Vice President’s Report to the FEW AGM (by Zoom) September 2022

This has been another limited year, caused by the restrictions of an ongoing Covid Pandemic. Following the last AGM, myself and the Area Wardens have met with some confusion, particularly over the positions of the Officer without Portfolio (nomination) and of clarity concerning the ‘Working Group’. Political difficulties over its membership have prevented an in-depth examination of FEW procedures. Nevertheless, some outline preparations have been started and terms of reference can soon be anticipated.

The Area Wardens have been meeting regularly, over Zoom, and lively discussions have taken place. Our Court Meeting in March at Leicester was ‘live’. It was certainly a lively event with much discussion over a rather radical proposal by the Shrewsbury Freemen. Votes were received and the outcome I would suggest was status quo as we carry on as before.

During the year I have been involved in various ongoing matters concerning the clarity of our customs. These include the current law relating to illegitimacy and succession to freedom and the problems with communicating matters of freedom with staff at Town Halls. Most particularly this relates to Ipswich City Council where I found it necessary to speak with the mayor’s office regarding the recognition by council staff of general enquiries into the Freedom.

I am pleased to report and congratulate Mr Malcolm Batty of my Sudbury Gild for his hard work in having completed the arrangements to have (new) apprentices admitted to the freedom of the Borough. Also worthy of a compliment, is the excellent work by Coventry and London Freeman, Mr Steven Morson in his role as Honorary Editor of ‘The Freeman’ journal for the City of London Freemen. The standard is high quality and has never been better.

I have once again been honoured and privileged to be invited by the City of Gloucester Freemen to be in their ‘Gloucester Day’ parade and am grateful for their consideration.

The pandemic period, now hopefully passing, has limited the opportunities for some ‘lessons’ regarding the history, law, and development of freedom, I have therefore, recently introduced an outline plan by way of a memorandum to all Area Wardens and hope to take this further if acceptable to the recipients.

Alan Shelley VP.

PS The AGM was postponed until 1st October, owing to the sudden death of our beloved sovereign Queen Elizabeth II, who died 8th September at Balmoral. God bless the Queen and may she rest in peace. God Save our King, Charles III.

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