Dear Members and Friends'
On 29 March, my wife Jacqui and I were honoured to represent the Britain-Australia Society at the Service of Thanksgiving for HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, our patron from the inception of our society until his death last year. Her Majesty, the Queen, members of the Royal Family, the Prime Minister, leader of the Opposition, other senior politicians, Kings and Queens of many European countries, High Commissioners representing Commonwealth countries (including of course HE, the Hon. George Brandis QC) and many other dignitaries attended to pay respect and celebrate the life of Prince Philip. It was a moving but uplifting service.
As the turmoil and devastation in Ukraine continues, it is at least encouraging to see so many nations uniting to provide support to Ukraine and its people, including of course the UK, Australia and the other nations of the Commonwealth. President Zelensky has directly addressed both the UK and Australian Houses of Parliament and both have promised significant defence and humanitarian support.
The strong bonds which tie Britain and Australia and the broader Commonwealth community were clearly in evidence at the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on 14 March. And speaking of the Commonwealth, many of us enjoyed meeting new friends from Canada and New Zealand at our sell-out inaugural Commonwealth Mixer hosted by the Canadian High Commission in the beautiful Canada House on 16 March. We look forward to repeating this very successful event on an annual basis, rotating in the first instance across all those three High Commissions (and hopefully joining with other High Commissions in the future). Next year the event will be hosted by the Australian High Commissioner and will be a great opportunity to join again with our friends from the Canada-UK Foundation and the New Zealand Society UK in celebrating our shared interests.
As you know, March also saw our sell out event "A Night with Dame Nellie Melba" in the Exhibition Hall. All guests enjoyed hearing award winning biographer Robert Wainwright in conversation with acclaimed Dame Nellie Melba historian, Roger Neill. We launched Robert's fabulous book "Nellie: the Life and Loves of a Diva" and were delighted to be joined by representatives from the Tait Memorial Trust whose Chair, Isla Baring, gave us a fascinating account of her own family's involvement with Dame Nellie. The great great great grandson of Dame Nellie was also in our audience! Congratulations to our Members who won copies of Robert's exceptional biography of a true Australian icon. If you haven't already, I encourage you all to purchase a copy of the book which is now widely available at all good book stores.
Tickets for our fabulous black tie Gala Dinner in celebration of our 50th anniversary of the founding of the Britain-Australia Society sold out on launch. However we do have a waiting list and will do our very best to accommodate as many as we can. If you would like to join our waiting list, please get in touch with us here.
This month sees another very exciting offer for all B-AS Members - the chance to win tickets to the sold out members' day of the glorious Chelsea Flower Show on 24 May 2022! Entry details are below. To become a Member of the B-AS and to support the work we do, please click here.
You may recall that the Australia House Ensemble were due to perform their exceptional concert "Reconnection" in the Exhibition Hall in January. Showcasing some extraordinary musical talents, this concert was necessarily postponed due to the Covid pandemic and will now take place on Monday 23 May at 6.15pm. Please scroll down for booking details.
We are delighted that this year ANZAC Day will be marked with a series of live public events on 25 April. The Australian High Commission in conjunction with the NZ High Commission ran a ballot for tickets to The Cenotaph and Westminster Abbey Services. We sent the link out to you all last week and do hope many of you were able to obtain a ticket. All successful applicants should receive their tickets by mid April. Our B-AS Branches are also very active supporters of ANZAC Day and all are invited to book for their events. Our Cambridgeshire Branch will be supporting the Cambridge Royal Air Force Association ANZAC Remembrance Service at the Commonwealth War Graves, Newmarket Road, Cambridge on 23 April at 10.30am. Please contact Cambridgeshire Branch Secretary, Pauline Grounds, for details (firstname.lastname@example.org). On Sunday 24 April, our B-AS West Country branch will be holding its ANZAC Day lunch at The Infantry Officers' Mess at Warminster followed by a Service of Remembrance at the Church of St John the Evangelist, Sutton Veny (the location of one of the very first ANZAC Day services ever conducted). If you would like to attend this very popular lunch and service, please get in touch with West Country Branch Chairperson, Keith Newton (email@example.com), for booking details.
We are excited to announce that our friends from the Australian Studies Institute will be in London shortly to deliver the next in our very popular series entitled the "First Eight Lectures". Focusing on Australia's early Prime Ministers, this year we shall learn about Sir Edmund Barton, Australia's very first Prime Minister. Please save the date of 12 May, 6.30-8.30pm. A separate invitation flyer will be sent soon so please keep an eye on your inboxes. This hugely interesting and very popular lecture and reception event has always been a sell-out in pre-Covid years and I encourage you to book early to ensure you don't miss this one.
Finally, as summer is just around the corner, please save the date for our annual summer party at the High Commissioner's residence, Stoke Lodge, on 15 June. Details for this fabulous event will be released shortly!
Damian J. Walsh