Chairman Michael Cochrane opened the meeting with five apologies. A letter from a recent speaker Douglas Webb of Cornwall Care had been received thanking members for their attention to his talk and acknowledging the donation made to Harrogate Homeless Project on his behalf. A reminder of the Church Jumble Sale on Saturday March 28th was given with members advised they could leave any bags of jumble with Mike South at Tuesday meetings. Suggestions for the May visit were still required by John Taylor. The Claro Marine Modellers are having a presentation by R.N.L.I. on March 12th at 7.30p.m. at Park Grove Methodist Church Hall Knaresborough.
The Chairman advised of the auspicious nature of today’s meeting it being the Forum’s 1000th since its inception in September 1977. John Taylor then spent a few minutes giving some” Forum Memories”. The first Forum in Harrogate was formed in 1951 (Harrogate) and demand built up eventually leading to a long waiting list and this precipitated other Forum’s to be started such as Woodland’s in the 1960’s, Bilton in 1971 and “our very own” Harlow in 1977. Foundling fathers of Harlow included Reverend Goy and Councillor Thackray. A variety of Speakers and subjects have featured over the years including notables such as Phil Willis (now Lord Willis), Andrew Jones current M.P. , Geoffrey Smith T.V. gardener and Sir Thomas Ingilby from Ripley Castle. The real strength of the Forum however was its members and their varied support in giving talks, taking on tasks and strengthened by the eclectic background that the membership base was drawn from. John pointed out we are a growing organisation and this should stand us in good stead as we approach our 40th anniversary in 2017.
Following on from our political genesis 1000 meetings ago, it was a privilege to have the Mayor of Harrogate Councillor Jim Clark join us. Appointed Councillor for Harlow (later Rossett) in 2000 and then County Councillor for Harlow in 2001 his pride in the ward he represents was abundantly clear. Having become Mayor in early June 2014 he then shared some highlights of his time in office so far. The Tour De France weekend figured at the top of his list with many functions and gatherings to attend. It also involved meeting and greeting a large variety of people including Royalty, senior politicians such as the Prime Minister David Cameron and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles, Geoffrey Boycott and a party including the Mayor from Luchon , Harrogate’s twin town from South West France. He shared his amazement at the 23,000 little yellow jerseys knitted locally and his pride at the friendliness and good nature of the massed crowds over the weekend and Harrogate’s reception of them. Quickly following the Tour was the Great Yorkshire Show with again large crowds making it a great success followed by the success of attracting the Gilbert and Sullivan International Festival from Buxton to Harrogate and hopefully to a new permanent home. The Centenary World War 1 commemorations were noteworthy including a tree planting ceremony, Rotary inspired with each tree representing a Yorkshire Regiment involved in that conflict and adopted by Harrogate Schools as a learning project. He and the Lady Mayoress visited Luchon for the Festival of Flowers with civic pride being enhanced by Harrogate Band’s contribution to the proceedings. He touched upon the continuing and improving success of Harrogate Christmas Lights and Christmas Market. Attendance at religious events that saw the appointment of Bishops at Durham and Leeds had made a big impact as did attendance at the Holocaust Day Ceremony. The Mayor commented on his two charities ” Dementia Forward” and ” Harrogate Theatre Education and Outreach Project” and spoke well about the youth in Harrogate District and their qualities and strengths as the town goes forward. Questions at the end focussed on house building concerns, the lack of infrastructure and the role councils can play in defending the Local Environment.
His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson gave a warm Vote Of Thanks on behalf of the 32 attendees.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY