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A picture of a hand putting a ballot in a box

Last term ended with mass lateral flow testing in the JCR. I had not expected to enjoy it so much. In fact, I had the chance to meet many Southies I had not met for weeks. It could have been a lot worse. However, as I prepared to celebrate Christmas, I really did hope and believe that this term would be better.

The news that lockdown must continue came as a horrible shock. I am sure you felt the same. Still, numbers in College have grown throughout term and, although social distancing and testing have been mandatory, there have been some real triumphs. The JCR elections were a fine example.

I was delighted that so many Southies exercised their votes, and I am very grateful to all who stood for election. Richard and our first ever JCR Executive have done an outstanding job. I know you will continue to make South extraordinary next term. I am thrilled that Charlotte Payne and Haf Serajee have been elected as President and Vice President for 2021/22. Chaz and Haf are both Pioneer Scholars and I know you will be dedicated and brilliant. You will have my full support.

Lynn and the team have done an outstanding job this term to look after Southies in Durham and beyond. I am very grateful. And, despite the appalling events that brought it about, I am proud that FemSoc were able to mark the end of term with a vigil outside the Pitcairn Building. The abduction and murder of Sarah Everard horrified us. Our thoughts and prayers should be with her family.  

I have had my first dose of the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine, and I can confirm that it does not hurt at all. I have experienced no side effects and I recommend it highly. That said, I know that the vaccination programme will not be able to protect all of us until June at the earliest. We must wait until then for the complete freedom that will allow us to enjoy some of the experiences that make Durham such an excellent university

I can't wait to see college sport up and running. I want to hear live music and watch student theatre and student comedy. The range of talent in South College is astonishing. I am impatient for freedom. However, I know we must earn it. To enjoy formal dinners, our first ever South College Day and a sumptuous South College Summer Ball we must remain wise and responsible.

We will return next term to social distancing, routine testing and activities restricted to households. Only if we stick to the rules and keep ourselves and our neighbours safe can the freedom we crave become real. Then, we will celebrate together. It can be superb. Let us do nothing to jeopardise that happy outcome.