VFP Birmingham held their first open night from 7pm to 10pm on Tuesday 24th of May. Fifteen members and supporters made their way to the Wellington Public House in Birmingham City Centre, for an introductory evening of poems, anecdotes, peace initiatives, an exposition of soldiers photographs, a Q+A members panel and finally finishing with a quote from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’.

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Simon Coldrick, Chris Paling and Stuart Griffiths; post panel posing

The evening began with a short explanation of VFP UKs origins and its evolutionary progress into the formation of local groups. This was followed by some reflective poetry and how words and phrases are used by the military in a duplicitous manner. The first guest speaker Lee Lavis, discussed his work regarding dialogue between former combatants, ranging from the Northern Ireland conflict to his more recent involvement with Basque separatists and the Guardia Civil. Stuart Griffiths then went on to talk about soldiers photographs, their psychological meaning and the ineffaceable effect on both the subject and the recipient.


Chris and Stuart answer questions from the public

The event finished with Simon Coldrick, Chris Paling and Paul Rogers forming a members panel for questions and answers. The evening went very quickly and it was soon time to head home. It is hoped to present a similar event in the Autumn with guest speaker and VFP UK founder member Ben Griffin.

Hats off to all the Veterans, at last a voice of reason. A really interesting and thought provoking evening. I fully support your work and look forward to future events. Jon
Time to go, the clear up begins

Wanted; Birmingham VFP has no female members, if you have served in the military and can make our meetings, new members of all genders are welcome.

The following are a few comments received regarding the open night:

“Its great to see Veterans for Peace starting in Birmingham. It was inspiring and moving to hear from an ex British Army Northern Ireland veteran of how former combatants can help build bridges of humanity and understanding across divides, in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, including with former enemies in the fighting. The shared critique, across those divides, of the establishment forces that create war, was an added dimension. The analysis, again from a veteran, of how photos are used to shape stories about war and the military was illuminating. I’m already looking at newspaper pictures with new eyes.”
Martin Newell

“Thank you very much for organising last night. It was really good.
The speakers, the panel, the poems and the Shakespeare quotes.
The honesty with which all the Veterans spoke. Was very
Penny Walker

“I had the great privilege to be invited by Veterans For Peace Birmingham to give a presentation on my current PhD research on personal photographs of British Veterans. It was an important opportunity for me to talk about my research methods, show the many photographs I have been collecting over the years. I received valuable input from an interested and engaged audience, both young and old, Veterans and non Veterans. A big thank you to VFP Birmingham and see you all soon!”
Stuart Griffiths

“It was humbling to hear and see people who had been to war who are now working so hard to build the paths to peace. If the government was as committed to peace as the veterans at the meeting, we could all sleep more soundly at night. Veterans for Peace has taken up the vital role of reminding us that peace is not just a good idea, it is an essential vision for all people.”

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