Chair’s Report 2022

Despite Covid 19 this has been a very busy year for the branch. With the culmination of this year’s Art Competition on the Sunday before Commonwealth Day and the start of our speaker programme all of the trustees have been working extremely hard on a variety of events and policy documents. Alan our secretary has been going through the archives and produced an excellent summary of the branch’s history which will be available on the website. The main elements of the Bath RCS archives are now stored at Cambridge University together with other RCS materials.

Andrew our treasurer has also been very active keeping our finances in order and regularly reporting to the trustees on our investments which I have to say are coping well in these difficult times.

One of our younger trustees Lotte Veale, (who has recently secured an appointment linked with climate change in London) worked extremely hard earlier in the year on our very successful Commonwealth cook up and subsequent online cookbook. She will also be continuing in her role as a trustee.

Anita has been working with several other trustees and Katie at 44AD on the 2022 Art Competition which has now finished. The exhibition of winners is however going onto the RUH and then in conjunction with the Lord Lieutenant’s Office to an exhibition centre at the Bath and West Showground at Shepton Mallet.

We have also been involved with the Lord Lieutenant’s office on a programme of tree planting linked with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and Anita and I are talking with Steve Ojomoh Little Willows children’s nursery concerning a planting event which will take place hopefully on June 30th.

I was fortunate enough this year to be able to attend the Commonwealth Celebration at Westminster Abbey on behalf of the branch and have a few words with Baroness Scotland the current Secretary General of the Commonwealth. We are also getting our name known elsewhere and a recent call from Sky News relating to the jubilee celebrations proved that the activities of the branch are going global! I I also represented the branch at a recent Platinum Jubilee Service at Wells Cathedral together with the Lord Lieutenant , several deputies and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Bath Professor Ian White.

Anita is now currently working with the Abbey and also 44AD on our Heroes of the Commonwealth Project which culminates in a service and presentation at the Abbey and 44AD on November 11th

Natasha Hopkins is leading a team who are revising our aims and objectives and the overall philosophy of the branch and our ever-changing society.

This group are also involved in discussion over membership issues and ways forward for the branch and the review of our website.

Our programmes of 2022 speakers have been very successful so far with good attendance  

Can I at this point also thank Alan Cox who has given up a lot of his time on several committees. We have found his advice and input extremely valuable. Also Rev. Robert Webb chair of the Royal Society of Saint George who provided financial support for our recent Art Competition and attended a number of our events.

April: RCS Bath Cook-up. Students and members presented Commonwealth recipes from locations around the world online.

July: Annual General Meeting online.  Commonwealth Cookbook online.

August: RCS Bath Picnic attended by our Patron the Mayor, Councillor June Player and trustees and members in the Parade Gardens, Bath.

October: The annual service at St Nicholas Church, Bathampton to place to celebrate the birthday of the first Governor of New South Wales, Admiral Arthur Phillip, followed by lunch and a talk at the Bail brook Hotel with the Britain / Australia Society, West Country Branch.

November: The University of Bath’s Annual International Scholarship Students Reception at the Roman Baths. Millfield School, winners of our 2020 Art Competition, displayed their students’ artworks, a shared event with Heroes of the Commonwealth project launch, at and with the support of 44AD artspace. A visit to the Sports Village at the University of Bath hosted by the Director of Sport Stephen Baddeley, with Commonwealth students from both Bath and Bristol, together with members

December: Annual Christmas Lunch at the Bath Cricket Club, with the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Somerset and 34 members, Commonwealth students and other guests in attendance. Ralph Grundy gave a talk on the British Overseas Territory, Tristan da Cunha, a remote group of islands in the south Atlantic Ocean.

March: Speaker programme starts with Karen Brewer Secretary General of the Association of Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges. Attended by around 25 members this event included a lunch at the BCC,

Grants and Awards

RCS Bath normally provides individual grants to Commonwealth students at the two universities in Bath and towards travel to Commonwealth countries and costs relating to academic research and voluntary work, although that had temporarily ceased due to the Covid pandemic. Under gift agreements, the branch continues to provide £1000/annum to the University of Bath and £1000/annum to the Bath Spa University towards Commonwealth scholarships.

An annual payment of £500 was made to the charity Children of Chobe (based in Bath), which supports a primary school in Tanzania.

A regular £50 donation to the Mid-Somerset Festival (held in Bath) was in abeyance as the annual event has been disrupted due to the pandemic.

We are also currently finalising an agreement with Norland College to promote support for Commonwealth students.

Two of our trustees are standing down Sue my wife, and Barry Henderson who has been acting as the Vice Chair for some time. Both have given a great deal of their time and effort in their roles and will continue to be actively involved in branch affairs.

We have welcomed a number of new members this year and are strengthening our links with schools and the universities in Bath. We are hoping to organise a trip to Cardiff in the near future when we will be hosted by RCS Wales together with a canal trip for members and friends in the summer.  

I would like to personally thank all those who sponsored our art competition this year and for all the support from our branch president Annie Maw, Lord Lieutenant of Somerset and our patron the mayor of Bath.