This took place on Tuesday 16th July. After a short business meeting when Paul Fricker was voted to be the next Chair of the BGA and all Members of the Committee were re-elected to serve in office for the forthcoming year. We welcomed Charmaine Norrish, Senior Community Fund Raiser for the British Red Cross in Bedfordshire, to talk about the work of the Red Cross including their involvement with the Open Gardens Scheme.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the biggest humanitarian movement in the world, started in 1863 and was inspired by the Swiss businessman Henry Dunant who had been moved by the suffering of thousands of men following the Battle of Solferino. He proposed the creation of national relief societies, made up of volunteers, trained in peacetime to provide neutral and impartial help to relieve suffering in time of war. The founding charter of the Red Cross was drawn up in Geneva where it was proposed that countries adopt an international agreement which would recognise the status of medical services and the wounded on the battlefield. This agreement, the original Geneva Convention, was adopted in 1864. Following the outbreak of war between France and Prussia in 1870 there was a call for a National Society to be formed in Britain in line with other European nations. In this year the British Red Cross was formed based upon the rules laid down in the Geneva Convention.
Charmaine outlined the work of the Red Cross today. This includes event first aid, provision of a fire and emergency support service, with safe places to stay and packs of basic necessities as well as emotional support for those who have lost their homes through fire. Emotional support for those affected by floods, bombings and distraction burglaries. Independence support for those discharged from hospital. Medical loans of wheel chairs, walking aids etc. Community based first aid training, refugee services, message and tracing service for people who have lost touch with their families, support for those experiencing loneliness and isolation – the list goes on and on.
Funding for all this work is achieved through Red Cross collection weeks, local events, challenge events, recycling, individual giving, emergency appeals, legacies, and through the Open Gardens Scheme. Since 2008 Bedfordshire has been involved in this scheme and residents of Biddenham have opened their gardens to the public on a number of occasions in support of this very worthy charity. We were pleased to be told that last year the open gardens in Biddenham took the largest amount of money in any one day. We were pleased also to present Charmaine with a cheque from the BGA.
After the talk members enjoyed a very nice cheese and wine buffet. Many thanks to Liz Hurford for organising this.
Ann Ebbs and Ann Manze, who have organised the tea rota for a number of years, are now having a well earned rest and we thank them for their hard work in making sure that refreshments have been available at our meetings.
During the business section of the meeting Jeremy Arthern announced that he would be standing down from the Chairmanship of the BGA. Jeremy joined the BGA Committee in 2006 and for the last 7 years has been our Chairman. Jeremy has been unfailing in his support to the Association and has led the Committee and the monthly Visiting Speaker meetings with enthusiasm and commitment. Jeremy will be much missed as Chair, although he has assured us that he will still be a regular attendee at the Tuesday meetings. However, we are delighted that Paul Fricker, who was co-opted onto the Committee this year, has agreed to take over from Jeremy and the Committee look forward to working with him in the future to ensure that members are offered interesting and informative talks in a happy, welcoming Association.
Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 17th September when Darren Lerigo will be answering the question “What do I do with this space?” We assume he means in your garden and not in the spare room or loft!
Please do join us – just come along to the Village Hall for a 7.30 pm start – you will be made very welcome.
Photos from the meeting: