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July 2024 Newsletter

Dear Members and Friends,

After a mixed start to the summer weather-wise, we were pleased that so many of you were able to join us at our ever-popular Summer Party in the beautiful gardens of the Royal Over-Seas League. The sun shone (a bit) and the party was once again a big success. Thank you as always to ROSL Director-General, Annette Prandzioch, and her team for helping us stage this event. We have some lovely photos from the evening which can be seen here.

Our next big event is the President's Reception with Lord Hague of Richmond on 17 September, 6-8pm in Australia House. An enormous amount has happened since we last heard from Lord Hague and by the time September comes around, a lot more will have happened. Lord Hague’s insight into global affairs relevant to Australia and UK is second to none. I rate him as one of the world’s great speakers and we are very lucky for the opportunity to hear from him and to meet and speak personally with him in the surrounds of Australia House. We launched this event only a few days ago and, once again, it has nearly sold out. Please scroll down if you would like a ticket and please act quickly to avoid disappointment.

As always, Members get preferential rates to this and indeed all our events. If you would like to become a Member of the B-AS please click here.

And of course a key event has been the UK General Election last week. We now have a new government and I have written on behalf of the Britain-Australia Society to our new Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Sir Keir Starmer, and our new Foreign Minister, the Rt Hon David Lammy, congratulating them on their appointments. We were also pleased to see that Catherine West MP who is a great friend to the B-AS and was a panel member at our International Women's Day event this year returns as an MP with a convincing majority. I have also written to Catherine.

Last week, Louise and I hosted our respective tables at the 10th Anniversary dinner for the Britain-Australia Society Education Trust (BASET) at Grocers’ Hall in the City. BASET is a wonderful charity set up by Sir Christopher Benson and has a brilliant programme sponsoring talented young Brits to study in Australia and talented young to Australians study in the UK. There is link on our website for further information. Like all purposeful charities they survive on donations and if you would like to contribute or hear more about the work of the BASET team, let us know and we will put you directly in touch.

On 13 July, I’ll be heading north to Donington, a little village in Lincolnshire, for the re-burial service of Matthew Flinders, one of the greatest ever navigators and explorers who is credited with giving Australia its name. He also circumnavigated and proved that Tasmania was an island. We all know from our school days that Flinders and his cat, Trim, and Kuringgai man Bungaree circumnavigated Australia but Flinders' exploits were hugely extensive and colourful. Flinders’ body was found near Euston Station during the excavations for HS2 and, after a long campaign led by Donington resident Jane Pearson, his body is to be reinterred in the village in which he was born in 1774. The local church is small but will host 400 guests, including many from Australia. I’m looking forward to it and will report back.

We are also pleased to announce that our very popular First Eight Lecture Series will be back on 9 October 6-8pm in the Downer Room of Australia House. Kindly sponsored by the Australian Studies Institute of ANU, this very important series focusses on the life and times of Australia's early prime ministers. This year Professor David Headon will be joined in a panel discussion exploring the life of Joseph Cook - Australia's sixth prime minister and, like a number of his predecessors, also a High Commissioner to the UK. This is a new and exciting format for this year’s event as we look critically at the contribution these people made in shaping modern Australia.  Booking details will be released after the summer.

Last month our CEO, Louise Mulley, was privileged to attend a behind the scenes look at the musical FANGIRLS written by up and coming Australian talent, Yve Blake. The UK premiere runs from 13 July to 24 August at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith. If you are looking for something fun to do over the summer, especially those of you with teens to entertain, I recommend you book tickets to this exciting production - click here. Jacqui and I were also invited to attend the opening of an exhibition of the work of highly regarded Australian artist Peter Godwin at Messums Gallery whose exhibition is running this summer. Please see here for more details. Finally, the Household Division's Musical Military Spectacular runs from 16-18 July and all B-AS supporters have been offered a discount code to buy tickets.

Have a lovely summer!

Best wishes

Damian Walsh


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