VETERANS FOR PEACE UK ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2014
Saturday 12 April 2014
173 Euston Road
ATTENDED – 32
Aly Renwick,Ben Griffin, Bruce Kent, Charlie Bird, Chase Sydnor, Chris Roper, Dan Taylor, David Buck, George Hill, Glenn Fitzpatrick, Gray Ewlison, Gus Hales, Jim Radford, Joe Glenton, John Boulton, John Bourton, John Lynes, John Watson, Karl Hemming, Kenny Williams, Lee Lavis, Les Gibbons, Michael Pike, Mike Lyons, Mike Nelson, Quinn Thomson, Stephen Mann, Stuart Griffiths, Thomas Paul, Tom May, Walter Heaton, Vince Chittock,
APOLOGIES – 17
Adrian Brook, Allen Jasson, Andy Lewis, Andy Mathia, Bob Cummins, Duncan Parker, Dave Orrey, Jay Munro Naan, Kev Donaghue, Kieran Devlin, Kirk Sollitt, Joe Lidster, John Tittley, Matthew Horne, Rob Bates, Terry Gardner, Terry Wood
We currently have 110 members with 63 having provided proof of service.
Annual subscription of £10 has started with 26 members have paid so far.
We currently hold – £4958 in cash
We currently hold – £907 in stock
We are in the process of adding Treasurer John Boulton to the bank account.
THE STATEMENT OF PURPOSE WAS READ BY CHAIRMAN JOHN BOURTON
The Bye Laws were explained with time for questions from the membership. The distinction was pointed out between speaking as a member of VFP UK and on behalf of VFP UK. Suggestions were made that we call the Bye Laws Standing orders or Code of Conduct instead. A straw poll was taken that proved inconclusive. Since the meeting it has been noted that the bank is already expecting a set of Bye Laws. So as not to complicate matters with the bank we will keep the term Bye Laws.
The Bye Laws were ratified unanimously.
The Steering Group was introduced;
John Bourton – Chairperson
Dan Taylor – Secretary
John Boulton – Treasurer
Ben Griffin – Coordinator
The Steering Group will meet Bi-Monthly.
Two vacancies will become available next year and will be elected at the 2015 Annual Conference.
1. Education Resistance Solidarity
Our work falls into one or more of these categories. Education on the true nature of war both towards the public and amongst ourselves. Resistance to war and militarism through nonviolent action. Solidarity with the victims of war and those working for peace.
2. Linking up members and bringing more in.
The coordinator has been instructed by the membership to look into ways of joining up members around the country. Permission will be sought from members to circulate a closed contact list. As a start the profile page will now feature home towns to help members know who lives near them and the map will be put back on the website. Efforts will be made to get in touch with surviving members of Ex-Services CND. The Steering Group will formulate a recruitment campaign. All members should be on the look out for potential members.
3. Annual Conference
This was our third Annual Conference. So far the numbers have roughly doubled every year.
4. Remembrance Sunday
We will put effort into increasing the number of our members walking to the Cenotaph and encourage people to follow us. The lead up to Remembrance Sunday is our busiest period of the year and we need to be ready to respond. Members should look into what can be done locally.
5. Pre-Remembrance Sunday Meeting
It was agreed that we should meet the Saturday before Remembrance Sunday to prepare for the walk to the Cenotaph. We should prepare workshops to give to our members on a variety of related subjects.
6. Schools Project
Work into the schools project is coming along. The skeleton presentation is almost ready. We have been in touch with the Peace Education Network. We have a number of members willing to visit schools. We should also reach out to universities. So far our access to schools has been through friendly teachers.
The following is a list of some events coming up. Members can send in information about other events that we could attend to the coordinator to be posted on the website. We also agreed that we should reach out to other Peace groups and put an effort into attending events organised by them.
1 May – Annual Mayday March (LMDOC)
15 May – International Conscientious Objector Day (Peace Pledge Union)
23 May – Global Day of Action to Close Guantanamo (LGC)
23/27 July – VFP Convention, Asheville NC (VFP)
4 August – Silent Vigil St Martins London (Pax Christi)
5 August – Official 1914 Centenary Launch Glasgow
4/5 September – No To Nato in Newport (NNN)
9 November – Remembrance Sunday walk to Cenotaph. (VFP UK)
The Coordinator and Secretary need to ensure that decisions are properly communicated to members.
It was suggested that we hold stalls at e.g. Glastonbury. To enable this material needs to be manufactured. The coordinator was instructed into sourcing flags and banners. Individual members should be on the look out for opportunities to engage with the public.
This was not mentioned in the business meeting but in the afternoon during the veterans panel. Work is now in progress for VFP UK to take part in reconciliation projects in Northern Ireland.
Gus Hales gave a presentation on his lone action carried out on a pilgrimage to the Falklands Islands during a church service. He gave a good insight into the planning and preparation required to carry out a successful action.
Jim Radford gave a presentation on his involvement in anti-war activism since the days of the Direct Action Group. He told us about actions that worked and those that didn’t.
Ben Griffin talked the members through the skeleton presentation for schools. The presentation will be available for all members to use and adapt. There was a discussion about how to get into more schools
Chris Roper ran a workshop during lunch on how to resist nonviolently during protest situations.
Thanks to Sam Walton for sorting out a great buffet. This was an important part of the day for meeting new members and discussing our own experiences and journey’s.
The public event was well attended. Artwork by Darren Cullen and Glenn Fitzpatrick was on display outside and in. The music of Ryan Harvey was played during the build up. There were stalls manned by Reel News, Forces Watch, Movement for the Abolition of War, Darren Cullen and VFP.
Michael ‘Spike’ Pike hosted the event that featured M15 whistle-blower Annie Machon who spoke about her own experience of working within MI5 and what happened to her after blowing the whistle on an organisation that was out of control. Vron Ware gave an informative presentation on the campaign initiated in 2006 by the military, government and media to persuade the British public that they should blindly support the armed forces. Frank Ledwidge a former military intelligence officer gave a presentation on the true costs of the war in Afghanistan. From the cost in lives to the cost of continued medical care for those injured there.
The veterans panel consisted of Gus Hales who spoke about his lone action at a remembrance service in the Falkland Islands. Lee Lavis who spoke about his reconciliation work in Northern Ireland and Charlie Bird who worked at a high level in the Foreign Office and attached to the Army. Charlie gave insight into how things work behind the scenes and told an incredible story about how he was responsible for passing the dodgy dossier to the President of Nigeria in the run up to the invasion of Iraq.
2014 was our best attended Conference yet and was ended with a fantastic Street Poetry recital by Spike. He ran through his anti-war cannon before lifting the mood with some comedy. There was a good social evening afterwards marked by good, good conversation and a welcoming attitude from all.