Family, friends and Fellows paid tribute to David Calin, a second-year Natural Sciences student at Trinity, who died in his home country, Romania, in December 2015.
Some of David’s favourite music – by Bach, Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel – was played and a Tennyson poem read at the remembrance service at Trinity last week.
As well as the public tributes, personal messages were captured in a memory box, which was burnt in Great Court after the service, at the suggestion of David’s friends.
Trinity Chaplain, Rev Andrew Bowyer, led the special service on Monday 25 January, to honour David, celebrate his life and grieve his untimely death. He said:
David was an exceptional student, a loving friend and a quirky, extroverted young man full of life and humour.
Paying tribute to his extremely promising student, David’s Director of Studies, Professor David Spring, said:
After all his preparatory studies in his own country of Romania, he chose to come here, and he was chosen to come here, to pursue his scientific training and to make his contribution to the advancement of our knowledge of Chemistry.
We cannot begin to imagine the grief and loss that his close family must feel at his untimely death, but because he belonged to this family and community here in Cambridge we find that we, too, are diminished by his passing away.
We, too, share the shock of experiencing our human frailty: we have known David alive and well, and he will not join us again to fulfil all the promise he showed, or know the continuing friendships he had forged, or complete a distinguished career, or attain the aspirations that filled his young heart and mind.
Professor Spring explained that among the many subjects he discussed with David during supervisions was catalysis – ‘the extraordinary transformation of a slow and mundane reaction into an efficient and worthwhile one.’
We require a catalyst now to change our natural sorrow and sadness into thankfulness for his life, and that catalyst is remembrance. Let our remembering be a strengthening for those who loved him most, his family and friends, and a tribute to a young life cut short.
As the service came to an end, Reverend Bowyer told the congregation about the memory box for David:
One of David’s quirky pleasures was John Cage’s 4’33’’, which many of you will know is a composition of complete silence. In the 4’33’’ which will now follow, I invite all those who would like to write a final note to David to do so on the slip of paper in your stall. It doesn’t have to be a letter, it may simply be his name. For those who have written something, you are welcome to come and place it in the box.
The memory box was then taken into Great Court, an extract from the Book of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 was read, and the box of messages was set upon a fire created by Fellow Dr Hugh Hunt. The flames turned red, purple, orange and green after inorganic salts, prepared by David’s Supervisor, Filip Szczypiński, were sprayed onto the fire.
Filip Szczypiński explained:
It was David’s friends’ idea and they asked me if I could help with the implementation. They thought it would be nice to commemorate his passion for chemistry by colouring the flames of the goodbyes.