Monthly Archives: February 2020


Today’s meeting started at 1030 a.m. with Chairman Richard Wright advising of three apologies. As it was Shrove Tuesday Chairman Richard had two anecdotes about pancakes, the second story highlighting the alleged growth properties that a diet of pancakes can give.

Secretary Neil Ramshaw gave the first call for the April 28th A.G.M. advising of the three vacancies that need to be filled namely Vice Chairman, Second Vice Chairman and particularly Programme Secretary.

Today saw popular returning Speaker Mr David Davies bring his talk ” The Awkward Neighbours: Britain’s Relationship with Europe Since 1945″. This proved to be a fascinating and well structured potted history of the major events and personalities that imprinted that time period starting with the Yalta Conference in 1945. David outlined the position that Great Britain, Europe, the U.S.A. and Russia were facing post World War II and some of the key decisions taken by the “Big Three”, Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. These included the division of Germany, creation of the United Nations and the need to rebuild France and give it a position on the U.N. Security Council. Britain’s powers were on the wane exhausted financially and economically by World War II. We heard about Jean Monnet, Father of the European Union; the Congress of Europe in 1948 which led to the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice. Ernest Bevin’s pivotal role as Foreign Secretary was discussed and the 1948/49 Berlin Airlift recalled. The Marshall Aid Plan of 1948–52 was covered and its impact and costs. N.A.T.O’s formation in 1949 and its aims were scrutinised. The Schuman Plan of 1950 saw the genesis of the European Coal and Steel Community–the E.E.C. forerunner.

Other key events mentioned were the Korean War 1950/53; Great Britain going nuclear in 1952 and the volatility of Stalin’s successor Krushchev. Britain’s torturous progress from staying out of Europe initially, to wanting to join in the 1960’s and being twice vetoed by De Gaulle, to eventually entry in 1973, led by Heath, and subsequent referendums in 1975 and 2016 received an airing with similar unresolved arguments being propounded by both sides over a sixty year period. Analysis of G.P.D’s, Defence Costs and their impacts were mentioned by David and the various Treaties that federalised the European Community e.g. 1988 Treaty of Bruges.

Up to date issues such as European Budgets and the ongoing Refugee Crisis explained some of the current tensions being experienced on the continent.

An interested and engaged audience had obviously enjoyed the morning which, for many, reflected the period of their own lifetime and questions were taken at the talk’s conclusion.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of the thirty five attendees was given by Vice Chairman Peter Wilson.



Chairman Richard Wright opened the meeting promptly at 1030 a.m. advising of seven apologies.

Under “Initial Notices” the final reminder of the Harrogate Forum “Nostell Priory” trip was given.

Chairman Richard then took a little time to “celebrate” the recent investiture of “The Greatest Living Yorkshireman” Sir Geoffrey Boycott with some recollections of his life, playing and media career including some of his standout and acerbic “bon mots”.

Today’s Speaker saw the return of Mrs Jenny Stacey with her talk “A Sniff of Snuff”. Jenny’s subject , illustrated with slides, focussed on her personal collection of snuff boxes which had been an interest/ hobby of hers since the age of fifteen. She advised us that contrary to popular opinion snuff was taken at one time by all classes of Society from the aristocracy to the working classes including particularly miners. Snuff hit this country at the beginning of the 18th century and a trend was established by King George III’s wife Queen Charlotte (Snuffy Charlotte) and her son George who were takers of snuff. We were shown pictures of the tobacco plant and how it was hung and dried before being ground down to make the snuff. There are still four snuff factories in this country including Kendal and Sheffield. Once ground down flavours can be added to the snuff to meet personal tastes and formal instructions for taking the product had been detailed in twelve points by “How to Take Snuff from John Arlott”. Snuff needs to be kept dry and away from light. Bowls of snuff for public use were at one time available in public places such as theatres and the Houses of Parliament. The product itself is addictive, carries a health warning and its risks can be exacerbated by the addition of various flavours.

The audience was then shown a selection of snuff boxes in various shapes and values , the most expensive being made from gold, silver, porcelain and ceramic with cheaper versions being crafted in wood or papier mache. One quirky holder shown was described as a “Misers” Snuff Box.

At the end of her interesting and enjoyed discourse Jenny took questions and invited members to look at and examine a selection of snuff boxes from her collection.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of the thirty two attendees was given by Neil Ramshaw.



“Members’ Morning” was started by Chairman Richard Wright at 1030 a.m. who advised of five apologies.

A reminder of the Harrogate Forum “Nostell Priory” trip was given to members with a sign-up-form available for those wishing to attend.

Five member speakers had offered and being chosen to provide the morning’s proceedings.

First up was long standing member and former Chairman Malcolm Wood who told us the story of a girl called Sarah. This was an emotive tale about a little girl from an impoverished one parent family who Malcolm came across when playing his role as Santa Claus one year at a school and the girl on seeing him jumped on his knee and gave him a homemade card. When asked if she had a Christmas List she demurred and said all she wanted was a mirror for her mother. Much touched by this selfless attitude Santa Malcolm “rallied” around with others and ensured some presents were found and delivered to the family’s children including Sarah as well as the much desired mirror for the mother. Malcolm contrasted this little girl’s caring attitude, wanting nothing for herself, with the often shopping list and expensive demands from much more fortunate children.

Our second Speaker was John Pearson, a retired Head Teacher, who recalled his own schooldays and a much feared Headteacher nicknamed the “Mekon”. Whilst amusingly told the Mekon was of his time creating a climate of fear reinforced by a foreboding silence and liberal use of corporal punishment! John detailed his own day of reckoning with the Mekon , being summoned to his presence following an episode involving the school’s open air urinals, a height competition with his cousin and some subsequent discomfort and dampness to other pupils playing on the other side of the toilets. Many years later John and his cousin were drinking in a Nottingham pub and spotted the now very elderly Mekon sitting in a corner and approached him to offer a reminder of that day and possibly to take retribution! The Mekon pointed out that his methods had made them into model and affluent citizens and the audience was left to ponder how this reunion concluded.

Today’s third spot on the agenda was filled by Brian Gallagher who shared some memories of his time in the R.A.F. in Germany in a group with responsibility for providing cables for R.A.F. — line work.R.A.F. flights at that time were being scrambled to monitor Russian air incursions into the aerospace but senior officers were not happy with the response times of twenty minutes and wanted it speeding up. The method put in place saw lines to planes being pulled out on take off but this affected the electrics due to damp. The solution was as a result of “Lateral Thinking” by a young Lance Corporal who suggested the use of a male contraceptive, as a cover, which he had in his pocket. This worked successfully and led to a large order being placed with supplies for these contraceptives and no doubt caused some raised eyebrows!!

David Hopkinson next took centre stage with his story about his time in Tanzania and his involvement with the fibre crop Sisal. He told us how it was grown, harvested, its uses and also its importance as an export crop in the country’s economy. He explained the people involvement in the crop and some of the quirks that developed affecting the rates of pay. Sisal has a variety of uses including rope, cord, handicrafts and carpets. Tanzania was at one time a world leading producer of the product.

Our final Speaker was Vincent Naylor who educated and informed the audience about the Philippines. Vincent had visited the Philippines on joint project for Christian Aid and he reminded us of the recent volcanic activity there. Vincent gave us a potted history of the 7,641 islands that make up the archipelago with references to Ferdinand Magellan, the Spanish colonisation largely overseen from Mexico, the American takeover and eventually independence. The rule of the Marco’s was recalled and the present day violent campaign against drugs which unfortunately impacts on innocents as well as the guilty. We learned about the geography, the ethnic and religious make up of the people and the languages spoken. The excellent education system was touched upon which leads to so many nurses and care workers emigrating.

At the conclusion of the morning and on behalf of a well entertained audience the Vote of Thanks on behalf of the thirty two attendees was given by Neil Ramshaw.



Today’s meeting started at 1030 a.m. with Richard Wright continuing in the chair. Five apologies had been offered prior to the meeting. Chairman Richard advised members about online motor insurance quotes and how his wife’s incredible driving skills had saved him £30 on his annual quote!!

Under “Initial Notices” Secretary Neil Ramshaw informed the assembly of the proposed Harrogate Forum trip to Nostell Priory (cost £20 transport; admission £12 for non National Trust members) on Friday April 17th with a list for those interested to annotate.

Our Speaker this morning was our own member Michael Williams whose topic was the “Tall Ships Youth Trust”. Mike started by sharing his own sailing experiences which started as a teenager in the North West and the importance of actually being taught to sail. In 2006 he retired from H.M.R.C. and extended his sailing interests by starting to do “delivery trips” of boats to new owners. He joined the Tall Ships Youth Trust as a volunteer mate and explained a case study to the audience of a troubled youngster of the type that the Trust would endeavour to benefit.

The origins of the Tall Ships Youth Trust dates back to 1956 when it started life as the Sailing Training Association before morphing into its present day guise. It obtained the iconic schooners Sir Winston Churchill and the Malcolm Miller through public subscription. These vessels gave thirty years sterling service but the late 90’s saw them replaced by the Prince William and Stavros S. Niarchos, brigg-rigged tall ships. Running costs were heavy but corporate monies were much more available in those times. Challenger yachts were used in the B.T. Global Challenge races in 2000/01 and 2004/05 crewed with one professional sailor and fifteen adult paying amateurs. The Tall Ships Trust bought four of the challenger yachts. Mike showed some videos which highlighted the vessels in action under extreme conditions but which displayed their excellence as training boats, the amount of job creation they gave and the volume of tasks needed to be undertaken. Youngsters in the age range 12-15 and 16-25 were able to enjoy and experience lots of different tasks developing their own individual personal skills and vital teamworking bonds. Skills included sailing, cooking and cleaning–all very necessary when on board and then being able to achieve “Competency Crew” with certificates issued to all participants detailing their achievements. The Trust then acquired a sailing ketch which was less strenuous to operate and allowed the involvement of children with slight disabilities as the environment was more comfortable. The Tall Ship Ketch was gifted by Bolton School.

The Trust helps children with difficulties or adverse life styles to turn their situations around and Mike shared some anecdotes to illustrate this and stressed how rewarding it had been for him to be involved with.

Questions were taken at the end from an engaged and interested gathering and the Vote of Thanks on behalf of the thirty two attendees was given by David Hopkinson.