The Return of a Former Men’s IV

On a sunny Saturday morning in May 2022, four St John’s alumni and close friends came for their first visit back to College since graduating in 1996 and 1997: Tim Evans, James Coleman, Tim Wray and Simon Holburn.  

James Coleman, Simon Holburn, Tim Evans and Tim Wray

They met as Freshers in 1993 and it was rowing that brought the four together: they formed a competitive crew at a time when John’s was more known as more of a recreational club. Remarkably, they became the first John’s crew to win as a four at the Durham Regatta in 1994. 

Their reunion tour of College included revisiting their old rooms (see the clip below), having a go at the ergs in the new gym, marvelling at the LRC new build and – most importantly – stepping back into the boathouse (which really had not changed much since their time). Fortuitously, current student and SJCBC Alumni Secretary George Weston came by and could update the four on the state of boats, races and the boatclub.  

 

The two Tims reminisce outside their old shared room in Cranmer C

To round off their visit, the four returned to John’s in the evening for a round of pints in John’s Bar. They vowed to come back to St John’s again soon, to keep in touch and to share their experiences and career advice with the current generations of Johnians.

Below they share what they do now, their favourite memories from John’s, and impressions on coming back to College after 25 years. 

Coming back to Durham after 26 years felt like stepping back in time and spending the morning in St John’s with my old rowing crew was the highlight of a very enjoyable weekend. Being there evoked so many memories of the good times we had at St John’s and it was special to be able to share that all together

Simon Holburn

What do you do now?  

Tim Wray (Mathematics, 1993-96) 

I have worked in senior executive roles within HR for global corporates in a variety of industry sectors over the last 15 years. Prior to that I was an actuarial benefits consultant at a leading US consultancy. 

Simon Holburn (Economics, 1993-96) 

I work in finance for a services company, Serco, who provide outsourced contracts in the public sector. My career in finance in industry has given me the opportunity to work in some really interesting roles both in UK and internationally. 

Tim Evans (Combined Arts, 1993-96) 

Mergers and acquisitions, UK, Europe and Asia Pacific. 

James Coleman (European Legal Studies, 1993-97) 

I am a private equity and investment funds lawyer working in private practice and, having been based at various stages in my career in London and Germany, am now located in Dubai. The warmth of the Middle East is a far cry from the winter mornings spent rowing on the Wear! 

What was it like to come back to John’s after more than 25 years?  

Tim W: Very emotional. Lots of great memories. I felt like I was passing through the history of my time at John’s. 

Simon: Coming back to Durham after 26 years felt like stepping back in time and spending the morning in St John’s with my old rowing crew was the highlight of a very enjoyable weekend. Being there evoked so many memories of the good times we had at St John’s and it was special to be able to share that all together. 

Tim E: Above all, it was a visit about recalling; of the physical – the familiar way the John’s front door swings open, the particular dimensions of corridors and doorways; of the stoop needed to descend to the bar; of precious times passed when for three years we were changing and finding ourselves, sometimes through trial and error; and of friendships, forged as freshers, at times since neglected, always enduring. 

James: Like putting on a comfortable pair of slippers!  So much felt so familiar. The rooms, the atmosphere, the friendliness of the place … the smell … it was like coming home.  Equally fantastic to see how the College has continued to invest and develop with the new library totally bowling me away.

Favourite memory from your time at John’s? 

Tim W: It was the close friendship us four had which I will always remember and cherish. All the great life-lasting experiences emanated precisely from that close bond we had. Through a commodity of emotions during those three years, we always stayed together. This is priceless for me. 

Simon: Hard to pick out one memory (especially from 26 years ago) though winning Durham regatta in a hard-fought race has to be a standout moment! 

Tim E: So much relating to rowing. Our famous (to us only) Durham regatta and subsequent wins, but equally all the organising, practice, ambition, humour, laughter and capers that went on behind the scenes, which bind us as friends. 

James: Like Simon, winning Durham Regatta in our fresher year having rowed through a what felt like a wall of sound as we approached the finish. Utterly exhilarating. Less favourite, but equally etched in my memory, is rowing in the final the following year through that same wall of sound and losing by practically nothing. 

To arrange your alumni revisit to John’s, just email johns.alumni@durham.ac.uk – we are always happy to welcome you back. 

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