Will Cambridge ‘Try Something New Today’?


first_imgLaura Brightman, a Natural Science fresher also championed Mr Arain’s cause claiming she would want as Chancellor, “anyone but Lord Sainsbury, we have too many of his stores opening up and one is plenty for the centre, he will just monopolise Cambridge and that is not the ideal intention of our Chancellor.”In another unexpected twist, a third nominee was suggested via a Facebook campaign, advocating the accession of Brian Blessed. The actor, author and adventurer is most famous for his thunderous voice and has starred in everything from Black Adder, to Hamlet, to Tarzan.The initiators of the nomination were Cambridge alumni, Seth Thévoz, James Ross and Stuart Moore, who claimed on the Facebook group, “The man, the myth, the legend that is the actor Brian Blessed would make an AMAZING Chancellor. Picture Brian loudly reciting the Latin at graduation ceremonies and you have some idea of what a legend Brian would be.”The group is positive that Brian Blessed is a viable choice, one member posting, along with a link to a video in which Blessed plays a policeman, “Brian Blessed is an archetypal ‘larger than life’ character who would perfectly fill the role of Chancellor at Cambridge University. With his affinity for the establishment he would serve well as a wonderful Ambassador.”When contacted by his fans about the campaign, Brian Blessed said he was, “absolutely staggered…and of course, I am delighted to accept that nomination. For me, Cambridge has always been the centre of the earth, there is a brightness and light there that rivals that on Mount Everest. The University buildings are architecturally beautiful, the whole setting is wonderful and enchants the soul. I am thrilled to be asked and wish you every success with the campaign.”One alumni on the Facebook group commented, “I am just glad that Lord Sainsbury will not run unopposed, as with his recent massive contribution to the development of the Sainsbury building on the Botanical Gardens site, it would be a shame if an unchallenged successful bid were perceived to be a ‘bought’ position.”On the other hand, Austin Mahler, an undergraduate law student at Cambridge claimed that if financial benefits could reach students he could be swayed, saying, “The prospect of student deals and potentially prices that could compete with Tesco are grounds to back Lord Sainsbury.”Another lawyer, Chris Monk commented, “’I prefer Blessed as I want a figurehead not a professional – we already have a Vice Chancellor after all.”The Senate will hold congregate in October to decide the matter and anyone with a higher degree from the University – including the MA which is an honorary degree “conferred by right” to holders of a Cambridge BA two years after their graduation – can vote.With the Brian Blessed Facebook campaign already advising alumni on whether they will need to bring gowns, and Mr Arain holding interviews with the press accompanied by his campaign managers, it is fair to say that although Baron Sainsbury is the official choice, he is certainly no longer the only one in the running. Nominations for the next Chancellor of the University of Cambridge now range from a billionaire businessman, Baron Sainsbury; to a protesting local shopkeeper, Mr Abdul Arain; to the booming Shakespearean actor, Brian Blessed. The position is currently held by HRH Prince Philip who is stepping down at the end of this month after 34 years in the job. He resigns just weeks after his ninetieth birthday, stating that as a public figure and senior member of the royal family, ‘I reckon I’ve done my bit.’At the end of May it was announced the University Nomination Board had recommended Baron Sainsbury of Turville, businessman, politician, great-grandson of the original Lord Sainsbury and an alumnus of King’s College, Cambridge, to succeed Prince Philip and become the “constitutional head of the University”.He accepted the nomination, saying he was “delighted” to be asked, and it was widely expected that he would run without competition to be named Chancellor at the beginning of July.However a week later, a grocery store owner, Mr Abdul Arain, announced plans to run against the former government minister in protest of a proposed Sainsbury’s opening on the road of his shop, Al-Amin. Comparing himself, as an “outsider”, to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, he told reporters, ‘The University of Cambridge has shown great leadership on many occasions. Today, once again, the university is called upon to be the vanguard of local communities. To this end I seek nomination for the office of the Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.”Less than two weeks later, he has received the required fifty nominations from Senate members, and has been named as an official candidate.One member of the public commenting on the story proclaimed, “More power to Mr Arain’s project! Al-Amin’s is a wonderful asset to Mill Road and Cambridge. Stop the chain supermarkets from taking over the ‘convenience shop’ market! Curb uniformity and encourage real diversity! Cambridge don’t let this happen in your town!”last_img

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