In the first of her two speeches, following the handover from Gavin, Amelia said:
“It’s an absolute honour and privilege to be the new Chair of Birmingham Civic Society, and part of an emerging group of younger civic society chairs across England. I’m delighted to be taking the reins after such a successful centenary year, as we look forward to the next 100 years and beyond.
“I look forward to working alongside trustees and welcoming our new trustees on board. It goes without saying that none of the work that we do would be possible without you and our dedicated committee members.
“I’ll speak later about what the future holds for the Society but first would like to reflect on the past three years, which have been defining for us as a society. Not only have we turned 100, but we’ve had the honour of having Gavin as our Chairman. On behalf of current and previous trustees, members, guests and the people of Birmingham, thank you for your incredible leadership, care and dedication that you have shown. Not only have you worked tirelessly on the committee work of the Society, you have been constantly working behind the scenes, developing our strategy amongst 1million other initiatives with absolute grace, asking for no thanks or credit. Whilst doing this you have been a friend to everyone, supporting trustees above and beyond the call of duty, and allowing each of us to be part of something very special. It’s also important to note that whilst running the Society, there’s also been the matter of having a full time hectic job, chairing our planning committee, getting engaged, planning a wedding and a move to Wales. You have been completely unflappable. In any situation your swan like ability is inspirational. We’re delighted that you’re staying with us for another year as a trustee, as I’m sure we would very much miss your colour coded plans, endless spreadsheets and million and one ideas about what we can do next. Gavin your legacy as Chairman of Birmingham Civic Society is clear, we have grown and developed and I am delighted to have the opportunity to carry on your work. But thanks for the massive shoes I now have to fill!”
Following a presentation to Gavin and refreshments, we moved to a celebration of our centenary year with Mrs History and Suzanne Carter, and a look at plans for the year ahead from our committee chairs. After thanking everyone for their contributions, Amelia outlined her plans for the future:
“I am continually impressed and surprised at the amount of work our committees take on, and execute with brilliance. I am constantly learning from each and every committee and I look forward to working with you all over the next few years.
“Our committees are all made up of volunteers, without whom we would not be able to do what we do, and they are led and guided by our trustees. To you all, thank you for the work that you put in.
“A thank you must also go out to our members. Your membership is a clear sign to everyone that you care about this city and the work that we undertake. We thank you for enabling this society to continue making Birmingham a better place for everyone, into the next 100 years.
“So what does the future hold for us? After a busy (!) year, we must now continue to build on this work and engage further with the citizens of Birmingham. You’ve heard this evening the areas that we cover, working with young people via the NGAs and BTfL, communities through our citizenship committee, honouring people and places through our heritage committee (so much more than blue plaques!) working with the arts via public art, and the built environment through planning. Working with our plus strategy, which is now three years into our five year plan, we will be collaborating with organisations across the city to further strengthen our presence and deliver the important message of what we aim to achieve. If there’s something I’ve learnt about Birmingham during my time here, it’s that when we collaborate we do it well, and we’re excited to work with our members and partners moving forward.
“One such collaboration this year saw Birmingham playing host to the Civic Voice conference. People from all over the country came to us, and what a few days in Brum we gave them. Along with an incredible line up of speakers organised by the Civic Voice team, we hosted Curry in the Cathedral, serving our beloved Civic Pride, ran tours – bussing, walking and canoeing- and really showed off our city. The feedback that we received on the day was ‘how could other societies be more like us?’. A testament to the hard work of our volunteers and particularly Gavin and our centenary team. But we’re not going to be resting on our laurels. We will continue to push and innovate, talking to audiences who don’t know us, reminding those who do what we’re all about, and spreading the word that if you have pride in your city, and want to contribute to making it a better place for everyone, then we are the platform to work with.
“So I’ve been told that I should say a bit about myself for those of you who don’t know me, who is your new Chair? I’m proud to be an adopted Brummie, originally from Lincolnshire I arrived in Birmingham in 2010 to attend the University of Birmingham. A little daunting to start with and a big change – I knew early on that Birmingham would be where I call home.
“Reading German and Politics I spent my time at University discovering the charms of Birmingham in what felt like a pivotal time for the city. The face of Brum had completely changed by the time I came to graduate in 2014, and it is still amazing to see the continuous transformation.
“Early in my career I was lucky enough to have mentors who encouraged me to get involved with the city, and this was how I first engaged with the Society.
“My entry point was the Next Generation Awards in 2016. This matched my personal agenda – giving back and supporting young people and their aspirations. I was soon drawn in to all the other work of the Society and haven’t looked back. I have had the pleasure of restarting the events committee working on our People, Places, Pride series of events, and sitting as a Citizenship Committee member supporting the Next Generation Awards.
“Tonight I’m honoured to become Chairman, building on the strong foundations set by Gavin and Past Chair Christine. Without you both I think it’s safe to say the Society would not look the same today.
“Thank you to everyone tonight, to our longstanding trustees, and new trustees, I look forward to working with you. To our members and guests, thank you for your support. As we go into the next era for the Society I look forward to working with you all. I look forward to seeing you at our upcoming events, and at our Centenary Celebration next Spring where we will evaluate and celebrate further The City Beautiful.
“One final thank you, goes to someone who many of you may know, but you may not be aware of the amazing work he undertakes behind the scenes for our Blue Plaque programme. Many of you will recognise him mostly when on top of a ladder with a Blue Plaque in hand, but from start to finish John Gale is an integral part of the heritage cog. From scouting out venues to working directly with our manufacturers in Buxton, John has gone above and beyond for the Society, particularly in this centenary year and we would like to thank him and Roxy (his wife) for all their support and involvement. As a token of our appreciation – we will be delivering a case of Civic Pride to John in due course!”