RCS Bath AGM – Chairs Report 2019-2020

Firstly I would like to congratulate the LL of Somerset Annie Maw on her election to position of Honorary President of the branch and also welcome our patron the Mayor of Bath councillor Manda Rigby.

Hopefully you will have had a chance to read the Chair’s Report which forms part of the Trustees Annual Report submitted to the Charities Commission for 2019 which can be found on our website www rcsbath.org under the section entitled ‘about’. However I would like to add the following which covers our activities into 2020.

The annual international students reception was held once again courtesy of the Mayor in the Mayor’s Parlour at the Guildhall in February 2020 , when students, members and the Mayor were able to meet together to learn more about the Mayor’s role in the city and also the involvement of the RCS.

A Commonwealth Service was held at Bath Abbey on March 8th when RCS members, friends and others from associated groups, joined together with the Mayor and Lord Lieutenant of the County, Annie Maw, to celebrate the Commonwealth. There were lessons read by Commonwealth scholars together with Commonwealth prayers and the readings of the Commonwealth Affirmations. This was followed by the RCS Bath and District Artist’s Prize Giving at Studio 44AD with Michael Eavis, Annie Maw and the Mayor.

During the year, it was agreed that we would organise an RCS Art Competition within the city and the surrounding area. A sub-committee was set up under the guidance of Anita St John Gray in co-operation with Studio 44AD. Financial support was provided by the branch and together with several generous grants from sponsors, the team worked tirelessly to make this a resounding success. Entries came in from state, private and public schools and private individuals. The event culminated in a private viewing at the gallery, a prize giving by Michael Eavis and an open exhibition for several weeks.

The whole event was a phenomenal success due to the hard work of everyone involved. The theme Communication in the Commonwealth was ideal and many entrants came up with some very original ideas in the form of paintings, sculptures, videos, social media and poems. Trophies and cash prizes were awarded together with art supplies for the younger entries. It is hoped that this event will be repeated maybe in 2022.
As well as having a new president, we also have welcomed a new secretary Alan Howe, who has worked tirelessly for the society together with the other members of the Branch Council including Andrew Prentice who is a superb treasurer. What would we do without him!

Anita has also now joined the council. Gaiven Claremont was been appointed at Bath Spa University as the student co-ordinator taking over from Lotte Veale who has just finished at Queen Marys in London and is now back in Bath. Habila Mormi a PhD student at the University of Bath will be continuing as their co-ordinator and we thank them both for their contributions this year.

Can I also thank Janet Kirk from the Africa Society in Bristol, for her continuing support and that of her students during this year.

Over the year we have provided a number of individual grants to Commonwealth students and also £1,000 to each university to support Commonwealth scholars. There has been an annual payment towards The Children of Choba, a primary school in Tanzania and also we have given, as usual, £50 to the Gurkha Welfare Fund and a £50 prize and RCS Cup to the Mid-Somerset Festival, Creative Writing classes. Barry presented the cup and cheque earlier in the year.

Covid-19 appeared on the scene earlier this year and in accordance with government recommendations we have taken steps to curtail any meetings until the situation has been resolved. Also it has been decided by the branch council to suspend any further grants to students until travel restrictions have been lifted around the Commonwealth however we are taking applications for online and social media projects. Branch council meetings have been held on Zoom and we are hoping to organise a further Zoom meeting for members in the near future.

Can I at this point say a big thank you to all council members and once again to Alan especially for his technical wizardry, Andrew for his amazing work relating to the Charities Commission, our finances and the constitution and Anita for her tireless work relating to the art competition and her ideas for 2022. Also to Naomi Box and Rebecca Goddard our contacts at the universities.

Finally can I remind you that you should be able to find the latest news and information on our website www.rcsbath.org. This now includes current student reports in the worldwide and news sections on the site. We maintain up to date news and comment on the website which also acts as a resource for RCS members, students and the general public. We are also currently in the process of archiving historical branch documents going back 90 years which will be stored in the Public Records Office in Bath.

Over this year the branch has maintained contact with the London office receiving regular updates. Thank you all for supporting us during this busy year and now in these more difficult times. I am sure that you will agree that the society in Bath is currently going from strength to strength and is now seen as an important integral part of the city.