Friends Reunited – Secretary’s Report

October 5th 2021 saw the opening of the postponed 44th Season, delayed for a year by the Covid Pandemic. Members happily renewed their old acquaintancies and prepared for a talk by Life Member John Taylor on all aspects of reaching 100 years old and beyond.

Chairman Peter Wilson opened the meeting with several apologies for absence countered with a warm welcome back to Neil Ramshaw following his serious illness and with thanks to Richard Wright for taking over the secretarial duties. The Chairman reminded members that Covid protocols for masks and distancing should be observed in the usual way and that Godfrey Alderson had volunteered to be the Marshal for implementation of all necessary measures.

Tom Snelling briefly took the floor to thank those who had supported his sponsored walk. He was happy to announce that he had smashed his £1000 target by collecting over £4000 for his Oatlands Charity

The meeting stood for a period of reflection to mark the sad passing during the past 20 months of Ken Selkirk, Peter Staples, Derek Clarkson, Brian Gallagher, Bardner Horn, Gordon Percy and Fred Spurrier,

John Taylor took the floor announcing that his talk would be all about numbers. His first number would be 20 (his years in the Forum) and his second 400+ (his total attendances at our meetings). He warmed to his topic of Centenarians by referring to one of the Forum’s own named Reg Jackson. Reg worked in Harrogate as a pharmacist and, after retirement, attended the Forum for 36 years whilst giving 25 talks and being Chairman twice. He passed away in Ripon aged 102.

The estimated number of centenarians in Britain has risen from 50 in 1871 to 250 in 1942 to 15000 in 2019. A reflection of the improvement in working conditions, diet, and healthcare over time.

Amongst celebrity centenarians mentioned together with their pen portraits were, at 100, Bob Hope, George Burns, Edmundo Ros and Dame Fanny Waterman. At 101, Irving Berlin, Manny Shinwell, Tommy Sopwith. At 102, the not so well known June Spencer who has played the part of Peggy Archer since 1950. and, of course, at 103 Vera Lynn.

The vote of thanks came from Terry Byrne who admitted to the strain of being the oldest in his family but how he enjoyed his visits to the Forum where he could still lookup to some Seniors !!

In Notices for the Day the Secretary commended Neil Ramshaw for the meticulous handover of the Secretary’s documentation and wished him well on his road to recovery. There were still 2 important vacancies on the Management team. First the Treasurer and, secondly, the Organiser for the Christmas Lunch. He strongly appealed for volunteers to come forward in the spirit of revival of the Forum.


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