Michael Shea, a former Foreign Office diplomat and press spokesman for the Queen, was a great friend of the IFF. He played an active role in Edinburgh city life, as a trustee of the National Galleries of Scotland, a director of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, chairman of the Royal Lyceum theatre and supporter of the campaign to establish a national photographic centre at the former Royal High School building. He was also instrumental in reviving the Edinburgh Oyster Club, a dining society originally founded by Adam Smith, the spirit of which IFF has sought to emulate in our own gatherings:
‘This club met weekly; the original members of if were Mr Smith, Dr Black and Dr Hutton, and round them was soon formed a knot of those who knew how to value the familiar and social converse of these illustrious men. As all three possessed great talents, enlarged views, and extensive information, without any of the stateliness and formality which men of letters think it sometimes necessary to affect; as they were all three easily amused; were equally prepared to speak and to listen; and as the sincerity of their friendship had never been darkened by the least shade of envy; it would be hard to find an example, where every thing favourable to good society was more perfectly united, and every thing adverse more entirely excluded. The conversation was always free, often scientific, but never didactic or disputatious; and as the club was much the resort of strangers who visited Edinburgh, from any object connected with art or with science, it derived from thence an extraordinary degree of variety and interest.’
Michael loved nothing better than the stimulus of good conversation and partnered IFF in hosting Enlightenment salons in his rooms at Ramsay Garden with a host of visiting speakers. The sessions have continued since Michael’s death in October 2009. And an annual lecture has also been established in his memory – very much in the same spirit. The first lecture took place in June 2011,in partnership with the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Seeing Scotland Afresh, Sir John Elvidge
16th June 2011
Sir John Elvidge stepped down from the post of Permanent Secretary in the Scottish Government in 2010 after a long and distinguished career in the civil service. In this inaugural Michael Shea Memorial Lecture he reflects on the challenges and opportunities for Scotland in a changing world, both for how we see ourselves and how others see us. In particular, with the shift of economic power to the East, is it time to shift our attention more towards our growing relationships in Asia rather than the traditional diaspora in North America? What is it that China finds so fascinating about Scotland, for example? And what are the implications for policy and for practice of taking this broader view?
Loves Labours Lost, Dr Iona Heath
10th September 2012
Dr Iona Heath, President of the Royal College of General Practitioners, has long been a champion of GPs as rounded professionals, able to express and respond to the humanity in themselves and in their patients. Yet in today’s world this stance seems to operate against the grain of a more mechanistic, technical, targets, performance and efficiency driven culture. This is true not only in medicine but across all walks of professional life. In this lecture Dr Heath reflects on the constraints our modern culture imposes on professionals, why society has felt it necessary to impose them and what is lost in the process. She also suggests how we might release the fully competent professional from this straitjacket, and why it is vital to do so.