The AHS started with Secular Portal, a now-defunct online forum for members of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student societies. Discussions there led to the organising of the Secular Student Conference hosted by Edinburgh Humanist Society that June, effectively the AHS’s first AGM. The Conference was attended by students from Durham, Edinburgh, Keele, Leeds, Oxford and Warwick and representatives from the British Humanist Association, National Secular Society and the Humanist Society of Scotland. The name and nature of the National Federation was agreed at this Conference.
Over the next 5 months a constitution was drafted, and in November an Extraordinary General Meeting was hosted by Leeds Atheist Society to ratify this constitution, and the AHS was officially founded. The first Cabinet and Trustees were elected, and membership fees were set. Norman Ralph became the first President. The first website was launched shortly after.
From here, the AHS began organising its Press Launch. This occurred on 19 February 2009 at Conway Hall in London, and featured guest speakers Richard Dawkins, AC Grayling and Polly Toynbee, along with many students and other distinguished guests. An irreligious fair of sorts was held, with stands from the NSS, BHA, Accord, the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Waterstones. This got the AHS a lot of press coverage. The first issue of Secular Future, the AHS’s Magazine, was released.
“I wish the new federation well, warmly applaud the initiative that has brought it into existence, and feel happier about the future as a result. This is more than another candle in the dark, it is a whole candelabrum, shining its welcome light onto the forward path, for the many who see the world as a natural realm, for which the responsibility – for the planet’s health as for the peace, flourishing and good of all its human residents – belongs to humankind alone.”A. C. Grayling, The Guardian, Feb 2009.
The second AHS AGM was held in June 2009, hosted by Warwick Atheist Society, and saw the election of the second Cabinet, with Jenna Catley becoming President. The Regional Development Officer Scheme was launched at this AGM, and the first batch of RDOs were elected.
The second Convention was held on 27th February 2010, and hosted by the Oxford Atheist Society and Oxford Secular Society as part of Oxford Think Week. The event focused on training, with several workshops running throughout the day. The irreligious fair now featured the NSS, BHA, New Humanist, Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association, 10:23 Campaign, Camp Quest UK, Iran Solidarity UK and Chris Worfolk Foundation, and the day was capped off with a performance by the BHA Choir.
The third AGM was hosted by Bristol Atheist, Agnostic and Secular Society. Richy Thompson was elected the third President, and the AHS was reconstituted to be facilitated and supported by the British Humanist Association. By now the Speaker, Film and Debate Directories had been created, the regular Newsletter had started and the new (and current) website was launched.
The third year has been going well so far – look round the website to see what we’ve been up to!