In the spring of 2008 Ben Fielding, one of our earliest members and our Chairman
for the last 15 years, announced that he would be standing down from the office –
which was somewhat of a surprise until we appreciated that Ben was then in his ninetieth
Ben was a good chairman, hardly ever missing a meeting, who took charge of proceedings
with a quiet and friendly authority, although never afraid to wield the gavel to
bring order to a discussion! His good humour and warm welcome always put guest speakers
at ease from the start. After a talk Ben was often called upon to give the vote of
thanks, which he always delivered with absolute sincerity and enthusiasm. Due to
his advancing age Ben made the decision that attending evening meetings was now too
tiring and therefore he could no longer be an active member of the society. This
decision was not made lightly as he thoroughly enjoyed not only the programme of
meetings every year but also the friendship of many members. Ben was always seen
as the society’s patriarch.
How do you mark such a term of membership and service to the society? The committee
and general membership discussed this issue at some length and it was finally decided
at the AGM in October 2008 that there could be no better way to show the society’s
appreciation than to name the principal lecture of the year in Ben’s honour. It was
also naturally approved that he should be granted life membership.
The November meeting had always been set aside for important guest speakers and so
it was unanimously agreed that in future this would be known as ‘The Fielding Lecture’.
November 2008 was the first meeting to bear this fine title, the guest speaker being
Dr. Barrie Cook of the British Museum who gave a fascinating lecture on The Importance
of Tudor Pattern Coins - a fitting start to what is sure to be the highlight in our
annual programme of meetings and a lasting commemoration of the service given by
one of our hobby's true gentlemen.
Ben remained interested in, and closely in touch with, the proceedings of our Society
until his death in 2013