new buddy scheme? Sign up today.

Ultimately, participating in sports can nurture a sense of connectedness and community spirit, which in turn helps our sense of wellbeing. Whilst the College’s sports teams can’t be together as originally planned this weekend, a sense of unity can still be fostered by reaching out to one another.

Students looking for welfare support, including mental health support, are also encouraged to visit the College’s new Welfare Hub.

About the Acheson-Gray Day

An annual sports day has been a long-standing tradition within St Catharine’s College for many years. From the Second World War onwards, a focus of the Catz sporting calendar was a cricket match in the Summer Term between alumni and current College students.

During the early 1990s, Charles Acheson-Gray (1991, Social & Political Sciences) was an avid sportsman at Catz. 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, the 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). Rugby was added in 2005. This year’s programme had initially included many College sports: cricket, football, hockey, tennis, rugby and netball.

Despite the cancellation of this year’s sporting and social activities, we hope alumni and students will want to reach out to each other to support the Acheson-Gray Day 2020.