Alumni return to Robb College for 50th anniversary celebrations

Published 06 October 2010

huftonFormer residents of the University of New England’s Robb College travelled from around Australia to celebrate the College’s 50th anniversary at the weekend.

On Saturday 2 October they watched – and participated in – a variety of sporting events before attending an evening cocktail party and buffet dinner; on Sunday 3 October they attended commemorative ceremonies at the College and an afternoon tea at “Booloominbah”, as well as being conducted on tours of the College and the University.

About 500 people attended the dinner on Saturday evening, renewing friendships that spanned several decades. The speakers on this occasion included the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jim Barber, Dr James Harris representing the UNE Council, the Head of Robb College, Samantha Ackling, Dr Wal Whalley (a Senior Fellow of Robb College), and Libby Hufton (President of the College’s Junior Common Room).

The ceremonies on Sunday began with the opening of a “time capsule” sealed on the College’s 25th anniversary, and the sealing of its successor – to be opened at the 75th anniversary. Dr Jim Irvine, Chair of the Robb College Foundation and a former Master of the College, unlocked the wooden chest that serves as a time capsule, and removed the 25-year-old contents – including wine, menus from College dinners, photographs of College events, and contemporary magazines.

Then came the unveiling of a plaque by Barbara Battersby (nee Moon) that tells a story of love and courage: the love of Peter Battersby for his future wife Barbara Moon enshrined as “heart” and “moon” symbols in one of the stone walls that he built at Robb College in the early 1960s, and his courage – 10 years after his marriage to Barbara – in rescuing a child from drowning at the cost of his own life. Mrs Battersby said she was touched to see the story of the “heart” and “moon” stones formally remembered by the College.

Professor Barber then unveiled a wire sculpture of a ram – “Rambo” – by Meg Rutledge, and spoke on the occasion of the anniversary. He commented on the affection that the visiting alumni showed for the College, saying: “This Robb College anniversary weekend demonstrates that the culture, sport, pastoral care and traditions of the College are with its alumni for life.”

At the end of the anniversary weekend, Samantha Ackling said that the reunion had been an “extraordinary” success. “It was wonderful to see so many past students re-engaging with the College and re-establishing old friendships,” she said, “and to see our current students mingling with the visiting alumni.”

People interested in buying memorabilia from Robb College’s 50th anniversary should contact the College office on (02) 6773 1700 or send an e-mail to: robb@une.edu.au.

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here shows Libby Hufton, President of Robb College’s Junior Common Room, standing next to the “time capsule” chest after the removal of items deposited 25 years ago. It expands to include (from left) Samantha Ackling, Professor Jim Barber, and Dr Jim Irvine.