SOMERSET INTERGROUP OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
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News…..The next meeting of Somerset Intergroup at Meadway Hall off B3151. Ham Lane, Compton Dundon TA11 6PQ is Sunday 12th November 2017 at 1.30 for 2.00pm start
The Birth of A.A., its Growth and the Start of A.A. in Great Britain
A.A. had its beginnings in 1935 at Akron, Ohio, as the outcome of a meeting between Bill W., a New York stockbroker, and Dr. Bob S., an Akron surgeon. Both had been hopeless alcoholics.
Prior to that time, Bill and Dr. Bob had each been in contact with the Oxford Group, a mostly non-
When Dr. Bob and Bill finally met, the effect on the doctor was immediate. This time, he found himself face to face with a fellow sufferer who had made good. Bill emphasized that alcoholism was a malady of mind, emotions and body. This all-
Both men immediately set to work with alcoholics at Akron's City Hospital, where one patient quickly achieved complete sobriety. Though the name Alcoholics Anonymous had not yet been coined, these three men actually made up the nucleus of the first A.A. group. In the fall of 1935, a second group of alcoholics slowly took shape in New York. A third appeared at Cleveland in 1939. It had taken over four years to produce 100 sober alcoholics in the three founding groups.
Early in 1939, the Fellowship published its basic textbook, Alcoholics Anonymous. The text, written by Bill, explained A.A.'s philosophy and methods, the core of which was the now well-
Also in 1939, the Cleveland Plain Dealer carried a series of articles about A.A., supported by warm editorials. The Cleveland group of only twenty members was deluged by countless pleas for help. Alcoholics sober only a few weeks were set to work on brand-
Meanwhile, in New York, Dr. Bob and Bill had in 1938 organized an over-
The book and the new office were quickly put to use. An article about A.A. was carried by Liberty magazine in the fall of 1939, resulting in some 800 urgent calls for help. In 1940, Mr. Rockefeller gave a dinner for many of his prominent New York friends to publicize A.A. This brought yet another flood of pleas. Each inquiry received a personal letter and a small pamphlet. Attention was also drawn to the book Alcoholics Anonymous, which soon moved into brisk circulation. Aided by mail from New York, and by A.A. travellers from already-
Then, in March 1941, the Saturday Evening Post featured an excellent article about A.A., and the response was enormous. By the close of that year, the membership had jumped to 6,000, and the number of groups multiplied in proportion. Spreading across the U.S. and Canada, the Fellowship mushroomed.
By 1950, 100,000 recovered alcoholics could be found worldwide. Spectacular though this was, the period 1940-
By 1946, however, it had already become possible to draw sound conclusions about the kinds of attitude, practice and function that would best suit A.A.'s purpose. Those principles, which had emerged from strenuous group experience, were codified by Bill in what are today the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. By 1950, the earlier chaos had largely disappeared. A successful formula for A.A. unity and functioning had been achieved and put into practice. (See The Structure of A.A. General Service in U.S./Canada.)
During this hectic ten-
In this same year of 1950, A.A. held its first International Convention at Cleveland. There, Dr. Bob made his last appearance and keyed his final talk to the need of keeping A.A. simple. Together with all present, he saw the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous enthusiastically adopted for the permanent use of the A.A. Fellowship throughout the world. (He died on November 16, 1950.)
The following year witnessed still another significant event. The New York office had greatly expanded its activities, and these now consisted of public relations, advice to new groups, services to hospitals, prisons, Loners, and Internationalists, and cooperation with other agencies in the alcoholism field. The headquarters was also publishing "standard" A.A. books and pamphlets, and it supervised their translation into other tongues. Our international magazine, the A.A. Grapevine, had achieved a large circulation. These and many other activities had become indispensable for A.A. as a whole.
Nevertheless, these vital services were still in the hands of an isolated board of trustees, whose only link to the Fellowship had been Bill and Dr. Bob. As the co-
A second International Convention was held in St. Louis in 1955 to celebrate the Fellowship's 20th anniversary. The General Service Conference had by then completely proved its worth. Here, on behalf of A.A.'s old-
Had it not been for A.A.'s early friends, Alcoholics Anonymous might never have come into being. And without its host of well-
It was on January 24, 1971, that Bill, a victim of pneumonia, died in Miami Beach, Florida, where -
Since then, A.A. has become truly global, and this has revealed that A.A.'s way of life can today transcend most barriers of race, creed and language. A World Service Meeting, started in 1969, has been held biennially since 1972. Its locations alternate between New York and overseas. It has met in London, England; Helsinki, Finland; San Juan del Rio, Mexico; Guatemala City, Guatemala; Munich, Germany and Cartagena, Colombia.
The Start of AA in Great Britain
The venue for AA's first meeting in Great Britain was pretty classy London's Dorchester Hotel. Grace O, an American AA, visiting London had been asked by GSO in New York to contact several people in Britain who wanted information about AA. Amongst them were Chris B, probably the first person in England to use AA to attain sobriety, 'Canadian' Bob B, an American serviceman Sergeant Vernon W, and Norman R-
In the same way that early American meetings had been held in members' homes meetings were held in Canadian Bob's house in Mortlake Road, Kew Gardens as well as in cafés.
Progress was slow at first but when Canadian Bob visited new members Alan and wife Winnie in Bolton he informed them that they were the Bolton Group. In November 1948 the Group held its first meeting in the Millgate Hotel, Manchester.
When Canadian Bob introduced Bill H to sobriety in AA our service structure expanded with Bill's office in the London Fruit Exchange providing the fellowship with a postal address (BM/AAL London WC1) and a contact number (Bishopgate 9657) available Monday to Friday.
By January 1949 meetings in London were being held on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11 Chandos Street and membership had passed the magic 100.
In 1952 AA began to lease 11 Redcliffe Gardens with the Central Committee managing it as the Central Service Office. In 1970 it became the General Service Office under the management of the General Service Board. When GSO relocated to Stonebow House in York in 1986 the London Regional Telephone office remained at Redcliffe Gardens until January 1999 when it moved into the Regional Service Office (London) at Jacob House and Redcliffe Gardens passed out of AA history.
Meanwhile in Scotland the Oxford Groups had an instrumental role in AA beginnings as they had in America. The wife of Philip D, an active alcoholic, attended an Oxford Group in Scotland and heard about the Groups' role in the start of AA. Philip visited America in 1948 and attended meetings before returning to Scotland and carrying the message. Forbes C got involved and meetings began in Perth, Edinburgh and Glasgow in 1949.
Cathedral Road, Cardiff was the location of the first AA meeting in Wales. The meeting took place on Friday 13th April 1951 with five attendees.
(Information collated from AA archives with particular reliance on Share Magazine: Alcoholics Anonymous in Great Britain The first fifty years 1947 to 1997: March 1997)
Somerset Intergroup of Alcoholics Anonymous 2017
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