A special thank you to John and Kath Wayland for this summary of how the group has changed over the last 50-60 years.
In the earliest days the Humanist group coalesced round a number of engineers at Nuclear Fuels, Salwick. The most important of these, in humanist terms was Alan Mann, who remained an active and much admired member of Fylde Humanists until he and Audrey moved to Yorkshire about 20 years ago. Alan died in December 2019, aged 94.
The group formalised itself as Lytham St Annes Humanists and affiliated to the BHA and became centered in St Annes in the early 1960s, not long after the BHA was formed. This was likely due to the fact that like Alan many Salwick employees lived in St Annes, Lytham and Blackpool.
At that time the group was quite active with a relatively youthful membership and held monthly meetings in hotel premises and for a short period in a meeting room at St Annes tennis club. We also held public meetings from time to time to discuss controversial issues.
We maintained a minutes book, recording brief details of meetings and AGMs from the outset in the early 60s. Kath gave the first book to Andrew Copson when he spoke at one of our meetings.
When the Labour party held its annual conference in Blackpool in the late 60s/early 70s we staged a public meeting on abortion rights, with a prominent Labour female MP as the main speaker. The topic of course attracted a horde of Catholic protesters and the atmosphere became somewhat stormy.
When the Preston Humanist group folded in the 1970s we gained some of their members and changed our name to Fylde Humanists. For a few years after a fall in membership it was decided to hold meetings in members’ houses. We had enjoyable meetings but the campaigning side more or less stopped.
Around 2007, Ian and Zelda Abbott joined the group and Ian, full of ideas and energy persuaded us that we needed a regular meeting place. He and Zelda spent much time scouting around and eventually hit on Great Ecclestone Village centre. We moved there in 2008 as “Lancashire Secular Humanists” and quickly attracted a healthy membership. A series of excellent meetings were held on a variety of subjects, including outreach meetings at Blackburn central library and at Preston.
Interestingly, there are still internet links associated with Blackpool & Fylde Humanist Group and Fylde Humanists but there is nothing behind these historical links.
In 2017/18, in an effort to attract new members and have a more accessible location for our monthly meetings we relocated to the Black Horse in the centre of Preston. During the COVID Lockdown, like many others, we went online with our meet ups and as a consequence found a new way of communicating across the county.
In late 2021 we were offered the use of the Function Room in the UCLan Oasis Centre, which effectively allowed us to relocate to the university campus and reconnect with the student body there.
There is much more to come and hopefully opportunities around Lancashire to meet up with us in the future.