Reunion Weekend

The reunion weekend in the summer has long been a highlight of the WHA’s calendar, eagerly anticipated by members for the chance to revisit Wills Hall, meet old friends and make new ones. The ‘main event’ is a black tie dinner, with a short speech from a distinguished guest of honour, but the weekend is packed with other events, too.

In recent years, the annual reunion has taken place in July, although the University's calendar and the availability of accommodation mean that it may move to September in future. The University's alumni office has previously organized lunch and other events on the Saturday.We will advise members as soon as we can make firm plans for future events. There is only a small chance of meeting in person in 2021, however.

Typically a weekend will include events planned by the University or the WHA during the day on Saturday, including visits to local monuments, sites and museums, and a grand dinner in the Wills Hall dining room in the evening. On Sunday there is a service in Chapel and an organ recital by the Organ Scholar, perhaps also a tour of part of the University Estate or the Botanical Garden, and a buffet lunch in Hall. Members stay in Wills Hall overnight. We try to ensure that the WHA Annual General Meeting coincides with this weekend, to ensure maximum attendance! During the pandemic, these events have had to be cancelled, although the AGM has been held online and the WHA has joined other hall associations to provide a portfolio of online events earlier in the year instead, the Spring Showcase. We plan to continue this in some form as well as to reinstate the in-person reunion weekends. 

Booking forms will be sent out for future events via the usual channels. We keep the costs as low as we can, and can sometimes subsidize places for current residents. The JCR President is always an honoured guest and is invited to speak at the Saturday dinner.

Guests of Honour at the Reunion Dinner in recent years have included:

  • 2010: Charlotte Leslie, MP for Bristol North West

  • 2011: Sir Richard Sykes, former Rector of Imperial College, London, subsequently Chancellor of Brunel University, Chairman of the  UK Stem Cell Foundation and the Royal Institution of Great Britain

  • 2012: Professor Bruce Hood, Director of the Bristol Cognitive Development Centre at the University, 2011 Royal Institution Christmas Lecturer

  • 2013: Daniel Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department of Health

  • 2014: Professor Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge

  • 2015: Dr Michael Gunton, Creative Director, Natural History and Factual at the BBC

  • 2016: Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bristol

  • 2017: Lord Boateng (Paul Boateng was Member of Parliament for Brent South from 1987 to 2005, becoming the UK's first Black Cabinet Minister in May 2002: he was a resident of Badock Hall when a student, and the reunion dinner this year was jointly held with Clifton Hill House, Badock, Churchill and Manor Halls)

  • 2018: Sir Malcolm Evans, Professor of Public International Law in Bristol, and formerly Chair of the United Nations Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture and Chair of the Meeting of Chairs of UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies

  • 2019: Alderman Peter Estlin, 691st Lord Mayor of the City of London (Wills 1978-1981)

  • 2020 (via Zoom): Dr Clare Barlow of the Science Museum Group and Curator of ''Queer British Art, 1861-1967' at Tate Britain.

  • 2021: Professor Robert Vilain, Warden of Wills Hall 2015-2018, and Senior Tutor,  St Hugh’s College, Oxford.