No longer use Bathgate Galaday to celebrate John Newlands, slave and plantation owner

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Bathgate Galaday Name Change

Dear All,  I am very pleased to share the following announcement that has been made by the Bathgate Galaday Committee this morning, 08/11/2021:  "In 2020 the committee of Bathgate Procession & John Newland Festival received multiple requests to consider its ongoing linkage to John Newland due to his historic relationship with the slave trade. This is not the first time this issue has been raised, we have previously had conversations around our links to John Newland and how we can ensure the event is as inclusive as possible in our modern society. What became clear in 2020 was that we as a committee were unaware of the full implications such a change would involve and we set ourselves the task of rectifying this. The procession committee has now taken legal advice on the repercussions of changing the name and the steps required to do so. On Thursday 7 October 2021, in line with our articles of association and the legal advice received, a committee meeting was held to vote on the name change. At that meeting a majority vote was recorded in favour of amending the name Bathgate Procession & John Newland Festival. A further vote by a majority of the committee approved a new name and moving forward Bathgate Procession & Community Festival will be an inclusive community event for all. We are now working to take the necessary steps to fully implement the name change. The committee has also previously received a number of questions regarding the name change, for your convenience we have outlined our response to these below. As a voluntary organisation this process has been a significant undertaking for the committee, we would like to thank the community of Bathgate for their ongoing contribution and understanding. After COVID restrictions have sadly left us without a Procession Day for 2 years, the committee are now focussed on planning 2022’s event and look forward to seeing the local community come together to celebrate! Previously asked questions:1. Is this not erasing the past?We do not believe we are erasing the past, we are deciding to no longer promote it. John Newland was celebrated as part of this event due to the sum of money he left which funded schools in Bathgate & Armadale, including the old Bathgate academy. In the spirit of education and community we need to continue to grow and evolve with our modern society. By making this change, we believe that we are acknowledging and learning from our past, rather than ignoring it. We strive to continue to use this event as a platform to educate our town on its history, however we believe what should now be celebrated is the diversity of our amazing community and its members who continue to do wonderful things for the good of others.2. Will you still use the old academy building as a location during the event & your logo?We acknowledge that the building was funded through the bequest of a man who made his wealth from slavery. We cannot change the history of where the building came from but we can try to redress it by giving this building lots of new moments in history that we can be proud to look back on. The old Bathgate academy was built to have a positive impact on our community rather than as a memorial to the man himself. To us, this building represents education, betterment and community which are all traits we want to remain associated with the procession and why we will continue to use the building at this point in time.3. What about other locations / organisations in Bathgate with links to the slave trade?These are not in our control to change and we are not in power to address anything other than the procession itself." Thank you to everyone who took the time to sign this petition, and to add pressure to this important change. We can be proud of the message this sends out and can continue to work towards a fairer and more equal society. I hope everyone has a fantastic Galaday in 2022 - I look forward to celebrating the Bathgate Procession and Community Festival. 

3 months ago