Harrow Humanists
Humanists UK
BHA Ceremonies
accord coalition


Officers and Committee members
Chairman: Terry Lilley  
Secretary: Julie Crow  
Treasurer: John Rayner (until May 2014); Charles Rudd (from June 2014)  
  Rosemary Bennett (until November 2014)  
  David Cryer (co-opted)  
  Eileen Bostle  
  Tony Thorne  

Committee meetings were held on 10 April and 13 November 2014

Membership: in April we had 23 paid up members. By November we had 15 active members and were still in touch with 9 other members who for various reasons were unable to attend meetings. One member resigned from the society. Some potential new recruits have attended one or more of our meetings.
Death: Sadly, our long serving Treasurer John Rayner passed away in May and many of our members attended his funeral on 12 June. The eulogy consisted of memories from many of us read out by our Chairman.
Resignation from Committee: Due to persistent ill health and with great regret our very long serving member and previous Secretary, Rosemary Bennett, had to resign from the committee. A small commemorative gift was presented to Rosemary in thanks for her immense contribution to Harrow Humanists.

Meetings Programme
Our programme of meetings and social events was advertised in local newspapers, on our website and in the Humanists UK e-bulletin.

  • In April 2014 Gill Chapman, an outreach worker for Wormwood Scrubs prison, told us about the Inside Out scheme for mentoring prisoners in which volunteer mentors are matched with prisoners and support them during the last three months of their term and for about six months after their release.
  • In May we had our Annual General Meeting.
  • In June, Sylwia Sawa from Home Instead Senior Care led a Q&A session about their work in providing non-medical care for older people in their homes.
  • Our summer outing in July was to Margate with particular focus on the Turner Contemporary Gallery where an exhibition of Mondrian's work was the main feature.
  • In August 16 members and guests enjoyed a social lunch at the Preston pub.
  • Our September meeting took the form of a discussion of the World Humanist Congress (see below).
  • In October we planned to have a workshop
  • In Defence of Humanism
  • led by a member of North West London Humanists and Secularists but at the last minute he was unable to attend and our Chairman gallantly substituted using some of the speaker's presentation.
  • In November we had Steve O'Kane from the Defence Humanists (previously the UK Armed Forces Humanist Association) who told us about his personal history in relation to Humanism and the history and present situation of humanists in the armed forces.
  • In December we had a Yuletide party at the Secretary's house. Everyone contributed to the refreshments and the atmosphere was more convivial than previous such events which had been held in our usual meeting room.
  • In January 2015 we had a pleasant New Year lunch of Italian food at ZaZa in Pinner.
  • In February one of our members, Prof Tim Crow, lead a discussion on
  • Beliefs and False Beliefs
  • . Tim recounted documented beliefs of four famous historical characters and invited us to guess who they were. We guessed Joan of Arc and Adolf Hitler but not Isaac Newton or Auguste Strindberg. The following discussion ranged widely and included the concept of delusions and how they affected these four people.
  • In March we had Rachel Wright together with one of her colleagues from Voluntary Action Harrow Co-operative telling us about the work of that group and the co-operative movement in general.

Other activities

Several of our members attended the World Humanist Congress which was held in Oxford in August. Plenary sessions were held in the atmospheric Sheldonian theatre and there were also many multiple parallel smaller group sessions covering a wide variety of topics of interest to humanists. Some of these were led by well known people from academic and media backgrounds.
The theme of the congress was expressed by the adoption of the Oxford Declaration on Freedom of Thought and Expression which has the following paragraph headings:

  • The right to freedom of thought and belief is one and the same right for all
  • No one anywhere should ever be forced into or out of a belief
  • The right to freedom of expression is global in its scope
  • There is no right not to be offended, or not to hear contrary opinions
  • States must not restrict thought and expression merely too protect government from criticism
  • Freedom of belief is absolute but the freedom to act on a belief is not

Humanists UK Group Representatives Annual Meeting (GRAM)
David Cryer and Terry Lilley represented Harrow Humanists at the Humanists UK GRAM at the Clerkenwell Centre, in November. There were excellent presentations about: the Humanists UK work at the UN Human Rights Council, reports from Humanists UK Groups country-wide, Humanist pastoral support at Guy's and St Thomas's, working with young humanists, Humanist celebrants and the work of the Humanists UK Dialogue Officer for engaging with faith and community groups.

Julie continues to represent Humanism on Harrow Standing Advisory Committee on Religious Education (SACRE). The Harrow Agreed Syllabus for teaching Religious Education is in the process of being revised and she has been asked to chair the Agreed Syllabus Conference (ASC) of the SACRE which is the body responsible for approving the new Syllabus.
In July two of us attended an RE presentation at Newton Farm Junior School in Rayners Lane. We had a stall and talked to parents and children about Humanism. The children presented audio-visual summaries of their RE lessons, and it seems they learn about Humanism in Year 6.

Coffee mornings
Informal meetings for general chat and exchange of views continue to be held on Tuesdays from around 10.30-11.00am in the upstairs café of BHS in St Ann's shopping mall, Harrow. Any members and friends are welcome.

JC April 2015



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