All Change! at the Quaker Council for European Affairs
After a decade of representing Quakers in Brussels, Liz Scurfield and Martina Weitsch are handing over the reins. Over the past 33 years, successive Representatives have acted as the voice of Quakers at European institutions. After ten years of hard work in Brussels, Liz and Martina are the longest serving Representatives in the history of QCEA. However, from October 2012, the Quaker voice in Brussels will have two new faces.
Alexandra Bosbeer, a Friend of 20 years’ standing says: ‘This opportunity to promote Quaker values is very exciting, and I am very much looking forward to two-way communication with other European Quakers on issues of importance to us.’
Internationalism has always been a part of Alexandra’s life, starting with a childhood spent in three countries with a mixed-nationality family and later working in a wide range of countries. She has recently been blogging about her experiences in Central America and thoughts regarding social injustice from a Quakerly point of view. She was also lately involved in witnessing and supporting the Occupy movement in Portland, Oregon, together with local Quakers. Alexandra’s previous experience includes managing part of the international accreditation programme for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and fifteen years in Ireland teaching environmental and social forest management. In addition to photography and blogging, she is a keen potter.
Gordon Matthews, a birthright Friend, and a former Senior Volunteer at QCEA is ‘passionately committed to working for justice, peace and environmental sustainability, and especially looking forward to engaging in advocacy on behalf of Quakers at the European level.’
Gordon Matthews has been the warden of the Quaker Meeting House in Evesham since 2004. From 2007 to 2011 he served as a town councillor. Gordon attended Sidcot Friends School and studied environmental science at the University of Bradford. He lived at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre whilst training to be a teacher. He has worked for most of his adult life either for Quaker bodies or for ecumenical peace organisations. He has served with the Quaker Peace Action Caravan (January – March 1981), the Fellowship of Reconciliation in England (1981-1986), Charney Manor (1987-1990), Church & Peace (1990-1997), and Quaeker-Hilfe (1998-2001).
Liz and Martina, looking back over these last 10 exhilarating years in which they have been privileged to serve Friends as their voice in Europe, reflect on their contributions to policy development, and to the growth and prospering of a number of NGO networks inspired and co-founded by QCEA. Martina and Liz are delighted to leave the solid foundations they have built with such capable successors to take the work forward in new directions. Liz comments, ‘We are handing over an organisation that is well known to and well respected by decision-makers and NGO colleagues alike.’ Martina adds, ‘A decade of continuous management has put QCEA on solid ground with a heightened profile among European Quakers and others.’ Liz and Martina are also proud to leave a beautifully renovated Quaker House Brussels. This resource acts as a central meeting point for many groups and organisations as well as the physical presence of Friends in Belgium.