Moustache-shaped cookies, an ABBA tribute band, and t-shirts with a ‘70s look-alike of the guest of honour printed on them – Professor Sir Malcolm Grant’s leaving do have it all, and cost a total of £17,898.
Just over £2,000 was spent on 880 bottles of sparkling wine for the party on 19th June, which celebrated Grant’s ten years as University College London’s President and Provost. Pictures suggest the bottles far outnumbered the guests.
Two hundred cookies in the shape of Grant’s famous facial hair were ordered for the event, costing UCL £260; the evening’s overall cookie budget totalled £563. £18.40 was spent on three buckets just to hold them all.
Björn Again, an ABBA tribute act, entertained the guests gathered in the University’s Main Quad for a fee of £8,225. A private donor, presumably a fan of Swedish pop, contributed £3,500 to this cost.
The band were not alone in providing the evening’s soundtrack. £950 was also spent on a DJ, two opera singers and an accompanying pianist.
In addition, twenty staff and student helpers at the party wore t-shirts printed with a moustached face resembling Grant in his younger days, at a cost of £240. £780 was spent to hire a so- called ‘Megabooth’ – a flower- power-themed Volkswagen Beetle adapted into a photo booth – where guests could pose for photos to remember the occasion.
Hannah Webb, External Affairs and Campaigns Officer of UCL’s student union, strongly criticised the amount spent on the event. She said: “That’s a ludicrous amount to spend on a party, especially when the cleaners are still not being paid a living wage.” She added: “Anyway, I hate ABBA.”
A UCL spokesperson claimed “several hundred people attended the event.” But UCL declined to comment on the cost of the party, and refused to give London Student any further information on the event.
In his weekly Provost’s Diary, Grant said the send-off, which was “all a complete surprise,” had left him “with a bit of a lump in the throat”.