I write from an architect’s studio in Houston, Texas, where I am enjoying
the company and hospitality of the architect and fellow Thouron Alumni Joe
Adams. I met Joe and his wife Gail at the Thouron Award 50th Anniversary
Reception at the British Ambassador’s Residence in Washington D.C. in
2011. Joe, a former UPenn student, studied at UCL as a recipient of the Thouron Award in
1972. He and Gail welcoming me into their home eight years after we met sums up
the spirit of the Thouron alumni family.
We are picking up where we left off and tomorrow will be, quite literally, my
The Thouron Award was established in 1960 by Sir John and Lady Ester Thouron
to help foster Anglo-American relations. Sir John fought alongside the
British SAS, behind enemy lines, during the Second World War and that
experience was formative to the purpose of keeping the spirit of the UK-US
So here I am, a former Aberdeen City Special Constable enjoying the sights
and sounds of Texas, and a unique perspective on its architecture, with Thouron
friends. We really are a warm and sociable bunch, and that includes all
of our distinguished alumni. Last weekend I had brunch with another member of our alumni, physicist
turned education technology guru, Casey Thomas. Casey graduated from
King’s College London and used the opportunity of the Thouron to specialise in
nanotechnology. She is now settled in San Francisco.
I spent the first half of June in Kenya celebrating the wedding of our
fellow Thouron, Femi Fadugba. Femi is a Material Scientist turned Management
Consultant now specialising in energy infrastructure in Africa and settled in
Nairobi. The last holiday we all had together was to Lake Tahoe,
California, as members of the UPenn Ski Team!
We have 59 years of precedent now for the Thouron Award, and my perspective
on what unites us is ambassadorial qualities, originality of thought and
enthusiasm for life. I went to my assessment day, and in turn to the
United States, with an open mind and an open heart, ready to embrace it
all. I have never looked back.
I shall sign off now as we are heading out for real Texas BBQ – where the
cowboy hits are pumping out of the speakers on the outdoor patio, and you need
to put a big bib on before you get stuck in to the ribs. I am looking
forward to hearing more about my hosts’ experiences in Soho in the 1970s, and I
must remember not to eat so fast or so much that I can’t share some of mine
from the 2000’s!
The Thouron Award was, and continues to be, quite literally a world of
opportunity, different perspectives, experiences and ideas for me. I am
ever honoured to be a part of the family.
And next time my travels take me to Texas, it won’t be my first rodeo!