The Reading Foodie group posing for a photo in 1999

Reading Foodies’ Reunion

In January, a group of alumni reunited to celebrate their 25th anniversary since graduating from Reading in 1999. One of the organisers, Reverend Anne Day (nèe Palmer) shared what happened at the reunion and what Reading still means to this group.

Reverend Anne Day smiling at the camera in her robesAs Anne affectionately refers to them, these “Foodie Dos” consist of a group of over 20 alumni who studied a mixture of subjects in the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences at Reading. Nearly every year since graduating, they have reunited for a meal in Reading. CONNECTED spoke to one of the organisers, Anne, about what keeps bringing this group back to Reading.

Anne said: “I studied Food Technology for four years at Reading, graduating in 1999. The “foodies” of 1999 were a close bunch and I remember how exciting it was to be graduating with all my friends. Over the last 25 years we’ve kept in touch and seen each other at weddings or other social occasions, but what’s particularly special is our yearly tradition of meeting for a meal in Reading.

Reverend Anne Day smiling at the camera in her robes.“We usually meet around January time for our “Foodie Dos”. It’s a time to catch up, have a night away and see how people are doing.

“Since we graduated in 1999, I think there have been around 15 of these get-togethers ranging from the first one in December 1999, to the 20th anniversary held in fellow graduate Rod Pestell’s back garden, through to 2024.

“Personally, for a cohort that finished university when mobile phones were not widespread and before social media came on the scene, I think this is fairly impressive.”

25 years later

For their 25th anniversary the Reading Foodies decided to step it up a gear and were keen to not just return to Reading this time, but also to the University of Reading campus.

Anne said: “The rally call came last November, when alumni Richard Nash put up the message – since it’s our 25th anniversary of graduation, shall we organise something special for 2024? I said that if a load of project managers, industry organisers, teachers and the odd Methodist minister can’t get things sorted, then what hope do we have? So the table was booked, hotel organised and then the opportunity to do something special came along.

“We are very grateful to the staff and students of the University of Reading and the Alumni Office for helping us organise a tour around the University and our old Department.

The group on a tour of the Food Building in 2024“We had great fun pointing out what was still fields back in 1999 and trying to remember what we did in the food hall. It was a privilege to go round what we knew as the Food Science and Biotechnology Department, with some of our old professors and to be reacquainted with some of the equipment and rooms that were part of our studies, and to see how it’s changed.”

The other alumni who attended the reunion commented that it was brilliant seeing people they hadn’t seen for a long time, including their former professors and finding out what they’d been up to since 1999. They also enjoyed having a tour of the food building and campus, and being able to mingle and catch up with the rest of the alumni group.

Shared memories

In the quarter of a century since the Reading Foodies of 1999 graduated, what the University of Reading means to them has not diminished.

The group in their university days 25 years ago.Anne said: “We come back each year because Reading was a really important part of our lives. It was the place where we learnt our vocations [and made some cracking cheese!], stepped out into the big wide world for the first time; but it is also where we made our friends.

“Over the last 25 years we have been growing up [a little!], having relationships, making families, and progressing in our careers. Some have stayed in the food industry, others have diversified into teaching, marketing, or sales, whilst others do something completely different. I worked in the food industry for a bit, before training as a secondary school teacher and am now a Methodist Minister.

“But no matter what we do now, or how much time passes, we will always be connected by the University of Reading.

The group on their 25th anniversary reunion standing in front of Park House on Whiteknights Campus.“25 years later, with over 20 of us sat round the table at Zero Degrees on a Saturday evening in January, I think is testament to what a shared experience and good memories can help keep together. The question is, what will we do next year?!”

We’d love to hear your story and memories if you’ve run a Reading Alumni Reunion. Or, if you’re thinking of running one, get in touch with the Alumni Office to see how we can help you.