We were thrilled to get to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Thouron Award this past August 2023 in London, U.K., and Brooklyn, New York.

First founded in 1960 by Sir John Thouron and his American wife, Lady Thouron, the Thouron Award offers graduate students the opportunity for cultural exchange and higher education. (Learn more about the history of the Award.)

64 years later, their grandchildren, Rupert Thouron and Rachel Thouron Vere Nicoll, continue to support their goal of making academic opportunities and cultural experiences more accessible while growing a community of great thinkers who are always striving to learn and explore the world. 

Rupert Thouron catches up with a Thouron Alum in the bar at 501 Union before dinner and dancing
Rupert Thouron welcomes a Thouron Alum during the cocktail hour at our 60th Anniversary Celebration at 501 Union in Brooklyn, New York.

This event was meant to take place in August 2020, so when we were finally able to gather it felt like it had been a very long time coming! COVID posed a hurdle for our community, as it did with so many others, and prevented us from hosting the event until August 2023.

The Thouron Award values community so strongly and in-person events were typically a key part of connecting with Scholars and Alumni prior to the pandemic, allowing young students to find mentors and friends across different industries and academic focuses.

Since Thouron Scholars and Alumni are typically avid world travellers, it’s no surprise that our community members gathered from far and wide to attend the 60th Anniversary events, and for that we are so grateful. This was truly a unique opportunity to bring so many people in our community together.

Hundreds of have joined our community of Scholars and Alumni over the decades, and while not everyone was able to attend, this was still a rare occasion that we’ll always remember.

Rachel Thouron Vere Nicoll catches up with Alumni on the deck of the Cutty Sark
Rachel Thouron Vere Nicoll reconnects with Thouron Alumni on the deck of the Cutty Sark at our 60th Anniversary Celebration in London, U.K.

Connecting Scholars and Alumni Across the U.K. and the U.S.

Keeping in line with the mission of the Award, we wanted our celebration to be reflective of the deep connections we’ve formed between the U.S. and the U.K. As such, we chose to host multiple events, beginning with a formal evening in London on the historic Cutty Sark, followed by a Transatlantic cruise on the Queen Mary II, and culminating in a night of dinner and dancing in Brooklyn, New York at 501 Union. Each of these events offered unique opportunities for our community to reconnect with long-lost friends and to meet the newest members of the Thouron Scholar family. 

In order to get a deeper look at the connections formed at these events, we asked those who attended to share their favourite memories from the events. We’re thrilled to be able to share some of those comments and stories.

Discovering New Connections

Table marker designating the seating for the 2022 Thouron Award class on the dinner table at the Cutty Sark in London.

The most common thing we heard from attendees was that being able to connect with Thouron Alumni across generations and industries was a wonderful experience. Bringing together Award recipients from the last 60 years meant that so many different industries and skills were represented among the attendees.

All decades were represented at these events, with recent Scholars from 2020 making up the largest group from a single year, followed by Alumni from the 1980 class.

This is also one of the rare occasions where the Thouron Family and Staff get to connect directly with our Scholars and Alumni. We loved getting to know more of our Scholars and to hear more about how we can support them.

Alumni and staff from the Thouron Award catch up at the bar at 501 Union
Harriet Joseph, Thouron Award Administrator with the University of Pennsylvania, reconnects with Thouron Alumni at 501 Union.

Beginning Our Journey in London on the Cutty Sark

Built during the Victorian era as a clipper ship meant to speed over the ocean as part of the tea trade, the Cutty Sark has an exciting and varied history. It was dry-docked in Greenwich in 1954, where it underwent restoration and was finally opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1957. Since then it has served as a gathering place for millions.

In addition to its deep history, beautifully restored details, and lovely views of the Thames, the Central London location was yet another reason this was the perfect venue for our celebration.

Throughout the evening, our Scholars and Alumni enjoyed a cocktail hour on the deck, dinner in the long hall beneath the hull of the boat, and finally they had the opportunity to take a boat tour of the Thames after the event.

Photos from the Cutty Sark by Josephine Elvis.

Here’s what our Alumni remembered most from the evening:

View of the dinner table under the ship, with seat assignments by Thouron class year.

“What an amazing venue and definitely the longest Dinner Table I have ever sat at! Great idea to have age groups [sit] together.”  

— David Briggs, Br’70
Alumni chat amongst themselves on the deck of the Cutty Sark with champagne in hand.
Alumni from different years meet and reconnect on the deck of the Cutty Sark.

“It was absolutely wonderful to get to know so many of the earlier generation of Thourons and the dinner under the boat was just spectacular.”

— David Parkes, Am‘95
Rupert Thouron welcomes an Alum on the deck during the cocktail hour.

“It was wonderful to see the Thouron family again, and a few familiar faces. I also very much liked meeting some of the students about to go to Philadelphia for their studies.”

— Janine Catalano, Br‘06
Alumni chat with each other on the deck of the Cutty Sark.

“The special venue i.e. the Cutty Sark, the opportunity to visit Greenwich Observatory, the spirit of the whole event, the genuine personal interest of the Thouron family, the very nice touch of making individual presentations of special bow ties and headscarves to every Thouron scholar by Rupert Thouron, the opportunities to meet and chat with fellow Thouron awardees, who make up a very interesting group of people, the quality of the event, etc.”

— Ian Peterson, Br‘79
Alumni from the 1969 Thouron class reconnect over dinner under the Cutty Sark.

“Seeing everyone together and getting some time before and after the dinner to mingle. I liked the assigned seating by years. The Thames River tour at the end was an unforgettable touch. Glad I came over for it! Here’s to the 70th or 75th!”

— Heath Tarbert, Am‘01

Transatlantic Crossing on the Queen Mary II from London to New York

A number of Scholars and Alumni chose to join the Thouron Family on a 7-day cruise across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary II in order to attend both the London event and the event in Brooklyn, New York. The Queen Mary II offers a variety of luxuries and can host more than 2,000 guests, and so this was the perfect opportunity for deeper connections to form among our Alumni.

Here are some of their favourite memories from the voyage:

“Meeting other Thourons. In particular because Krishna Patel and I met – 49 years between our Thouron awards – we discovered that we were both trying to help make a difference to the development and mental health of the youngest children – first 1000 days of life.

I am President of a very large Youth Zone in the Cheshire, U.K. where currently the youngest children are aged 8. However this is one of a chain of currently 14 Youth Zones around the U.K. and three of those in London also have as part of their activity a “BabyZone”. Krishna is working in this field in the U.S. where he is financed by a U.S. Charitable Trust which is devoted to serving young folks with special needs. So we had a few drinks together on The Queen Mary 2 – I should add we first met in the Champagne Bar!!

As a result of us talking together Krishna persuaded the U.S. Charitable Trust to part fund a new BabyZone at the Youth Zone in Cheshire and I was able to get this donation match funded in the U.K.. The wonderful result is that the first BabyZone outside London is opening in Warrington, Cheshire on February 29th and this would quite simply not have happened without the U.S. charity cash.

This new development will transform the lives of many young children in the U.K. and will hopefully be the start of the development of this across the country and this would not have happened had Krishna and I not met and had a common interest.

Thank you to the Thouron Award for making this really exciting project happen.”

— David Briggs, Br’70

“Wow, it was quite probably the most memorable 7 days of my life. Thank you for putting together such a life changing event. The opportunity to get to really talk and get to know Thouron Fellows from through the years. The chance to spend an extended period of time, largely away from the modern world, in such a high quality environment. I am forever grateful to the broader Thouron family for having got this to happen.”

— David Parkes, Am‘95

“Having time to get to know Thouron Scholars from many decades during the course of the cruise from England to New York. Also, getting to know the Thouron family better.”

— Doug Antczak, Am’73

“The crossing was a delight and memory I will always treasure. I enjoyed the intergenerational aspect and champagne receptions/wine and cheese in Rupert and Jan’s suite. These smaller groups proved to be a worthwhile opportunity to connect with each other.

I also enjoyed the impromptu book club with Eugene and dance lessons, culminating in the masquerade ball with John leading the way. I doubt I’d have enjoyed the crossing as much without such good company.”

— Beatriz Brown, Br‘17

“The chance to deepen connections with those from a range of year groups and also with the family across the period of a week — absolutely incredible experience. Thank you so much!”

— John Morgan, Br‘17

“The QMII was for me the biggest longest highlight: crossing through the waves instead of way over them; the food; the lectures about a South Africa that I sort of remembered; the art class, the choir, the musicians in the lounges.

But over all of that it was the people we met, the Scholars themselves. The dinner conversations, the high-spirited youth in the disco, the pleasure on the faces of Rupert and Rachel, the feeling of being part of a group that could, as individuals and as a group, contribute so much to the world.”

John Berry, Am’60 (First Thouron Award Recipient)

Have photos from the crossing to share with the community?

Email them to us at info@thouronaward.org.

Final 60th Anniversary Event in Brooklyn, New York at 501 Union

501 Union is a lovely and unique venue in the Gowanus neighbourhood of Brooklyn, known for hosting weddings and other private events. It hosts a cocktail bar that is perfect for mingling, a main hall for dinner, and a dance floor where the Thouron community showed off their moves.

Again, this was a rare opportunity for those Thouron Alumni who are based in the U.S. to meet and form connections with many from the U.K. who came over on the crossing.

Photos from 501 Union by Kamila Harris.

Our Alumni had the following highlights to share from the event:

Scholars and Alumni meet and pose for a photo together in the bar at 501 Union
A reunion of some of our more recent Scholars, including Krishna Patel, Am’19.

“Getting to break bread and meet Thouron fellows across all years!”

— Krishna Patel, Am’19
John Berry, the first Thouron Award recipient in 1960, reconnects with fellow Alum, John Smith, Am’68.

“I loved mingling with Thouron friends from years past who I don’t get to see regularly. It was great to have an event for all of us to reunite together.”  

— Elizabeth Thom, Am’16
The American Thouron Scholars from the 2023 class gather together for a photo after dinner.

“I brought along an old friend from NYC — I enjoyed introducing him to the Thouron family and meeting new people to add to those I’d met on the crossing. A theme was a good idea!”

— Beatriz Brown, Br‘17
Brooks Kolb, Am’75, meets other Alumni during the cocktail hour at 501 Union.

“Meeting young recent Thouron scholars and being reunited with two Thouron scholars from my year.”

Brooks Kolb, Am’75

How to Stay Connected Beyond the 60th Anniversary Events

We are always looking for ways to stay in touch with our Scholars and Alumni, and to share the personal and professional accomplishments in their lives. Additionally, we want to do what we can to help facilitate greater connections among our Alumni, and here are just a few ways you can help.

Share Your Story on Our Blog

We love to profile our Alumni, as we know our community is full of some incredible people doing amazing things! Email info@thouronaward.org and we’ll send you a short questionnaire about yourself to help us profile you on our site.

Search the Alumni Directory

Search the Alumni Directory for other Thouron Scholars and Alumni or discover others by their Thouron year or industry. Update your own profile to help us ensure we have the most up to date information about you. Email us at info@thouronaward.org if you need help accessing the Alumni Directory.

Follow Us on LinkedIn

We offer resources and profiles of Scholars and Alumni on our Blog and share them regularly on our LinkedIn page, as well as our other social media channels. We also have a private LinkedIn community group where Scholars and Alumni are encouraged to post questions, job opportunities, recent projects and successes, or personal updates. If you’d like to join our private group, email us at info@thouronaward.org.

Join our Mailing List 

We send monthly newsletters sharing news about our annual Award application cycle, announcing our new Scholars, highlighting Alumni and their projects, and sharing upcoming Alumni events and opportunities. 

Subscribe now to stay informed.

Share Your Thoughts

We’d love to hear your thoughts on how our community can stay connected. Email us at info@thouronaward.org to share your ideas and any other updates.

Thanks again to all our attendees! We can’t wait to see you at our next Alumni event.