Event report: April 19th meeting with Marie Yates, Shropshire representative for Dignity in Dying

In this event report, Malcolm Rochefort summarises Marie’s insightful presentation on the issues and arguments for an assisted dying law in the UK

On 19th April we had a talk from our local Shropshire representative of Dignity in Dying, Marie Yates on ‘Why we need an assisted dying law in the UK’. The campaign’s purpose is to change the UK law to allow the choice of an assisted death for terminally ill, mentally competent adults.

This was an excellent explanation of the background and case for an assisted dying law to be passed in the UK, and was accompanied by a very detailed presentation. My apologies if this article is longer than normal, but I make no apology for reproducing Marie’s arguments from her presentation as I believe they make a very powerful case for a change in the current legislation.

Dignity in Dying was founded in 1935 and its early supporters included HG Wells and GB Shaw.Attempts to legalise assisted dying were made in 1936 and 1950, after which it became a membership organisation. The most recent attempt to legalise was in 2015. Dignity in Dying currently has 25,000 paid-up members, 200,000 supporters on its e-mail list, and 500,000 supporters on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). There are 50 local groups.

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Event report: March 15th meeting with Amanda Jones, CEO of Shropshire Supports Refugees

In this event report, our newsletter editor Frances Lloyd summarises the informative talk given by Amanda about how her organisation is working to support refugees who come to live in Shropshire.

Amanda started her talk by telling us about her background. She had worked with children with disabilities and those in care during her 20s and 30s. She then had a baby and found she had time on her hands. She was horrified when she saw footage of the camps at Calais where 10,000 people were living in tents with accompanying violence and hunger. She read that Kate Bedano had decided to take a caravan to Calais and was inspired to do the same. She gathered funds and the WI in St. Albans offered to renovate it. Meanwhile Amanda took thousands of pounds worth of items to Calais. She was very shocked by what she found in the camps which were completely lawless and where many vulnerable children were living.

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Event report: February 15th meeting with Dr. Colin Kelcey – “Mary’s Warning”

In this event report, our newsletter editor Frances Lloyd summarises the presentation given by Dr. Kelcey about Mary Shelley and her novel Frankenstein.

Colin’s talk, illustrated with videos and pictures, was about Mary Shelley, her novel Frankenstein, the science at the time and how that science has progressed in the present day.

Mary was born in 1797 to Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin. Both her parents were great philosophers her mother being a feminist and her father a writer of political tracts. Mary’s mother died soon after her daughter was born and this coloured Mary’s life. Mary was highly intelligent and she used to sit in when friends of her father’s such as Percy Shelley, a poet, and Erasmus Darwin, a physician, would visit the house.

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Event report: Climate change – the evidence and solutions

November 16th meeting with Dr. Frank Baker

Our newsletter editor Frances Lloyd summarises the informative and thought-provoking analysis provided by Dr. Baker at the November meeting of the Ludlow and Marches Humanists.

Dr. Frank Baker is a retired scientist who worked for the UK government on electron physics, surface and materials science. He has managed a US business making on-line devices for the petro-chemical industry and came back to the UK to work with Environmental Electron Microscopes at the University of Cambridge. He has always been interested in matters scientific and has developed an interest in following the debate on Climate Change.

Frank started his talk saying there is confusion between weather and climate. Weather refers to short-term atmospheric conditions whereas climate is the mean seasonal variation in conditions of a specific region, averaged over a long period of time. The climate changes slowly over many years. Superimposed on this, during the existence of the Earth there have been at least five great Ice Ages.

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Humanist Christmas cards now on sale!

A great way to support the work of Humanists UK

The national organisation now has a great selection of Christmas cards on sale through its website.

Some of the cards harken back to the ancient pagan origins of the festival people today call Christmas, while others simply celebrate the beauty in nature and science.

There are 11 designs to choose from and brand new for 2021 is the “Evolution of Father Christmas” card.

Buying the cards to send to family and friends is a great way to support the work of Humanists UK for a more tolerant society, where rational thinking and kindness prevail.

Orders can be placed at: https://humanists.uk/shop/product-category/christmas-cards/

Event report: October 19th meeting with Dr. Antony Lempert

What is lost? Wide-ranging talk about the influence of religion across the world

In this event report, our newsletter editor Frances Lloyd summarises the excellent talk given by Dr. Antony Lempert at the first in-person meeting of the Ludlow and Marches Humanists for over a year.

Dr. Antony Lempert is a GP practicing in Knighton and is Chair of the Secular Medical Forum (SMF) of the National Secular Society (NSS). He is President of the Shropshire division of the British Medical Association (BMA) and, as a BMA representative since 2009, he has engaged in frequent debate about secular and other issues at the BMA’s annual representatives meeting. The SMF provides expert and professional advice and opinion to the NSS and the BMA. It also contributes to consultations on issues related to healthcare. Antony was a founder member of our Humanist group.

This was an excellent and wide-ranging talk about the influence of religion across the world and Antony examined what humanity has lost as a result. Religious behaviours are accepted and lauded as normal in many societies and countries. In others there is religious persecution e.g. the Uighur Muslims in China. Some people and regimes see secularism as a threat and those with non-religious views as inferior. Secularism is often misinterpreted.

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New Stephen Fry video: How Can I Be Happy?

First in a series of four new animations for That’s humanism! campaign

Humanists UK has teamed up with its patron Stephen Fry to explore humanist ideas about some of life’s biggest questions. The new social media campaign is called That’s humanism!

Across the four animated videos, Stephen Fry explores how a humanist perspective grounded in rational thinking and kindness can be empowering, motivating, humbling, or even liberating.

As the videos come out, we’ll add them to our website. Here’s the first one called How Can I Be Happy?

Learn more about the campaign at https://humanists.uk/thatshumanism/