“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.


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