Bill Chadkirk’s research focuses on the relationship between Quakers and Russia from 1656 when George Fox, the founder of Quakers, wrote twice to Alexis I (though there is no record of a reply) to the 21st century and the continued work of Quakers to help build a civil society in Russia through the work of Friends House Moscow. Bill is currently focussing on the early 19th century and the nexus of Congregationalist and Quaker work on prison reform in London and St Petersburg and the lengthy friendship between Quaker William Allen and Alexander I. He is researching a book on this topic.
Bill’s experience of Russia and the USSR come from ‘citizen diplomacy’ through attendance at a Quaker run diplomatic meeting in London with first and second secretary level attendance and a number of visits to Russia, the Ukraine, Crimea and Armenia. In the 1990s, as a member of the executive and later president of the Alliance of European Voluntary Service Organisation Bill was able to assist organisations in the west Ukraine, East Germany and Bulgaria to join the Alliance. Having started life as physicist and then joining a long-vanished theatre group before working for Quakers, only in later in life taking a history degree and an MPhil, Bill’s turn to history now sees him undertaking this research alongside working with a Quaker charity in Russia.