Monthly Archives: January 2019


The meeting opened promptly with Chairman Michael Cochrane advising of three apologies.

John Taylor Programme Secretary advised members of the death of former member and Treasurer Dr. Brian Blakey after a long period of ill-health and paid tribute to him as a gentleman and valued Forum Member.

Neil Ramshaw General Secretary advised that Defibrillator Training had been arranged for Tuesday February 5th at The Church Hall 730 p.m. for around one hour and an invite to members had been made…there were three takers from the meeting and two others subsequently.

Today’s Speaker was Mr Tony Burkitt who had visited the Forum previously with three varied talks. This morning’s topic was “The English Lakes” and of strong personal nterest to him as a keen walker and naturalist.

The talk was well supported by an excellent slide show of photographs and artists pictures of the area. Members were advised that there is only one Lake in the District namely Bassenthwaite Lake with the rest being meres, tarns or waters. The audience then benefited from a scenic tour of the area which included taking in mountains, fells, walkways and waterfalls.  Starting at Langdale Pikes other locations passed included Scafell Pike, Scafell one mile further on, Furness Fells, Hardknott, Helvellyn, the Patterdale Valley as well as numerous others. Alfred Wainwright, Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth were given a mention and the artist William Heaton Cooper and his father’s pictures were shown.

Some of the history of the lake District was discussed including its mining heritage of copper and slate and the influx of tourists particularly from late Victorian times was covered. Various hostelries and Youth Hostels were shown and the varying difficulty in the walking, scrambling and climbing routes were highlighted.

Questions and comments were made at the conclusion of the morning’s event and the Vote of Thanks on behalf of the thirty-eight attendees was given by Keith Wadd.










It is with regret that the death of Dr. Brian Blakey has been advised.

A retired metallurgist in the steel industry in Scunthorpe Brian moved to Harrogate on retirement, joined the Forum and was Treasurer for 10 years and helped in the kitchen each week until ill-health prevented him from attending.

The Funeral and Memorial Service for Brian will be at the Wesley Chapel on Monday 11th February at 12 noon.


Chairman Michael Cochrane opened the meeting advising of three apologies having been received.

Today saw the return of Mr Roger Oldfield , a former Programme Secretary of Harrogate Men’s Forum, who had spoken to us a number of times previously and whose topic today was “The Yorkshire Residency Test”.

Roger started by indicating an alternative title for his talk which would be “An Alternative Yorkshire History”. He checked the composition of his audience which was primarily Yorkshire born with a smattering of Lancastrians and a solitary Scotsman!!

The audience was then reminded of the geographical size of Yorkshire with more acres in the county than words in the Bible; larger than twenty-six countries and West Yorkshire is bigger than any other counties. The number of sporting personalities was touched upon e.g. Freddie Trueman; Brian Clough etc and the fact that at the 2012 London Olympics Yorkshire would have been 12th in the Medal Table. Sheffield F.C has the distinction of being the oldest registered football club in the world; Yorkshire C.C. have been county champions more than any other (34 times) and the split in the rugby world resulted in Rugby League being formed in Huddersfield. Roger also mentioned the unique sport/pastime of ferret legging.

Industry and Science have been well represented by Yorkshire folk with nods to amongst others John Smeaton; Sir John Cockcroft and Joseph Priestley. Percy Shaw of Cats Eyes fame was acknowledged and John Harrison of Wakefield and marine chronometer fame noted.

Less salubriously in crime and infamy names such as Peter Sutcliffe, Guido Fawkes and George Hudson have a Yorkshire Heritage. More positively Yorkshire has supplied to the Arts and Music personalities such as Lesley Garrett; Kathleen Ferrier; Frederick Delius; the Arctic Monkeys and Def Leppard. Authors and actors number J.B. Priestley; the Bronte sisters; Charles Laughton, James Mason and Judi Dench. Roger advised the county encompassed seven cities and a number of other historical locations.

The morning had been thoroughly enjoyed by the audience as shown by the questions, comments and some light-hearted banter at its conclusion.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of the thirty-seven attendees was given by John Taylor who advised his mother returned to Yorkshire for his birth as otherwise he may have been of Irish heritage.




Gordon Middleton

Hi. My name is Gordon Middleton and I am Derek Simpson’s nephew. First of all I’d like to thank your members for their kind words regarding Derek’s life.
Any friends and colleagues who wish to attend his funeral are informed that on Monday 21st, 2.10pm It will be held at Skipton Crematorium then onto Carleton Social club about a mile away in Carleton village. Everybody is welcome.


The Defibrillator has now been installed. Thanks for all the donations from members and other kind sources.

At the Drop of a Hat

Frank Ellis gave an excellent talk ‘At the drop of a Hat’. His presentation included snippets of the work of Flanders & Swan who were educated at Westminster School and Oxford.

Flanders was writing nearly all of the lyrics, and Swann the writer of most of the music (and the occasional lyric). The duo wrote over a hundred songs, and between 1956 and 1967 gave hundreds of performances in the UK, Canada, and the USA.

As Michael Flanders said, the animal songs made him and his partner Donald Swann famous.

The duo’s best-known number may be “The Hippopotamus,” with its cheerful, waltzing chorus of:

Mud, mud, glorious mud! Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood. So follow me, follow Down to the hollow, And there let us wallow In glorious mud!

Most of the Forum sang along!

The vote of thanks was given by His Honour Derek Clarkson QC.


It is with regret that I have to advise you of the passing of former member Mike McKevitt after a prolonged period of ill health.

Mike was a professional actor and some members will remember a Tuesday morning meeting in the form of a question and answer session where he reflected on his career.

Derek Simpson’s Funeral

Derek ‘s Funeral Will take place at Skipton Crematorium on Monday 21st January at 2.10pm.

Skipton Crematorium Carleton Rd, Skipton, United Kingdom

Derek Simpson 1937- 2019

Derek Simpson 1937- 2019

The Treasurer Roy Smith informed the membership that our Registrar Derek Simpson had died on Monday 7th January 2019. Derek was a railway man through and through. He had a vast knowledge of the British rail network and the European railways.

His hobbies included walking, skiing and model railways. His layout of train models all complied with British Rail standards. When he retired Derek set himself the task of walking the towpaths of the English Canal system. He had no intention of becoming a ‘couch potato’!

In his library he had all the Ordinance Survey maps of England. Derek was a good skier and taught many folk to ski when there was a dry ski slope in Harrogate.

When out walking he always had the company of Fran or Meg his well behaved dogs.

He will be missed by many friends and colleagues.

Gordon Middleton

6 days ago
User Info

Derek Simpson 1937- 2019
Hi. My name is Gordon Middleton and I am Derek Simpson’s nephew. First of all I’d like to thank your members for their kind words regarding Derek’s life.
Any friends and colleagues who wish to attend his funeral are informed that on Monday 21st, 2.10pm It will be held at Skipton Crematorium then onto Carleton Social club about a mile away in Carleton village. Everybody is welcome.

Approved yes







The first meeting of 2019 was opened promptly by Chairman Michael Cochrane at 1030 a.m. who advised of five apologies.

In an extremely sad start to the New Year members were advised of the death of our Registrar Derek Simpson. He had been admitted to hospital with pneumonia and passed away yesterday. Treasurer Roy Smith took a few minutes to remember and pay tribute to him.

A letter had been received from our outgoing President Reverend Christine Gillespie which thanked the Forum for her invite to the Christmas Lunch and stated how she had enjoyed her involvement with the Group which had now ended due to her location move.

Congratulations were also proffered to member Bill McNicol who will be ninety-five on Saturday!!

Today saw a popular returning Speaker Mr David Davies whose topic was “The Big Winter Freeze 1947”. The year 1947 proved to be a difficult one for the incumbent Labour Government who had been elected after the end of the war in 1945 with a large 150 seat majority. Events in 1947 would  have an enormous negative impact on the Government’s standing with issues to contend with including a Sterling Crisis (country basically broke!!); a Food Crisis; a Housing Crisis and a Fuel Crisis even before an exacerbation of the situation brought on by the Winter Freeze.

At the end of the war Lend Lease with the U.S.A.  finished and this led to food and equipment shortages made worse by the U.K.’s responsibility for feeding the defeated Germany. As a consequence rationing was increased with Bread Rationing introduced in 1946; in 1947 Meat Rationing, Bacon Rationing and in 1948 Cheese Rationing amounts were all reduced. Potato Rationing was also introduced in 1947. Horseflesh and Whale meat were amongst items consumed by the Public. The more serious implications of the Food Crisis were averted by the introduction of the Marshall Plan in 1948.

The Housing Crisis was a result of bomb damage to thousands of properties from the war further aggravated by blast damage which reduced the effectiveness of heat retention to doors and windows. The Government introduced a prefab building programme to address the issues but at best this could only be a longer term solution.

In 1947 Coal provided 93% of the country’s fuel needs but issues in the Industry, even with nationalisation on the horizon, relating to Owners, Managers, Workers and a lack of strategic vision would prove crippling not helped by the incompetence of the Minister for Fuel and Power Emmanuel Shinwell.

On January 23rd 1947 the Winter Big Freeze began with two months of almost continuous snow and ice, sub-zero temperatures followed by some weeks of immense flooding and considerable damage. All the Nation’s infrastructure was badly impacted or ground to a halt and increased the aforementioned Food, Housing and Fuel Crises to emergency/critical levels.

There was a 18% increase in mortality for the January–March 1947 period as opposed to the same period in 1946 overall. All these problems impacted on the Public’s perspective and increased the unpopularity of the governing Labour Party.

Questions and comments were raised at the conclusion of the highly informative and interesting talk and the Vote of Thanks was given by John Taylor on behalf of the thirty-six attendees.