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How the Thouron Award provides an alumni network like no other

28 October 2019

​Lorna studied Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania in 2010 as a recipient of the Thouron Award. Applications for UK students to apply for fully funded postgraduate study in 2020 through the Thouron Award close on 1 November 2019. 

Howdy Y’all

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 first rodeo!

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 friendship alive.

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!

Lorna Gunn

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