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By Alice Lighton
On Sunday evening, St Peter’s officially welcomed its new Master, Mark David Damazer, during its Choral Evensong.
Midway through the service, the ninth Master of the young college was invited to declare that he would uphold the traditions, Charter and regulations of the College of St Peter le Bailey, and “promote its aims and interests as a place of religion, education and learning”.
Damazer spoke of what “a special moment” his installation was, and that he was amazed that such a small place could “contain so much energy”.
He is successor to The Reverend Professor Bernard Silverman, who was appointed Chief Scientific Advisor to the Home Office soon after leaving St Peter’s.
Damazer, 55, studied at Cambridge’s Gonville and Cauis College, where he achieved a double starred first in history.
He then took up a fellowship at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. After training with ITN, Damazer then moved to the BBC where he worked for 28 years.
His roles included working on such TV programmes as Newsnight, the Nine O’Clock News, and Panorama.
The latter half of his career was as controller for the BBC’s Radios 4 and 7. He caused a controversy that stretched across the media into Parliament when he decided to axe Radio 4’s “UK Theme”, replacing it with a news briefing.
He alluded to this in his speech during the service where he said that even now, having left the BBC, journalists would still ask about the UK Theme.
He said he was “most relieved” that the Dean had not suggested to have this as the opening music of the Evensong, which he attributed to the spirit of the College.
The Right Reverend John Pritchard, Lord Bishop of Oxford, and an Honorary Fellow, talked of the “community of hospitality” and “generosity” Damazer was joining, and also commented on how their new Master “comes wonderfully equipped to cope with any of the college’s domestic difficulties”.
One of the hymns sung by St Peter’s choir, ‘He who would valiant be’ aptly included the line “Let him in constancy follow the Master”, which the Reverend Christopher Jones humorously acknowledged to smiles amongst the congregation, mostly made up of Damazer’s family and friends, Fellows of the College, and St Peter’s students.