IBMT Patron and actor Maxine Peake kicked off the IBMT’s postponed 2020 Annual General Meeting, held online on 20 March 2021, with a stirring tribute to the International Brigades.
She said she could remember her step-grandfather in Salford telling her about the ‘brave men and women of the International Brigades’ and how the world should have listened to them.
‘Their story doesn’t get taught in schools, though it should be,’ Peake said. ‘So it’s up to us, in the IBMT, to spread the word, among our friends and families, in our unions, in our local communities.’
She continued: ‘This is our history, the people’s history. This is the story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, of working people, not for the first or last time, knowing and acting better than their political masters.’
Praising the ‘incredibly important’ work of the IBMT, she said that without the Trust many people wouldn’t know that 2,500 men and women defied their own government and headed Spain’s cry for help.
The AGM approved the Executive Committee's report of activities for the 12 months to October 2020 and its financial reports. They can be accessed here.
There were 43 members in attendance for the online meeting, which also heard tributes from IBMT Chair Jim Jump to several notable people who had died in the year up October 2020, when the AGM was supposed to have taken place. They included ‘dear friends, supporters of the IBMT and others who have played their part in keeping alive the memory and spirit of the International Brigades’.
The obituary presentation can be seen here.
The meeting concluded with the online premiere of a mini-documentary made for the IBMT by film-maker Milo Cumpstey. It features the voices of veterans Bill Alexander, Patience Darton, Michael Economides, Jack Jones and David Marshall, along with photos taken by Rosalind Miller and footage from ‘To Die in Madrid’ (Mourir à Madrid), a 1963 film directed by Frédéric Rossif.
The 2020 AGM had originally been scheduled to be held on 10 October last year but was cancelled because of pandemic restrictions on gatherings and travel. It was then hoped that it could take place in Edinburgh on 20 March this year to coincide with the Len Crome Memorial Conference which was also planned for that day in the Scottish capital. But that too was cancelled (and an alternative online event was organised) and the Executive Committee decided to convene an online AGM for the first time.
The IBMT's 2021 AGM will be held in Southampton on 9 October – subject to lockdown rules being eased by then.
What Maxine Peake said…
It’s a pleasure to say a few words at this Annual General Meeting of the International Brigade Memorial Trust.
I’m proud to be an IBMT Patron. I remember my step-grandfather in Salford telling me about the brave men and women of the International Brigades and how the world should have listened to them.
Since then I’ve always taken an interest in their story, so it was a special honour when the IBMT invited me to become a Patron in 2013.
The past year has been a difficult one for all of us. But it’s heartening to have seen that you have maintained much of your commemorative and educational work, whether over Zoom or at socially distanced events.
The IBMT does incredibly important work.
Without the IBMT, many people wouldn’t know that two and half thousand men and women defied their own government and headed Spain’s cry for help. Many left their home towns and villages for the first time in their lives to make the journey to what was then a distant land.
They knew the cause was right. They defended the Spanish Republic against fascist aggression, and more than one in five of them died in Spain.
Their story doesn’t get taught in schools, though it should be. So it’s up to us, in the IBMT, to spread the word, among our friends and families, in our unions, in our local communities.
This is our history, the people’s history. This is the story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, of working people, not for the first or last time, knowing and acting better than their political masters.
I know that the business of AGMs can seem a bit boring, with lots of talk about about finances, meetings and elections. All that’s important and necessary to run the Trust, but let’s never lose sight of the big picture.
Let’s always remember why we’re here – to keep alive the incredible story of the International Brigades and to make sure their example of antifascism and international solidarity is remembered, not just for our sakes, but so that it can be passed on to inspire future generations.
The AGM saw four current Executive Committee members elected for three-year terms.
Among them is Paul Coles, who was last year co-opted onto the committee and elected as the IBMT Treasurer. The others are Alex Gordon and John Haywood, who have been EC members since 2017, and Jonathan Havard, who was first elected in 2019. In addition, David Chanter joins the Executive Committee as a jobshare with John Haywood. Both of them are leading members of the Oxford International Brigades Memorial Committee.
Paul Coles replaces Tosh McDonald, who did not seek re-election following the expiry of his term of office that began in 2017.
At the Executive Committee meeting immediately following the AGM, Jim Jump was re-elected as IBMT Chair for a further year, along with Megan Dobney as Secretary and Paul Coles as Treasurer. The fourth of the Trust’s ‘Honorary Officers’, Marlene Sidaway, is not required to stand for re-election.
The following responsibilities were allocated among the Trustees:
Ireland Secretary: Manus O’Riordan
Scotland Secretary: Mike Arnott
Wales Secretary: David McKnight
North West Representative: Dolores Long
South East Representative: Alan Lloyd
Fundraising Coordinator: John Haywood
Minute taker: Pauline Fraser
Auditors: Alex Gordon and John Haywood.
The role of Film Coordinator was again given to Marshall Mateer, who is not a member of the Executive Committee.
The full list of the Executive Committee can be found at www.international-brigades.org.uk/content/international-brigade-memorial-trust
A list, with dates and other details, of everyone who has served as an Executive Committee member since the Trust’s creation in 2001 is available here: www.international-brigades.org.uk/sites/default/files/Executive%20Committee%20members%20since%202001.pdf
The draft minutes of the 2020 AGM can be read here: IBMT AGM 2020 minutes 20 March 2021.pdf
Posted on 22 March 2021. Amended on 31 March 2021.