...that Freedom2Choose holds it's AGM. And through marital commitments to my ailing wife I cannot be there but I do hope they have a good one, which I know they will.
Freedom2Choose was borne out of a forum, pre smoking ban, in 2004/5 and went on to become the F2C forum we know today, in 2007. In March 2007 I joined the now defunct The Big Debate after a 7 day stay at our wonderful NHS local hospital for a skin ailment that for years before was called by our esteemed doctors and consultants as eczema but, after much prodding, pulling and a biopsy they came down on the side of Psoriasis? No wonder I have no faith in the medical profession these days.
It was many months before the smoking ban when I was asked to go in and to say I was not happy about it is an understatement. It was not the fear of the hospital but the knowledge that I could not smoke, which I didn't want to do inside anyway, but there where signs up everywhere outside with the ubiquitous red symbol that said you could not smoke...where I/we eventually stood with other smokers underneath those very same signs, smokers with an FU attitude. The hospital even had a very large tarpaulin banner for visitors to see as they drove in saying: WELCOME TO A SMOKEFREE MIDDLESBROUGH. Boy were the anti smokers reveling in their victory to be enacted shortly afterwards on the 1st of July 2007...which started my quest to find justice for smokers who will not bend to lies and deceit by those who seek to denormalise them/me!
I was never so happy when I left that place seven days later.
I was in shock, or denial, that the smoking ban would ever happen but determined to find out if there were other people out there like me who were stunned by this cataclysmic piece of legislation. Things did not bode well when, after release from the hospital, my first port of call was my local for a pint and a cigarette. Talking to a local with my views he said he was not a smoker and he was glad of the legislation as smoking and smokers was foul etc. etc. After that it was then I found The Big Debate on the Internet.
Towards the end of 2008 we on the forum decided to become an organisation getting it's funding by membership and on the 24th of December 2008 I became the proud owner of Membership Card No 1. I managed to go to the first AGM but had problems ever since to get to them, but I have digressed enough.
Today's AGM is our two yearly proposed change of the executive and I am sad to announce that Phil Johnson will not be standing for reselection as Chairman due to health problems. This is a great loss to F2C as Phil has brought the Shisha bar associations as well as the CIU into our way of thinking, not that they had to think much, and kept them onboard to F2C's initiatives and direction.
As Chairman Phil has made a mistake or two, haven't we all, but has stuck by his resolve to bin this vile ban. Like no other chairman before he has been to meet members locally and visited us here in the North East at our meetings at a pub outside Leeds, which has now lost it's anti smoking ban landlord, and you all know why.
Phil will stay with F2C and for six months will mentor our new chairman elect Dave Atherton to get him up to speed. Phil will also stay as our pubs and clubs liaison officer.
To paraphrase: The king has gone, (Phil Johnson), long live the king, (Dave Atherton.)