When I was on my early walk with the dogs the other morning, I came across a Christmas card, lying on the road. It had been run over a few times and was very muddy, but it was just possible to make out the word ‘Joy’ on the front. It seemed to perfectly sum up where we all are in Christmas week. Joy, that essential part of our life, is almost lost to us for now.
It has been a long hard slog to get through this year and - now we are almost at the end of 2020 - all we can see is a long hard slog ahead of us. The fun of Christmas and that precious time with family and friends usually helps us to get through the first part of winter without minding too much, but that is virtually denied us this year – and then we have the rest of winter to get through with few distractions and only a very small light at the end of the tunnel. A minister friend of mine put it very well – without love, laughter, companionship, and that longed-for hug, it is easy to feel withered.
But, whatever else has been taken away from us this year, and for so many of us it has been a year of deep anxiety and tragic loss, human beings will never lose hope. You will know the legend of Pandora’s box and how, when she had let all the evils out into the world -hate, greed, sickness – to name but a few - there remained, in the bottom of the box, the little light called Hope. It is hope that takes us forward, that makes it possible to endure, knowing that there will be a day when this will be over, when we can stop being afraid, when we can go forward with our lives.
And coupled with hope, we have love: And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13).
It is faith, hope and love that will get us through these dark days and into spring.
So, I send my love to you this Christmas. And my hope that you will be well and safe, that you will be able to spend time with at least some of your loved ones, and that next year changes everything. And faith? Well, we are about to celebrate the beginning of the greatest story ever told, nothing changes that.
I have talked about my wish to hold a meeting of Chairmen, so that we can discuss issues that affect us all, for some time now, and I have now pinned down a date: Friday 15th January, 6pm GMT. Please join me – it’s your Society, we can only make it stronger together.
The meeting will be by Zoom, of course, so please let me know at email@example.com if you are able to be there. I would love to see Chairmen from around the world so, if this timing is uncivilised for you, I am more than happy to meet you on a different day and time. Just let me know.
27th October 2020
All I can hope for you at the moment is that you are well, that those you love and care for are well, and that you are finding ways of keeping sane.
My particular thoughts, in this country, are with our Northern and Midlands branches, where the going is much tougher for you than it is for us in the South (albeit it’s not much fun in London). My thoughts are with our branches and members around the world, we are all together in this very difficult time, the impact of the virus and the remedies weighs heavily on us all. The thing we all dreaded, the second spike, has happened and now we have to live with it until – well, until something turns up I suppose, because I am blessed if I can see any light at the end of the tunnel at the moment! It will pass though, history teaches us that all things pass, both good and bad, so hope and patience in equal measure is our best remedy.
My usual remedy to an unsolvable situation is to go for a walk, and hope that inspiration comes to me which, luckily, it occasionally does. I am not seeking inspiration this week, but I will be walking – 100 miles in fact, in aid of NHS charities. I started on Monday 26th and will be finishing on the 30th, walking 20 miles a day, from Cranleigh Medical Centre to the Royal Surrey Hospital and back. At least I will feel that I am doing something useful in support of those incredible people who are going to have the hardest winter of us all. Please support me – even the smallest donation will make a big difference in the end, and there can’t be a better cause at the moment. The link to the giving site is: to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/TheRoyalSocietyofStGeorge.
St George’s Church, Hanover Square
I am so very pleased to say that our annual Standards Service at St George’s Church Hanover Square will go ahead on Sunday 1st November, at 11am, despite London being in Tier 2. It will obviously be subject to the same restrictions as all church services are now, and we will only parade the National Standard and, sadly, it has not been possible to arrange a lunch for afterwards, but it will be so good to be there and I am very grateful to our Chaplain, Father Roddy Leece, for making it happen. If you feel able to join us, it will be lovely to see you. Below are the Zoom joining instructions for those of you who wish to participate virtually if you are not able to attend in person.
Topic: Sung Eucharist for The feast of All Saints with the Royal Society of St George
Time: Nov 1, 2020 11:00 AM London
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 865 9514 7180
Sunday 1 November, All Saints Day
Attended by the Royal Society of St George
Mass setting: Missa Brevis in D minor, Mozart
Opening hymn: 197, For all the Saints who from their labours rest (vv 1, 2, 3)
Psalm: Psalm 149
Offertory: O quam gloriosum, Victoria
Communion motet: Gives us the wings of faith, Bullock
Closing hymn: 381, Jerusalem the golden (vv 1, 3, 4)
Meeting of Chairmen
We have all become pretty good at Zoom nowadays, and it has proved a very good way to conduct meetings, AGMs and even dinner parties! As I found out at a wonderfully organised Halifax branch Trafalgar Night dinner on the 21st of this month.
At Council, we have discussed how we can make this new way of communicating work well for the Society, and realise that it makes the ability to liaise between branches so much easier than in the past, when the only way to meet was by travelling.
So, I, and my Deputy Chairman Nick Dutt, intend to launch a quarterly Chairman’s meeting by Zoom, for branches all over the world - suddenly we are so much closer, thanks to technology – and will very much look forward to seeing you at our first, which will be held before Christmas, date and time yet to be announced.
In order to make the meetings productive as well as sociable, please would you send me any topics that you would like to discuss, so that we can produce a worthwhile agenda beforehand.
This is a wonderful opportunity to liaise with and bring branches together throughout the world and I am very much looking forward to the first meeting.
My very best wishes for your health and happiness.
Chairman, Royal Society of St George
30th September 2020
People often tell me how much they love autumn, how to them it is the best time of year. I agree it is a lovely season; the changing colours of the trees, the sounds of geese overhead migrating for the winter, owls in the woods – in fact, a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. But it has one big drawback as far as I am concerned (well, besides raking up leaves interminably!), and that is that it is followed by winter. And there is little to say in favour of winter, except that you get to wear those favourite baggy sweaters and cosy up in front of the telly in the evenings instead of feeling that you should really be outside doing the weeding.
And there is no doubt that this winter is going to be a tough one. I don’t think any of us really believed that the pandemic would be over by autumn, once we were in the midst of it, but it would have been lovely to go back to a normal life now, instead of hunkering down to a winter which will involve a lot of isolation. We can’t do what we do best, which is to spend time with each other, and for that I am deeply regretful. In times of crisis, we need each other to keep our spirits up, and that is the one thing we are being deprived of.
St George’s Church, Hanover Square
But! We are very much hoping to have our annual Standards Service at our Society’s church in Hanover Square, on All Saints Day, the 1st November, with many and grateful thanks to Roddy Leece, our Chaplain, whose church it is. We will only parade the Society Standard, and of course we will all be practising social distancing and wearing masks as appropriate. And not singing. But it will be lovely to have this bit of normality, to celebrate our Church and our Society and I very much hope that some of you will want to join us. If possible (and all of this is up to the powers that be, of course), we will go somewhere for lunch after the service so, if you would like to do that, please let Liz at the office know and we will keep you up to date on what we are able to do.
Walk for the NHS
As you know, I have done two long walks for charity whilst I have been Chairman, and I think it is time for a third. So, I am going to walk from the Cranleigh Medical Centre to the Royal Surrey Hospital and back, every day for 5 days, to achieve 100 miles and to raise some money for our wonderful NHS. I will be joined by Rosemary Holland, wife of the President of the Seahaven branch, and will so much enjoy her company. We are starting on the 26th October and finishing on the Friday of that week, and we would be so pleased if you would support us.
At this moment in our lives there is no better or more deserving cause than NHS Charities Together. The NHS is amazing. It is there for us at the most profound moments in our lives, no matter who we are or what we need. There are 250 NHS Charities in the UK providing funds and services above and beyond what the NHS alone can provide. This is a positive way to help the front-line staff in hospitals and through the widespread NHS.
To make a donation please go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/TheRoyalSocietyofStGeorge
I wish you all very safe, and very well and so look forward to seeing you again, and to hearing about the lives of our members and our branches when life returns to normal, as it must do one day.
My very best wishes
16th July 2020
There is a song in one of the Disney films which goes (roughly): “I’m busy doing nothing, working the whole day through, trying to find lots of things not to do….” It has gone through my head so many times in the last four months, in that irritating way that earworms do – even more irritating as it is not completely relevant, but almost so.
I’m busy finding things to do, as I am sure we all are. I have turned out cupboards, re-arranged rooms, gardened more than I have for years and almost beaten my filing. But it’s tough going. There is no real sense of achievement in this monochrome world, it doesn’t seem to really matter what you have achieved today, as it will all be the same tomorrow.
And then, sitting here at my desk, I have just seen two little butterflies, chasing each other over my rose garden, and I remember that each and every cloud has somewhere, sometimes very hard to find, a silver lining. There have been blessings: the clear blue skies and the sound of birdsong, that wonderful spring, the strange but uplifting ways in which we have encouraged ourselves and each other, the chats with friends and loved ones in various contrived but none the less precious ways, and now the joy of being able to see them, with perhaps even the occasional bubble-enabled hug.
Coupled of course with a great deal of sadness, fear and loneliness, and astonishment at how badly some people can behave in a time of crisis that affects everyone and which should be a time when we all pull together.
Do you know the book ‘We’re all going on a Bear Hunt’, by Michael Rosen? If you do, you will know that the prevailing theme throughout the book of dealing with challenges and obstacles is: We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Uh oh! We’ve got to go through it!
We can’t change this strange life we are living now, there is no way round it, we have to go through it. And with each other’s help, we will.
Very best wishes
Chairman, Royal Society of St George
CHAIRMAN'S LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER, THE RIGHT HONOURABLE BORIS JOHNSON
13th June 2020
The Right Honourable Boris Johnson MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org and by post
Dear Prime Minister
We deplore the level of discrimination and inequality in this world, not only racial but religious and sexist, which is deeply destructive of humanity and rightly promotes a great deal of anger. However, we are very concerned at the current impetus to remove evidence of people of influence in order to make reparation for our past misdoings.
There can be no doubt that, in the past, we, and every country in the world, have done things that we would not do now, but seeking to eradicate our history does not make amends, it simply destroys our country.
It may be the Churchill, Baden-Powell, Gladstone, and many others have events in their family history that are less than glorious, but that should not be allowed to detract from the debt that we owe them for what they did for their country and the Commonwealth. It is unnecessary for me to point out that, without Churchill, we would almost certainly not have won the war against tyranny, oppression and discrimination. Without Baden-Powell, hundreds of thousands of children would not have the life enhancing and character building focus that they do. Should their enormous contribution to the country (and the wider world) that we live in now be wiped out – and, if it is, and with it so much of our past and our history, who are we?
It must surely be better to use our history, both good and bad, to educate and inform both our own and future generations. We cannot learn from the mistakes of the past by removing them as, by doing so, we pretend that they didn’t happen. We have to acknowledge that even our heroes have flaws, otherwise how can our children aspire to be heroes themselves? Are we seriously suggesting that people can only do good in their country if their family history is completely without blame?
Would the Government consider reviewing aspects of the national curriculum to ensure that our young people learn in a balanced way that, despite their imperfections, people can make a significant contribution to the good of society and that, whilst we shouldn’t judge everything by today’s standards it is up to them to create the history of tomorrow by contributing to a society where everyone is treated as equal and has equal opportunity?
In conclusion, I wish to point out that, although this country is of course not without fault, we are also capable of recognising our mistakes and of making meaningful reparation. The Government used £20 million to fund the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. At that time, this was equivalent to approximately 40% of the Government’s total annual expenditure. This surely says a lot about our ability to face our wrong doings and make amends in an appropriate way.
Joanna M. Cadman
MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN - JUNE 2020
I have been reading Alan Bennett’s collection of diary entries, published in 2017, titled Keeping On Keeping On, and it strikes me that this is a very apt title for where we are at the moment in this seemingly never ending saga of lockdown. Just keeping on –keeping on making meals from strange things in the store cupboard because we are now so bored with what we have been eating for weeks, gardening in never to be seen before tidy gardens (certainly in my case), walking, standing in queues – but, most of all, keeping on missing friends and family, a social life, and – most importantly– missing a hug!
I hope you are well, and that those you love are too. My youngest son is incarcerated in a studio flat in London, but he survives, as we all do, and one day this will come to an end and we will all emerge into the sunlight again. Except by then it will probably be pouring with rain! We have been so blessed with this weather in April and May. Of course, we now desperately need rain, but hasn’t the sunshine and warmth been an absolute blessing. It is easier to be cheerful in good weather, under a blue sky. Can you imagine how we would feel if this had all started last November, and we had been confined to isolation during that long, grey, wet winter?
Of course, we have no Society events planned at the moment, and won’t even try to plan anything until the situation is clearer. I am very much hoping that we will be able to hold our Standards Service at the lovely church of St George in Hanover Square in November, and that this will be part of a return to a new normality, and it is a little difficult to see that it will be possible to arrange anything before then – but we can live in hope!
In the meantime, I am thinking of you and send you my very best wishes, until we meet again.
Joanna M. Cadman
MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN - MAY 2020
Dear Member of the Royal Society of St George
I wanted to reach out to you at this exceedingly difficult time to let you know how much you are in my thoughts and in those of all my Council.
I can only hope that you are well, and that you have the support of friends and family, or the amazing voluntary groups that have sprung up, to get you through this. Or, if you are one of the hundreds of thousands that are out there doing what they can, whether it is as part of our incredible NHS, holding an essential job, or looking after friends and neighbours and vulnerable people, that you are keeping safe and well.
We are a team, the Royal Society of St. George, as well as a very important part of the fabric of our country. And this is the time when we can step up and look out for each other. It is going to have to be remote care, as we can’t travel, we can’t visit, we are mostly confined to our own homes. But there is the telephone, and I know from experience how valuable a friendly voice and a chance to chat is to many people. If you are self-isolating and would welcome a chat from time to time, please let us know. I and
all my members of Council would be very pleased to be a ‘telephone buddy’ to someone on their own – we have a lot in common, after all!
It would be great if our branches could also keep in contact with their members in this way – you may of course already be doing this and, if you are, thank you so much for the part you are playing in keeping us all sane.
Our chaplain Roddy Leece, who is the Rector of St George’s Church at Hanover Square, has asked me to assure everyone who would welcome prayers for their departed loved ones that their names would be recorded in a book of remembrance and prayed for on the anniversary and during our Annual Parade Service. This would not be just for now, just during this dreadful pandemic, but for anyone you have loved and lost at any time. Please just let us know.
This will end, we will meet again. In the meantime, my very best wishes to you all.
Joanna M. Cadman