Monthly Archives: January 2020


Chairman Richard Wright started the meeting by welcoming two guests, Brian South (Mike’s brother) and Alex Jackson, a friend of the Speaker. Five apologies for absence had also been offered.

John Corby briefly took the floor to advise members about personal alarms and batteries but appeared to be the only one in possession of such an alarm.

Today’s Speaker, making his Forum debut, was Mr Bob Soper whose talk ” Motor Sport’s Golden Years — The Era of the Old F***s” would draw on his own personal experiences in the sport and also his time in the motor trade.

Bob took us through the period 1955 –76 when motor racing was really dangerous. We heard how he was taken out of Leeds Grammar School at the age of sixteen to work in the family’s back street garage when his main ambition back then was to be a journalist. He told us about his early car buying experiences, the vehicles bought and enhanced including an M.G. PA Midget and M.G. J2. Business boomed with resprays and the selling of “touch up ” paint sourced from I.C.I. which stopped when the company found out what was happening!!

Bob achieved a H.N.C. in Mechanical Engineering in 1959; served five years in the R.N.V.R. and was looking to do his National Service in the Navy but failed his medical. Tiring of repairing old cars for hit and miss payers he bought a shop on the Harrogate Road Leeds and whilst still motor trade linked diversified into more products. He became a stockist for racing driver Les Leston. The name of the shop was changed to “Rally and Speed” and Bob was advised to source products not stocked elsewhere. This also led to the development of his own customised products such as a “Toothed Belt Drive” and a “Hi Torque Ram Pipe”. In 1959 he was buying from big dealerships but by 1968 businesses/dealers all had an account with him.

We were then told of the various motor clubs Bob joined , becoming actively involved and ending up on various committees but also taking part in events as a competitor, enjoying the camaraderie and fun. He built a Lotus 7 from kit form and through the sixties took part in events such as B.A.R.L. ” All Fools” rally and was involved in the development of the Harewood Hill Climb site. He shared some stories of the characters and friends he made, with an odd one or two straying on the wrong side of the law!!. His journalistic ambitions were realised in 1966 when he became the editor of a motor magazine. He and his team’s progress in the Castrol Quiz was covered and in 1976 his era of motor sport came to an end due to the volume of cars and speed on the roads and the increasing amount of regulations.

As a postscript however 1993 saw old friends reuniting at a luncheon which morphed into the Old F***s Club still operating today.

Members were kept engaged and entertained by the talk; a number of questions and comments raised at its conclusion and the Vote of Thanks on behalf of thirty nine attendees was given by Roy Smith.



The meeting was opened promptly at 1030 a.m. by Chairman Richard Wright with two apologies having being offered. A letter from last week’s Speaker Mr Mark Smith was read out which expressed his thanks to the group for the warm welcome and positive feedback to his talk that he’d received and also his gratitude for the generosity of £145 raised in the collection taken at the end.

Before today’s talk Tom Snelling shared an anecdote with members, totally inappropriate for a Church Hall!!, but very funny and enjoyed by the audience.

Today’s Speaker was our own Frank Ellis, our longest standing member of over twenty five years and a veteran of many talks mainly on music hall/entertainment. His talk today was entitled “Tom Who?” and he shared the life story and reminisces about Tom Mennard, an English comedian and actor who had a long career in variety, radio and television. His comedic style was stories as opposed to just jokes.

Mennard was born in Leeds in 1918, the son of an undertaker, and left school to work for his father always claiming that being an undertaker gave him his sense of humour. He moved to Brighton where he worked as a bus driver, became involved in amateur revue and attracted the attention of singer Donald Peers on whose recommendation he obtained a B.B.C. audition. He also auditioned for the Windmill Theatre and afte two rejections was accepted to do a road sweeper routine. Other work followed including Harold Fielding’s “Music for the Millions” where he worked with his idol Rob Wilton. Subsequently he became a regular on Mike Craig’s Radio Show in Manchester where he reached a wider national audience. His radio work included his own show “Local Tales”. Some film and T.V. appearances were also made and in 1985 he joined the cast of Coronation Street playing the role of Sam Tindall alongside his real life dog Dougal.

Mennard died from cancer in 1989 at the age of seventy one.

Forum Members enjoyed the morning’s entertainment provided by Frank and the Vote of Thanks on behalf of the thirty seven attendees was given by His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson.



The meeting was started at 1030 a.m. by Chairman Richard Wright who advised of two apologies.

Under “Initial Notices” the funeral arrangements for Dennis Anderson were advised. A communication from Harrogate Forum was read to members which offered the opportunity to join them for future day visits/trips and some interest was shown from the floor.

Today’s Speaker was Mr Mark Smith, a double transplant recipient, whose talk was “Organ Donations: An Inspiring Story”. At the age of fourteen Mark’s ambition was to be a R.A.F. pilot but these aspirations were dashed when a period of ill health led to a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis which continued throughout the next twenty five years culminating in a double transplant of his pancreas and a kidney in 2009. We heard how he persisted with his education, obtaining a degree at Bradford University where he met his wife and following a career path which saw him spend ten years at R.B.S. before being made redundant following the financial crash of 2008. He also sadly advised of the loss of his brother aged twenty one after a traffic/bicycle accident. Mark told us about the relationship with Adam Roger’s (his donor) parents, having a family (two daughters)and the charitable and personal challenges he undertook to get the most out of his life. These included climbing Mount Snowdon, hiking the Yorkshire Three Peaks, walking the length of Hadrian’s Wall and winning a bronze medal in the Transplant Games supported by his family and his donor’s parents. His fund raising efforts include a charity dinner which raised £11,000 and another £3000 from his various talks and climbs. The beneficiaries from these achievements are Kidney Care U.K., The Donor Family Network and Harrogate Dialysis Unit.

Mark’s enthusiasm and energy/vigour for life following all that has happened shone through and was certainly inspirational and well received by his audience and clearly displayed by the questions asked at the talk’s conclusion.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of forty attendees was given by Michael Williams.



I can confirm that the funeral arrangements for Dennis are Wednesday January 22nd at 3 p.m. at Stonefall Crematorium and afterwards at the Pavillions.



Chairman Richard Wright started the first meeting of 2020 and advised of four apologies.

The year started on a sad note with the announcement of the death of Dennis Anderson, a member since 2012.

Michael Cochrane was thanked for his organisation of a successful Christmas Lunch where a collection of £312 was raised for the Just Giving Kate Curtis account on behalf of Martin House Hospice.

Toady’s Speaker was the Forum’s own Secretary Neil Ramshaw with his talk titled “The Two Funniest Words In The English Language” which looked at the career of one of America’s most highly regarded comedians, Film, T.V. and Radio performers Groucho Marx. It traced his career from vaudeville and films as part of the legendary Marx Brothers to his stand alone performances on T.V. and Radio where his unique and at times eye brow raising style of humour could prove controversial but also very funny.

Video clips highlighted Groucho at his performing best. Married three times his final companion Erin Fleming was controversial and whilst acknowledged as reviving his popularity and pushing for his honorary Oscar, was in dispute with his family over possible exploitation and after his death disputes over his estate. He died at the age of eighty six.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of thirty six attendees was given by Chairman Richard Wright.



I am sorry to have to advise you that member Dennis Anderson passed away yesterday evening at the age of ninety after a short period of ill health.

Dennis had been a member since 2012 and spent his career in teaching, latterly as a headmaster retiring from Coppice School. He was my next door neighbour for over twenty years and a friend who will be missed. Condolences have been extended to his family, wife June and son John.