Bronte Society President Bonnie Greer suddenly resigns

Bonnie Greer outside the Parsonage at Haworth
Bonnie Greer outside the Parsonage at Haworth
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BONNIE GREER has suddenly quit as President of the Bronte Society after the two warring factions held a show down in Haworth over the weekend.

The London-based author stunned the Society’s annual meeting when she went off script after a turbulent four hour meeting to announce she was stepping down.

New trustee Rev Peter Mayo-Smith, rector of Haworth parish church, said: “I was really shocked.

“I had no idea it was going to happen - nor did most of the existing council members. She talked about the damage that had happened to the Bronte Society.

“She said we needed to understand the Bronte Society had a bad image. She wished the Society well and that was it. She said she would be involved with the Society - but not as President.

“Then she sat down and shut up. Suddenly, we found ourselves without a President and still don’t really understand why.”

The search for a new President will begin when the committee meets again on July 4.

It comes at a crucial time as the Society plans lavish celebrations for the bicentenary years of all the sisters.

Since last year the Society has been split between the old committee and The Modernists who say the 120 year old organisation is stuck in a timewarp.

The claim it is under the yoke of a “snooty”clique threatening to “squander” the Bronte memory and allow the Society to simply “wither away”.

Their revolt is led by Harrogate whisky magnate Sir James Akroyd, whose great grandfather bequeathed the former Bronte Parsonage to the Society in 1928.

Saturday’s AGM saw Sir James among a number of new trustees elected to bring new blood into the committee ranks.

The row blew up last year with the sudden departure of executive director Ann Sumner - who wanted to work more closely with the village but lasted only 16 months in the top job.

Last year’s new Chairman Christine Went quit after only 28 days in protest at a failed coup by The Modernists to appoint committee members with boardroom experience in charity work.

Saturday saw the Unveiling of a consultants’ report which recommended recruiting more committee members with more experience running a museum.

It also recommended healing the growing rift with the local village - and among its own ranks.

Consultant Dr Rowie Shaw told more than 100 members present: “We heard and saw evidence of anger and hurt on all sides.

“We strongly recommend it’s time for the Society to draw a line under past conflict.

“This is essential for the future health of the society.”

It was heated meeting in which Ms Greer banged on the top table with her Jimmy Choo shoe which she used as a gavel.