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In the summer issue of the magazine we called on Members to share stories of your experiences of being a part of what we do.

We received an email from Pamela Charlton, a founder member of the first Society, who reflects on how The Arts Society has impacted her life and reveals some personal insights into how it all began.


It began when a certain young woman called Patricia Fay, married to a barrister, and with two small daughters, had to lie down for several hours each day to help improve her back problem. To relieve boredom she went to the local public library to find something to read and happened to choose some books on antiques. She became very interested and some of the friends that visited her to keep her company and have coffee with her, also found them interesting, so much so that quite a small group was formed.

When Patricia got better and was able to lead a more normal life she and her friends continued to meet and learn more about the subject which they had found so absorbing. Word got round, many young women felt that being tethered at home with small children lacked stimulation and the subject seemed to give them just that chance to think of something else. By this time Patricia had become full of enthusiasm and felt that something could be organised. And that is how it began.

The Arts Society (then NADFAS) founder Patricia Fay

I heard about this new venture, known as “The Chiltern Antiques Group” and was holding meetings in a hall in Chalfont St. Peter, but I could not get in to start with; in no time at all they had to close the membership and form a waiting list. Little did she know where it was all going to lead, nor did she realise that she had the enthusiasm and great ability for just such a task; she knew what she wanted to do and had the wonderful talent to inspire others with her enthusiasm and persuade them to do what was required.

Before long Patricia had persuaded a friend to break away and start another Society and before long 6 Societies had sprung up. I suppose it must be at this time (March 1967) I received a letter from Patricia Fay offering me membership and as both my friends also wanted to join and had been offered places, the three of us became members and have never regretted it.

Just before Patricia died, when a hospital cleaner asked her why she was awarded an O.B.E. she had to stop and think how to explain what NADFAS meant but settled by saying “I think it must have been for trying to make other housewives happy by discovering the beauty of art”. Another remark that Patricia said more than once was “I do hope NADFAS will not become too serious. It was always meant to be FUN”. And I have always found it so!

On a personal note on how it has impacted on my own life; not only was I a member of the original Society but I have also been a member of 6 other Societies, depending where we had moved to live. Currently I am a member of The Arts Society Wantage and I believe membership here stands at something over 400. The whole concept was magical and did indeed fill a great need among young housewives. The standard of lectures is extremely high and even if the title of a subject does not sound very interesting, you can rest assured that it will be a lecture not to be missed!


Tell us how The Arts Society has impacted your life for the better! Post a comment below or share your stories on social media using the hashtag #MyArtsSociety


This blog is composed by Florian Schweizer, CEO of The Arts Society, and made up of contributions by him and invited guest bloggers.

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