Important upcoming events

A reminder that our AGM will take place in Vevey on Saturday May 10th. You can sign up from the web page.  Your Council will present a revised version of the Statutes with a radical change to the conditions for membership. You can see the proposed new version here. The current text can be found in the footnotes attached to each change.

Also in the even nearer future you can meet Ann Widdecombe, well-known politicuian and sometime competitor in Strictly Come Dancing in Geneva on April 25. Sign up on the web page.

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Chairman’s Blog

It is always sad to record in our Bulletin the deaths of BRA members. This is particularly the case with the sudden passing at the beginning of the year of a very loyal member, Stephan Meier-Jones, the beloved husband of our Vice-Chairman, Angela, for whom he was always a great support in organizing events in the North-West Region. The Memorial Service in January was attended by a very large number of people, including many from the BRA. On a brighter note, there was an excellent turnout at the much appreciated Winter Luncheon in the Casino Berne. A write-up of this event appears under Past Events. Our guest speaker was the former head of the Swiss Armed Forces, Christophe Keckeis. We were also honoured by the presence of the new British Ambassador to Switzerland, David Moran (report and photos here).We also had quite a successful Winter Weekend, thanks to the Federation of Anglo-Swiss Clubs (FASC) in St. Moritz. The weather was surprising with lots of snow but too mild for the horse-racing on the frozen lake (see the report).

The Ambassador kindly received Max Bishop (newly appointed Councillor responsible for Embassy Relations) and me a few days later when he agreed to continue the tradition of being the BRA’s Patron. Max’s write-up of our meeting can be found here.

Britain has recently been recalling the two Major Wars of the last century. We had a talk in Fribourg (again with the FASC) by one of the Wrens who was one of the Code-Breakers of Bletchley Park (see report). Then on April 6, also to remind us of the war years there will be a Remembrance Service in Lausanne Cathedral (Evensong) to recall the start of World War I.

My eye was caught recently by an article in the latest edition of the newsletter produced by the Notenstein Bank, the successor to the former Bank Wegelin which was our sponsor for some time. Those of you who know me are aware that my career, after university, took me straight into computers at a time when they were monstrous devices capable of adding up numbers and not much else. I do not remember if they could divide and multiply (something they have done on a massive scale since) but certainly square roots had to be programmed. Now we have so much knowledge at our fingertips, or rather at the end of our WIFI connection, that the mind boggles! How did we ever get on without Google, Wikipedia and the ilk, and all for free. Nonetheless, the article in question reminded me that there is no such thing as a free lunch and that we pay for all these marvellous possibilities by giving up our most private secrets and longings. It points out, for me somewhat surprisingly, that until the rise of the bourgeoisie there was no such thing as the private sphere! For those of you who do not share the view that computers are anathema, go to www.notenstein.ch and read the interview with Professor Miriam Merkel. It might also enlighten you, as it did me, about the way the “freebies” function and closes with a discussion of the utility of the virtual “bitcoin” currency making headlines at the moment for its vulnerability. Bank robberies were never quite so easy!

Looking to the future, your Council is still searching for the best way ahead! We will have a very serious meeting in April to discuss this subject and prepare some surprises for the AGM, which will now be held in Vevey since Lausanne hotels were unable to offer us a solution at a suitable price for this event (details are available under Diary Dates).

Nigel Coombs

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Stephan Meier-Jones R.I.P.

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the sudden death of

Stephan MEIER-JONES

our loyal member and beloved husband of Angela Meier-Jones, our Vice-Chairman.

Our deepest sympathy to all the family.
The funeral will take place on Wednesday, 22nd January 2014 at 2pm at the Catholic Church, Tramstrasse 5, Muttenz.
Donations instead of flowers to Schweizerische Hertzstiftung in Bern Postal Office account 30-4356-3

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Voting rights for Brits

The Expat Brits Campaign Team is campaigning efforts to have the 15-year rule lifted. They need to get registration levels up very significantly! They would like all unregistered voters, not affected by the 15-year rule, to register (before 7th May 2014 ) and vote in the European Parliament elections in the UK rather than in their country of residence.
You can read more here.

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New Rules on UK Residence and how they might apply to you!

A new set of rules defining residence in the United Kingdom have been introduced with the 2013 Finance Act, to worry, intrigue, and mystify us. These rules provide a legal definition of residence called he Statutory Residence Test.

Read more about it here.

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Change of Chairman

Regrettably, due to a sudden deterioration in the health of his father-in-law, Andrew Wells has had to resign his chairmanship. As Vice-Chairman, Nigel Coombs has agreed to assume this role at least until the AGM in May 2014.

We very much regret Andrew’s departure and your Council will be studying his ideas for reforming the BRA and making proposals to present to the AGM in May next year.

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FCO Public Consultation

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has carried out a 12-week consultation to amend part of the British Nationality Act (BNA) 1981 to allow the FCO to centralise its consular birth and death registration service from April 2014.

You see the results and follow the link to the FCO site here.

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Live Theatre near you

One of our members is leading a campaign to get English Theatre shown live in cinemas in Switzerland. She asks for your support – you can read more here.

 

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Change of HM Ambassador to Switzerland

As you can see in Rosemary Billinge’s report on the BRA AGM and Spring Luncheon, our Patron, Ambassador Sarah Gillett, is leaving at the end of this year for another Diplomatic Service appointment. The Foreign and Commonwealth has announced that her successor will be Mr David John Moran, currently Chargé d’Affaires in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Mr. Moran’s profile can be found in the British Embassy section.
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Passport Services centralized in Durham

United Kingdom citizens needing a passport renewal or anyone asking for a new passport should be aware that the system changed on 3 June and their requests must now be sent to Durham in the UK. In recent years, passport matters for British residents in Switzerland have been handled by an office in Paris.
More details can be found in the British Embassy section.
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