The annual meeting of Bath’s Royal Literary and Scientific Institution marked the end of an era as Chair of the Board,Betty Suchar, retired after many years of dedicated service to the Bath Royal cause.
Betty had been firmly in the Institution’s vanguard since its relaunch in the early 1990s and, as well as being a tireless and passionate advocate for it, has also held the position of both the Chair of Management Committee and the Chair of the Board during that time.
Betty’s contribution to the Institution was celebrated at its Annual General Meeting, held in its premises on Queen Square, on 20 October. Former Chair of the Board, Steve Wharton, spoke on behalf of the Institution and its membership of over 600:
“When BRLSI was relaunched in 1993, Betty was an early joiner, welcoming the idea of reviving the Institution and acutely aware of the opportunities for it to become a venue for social and intellectual interaction. She contributed to its development and was involved in many strands of activity before election to the Board as a Director.
She was a regular at coffee mornings and other social gatherings as well as driving programme themes and coordinating guest lectures and lecturers such as Victor Suchar Christmas Lecture, established in her late husband’s memory.
“Her service as Chair of the Management Committee over a number of years, steered the Institution and helped guide the decisions of the Board when it met.
A Director for twelve years, she ensured the maintenance and refreshing of institutional memory. Acutely aware of the importance of the membership, she worked hard to ensure that events reflect members’ interests and that opportunities for engagement were broadened. She strove to ensure that the volunteers and staff – without whose work the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution simply could not function – felt part of the Institution over and above any membership link they might have.”
Born and educated in the United States, Betty’s love of her adoptive city was infectious and was reflected in the Institution’s activities and events which foregrounded local issues and cultural projects alongside its wider intellectual remit.
Her recent involvement in the campaign to get a monument to early mathematician Adelard for the people of the city is just one such endeavor as was her fight to gain more recognition for the talented women who lived or passed through the city which has resulted in commemorative plaques for both the explorer Adela Breton and the novelist Mary Shelley.
She founded the annual Bluestocking Circle event, named after the women’s educational and literary movement of the 18th century, and hosted at the Institution each summer, and also launched the Women’s Map of Bath, celebrating the historical, cultural, and scientific achievements of women in the city.
Although stepping down from the directly ‘hands on’ day-to-day running of the Institution, Betty will still be found welcoming members at the weekly coffee mornings or the Institution’s monthly in-house book club, and she continues as co-convenor for the Literature and Humanities group.
She also plans to continue to dedicate herself to making the fascinating Bath Royal archives as accessible to the people of Bath as possible. She looks forward to supporting the new Chair of the Management Committee, Julie Cole, and the new Chair of the Board, Ian Gadd, as the Institution moves towards its third century.