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Durham University

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Playing our part in a very Durham Christmas

(30 November 2018)

Christmas Day lunch at Durham Castle

Professor Stuart Corbridge, our Vice-Chancellor, explores the University's part in Durham's Christmas countdown.

December is nearly here, the Christmas countdown is in full swing, and for us here at Durham University the festive season offers a wealth of opportunities both to entertain and to help others.

I am constantly amazed by the artistic talents of our students. Virtually every day between now and the end of term on Friday 14 December will see at least one student music group performing somewhere in the City.

Space prevents me from listing all of the events planned, but the concerts by our Orchestral Society, Chamber Choir and Northern Lights acapella group in Elvet Methodist Church on Monday 10 December, which I am planning to attend, and our Brass Band and Concert Band in Durham Town Hall on Wednesday 12 December, are sure to be among the highlights.

We are also looking forward to playing our part in this weekend’s Durham City Traditional Christmas Festival. As well as various student groups contributing to the entertainment on offer, we will be running Christmas lantern-making workshops in Palace Green Library, opening Durham Castle for guided tours, and, as always, hosting the Craft and Gift Marquee on Palace Green.

Helping others at Christmas

Of course, Christmas is a season when many of us set aside time to meet the needs of others less fortunate than ourselves.

I know many of our staff will be taking advantage of the five days per year we allow for work-time volunteering to support charities and causes close to their heart over the next few weeks.

Elsewhere, the generosity of our staff is evident in the many gifts they are donating to a number of charity appeals we are supporting. Among the good causes we are giving to this year are: Cash for Kids’ Mission Christmas appeal, Feeding Families, County Durham Foodbank, Age UK County Durham, Moving On Durham and Durham Action on Single Housing.

Community engagement update

All that said, the University’s core work continues – including that of our Community Engagement Task Force, a group we set up earlier this year as a way for the University and local partners to work together. I am pleased to say that this group now has a much broader base, with residents’ groups, county councillors, parish councillors and local emergency services all represented.

The Task Force’s five sub-groups, which reflect the priorities expressed to us by City residents, are developing their programmes of work and we are committed to keeping communities informed of their progress. Updates are posted on our Community web pages, at, where you can also learn more about how we are working to support and benefit our City and region, and read our monthly Community Newsletter – a digest of our latest community news and updates.

I am grateful for the work of all who have been involved in the Task Force from the University and the City to date and I hope we can continue to make further progress on this in 2019.

In the meantime, may I wish you a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.