Chairman's Message

Christmas 2020
 

Dear BMMHS Supporters,

We are almost at the end of what for most of us has been a long and painful year.   For BMMHS, we started on a high with 3 talks in the Woodcote Village Hall, with excellent talks with sell-out attendances on Air to Air refuelling in the Falklands, Our Man in Hamburg and Sir John Slessor during the Cold War, and then the world changed for all of us.  COVID, unheard of before by many of us, arrived and took over all our lives.   

After 9 months, at least there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel with the first vaccinations taking place as I write.  We all know that it is not an overnight cure, but there is some hope for a level of normality, at least new normal, in the next few months.

For BMMHS, COVID has brought good and bad.   On the negative side, sadly, the live talks stopped, which meant our loyal and enthusiastic followers were deprived of their monthly talk, a beer, a glass of wine, sandwiches and a social chat.  The military charities we supported also lost out on well-deserved donations.   It is hard to recall what life in BMMHS was like only those few months ago!

On a positive note however, two initiatives took over.   We decided that we wanted to keep contact with our followers and to maintain a level of momentum for the BMMHS which had not even reached its first anniversary at that time.  At the same time, we wanted to keep donating to military charities. 

Firstly, we launched Operation Bookworm, asking you to provide articles and contributions about your own and your families’ wartime experiences – any role, any conflict civilian or military.   The response has been overwhelming with over 230 articles and 330,000 words from all over the globe.   Sufficient for three 500 page volumes.  There is an amazing range of personal tales, some of great valour, some of great hardship and sadness, and others of ordinary people just doing their bit.   Proceeds will go to Blind Veterans UK (formerly St Dunstans), and volume 1 is due to be published in the spring.   A big thank you to everyone who has sent in their contributions to these books.

Secondly, August saw the launch of twice monthly Talks via Zoom.   Talks on the Korean war, the Spanish Civil War,  the two World Wars and a variety of topics have been very successful and interesting, widening our audience far beyond driving distance of Woodcote and as far afield as the USA, with one speaker evening doing his Zoom talk from the Czech Republic!  While Zoom may not be for everyone, both for BMMHS and for many of you it has enabled you to keep in touch with your friends and family during the pandemic.   Thank you to all who attended and to our speakers for giving up their time.

Looking ahead, the prognosis for the New Year is cautiously optimistic.   Hopefully the roll out of the vaccination programme will allow the resumption of live talks once more, even if with a lower capacity, by the middle of the year.   Notwithstanding this, we shall continue twice monthly Zoom talks for the first six months of 2021, and maybe one a month thereafter once the live talks resume.   

And finally, it leaves me to say a big thank you to my fellow BMMHS committee members, Jerry, Nigel and Linda, for their great work in making BMMHS and our activities possible.  Also to those of you who have given assistance, advice and support over the last 12 months, and to all the encouraging words we have received.    But most of all, our work would mean little if we did not get the loyal support of all of you who have attended meetings, joined the Zoom talks and written articles for the website and Operation Bookworm.

It leaves me to wish you all a safe, socially-distanced festive season with your friends and families in whichever bubble you have chosen, and a happy and a healthy new year and a better 2021 for us all.

Season’s greetings from the whole BMMHS family.

Andy

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