C & W Humanists Special Newsletter May 2021
Remembering George Broadhead
It was bitterly sad to hear that George Broadhead had passed away. He chaired the first local humanists meeting that I attended in 2011 and he did so with great flair and panache, with George nothing was monochrome.
I think that George would haved loved to hear how he’s remembered. Let me start a list for you to continue: unique, flamboyant, extrovert, charismatic, knowledgeable, formidable, colourful, whimsical …………….
He was a campaigner; George fought long and hard, on behalf of humanism and for Gay Rights etc. His weapons included a dogged sense of purpose, a quick mind and a sharp wit.
Today, all those who knew George will remember an independent thinker, a one-off. Our thoughts are with George’s partner Roy.
Memories shared by Dr Brian Nicol.
I have known George since the day the local group was formed in 1974- so for 47 years. Believe it or not at the inaugural meeting of the group at their house in Spring Lane which was advertised and run by Roy, George was very much the diffident one in the background seeming to confine himself to offering tea and biscuits. Over the years of course he has blossomed and shown himself to have a very distinct personality. His two main interests which seemed to take up most of his spare time were Humanism and organising Gay activities on the national stage.
In the late ’70s he discovered a local demand for non-religious rites of passage, particularly funeral services. Neither he nor Roy were keen so he asked me if I would be willing to try my hand. Such ceremonies were then in their infancy but the BHA had published a guide for would- be officiants that was very useful. I was a bit nervous about the whole thing but George was very encouraging and went with me to the various crematoria to make sure that I got there in good order and of course to say how well it went !
When we first knew them George and Roy owned a cabin cruiser and travelled extensively along the canals. When they had to give that up George organised what they referred to as ‘our little jaunts’ for himself and Roy. This involved going by train to an attractive town conveniently within reach and putting up for a couple of nights at a hotel of sufficiently high standard. Winchester, Ludlow and places in the Cotswolds were often chosen. George was quite keen on having a social life. He was a supporter of any get-togethers that the group organised as well as the coffee and biscuits after meetings. When we started having speakers from a distance he arranged for them to be met and he and I took them out for a meal before the meeting .He rather thought of himself as being a man of taste and my wife and I were sometimes invited on a warm summer evening to join Roy and himself for a glass of bubbly on their small patio to admire the latest statuary or water feature that he had installed. He similarly decorated the house. One of the latest acquisitions was an antique chiming clock that he had seen advertised on e-bay.
Latterly, both retired from the group we met up sometimes for coffee. He was a keen customer of Arden’s and usually pushed his trolley round the town centre in a very ‘camp’ attire. Since Covid we spoke often on the phone comparing ailments of ourselves and spouses. Apart from gossiping we also suggested topics for our monthly columns on Humanism in the Courier and read each others draft efforts for accuracy and intelligibility.
I shall miss him a lot.
A younger George, picture taken at Brian Nicol’s 60th Birthday Party, about 30 years ago.
Memories of George shared by Glyn and Heather Evans ‘Egghens’
It was long ago, in 1986, that we joined C&W Humanists after visiting their annual stall, that year placed beside our own vegetarian stall, at Leamington Peace Festival. Passers-by were invited to debate with members the subject of God so it was often lively.
In those days monthly group meetings were held at the Quaker Meeting House, Coventry. When later we transferred to Kenilworth’s Waverley Day Centre Roy was regularly in sole charge of refreshments for the group, while George finished chairing the meetings. When Egghens took over as official tea makers it freed Roy to get on with his proper secretarial duties.
Occasionally we gave George and Roy a lift, perhaps to a pub lunch before a country ramble organised by the group, and we did get to know George better. He enjoyed the group’s Bring and Share Suppers in various members’ homes. Always fussy about food, understandably he welcomed the chance to see in front of him exactly what was on offer before committing himself to eating it.
During Lockdown we’ve missed coming across him when shopping, usually at Waitrose. There we would exchange news and ask after the health of Roy, by then unable to attend group meetings.
George’s frequent well-reasoned articles in the Kenilworth Weekly News and lately the Courier will now be a loss to both the readership and the cause for Humanism.
Roy and George on the day of their Civil Partnership Ceremony.
Memories shared by John Gainer
I was sorry to learn about George’s death. It was George who recruited me in 2006 through a letter in the Coventry Telegraph.I send my deepest condolences to Roy and to George’s wider family. George was one of those people who, once you have met them, you will never forget. He was quite a character.
Best wishes to all,
Memories shared by Andrew Ireland
My sympathy goes to Roy, George’s civil partner.
George was “the Humanists” for most of us, some years ago and was a one-off.
He joined us at many of our dinners, lunches, socials and up to a few years ago our walks.
AGMs and the monthly meetings were always amusing – perhaps for the wrong reasons sometimes – but George will be missed for his unique style, humour and warmth.
Finally these words, from Jane Sault, who could be speaking for several recruits to humanism.
I owe my humanism to George. I was in my thirties when I read one of his letters in the Courier and decided that his life views echoed mine. I made contact and was immediately welcomed to the monthly Thursday meetings at the Waverley centre. George and Roy worked very hard to keep the group going, with George still flying the flag for Humanism in the local paper until quite recently (alongside Brian Nicol).
I’m very grateful to George for his determination to put Humanism on the local map and to Roy for facilitating George’s time as Chair by being such an efficient secretary to him.
Gatherings of Coventry and Warwickshire Humanists including George.