Monthly Archives: February 2022


Chairman Peter Wilson opened the meeting promptly at 1030a.m.and welcomed a small audience for the annual Members Morning. He reminded members of Tony Bills funeral at the Harlow Church (our meeting place) on Wednesday March 2nd at 130p.m.

Today’ s meeting would see four of our members give a short talk on a subject of their choice.

Our first Speaker was our longest standing current member Frank Ellis who would tell us ” How I Started With My Talks”. Frank told us about his participant Pantomime experience at school (normally a preserve for girls) and how it whetted his appetite for further similar experiences. He advised us about Halifax Palace Theatre and the acts, particularly comedians, he went to see and how he joined a pantomime group there. An amusing anecdote of hunting dogs causing mayhem on the stage was shared and enjoyed by the members and he recounted coming across B.B.C. comedy actor Michael Craig on a cruise which enthused him with preparing and giving his own talks, something the Forum has benefitted from for over 20 years.

Our second Speaker was Andrew MacHutchon who told about being a “Corporate Buccaneer”. Brought up in various parts of Scotland his career started in merchant banking but moved to a steel company as a Personnel Manager. Asked to take projects on, not always to the customers benefit, he decided to start his own company which helped provide companies with access to venture capital where needed and he recounted some episodes relating to this. The marked difference in scale from the start of his operation of obtaining £100,000 to more recently £50 million showed how this market has grown.

Next on was Peter Belton to tell us about “Family/Daughters”. From 2010 his two daughters worked abroad , one in South America (Ecuador) and one in Africa. Peter regaled us with his travels abroad to places such as Quito and the same country where Panama hats originate from. His second daughter’s employment saw visits to Africa and locations such as the Serengeti and Lake Victoria. He shared a tale about travel hazards particularly problems with water and the dark! He advised that due to his daughters marriages he now heads a global family although both are now back in the U.K.

Our final Speaker saw Terry Byrne take to the floor with “37 years of wearing the Uniform of our Country” and entertain us with early stories of his National Service experience from the age of 18. With recruitment in Manchester Terry was initially refused by the Navy, Air Force and Army before being pushed back and taken on by the Air Force. He told us of various postings including Malta following his initial training and being there during the Suez crisis. We were advised of his mastery of the stores apart from one incident which was glossed over at the time. After three years in the Air Force he moved to the Army but time restraints stopped his reminIsces apart from an inspection from Montgomery!!

After the mornings entertainment concluded Neil Ramshaw thanked all four for their contributions and asked the nineteen attending members to show there appreciation in the normal manner.



Chairman Peter Wilson opened the third Open Meeting of the season by welcoming members and a good attendance of lady guests. He advised of three apologies having been received.

Todays Speaker, attending at short notice following a cancellation, saw the welcome return of Veronica Bird with her subject being gates she had passed through and Royalty/Celebrities met.

Veronica started by briefly outlining her career in the prison service where she became a Prison Governor and her tough and poor upbringing and certainly not of the silver spoon type even though she now lives in Harrogate. She told us of passing through different prison gates in this country and also on a visit to Russia but more pertinently to this talk through the Downing Street and Buckingham Palace gates. Celebrities met included Frank Bruno, Dickie Bird and Michael Parkinson. We heard about her having a drink with John Major in 10 Downing Street and the unsubstantiated rumours that followed!! Veronica’s illuminating pen pictures of the Royal family included the contrasting behaviours of the Duke of York and the Princess Royal to members of the public and of a little girl presenting ” Valentine’s ” flowers to Princess Anne because her husband had not provided any. The story of the Queen’s shoes being broken in by a beige sock wearing servant raised eyebrows and contributed to a very entertaining mornings proceedings. Questions were taken at the conclusion of the talk.

An excellent and appreciative vote of thanks , on behalf of the 30 strong audience including 9 lady guests, was given by our Registrars wife Angela Hill.

Next weeks meeting would be Members Morning with a number of members giving short talks on a variety of topics. The Chairman then closed the meeting thanking those for attending.

P.S. Following the meeting information was received that Tony Bill’s funeral would be on Wednesday March 2nd at 130 p.m. at our meeting place the Harlow Methodist Church.


Secretary’s Report for 8th February 2022

This week’s meeting started on a sad note with the news of the passing of Tony Bills whilst in hospital recovering from a fall.

He joined the Forum in 2015 and was noted as an eccentric but with encyclopedic knowledge. Though he was not on our past speaker list, he was due to address us for the first time on 22 Feb about windmills.

May his soul rest in peace.

This week’s Speaker was Tim Forman who advertised his topic as “20 amusing years in Sales and Marketing” and he did not disappoint. As he walked in through the front door, it was clear that he had come dressed for the part and ready to impress.

Standing before his audience he began with his Speaker checklist – “ABC ” Always Be Clear” followed by “XYZ” eXamine Your Zip. For the next 45 minutes, he produced a genuine laugh a minute – so much so that your reporter broke his pencil early on and just sat back to enjoy the show.

On the way we heard about his exploits with Legal and General in Hull, selling endowment life policies whilst plying cigarettes to the Clients. Also home visits to Bransholme Council Estate where big dogs were the main risk followed by losing your car wheels. PPI was another insurance initiative where sales patter had to be so negative in order to convince the purchaser that they would surely fall sick or lose their job at any moment.

Marketing was also on the agenda and he examined the success of Esso’s tag line “Put a Tiger in your Tank” and de Beers “Diamonds are Forever”. Such memorable slogans have stood the test of time and bring an instant boost to sales.

In closing, Tim declared he had several other talks in his locker and the meeting unanimously agreed to give him another run next season.

Next week’s meeting is a joint one with our Ladies when we welcome Dawn Pearson from the Harrogate District Foodbank to tell us all about the Project.


Secretaries Report for 1st February 2022

Mr. Eric Jackson returned to the Forum to enlighten us with the rather macabre topic of grave robbing.

Back in the old days, British people were God-fearing and studied the Christian Nicene Creed which includes in its beliefs the resurrection of the body. So, when someone dies, there must be a whole body that can, in the fullness of time, rise up into heaven.

In the 16th century when the study of the human anatomy was being promoted this was sometimes difficult to achieve. Bodies for dissection were usually obtained from executed criminals who were publically dissected near the gallows. Both James IV of Scotland and Henry VIII of England had decreed that only 6 felons a year could be handed over to the anatomists.

By mid 18th century, there were 24 lecturers in private Medical Schools in London which begs the question as to where they obtained their bodies for dissection. The 1752 Murder Act allowed Judges to order criminals’ bodies to be handed over to anatomists for dissection rather than hanging the body in chains from a tree until it fell to pieces. However, this did not resolve the rapidly increasing demand for bodies and grave robbing became prevalent especially as body snatching was not recognised as an offence. Records from 1826 indicate that 592 bodies were dissected in London Anatomy Schools.

Around this time there were strong public protests at these grave robbers and measures were often put in place to protect graveyards. To this day, examples of Watchtowers from which the graveyards could be surveilled still exist together with Mort Houses where corpses were kept locked away for months to decompose before burial.

Still, the demand was there and led to alternate means of obtaining “fresh” bodies. The famous case of Burke and Hare was mentioned. Mrs. Hare ran a boarding house in Edinburgh and her son and his friend Burke regularly collaborated to intoxicate guests with whisky and then suffocate them with a blanket. The “fresh” body, without any marks, was then sold on to the Robert Knox Medical School which was close by. In 1829 a victim was discovered dead by one of the other guests who called the Police. Their suspicions led to Burke and Hare being arrested. Hare turned King’s evidence and confessed to 16 murders, whilst Burke carried the can, was convicted, and hanged in public.

In 1832 the Anatomy Act was passed which provided for the needs of physicians and surgeons by giving them legal access to unclaimed corpses from such places as hospitals, workhouses and prisons. This was effective in ending the practice of robbing graves but still gave rise to popular protests that paupers’ bodies were being sold for medical research without their prior consent.

This recognised that those whose bodies were dissected and dismembered could not rise from the grave whole on the Day of Judgement. To avoid such ignominy, families with makeshift economies pooled their meager resources by subscribing a guinea into a Burial Society to ensure that their loved one had a ‘decent’ burial. Headstones with multiple unrelated names marked the location of these Guinea Graves which can still be found in abundance at the Beckett Street Cemetery in Leeds.

On behalf of the members, David Hopkinson commended Eric on his excellent presentation which had kept everyone intrigued throughout.

Next week, on 8th February, Tim Forman has promised us a laugh with his “Tales of 20 amusing years in Sales and Marketing”