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Bulletin #26 – Aug 2010

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Randy Barber Speaks in Michigan

Winston Churchill Society of Michigan

Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. May 22, 2010


The Winston Churchill Society of Michigan held a meeting on May 22, 2010. The venue was the Forest Lake Country Club in Bloomfield Hills. The main event was a talk by Randy Barber, President, International Churchill Society of Canada. A few days prior, Randy had chaired the annual dinner of ICS Canada, held on the 70th anniversary of the day in 1940 when Winston Churchill became Prime Minister – a truly historic day for Churchillians not to mention the world!


The meeting was opened by Solveig Barber singing the national anthems of Britain, Canada and the United States. Dick Marsh, president of the Michigan Society, introduced Randy who spoke on a wide range of topics and experiences within the 90 year life of Winston Churchill. Of course peppered throughout were WSC quotes some new and many familiar to Churchillians. Randy also had on display a small sampling of his extensive collection of Churchill documents and memorabilia.


Also at this meeting Gary Bonine, founder and a former president of the Michigan Society, spent some time going over media material about Churchill that is available from various sources. Churchill documentaries, films and books seem to be ubiquitous and are spread out over a long time frame. And so this review was useful in reminding us what a treasure is available both for education and entertainment.


A recent presentation by Dick Marsh and Bob Pettengill to two history classes at Birmingham’s Groves High School was reviewed. This was part of the “educational outreach” program of the Michigan Society. About 50 students in two 70 minute classroom sessions were in attendance. Lecture, Q&A, discussion and a short recording of a Churchill speech were included.


For this meeting there was an excellent turnout of 55 attendees including three new members and several guests of members. The speaker, a bucolic setting and promise of a barbecue luncheon assured this success. Michigan Society members are quite widely dispersed but live primarily in the tri-county area of Southeastern Michigan. The previous meeting was in Ann Arbor near the western edge of the this diaspora.


And so the Michigan Society thanks Randy and Solveig Barber for coming all the way from Toronto and braving the formidable United States Homeland Security procedures for entering the United States to meet with us.


Bob Pettengill


Churchill Centre UK Anniversary Weekend

The Churchill Centre, UK
London, 7-10 May 2010

Fitting a number of necessary events into a narrow ‘window’ was always a bit risky, with the chance of reduced numbers at any one of them, but TCC-UK managed to achieve this in early May with fingers crossed.


On Friday 7th May the Annual General Meeting took place in London at the Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square. Apart from the usual formalities, the main business was the demise of the Committee and the assumption of management responsibilities by an enhanced Board of Trustees, the Hon Celia Sandys continuing as Chairman of the Board. It was a nice surprise to find John Plumpton and Craig Horn among those attending.


Saturday 8th May was the 65th anniversary of VE-Day and this was marked by a visit to Churchill College, Cambridge by over 70 members, including a touring party from the United States and Canada led by Judy Kambestad and a small group from Portugal, headed by João Espada. The contingent received a warm welcome from Sir David Wallace, Master of Churchill College, and was then treated to a masterly address by David Reynolds: he gave an insight into the start of WSC’s premiership which eventually culminated with the triumph of 8th May 1945. Lunch was taken in the great hall of the college and then Allen Packwood and his team gave everyone a fascinating tour of the Churchill Archives Centre.


After a day’s pause for breath, the important date of Monday 10th May, marking the 70th anniversary of the start of WSC’s coalition premiership, called for full recognition. This took place at the Churchill War Rooms and was attended by over 60 members, including the Canadian, American and Portuguese visitors. This major event took the form of a luncheon, attended by Lady Soames and eight other members of the Churchill family; a toast to the heroic memory of Sir Winston was drunk. The pièce de résistance, and the climax of the weekend’s activities, was an address by the Rt Hon Sir Martin Gilbert. Sir Martin gave a riveting talk on the hour-by-hour events of 10th May 1940, made uncannily topical by the fact that the British general election had taken place only four days earlier and efforts to create a coalition government were still in progress. It was a rare privilege to hear such an authority speaking on such an historic event at such an evocative venue and everyone departed, proud of having been able to participate in this memorable occasion.


Paul Courtenay


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