By Rosemary Monk
It is exactly twenty years since we held the first meetings at Lillian Road of the Phiroz Mehta Trust, on the 11th and 18th of March, 1990. Phiroz attended both meetings, which were tea parties in the Dilkusha tradition, and about thirty members came on each day. From then on, we began to hold regular meetings on Sunday afternoons, a number of which Phiroz himself attended in the early days. These meetings continue to this day, with a recorded talk by Phiroz followed usually by a general discussion.
As George Piggott wrote in his article in the December 2008 issue of the Newsletter, the first meeting at Dilkusha was held on 23rd January, 1988, as a result of which a charitable trust was set up, the original trustees being Phiroz Mehta, Robert Mehta, George Piggott, Michael Piggott, Stephen Marshall and Rosemary Monk. Charitable status was granted to the Trust by the Charity Commission, although Phiroz was requested by them to resign as trustee and chairman, and George became chairman in his place. George, Robert and myself remain trustees to this day, and we have also been joined by William Grice, Geoffrey Pullen and Ursula Dyke.
In preparation for the transfer of the Trust Centre to 47 Lillian Road, Phiroz sent over all the original 7-inch reel tapes on which nearly 900 of his talks were recorded, and these are now kept here in an enormous cupboard. They have now been transferred to a more modern medium!
Phiroz also sent over most of his library. I have now to confess that there was a certain amount of tearing of hair! How do you fit about 900 books into a very small house which already contained a considerable number? The books were sent over in batches from Dilkusha and for a considerable time they sat unpacked in polythene bags. They arrived at more or less the same time as a major flood in the house, and also at the same time I was confined to bed with a back injury.
Eventually all was sorted out, shelves were put up and the books dusted and arranged by parties of members. Phiroz himself arranged many of them, working tirelessly after everybody else was dropping! Boxes containing Phiroz’s papers and other items also came over from Dilkusha at different times, and homes were found also for these.
Since the first meetings twenty years ago, the Trust has kept going despite a few ups and downs. The Newsletter goes out four times a year, we have an annual Summer School, we continue to sell Phiroz’s books and talks on CD and cassette, and we have a website on which you can hear all of Phiroz’s talks. Tim Surtell is in charge of this.
Of course we cannot predict the future of the Trust, but we hope to meet in the best possible way the challenges that will inevitably arise.