RWF banner



Newsletters & Updates

Newsletter Jun 2020

Our Newsletter provides brief updates on the following:

  1. 32nd Annual RWF event to take place online 26th June 2020
  2. RWF Raymond Williams Centenary initiative
  3. Centenary Commission on Adult Education online seminars
  4. RWF loneliness project update
  5. Corona virus life stories – new RWF initiative led by Steve Woodhams
  6. RWF accessibility officer role

See full Newsletter

Newsletter Nov 2019

Our Newsletter provides brief updates on the following:

  1. 2020 Raymond Williams Foundation Residential Weekend at Wortley Hall
  2. RWF involvement in Centenary Commission on Adult Education
  3. Grants from Westham House Fund to support RWF activities
  4. RWF and WHF supported ‘Loneliness Project’ – led by Ria Higham
  5. Preparations for Raymond Williams Centenary in 2021
  6. Discussions with Lipman-Miliband Trust
  7. Updated RWF Constitution
  8. RWF Accessibility Policy

See full newsletter

Newsletter Aug 2018

RWF Strategy and background

CHESS SETIt is the mission of the Raymond Williams Foundation to support the development of an 'educated and participating democracy'. Through its ability to continually evolve and respond to contemporary challenges, and for over 30 years, the RWF has been a pioneer in this area, led by the effort, skill and vision of its long-term administrator and leader, Derek Tatton, and also the many trustees who have acted in different roles and have given time and expertise voluntarily. This has resulted in the organisation of high-profile adult education events with excellent speakers, small-scale grant giving and a range of other activities which have seen the profile of the RWF continue to rise.
In 2017, Sharon Clancy and Nick Mahony took on the positions of Chair and Administrator respectively. Over the last year Bob (Treasurer), Derek (now acting as Advisor to the RWF), David (Accessibility Officer), Erica (Secretary), along with other trustees, have been encouraging us to take a lead on the process of further developing the RWF. In fact, this small ‘overseeing’ group has met regularly during this period of transition, acting as an informal RWF 'Management Committee' to discuss and coordinate this next phase in the RWF's life.
So far, a consensus seems to have emerged from such conversations that the RWF should aim to increase its outreach and connect with new networks. This work is intended to complement and develop the RWF's long-running residential weekend activities, as well as allowing the organisation to branch out in new ways. 
To these ends, Nick and Sharon have initiated various new strands of activity over the last year which will help with broadening our external connections, forging closer relationships with new and existing organisations with similar missions, and to further developing the role, reach and profile of the RWF in the contemporary context. 
The RWF have also booked Wortley Hall for the next annual residential weekend, for May 2019 (see details below).

Compass/The World Transformed festival

Nick has developed a good working relationship with the campaigning organisations Compass and The World Transformed festival. This has resulted in a successful bid earlier on this year for £1,950 for a joint RWF/Compass project on 'everyday democracy', which is now on-going.
In September 2017, two packed participatory sessions, partly sponsored by the RWF, were also co-organised by Nick at The World Transformed festival on the theme of 'cultural democracy'. A new initiative called The Movement for Cultural Democracy ( emerged from these activities which Nick has co-founded; Nick was also part of the collective who participated in drafting a new ‘manifesto for a cultural democracy’.

1919 Report/Political Education
Sharon has been building two new strands of work, one connected with her work on adult education at the University of Nottingham and the other related to political education. 2019 is the Centenary of the 1919 Report on Adult Education. Through new relationships forged between the university, the RWF, the Cooperative College and the national WEA, amongst others, we are working to develop a series of events and activities to commemorate the 100th anniversary, including a Commission on Adult Education to try and raise its profile and importance into the future and a historical analysis of adult education/educators over the last 50 years.  Sharon became Political Education Officer for the Mansfield CLP earlier this year and has been running discussion groups on a range of themes, including participatory democracy and social mobility and education. As a result, and through the support of Nick and Momentum, Sharon will be running two sessions at The World Transformed - one on adult education, with Cilla Ross, Vice Principal of the Co-operative College and one on political education networks, with Lorcan Mullen, both under the RWF banner.

Further results of development work
As well as cultivating new relationships and opening up new possibilities, this developmental work has already started to feed directly back into core RWF activities. For example, some of the grassroots organisations, activists and scholars Sharon and Nick have met in recent months were subsequently invited to speak and contribute to the RWF residential event at the Adelphi Hotel this year, which centred on the theme of 'culture and education for all'. Feedback from the event has been largely positive, with the need to pay attention to accessibility issues, in which we are being supported by David Whalley, Accessibility Officer.
Following on from Nick’s work with The World Transformed festival last year, Nick (again partly under the auspices of the RWF) is organising four further participatory sessions at 2018 World Transformed festival, in Liverpool in September. With 10,000 tickets on offer and an extensive international programme soon to be launched, this event offers another brilliant opportunity to promote the RWF and its work, as well as get more people engaged in the RWF network. Overall, the RW name and the RWF are therefore attracting lots of interest with great potential for collaborative work and network development continuing to emerge.

New 2018 RWF supported residential event in Berwick upon Tweed
The RWF is proudly supporting a new residential course on ‘The History, Culture and Politics of Berwick upon Tweed’ taking place Friday 16th – Sunday 18th November 2018. This innovative event includes a keynote by John Home Robertson, discussions, workshops, talks and even a guided walk - all for very reasonable rates. For more information and booking details please see:
Nigel Todd (Chair of Board of Governors at Co-operative College) has clearly already picked up on this new event, commenting recently in correspondence with Sharon that: “Berwick seems to be currently in the grip of adult ed enthusiasts! Not only is the local RWF group offering some fascinating stuff, but others have formed a Berwick Educational Association and have designed a really varied programme. Clearly, destined to be one of the radical adult education groups on our horizon!”

2019 RWF annual residential weekend
Last but by no means least, for those interested in participating in the next annual RWF residential weekend, this will be taking place 24th-26th May 2019. Please save this date! More details to be announced in due course.

Update October/November 2017

RWF Newsletter here

Update August 2016

RWF Newsletter, 31st August 2016

Access this newsletter here. Please comment using the PADLET

Update April 2016

Our next big event is DemFest weekend just over the border in North Wales, near to Chester. 13-14th May. Bookings for this going well ('VERY good news' says Gladstone's Library) but more welcome. Programme and Details on web:
Discount fof DemFest attendees at a Hotel near to the Gladstone's Library; code that will need to be entered into the promotions box is PRO20A on the Village website.
Non-residents very welcome - everything very flexible.
On the Friday evening, our event is linked to one of the Library's most popular events: the national Museums at Night project - in this instance
Speeches, poems, novels, diary entries and banner slogans are all welcome.DemFest staffers have already suggested the musings of WilliamGladstone (obviously), the poetry of Maya Angelou, the rotten boroughs in George Eliot’s Middlemarch and the text of the Magna Carta.
Fancy giving a reading? The principle is simple: pick your text, select the best section (keep sections under 500 words please, to give everyone a turn) and email it to by 6 May.

I have now written to Jeremy Corbyn (whose Diary Secretary suggested this) offering dates for 2017, as follows, Sat's 13, 20, 27 May and 3 June for a key-note lecture on The Long Revolution (towards an 'educated participating democracy' - RW words), also celebrating the 50th anniversary of The May Day Manifesto of 1967, edited by RW..
Venue - the largest Hall available in central Sheffield. RWF residential participants from Wortley will be bussed to the Lecture. The huge hall may also be used after the lecture for small group discussion circles/seminars/teach-ins..etc on the themes... Ditto before and after at Wortley. This could be a huge one? Ideas welcome.

Several participants at last week's Europe weekend are keen to help with a
Derek Wall lecture in Manchester on Engels (DW would be keen to do this).
Later this year, a Saturday with discussion circles/seminars etc based on the themes. We know that one day events like this can be so organised to cater for long-distance participants (staying overnight cheaply B&B and with nifty far in advance rail booking the whole thing can be very low cost).
Our new (young!) RWF participants can organise this? New Chair, Ria Higham will guide and advise?

In Macclesfield - 22nd June an exciting involvement in a the Barnaby Festival, with RWF/DiPs style discussions in a central pub - taking it over...

See other events and network links on our RWF web (can always be snail-mail posted to anyone if necessary).

What's particularly striking is that our programmes of residential and day events can now connect so cost effectively with the growing number of informal pub/etc PiPs/DiPs discussions taking place. The recent success of the Biggleswade WEA pub discussion initiative, very much organised and aided by our 91 year old (yes, ninety one) stalwart demonstrates a 'back to the future' vision, which is pragmatic and works... Cheap, cheerful and minimalist. Advice on how to do this can be offered anytime...

Best wishes

RWF Administrator


Newsletter No 14 Dec 2015

This newsletter itemises the extensive programme we are expecting to be involved with during 2016

Newsletter No 13 March 2015

Sheila Jones, who died in late December, gave exceptional support to RWF. We will be honouring her formidable achievements as long-time Chair of RWMF/RWF at our AGM and weekend in May.
A major tribute to Sheila's commitment and hard work is in what follows.


1. The RWF residential weekend on R.S.Thomas at Wortley Hall 13-15th March viable with 8 attendees. Details, with report to follow on our website.

2. Some work done on the Friday of the weekend with the Sylvia Pankhurst Library to which RWF is giving support for an on-line catalogue as part of the re-furbishment appeal.

3. The May 15th to 17th 2015 weekend at Wortley Hall on Where Now?: 35 bedrooms have been booked for up to 50 participants (more than at earlier WH residentials). At the 12th March enrolments indicate that all bedrooms are allocated with more than 48 committed attendees. This is a record RWF achievement, well over two months before the event. 'Over-flow' residential bookings at nearby Premier Inn may be taken. Non-residents and those wishing to attend the Key-note lectures on the Saturday will be welcome to book up to one week in advance.

4. Our new project, engaging Dr Nick Mahony from OU/openDemocracy Participation Now, to explore ways in which RWF may help develop that initiative to take participatory democracy forward, has already demonstrated potential. From early January Nick has interviewed ten key people working in the domains of education, democratic reform activism, arts and culture finding that 'Across all the interviews there was universal recognition of the enormous need and value of the RWF' and 'the way RWF uses its resources to seed-fund small-scale self-organised citizen education events…. was considered vital.' Plans are underway to develop a strategy, forging closer links with partners, helping gain the resources to realize some of these new possibilities.

5. A brief report on possible futures for the OU/oD/RWF project will be presented at the Raymond Williams Now Conference in Manchester on Saturday 30th May which RWF is supporting financially.

6. Our close working relationship with Philosophy in Pubs (PiPs) grows and we are supporting again the annual PiPs National Conference at The Adelphi, Liverpool, Fri-Sun 5-7th June. Visit the PiPs website for programme and details.

7. A fine example of the way discussions in pubs (cafes, bars, wherever) can flourish is the striking early success of the Macclesfield DiPs launched this year by our RWF Trustee David Whalley. These take place at The Park Tavern and already attendances have built up to 18 with cross-generational participation. Details elsewhere on this website.

8. With all this going on we can be confident that the 20-22nd November weekend residential already booked to take place at Ruskin College, Oxford, will gain good numbers. Susan Watkins, Editor of the New Left Review will be giving the RW Society annual lecture on the Saturday. More information on this event will be available soon.

9. Membership subscriptions are welcome, of course (follow links on web). We have a steadily growing number of Life Members and we particularly value donations and bequests, however modest, at any time.

More information on all the above elsewhere on this website.


Raymond Williams Foundation (RWF) Newsletter No 12 March 2014

For full details on 2014 events and developments visit the RWF website or contact as suggested.

i) Thu 24th April Keywords - RWF, with Philosophy in Pubs (PiPs), Talk and discussion based on the exhibition at Tate, Liverpool
14.00 to 16.00hrs. Up to 20 places with advance booking advised via PiPs or

ii) Late April, early May: Books and library project – the Sylvia Pankhurst Library. All books at Wortley Hall will be assessed by an expert,
as recommended by the Working Class Movement Library, Salford. Advice will be given to RWF for the next stage.

iii) May 14-16th 2014, on War - and Peace. RWF Residential course at Wortley Hall. 22 actual bookings at 25th March
(less at this stage than last year) but 35 anticipated. Please book if you can and help promote so that we again achieve a really healthy 45 in total.
The 25 year work-in-progress history of RW residential courses is posted on our website – help welcome: copy of 2005 weekend leaflet required;
comments, anecdotes, memories and photos to extend and enliven the record can be sent to
This history will be reviewed during the May weekend.

iv) June 6-8th, National PiPs Conference in Brighton on Conflict Resolution. Visit the PiPs website

v) June 27-29th The RMT Education Centre, Doncaster - RWF Dylan Thomas weekend. 10 booked, so viable with a few places still available.

Forthcomng events, details shortly......

vi) July 18-20th The RMT Education Centre, Doncaster - Hannah Mitchell Foundation weekend (with RWF.) Politics in the North - Regional Assemblies?

vii) Sat 4th October Local Transport and You Day Conference - North Staffs. Pensioners' Convention (with RWF)

viii) 28-30th November weekend at Wortley Hall. RWF residential, with the OU/oD, WEA, PiPs and others..
This based on the OU/openDemocracy project: Participation Now. Visit websites to see RWF contributions to 'on-going debate' and contribute if you can.
Plans still under discussion, but the above weekend is already provisionally booked at WHall, with the possibility that we may fill all 49 bedrooms!
This could be a promising new initiative, engaging with current participatory democracy issues and reviving the principle of OU linked residential courses.

Derek Tatton Administrator,

(01538 370067)


RWF Newsletter  No  11      January 2014

i)  The RWF web gives a report on the Scandinavian Politics & Culture weekend held at Wortley Hall last November.   The very positive evaluations indicate again that recent residential progammes are working well with grant/subsidy arrangements ensuring course viability.

ii)   The next WHall residential, takes place May 14-16th 2014, on War - and Peace.   Paul Rogers, Professor of Peace Studies, has agreed to give a key-note Lecture based on his impressive synoptic survey article for the  Oxford Research Group, which is posted on our website.  Leaflet outlining programme and booking form attached and available on RWF website.

iii)  The National PiPs Conference in Brighton the following month,  June 6-8th, is also devoted to similar issues on the big theme  Conflict Resolution.

iv)  Other residential courses with direct links back to WMC, Barlaston traditions continue to run at Shallowford House, mid-Staffs.   For example, the series of Literature weekends to which several RWF Trustees give support.

v)  Three former ARCA colleges  have received grant from the Westham House Fund for special Lectures (in association with RWF).                                                                                                                       a)    Knuston Hall, Northants  with a Lecture by Keith Chandler on Women in Shakespeare, Thu 6 March 2014       
   b)   Dillington House, Somerset, has launched an annual RW Memorial Lecture starting with Owen Jones on The British Establishment,  Sunday 4th May 2014.   Travellers from a long distance for this Lecture may be subsidized by RWF...      
   c)    Higham Hall, Cumbria  approaching Melvyn Bragg for a talk on The Value of Culture,  details on this, or alternative,  given later...

vi)   The RMT Education Centre, Doncaster -  now a tried and tested venue for RWF residential courses.   Two courses last autumn received really positive comments, with requests for more.   We aim to have one again on some big political/economic issue and another poetry weekend during this year.  Details available later. 

vii)   Regional RWF/WEA/U3A etc parnership events.
a)    WEA Eastern Region planning a Day School  and even a Residential maybe in the autumn. 
b)  The Speaker's new Digital Democracy Commission is likely to be a theme for regional  event/s.
c)   Other ideas and proposals include:  Owen Jones for a Day School on Politics and Young People in Central Manchester;  a  North Staffs. Pensioners' Convention Day on Transport or Ken Loach's Spirit of '45 and there may be Day Schools in Bolton, Leeds, Leek, Swansea, Leicester and London sometime...  

Subsidies for all events mentioned will assist viability.  Each will be assessed on its merits for subsidy and everything will depend, of course, on fund income, donations, partnership and match-funding arrangements.

viii)   The idea of a Study Tour to Sweden was raised and gained some momentum at
our recent residential.   This could feature residence at Folk High School/s or People's College/s with lectures and discussions on Swedish Education, Politics and Culture 
This linked with Menta 50+ (a project funded by the EU) engaging with the challenge that by 2030 almost 1 in 3 Europeans will be over the age of 60. 

ix)   Given all the crises and changes within the residential adult education sector specifically, a proposal has come through the network for a November RWF residential at Wortley Hall on history, potential and trends in this sphere.     
x)   All the above is dependent, of course, not just on RWF.   Our chief role is to help fund the courses and projects just enough to ensure viability.   Several years experience now indicates that quite modest grants can make the difference between failure/low numbers and success with healthy bookings.   Crucially we see our website with extending network support  - now including Facebook exchanges and discussions - as the central  focus for development.   For example, notes for about 230 pub discussion topics are posted on the website.  These are freely available for use anytime, anywhere -  helping extend and enrich the network.




RWF Newsletter Notes
   No. 10    September  2013

Border Country book coverReview of Residential Courses 2013

Democracy and The Future of Political Parties   May 8-10th-
Report on the annual RW residential held at Wortley Hall is         posted on our website.  More than 90% of the 45 participants         submitted written comments -  all were positive.

Courses at  RMT Education Centre, Doncaster:   (new venue for RWF)

          Trade Unions and the Media  June 7-9th -Failed, with too         few bookings

          Politics and the State   Sept  7-9th   10 booked  (viable, just   about...)

          Ted Hughes &  The White Goddess  Oct  11-13th              12 booked   (viable,  just three places left)

Courses at Wortley Hall

          Scandinavian Politics and Culture  November 22-24th 
4 early bookings, (many promises and more than forty         anticipated.) 

Course at Shallowford House,  mid Staffs.

          Wolf Hall  Sept 8-9th  RWF supported/linked event: Literature         (fully booked).

Future plans - Regional Network proposal. Resultant from July/Aug meetings, involving RWF Trustees: in Cambridge, North Staffs and Bolton

        i)  Eastern Region WEA initiative:                                                                                                                                              A regional network RWF/WEA/U3A/informal pub discussions         etc  has been established.   Minimalist – mainly e-mail         communication, with just one big-issues Day School in 2014         but maybe a residential ….

        ii)  North Staffs/East Cheshire/South Manchester RWF         network. Similar to i)

        iii)  Possibly, a North Manchester/Lancs/South Yorks  RWF         network (ditto)

Funding:              Grant application submitted

a)  To assist Wortley Hall residential bookings  2013/2014
b)  Special Lectures at three former ARCA Colleges in 2014,         RWF linked.    
For example,  Owen Jones  RW Lecture at Dillington House,         Somerset, on The New Establishment,  Sun 4th May 2014.

Wedgwood Memorial College.

No progress on re-opening the WMC, Barlaston.  Empty buildings and unused estate, costing £150k pa...  Assuming failure to re-open, but keeping pressure on Stoke City Labour-led Council for as long as the Barlaston estate remains unsold.     Meanwhile, we have abandoned the WMC linked Co-operative proposal but will go ahead with RWF web data-base for all interested in 'big-issues' day and residential courses.   


Library Developments

Most of the former WMC Library now housed at Wortley Hall with approx. 3000 volumes incorporated within the WH Sylvia Pankhurst Library.  Aim to establish a web-link with the professional, prestigious WCML  at Salford.    Also establishing relevant connections through courses with, for example, The People's History Museum, Manchester.


Annual RW residential,  Wed-Fri  14-16 May 2014.

        Venue,  Wortley Hall.                                                                               Proposed theme:   War - and Peace:  A Centenary Review

Raymond Williams Foundation (RWF)

Newsletter Number 9

August 2012

1. It is exactly a year ago when, anticipating closure of Wedgwood Memorial College (WMC), plans were first drafted to present a Community Asset Transfer (CAT) proposal for an independent Trust to run the College in Barlaston. WMC has been, of course, the residential centre for RWF and so time, energy and resources have been devoted over the past year to the Campaign. The College was closed by Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 1st April 2012, but the Campaign has continued with plans to re-open the College.

2. These plans now include the launch of a WMC Community Benefit Society – a Co-operative which will run a ‘virtual’ College, with trustees from RWF, the WEA and other educational charities. Residential courses and Day Schools on selected social, political, philosophical and cultural themes will be promoted on the new WMC web-site and through RWF linked networks. The new WMC Co-operative will be able to incorporate the College in Barlaston, if the campaign to re-open the site, run by an independent educational trust, is successful.

3. Meanwhile, the RWF AGM was held in May during the Wortley Hall mid-week residential – which continued the annual RW weekend Barlaston tradition, successfully recruiting forty residential participants. The very positive feed-back on this small-group, big-issues, pub-discussion methodology can be read on our RWF web-site. Any readers of this Newsletter without computers are recommended to access information on this, and other RWF developments, at a local library - or printed copy summary/ies can be posted, on request. Phone 01538 370067.

4. The AGM was well attended and approved the appointment of Karen (Kaz) Carlin as RWF Administrative Assistant. The work-load for RWF, and especially its Administrator, has increased. The reason for this being not just activity within the above campaign, but more positively – expansion through residential courses linked to the growing network of informal pub* discussions on ‘big questions and issues’. The National Co-ordinator, Paul Doran, of Philosophy in Pubs (PiPs), the largest of these networks, is an RWF Trustee. (*‘Pub’ can also include café, bar, church-hall and other venues).

5. The RWF Residential Library Reading Retreat Scheme, launched last autumn has been an interesting experiment. Only small numbers of individuals have applied for grants and only a minority of the residential centres within the scheme have therefore been involved. Even so, ‘readers’ and ’researchers’ did book, supported by RWF grants, for short residential retreats at Knuston Hall; the Gladstone Library; Hawkwood College; Holy Rood House (also a small-group supported here) and Luther King House. Feed-back from individuals at these centres was positive. However, the most dramatic success, using funding dedicated to this scheme came with the two RWF residential seminars at Wortley Hall, benefitting at least fifty adults. The evaluations on these stressed the exceptional value for ‘reading, research and discussion’. This, we feel, is the future for this project - supporting, through subsidy – group bookings focused on these aims, developing networks, courses and links as in 5. above. Hence, a shift in RWF funding from individual and ‘external’ group applications to more RWF and partner initiated work? Discussion on this will continue through to the next AGM.

Thanks for your continued support.

Derek Tatton, RWF Administrator



Extracts from Newsletter Number 8

e-mailed and posted to members early July 2011

  1. We continue to receive, and approve (within our obviously limited budget) new applications and in the last month a project – soundly based – in Southern India, assisting women and families with desperate economic and educational needs, has been given support. Currently two more applications are under consideration - a working class oral history scheme in East London and a project in Central Africa similar to those in Nepal and Southern India already supported. Trustees will be discussing the ‘balance’ of our grants given that a pattern of applications is evolving - local, regional, national and international, with different emphases across broad educational provision.

  1. Wortley Hall (WH), near Sheffield, has been really helpful, accepting in storage approx. 12,000 books (most of the library from Wedgwood Memorial College (WMC), and also the Jack Taylor WEA bequest of political philosophy books). Arrangements are on-going for sifting and placing these books on shelves, as appropriate at WHall and, later, other venues. This within the Residential Library – Reading Retreat scheme which will operate as a ‘pilot’ for one year… WH will be the venue for two RWF residentials in the autumn this year.

RWF is now formally represented on the WMC ‘Steering Committee’ - a report on the 6th July meeting of that committee will be posted on the web-site.

  1. Discussion Circles of one kind and another continue to grow and develop. PiPs which began on Merseyside over ten years ago is now national and held its first residential weekend at The Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool from 10-12th June this year. Several RWF Trustees and members were present and I was one of three guest speakers but most of the weekend was devoted to discussion on various themes. The flexibility of PiPs, and other Discussion Circles - as in North Staffs, or café philosophique, and Sci-bars – enables haphazard growth.

The relatively new Free University of Slawit (Slaithwaite, West Yorks) meets in the Commercial Pub and a recent newsletter acknowledges that this success ‘is inspired by the pub discussion groups promoted by RWF (giving the web-site address)’. The aim is to enable progression (with additional funding for subsidy) from these informal meetings to professionally taught day, weekly and residential courses. Up-dates on this will be posted on our web-site.


Newsletter 7

Summary from Newsletter Number 7 April 2011

  1. The Agenda and Trustee voting papers for the forthcoming AGM were sent out by our Membership Secretary on 12th April. The AGM takes place, as always, within the annual RW wend residential and The Spirit Level theme this year has filled the College (up to 50). We are again organizing an informal preliminary to AGM discussion meeting for all members, 4.00pm for tea and cake, Fri 6th May, followed by the meeting. Comment by e-mail on issues and developments summarized here and elsewhere on these web-pages are also welcome from non-members anytime.

  1. As reported in earlier Newsletters, RWF does not have a large membership but with a good (steadily increasing) number of Life Members we are viable and able to focus on our aims, funding appropriate projects whilst extending our network of partners and contacts.

  1. This web-site has crept up the ‘google ladder’. Contact within the last month from Sydney, Australia (exchanges on pub/café meeting philosophy notes) ; from South America and Nepal (clinching RWF funding for a women’s education project) demonstrates work-in-progress.

  1. These are tough times for charities, as for everyone. There are predictions that up to a third of charities will close down in the next few years and most, if not all, survivors will experience a fall in support and income. Our informal network - using web, e-mail and phone for development and even decision-making (no costly infrastructure) - should enable continued work collaboratively and in partnership with other charities and organisations.

  1. Positive signs of this include a recent initiative by our Vice-Chair, John Kay, opening potential for partnership with Wortley Hall, near Sheffield on day and residential courses. More than that, Wortley Hall will join, accommodating specialist books, for the residential library project. The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere and Luther King House are now participating too taking the number of centres nationally involved to twelve . Full report and then approval for developments will be sought at the AGM. See special web-page on this project.

Derek Tatton, RWF Administrator.


Newsletter 6

Summary of Newsletter Number 6 January 2011

1. Projects for which support has been given during 2011 includeanNhAN : SEA Conference at WMC on Key Educational Issues for 2011 – Surveying the Landscape. Sat 26 February;
Railway Workers’ Culture Day School, with the WEA, Darlington Sat 9th April; subsidy for recently unemployed member to attend Literature tutorial at Barlaston; Issues in Politics WEA course; Rural Women’s Network for Education (RUWON) in Nepal; the annual RW W/end at WMC, 6-8th May on The Spirit Level; individual students for an annual Keele Summer School. Projects likely to gain support include an RW Society Day School on People of the Black Mountains at WMC and a Geology Day in Berwick-upon-Tweed.

2. Interesting to note thatRaymond Williams’ reputation is global - visitors to this web site are registered from the USA, Brazil, China, India, Australia and so on. It was through the web that contact was made - and now a partnership developing - with RUWON, Nepal. In coming months arrangements will be made on how best partnership funding from RWF will be able to assist education for some of the most desperately poor on the planet.

3. Plans are on-going for a residential library project as reported under head-line on this site

4. Work for projects and developments, above, is done mainly by e-mail and phone contact with a small group of RWF officers and activists (six) assisting and guiding the RWF Administrator. RWF has twenty trustees nationally, all of whom are involved with decision making on key issues. The network involving other charities, organizations and volunteers is wide and growing especially through the informal pub, café and bar discussion groups. However, gaining active and younger volunteers remains a priority for us, as for other charities.

5. Support for RWF increases steadily. A recent substantial bequest commitment and a donation of £500 indicates that our aims and achievements are seen to be worthy of generous financial backing. Membership renewals (January) with new subscriptions and donations, however modest, welcome anytime. AGM: preliminary discussion and planning 6 May, decisions 7 May
With thanks to all members, and best wishes for 2011.
Derek Tatton, RWF Administrator: ; 01538 370067

Newsletter  5 

August 2010 

1.    Funding agreed for autumn this year  includes:
Chad Goodwin’s  The Promise of Socialism… at WMC,  Barlaston.
The RWF subsidy for this has really worked:   19 booked by 26 August for this
late September week-end and we know that these numbers are high
because of the reduced-fee offer. 
We can be confident that RWF funding has contributed to viability of  these autumn 
residential courses:
WB Yeats  w/end at WMC in September
Big Questions mid-week  at Burton Manor in September
        Arnold Bennett  w/end at WMC in October     

2.   The proposed theme for our RW w/end in 2011 will be:
Why Equality is Better for Everyone.   This is the sub-title of the
widely acclaimed book   The Spirit Level  (Penguin 2010)
Venue confirmation and date for this has been delayed because of the review on the
future of the WMC, Barlaston.    As soon as details are available they will be posted
on this web-site.

3.   These are hard times for charities, as for everyone.   The Charity Commission’s latest
up-date on Collaborative Working and Mergers has a Foreword which offers this new 
‘… exploring opportunities for collaborative working and mergers are part and parcel of trusteeship in the present climate… an effective charity explores collaboration or partnership with other organisations.’
Almost all our 25 funded projects within the last two years have involved partnership   
or collaboration with other charities.
RWF trustees are exploring further opportunities - and the more donations
and bequests the more potential!

Number 4
April 2010

1. Our first 10 projects, starting from February 2009, were listed in Newsletter 3 in
December 09. Since January this year, the following have received some RWF funding

xi) Socrates w/end at Burton Manor College*
xii) Drondo - Esperanto (Diskut-rondo) discussion circle residential on big
themes at Wedgwood Memorial College (WMC), Barlaston.
xiii) Disadvantaged music student – support for study at Conservatoire
xiv) Pub, Café and Bar Discussion Circles residential experience-sharing at WMC*
xv) Dillington House, Somerset residential based on discussion circle themes*
xvi) Issues in Politics, WEA weekly course in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent
xvii) Democracy Day School, Berwick-upon-Tweed*
xviii) Geology Day School, Berwick-upon-Tweed.
* Funded from the RWF Learning Revolution – Transformation Fund

Future Funding agreed for:
xix) Annual RW w/end in May 2010 - filling the College with 40 participants...
xx) Assisting researcher at the RW Archive at Swansea University
xxi) Thomas Paine W/end at WMC, Barlaston
xxii) Arnold Bennett W/end at WMC, Barlaston
xxiii) W.B. Yeats W/end at WMC, Barlaston

‘Ball-park’ figure for those benefitting directly from RWF grants so far: 330.
Estimate of the number of voluntary activists working to facilitate projects so far, including the RWF trustees approving the funding: 55.
Reports continue to indicate that our relatively modest grants (roughly £300 for Day Schools, £500 for residentials) have made a significant contribution to viability and success.

2. The nearly £10k from the Government’s Learning Revolution – Transformation Fund
(LR – TF) helped consolidate RWF work. Crucially, the Socrates w/end above involved two philosophers who had participated in Melvyn Bragg’s In our Time radio programme on the same theme. 35 attended including good representation from pubs on Merseyside and in North Staffs (and 4 RWF Officers). A month later, in February, 40 joined the second residential above - also funded by LR –TF with participants from the informal network with the WEA, U3A and RWF (and 4 RWF Officers!) engaging in workshops, experience-sharing and training taking the project forward.

3. We have demonstrated that this growing informal network of pub, café and bar discussion
circles (visit which lists a whole range of these) can link with, and progress to, professionally taught Day and Residential Schools in association with RWF, the WEA, adult residential colleges and other institutions.

4. Our web-site, averages 40 new visitors each
week, and is kept up-to-date by web-master Bob Foster. It gives detailed information on all
developments mentioned here.

5. Against a background where adult education struggles to survive and anticipated public expenditure cuts will reduce further the range and number of courses especially within social, political and philosophical spheres, we believe that our project has proved to be a practical, cost-effective, way forward.


21 Jan 2010

Socrates weekend, 15-17th Jan, at Burton Manor College, Wirral,  attended by 36 adults including 8 from the Blue Mugge pub, Leek;  2 from The Lazy Trout,  Meerbrook,  North Staffs and at least  12 from Philosophy in Pubs (PiPs) in Liverpool. 
The Key-note Lecture on Socrates and Darwin was given by David Sedley, Professor of Ancient Philosophy, Cambridge who engaged with the central arguments from Socrates onwards about Creationism.   Darwin’s crucial role and impact on these arguments was stressed.    Fellow member of Melvyn Bragg’s In our Time team,  Angie Hobbs – now Senior Fellow in the Public Understanding of Philosophy -  followed through with two dazzling, inspirational, sessions on big public philosophical contemporary issues.

Discussion groups led by PiPs facilitators and a Sat. evening TV film session ensured that every session continued engagement with Socrates – the method and the arguments..   This successful weekend was organised by Derek Tatton, supported by RWF – TF financially,  and tutors were David Bates, Paul Doran but primarily Rob Lewis who provided extensive notes for participants. 

The strengths of this residential will be built upon, leading to other similar (WEA, maybe) Days and Residentials. 


Concurrently, a weekend course at the Wedgwood Memorial College, Barlaston, recruited recruited 17 Esperantists to discuss, in Esperanto,  big themes based on notes from the Mugge and Trout pubs  such as Citizenship,  Buddhism, Confidence, and Thatcherism. 
This was the 5th Drondo  (Esperanto for Diskut-rondo, or discussion circle),  led this time by Tim Owen, and it was subsidized by RWF – TF to widen participation,  which it did.
Rave reviews have been received demonstrating that the pub notes > residential and beyond can work and offer a model for future development.


Raymond Williams Foundation
Number 3
December 09

1.    Our first year, operating as the enlarged RWF, ends with 10 projects which we have supported financially:

    1. Farm2Grow (taster day, launching activities and courses involving socially and educationally disadvantaged)
    2. Annual WEA Raymond Williams W/end on Key Words at Barlaston
    3. BRASS (helping asylum seekers and refugees in Bolton)
    4. Art theory and practice  WEA residential at WMC, Barlaston
    5. Cuba Day in Berwick-upon-Tweed – lecture and discussion sessions
    6. Esperanto Drondo  (discussion circle on big themes) w/end at Barlaston
    7. NORSACA (Afro-Caribbean Association) Day at Barlaston
    8. Cambridge Womens’ Resource Centre, for educational courses
    9. Issues in Politics, WEA course in Stoke-on-Trent – keeping fees low.
    10. Oldham Refugees  educational support.

‘Ball-park’ estimate of number of students/learners benefitting directly from RWF grants for the above:    210.
Estimate of the number of voluntary activists working to facilitate the above, including the RWF trustees approving the projects:   38.

Report back indicates that our relatively modest grants (£hundreds but not £thousands, for each project) have made a significant contribution to success.
We have had warmly appreciative e-mails and letters including a Christmas card from the Cambridge Womens’ Resource Centre.
This is encouraging because it has all been achieved well within our annual budget (spending only from our investment income) so we may be able to do more, and even better, in 2010.

Trustees have approved support for several other projects, in principle.

2.     Membership has grown steadily through the year.  We have done better than expected in gaining Life Members.   Annual membership is renewable in January each year but, of course, we welcome new members throughout the year.
Many known to be sympathetic to RWF and strongly to Raymond’s Long Revolution have not yet joined.   We can, maybe, work on that in the coming year but no pressure is needed because we’re doing well with a viable and growing membership.

3.    Our web-site continues to expand and improve, kept up-to-date at least monthly by web-master Bob Foster.    The links and number of visitors have increased, especially in recent months.

4.    The programme leaflet for the 2010 week-end at Barlaston had been produced by late November this year, earlier than in recent times.  The programme can be seen on our web-site and all who enrolled for this annual week-end in recent years should have received copy by e-mail or post.   If you would like copy/ies please contact me.   We are on course again to fill the College.

5.    Our successful application for funding from the Government’s Learning Revolution –Transformation Fund (LR –TF) has given a dramatic boost to the Foundation, raising our profile nationally.   The detail on this can be found on the RWF web-site.   The aim has been ambitious, linking pub circles in North Staffs and Liverpool to other informal groups (café philosophique, sci-bars, U3A philosophy and politics courses) to professionally taught, RWF funded  WEA courses,  day and residential schools at adult residential colleges.  
A striking success to date has been the Socrates residential week-end next January 2010, for which the lecturers and tutors include two of the country’ most distinguished academic philosophers (both discussed Socrates with Melvyn Bragg in the BBC ‘In our Time’ series).   The w/end was fully booked just three weeks after the promotion date, including good numbers from the pub circles (20 or so).
The planned experience-sharing and training week-end at Barlaston in February
will bring together  a good range of participants from ‘informal learning’ circles and groups.    That will help boost the project generally, given the WEA’s recently announced aim ‘to create models of informal adult learning which are defined and controlled by adult learners themselves…’.    We are in the vanguard in this sphere and will seek to consolidate the work, as above, in partnership with the WEA.      

6.     The latest news on the future of the Wedgwood Memorial College is that the review conducted by the City of Stoke-on-Trent will be presented with recommendation – based on plans and costs for total refurbishment, but also including the option of closure – for consultation in March.    Carol Smith, the temporary Principal, is taking early retirement from the end of March. Meanwhile, RWF has made positive proposals to Carol offering further financial support for residential and day courses in 2010.

7.     Partnerships are crucial for RWF and over the last twelve months direct links and co-operative work has been achieved with over 14 organisations.

8.     The successes summarised in this Newsletter offer eloquent testimony that Dudley Pretty’s intentions embodied through his exceptional bequest are being honoured.   Further fund-raising to strengthen voluntary networks will be on the agenda in coming months.  An RWF legacy form is still being drafted - it is clear that legacies (more modest maybe than Dudley’s) could, for the foreseeable future, be a most helpful way to underpin the Foundation and its work.

With best wishes for the Yuletide season and for 2010,

Derek Tatton,
RWF Administrator         Phone:   01538 370067