I read Steve Wharton’s excellent tribute to Betty Suchar and wondered if there was also a way of acknowledging the tremendous support Betty gave to outside groups who were fortunate enough to hold regular meetings in Queen Square.
I organised poetry workshops and poetry events in Queen Square for many years, first under the title of Bath Poetry Cafe and later, as we expanded our reach, as Bath Writers & Artists group. We were ambitious in our aspiration not only to represent the best of contemporary West Country poetry, but to mix this offering seamlessly with readings from the best poetry of the past. Being in the wonderful surroundings of Bath Royal helped us secure appreciative audiences for our events and this in turn helped us survive when Arts Council and other public funding disappeared.
People loved spending time in the Queen Square building and the warm welcome they received when they were part of one of our events. We were always hugely supported by Bob Draper and the office staff, for whose unfailing kindness and helpfulness we are all very grateful. Less visible, perhaps, but really central to our continuance through the years, was Betty’s passionate support for poetry and encouraging presence as a continuing quiet inspiration to extend our reach and spread our wings.
I’m sure we were only one among many local groups for whom Betty Suchar’s presence in the institution was not only a great strength, but a beacon of excellence. If it were possible to add this little tribute to the many you must have from people who had the privilege and pleasure of working in Bath Royal during the past decade, I and the members of Bath Writers & Artists group would be very grateful.
If you can’t make it into the building this week to bid farewell to Betty, please send your message to: firstname.lastname@example.org