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I am sorry to have to advise of the death of Gordon Richardson last Sunday just a few weeks short of his 92nd birthday. Gordon was a Forum member of 7 years standing and on two occasions he contributed his memories of his time in the Services to Members’ Mornings.

He moved to Harrogate from Mirfield in West Yorkshire after the death of his wife to be nearer his daughter and until the last couple of months was remarkably fit and looked ten years younger than he was. Gordon was good company in the “League of Gentlemen” who meet in Tilly Peppers after Forum meetings and he will be missed.

Any funeral details will be posted here when advised.





Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. opened the meeting promptly advising that four apologies had been received. Sadly, he also reported the passing of member Gordon Richardson last Sunday following a short period of illness.

Today saw what has become a regular annual fixture in the Forum’s season namely “Members’ Morning” where five members would take centre stage to entertain and inform fellow members on a topic of their choosing.

First up was our longest-serving member of over twenty years Frank Ellis who shared some memories of the great variety comedian Al Read starting with how a 1952 incident changed his life as a sausage maker in his father’s business–it involved a domestic story about Albert Wilkinson , a decorator, and eventually led to appearances on B.B.C. Variety Bandbox. Other “Read” sketches were delivered too and well received by the audience.

Next to take the floor was a more recent member Gordon Percy whose topic was about his career as a Diamond Prospector in Sierra Leone following his graduation with a degree in geology from 1962. Ostensibly taking this overseas role for a couple of years he spent sixteen years between 1962 and 1978 moving progressively to more senior positions within the company. He advised that his initial employment owed something to his prowess as a Otley Rugby Union player!! The work he was involved in was varied and interesting underpinned by an excellent social and sporting  life style. Gordon detailed the geographical make up of the country that led to Diamond Prospecting and told us about the investigative work and analysis that took place to determine prime locations for mining and detailed some of the early 1960’s procedures used in the afore said mining.

Our third Speaker was Brian Gallagher, a new member to the Forum this season,who talked about his military posting to Borneo in the early 1960’s and in particular to Labuan. This period coincided with hostilities emanating from Indonesia under President Sukarno and a number of incursions from rebels that were dealt with by amongst others the Gurkhas. By the mid 1960’s and with a change in the Indonesian regime peaceful relations were established in this part of the world.

Taking fourth spot in our lexicon of Speakers was John Corby, a member of five seasons, and a member of Harrogate Rotary Club who helped establish over forty years ago a Charity Housing Association “Harrogate Flower Fund Homes” which set out to provide housing (flats) for elderly people in reduced circumstances. Funds for this project were by donations from monies diverted away from funeral flowers and wreaths. The first units opened in 1981 at Jennyfield and were added to in 1992/2011 with further flats in Starbeck and the Association now owns twenty-seven units.

Last but not least saw Alan Barker, another new member this season, bring proceedings to an entertaining finish causing much merriment in the audience with his original three verses  “A Bridge To Far”; one about his mother in law and a final one “Sat Nav” which focussed on the ever-loving advice he receives from his good lady!!

All in all a splendid morning enjoyed by the thirty-five attendees who really appreciated their fellow members efforts.




Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. opened the second Open Meeting of the season and welcomed the lady guests in attendance. He advised that nine apologies had been received.

Under ” Initial Notices” the Chairman confirmed Ray Snowden’s funeral arrangements which would be on Thursday February 1st at 11.15 a.m. in the Wesley Chapel followed by a private cremation.

Today, as well as an Open Meeting, was President’s Morning and the Reverend Christine Gillespie was given a warm welcome.

Reverend Christine’s talk focussed on a short visit she had made to Sierra Leone in 2011 in an official representative capacity to celebrate the bicentenary anniversary of the Methodist Church involvement in that country. The Methodist Church in Sierra Leone had its roots in groups of freed slaves who arrived from 1792 from England and Nova Scotia (1,190) and indeed the capital of Sierra Leone is Freetown. The group started to organise into a church but had to appeal for help from Britain. This resulted in the sending of the first Wesleyan missionary in 1811, the Reverend George Warren with three others, and it was this event and their support that were being celebrated.

Although only in the country a short time the Reverend Christine gave us a flavour of the country and in particular the capital Freetown, it being a poor country, hot and humid with a need to drink plenty of liquid and with water being sold in plastic bags!! The Sierra Leone civil war was mentioned and related to her visit to the Freetown Peace Museum. The University was also visited and this was the site of the last battle in the civil war which was interestingly ended by a certain Tony Blair sending in troops and he is a highly regarded person in this country. Limited sightseeing opportunities were afforded but visits along the coast were made and the sight of young children at work breaking rocks on a mountainside gave pause for thought.

The Reverend Christine shared these highlights of her trip:

— a conversation with the night-watchman at the Maroon Church.

— the official celebration dinner for the bicentenary and observing an american auction.

— leading communion and the outstanding singing of the church choir and congregation.

The talk concluded with a number of questions and answers.

The Vote of Thanks was given by Frank Ellis on behalf of the thirty-five member attendees and the six lady guests.



RAY SNOWDEN…Funeral Arrangements

I can now advise you that Ray’s funeral will be held at Wesley Chapel on Thursday February 1st at 1115 a.m.

Malcolm Wood will attend as one of the chief mourners and John Taylor will also attend on behalf of the Forum.

Members who knew Ray personally may wish to make their own arrangements to attend.




It is with sadness that I have to advise of the passing of Ray Snowden.

Ray has died in Bilton Hall Nursing Home after a year of declining health. With Malcolm Wood he was a regular worshipper at Wesley Chapel and he joined the Forum in October 2010 at the beginning of Malcolm’s year as Chairman. Most Tuesdays after the meeting Malcolm and Ray would join their wives for lunch usually in a village pub.

It was Ray who suggested that our collection at the Christmas lunch in 2016 should be shared between the Hospice and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, enduring good causes which he strongly supported. Sadly Ray was too ill to attend this season to hear the talk about changes in the Y.A.A. from Mike Bevington.

The Forum sends its condolences to his wife Mavis, who herself has been in poor health over recent months. Malcolm and his wife Anita have been very loyal in their support of the family.

Funeral details will be posted here when known or advised.




Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson opened the meeting with the four apologies that had been offered. This week’s “Bon Mot” was about the close proximity of six male jurors and six female jurors in a confined jury room for some hours and “Not Guilty” being reported–unusual in this day and age!!

Today’s Speaker was Mr Ivan Gibson from Knaresborough Men’s Forum and by profession a Consultant Pathologist. His discourse would be titled “Lockerbie: Medical- legal Evidence”.

The talk focussed on the Pan Am 103 flight that was blown up over Lockerbie on December 21st 1988 at around 7 p.m. resulting in the loss of 270 lives (259 passengers and crew; 11 ground casualties). The wreckage was spread over 845 square miles as far as the North Sea and registered at 1.6 on the Richter Scale with a massive ground crater. Many Americans were on the flight but overall twenty nationalities were involved. Ivan, who was Consultant Pathologist at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary at the time, was asked to assist in the investigation of the crash by Procurator Fiscal James McDougall. This involved complex problems and recording of the sites/state of the bodies involved in the investigation and getting all the equipment needed. The Town Hall, School and Ice Rink (refrigeration purposes) were used in Lockerbie as bases for storage and examinations and the process also involved external liaison with other bodies e.g medical; police, military etc.

Supported by a slide show Ivan explained some of the procedures and pain staking processes that were followed such as the means of identifying victims including the use of medical and dental records and identifying marks e.g. tatoos.

He touched on the personal impact of the investigation and although resilient himself how it affected his sleep patterns. A number of questions were responded to at the talk’s conclusion.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of the forty attendees was given by Mike Tutt.




The first meeting of 2018 was opened by Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson at 1030 a.m., wishing everyone a Happy New Year and with six apologies having been offered. He paid tribute to the organisational skills of Programme Secretary John Taylor and his wife Margaret in arranging the splendid Christmas Lunch at the Ascot House Hotel in December which also raised £280 for two charities. A very nice acknowledgement from the Girl Guides Association in connection with their donation to the extensive refurbishment programme at Birk Crag had been received. The Chairman’s first well received anecdote of the New Year related to a recidivist miscreant in the dock at the Old Bailey receiving a legal aid provided “Rolls Royce” service from his defending and distinguished Q.C. with the Judge pointing out, if found guilty, he was likely to be served a “Rolls Royce” sentence!!

Programme Secretary John Taylor took to the floor briefly to update members on the following:

–Under “Calendar of Meetings” on March 20th Terry Byrne’s Talk should be entitled “South African Journey”.

–Mrs Phyllis Coggan, widow of Ray Coggan,(former Secretary) had sent a letter thanking the Forum for remembering her husband but also offering the Programme Secretary some constructive criticism on his choice of Speaker at a previous Open Meeting!!

–Sadly John had to offer short tributes to a member, Robert Bradwell, who died last month and also a former member and his long time next door neighbour , Harold Dawson, who had also passed on.

Today’s Speaker saw the return of Mr Roger Oldfield, former Programme Secretary at Harrogate Men’s Forum, with his talk topic “From Sea to Shining Sea”. He advised that his title had been appropriated from the lyrics of the song “America the Beautiful” although his speech would traverse from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, a Walk Across England or more specifically the “Coast to Coast Long Distance Walk” originated by Alfred Wainwright. At the age of 23 Wainwright went on a walking holiday in the Lake District, fell in love with the area, and spent the rest of his life devoted to walking, writing and illustrating his beloved Lakeland Fells.

The Coast to Coast Walk covers 193 winding miles across three National Parks starting at St. Bee’s on the west coast and finishing at Robin Hood’s Bay on the east side. Along the way we were taken to numerous places including Ennerdale Bridge, Grasmere, Patterdale, Reeth, Richmond Glaisdale and Grosmont amongst others. The three National Parks taken in were the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North Yorkshire Moors. We learnt about some of the history of the places passed on the route; heard about Cumberland Pencils in Keswick; William Wordsworth’s attachment to Grasmere and the Grasmere Gingerbread made to a secret recipe and still sold there. Notable architectural features were pointed out on Castle’s, Church’s, and Abbey’s as well as landmarks and geographical features in the various dales and fields along the walk. The highly interesting and informative presentation was supported by extensive slides illustrating the route covered and was appreciated by an interested and attentive audience with questions raised at the talk’s conclusion.

The Vote Of Thanks was given by Keith Wadd on behalf of the forty attendees.




It is with regret that I have to advise you of the death of Robert (Bob) Bradwell. Whilst not having attended Forum for some time, and irregularly at best, it was only last week that I heard from his son that Robert was seriously ill.

A Requiem Mass will be held at St Robert’s Church, Robert Street, Harrogate on Friday January 5th 2018 at 12 noon.




The first half of the 2017/2018 season concluded with the now traditional Christmas Lunch organised by Programme Secretary John Taylor and his wife Margaret and hosted by Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. Sixty eight members and guests enjoyed a splendidly prepared and served meal in lovely surroundings courtesy of the Ascot House Hotel. After Lunch  interest was provided by anecdotes from both the Chairman and long-standing Member Malcolm Wood.

The normal charitable collection was taken following lunch and a fantastic amount of £280 raised which will be divided between The Girl Guides Appeal to renovate their facilities at Birk Crag and Harlow Hill Methodist Church to assist in providing blinds.

Following such a connvivial event all members and guests moved forward towards the forthcoming Christmas Festivities in good heart.




The meeting opened at 1030 a.m. prompt with Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. advising of seven apologies. His opening anecdote this week concerned a primary school teacher, a sleepy girl pupil and an exchange of views on paying attention!!

John Taylor Programme Secretary outlined next weeks Christmas Lunch arrangements and he confirmed that the normal charitable collection would be split between the Birk Crag Girl Guides Hut Rebuilding Fund and also Harlow Hill Methodist Church Funds which might indirectly benefit our Forum as a user group.

Todays Speaker was Miss Sue Wood, Horticultural Officer, with Harrogate Borough Council who visited last season and has now returned with her talk entitled “Behind the Scenes at the Tour De France”.

A promotional video (2/mins.) headed “Welcome to Yorkshire” started proceedings and illustrated the outstanding and varied scenery in Gods Own Country! Sue then took us back to the Tour De France in 2014 to describe the amount of planning, work and effort that was necessary to deliver such a successful outcome. Harrogate was fortunate to host the opening stage and have an involvement in the second stage with it being the fourth time this event had started in this country (1974; 1994; 2007). This 101st Tour involved the closure of 300 miles of roads and the logistics of delivering to a 3.5 billion T.V. audience in 188 countries. Harrogate Borough Council planning and work actually commenced in 2012/2013 and would involve event specific creations which included flower beds, elm tree sculpture on Montpelier Hill, masses of bunting, other sculptures and various displays across the whole District e.g. Knaresborough; Ripon.

2014 was also the centenary of World War One and the 100th anniversary of the Brownies which was also reflected in floral displays in various locations. We heard about the number of bicycles refurbished and repainted then erected and displayed; Knaresborough Schoolchildren “designed” Tee Shirts displayed on bunting in their town; a stained glass window feature on Montpelier Hill; entries at the Chelsea Flower Show and Harrogate Spring Flower Show with the “Welcome to Yorkshire Garden”; a Cairn in Masham and many other sculptures/ designs located around Harrogate and surrounding areas to publicise this major sporting occasion. One of the more impressive campaigns was the Knitted Jumpers initiative targeted at 3,00 but resulting in over 23,500 and hung on bunting and placed in displays in many locations. Refurbished ,freshly painted bicycles could be seen in shops, museums, on grass verges and in allotments to mention just some of the places.

In the build up to the big day(s) pothole repairs were effected on race roads, street cleaning received focussed attention and the immense and considerable logistical exercise for the race itself swung into operation…for example spectator areas on the stray; V.I.P. stands and marques erected all needing equipment and an allocated work force. There were also 8,000 stewards in addition to the police numbers to attend to the massive crowds that descended on the centre of Harrogate. Before, during and after the race the collection of rubbish needed to be addressed and the re-opening of roads once the race had passed through.

What was clearly evident was that the planning and efforts of Harrogate Borough Council and others reaped great dividends in the hosting of a superbly organised and successful event of which they could be rightly proud. This success has been recognised and reflected since by involvement in the Tour De Yorkshire and the awarding of the 2019 U.C.I. Road World Cycling Championships which will see Harrogate act as the main competition town and finish location.

After taking questions from an enthused assembly the morning concluded with Roy Smith giving a Vote of Thanks on behalf of the forty-two attendees.