August 1, 2013

Finest Hour 125, Winter 2004-05

Page 5

@ The Centre: President’s Letter

Stuffing boxes with piles of printed materials, hauling them to a basement storage area, assembling bookcases from pieces that only reluctantly fit together, and culling useful documents from voluminous files are not activities normally undertaken by officers of most organizations. Yet several of the Centre’s officers, the editor, publisher, executive director and coordinator of local activities, spent hours over the Memorial Day weekend doing just that.

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It can reliably be reported that despite cramped working conditions (our offices are not spacious) and no air conditioning, they perspired, groaned, grunted and mumbled (with only a few muffled imprecations) their way to a major tidying up of our Washington headquarters. While good humor was maintained throughout by all, it was left to Allen Packwood, Director of the Churchill Archives Centre at Churchill College Cambridge, to toss off the best comment. Upon his arrival, as he helped load boxes (in coat and tie no less), he was advised that while his assistance was appreciated, it was not really appropriate given his position. He pitched right in, replying, “Never mind, I do this for a living.”

This brings me to a point I wish to emphasize. The work of The Churchill Centre continues to be done largely by those who do not do it for a living, but by volunteers. They make huge contributions of time, talent and treasury to perpetuate, through the work of the Centre, by the most modern means, to the widest possible audience, Winston Churchill’s legacy of boldness and sterling leadership.

Yet the Centre’s viability cannot depend exclusively on those fine people who, day in and day out, have been so wonderfully generous with their time and financial support. For the Centre even to approach its goals, the few must become the many.

During the past two years, the Centre has sought harder than ever before to involve more members in its programs and to develop additional sources of funding. The Centre simply cannot realize its potential by relying on its modest ($50 beginning January 2005) dues, its annual Heritage Fund appeal, and the always-uncertain revenues from international conferences. Thus we are preparing actively to seek foundation grants and regularly to hold benefit events to support our programs.

We also continue to seek specific funding for individual projects. Just recently, this has resulted in the digital scanning of the 9000-page, eight-volume Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, through the generosity of member Wayne Brent’s Zuma Corporation in Culver City, California (page 10).

I fully realize that the Centre’s 2003 Heritage Fund appeal was followed rapidly by two major support events and several others, all within the first six months of 2004. These initiatives prompted some to suggest that our fund-raising efforts were rather aggressive. Their perception is both understandable and accurate. However, this unusually tight schedule was developed to take full advantage of the sharp focus on Churchill stemming from the highly acclaimed “Churchill and America” exhibit at the Library of Congress and its attendant activities. And, by and large, we were able to declare success.

I can assure you that in 2005, the Centre’s events will be much more evenly spaced. The first one, a benefit dinner, will be held in Palm Springs, California on March 17th, with Winston Churchill as speaker. We are discussing a second event, which will complete our fund-raising efforts for 2005. However, whatever the schedule, your continued steadfast support of the Centre and its programs remains crucial if we are to remain a major propagator of the unique Churchill legacy.

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