C & W Humanists Newsletter February2021



Spring is on its way




February is a busy month for humanists in Coventry and Warwickshire.


West Midlands Humanists zoom sessions have been organised over the past 3 Tuesday evening,  last Tuesday the session was called Humanism in Action

Five humanists spoke about:

Being a SACRE rep, being a School Speaker, being involved in Dialogue with different world views and faiths, being a Hospital Chaplain and being a Celebrant.

One Janes Sault is a member of Warwickshire SACRE (Standing Advisory Committee on Religious Education), that’s the body that draws up the RE syllabus for Warwickshire schools.

Janes tries to ensure that world views are considered alongside religious views.  She is trying to get full voting rights, it’s taking some time but Warwickshire’s (fairly new) RE Facilitator is supporting changes to the constitution of the SACRE to emancipate Jane.

Getting a mention of Humanism into the curriculum is, enabling pupils to hear about different world views and religions, that’s the aim.

There is an urgent need for Humanists to be on their local SACRE.  At present, for example, Coventry SACRE does not have a Humanist member.  Might you be interested?  Jane will tell you more.

Two Brian Gordema Braid is a recently trained School Speaker, he spoke about applying for training and then the training itself, which was disrupted by COVID and had to be no-line.  Suitability is carefully assessed bu Hum UK before applicants are accepted onto the course.

What should children be taught about Humanism? Core knowledge.

How teaching sessions should be interactive.

What resources are available?

Brian worked alongside Jane Sault, an experienced school speaker,  on actual visits to two schools but after that COVID closed schools. Virtual visits to schools can be organised. He thought the training course was excellent and there is a wealth of resources available from Hum UK.

If you are interested in becoming a school speaker, Brian will tell you more.

Three Simon Nightingale works with people who have different world views and religious belief, building an understanding of their thinking and explaining Humanism to them.

Where do we get our moral values?  What are the differences? What’s the common ground?

Humanists UK provides a free, one day course on Dialogue.

Details are on Humanists UK website, or email C & W Humanists and wwe will tell you more.

Four We heard from a local humanist who works as a Hospital Chaplain.  He told us of the complicated application route.  He is now settling into the role and is attached to a particular hospital ward.

He was asked by the relative of a patient (not the patient he’d actually been asked to see) to talk to an elderly lady, nearing the end of her life.  She’d had a religious upbringing and was terrified that she’d go to hell.  The Humanistchaplain asked what she knew about existence before her birth.  The patient had no memory of prelife, the chaplain said that afterlife would be the same. 

Later the relative thanked the chaplain and said that her mother was at ease.

For this immensely important and delicate role, complicated application procedures are followed and training is comprehensive.

Humanists UK provides free Chaplaincy training to members.

Five Mark Taylor spoke about his role as a Celebrant taking Funerals.  People had urged him to take on the role, sure that he had the right skills etc.  He was shocked by the high cost of Hum training but (once again) thought that the training was comprehensive and excellent.

Mark spoke about the amazing feeling, that comes from working with a family, guiding them as they are grieving, through to plan the ceremony.

“I love doing it!” he said.

Lots of people have asked Mark about becoming a celebrant, he points them towards the Humanists UK website and some take it further.

Are you interested in finding out more about these or other roles?

If you are, there is someone locally (perhaps) or in Humanists UK (definitely) to whom you can chat and find out more.

Please let us know if you would like to talk.

Many thanks to Jane and Brian for contributing to The West Midlands Humanists in Action month.  


The 4th and last session takes place next Tuesday 23rd February at 7.30 p.m.  The main speaker will be a local lad, Andrew Copson, from Nuneaton.  He will lead the discussion about ‘The Future of Humanism’.  If you would like to pop in to this zoom gathering, please let me know and I’ll pass on an invitation.


Theatre at Home – 


Ideas and recommendations for the Armchair Audience

suggestions from Jacqueline Campbell.


Birmingham Hippodrome is streaming the musical version of Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple for three weeks from 16 February. This production has been specially created for at home viewing and was filmed at Leicester’s Curve theatre just last week.  Tickets are £20 for the whole household.


If you didn’t catch Uncle Vanya, starring Toby Jones, Richard Armitage, Anna Calder-Marshall and Roger Allam, when it was on BBC 4 just after Christmas, then it’s still available on BBC iPlayer.  Superbly acted, with a wonderful, evocative set, it was filmed at the Harold Pinter Theatre, where it was being performed when the first lockdown happened.  Even if you’re not a Chekov fan, the acting is so good it just draws you in.  Fantastic stuff.


And we just bought tickets for The Original Theatre Company’s Barnes People – a series of four monologues performed by Jon Culshaw, Matthew Kelly, Jemma Redgrave and the marvellous Adrian Scarborough. Written and produced as online theatre, these are available to watch from 18 Feb to 31 July.  A ticket for all four half hour monologues is just £20 and you can watch them as many times as you like while the production is running.  We’re looking forward to them. 


Jacquie Campbell


Historical Facts from Previous Februarys by Brian GB


Parking Meters were first introduced in London in February 1958 in the Mayfair district

Prince Edward the son of Edward l became the first Prince of Wales in February 1301.

The Beatles made their first appearance on national US television, on 9th February 1964 on the Ed Sullivan Show which was watched by 73 million viewers.


Lady Jane Grey aged 17 and known as the ‘9-Day-Queen’ was executed in the Tower of London on 12th February 1554.

Mary Queen of Scots was executed on 8th February 1587 at Fotheringay Castle in Northamptonshire. Mary was married 3 times to Francis the French Dauphin, Lord Darnley and Lord Bothwell

Britain changed its coinage to decimal currency on 15th February 1971

In February 1863, British explorers John Speke and JA Grant discovered the source of the River Nile at Lake Victoria

Nelson Mandela was released from prison on 11th February 1990 to enable him to stand for election as President of South Africa. Most of his prison sentence was spent in Robben Island Prison

Lord Baden Powell, the Founder of the Boy Scout Movement was born on 22nd February 1857. Powell had previously earned fame during the ‘Relief of Mafeking’ in the Boer War

The legendary rock & roll musician Buddy Holly died in a plane crash on 3rd February 1959. Fellow musicians Richie Valens and JP Richardson (The Big Bopper) also died in the same plane crash. (As Don McLean said, ‘it was the day the music died!’)

In February 1478, George Plantagenet, the Duke of Clarence was executed by being drowned in a vat of his favourite malmsey wine (what a way to go!!) He was the older brother of the future Richard lll

Born on 1st February 1915, Sir Stanley Matthews was the first ever footballer to be knighted. He played for Stoke City and Blackpool as well as England. He retired at the age of 50

Author Charles Dickens was born on 7th February 1812

Naturalist Charles Darwin was born 12th February 1809

George Harrison the youngest Beatle was born on 25th February 1943

On 6th February 1952, Princess Elizabeth succeeded he father as Queen of the United Kingdom

Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran on 1st February 1979, later becoming Head of State of Iran.   





Alistair regularly introduces us, in our zoom gatherings, to a particular artist and bit by nano bit, we may be learning.  John Gainer asked Alistair to introduce some sculpture onto the scene and Alistair did so.


The two images below are by Francesco Queirolo, 18th Century.


There were gasps as each was revealed.






These are sculptures!



Friday 19th February

20.25 – BBC1: Stan and Ollie – An excellent portrayal of the comedy genius’s by Steve Coogan and John C Reilley – a definite ‘must-see’ film

01.05 – Channel 4: We Are the Best – You cannot help but warm to these 2 Swedish punk girls who try to form their own band against much opposition

Saturday 20th February:

18.55 – Sony Movies: Dirty Dancing – Always good to see again and again. Patrick Swayze at his very best

20.00 – BBC2: Victoria Wood Bafta Tribute, followed by Victoria Wood: At it again – recording of her stand-up show and an episode of Dinner Ladies

Sunday 21st February:

13.35 – Sony Movie Classic: The Taming of the Shrew – Franco Zeffirelli’s excellent adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton made at the height of one of their violent love affairs. Absolutely brilliant performances. Repeated on Saturday 27th 

15.40 – BBC2: Suspicion – A brilliant Oscar winning Alfred Hitchcock thriller. Starring Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Nigel Bruce and Cedric Hardwicke. 

21.00 – BBC1: Bloodlands – A new Sunday night crime serial set in Belfast. Starring James Nesbitt, with Charlene McKenna and Lorcan Cranitch. 

Monday 22nd February:

21.00 – Film 4: Red Sparrow – An excellent spy thriller – a ballerina is recruited to a Russian intelligence service. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton and Matthias Schoenaerts. Repeated on Saturday 27th 

Tuesday 23rd February:

21.00 – ITV1: Marcella – another episode of this exciting crime drama serial

Wednesday 24th February:

21.00 – Film 4: Valkyrie – Fact-based thriller, recreating the 1944 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler using a briefcase bomb. Starring Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson.

01.10 – Channel 4: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – An excellent compilation of four stories of crime and betrayal set in a dangerous city. Starring Eva Green, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba and Josh Brolin. Absolutely brilliant and well worth recording

Thursday 25th February:

02.00 – Film 4: Locke – Tom Hardy gives the performance of a lifetime. This one-man thriller is shot almost completely inside a car on the motorway. Record it – I guarantee, you will not be disappointed

Friday 26th February: 

00.30 – BBC1: Tropic Thunder – A hilarious send-up of “serious” war movies and self-absorbed movie stars. Starring Ben Stiller, with Jack Black, Steve Coogan and Robert Downey Jr.

Saturday 27th February:

21.00 – BBC4: Man in Room 301 – A new Scandinavian psychological crime serial set in Finland.


Brian GB


Faith Schools


On Tuesday 16th February Alastair Lichten popped into to C & W Humanists Zoom gathering to lead a discussion of the subject.  Alastair is Head of Education at the National Secular Society (NSS) and he leads their campaign to stop the spread of Faith Schools.


Here are the thoughts of C & W Humanists Chair Bob Jelley about the meeting.


Alastair said that about 1/3 of school in England are faith schools but in Warwickshire 42% of schools are faith schools.  


The number of people who say they have religious views is falling, yet the number of Faith School is increasing and encouraged by the Government. Church House in Westminster, is HQ for the Church of England’s Education Department.   It’s handily placed, being right next to The Department for Education.  The proximity enables the Church to constantly lobby for its current position of dominance and privilege.


These schools are largely funded by the state and yet faith schools can determine: which children are admitted, how religion is taught in the school and who is appointed to teach it. 


Choosing a school for our children is important but in many areas, what choice do families actually have?  The school nearest to you might well be your first choice but if it and many other local schools, want to emphasis a particular religion, what options are there?  If you live in a rural area, like parts of Warwickshire, the nearest school that isn’t a faith school, may be some distance away.


The NSS estimates that last year 20,000 families in England were assigned a faith school AGAINST their first preference.  They were denied choice, it isn’t fair, it’s the church manipulating school admissions from a position of great privilege.


So what’s to be done?


The NSS proposes moving towards ‘community ethos schools’, to which all children are admitted regardless of religious or world views.


Listening to Alastair’s thoughtful and purposeful lead off I wondered whether, to move in this direction in Warwickshire, we might:


1 contribute robustly against any proposals for new faith schools.

2 campaign for the entitlement of all families to have local access to schools that aren’t faith schools.

3 seek that the Equality Act be applied, to end the roll out of more faith schools and to make fair staff appointments.  There should be a secular entitlement for families.

4 investigate how fair admissions policies are in faith schools.





Audrey suggests a poem each month, February’s offering is by John Betjeman.






In our Wednesday evening zoom sessions, we hear about someone, somewhere who is being persecuted because of their views.  We consider what we can do as a group and as individuals, to help.


There are reflections on current affairs and we try to look widely across the arts.  C & W Hum people are typical of the wider population – unpredictable and with varied talents and interests.


We love it when others join us so … if you’d like to pop in to one of our zoom meetings, you would be very welcome, please email me at and you’ll receive an invitation.  If you are unable to join us because of technology issues and you would like help resolving the problem, we might be able to help. 


Apologies for this newsletter being 3 days late.  It’s all those zoom meetings taking up time.  Our next newsletter will emerge on Thursday 18th March 2021.  If you have articles/items for it, please email them to me, by Tuesday 16th March.             

Stay safe.