The Bermuda Friendly Societies Association has been in existence since 2001. Established and operated on the format of the old Friendly Societies Council which brought selected members of the various lodges together to make decisions regarding the body of lodges that existed in Bermuda from 1848. The Friendly Societies now having remaining within their ranks six lodges and as such are making every effort the keep these noble and historical institution functioning. So it is with this in mind that a report submitted by the serving President of the society be recorded here:
BFSA President’s Report Years 2015-2016( In brief)
The records/minutes of the BFSA and the report of the Recording Secretary give an accurate detail of the events of my immediate past term as President of the Bermuda Friendly Societies Association between 2015 to 2016. It has been my delight to contribute to the organization and I thank all officers who have steadfastly supported me and done whatever they could to ensure we have maintained our existence and also done what they could to further our presence. I have requested and been granted a leave of absence for a few months and I also acknowledge at this point there is a proposal, if successful, members of the immediate past executive be returned for a further 2 year term. I will always endeavour to give my best to the organization.
I will add some personal perspectives to the overview of the past two years. I note that there has been a series of various declines. An effort to rejuvenate the Bermuda Friendly Societies Council as an internal body, charged to deal with long-term issues and principles of our movement met with some early success but has fallen away due to a lack of support by various Orders. Without the necessary support to action a project, it seems that unless there is some looming catastrophe, other priorities and demands of life tend to take the attention of the membership. This is seen replicated in declining attendances of ordinary members at general monthly meetings of the BFSA and many lodge delegates are continuously absent. It is further observed, that many lodges are struggling with attendance of their members at their regular meetings,and so this is an ongoing malaise. The cure is up until now unknown to me and unfortunately, we have not generated the necessary energy for a comprehensive discussion and search for solutions.
In celebratory contrast, there are some positives to be noted. First and foremost we must salute the Sisters for their increased membership, though welcoming new initiated members to the Household of Ruth (GUOOF), and to the Loyal Mayflower Lodge (IOOFMU). We hope that this may be a spur for a similar new energy within the Brothers Lodges. Meanwhile, we look forward to the seasoned ‘ Sisters ensuring that the new Sisters grow steadily and competently to be able to serve and advance our interest. I certainly pledge my full support and assistance.
I have noted with great anticipation, a very encouraging passion, that is especially strong in the ‘middle and young seniors’ age groups for more knowledge about the Friendly Societies. This suggest that we have a real opportunity to build on the successful exhibitions that were held in 2015. In August an exhibition was held by us at the Masterworks Museum which created several firsts and which was very well received by Masterworks members, visitors and locals. In Bermuda the Friendly Societies predated the Trade Unions and were the vehicle for the start of trade unionism locally, often providing the earliest memberships and leaders. We have broadened the public interest and awareness although starting from a very small base.
OTHER EVENTS: POSITIVELY MOVING ON:
There was a work rally held at the Loyal Irresistible Lodge which was well supported by both the BFSA executive and membership and our Somerset colleagues in the West End. The community was out in force. A grand start was made and much was accomplished. A work rally also took place for the Princess Royal Union Lodge (IOGS and DOS) on Cobb’s Hill Road in Warwick it was a more modest turnout but this was a welcome beginning. There will be an exhibition of lodge material associated with the Good Samaritans Lodges of Paget/Warwick and the parish’s communities. This is in an effort to restore the knowledge of the ‘treasured memories and contributions ‘ of our seniors, and also to inform the current generations so that they are aware of the legacy that belongs to them through their predecessors involvement in these particular Friendly Societies.
In summary, we are jubilant in saying that we have continued to hold together and to even bolster our efforts in some areas. However the quietude in most areas and from many of the membership seems to have lead to many forms of excuses, which are certainly inexcusable in the vast majority of cases when we contemplate the nature and history of the Friendly Society movement locally. We must be reminded , that in far harsher climate our fore bearers sought after and achieved so much in a comparatively short time by, simultaneously, uniting and supporting each other’s independence. Members consistently did their duty and were pleased to make their contribution. We salute those who made those monumental efforts of our successes of yesterday. We salute those who continue to make commendable efforts today. We further value those who go the extra mile’ in service in so many ways; and we implore the new members and the quiet ‘seasoned’ members to remember our watchword ‘Strength in Unity” . We must work together and hold each accountable for the finest efforts, and support each other to excel in new endeavours for the good of our Orders, in particular, and all of humanity, in general.
Written with affections of love for fellows; Purity of heartfelt intent; and Truth of mind.
Respectfully , Bro. Michael Bradshaw President (BFSA 2015-2016)