Annual Review 2015

About the photography in this publication

The images of Birmingham in this year’s annual review were taken by local professional photographer Verity Milligan. Her work has been licensed globally, and commissioned by companies such as Carillion PLC and Taylors of Harrogate. Her stunning landscapes of the city and eagerness to create a positive image of Birmingham have attracted a large following on social media, awards and national press coverage. She is keen to connect with people in the city and is available for commissions.

To contact Verity or nd out more about her work, visit

Stimulating ideas and catalysing action

The ethos of The Lunar Society is to ensure that those issues likely to affect us in the years ahead are the subjects of today. The Society exists to stimulate ideas…broaden debate… and catalyse action.

The past year has been no exception, writes the Chairman of The Lunar Society, Waheed Saleem.

During the past 12 months, the Society
has engaged with prominent speakers from all walks of life and added to the debate on issues as diverse as the European Convention of Human Rights, the preservation of our heritage, community engagement in schools, technology in vehicles and macro and micro economics – to name but a few.

We have done so impartially, apolitically and independently – with the interests of the people of Birmingham and the wider area at our heart, true to the beliefs of our founders.

This is my last review as chairman of the Society. It has been a privilege to serve the Society and Birmingham and to be part of an organisation that can be not only proud of its heritage, but also take pride in the contribution The Lunar Society makes to our society.

One of my proudest moments has been when honorary member of the Society, Birmingham’s Lord Mayor Cllr. Sha que Shah, lead the Westminster Abbey service for Matthew Boulton, one of the Society’s founding members. It was fantastic to see Boulton’s huge historic contribution to the city, and indeed the nation, being recognised.

Another proud moment was the awarding of the prestigious Lunar Medal to the Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands, Paul Sabapathy CBE who formally received the medal at our annual dinner in November. The medal is awarded by the Society to those who have recorded outstanding achievements and contributed signi cantly to the Society’s aim of furthering social

and economic improvements in the West Midlands.

There could not be a more worthy recipient. As the Lord-Lieutenant, Mr Sabapathy is
her Majesty the Queen’s representative in the West Midlands. Throughout his time

in the UK – he was born in Chennai, India and moved here in 1964 – he has worked tirelessly in industry, healthcare, for charity and with the community. His e orts embody the values of the Society.

The presentation coincided with a keynote speech at the Society’s annual dinner in November by the Attorney General, Jeremy Wright, QC, MP who spoke and answered questions on a range of topics including the European Convention on Human Rights. He told nearly 200 guests that a future Conservative government would be prepared to withdraw from the European Convention if Britain failed to secure a

new approach from the European Court of Human Rights.

Human rights were also central to the Society’s discussions about an issue that generated international debate – the so- called ‘Trojan Horse issue’. Mark Rogers, Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council, chose a Lunar Society event to make his rst public statement on the issue since the publication of reports from separate enquiries. In an open discussion, attended by a good representation of Birmingham’s diversity, he was clearly con dent that “opportunities would arise from adversity”.

The Society has continued to provide a forum for debate with a further joint event with the Birmingham-based equality charity BRAP and supported by Barrow Cadbury Trust (whose support of the Society we gratefully acknowledge).

Nearly thirty participants from a range of  fields attended – including headteachers, school governors, voluntary sector sta , academics, parents, and activists.

Meanwhile, local MP Andrew Mitchell
and former Parliamentary Secretary to
the Treasury and Chief Whip, spoke at an event hosted by the Society’s business
and economy group, on his vision for Birmingham and its economy. This group also hosted a dinner at which the principal speaker was Lord Stevenson of Balmacara, shadow spokesperson on business, innovation and skills.

We have partnered extensively with the city’s universities. Dr Tim Haughton, reader in European Politics at the University of Birmingham, together with MEP Siôn Simon, spoke as part of a pre-election debate on ‘The role of the UK in Europe’ – an issue
that is likely to dominate the headlines throughout the coming year.

Meanwhile, in conjunction with Aston University, Prof George Feiger, Executive Dean of Aston Business School, delivered the Society’s 2014 Boulton and Watt commemoration lecture, ‘If Wishes Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride’. He spoke
of the complexity of global nance, the
lack of e ective controls, and the risks of institutionalising incentives that encourage rather than discourage excessive risk taking.

In our annual lecture held at Birmingham City University, global connected car director at Jaguar Land Rover Dr Mike Bell spoke about the role of advanced technology in vehicles – and how this technology is vital in furthering our road safety.

Health issues were the focus of corporate partnerships – we worked with Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust to provide a discussion on its Healthy Villages programme, held a visit to Birmingham Women’s Hospital and conducted important debates about health issues in our local area.