One of our longstanding members, Cynthia Lucas, attended the Methodist Teacher Training College of Southlands in the 1950s when it was situated in Wimbledon. After a long teaching career together with bringing up four children and subsequently helping with 14 grandchildren and three great grandchildren, Cynthia returned to Southlands College on 2 July 2022, accompanied by her husband Ron to celebrate the founding of the college 150 years ago. Southlands moved from Wimbledon many years ago to become part of the Roehampton Institute of Education which also consisted of the Anglican Whitelands College, the Roman Catholic Digby Stuart College, and the Froebel College. All four colleges now help to make up The University of Roehampton which is situated on a lovely site off Upper Richmond Road, London. Southlands, however, still maintains its Methodist foundation, heritage, and ethos. It continues to be proud of its roots.
Around 220 alumni, guests and staff member attended the reunion and celebration on 2 July. After a reception and coffee, a Service of Thanksgiving and Celebration for 150 years was held in the Digby Stuart Chapel on campus, followed by a celebratory lunch at which the current college Principal Dr Christopher Stephens spoke about the 150 years history of the college, the current President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference and other distinguished clergy and lay folk also spoke. It was good to meet again the Rev’d Dr Leslie Griffiths and his wife Margaret, who hails from Newcastle under Lyme (now Lord and Lady Griffiths of Burry Port). Leslie was the distinguished minister of Wesley’s Chapel in the City of London from 1996 until his retirement in 2017. He is now very active in the House of Lords. There was a tour of the present new buildings on campus and break out groups of former students in their years. Cynthia left college 64 years ago, so for her years, their numbers were just six present for a lovely time of fellowship with her old friends.
Freda Smith (nee Walton) was the oldest “old girl” present at 104 years old. Freda completed her two year’s training at Southlands in 1938. Originally from Sheffield but now living in Ipswich and coping on her own, she was accompanied by her daughter who lives in Ramsgate. Freda was a joy to meet, and her Christian faith was an example to us all. The 150th Anniversary and re-union was testimony to the enduring power of Methodism in its encouragement of higher education and achievement during the last 150 years. Cynthia and Ron, our church secretary, were privileged to attend.