Charity Activities 2013
Wells Evening Society, a registered charity, is a group of people who meet up for lectures in the Town Hall throughout the winter and spring months. The Society has again decided that, with its finances still in a sound position, that it is able, as laid out in its constitution, to continue to provide financial support to some other groups in the wider community. Therefore charitable projects for 2013 are already being planned and booked.
The very succesful party for forty or so members of the Candlelight Community in St. Thomas Church Hall in Wells in May 2012 is to be repeated in May 2013 and the hall has already been booked for May 7th.
Again the Wells Evening Society will sponsor a talk to VI formers at the Blue School and in 2013 this will take place in February and will involve a lecture on the Guernica painting by Picasso presented by Professor Anthony Slinn
Please click on the following links for details of what will be provided next year.
Charitable support for other local groups will continue to be part of the Wells Evening Society's activites and details will be provided on future projects as they develop
Blue School Lecture
Charity Activities 2012
Wells Evening Society, a registered charity, is a group of people who meet up for lectures in the Town Hall throughout the winter and spring months. This year the Society has decided that, with its finances in a sound position, it is able, as laid out in its constitution, to provide financial support to some other groups in the wider community. So far it has been able to support a series of sessions of musical therapy for children with special needs, hosted a party in St. Thomas Church Hall in Wells for forty or so members of the Candlelight Community, is investigating support for Wells Museum and this autumn is to sponsor a talk to VI formers at the Blue School by the well known journalist and broadcaster Matthew Paris.
Please click on the following links for details of what has already been provided this year and is planned for the rest of the year.
Charitable support for other local groups will continue to be part of the Wells Evening Society's activites and details will be provided on future projects as they develop.
Blue School Lecture
Stella Moore introduces us to Music
A group of us are sitting in Wells Museum. We know that
we are about to be told about the work of a music therapist. We understand
that Stella works with very young children who have (sometimes multiple) physical
and emotional problems and who often also have learning difficulties.
Wells Evening Society has promised some funding to keep this therapy going for a
term and we want to learn how music can help.
On a table is an extraordinary array of Instruments. We see a triangle and
striker, a pair of castanets, tambourine, drum, a simple harp. We recognise
these...they are the stuff of our kindergarten play. But there are a whole
lot more strange objects; walnut shells on a string, a carved gourd with a
stick to scrape the surface, boards that are shaken and rattled and struck, wire
and wood shapes which you can pluck sharply or waft with a gentle hand.
There is a rain stick with a noise like pebbles on a beach sucked by the tide...a
kazoo which when blown sounds like words but with no language known to man....rattles
and drums and sticks and pipes.
We all choose an instrument. Stella tells us that silence can be as valuable
as sound. We are silent but we also make noises, first alone and then together
in a cacophony of escalating sounds. Stella plays a flute and the noises we
make become music which works as a whole as the beat rises and falls and tails away.
Nothing is right or wrong. Twelve grown people feel excited and liberated.
It is fun!
Stella talks about an unsure child. This can be a child who has, for whatever
reason, not learned to communicate. He feels unsafe with strangers and lashes
out or shrinks in on himself. Or it might be a child who lacks all muscle
tone and has no strength or coordination so feels frustrated and unable to cope.
He may at first refuse to play with these new toys, but then - using a spoon with
a bowl, a rattle or a drum - he finds that he can after all make a sound.
He is in control. And the therapist is there with him, always reassuring with her
often silent presence. A beaten rhythm can calm anxieties: through both sounds
and silences feelings are expressed. A child who has had no voice or confidence
or physical abilities feels reassured and in control and, even without talking.
He can learn to trust the therapist and even, eventually, to communicate.
It is fascinating to hear how these children can be given a second chance to trust
and can learn to cope with both physical and emotional problems through this play
with sounds. With no achievement required and no challenges except to experiment
with noises an unhappy child can overcome his frustration and can learn to be calm
and even independent.
The sad part of the story is that funding for these creative and fulfilling activities
is very hard to find. The County ha s for all sorts of political reasons withdrawn
direct help and there is always the danger that these therapy sessions will have
to stop. We all played our instruments for one glorious last time: banging
and plucking and rippling and shaking, a rhythm once more emerged from our unstructured
sounds. We went away with music singing in our ears, much wiser and very happy
that Wells Evening Society has been able in a small way to help to further Stella’s
Philippa asked Sterlla to check the abpve piece
through for inaccuracies and then Stella wrote the following notes
Giving vulnerable children a voice through music
Enough instruments for 25 on table in centre of circle of chairs
Allow people to get up and explore instruments and then to take one back to their
Intro: today is about giving you some insight into how music can be
used to support and help children who have physical, emotional or developmental
difficulties. Experiencing some aspects yourself heightens understanding – better
than just talking! No pressure to join in, nothing is right or wrong. Children
are so easily motivated by music – we just develop hang-ups about expectations as
we get older…..find your inner child and don’t worry – just enjoy listening to the
Explore! Introduce yourself with your instrument….say
your name and play a little if you would like to – there is no compulsion! Note
the variety in the way people play…..confidently, tentatively, cheerfully etc.
Put sounds together –people joining in as they choose (or not). Remind them
they can use their voices if they choose too. Begin with free rhythm, introduce
steady beat part way through.
Talk about how it felt ….Scary? freeing? Heightened awareness of yourself and others?
did the steady beat make a difference? Motivating? Safer? Ok? Fun? Relaxing?
Playing together you find yourself beginning to relate to others….listening
to them, enjoying ‘dialogue’, ‘saying your bit!’
Try a conversation with 1 or 2 others….no words! Listen hard, there will be a lot
of conversations happening at once.
Did you get a feeling of the other people? Did they listen? In a verbal conversation,
some people are very good at attending to others, but if you feel someone is not
really listening, it puts you down. Sometimes, we really need to express ourselves
and just by doing that, worries and anxieties seem to diminish. We share with others
who are listening.
CANDLELIGHT TEA PARTY MAY 1ST
Candlelight, the Homecare Service based in Glastonbury, has started a charitable arm called Candlelight Community. This offers outings for people who are enabled by visiting carers to remain living at home but often cannot get out to socialise or to have fun with friends and neighbours.
On Tuesday May 1st Wells Evening Society organised and hosted a party in St. Thomas Church Hall in Wells for forty or so members of this Candlelight Community. Terry Merret Smith, well known for his reminiscences about times gone by, was invited to come and to give his talk “from Ration Books to Rock and Roll.” Terry has a marvellous collection of images....ration books and land girls, Bristol centre before the inner harbour was filled in, the funeral of King George VI and of course the Coronation in 1952. Nostalgic tunes were played and members of the audience were encouraged to contribute their own memories. Committee members provided tea with cakes and sandwiches and afterwards Terry got everyone singing along to tunes remembered from years ago. Words were shown on the screen to help and it was good to hear “Somewhere over the Rainbow” echoing around the Church Hall as forty members of Candlelight Community and their carers, the committee and their friends, all joined in with happy gusto.
Chairman of Candlelight Tim ******* thanked the Wells Evening Society for organising the successful and much appreciated afternoon.
Details of Wells Evening Society's co-operation with the Wells Museum will be added as soon as the details are sorted out.
BLUE SCHOOL LECTURE by MATTHEW PARIS
Matthew Parris, the well known writer and broadcaster, gave a lecture in Wells Cathedral, organised by The Wells Literature Festival, on the evening of the 17th October. The Wells Evening Society then met Matthew Parris on the morning of the 18th November and after a tour of Wells Cathedral, followed by lunch accompanied him to the Wells Blue School where he gave a lecture to around 200 members of the VI form. The best way of reporting on this talk is to provide the article that Matthew Parris wrote for the Spectator magazine, which is produced below.
Why a visit to a school persuaded me that young people aged 16 to 18 should have the vote
Spectator Magazine 3 November 2012 Matthew Parris
Let me guess most readers’ reaction to news that Alex Salmond has arm-twisted Westminster into allowing 16- to 18-year-olds in Scotland to vote in the 2014 Scottish referendum on independence. I bet the reaction resembled mine. Annoyance. The very thought! As to the assurance that this concession will be temporary, and pressure will not build to make the change permanent, I’d reply (with many of you): ‘Nonsense!’ So, being on my way to speak at a well-regarded state secondary school in Wells, the Blue School, and hearing the news about Scotland, I decided to test the water. I was there to speak to 16- to 18-year-olds: some 200 of them. I could explore not just their opinions, but their reasoning.
I arrived in Wells not without prejudices of my own: first (as I say) a visceral bias against lowering the voting age. Second, an assumption that the boys and girls would be substantially in favour of the move. Third, a suspicion that such young and naive citizens might struggle to express many cogent arguments at all, one way or the other.
I was wrong on all three counts. They were against the idea. And they debated this among themselves with such cogency that I concluded that these young men and women ought to have the vote, whether or not they wanted it. Let me give you a short summary of our debate.
I began by explaining the Scottish proposal, then asking for a show of hands: who was in favour of 16- to 18-year-olds getting the vote? And who was against? The voting was substantially against: about 70/30, I reckon. At the end of our discussion (during which I never expressed an opinion of my own) I conducted a second vote, on a slightly different question: who among them — assuming they did get the vote before 18 — would actually want to use it?
The vote was substantially in favour! This time about 60/40.
One can only guess how these two results might be reconciled. Some may have felt that even if they didn’t want the right to vote, they’d use it if they had it. Fair enough: I use my totally undeserved Freedom Pass. But I did sense that many had simply changed their minds. Why? I think it was the experience of hearing each other venturing intelligent and fair-minded opinions on the subject, and realising that such views were as good as anyone else’s.
Among the opinions against, one young man felt that few teenagers in his position supported themselves and most depended on their parents. Wouldn’t such adolescents be unduly influenced by their parents’ opinions? I thought to myself (but did not say) that a comparable argument was once advanced against the idea of women voting.
Another wondered whether it might be possible to distinguish between adolescents who knew something of, and already had some stake in, society, and those who did not. I thought (but did not say) that restricting the franchise to property owners was once defended on a similar basis.
Others felt that if they could marry at 16 and be sent abroad to fight at 18, they should be entitled to vote. But many more subtle arguments than these were expressed. ‘Maybe politicians would listen to us more, and ask for our views, if they knew we had a vote,’ said one girl. ‘Lots of things that affect us, or will affect us, are decided by the MPs our parents elect,’ said someone else. ‘Tuition fees, for instance. Shouldn’t we be involved in voting for or against these policies?’
‘Me and my circle of friends,’ argued another young woman, ‘do know enough, and take enough interest, to have a say. But I suppose lots of teenagers don’t.’
‘Yes,’ I thought (but did not say). ‘I often feel the same about my own sixty-something age-cohort.’
More than one of my audience expressed the view that the political ignorance of many young people was not necessarily an argument for depriving them of political power: giving them the vote would cause many to take more interest in politics. ‘After all,’ said one, ‘we’re students. We have the time and the facilities to learn about current affairs — perhaps more than people who have to go out to work for a living all day.’
I listened with increasing respect to these students. At first not many volunteered to speak, but by the end there were plenty, stimulated by each other’s points of view. By their debate they persuaded me — and maybe persuaded themselves — of their fitness to take part. Their contributions were as informed as those of an equivalent group of citizens ten or 20 years older.
And (curiously) more public-spirited. I thought of all the nursing homes I’ve canvassed as a Conservative candidate and the countless occasions on which I’d been confronted by a grumpy old face, and the question — always the same question — ‘What are you going to do for me, then?’
Even on tuition fees, not one of the young people at the Blue School framed their opinions around his or her own material advantage, and how it might be served by politics. Nobody is totally without self-interest but it was striking that few were starting from self-interest; they were discussing what would be best for all. So, to me, the very argument most often advanced against letting younger students vote — that they have no stake — was becoming an argument in favour: they were dispassionate, disinterested (in the old-fashioned sense); they took an altruistic view. On the threshold of a world into which they had yet to plunge, before becoming distracted by the struggle for personal survival, they were asking what kind of a world they’d like that to be.
I left the Blue School relaxed about the idea of lowering the voting age. It would be good to hear today’s politicians talking with and to such an audience. It might bring a little maturity into our politics.
This will be held at the St Thomas church hall on 7th May 2013
BLUE SCHOOL LECTURES 2013-14
The WES are organising two lectures for 6th form students of the Blue School in the 2013-14 season.
The first will be by Louise Schofield in October 2013, at the same time as her lecture to the WES and the second in February 2014 by Anthony Slinn to coincide with his WES lecture.
Details of these lectures will be reported once they are completed.