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Promoting Quaker values in Business and the Workplace

Eric Walker

Eric Walker

How our 'business' relates to our belonging to Quakers

Back in 1958 I (Eric Walker) was working as a freelance for British Transport Films which was part of British Railways. My wife (Lydia Vulliamy) was helping in my business which was supplying a 16mm film projection service to various companies, local authorities etc. We became involved in the ban the bomb movement and I collected a couple of friends and we filmed the first sit-down at a Thor rocket site at Swaffham in Norfolk. We called ourselves the NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT NEWSREEL COMMITTEE. We made a very amateurish film and started renting it out on 16mm to the CND groups which were springing up. We then made more films of anti-nuclear bomb activities and started to buy professionally made films such as 'Neighbours' from the National Film Board of Canada.

Up until this time I had no contact with Quakers apart from showing films in what were rooms 7,8,and 9 at Friends House. (By chance my wife had an aunt who had worked for the Friends Ambulance Unit in Spain in 1937 although she (the aunt) considered herself to be an atheist.)

And so our little library of peace films slowly grew. In about 1960, the then Friends Peace Committee started to organise showing of films related to peace in the large Meeting Hall. Up to about 800 people, mainly teachers I think, used to come. In those days it was quite a technical problem to show 16mm film in such a large hall. I used to undertake this work.

Through this and because our film library was growing and supplying more and more of the films shown by FPC we began to learn more about Quakers and started attending very infrequently Muswell Hill Meeting. About this time the secretary of Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (as Oxfam was still called) and the secretary of War on Want asked to have a meeting with us and suggested that we, as well as having films of protest, should also have films about the needs of the world. They said that both organisations were going to use film as a publicity tool and would we handle the distribution. This we gladly did.

Also, through my film projection service, I had contact with people with films about child care and so the social services side of our distribution started to grow.

In 1965 we moved to Ipswich and started attending Ipswich Meeting.

I had never been involved in any religious bodies. As a child I was sent to Sunday School but was allowed to choose which one. I did this I think on the basis of which one has the most attractive summer excursion! Lydia was brought up without any religious education except that she attended an R.C. infants school which was just over the fence from her house.

I was much more involved in left wing politics from a very early age. I can remember sitting on a Co-op lorry during a May Day procession, holding a bucket collecting coins for the Milk for Spain campaign run by the Nottingham Co-op. Now we are both members of the Green Party.

I didn't consider myself a pacifist, indeed I volunteered as soon as I could during WW2 although the branch I served in could not have been called aggressive as it was a joint army/navy service called 'Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships'.