The Durban Alumnus Association

Durban Alumni Association Chairman’s Report Back 0n 2022

As has happened with so many other avenues of life the Covid pandemic has created severe complications for our Association.

As you are aware we normally had meetings at the Murray Lecture Hall at the University. These have had to be curtailed because of the Covid crisis. However, in the course of the last year we have had two outings. The first of these occurred on the 18 June when our great friend and benefactor Liz Forsdick invited us to visit her glorious garden down at Bazley Beach. She was also accompanied by Dr Elsa Pooley who as you probably all know is an Honorary Graduate of our University because of the huge influence she has had on the botanical and plant life of South Africa. That was a very informative meeting but apart from that it was also a great social event because so many of us caught up with our old friends from times past and we were also able to enjoy picnics in those glorious surroundings. A big thanks is due to Elizabeth.

The other outing of great success was a visit to Isandlwana and Rorkes Drift and also to learn something about the local history. In this regard we were very fortunate in having our fellow graduate Pam McFadden take us around the Itala Museum in Dundee. This is very well resourced and she has been responsible for the digitalization of a huge number of papers of historical importance, not least of which was the historical records of our old friend the late Ken Gillings. Also, she had arranged for a local tour guide to take us around Isandlwana and in this regard she had helped train Ayanda Buthelezi who was quite superb. There were a number of African members of the Association who were able to appreciate the huge significance of the stunning victory at Isandlwana. On the return Pam took us to the Biggarsberg Valley and we wound up at the Maria Ratchetts Mission Station. There were some of us who got detached from the rest of the party but it was all in all a hugely successful weekend and thanks to Pam McFadden.

Going forward I am pleased to advise you that the AGM for 2023 has been set for Monday the 6 February 2023. Hopefully it can take place in the Murray Lecture Theatre as it has done in the past and we will have an interesting speaker, more about that later. What however is important is that we get our constitutional house in order because the present committee has its mandate from February 2020! Only three of us are left of that committee. Myself, Finn Christensen and Denis O’Leary our Treasurer. During the course of the year Anne Youngleson resigned. She was our official spokesperson that thanked speakers at the end of various meetings. Some of you might recall that she took over from the redoubtable late Hugh Thompson. Our thanks go to Anne for her contribution. I must at this stage also mention that Rose von der Meden who is the widow of my immediate predecessor Eric von der Meden had a very unfortunate accident which required surgery. The last time I saw her she was on the mend but it has been a very unpleasant experience for her and I know that I speak on behalf of the Association when I wish her well. Hopefully she will be able to do the catering next year as she has done for us in the past.

So, all is not lost. There is light at the end of the tunnel and we have not forgotten you. At the next AGM nominations are required for committee positions. At that stage I would have reached 80. I have stated this before and again place on record my two predecessors died in office. I don’t want to tempt faith bearing in mind my advancing years! I must thank Finn Christensen for having kept the home fires burning. He has been ably assisted by Nomcebo Msweli. Denis O’Leary has kept us solvent and our thanks go to him as well.

For those of us who have been able to book in time an Alumnus event has been scheduled for a weekend at the Sani Pass Hotel. All in all, it has been a very challenging time but we hope that we will be able to reach the more even tenor of our ways going forward from 2023.

DATED at DURBAN this 18th day of OCTOBER 2022

Kind regards.

Robin Ralfe


Read more about the Durban Alumni Association here.


Committee Members - 2022 :


Robin Ralfe (Chairman)


Finn Christensen (UKZN Alumni Relations Manager)


Carolyn Higgs


Denis O’Leary (Treasurer)




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