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Judd Frank

Frank Judd graduated from the London School of Economics and was president of the UN Student Association in the `50s, then an officer in the Royal Air Force in 1957-59. From 1960 to 1966, he was Secretary General of International Voluntary Service, the British Branch of SCI. Labour Member of Parliament from 1966, Minister from 1976 to 1979, he has been a member of the House of Lords since 1991. He died in 2021.

Origin of the text
Olivier Bertrand: Breaking down barriers 1945-1975, 30 years of voluntary service for peace with Service Civil International.
Paris (2008)

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Frank Judd

My time with SCI/IVS was amongst the most exciting and enjoyable periods of my life. Having completed my military service, I was determined to work for the promotion of peace and international understanding. Community building was also for me a strong commitment. I had secured an early release from the Royal Air Force in order to be a candidate for the Labour Party in the 1959 general election – in fact, I was the youngest candidate, stood in a very conservative constituency, and lost! What was I then to do?
It was providential that just at that time IVS was advertising for a new Secretary General. With some trepidation, I applied. My fears were that, with its strong pacifist traditions, and many people having served their ‘alternative service’ during and after the war in IVS, my Royal Air Force service would count against me. But it did not. My interviewers seemed more interested in my previous international student activities when I had been President of the United Nations Student Association and a member of the Executive of the International Student movement in the UN – a role which had taken me to China in 1956.
Anyway, the spirit of Pierre and Ernst Cérésole prevailed! Pacifists and non-pacifists could be peace workers together. Friendships forged in IVS/SCI with pacifists have been amongst the most enduring and important I have had: Ralph and Idy Hegnauer, René Bovard, Valli Seshan, Douglas and Kathleen Childs, Derek and Jean Edwards, Dorothy Guiborat, Willy and Dora Begert, Roy and Judy Payne and others were amongst them and later, these friendships strongly survived my time as a defence minister. There were also warm and good friendships with the non pacifists like Roger and Mickie Briottet, Jeff and Zitta Smith and Harry and Joyce Zion.
In the 1960s what was special about the IVS/SCI cause was its scope. Peace was seen as rooted in solidarity, mutual service and a sense of community which knew no bounds. We had weekend workcamps organised by local groups in urban areas serving the elderly, frail and excluded; we had recidivist prisoners coming out of gaol to join teams redecorating the homes of the elderly; we had summer international projects in mental hospitals and residential centres for those with learning difficulties; we worked in the remote Scottish highlands and islands, especially Fair Isle, putting in water and electricity supplies and making tracks. Even then, in the midst of forbidding years of the Cold War, we had East-West camps. One of my closest cousins met his Czech wife on just such a project.
In 1959, IVS had twelve international projects in the United Kingdom; in 1966, we had 120. This extraordinary growth in activity was vividly demonstrating that, notwithstanding the grim nuclear and ideological stand off which overshadowed everything, there could be vision, hope, idealism and intercultural fun in building meaningful links across sometimes awesome frontiers in a spirit of solidarity and service. Yes, there were crises, arguments – rows even – locally, nationally and internationally, but that was all part of the community building.
We were also sending long term volunteers to serve in Asia, Africa, Mauritius and the Seychelles – before an airport had even been planned – and we had Asian volunteers serving in the UK. The real, effective, collective experience ran from immediate local neighbourhoods, across Europe to the world as a whole. Humanity was humanity; service was service; it could be short term or long term; it could be anywhere. This in itself was a very significant concept. Frankly, I was sad when later in its history IVS, at least, felt compelled to reorganise into two organisations – one concentrating on longer term service in the Third World and one on Europe. I believe that this was to undermine the inclusive vision of humanity as a whole. Work on the poorest, most demanding parts of the poorest countries was part of a commitment which was every bit as demanding in Wales, London, Birmingham, Belfast or Scotland.
All this, literally at times, breathtaking activity was made possible by a wonderful army of staff, volunteers and committee members. Inspiration was the motivating force. For me it is still moving when, on the most unexpected occasions, in the most unlikely places, people come over me and say : “Frank, do you remember – we met in IVS or SCI?” I know SCI played a huge part in shaping me. And I know its relevance is at least as pressing and imperative in the grave challenge of 2007 as it was in the 1920s or the 1960’s.


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