RCS Bath and District Chairs Report 2024

This year has been extremely busy for the branch with the development of the  new website which is being  ‘beta launched ’ today at the end of this meeting.

 In April 2023  members  joined together with members of the Britain Australia society at Sutton Veny for the Anzac Day Remembrance Service which was attended by representatives of the Commonwealth War  Graves Commission, members of the Australian and New Zealand  military as well as the British Legion and other related services.

Last year in May a plaque was installed at the Little Willows  children’s nursery in  Bath to go with a  cherry tree which had been planted to commemorate the late Queens Jubilee.

In early May members attended a service at Wells Cathedral to celebrate the Coronation of King Charles 111 when one of the lessons was read out by Irene Prentice. At the end of May there was a talk and lunch when we were given a fascinating presentation by the charismatic founder of The Washing Machine Project Nav Sawhney. In June  Sue and I were present at a dinner organised by  Bath Spa University and  given in honour of Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson.

In July the new Lord Lieutenant of Somerset, Mohammed Sadiq and our patron the mayor of Bath joined us for the AGM. when the Lord Lieutenant officially accepted the post of president of the branch)  there was then a lunch and a talk by  a member of the University of Bath involved in the organisation of the Commonwealth Games. St Gregory’s School, one of  winners of the 2022 art competition held an exhibition at 44AD during the month  which was again a great success. 

In September we were present at the Norland Fresher Fair when we were able to spread the new about the society  and what it does to the new intake of students. On October 13th some of us joined with the  Britain- Australia Society  at Bathampton Church and then at the  Bath and County Club afterwards as a part of a celebration of Admiral Phillips birthday.  The First Governor of New South Wales is buried at Bathampton church.

In November we were given a talk by a team we had sponsored from  Bath Spa  University who had been  involved in flood challenges in the Himalayas and  we also laid a wreath  on Remembrance Sunday in Bath. Then in  December Paul Thomas an expert on the history and development of Bath as city joined us at the Bath Cricket Club for our Xmas lunch.

A major event in January was our annual  lunch when over 45 guests and members were present .This was followed by  talk from the Constable of the Tower of London General Sir Gordon Messenger.  Also, in the middle of the month the mayor invited members to a reception at the parlour in the Guildhall. There was  then an international  reception arranged by the University of Bath in February when we had a chance to meet some of  the Commonwealth scholars studying in Bath as well as a special reception  organised by the mayor for Commonwealth students in the parlour.

At the beginning of March this year I was invited to give  a talk to students and staff at Bath Spa University on the history of the RCS and  its links with the Commonwealth. This also included an excellent resume of the history of the branch which had been put together by our secretary Alan Howe.

The Commonwealth Day Service was held in conjunction with the Abbey and was very well attended. This was them followed by the prize giving for the 2024 art competition Moon Gazers and Star Finders  with the Lord Lieutenant of Somerset and the Mayor.  

Grants have been awarded to students during the last year and have included several to group travelling to South Africa from the University of Bath as well as others from Bath Spa University. We have also continued our financial support to both universities and Norland as well as encouraging local  schools to become more involved in our activities.

 At this point like to thank both universities and Norland for their wonderful support during the last year. Also, to 44AD  and to Katie and her team for all their hard work on behalf of the society.

Unfortunately, due to  poor response to our lunch time talks we are reorganising these for the time being whilst we work on  other projects such as  Tomorrow to be Brave which takes place  on November 11th at the Abbey and 44AD.

Several of our trustees and members recently attended a number of Buckingham Palace Garden Parties representing the Commonwealth and  the Bath branch in particular.  

I was also fortunate to be able to attend several functions on behalf of the branch at the Museum of Medicine , both universities, Norland, BANES and at events organised by the Lord Lieutenant of Somerset’s office. Peter Leppard one of our holding trustees has stepped down this year and Sally Howe a has agreed to take over the role.  

I would like to thank the Bath and County Club for all their support during this year and of course to the board of trustees and my vice chair Anita  without whom none of this would be possible. Also, I must mention the West Country branch of the  Britain- Australia Society who not only financially supported our recent Art Competition but have encouraged members to attend their excellent programme of events. Other sponsors of this event included The  Chartered Trustees of Bath, Bath Spa University, Norland, and TSL Computing Finally, I must mention  Janet Kirk from Bristol who has been a great supporter of the branch and introduced us to many new Commonwealth students bringing a number the along to our events.

Recent events involving students from different establishment in the city have given us  numerous  ideas for further investigation  from  Zooms to face to face  activities. John Strachan and his  team  have been very instrumental in this as have the team at the University of Bath.

Our new website will be featuring many of these new ventures  which  hopefully will also be available on a range of social platforms.