Belleek International Collectors Society
United Kingdom Group

Convention 2005 Grand Rapids Michigan




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Convention issue of UK Newsletter

The Belleek Collectors International Society holds a bi-annual convention. Generally, our conventions are based in America, but during 1997 collectors made the journey to the UK for our own event in Stoke on Trent and ten years later, Belleek Pottery hosted the 2007 convention as part of their 150th anniversary celebrations at the pottery in County Fermanagh.

This page looks in brief at the 2005 Convention hosted by the Great Lakes Michigan Chapter at the Crowne Plaza, Grand Rapids.. More available in our Newsletter which can be downloaded. Please click on Newsletter cover below left to view.

2005 Convention plate

Grand Rapids convention Poster
David Reynolds our Chairman during 2005 reports on the convention.....  

"The 2005 Belleek Convention in Grand Rapids, Michigan followed in the footsteps of previous conventions and was a resounding success, for the organisers and for those Belleek collectors who made the journey to Michigan including both myself, Chris and the Tubb and Wotton families representing the UK Group. Thanks to the tireless work and determination of Phyllis Bagnall, The Convention Co-ordinator, the whole event ran smoothly, Don Campbell was again our Master of Ceremonies and seems to have forged quite a niche for himself in this role.  There were a variety of speakers and presentations, details of which can be found in our newsletter. This year's Hall of Fame Honoree was Roland Glendinning from the Trillium Chapter, Ontario, Canada and he was handed the chain of office by Joan Crowe (2004 honoree) from the Empire Chapter, New York.  Roland's acceptance address is reproduced below together with a picture of him with his friend Mary Cross and Evelyn Twiss our 1992 Honoree. Apart from the presentations, the convention attendees were treated to some most interesting visits and these are detailed in our newsletter. On a final note I wonder how many Belleek Collectors live on Wealthy Street, Grand Rapids, or do they just pass that way whilst visiting the downtown antiques village where Chris and I found a great selection of Belleek for sale."

Wealthy Street Road Sign

Handing over Chain of Office
Above Previous year's Honoree Joan Crowe preparing to hand over Chain of Office to our 2005 Honoree Roland Glendinning

Reproduced below is Roland's acceptance speech

" It is a distinct honour to be chosen as the 20th Belleek Collectors’ International Society’s Honouree and to be included among so many distinguished friends in the pottery’s Hall of Fame. This, for me, is a long way from being a quiet farm-boy in Ireland, to being recognized among my peers in the BCIS. As a boy I had to whitewash all the farm buildings each summer with limestone which came from County Fermanagh (my Dad wouldn’t use any other kind!). Each year I was tremendously impressed that the buildings glistened like pearls in the sunlight. Now as I look back, with my knowledge of the history of the Belleek pottery, I have a feeling that this must have been a similar experience to that of John Caldwell Bloomfield who, back in the 1850's, noticed the special qualities of the pottery clay around the village of Belleek in County Fermanagh. So maybe I stand in a long line of those impressed with the very basics of the pottery’s origins! The pottery, of course, has made significant progress since those early days, especially under the direction of Dr. George and Angela Moore. On my first trip to the pottery in 1960, our small tour group almost collided with a ware-carrier who was coming down the winding stone stairway with two long wooden planks on his shoulder. The planks were separated by bricks at each end, and each plank was loaded with "green ware" (teapots, jugs, vases and other ornamental pieces), as he made his way down to the kilns. It’s not like that today. In recent years the pottery has become one of the most modern in all of Europe. However, it still maintains that total hand-crafted quality process which has made Belleek parian china renowned around the world. All of us who love collecting Belleek and especially the members of BCIS, owe a great debt of gratitude to George and Angela for improving the facility; for maintaining the historical quality; and for extending the promotion of our beloved Belleek around the world. We thank you both! Collecting Belleek has added a magnificent dimension to our lives through the years. We have made so many wonderful and lasting friendships – antique dealers, auctioneers, collectors across Canada, the USA and around the world; with the members of the BCIS and the Moores among our very special friends. I have had many opportunities to speak about Belleek to community organizations, such as historical societies, ceramic associations and china collectors in our Province of Ontario and in New York State. In addition, I have had quite a number of requests to "unofficially" appraise individual collections. All of this has been most gratifying and has expanded our friendships. Rita was an equally avid collector through the years, and today I gladly, though posthumously, share this great honour with her. I am certain that today, her spirit feels the pride of this occasion! My friend Mary Cross is not a collector, but I’m delighted that she is with me at this time, and gradually she too is catching the "bug"! Mary is a delightfully descriptive writer and I know that she will give my children, who can’t be present today, a complete description of these events.

I especially want to thank Angela and all of the members of the BCIS; all of the former Honourees whose company I am now delighted to join; my good friends in the Trillium Chapter who have supported me and our Chapter, and my many Belleek friends around the world, for this distinguished honour. I promise to do my best to promote the product we all value so very much and to maintain the dignity of the BCIS Hall of Fame membership. My heartfelt thanks.

Evelyn Twiss, Roland and Mary Cross

Above Roland with left, Evelyn Twiss, Honoree for 1992 and right Mary Cross..below, Belleek Dealer display
Trillium Chapter
Above Roland and Mary with members of the Trillium Chapter who were there to support their new Honoree
Belleek Honorees at the Convention

Group Photo featuring honorees past and present

Below...more images from the convention

"Leprechaun Welcome" to the Convention
Phyllis Bagnall Convention Co-Ordinator and Fergus Cleary Head of Design at Belleek in discussion
Paul Tubb (UK Group) presenting research on the workers at Belleek
Tony Hearty and Eileen O'Neill in the dealers room with their display of Belleek for sale
More mouth-watering Belleek for sale
There was also time to visit collections
Enjoy time on the Kalamazoo River before heading out onto Lake Michigan
Enjoy outdoor picnics (here are the UK Group Members)
UK Members at the airport
and finally head home after another superb Convention. . Paul Patrick,David and Chris at the airport





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