Each year at the AHS Convention, we like to give awards to societies who we believe have done exceptional work in the previous year. This year is no exception! Meet our award-winners below:
Northampton Atheist, Humanistic & Secularist Society
Northampton hit the ground running last year, with a very enthusiastic team organising a wide range of events. They hosted ‘The Big Debate’ with their local Islamic Society, which featured Northampton’s President Hari Parekh and the BHA’s Andrew Copson forming an excellent debating team, as well as several events touching on topics from Atheism in Africa, featuring Leo Igwe, LGBT rights, freedom of expression, monarchy, the neuropsychology of morality and Humanist involvement in Remembrance Day. They’ve also had a fast-growing community, thanks to their hard work and regular social events.
Northampton’s AHS Society also won a Gold Award from their Student Union in March, leapfrogging all of the religious societies on campus – which they were very pleased with!
The University of Exeter Atheist, Humanist & Secular Society
Exeter put on a fantastic calendar of events, including talks from AC Grayling, Peter Tatchell, Francesca Stavrakopoulou and Andrew Copson, several excellent debates and discussions, fantastic charity drives and social events, which were organised by a very dedicated committee. They also achieved a lot and deserve to be congratulated for a very good year.
UCLan SU Atheist, Humanist & Secularist Society
UCLan made a great start with ‘An Evening of Science & Reason’ featuring the BBC’s George McGavin and Dr Robert Asher of the University of Cambridge, and continued to put on high calibre events, including a Tribute to Terry Pratchett and arranged a North West AHS society tour for Professor of Alternative Medicine Edzard Ernst.
Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists
After a year or two of less activity, Warwick returned with renewed vigor, and an impressive calendar full of activities. On top of several successful speaker events including AC Grayling, Bob Churchill, David Pollock and Andrew Copson, regular film showings, coupled with discussions, have ensured that the society has continued to gain popularity throughout the year.
The sheer number of feature events has been impressive, as has their increasingly high attendance figures, and growing membership. Their use of documentary film screenings, coupled with a discussion, have been drawing a crowd and increasing members’ involvement at events. Such topics included
Durham Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society
Durham also deserve recognition for their achievements this year: they have continued to see strong growth of the society, with well known guest speakers Martin Poulter, Mark Cairns and Andrew Copson, as well as more local experts, including a Humanist celebrant, a neuropsychologist, and an astrophysics professor/church leader, leading discussions on important and interesting topics like Humanist marriage, morality and the dichotomy of science and religion, alongside fundraising and a variety of socials.
University of Leicester Atheist, Humanist and Secular Society
Leicester had been dormant for a few years, but since their first social at the end of January, Leicester have been getting the ball rolling with a film showing, a lecture from a local speaker, and already showing promise by planning lots of events for future months.
Queen Mary Atheism, Secularism and Humanism Society
For hosting the first public event with Faith to Faithless (aka Interfaithless).
This fantastic campaign was launched at the Queen Mary University of London, in collaboration with students from several other London universities, who took the opportunity to share and discuss their experiences of leaving Islam, and losing their faith. The launch event drew a good crowd, and the campaign’s online videos have gained lots of support and appreciation, including articles in several national newspapers and retweets from many well known Humanists including Richard Dawkins. Not only has the campaign explored ‘coming out’ as an atheist from a Muslim family, but also coming out as gay at the same time, however these serious topics were dealt with in a very honest, accessible and often humourous way. It received much press attention, including articles in the Spectator and TimesOnline.
We wanted to recognise the efforts that the Queen Mary AHS society put into hosting the launch of this fantastic campaign, and bring attention to future Faith to Faithless events that are to be held at other universities in the South East.
University of Nottingham Agnostics, Secularists and Humanists Society
For their contributions to Non Prophet Week.
Nottingham gave a fantastic contribution to Non Prophet Week, raising exactly £1234.50, by far more than any other AHS society. Much of this was raised by society member Jessica Barnes, who was sponsored for shaving off all of her hair. They also ran a programme of events throughout the week such as a viewing of the documentary God Loves Uganda, a book night, and Ask an Atheist event, and other sponsored personal challenges.
The money raised by the AHS (including Nottingham) went to the Uganda Humanist Schools Trust, a charity dedicated to providing a good quality secular education to young people who might not otherwise receive any schooling. The money that was raised during Non Prophet Week has contributed to the constant upkeep and improvement of the schools, and helped with the building of a new hostel for students who live many miles away from Isaac Newton High School, so that they can spend more time getting an education. Check out this article from the UHST.
University of Sheffield Secular & Atheist Society
For hosting Sheffield Freethought Convention.
Sheffield did a fantastic job hosting a weekend-long conference back in February, packed full of great speakers and workshops, with a great community feel. The Saturday featured a wide selection of talks from a great selection of speakers, including author David Fitzgerald (flown in from the USA), activist Amal Farah, Lola Tinubu & Clive Aruede of London Black Atheists, the NSS’s Alastair Lichten, the BHA’s Andrew Copson, and Alice Fuller of Young Humanists, and the Sunday saw some fantastic workshops and discussions run by some of the Saturday’s speakers.
It was an exceptionally well-run event, with a great attention to detail, such as pre-booked accommodation, meal and social venues, making the whole weekend run very smoothly. It’s safe to say that it’s the new benchmark for all future regional conventions. You can hear (President of Sheffield) Sylvia’s side of the story here.