Every Monday we profile one of our Members. This week in we are joined by Proprietor 161, Committee Member Mr Jim Bellew.
Who are you?
I’m James Aloysius Bellew, I think my father gave me the middle name as a challenge. It originally belonged to my grandfather, who was killed in the engine of the “Claughton” ferry on the Mersey in 1901. I picked up the gauntlet, became a Blue Funnel engineer, and survived to tell the tale.
What is your greatest achievement?
I hope it’s still ahead of me, so watch this space, it might surprise both of us! But what I am most proud of? Without question, the most difficult job for any of us, is parent. No training, unpaid, lots of hassle, and for me, distance-learning. My daughter left at the age of ten for the US with my first wife. Just keeping contact was a burden. But 35 years on, I’m proud and humble to have a smart, caring, best-friend/daughter who is successful on her own terms, and a mother to an astonishing 17 years old lad who puts a smile on everyone’s face. It’s amazing what you can learn from your kids!
Can you give one interesting fact about yourself?
Like most ancient warriors, my mancave has trophies and indulgent pictures festooned on its walls. But there is one tiny badge, of which I am most proud. It is a merit award from the Outward Bound Sea School Aberdovey. It was only a month, but at 17, I emerged from this astounding place fit-for-purpose, transformed at a critical juncture in my life’s. Lucky Jim! And I’m delighted that it’s still there, delivering excellence!
What brought you to The Athenaeum?
In those dark times, when the Thatcher: Hatton battles delivered collateral destruction to our city and culture, I was instrumental in the Scouseology books and events aimed at restoring pride. These endured for around 30 years, but although through this involvement I discovered the Athenaeum in early 80s, I didn’t penetrate its mystique until I returned to live in the city in 2010.
Is there anything you would change about the Athenaeum?
With my colleagues on the strategic subcommittee, we’ve already set about addressing the incredible changes going-on around us. Liverpool’s Capital of Culture slogan was “The World in One City”, this is true; and as Covid-19 transforms our world, the Athenaeum needs to stay relevant in whatever the “new-normal” delivers.
Do you have any Athenaeum memories or stories that you wish to share?
Like many unsuspecting carousers, I was press-ganged by proprietor Ken Head into delivering a maritime focused presentation to the Architecture group. Having Googled “naval architecture Liverpool”, I arrived at “William Hutchinson 1743”, and my enquiry of our library, presented me with his phenomenal tome. It is source material for a television series… or three. It informed my presentation and challenged my ambitions. As in all institutions, beware of the Head boy!
What would you say to anyone considering joining the Club?
Come on board! The Athenaeum is on a voyage of discovery that started 220 years ago, and in addition to being a cosseted passenger, you can be a member of the crew. Who knows what intriguing and romantic places you could get to visit en route?
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