Report and Message from the Vice President to F.E.W. AGM, Lincoln, 2023
There is little for me to report on recent activities of the Executive which has been very quiet. FEW has had several setbacks following the Covid epidemic and is suffering a slow recovery of our activities. To this end a Working Group is busy looking at policies and practices to advance the prospective future of the Association.
You may be aware that I am in poor health and have chosen at this age of 83 to retire from the Executive. It is not without some deep sorrow, after so many years, that I have arrived at this decision. However, I shall be available to the Working Group and as my Gild’s rep., to provide any assistance that may be required.
This Association is representative of a tradition of which we can all be inspired. I have proudly enjoyed the company and camaraderie of fellow freemen far and wide. My major concerns are, and always will be, with the retention of historic values and the continuity of our freedom.
The Future of FEW must, first and foremostly, be for good-will and the protection of our heritage as ‘Freemen’. There has sometimes been an element of confusion over what this may mean. Those that know me well are aware of my passion for the recognition of customary rights and it is to this end that it is essential we support the ‘traditions’ of borough freedom.
There may be an element within external society that do not see the positive values of our traditions. Inheritance or heritage may be seen by some to be an ‘advantage’ over others. With changing attitudes and modern politics, we should avoid any such impressions. Undoubtedly, we must consider the views of younger members if the FEW Association is to survive.
Internally, we should all be aware of the image we may portray. This requires that we avoid any suggestion of supremacy or of importance where none can exist. More importantly is the retention of an inheritance that can possibly have influence for the good of society. This may be in the continuity of our good relations with local townships, the general public and with their civic activities.
Though there may be ‘lustre’ in the wearing of bright gowns and chains of office, these should be earned by the entitlement of ability, through knowledge and capability. Borough freedom is a fascinating subject of history, law, custom and practice. Fifty years ago it was difficult to obtain material for study and educational purposes, but this is not the case today.
It has always been clear to me that better communications are at the crux of a wider and improved understanding of Freedom in England and Wales. There appears to be a marked interest in present-day pageantry but little understanding of history and particularly of the 19th century background to Reformation. Our Association is dependent upon the dedication of those who may wish to advance and enrich their understanding.
It will be by education and charitable values that FEW can extend its future as a truly beneficial institution. There is also a clear requirement to better our promotional methods in order to gain the interests of younger generations to become involved and to be proud of their national legacy. I sincerely hope they may become as appreciative as I am of my own English family lineage.
Finally, as this may well be my ‘swan song’, I send you all my best wishes for a very happy and constructive future.
Alan Shelley BA (Hons) DLA FRSA , Freeman of Sudbury,
Freeman, Guildsman and Liveryman of the City of London,
DP/VP of FEW (Retired).