AR 2017 – King’s Lynn

Following are some highlights from the 2017 Annual Reunion in KIng’s Lynn.

40th Annual Reunion

The 2017 BAFUNCS Annual Reunion took place at the Duke’s Head Hotel in King’s Lynn, 12-14 May 2017. More than 90 members participated in what was a very successful event. John Stares, the Convenor, and his Cambridge Region colleagues put a lot work into ensuring that a good time was had by all.

The event got off to a flying start with a civic reception by Her Worship the Mayor of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, Councillor Carol Bower.  She hosted the event in the beautiful Stone Hall of the ancient Town Hall, just ten minutes’ walk from the hotel.  Issuing a warm welcome to the area and noting that it was the fortieth anniversary of BAFUNCS’ founding, the Mayor spoke of the international outlook that had characterised King’s Lynn over the centuries due especially to its trading links with Europe.  BAFUNCS President Edward Mortimer replied on behalf of the participants.  The participants then returned to the hotel for a casual collective dinner.

The centrepiece of the Saturday morning meeting was an address by Baroness Valerie Amos, currently Director of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London but formerly UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs. Her address was a thoughtful reflection on the current challenges to liberal internationalism, with no easy answers but an abundance of positive thinking.

The remainder of the morning was consumed by the routine matters of the BAFUNCS General Assembly, aka Annual General Assembly. The annual report of the Executive Committee was presented by ExCo Chair Robert England, together with last year’s accounts and a budget for 2017, which was presented by Treasurer Michael Davies.

Having been issued earlier in the March national newsletter, these reports were all reviewed without major issues being raised, except for that of UK taxation of UN pensions.  The prospect of HMRC eliminating the 10% relief on UN pensions and the possibility of securing some reimbursement due to double-taxation agreements were both discussed.  Members were assured that ExCo was “on the case” and that they would be advised of further developments in due course.

Cyril Groom, Chair of the BAFUNCS Benevolent Fund also presented the Fund’s annual report and accounts.  While the Fund is in good financial shape, his presentation precipitated a wider discussion as how best to identify needs within the larger BAFUNCS membership, a theme which had been the subject of discussion at the previous afternoon’s meeting of regional representatives.

Saturday afternoon saw members depart on one of three excursions offered by the Cambridge Region organisers: a guided walk through old King’s Lynn, a visit to Sandringham House or one to Houghton Hall, where there was a special exhibition by highly acclaimed British sculptor, Richard Long.  The weather was in a good mood for the occasion and reports back from the participants suggest that each excursion proved interesting and worthwhile.

Saturday evening featured a more formal dinner, with a musical performance by Wylde Noyse, an enthusiastic local group specialising in instruments and music from the Middle Ages. Illustrating the antecedents of several modern instruments, they thoroughly entertained the post-prandial BAFUNCS group.

On Sunday morning, there was a presentation by Dr. Paul Richards, a local historian, on the Hanseatic League, a Northern European trading arrangement across the North and Baltic Seas in which King’s Lynn’s river port was a key player down the ages.  It was a timely reminder of the UK’s early economic collaboration with Europe in years gone by.

The final session of the meeting was devoted to the results of the BAFUNCS at 40 survey, presented by Sheila Macrae. Noting that only 12.5% of members had responded, she nonetheless felt that there was much to be gleaned from the free-ranging comments received.  The ExCo was tasked with following up on all the ideas received. The meeting was brought to a close by valedictorian Paul Matthews, who thanked all concerned for making the meeting such a success, and paying special tribute to retiring President Edward Mortimer.

BAFUNCS Office Holders 2017-2018

President Sir Kieran Prendergast
Hon. Vice Presidents Professor Michael Kaser (UN)
Dr Erik Jensen (UN)
Sir Richard Jolly (UNICEF, UNDP)
Mr Edward Mortimer (UN)
Vice-Presidents Dr David Axford (WMO)
Mr Bryan Suitters (WHO)
Miss Sheila Cooper (WHO)
Robert England (UNDP)
June Hargreaves-Beer (WHO)
Annie Kean (IMO)
Michael Davies (FAO)
Elected Members Joyant Mitra (FAO)
Enid Steward-Goffman (UN/UNIDO/WHO)
Carolyn Murphy (WHO)
Clyde Reynolds (FAO/WMO)
Sheila Macrae (UNFPA)
John Stares (UNFCCC)
Co-opted Members Marilyn Carr (UNIFEM/UNDP)
Richard Sydenham (UN)
Ziaul Islam (WHO)
Michael Askwith (UNDP)

A more detailed account of the Annual Reunion appeared in the September 2017 national newsletter.

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