January 2021 Update Dear Scholars, Friends and Supporters –
The New Year is a traditional time for fresh beginnings. But with Britain in lockdown again, facing down a resurgent variant of the challenging Covid-19 virus, it bodes another disrupted term for our current Noon Scholars at Oxford and Cambridge. Both universities will again be doing their utmost to ensure learning continues as strongly as ever. Here Colleges that can form their own lockdown bubbles, come into their own. Lockdown, though, does remind one just what is so special about Oxbridge and what attracted our founder, Lady Vicky Noon, to focus on the two universities when setting up her scholarship legacy. Of course, she knew so many successful Pakistani leaders in different fields who were Oxbridge graduates. But, as I know from my conversations with her, it was also knowledge of the so-called famous
“Oxbridge experience” which includes the face-to-face tutorial system, the mass of social, sports, debating, drama and activist clubs and societies, the daily interactions with a global array of young scholars drawn from more than 140 countries, not to mention that special inclusiveness of Collegiate life. With the vaccines now being rolled out, we can, though, look forward to normal service resumed. Meanwhile, we continue to track down our past Noon Scholars – and we need your help: please see if you know any of those with an asterisk in the lists here. As always, please remember to fill out our 2020 survey if you have not already.
With All Good Wishes
Dr Paul Flather
Fellow, Mansfield College, Oxford
December 2020 Update Dear Scholars, Friends and Supporters –
Our LinkedIn Foundation page continues to flourish. A huge thankyou to all those who have responded and sent messages, contact information, and comments via that. We are going to feature news about individual Noon Scholars on the site and also, from time to time,on the website. If you feel you have a relevant piece of such news, we can certainly explore this with you. Our survey outreach work continues and we thank all those who are helping us with this. We love to hear about the ways your Noon award may have inspired you. Dr Muhammad Yaqoob (2001, St Peter’s College, DPhil Synthetic Organic Chemistry), who has held a post at Reading University, writes of a wonderful initiative: “When I was at Oxford I tried to start a collaboration with scholars from Karachi University, and with my DPhil supervisor we started a collaboration through the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and were able to help 7 scholars come over to work for one year in a chemistry lab.” Congratulations to Muhammad – and also thanks to him for helping us over recent months to greatly improve our website. Let me wish good wishes for a better (and happier) New Year!
As always, please do remember to fill out our survey if you have not already.
With All Good Wishes,
Dr Paul Flather
Fellow, Mansfield College, Oxford
November 2020 Update Dear Scholars, Friends and Supporters –
Next summer, we hope to unveil plans for our new network association of Noon Foundation alumni – we need to come up with a catchy name for the association – and we would like as many past scholars as wish it to become members. Then in 2022, we plan also our first reunion get-together, probably in Lahore. So, please do respond to our outreach emails, and do help put us in touch with any fellow Noon scholars. You should be able to spot those who have not yet replied as those marked with an asterisk on our VNEF website scholar pages: if you know or recognise any, please do alert us with further details. We have now sent out messages to more than 90 per cent of you – including our newest scholars from this year, Batool Asadi at Oxford and Umer Ahmed at Cambridge. Yet, more than half have not replied – and of course many of our email contracts will be long out of date. this is probably because we have used an out-of-date contact and some may not wish to be in touch, but there are others who would join our network, if only we could reach them. Here is another example of what we have received: Dr Gala Farooq (2010, Natural Science, Homerton) shows how perspectives can be altered: “One of the key things that I learned through the Noon Foundation was to eliminate any self-limiting impositions I have placed upon myself and to reimagine what I wanted and any possibility that I wanted to achieve in my life.” Again, if you as a scholar do not want to be contacted by us or join our plans, just let us know and we can remove you from this particular exercise. But note what Gala, who has gone to great further success, adds: “The Noon Foundation has provided me with one of the best support and mentorship experiences in my life”. As always, please do remember to fill out our survey if you have not already. With All Good Wishes, Dr Paul Flather
Chair, VNEF Fellow, Mansfield College, Oxford
October 2020 Update Dear Scholars, Friends and Supporters – As I write this, students are returning to Oxford and Cambridge for the start of the new academic year, but it is, alas, to rather different college settings. The special all-round experience that Vicky Noon and the Trustees want to offer to the brightest among Pakistani scholars is one of sharing the full social, cultural, sporting, aspects of living in lively Oxbridge colleges, along with the academic and intellectual stimulus from fellow students and the dons. Covid-19 is currently on the increase in the UK, so despite ‘normalisation’ efforts, lectures will be online (for many this might even be a bonus?) and tutorials will be ‘blended’ maybe live maybe online, Still, much will be on offer and life should slowly return normal over the year. Meanwhile, we are actively continuing our survey of all past scholars, and we invite you to please be in touch if you have not already – numbers are creeping up. We are keen to hear how the award may have helped you, as it did Awais Bajwa (2006-2009, Lady Margaret Hall, Electrical Engineering) said: “I think the foundation is very close to my heart, not only because it helped get me to where I wanted to be and figure out things in life, but with my background, I have related and taken the ethos of the organisation together with myself both in my personal and professional life”. Come and join our emerging alumni network – and keep in touch with news trust via the website. With All Good Wishes Dr Paul Flather Chair, VNEF Fellow, Mansfield College, Oxford
September 2020 Update We are pleased to report that we have now reached just over one fifth of all past Noon Scholars as part of our outreach programme, leading up to our planned VNEF Alumni reunion which had set to mark 25 years after our first scholarship award, back in 1994. However, now , with Covid, this is now deferred to 2022 – and we will then be marking the 30th anniversary of the legal foundation of our trust ! We are interested to note that almost half of those who have responded to our Survey have been back to Pakistan, and the vast majority including those abroad do plan to return to Pakistan to work and contribute – which of course was very much part of our founder, Vicky Noon’s original vision for the trust. We would love to hear from more past Noon Scholars, to find out their plans and to hook them up to our planned new alumni society so we can all help each other. More about that in the future. So, please do help us to reach other scholars – you might know them and urge them to write to us as we do not have all the up-to-date emails and we are hitting stumbling blocks. Of course, we understand not everyone will want to be in touch. But we feel sure there are many more that would. Meanwhile, we hope you are coping with all the new strains and stresses.
August Update We are delighted to report that the Foundation will be supporting one new Noon Scholar at Oxford University and one new student at the University of Cambridge. We will also be supporting six continuing Noon Scholars studying at the two universities. We are especially pleased because these awards are being made despite the fact that our trust – of course in line with all funds the world over – suffered a hugely significantly dip in our fund’s annual income due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The awards were made by the full Board of Trustees as usual, even though this time trustees scattered across the world were meeting online – via Zoom. We now hope that all current Noon Scholars will be able to report for the start of term in October. Meanwhile, as ever we are busy reaching out to all past Noon Scholars to find out what has transpired since you graduated – and to connect you to other VNEF scholars. We would love to hear from you – and to hear your news !
July update Our Noon Foundation web pages continue to undergo a revamps and I am very pleased that we are developing new new features, including a lively news section. Please have a look – and do send us possible news about university life in Pakistan. We would also like to hear from you if you have any news or items to share about our founder, Lady Vicky Noon, as we wish to build up more images and background about her. We are also progressing with our survey to reach all our past Noon scholars to join a planned VNEF Noon Scholars association and to plan for our 2022 reunion – please do respond to our emails, or get in touch via this website and our FaceBook page. You can also enjoy our wonderful filmed reports of our highly successful 25th Anniversary Dinner at St Peter’s College, Oxford, last year – including talks from seven current and former Noon scholars talking about their experiences.