Australasian Ricardians’ Convention in Perth

   Posted by: Julia Redlich   in Conventions

Review of the Australasian Ricardians’ Convention in Perth, WA,

October 2017

Sunshine, spring flowers and the Swan River before us augured well for the biennial convention of the Australasian Branches of the Richard III Society in October 2017, this time hosted by the Western Australia Branch at the Intercontinental Hotel on the Water, Ascot.

Australasian Ricardians’ Convention in Perth

The Swan River near the convention venue

The usual suspects from New Zealand, Victoria and New South Wales gathered on Friday 13th – lucky for all of us! – for a meet and greet evening, chatting with new friends and catching up with old ones. And all of us marvelling at the beautifully decorated folders filled with information and goodies presented to all delegates.

Saturday morning meant an early start, some first aid for equipment, and more welcoming words from WA chairman Terry Johnson before Mark Porter from Queensland presented an extract from his memorable four-part programme “The Search for Richard III: One Man’s Journey”. This was followed by a comprehensive survey of Thomas St Leger and his family (Jenny Gee, WA).

After a morning tea break, we learned about the foundation and purpose of William and Alice de la Pole’s God’s House at Ewelme (Dorothea Preis, NSW). The charm and serenity from her photos placed this on many “must see” lists for UK visits. Anne Maslin (Vic) followed with a report on Chancellor Russell’s draft speech to the Parliament that never sat in 1483 before a coronation of a king that never was (Edward V). A copy should probably be essential reading for present and potential politicians! Louise Carson (WA) gave a summary of the Popes during Richard’s lifetime that was enlightening and occasionally alarming. Who could have realised there were so many of them?

A light lunch in the spectacular Watermark restaurant was followed by a slightly re-adjusted programme after a presenter was held up by business commitments. The Loving Brother? was a subject considered by Carole Carson (WA), and we then had a brilliant introduction to Medieval Heraldry to inspire us in identifying all those colours and designs and their significance. The nine Dukes of Gloucester were presented by Julia Redlich (NSW) as mere historical footnotes (with two notable exceptions!) but whose mismarriages and too early deaths brought unexpected changes to history.

Australasian Ricardians’ Convention in Perth

Denise Rawling (NSW) and the banner

Afternoon tea (more delicious scones, jam, cream and pastries) was followed by a skilful presentation by Helen Portus and Denise Rawling (NSW) on “A New Kingdom: Richard and the Digital Age” that showed how recent events have changed the way the public can change their attitude to him. Entertaining and enlightening.

Two hours after this session ended we met for pre-dinner drinks before a banquet that was a splendid affair, the majority of delegates in medieval costume. We were entertained by a lively and seemingly inexhaustible Jester, but naturally, the highlights were the traditional toasts that included Her Majesty the Queen of Australia and New Zealand, The Richard III Society, our patron, HRH Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester and King Richard III.
Our final day began with the results of the two quizzes included in the delegate folders. These had been assessed overnight but only the winners were announced. Many longed to know the answers to know where they failed dismally! Maybe we’ll learn in a future WA newsletter…

Raffle winning tickets were drawn to win the fantastic supply of prizes, and certificates of appreciated handed to the various presenters.

The Victoria Branch then took centre stage with a brilliant performance of The Battle of Towton. Michael Iliffe’s inspired idea (with a little help from his friends) followed the progress of this pivotal battle in the Cousins’ War in modern mode – with switches from newsrooms in media headquarters to reporters on the ground and viewing the progress of the Yorkists through the snow from a helicopter. Maps, photos and music added to the two-part presentation that was warmly applauded.

Australasian Ricardians’ Convention in Perth

The present author (NSW) and Rob Smith, Vice President of the Richard III Society (NZ) at the convention banquet

A suitable follow-up was a final talk on medieval fighting and battlefield medical assistance given by Terry Johnson before he handed over to Australasian Vice President Rob Smith for Business and time to cover continuing financial and relevant matters with the Executive Committee in the UK. He also congratulated the Western Australia Branch of hosting such a memorable few days for us all, and thanked the Victoria Branch for offering to hold the next Convention in 2019.

A last lunch before a few delegates made reluctant farewells while others spent a restful or exploratory afternoon before meeting for an informal dinner in the evening. As always, it had been a memorable time for us all linked by our loyalty to the last Plantagenet king that has made us friends with so many others around the world

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