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A Brief History of Harpenden UNA, 1934 - 2006





This History conveys a remarkable picture of the dedication of a small nucleus of Harpenden residents active as members of a Branch committee.  Over the decades the individuals in the committee have changed but always there was a readiness among that minority of the population to organise meetings, sermons, exhibitions and other events so that they, members of the Branch and Harpenden people in general could learn, consider and comment on conditions, events and activities outside the U.K.

This outward concern did not start with the formation of the Harpenden UNA in 1947 for there was since 1922 a Branch of the League of Nations Union in Harpenden.  The 60-year history of UNA Branch is preceded by extracts from such of the LNU Branch records as are available.  Decade by decade the Branch committees have worked hard to organise meetings and other events to provide a window on the world.

There is extensive coverage in the media of overseas affairs but there is nothing like practitioners in various fields coming to a local meeting, answering questions and responding to points made in discussion with members of the audience, many of whom have experience in the country, region or service which is the focus of the meeting.

As a village or town with international connections Harpenden has over the past 60 years a lot going for it.  Most notable is Rothamsted, the world-class agricultural research station.  The very active Churches in Harpenden with their international outlook and missionary activities are another source of strength.  Professionals of many kinds, who have travelled overseas on behalf of business, voluntary bodies, Government and the UN agencies and have made their home in Harpenden, contribute greatly to discussions on overseas issues.  Such richness of experience has enabled Harpenden UNA Branch to make particularly cogent views and calls to action known through UNA-UK to our Government.

Audiences at meetings vary greatly.  Some meetings are packed - for example, when a talk is given by a Government Minister or when a Harpenden G.P. talks about his experiences during a sabbatical on an overseas project carried out on behalf of a Charity.  Other meetings are sparsely attended - though generally still worthwhile for those taking part.

Those who joined UNA and its predecessor because of first-hand experience of war have greatly diminished in number.  As a result, Harpenden Branch has, with considerable success, devoted much time and innovative effort to making schoolchildren aware of international issues in general and the United Nations in particular.

The History of the UNA Branch and its predecessor LNU Branch together provide a fascinating glimpse of Harpenden personalities and their international concerns from between the two World Wars to the present time.  In compiling the History, Gavin Ross and Trevor Evans have provided a great service to Harpenden as well as to UNA.

Harold Beck

Branch Chairman 1976 -1985

January 2007


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