A Profile of Alison Russell

by Alison Russell on 27 November 2014


My father's job in the BBC meant that we moved a lot when I was growing up.  At 18 I had graduated from the Brearley School in New York, and spent two years at Vassar College, before returning to England to start nurse training at Guy's Hospital.  I was appointed a medical ward sister there, and later was the co-author of Nephrology for Nurses, with Prof. J.S.Cameron.

I came to Lucy Cavendish, aged 40, after a varied 20-year history of nursing and working in Canada, the UK, the USA and France, and with a sense of unfinished business.  My father did an OU degree after his retirement, and around the same time a good nursing friend in Cambridge told me about Lucy Cavendish, from an inside perspective. Thank you, Mitch!  A need to finish what I had started all those years ago moved me to apply, and to my delight I was offered a place.

During my time at Lucy Cavendish I rowed in my first term, and later sang with the CUMS Chorus. I was Student Association Treasurer for a year, and Student Representative to the Alumnae Association, or the Roll as it was known in those far distant days. Later on I became a member of the Alumnae Association Committee.

After graduating I returned to nursing for many years, and eventually retired from a long spell working in Palliative Care. Two years ago I returned to live in Cambridge, and once more, find myself on the Committee of the LCCAA, at the time of our 50th Anniversary.

My own hopes and aspirations for the Alumnae Association, which may well be formed by my experiences in the USA, are basically to do what we can to improve connections and facilitate reunions amongst the alumnae; a chance to get together with women with whom we shared a significant period in our lives, albeit a while ago. It is good for us to be reminded in this way of our younger selves, and all that energy and enthusiasm and capacity for the new and the challenging, which was awakened at Lucy.  Reunion gives us the chance to be grateful again to a unique institution  which has made astonishing advances in her 50 years, and which gave us all such a remarkable opportunity for growth. 

I encourage all alumnae to come back and see the changes, meet your tutors and supervisors and friends at the Alumnae Weekend each September. In 2015 the years to be celebrated especially will be the 5's and the 0's; in 2016, the years of the 6's and 1's.  Every 5 years the College provides the opportunity for all year groups to have a reunion, and if it's not "your year", you will be very welcome anyway!  This way you can plan ahead.

I would also like to raise the profile of the Alumnae Association within the College, and to build on our connection with the present students, so they know there is an association that welcomes alumnae, irrespective of when they graduated.

Finally, I would like to locate more of the AA members; a number of us have dropped out of sight, and we need to continue the search, so if you have ex-Lucy friends and acquaintances, please encourage them to keep in touch.

Alison Russell

1983 Social Anthropology