A Year in Review

On Thursday, we held our Annual General Meeting and Celebration Evening and launched our brand-new programme for 2017-18, which is now available here and for more details about the individual lectures read here! We hope there is something to interest everyone and we look forward to welcoming another set of first class speakers to Lytham St Annes. Over the summer, we will be profiling each of our lecturers on twitter and writing a blog in anticipation of the new season, but first our Chair would like to share some of her highlights from what has been our third, our biggest and our busiest year!

“We have once again enjoyed a great programme of lectures that have taken us from the foot of Mount Cithareon to the fields of Germany, from the underground caverns of Naples to the towers of Northumberland and the deserts plains of Asia. Our talks have led us on a geographical odyssey around the ancient world, and we have certainly followed our President’s advice to take a globalised view of history this year. 

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David Raeburn performing Sophocles

I was thrilled to welcome David Raeburn to Lytham back in September, a living legend in the world of classics and the theatre, and I was so happy to see people enjoying his recitations of Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus as much as I do – he brings the characters and the flavour of the language remarkably to life! After David, came Ben Kane, who shocked and delighted us all by arriving at the Clifton Arms Hotel in full legionary gear; fast forward two months, and I was again in the foyer of the hotel this time with Michael Scott, his wife and baby daughter enjoying afternoon tea in a perfect prelude to his third presidential lecture.

It was great to get another sneak peak behind the scenes of his latest documentaries on Invisible Cities and then to share a celebratory meal with over eighty members at EGO restaurant, allowing our classics community to grow and flourish, and I look forward to more social events over the coming year.

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Our President Michael Scott with volunteer Ninette Levy

Excitement reached fever pitch in February when Michael Wood came to Lytham and our audience levels hit a new record – 301 –  a testament to his universal appeal as a writer and broadcaster. We were treated to an excellent exploration of Alexander the Great’s journey to the East, accompanied by a plethora of photos and personal anecdotes. Perhaps my favourite lecture for its content was Gail Trimble’s incisive and illuminating analysis of Virgil’s Aeneid (read our blog Arma Virumque Cano for a summary), but it is closely followed by Natalie Haynes’ infectious enthusiasm and humour which was infused into her talk Honour Amongst Thebes

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Natalie Haynes was great fun!

I have loved writing blogs for our readers about our meetings and events; but it has been even more rewarding to receive reports from our student ambassadors and members about their interaction with the ancient world. You can read member Bob Clough’s report on the recent trip to Vindolanda in response to the excellent lecture delivered by Dr Andrew Birley in November. Alex Melling has kept us updated about his Oxbridge journey (hint: Oxford’s cake is nicer than Cambridge’s), whilst Liv Sample gave us her excellent reviews of the Heffers Classics Forum and the recent production of the Suppliant Women at the Royal Exchange Theatre. I’m really proud of the work we do for young people and that they do for us: I particularly enjoyed launching and judging the Junior Classics Competition this March and it was great to see the enthusiasm of so many youngsters as they learnt about the ancient world.

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The finalists of the Junior Classics Competition

The Senior Classics Competition also showcased some great, young talent with excellent presentations from William Edwards (AKS), Charlotte Bennett (King George V College), Isaac Hill (Kirkham Grammar), Ethan Lees (B6FC) and the winner Harvey Phythian (Runshaw College). Meanwhile, we look forward to hearing from our six bursary winners  (Ross Kinnaird, Sam Southern, Ethan Lees, Carter Davies, Alex Melling and Sal Kenny) who will be attending the Repton Classical Civilisation and Ancient History Summer School next week.

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The Secretary presents Francesca Grilli, Head of Classics at Runshaw College, with the Classics Competition trophy won by Harvey Phythian

Our increased Outreach work this year has raised our profile amongst young people and schools and we launched our Classics Ambassadors initiative. We are proud to have Leon, Alex, Sam, Liv and Harvey represent the association in their respective schools and their enthusiasm and great attitude helping out at our meetings and giving the vote of thanks has been acknowledged and admired by our visiting lecturers. They are a credit to their schools and their families.

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Excellent food from AKS Catering being handed round by Leon at the Celebration Evening – his final duty as an ambassador

Thanks as ever to our faithful band of volunteers (a few of whom are pictured below) without whose invaluable support the branch would not be able to run, and to the 378 members as well as hundreds of visitors and guests who have ensured that we remain the largest branch of the Classical Association in the UK.

I do hope you continue to enjoy everything that our branch has to offer and stay with us for what promises to be a great fourth year – see you soon! 

© Katrina Kelly