In the absence of Richard Wright, Peter Wilson continued in the chair for a second week and started the meeting at 1030 a.m. advising of three apologies.

Under “Initial Notices” Secretary Neil Ramshaw advised of the sad death of Bill McNicol, a long time and popular member of the Forum who had been in ill health for some time but died peacefully at the Nursing Home he was in with family members in attendance.

Mention was made of the Harlow Methodist Church Christmas Fayre on Saturday November 30th between 2 and 430 p.m. Donations from Forum Members (Bric a Brac etc) can be brought to the Church Hall prior to the event and attendance (and spending!!) on the day would be welcomed.

The previous week’s Speaker Andy Dennis had sent an appreciative note to Forum Members thanking them for their welcome/hospitality and advising of his collection for M.S.F. of £169–71.

Mr Eric Jackson, today’s Speaker, was returning for a second time with this talk entitled “Wonderful Things”. His subject proved to be a fascinating and detailed discourse concerning the discovery in Egypt in 1922 of the tomb of Tutankhamun by British Archaeologist Howard Carter funded by his patron Lord Carnarvon. The nearly intact tomb (unlike others that were desecrated in the Valley of the Kings) received worldwide coverage in November 1922 and by February 1923, with the antechamber having been cleared, on the 17th of said month with witnesses, including Carnarvon, Egyptian Officials, Government Press Staff and Museum Representatives, the tomb was unsealed.

Eric advised us about the concession rights for excavation in the Valley of the Kings held by Theodore Davis who passed them to Carter in 1914 when he felt the area was exhausted of finds. World War 1 delayed progress until later in the decade when Carter resumed his work.

Over 5,000 items were found in the tomb including a solid gold coffin, face mask, throne etc all exquisitly decorated with gilt and precious stones and it took ten years to catalogue all the find.

Eric explained how the “Curse of the Pharoahs” had no real credence but told us that Tutankhamun, one of the least known and esteemed Pharoahs in life had become, in death, the most remembered.

“Wonderful Things” is the phrase uttered by Carter to Carnarvon when asked what he could initially see in the tomb for the first time.

The talk was reinforced by excellent and detailed slides and a highly interested audience asked a number of questions at its conclusion touching on the tour of Tutankhamun’s artifacts currently in this country.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of forty one attendees was given by Vincent Naylor.



It is with some sadness that I have to advise that member Bill McNicol has died peacefully at the nursing home he was in. There is no news currently regarding funeral arrangements.

Bill was the last of the Forum’s World War II veterans and was always a genial friendly presence when attending Forum and when mobile a valuable part of the kitchen team.

Bill would have been 96 in January, a good age, but will still be sorely missed by those who knew him.

Thanks to Mrs Clarkson who advised John Taylor of Bill’s death.



Today’s meeting was taken, for the first time, by Vice Chairman Peter Wilson who started the meeting promptly at 1030 a.m. and advised of three apologies. He also welcomed our guests and members to the first Open Meeting of the season.

Our Speaker was Mr Andy Dennis, a nurse with the N.H.S. who also works and fund raises for ” Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres)” the subject of today’s discourse. Andy started his presentation with some statistics about M.S.F. (working in 70 countries; 27,000 National Staff and 3.000 Ex-Pats) and also provided context to his talk and where M.S.F. operates focussing on Conflict Areas; Remote Locations e.g. South Sudan; Exclusion from Care/Overwhelming Demand e.g. Uganda; Epidemics e.g. Ebola Outbreaks in locations such as Sierra Leone/ D.R.C. and Natural Disasters e.g. Haiti and earthquake.

Andy then took us through some of the missions he had previously worked with in places like South Sudan and as an Ebola Nurse in Sierra Leone in 2014. The audience were shown some shocking pictures of affected patients with issues such as malnourishment, dehydration and also gunshot wounds. Happily there were some encouraging recovery pictures shown which highlighted the benefits achieved by M.S.F..

On his return to the U.K. Andy detailed the “Suspect Ebola” process he experienced when falling ill involving Ambulances, Police and a Leeds Hospital, in marked contrast to facilities abroad where he’d worked (fortunately a false alarm!!). He explained about a fund raising book co-written with an M.S.F. colleague, Anna Simon, from journals both had kept when on service and which is for sale in “Imagined Things” bookshop in Harrogate.

The latter part of his presentation centred on his fund raising activities for M.S.F. in conjunction with his girlfriend and involving sponsored walks; half marathon ; burlesque shows and a San Francisco — New York bicycle ride. Initial targets were quickly exceeded, reset and he has currently raised over £100K with a current target of £200K!!

The talk was brilliantly presented, being informative, educational and entertaining but more importantly inspiring. It was accompanied by excellent slides and some supporting D.V.D clips. Questions were raised at the end by interested and appreciative audience members.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of thirty members and six lady guests was given by Neil Ramshaw.



The meeting started at 1030 a.m. with Chairman Richard Wright advising of four apologies. He mentioned the Christmas Lunch, where a charitable collection is traditionally made and asked for suggestions from members as to which cause(s) should be supported.

Secretary Neil Ramshaw updated members with details of next weeks Open Meeting (Medecins Sans Frontieres) and also about Members Morning on February 11th 2020 and the need for volunteers to speak for 10/15 minutes on a topic of their choice. Members who felt able to do a full talk for 55/60 minutes and would like to be included in next season’s Programme were asked to make the Secretary aware.

Today saw the first appearance of Canon Roger Dedman with his talk “The Rise of the Post Office”. His subject consisted, in the main, of the Postal History of Great Britain and Ireland up until the 20th century. As befits his office he started with a biblical reference from the book of Esther regarding communication to 127 provinces by mounted carriers on horseback. He also advised that under the Roman Empire effecting a communication from York to Rome (1,000 miles) was achieved in five days including the Channel crossing.

Roger then took us through the early days of our postal history starting in 1516 with Henry VIII establishing the Master of the Post. In 1635 Charles I extended use of the Royal Mail and opened it to the public with charges. 1657 saw the first Post Office and the formation of the G.P.O. He talked to us about early systems for tracking postal delays; how the postal system required good roads which saw the introduction of turnpikes and the period of horse drawn Mail Coaches from 1784-1846. As communication links improved so did the Postal System and it expanded to all parts of the United Kingdom although charges initially were expensive. We heard about Sir Rowland Hill who reformed the Postal System and introduced the concept of Universal Penny Post in the late 1830’s/early 1840. Another postal reformer was Ralph Allen responsible for Crosspost. Roger detailed the involvement of the Railways in the Postal System and also Shipping (Steam Packet Companies). Post Boxes were first introduced in 1857 into St. Helier Jersey and other developments would follow e.g. Post Office Savings Bank, Telegraphs and in 1897 Delivery to every house!!

The talk was fascinating, detailed and supported with excellent visual representations. A number of Postal scrap books had been circulated amongst the audience prior to the talk.

Questions were asked as the talk concluded and the Vote of Thanks on behalf of thirty seven appreciative attendees was given by Peter Belton.



Chairman Richard Wright opened the meeting promptly at 1030 a.m. and advised of seven apologies. He also gave an update on member Bill McNicol who is comfortable in a Care Home but not in the best of health.

Under “Initial Notices” Treasurer Roy Smith issued the Annual Accounts and took questions from the floor.

Today saw a popular and regular returning Speaker Professor Martin Curzon with his talk on ” Artists of the Great Plains: George Caitlin and Frederick Remington”.

Professor Curzon gave the background to these two American artists, born sixty five years apart, and displayed their developing art styles but also highlighted their different and contrasting approach to the subject in question–American Indians (First Nation).

In the early 19th century there were still many Indian tribes and huge Indian territories but this would drastically change as attitudes to Indians hardened and there was an ever moving settler population heading west and pushing the natives further out. The exploration and later settlement of the mid west was facilitated by the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804–1806 and by the Cumberland Gap Pathway used by frontiersmen such as Daniel Boone.

George Caitlin, born 1796, studied law 1817–1824 and then moved to Philadelphia where he started painting in oils. His interest in America’s “Vanishing Race” was inspired by a visiting American Indian delegation to Philadelphia and by relics from the Lewis/Clark expedition owned by his friend Charles Wilson Peale. He set out to record the appearance and customs of American Native People. . His initial basic efforts improved over time and Professor Curzon showed us pictures of Seneca Chief Red Jacket, Buffalo Bull’s Back Fat and The Surrounder amongst others. Caitlin felt a gallery of Indian paintings should be established but lacked support.. He moved to St. Louis which was the base for his various Indian trips in the 1830’s. Whilst he showed his paintings in American cities they were not well received and in 1839 he crossed the Atlantic to tour European Capitals. He died in 1872 and most of all his first Indian Gallery Set is housed in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Frederick Remington , born in 1861 in New York, was a controversial artist who, in simple terms, regarded Frontiersmen and Cowboys as “good” (heroes) and Native Americans as “bad” (villains). Whilst he became an accomplished artist and sculptor and successful in his lifetime, his depiction of the American Native Indian still causes upset today. His later works show “Impressionist” influences and his works include The Bronco Buster, The Cowboy and the Apaches amongst many. He died at an early age of forty eight due to peritonitis.

The excellent presentation was very well illustrated with slides and audience interest was high as evidenced by the number of questions at the end.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of thirt five attendees was given by Ian Blyth.



Chairman Richard Wright opened the meeting and advised of three apologies.

Under “Initial Notices” Treasurer Roy Smith advised that audited accounts would be available in a couple of weeks but that finances were in very good order.

Secretary Neil Ramshaw told members that last weeks Speaker Steve Caldwell was not able to advise of his additional collections for Martin House Hospice from the Forum as monies had mingled with other collections.

Michael Cochrane had issued documentation relating to this years Christmas Lunch. The venue is Ascot House Hotel on Tuesday December 10th at 12 for 1230 p.m. with a cost of £23-50 per person. Menu Choices and full payment needs to be back with Mike A.S.A.P. but at the very latest at the Tuesday meeting on the 26th November.

Today’s Speaker was long-standing Forum Member Keith Wadd who would regale his audience with tales of “My Sporting Life: The Life of a Mediocre Sportsman”.

As well as detailing some of his sporting exploits in football, cricket, golf, snooker and mixed hockey Keith also gave us some of the history of the particular sports and how they fitted into the social context of in particular the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. He reminisced about starting playing football at aged eight or nine years old in the playground and later honing his skills on “The Tip” and recalled watching games at the Baseball Ground (Derby County) and in his hometown of Chesterfield at Saltergate. Former players were remembered and their close affinity and connection with locals, something lost in recent years. Keith played intramural football at Leeds University and later started a side Wakefield Tech and Art team. He advised the audience of how the early F.A. Cup and First Division Championship winners were mainly amateurs before the more known clubs came to the fore (The Wanderers; Oxford University and Preston North End).

We were then advised of his cricketing background, of developing his skills on a footpath, hitting two sixes in his career and watching the well attended county games at Queen’s Park with mention again of some local players known to him and his father. He then produced a cricket ball and attempted to explain the intricacies of spin bowling such as leg breaks and googlies!! He explained why cricket was a county game as opposed to football and highlighted the Gentlemen versus Players differences that persisted until the 1950’s.

He briefly covered his less distinguished but enjoyed golfing adventures, the game’s development and its sharp social separation. Snooker was touched upon, Joe Davis mentioned and Keith’s starting of Leeds University Snooker Club and concluded with his painful experience of Mixed Hockey. He did briefly play for “England” at football on a student trip to Krakow but was injured early doors!!

His final remarks were that “Sport should be physical, competitive but fun”…a view shared by his audience.

The Vote of Thanks was given by Michael Cochrane on behalf of thirty six very satisfied attendees.

The Chairman closed the meeting by asking for member support in setting up the room next week at 930 a.m. onwards due to the absence of Mike South.




The meeting was opened at 1030 a.m. and Chairman Richard Wright advised of four apologies and welcomed back a “recovered ” John Taylor. He also advised of a new member Chris Shott, who introduced himself and was welcomed to the group.

Under “Initial Notices” Mike South pointed out the “Emergency Exits” in case ever needed. Chairman Richard looked for a suitable person and camera for the Group Photograph and Peter Wilson volunteered his services. In a red letter day for Peter he also agreed to become Vice Chairman this season and our Chairman for next season receiving deserved acclaim.

Today saw the return of Mr Steve Caldwell who spoke to us last November about his time living and working in Windsor Castle. This visit saw him show an incredible D.V.D. about ” Windsor Castle After The Fire”. The actual documentary showed the fire on November 20th 1992 and the response to it.

Windsor Castle is the largest and oldest occupied working castle in the world and official residence of our Monarch. It was originally built in the 11th century after the Norman invasion and improved and enhanced at various times by monarchs such as Edward III; Charles II and architect Hugh May; George III and IV who renovated considerably.

The fire in 1992 began in the Queen’s private chapel when a curtain was ignited by a spotlight pressed against  it and spread at great speed. It took fifteen hours for the fire to be extinguished with 1.5 million gallons of water used to fight it. Staff, tradesmen, royalty, the fire brigade and other volunteers all helped move furniture and works of art from endangered apartments.

The Restoration took five years and cost £36.5 million with the monies raised by private donations, charging entrance costs into the castle and also the income received from opening Buckingham Palace to the public. It finished a short time before the Queen’s Golden Wedding Anniversary on November 20th 1997.

The Restoration Project entailed great amounts of planning, coordination and the bringing together of a superbly skilled,  dedicated workforce and tradesmen to achieve what seemed impossible!! The Restoration Committee Chairman was the Duke of Edinburgh and included representatives from various Heritage and Architect Groups. During the project the opportunity for major new architectural work was taken and overall it appears a superb job was carried out.

Members thoroughly enjoyed the film shown and raised questions at its conclusion. The Vote of Thanks on behalf of 37 attendees was given by John Corby.





The second meeting of the season was opened promptly by Chairman Richard Wright at 1030 a.m. who advised of four apologies.

He introduced new member George Cram and also Jim McPhail , a returning member from late 2017 but due to absences abroad had not attended many meetings. Both men gave the audience a brief overview of their backgrounds with a common employment connection to the oil industry noted.

Our Chairman then shared a “Dutch Inspired” initiative with members for solving the problems sometimes experienced in Harrogate Town Centre.

Today saw a popular returning and regular Speaker to the Forum Mr Roger Oldfield with his talk ” Racehorses, Cheese and Waterfalls”.

Members then enjoyed a superbly illustrated and well presented history of Wensleydale, an area close by and familiar but not to the degree that Roger would impart. We were taken on a historical tour detailing the development of Wensleydale, its name , population, buildings and industrial heritage including racehorses, cheese and beautiful waterfalls. Wensley, a small hamlet, which used to be a thriving market town until the adverse impact of the Plague in 1563 drastically reduced the population. The evolution of its name was explained including why, unlike many other Dales, the River Ure was not part of said name.

The likes of John Wesley and Charles Kingsley identified Wensleydale as ” the most beautiful of the Dales” and “…the richest spot in England”. Wallace and Gromit are now synonymous with Wensleydale cheese and the popular ” All Creatures Great and Small ” books were based on Alf Wight’s Veterinary Practice in the Dale.

The history of the area was formed by its pre-history (B.C.),  Roman influence, Norse settlers and then the Normans. Great Abbey’s , like Jervaulx, were built and also Castles (Bolton and Middleham). The Dissolution of the Monasteries, the growth of villages like Askrigg, Hawes, Middleham, Aysgarth and Leyburn all received an airing. Horse racing took place at Middleham from 1733 on the High Moor and race horse training is an important part of that local economy to the present day.

Roger then took us through where the various classes of people lived; Nobility in Castles, Upper Classes in Manor Houses, Monks in Abbeys and the rest in villages and towns. Families such as the Scropes and Metcalfe’s were an important part of the Dale’s Heritage with Mary Queen of Scots being imprisoned for a short time at Bolton Castle, Blind Jack Metcalfe of Knaresborough fame being acknowledged and also the Knight’s Templars.

Some superb slides of the various waterfalls in the dale such as Aysgarth Falls were shown and the industrial background including railway impact explained particularly the history of Wensleydale Cheese up to the present day Creamery in Hawes. Roger concluded by describing Wensleydale as the “Queen of the Dales”.

It was apparent that members had thoroughly enjoyed the morning’s entertainment, some questions were taken and the Vote of Thanks on behalf of the thirty attendees was given by Roger Bancroft.




Chairman Richard Wright opened his first meeting and the first of the 43rd season promptly at 1030 a.m. advising of five apologies. He welcomed members back after the summer and reminded them of directions to Harrogate Town Centre given its out of bounds status during the U.C.I. Cycling Road Closures.

Remembrance of the loss , during the close season , of past member Ken Roberts; Phyllis Coggan and member Michael Hawkins was made with a short period of quiet reflection.

Derek Mitchell paid a tribute to Michael Hawkins who had been a close friend for over seventy years.

Neil Ramshaw (Secretary) reminded members to advise him of any personal detail changes to keep Forum records in order and also mentioned the unfilled Forum Officer positions.

Chairman Richard then spoke about a couple of initiatives he would like to put in place to improve social interaction in the Forum such as a group photo with names appended and where new members join , for them to give a short bio of themselves as part of their introduction.

Today’s Speaker was Mr Malcolm Johnson, returning for a second time, with his topic “Children’s Favourites 1950’s”. He reminded his audience of those times when Radio dominated the airwaves (the Light and Home Programmes), when media was largely black and white and of Children’s Favourites–his personally most popular radio show of the week in the 50’s. The programme started on Christmas Day 1952 and its original theme tune used for many years was “Puffing Billy” by Edward White. The show was first known as Children’s Choice and its first host was Donald Peers with different hosts each week until 1954 when it became Children’s Favourites and was compered by Derek McCullogh (Uncle Mac) up to the mid 1960’s albeit with occasional guest hosts covering illness and holiday periods.

Malcolm then treat members to excerpts of some of the most popular songs requested with accompanying pen pictures of the artistes.

Songs played included “Teddy Bears Picnic” (Henry Hall) ; “Me And My Teddy Bear” (Rosemary Clooney) ;”Laughing Policeman” (Charles Penrose) ;”Banana Boat Song” (Harry Belafonte) ; Two Children’s Choirs” (One German, one Manchester) ;”Nellie The Elephant” (Mandy Miller) ;”How Much Is That Doggie In The Window” (Lito Roza).

There was also popular songs from film, T.V. and Cartoons……”Little Black Bull” (Tommy Steele) ; “Big Rock Candy Mountain” (Burl Ives) ;”Popeye” (Billy Costello) and “Champion The Wonder Horse” (Frankie Laine) amongst others.

Malcolm encouraged members to sing along which added to the gaiety and enjoyment of the moment but with many more marks achieved for enthusiasm than for technical appreciation!!

For those attending it proved to be an enjoyable and nostalgic morning with the Vote of Thanks being proposed by Neil Ramshaw on behalf of thirty three attendees.




43rd SEASON 2019–2020

Our new season will shortly be with us on Tuesday October 1st.

All members should now have received two Calendar of Meetings cards with the Tourist Information Centre and Harrogate Library also provided with copies. A card has also been provided for Charlotte South our local Harrogate Advertiser correspondent and our Church Contact Rosalind Crew has been advised of our new season’s programme.

New members are warmly welcomed and cordially invited to our meetings when they start again in October.

Incoming Chairman Richard Wright  welcomes the return of the Forum to offset the current political turmoil; England’s Cricket Team unpredictability and the excess but fluctuation in daytime temperatures!!

For completeness the new Programme has been detailed on this site.

Looking forward to seeing old friends and new on Tuesday October 1st 10a.m. for 1030 a.m.