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Herstmonceux Castle mourns the passing of beloved benefactor Dr. Alfred Bader

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In 2019, the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) celebrates 25 years of teaching and learning at Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex. For a quarter of a century, students from Canada and all over the world have been able to enjoy a truly transformative educational experience at Herstmonceux Castle, thanks to the vision and generosity of Drs Alfred and Isabel Bader.

It is with great sadness that the BISC, on behalf of all staff, students, faculty, and friends of Herstmonceux Castle, announces the passing of Dr. Alfred Bader on Dec. 23, 2018 at the age of 94. He is survived by his wife, Isabel, his two sons, David and Daniel, and his seven grandchildren. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

The BISC will be commemorating Dr. Bader’s life and extraordinary gift of the Herstmonceux Castle Estate to Queen’s University in the coming months. A special book of memories will be made available at the 25th anniversary celebrations for those who wish to share their memories of Alfred.

“Alfred’s incredible legacy includes awards, bursaries, and fellowships at Queen’s, giving numerous students access to an educational experience that can transform their lives,” says Dr. Horton. “Among his many gifts is Herstmonceux Castle — a remarkable symbol of the Baders’ commitment to offering students a challenging global education infused with social justice, a thirst for knowledge, and civic responsibility.”

 Visit the Queen’s University alumni website to learn more about Dr. Bader’s life and connection to Queen’s.


Student film Dragoon tackles the subjects of Inclusion and Identity on the Castle campus

The BISC prides itself on promoting a spirit of inclusion and diversity on its campus. The Castle Herald recently interviewed first-year student Nick Isaacs, the star of a recent award-winning short film on his struggles for acceptance and the fears associated with standing apart from the crowd.

Nick, 19, has been an out gay man since the age of 17 and was performing as a drag queen for seven months prior to joining the BISC. He deferred for a year before starting his first-year studies and worked as a street performer, reading tarot cards and performing palm-readings as his drag alter-ego, Harlotte Webbs.

“Harlotte is still Nick, but with more confidence,” says Nick. “The first few days at university can sometimes be awkward and often people make assumptions about your sexuality without really speaking to you, so I decided to attend the fall term’s scarfing ceremony as Harlotte and break the ice properly.”

When asked how this went, Nick recalls, “There were a few jaw-drops at first, which I suppose was to be expected, but overall the reaction from students and faculty was extremely positive.”

D2Standing well over six-feet, even without her heels, Harlotte Webbs would have surely been difficult to ignore, but Nick’s transformation does not happen instantaneously. “My makeup and nails can take over an hour,” says Nick. “If you factor in my hair and dress on top of that, that probably takes another hour as well.”

Nick, as Harlotte, is the star of a three-minute short film called Dragoon, made by students from the BISC’s FILM 104 class. Filmed entirely on their mobile phones, and shot on location on the Castle estate, the film begins in greyscale, but then bursts into colour as Nick makes the transformation into Harlotte Webbs. Screened last December as part of the Crossing the Screen International Film Festival in Eastbourne, the film won the prize for best student short, joining a list of winners which included big budget films from Romania, Mexico, South Africa, and Finland.

D3“We don’t teach practical film at the Castle, so the students have no access to equipment or facilities, but I thought I’d give it a go, and set the students to the task,” said an amazed Dr. Robert Hyland, the BISC’s FILM 104 professor. “I didn’t know our films were in competition, let alone getting an award!”

This bold spirit of adventure is something that resonates with Nick, who is grateful to the BISC for allowing him to fulfil a life-long dream of studying in Europe. “I had given up on post-secondary education and it was only through sheer chance while working a factory job that I came across a link to the BISC website,” he says, “Clicking on that link has changed my life forever! Herstmonceux Castle, and the opportunities I have had here has reignited a belief that there are plenty more adventures and better things out there for me - all I need to do is look.”

 Watch Dragoon below, shot and edited by a team of first-year BISC students including Nicholas Isaacs, Harriet Wright, Amelia Cockerham, Daisy Boyle, Cassie McMeekan and Gabrielle Oei.


The Castle becomes a focal point for Global Innovation and Forward-thinking

I2As The Castle Herald reported last September, during the Bader International Study Centre’s Innovation Term (i2TRM) students have an opportunity to build the skills they need to launch their own business ventures. Students work with peers from arts, science, business, and engineering backgrounds, and get real-world expert support from Queen's instructors, innovators, and alumni living in the U.K.

Last term, from Nov. 23-25, the students from the i2TRM  program hosted an Ideasfest at Herstmonceux Castle. The event brought passionate individuals from across the U.K. and Queen's University together to collaborate and develop new ventures.

Titled Forecasting the Future, the Ideasfest was an opportunity for BISC students and students from the universities of Exeter, Southampton, Surrey, and Bristol (all members of the U.K.’s SETsquared University Partnership) to develop a business idea over the course of three days, with a focus on future technologies and potential global issues. Ideasfest participants attended workshops and developed ideas that they then pitched at a final competition at the end of the weekend.

I1The student-led workshops explored areas such as ideation, how to pitch successfully, and using a Business Model Canvas. Delegates worked in teams to develop venture ideas and then pitched them on the final day to a panel of judges featuring Queen’s alumni Liam Dye, Sc’15, senior associate with Onex Corporation’s private equity team in London, Jay Dickieson, Artsci’08, an entrepreneur who founded Rosedale Capital after a career in both strategy consulting and running early stage companies, and Lauren Mulholland, Sc’15, a senior data analyst at Avora, a data analytics start-up located in London.

The BISC’s i2TRM students designed and implemented all aspects of the event, from marketing materials and event planning to logistics and sourcing volunteers. The Ideasfest team even recruited their fellow Castle students to form an executive team to help with the smooth running of the event. Ideasfest was an assessed element of ENIN 400 – a Design Sprint course tailored to students enrolled in the i2TRM program.

i2TRM course director Christina Dinsmore praised BISC students Danielle Baxter, Artsci’19 (environmental science), Karina Bland, Sc’18, (engineering chemistry), James Hantho, Com’19, and Jeff Misner, Com’20 for their tireless efforts.

I3The final pitches required participants to create a solution for a problem that they believe will greatly impact the earth over the next 50 years and included an automated indoor farming system, and an ingenious method of repurposing waste from oceans and landfills into alternative energy sources. The winner was an app called Rainy Days, the brainchild of a team of students from the University of Southampton, which features an artificially intelligent therapist that helps teenagers cope with the initial signs of depression.

Watch a short promo video that the i2TRM students put together to promote Ideasfest.


Castle students get Fairy-tale Ending

Former Bader International Study Centre (BISC) students Sarah Tessier, Artsci’05, and James Dixon, Sc’06, met while studying at Herstmonceux Castle, so it seems natural their time there had a fairy-tale ending.

Ms. Tessier, Artsci’05, and Mr. Dixon, Sc’06, fell in love after meeting at the Castle in East Sussex, England, in 2004 and were married in 2009. The couple, who now live in London, are returning this summer with their two children to take part in the BISC’s 25th anniversary celebration on June 29–30.

Castle love story Sarah and James 1The 15th-century castle was donated to the university by Drs Alfred and Isabel Bader and opened to Queen’s students in 1994. To honour 25 years of teaching and learning at the BISC, the school is inviting Castle alumni, students, family, and friends to return for a weekend of tours, activities, special guest speakers, and more.

“(Our) kids will be excited to see where Mummy and Daddy met,” says Ms. Tessier. “They are going to like hanging out at a castle.”

She first noticed Mr. Dixon when a group of students went to the Globe Theatre to see Romeo and Juliet. Soon, they began talking while crossing paths in the hallways and eating together in the Dining Hall.

“Let’s just say it became obvious to us very quickly that there was something there,” says Ms. Tessier. “We just clicked. He is the loveliest, nicest, kindest person. So by the time we came back to Kingston that summer, we were very much a couple. It is hard to put into words. I just knew he was someone really special who I needed in my life.”

The couple both made lifelong friends while studying at Herstmonceux. The best man and maid of honour at their wedding were BISC classmates.

In addition to meeting her husband and classmates, Ms. Tessier says opportunities she had to learn both in and outside of the classroom made her time at the BISC memorable. In particular, Ms. Tessier says trips across the U.K. and Europe meant what she learned in class was complemented by hands-on experience.

“The in-class and hands-on learning we did at the Castle was very special,” says Ms. Tessier.

Visit the BISC’s anniversary celebration page for more information.


#Castle25

25th LogoHow time flies! This June we celebrate 25 years of teaching and learning at the Bader International Study Centre. To mark the occasion, we are planning two days of celebrations to be held over the Canada Day weekend (June 29 and 30, 2019), jam-packed with activities for all Castle (and Queen’s) alumni and their families.

The Castle, gardens and grounds will be the venue for live music, falconry, archery, face-painting, street-hockey, and more.

Due to popular demand this is a ticketed event, and registration is now open. Visit the 25th registration page for full details on how you can join fellow Castle alumni from all over the world in commemorating this landmark anniversary. Tickets are selling fast, so book now to avoid disappointment.

You may also wish to check out our handy FAQ pages, where we have done our best to answer all the questions you might have.

We can’t wait to welcome you back to your Castle this June! If you are as excited as we are, be sure to help us spread the word by using #Castle25 on your social media channels.


Bader International Study Centre
Herstmonceux Castle
Hailsham, East Sussex
United Kingdom, BN27 1RN
Phone: +44 1323 834444
Fax: +44 1323 834499
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Undergraduate Admission and Recruitment
Gordon Hall, 74 Union Street
Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario
Canada, K7L 3N6
Phone: (613) 533-2218
Fax: (613) 533-6810
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