Author Archives: harlowmensforumorg


President:                        Rev. Christine Gillespie.

Chairman:                       His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C.

Vice Chairman:              Michael Cochrane.

Second Vice Chairman: Richard Wright.

General Secretary:         Neil Ramshaw  Tel: 01423 879535.

Programme Secretary:  John Taylor       Tel: 01423 506742.

Treasurer:                        Roy Smith         Tel: 01423 538404


ANNALS 2016/2017 AND SUMMARY OF A.G.M. 2017

I have posted a summary of the A.G.M. 2017 held on April 25th and also the Forum Annals for 2016/2017 for member’s attention.

ANNALS 2016/2017


The 39th season ended with 61 members on the records. During the close season Dave Essam left us due to a move to Beverley and our Ruby (40th) season started with 60 members registered.

“Calendar of Meetings” and “Welcome Back” messages were issued to all members. The normal external distribution for information and advertising had also involved Harrogate Library, Harrogate Tourist Information Centre, our local Harlow News Correspondent  (Harrogate Advertiser) Charlotte South and also to our Church Contact Rosalind Crew who includes details on the Harlow Hill Methodist Church Website with its links to the Nidd Valley Methodist Church.

Oct 4th: Richard Pugh was our first new member of the season.

Oct 11th: Michael Jones was added as a new member.

Oct 18th: A further new member Gordon Percy joined us.

Nov 1st: The first special event of our 40th Anniversary season saw us welcome and be entertained by the Daytones Barbershop Group.

Nov 15th: Our occasional guest visitor Roger Howell attended this meeting.

Nov 29th: Ken Selkirk dropped from membership due to ill-health.

Nov 29th: First Open Meeting of the 40th Season took place. 38 members and 9 lady guests in attendance.

Dec 13th: 60 Members and Guests attended an excellent Christmas Lunch at The Ascot House Hotel. A charitable collection raised £266-50 which would be split between Yorkshire Air Ambulance and St. Michael’s Hospice.

In a special presentation Programme Secretary John Taylor was awarded an Honorary Life Membership to overwhelming acclaim from those in attendance.


Jan 10th: Acknowledgement from Yorkshire Air Ambulance re Xmas Charity donation.

Jan 17th: Second Open Meeting of the season and Ray Coggan Memorial Meeting with 36 members and 9 lady guests in attendance. Alun Pugh returned to complete his talk on “A Journey Along The Leeds–Liverpool Canal Part Two”.

Jan 24th: Acknowledgement received from St. Michael’s Hospice re Xmas Charity donation….sent initially to Harrogate Men’s Forum!!

Jan 31st: Joined by new member Peter Wilson and guest Keith Acum.

Feb 7th: John Taylor gives a potted history of Forum in his talk “Forty Years On” part of the Anniversary Programme.

Feb 14th: Third Open Meeting of the season with record attendance of fifty-one members and guests. (forty members plus eleven lady guests)

Feb 21st: Members Morning with excellent contributions from Mike Tutt; Richard Wright; Mike Cochrane and Terry Byrne.

Mar 21st: New member Keith Acum adds to our numbers.

April 4th: 40th Anniversary Lecture by Malcolm Neesam. (Samson Fox)

Apr 25th: 40th A.G.M. held.

May 2nd: 40th Anniversary Lunch at the Ascot House Hotel. 48 in attendance.

Season concludes with 64 members registered on records.


Outgoing Chairman Peter Staples opened the meeting expressing his thanks to members for their support during the year and then handed control of the proceedings to President Reverend Christine Gillespie.

ATTENDANCE: President Reverend Christine Gillespie and 32 members present.

APOLOGIES: 6 apologies received from members.

MINUTES: Minutes of the 39th Annual General Meeting agreed correct and signed by President. No amendments, corrections or matters arising.

GENERAL SECRETARY’S REPORT: At close of previous season (2015/2016) 61 members were registered on Forum records.

–Dave Essam left us during the summer recess.

—5 new members joined during the last season.

—1 member left our database as he could no longer attend.

At the close of the season (2016/2017) 64 members were left recorded on our books although there are a number we are unlikely to see again due to age/ infirmity.

Continued publicity through Harrogate Advertiser/ Church Website Links, Harrogate Library and Tourist Information Centre as well as our own Website. Personal member advocacy still best recruiter and two Programme of Meeting cards issued to help facilitate this.

PROGRAMME SECRETARY’S REPORT: Another year of strong attendances and an all time record at February 14th Open Meeting of 51. Charitable Donations totalled an impressive £645.

Special Anniversary events were well supported– Daytones Group and Malcolm Neesam and good reception afforded to Professor Dixon (Ilkley Water Cure) and Michael Duncombe (Musical Memories of the 50’s and 60’s). Open Meetings and Members Morning  also well established and received.

Thanks to all Tuesday Helpers and Officers and appreciative of Honorary Life Membership Award.

New Season commences Tuesday October 3rd 2017.

TREASURER’S REPORT: Very adequate Bank Balance of around £495 going into new season.

Donation to Church for room usage proposed and agreed at £850.

Secretarial Honorariums (2) amounting to £100 proposed and agreed.

No increase in fees/subs in next season

Discussion re funding defibrillator for Church Premises— to be agreed by Church and Forum Members to consider how we can support if it goes ahead.


President:                      Rev. Christine Gillespie.

Chairman: His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson.

Vice Chairman:                      Michael Cochrane.

Second Vice Chairman:            Richard Wright.

General Secretary:                      Neil Ramshaw.

Programme Secretary:                   John Taylor.

Treasurer:                                           Roy Smith.

Registrar:                                   Derek Simpson.

Church Contact:                               Mike South.                                                                                                                              Peter Belton.

Catering Officers: John Clark; Tom Snelling; Roger Bancroft.                                                      Reserve:                        Richard Brooks.

Auditor:                                       Chris Butterfield.


—Anniversary Spring Lunch Tuesday May 2nd 12p.m. for 1230p.m. at Ascot House Hotel.

—41st Season of Harlow Men’s Forum to commence Tuesday October 3rd 10a.m. for 1030a.m.


Chairman Peter Staples opened the final normal meeting of our 40th (Ruby) season at 1030a.m. announcing seven apologies including sadly Honorary Life Member Roy Howard who is indisposed and in Littondale Ward at Harrogate Hospital and would welcome visitors. We send our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Today’s Speaker Mr Terry Williams is a short notice stand in due to a cancellation and we are very grateful to him. A resident of North Harrogate he is an authority on the history of the New Park area and has travelled worldwide including a year spent living in the U.S.A.

His topic for his talk “Life in a New England Mansion” developed from a student friendship with an American Andy Dauphin. This friend, a Canadian by birth, moved into New Hampshire spending his formative years in Claremont and in 1991 purchased his boyhood dream of a mansion in the town Highland View Farm which was in a tremendous state of neglect and disrepair.

Highland View Farm had been owned in the 19th century by William H Moody , owner of a Shoe and Boot Company, who whilst an enterprising man, suffered from ill-health probably due to the stresses from his business interests and would use the purchased estate as a retreat and refuge. He employed an architect Hira Beckwith to design buildings and extend the estate and Moody would develop a reputation for producing the best racing stock (horses) at this location which included on the land a racing track. With the demise of Moody in 1925 (his wife predeceased him in 1923) and no children to pass the estate to, the properties declined through many of the following years becoming derelict.

In 1991 Andy Dauphin purchased the house for $112,000 but also with a massive amount of restoration work requiring to be done both externally and internally. Plans were drawn up to restore it as far as possible to its original 19th century condition and over the years extensive work was carried out in a sympathetic and considered manner with the purchase of antique furniture and fittings, stain glass windows including the refurbishment of originals and an attention to detail and  labour of love which came across strongly in the presentation. Andy Dauphin lives in the revamped property and estate with two of his autistic charges from his company “Bear Den”.

In 1916 Moody gave part of his estate to the City of Claremont….now Moody Park a recreational area and purchased a hotel (Hotel Claremont) which is now Moody Buildings with shop units and office/conference space. Moody Buildings is also now owned by Andy Dauphin.

The talk was backed up by a comprehensive slide show which detailed the estate in its 19th century guise, through its decline and as it now looks following its regeneration. The audience had enjoyed the discourse and a number of pertinent questions confirmed the interest aroused.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of the thirty-four attendees was given by John Taylor.



The meeting opened promptly at 1030a.m. with Chairman Peter Staples advising of seven apologies having been received. A welcome was extended to visitor Don Birkin.

Under “Initial Notices” the last call for A.G.M. items to be advised to Secretary Neil Ramshaw was made and final bookings for the Anniversary Lunch to Programme Secretary John Taylor were asked for, both with an April 11th cut off date.

Today saw the 40th Anniversary Lecture and the Forum were delighted that it was to be given by Harrogate’s foremost historian Mr Malcolm Neesam who although a regular Speaker to groups in the town was appearing at this gathering for the first time. His topic appropriately was about one of Harrogate’s illustrious Victorians and characters “Samson Fox: Victorian Industrialist”.

For the next hour the audience were treated to an excellent discourse about the great Samson Fox, genius , industrialist and philanthropist with the talk being supported by an illustrated and evocative slide show.

Born in 1838 in Bowling near Bradford his beginnings were from an impoverished background and at the age of nine finished his rudimentary education and went to work at Armley Mill but even from an early age wanted to be a mechanic. In 1853 he was apprenticed to the Victorian Iron Foundry in  Leeds and by 1861 at the age of twenty-three had made enough money to make his first marriage to Mary Anne Slinger from Knaresborough. In 1862 he was sent by his employers to attend the Great Exhibition at Crystal Place in London and in 1863 made his first patent for “Improvements to Machinery”. He was also the Chief Rep for Scotts of Greenock involved with shipping and wrestling with the ever-present danger of Marine Boilers blowing up. In 1874 Samson Fox founded the Leeds Forge Company which at its height would employ 2,000 men. In 1877 he patented the Corrugated Boiler Flue , a world leading development, which massively improved the safety and reliability of Marine Boilers and which established his considerable fortune. In the workplace he continued with developments such as new methods of steel manufacture, started the production of the Press Steel Railway Bogies and by 1900 had three forges producing his steel products.

In 1883 he purchased Grove House Skipton Road Harrogate and moved here. In 1889 he was elected to Harrogate Borough Council and very quickly became Mayor for three years. His philanthropic activities , running in tandem with his business and private life, saw him provide £45,000 to build the Royal College of Music Building as well as many more localised good works such as houses for workers and financial support together with him providing his notable roasted ox celebrations most notably in 1887 on the Stray to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.

Other things mentioned in the life story of Samson Fox  included the mystery of Louis Aime Augustin  Le Prince; his dealings with “Diamond” Jim Brady to facilitate sales in America and his involvement with the great and good of Victorian Society.

We also were advised of the failed Water Gas Syndicate launched by Samson Fox which saw a lengthy court case eventually won  following a literary attack by the author Jerome K Jerome. Following the death of his first wife Fox remarried a much younger woman Annie Louise Baxter in 1899. His son and heir Willie Fox did not come across well appearing to be the antithesis of his father and following a period of ill-health Samson Fox passed away in October 1903.

Some questions and comments made at the conclusion of the lecture showed the interest and stimulation of the members attending with general agreement that Samson Fox is a true local great who should perhaps be more lauded than he has been.

An appropriate and fitting Vote of Thanks was given to Malcolm Neesam By His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson on behalf of the forty attendees. (40 at the 40th Anniversary Lecture!!)



Chairman Peter Staples announced the start of the meeting at 1030a.m. advising that four apologies had been received.

In ” Initial Notices” the third call for the A.G.M. on Tuesday April 25th 2017 was made with any “proposals/ officers to elect nominations” to Secretary Neil Ramshaw by Tuesday April 11th 2017. Bookings were still being accepted by Programme Secretary John Taylor for the 40th Anniversary Lunch on Tuesday May 2nd 2017 with again Tuesday April 11th 2017 being the cut off date for orders and payments to be received by him.

Today the Forum was delighted to welcome our President Reverend Christine Gillespie to the annual President’s Morning , the third such occasion where we have enjoyed her company. Her talk today was predicated on the early history of Methodism and Reverend Christine framed her discourse around the following twenty words:

“The early Methodists were a choir formed by John Wesley to sing the hymns of Charles and to live accordingly”

Methodism was originally an insult directed at a small group at Oxford University who gathered together to meet and talk and leading figures included Charles Wesley and George Whitefield and became known as the “Holy Club”. John Wesley joined the group and quickly became recognised as its leader due to his strong organisational skills. He preached, making converts and then organised the groups into “Societies” but still all part of the Anglican Church. He in fact held his own 5a.m. Sunday morning services (Methodist) which allowed people to attend Anglican Communion later. As well as Societies he set up bands(5/10 people) to listen/discuss and support each other and these were open to all classes of people. Wesley’s organising skills went wider with three Circuits established, that he travelled around, he being the Superintendent with Circuit Assistants who became Superintendents as numbers increased.

A National Conference was organised annually which took upon itself a leadership role when   John Wesley died.

George Whitefield set an example of field preaching outdoors which was taken up by the early Methodists who would also look to spread education and formed schools. These travelling preachers had a small library of books with them. John Wesley borrowed and used services in early Methodism such as the Covenant Service and the New Years Eve Night Watch Service. Although always denying he started a new Church and claiming to be a loyal Anglican, Wesley nevertheless ordained Ministers to go to America. (which others in the Anglican Church would not do!!)

Methodism was born in song but with strict instructions as to how hymns were to be sung and those hymns were for personal devotion as well as public singing.

Some Anglican clergy barred Methodists from the traditional Church and communion so Methodists started to hold separate communion. Services had a preponderance to play Charles Wesley hymns (prolific writer of about 6,000 approx) and with a tremendous variety in their construction. Encouraging people to read saw the use of “lined” hymns but as literacy improved these died out. His hymns were about salvation for all, personal faith and funereal style..

The ” Live Accordingly” ethos resulted from John Wesley’s 1738 conversion and in response to the joy that had been given by God bolstered by phrases such as ” Temperance turns Beer into Furniture” encouraging duty, hard work and thrift.

Forum Members had enjoyed a morning of interesting and entertaining social history but with a Religious slant appropriate to the environment and Speaker. A number of pertinent questions and comments from the audience enhanced the proceedings.

The Vote Of Thanks was given by George Thomas on behalf of the thirty-seven attendees.



The meeting was opened by Chairman Peter Staples with two apologies having been received. The Forum were delighted to welcome Keith Acum as a new member.

Secretary Neil Ramshaw gave a second call for the A.G.M. on Tuesday April 25th 2017 and asked for proposals/Officers to elect to be advised to him by Tuesday April 11th 2017. Members were reminded that Programme Secretary John Taylor was taking bookings for the May 2nd Anniversary Lunch with choices and payments to him by Tuesday April 11th 2017.

Today saw the return to the Forum of Mr Alan Pitchfork, a member of Knaresborough Men’s  Forum, whose topic would be “Tales of the Unexpected”. He started by reminding us of the T.V. series from the 1970’s introduced by Roald Dahl and based on short stories which could be unnerving and always had a twist in the tale. In fact Alan started with one from the T.V. series based on an Austrian–Hungary border post in 1889, a snow blizzard and the birth of a much wanted baby boy to one of the border guards and his wife.

Stories then followed on about Butch O’Hare, an American Navy Pilot hero from World War 2 who won the American Medal of Honour, had Chicago International Airport named after him but also had some strange connections to prohibition-era Chicago, the Mob, Al Capone and the Mobster’s Lawyer of choice “Easy” Eddie. Further tales followed including the U534 German submarine sank the day after war ceased in 1945 and was then salvaged nearly fifty years later. We heard some more personal anecdotes that had an element of the peculiar or remarkable coincidence including one about a “Dream” Mike had and a”Billabong”; the strange case of a silver Datsun and its distinctive number plate; neighbourly occurrences from Knaresborough into the wider world and employment in Egypt with links to a squash game in Knaresborough. His penultimate tale was again personal and related to a copy of the book “The Cruel Sea”, its mysterious appearance in his childhood trunk and a deceased connection in their new house. The final story related to an engineer, who in the days prior to mobile communications, answering a ringing phone in a red G.P.O. Box he was walking past and the call being for him!!

Audience Members shared a number of their out of the normal experiences or unlikely coincidences as the morning came to an end.

The Vote Of Thanks on behalf of forty attendees was given by Peter Belton.





Chairman  Peter Staples opened the meeting at 1030a.m. with four apologies having been offered.The Anniversary Lunch Menu’s were out for members to take, with choices and payments to be returned to John Taylor by Tuesday April 11th 2017.

Secretary Neil Ramshaw gave notice of the A.G.M. on Tuesday April 25th 2017 and asked for proposals/prospective Officers elect to be advised to him by April 11th 2017 to allow preparatory work for the meeting to take place.He also advised names were needed to come forward for the Second Vice Chairman and also reserve cover for the Catering Team. Brief mention was also made of an informal approach to Harrogate Lions for Defibrillator Funding but this also needs to be taken forward with the Church if it is to be progressed.

Forum Members were today entertained and engaged by Mr Michael Duncombe from Leeds but originally from near Rotherham who shared his “Musical Memories of the 50’s and 60’s”. His story involved himself and two childhood friends growing up in the mid to late 50’s , joining a Methodist Church Youth Club in their village Whiston, attracted by the presence of girls but being introduced to music! Music was radically changing at this time as evidenced by T.V. Shows such as “Oh Boy!” and “Ready Steady Go” all promoting the “new” music. The three friends decided to pursue the new genre, clubbed together and purchased one guitar and a book “The Guitar Made Easy”. Supported by a kindly Aunt and Uncle (Edie and Philip) the fledglings used Sunday afternoons at the relatives house to hone their developing talent using Uncle’s tape recorder and the additional benefits of Auntie’s sumptuous Sunday teas!! We heard about homemade guitar cases made from blankets and rain coats , how the trio started locally but were invited to audition for the Carol Levis Talent Show at the Sheffield Empire Theatre courtesy of a helping hand from Aunt Edie and being inspired by shop names to adopt the moniker “The Saxons” as their show business name. A 30 second audition saw them make one of the initial main shows and then the Saturday Grand Final with a combination of talent and Aunt Edie’s “rent a crowd” activity! Compere of the Sheffield shows was interestingly a youthful Jackie Collins. The Saxons enjoyed local success and began appearing at Garden Parties, Charity Functions, Hotels, Dance Halls and leading memorably to an appearance at a Girls Remand Home. Following an invite , for a time they were part of the Burrells Concert Party and moved into appearances at Working Men’s Clubs. In the mid 60’s a particular highlight was being asked to perform in the finale of a production (“A God Forsaken Hole”) at the Royal Albert Hall. In 1969 the trio finished their time in entertainment together after 12 years due to domestic moves but stayed in touch as friends and twenty-four years later reformed and went back on the road but sadly and poignantly finished for good in 1997 due to the illness and subsequent passing of one of their number. During the talk tracks were played from the trio’s one C.D. which gave a lovely flavour of their talent and musical taste. These included “Crying in the Rain”; “Scarlet Ribbons”; “Another You”; “Let It Be Me” and “Jimmy Brown”. Whilst never going professional with their musical talents they came across as inspired amateurs.

It was evident from the questions, comments and general enthusiasm shown by the audience that the morning in pop parlance had been a hit delivered by a Speaker whose relaxed, amusing and most affable manner had greatly enlivened proceedings as well as attending with a great story.

The Vote Of Thanks was given by Roger Bancroft on behalf of thirty-six appreciative members.




Todays meeting was held in the main Church premises and was opened on time by Chairman Peter Staples with six apologies having been offered. Members attention was drawn to the launch of a new Harrogate and Knaresborough fund-raising group for the British Heart Foundation with the launch meeting being on Tuesday March 28th at 6p.m. in The White Room which is upstairs in The Pit, The Ginnel, Harrogate HG1 2RB and anyone interested is welcome to attend. Members were also advised that the menu and reply form for the 40th Anniversary Lunch (May 2nd) will be given out next week with a last date for booking being Tuesday April 11th due to the Easter break.

Todays talk was given by Les Parkes, in his second year as a Forum Member, but well-known in the area as he was a Liberal Democrat County Councillor for a number of years and a Governor at Rossett School for 10 years. As Chairman of the Yorkshire and Humber Branch of the  European Movement (origins 1948 under Winston Churchill’s Chairmanship) and a member of the Movement’s National Council his topic of “European Perspective” was highly appropriate but presented in a non-political or partizan manner and which consisted of his own experiences in Europe from a young age, during his National Service and then from his travels during his business career. He shared the information that his father had shaken the hand of Adolf Hitler at the Berlin Motor Show in the 1930’s and that his own education preferences had seen him choose languages (German and French) as opposed to sciences. We were treated to his reminisces about Germany particularly Berlin and the Berlin Wall during the Cold War period and the differences between East Germany and West Germany. During his National Service Les was based in Bergen Hohne (close to Belsen) and apparently missed Elvis Presley by about two months!! The educational priorities of East Germany were mentioned as well as the overweening presence of the Stasi in the everyday life of the country. Anecdotes about Poland, Czechoslovakia,, Yugoslavia and Romania were shared with the latter country having a dreadful reputation from the Ceausescu era and for being a byword for corruption. A number of audience members had also experienced National Service in Germany ,and Berlin in particular, including duty at Spandau prison and these experiences were also shared as well as a number of questions being asked.

The Vote Of Thanks on behalf of the thirty-five attendees was given by Vincent Naylor.