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A convivial end to the first half of Harlow Men’s Forum’s 43rd season saw fifty seven members and guests gather at the Ascot House Hotel at midday on Tuesday for the annual Christmas Lunch. A good time was had by all and a charitable collection of £312 was raised for Adam and Jane Curtis’ Just Giving to Martins House Hospice.

Popular and much loved member His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson was celebrating his ninetieth birthday and the occasion was marked with a card and birthday cake presentation to which Derek gracefully responded in his inimitable style.

Thanks are extended to member Michael Cochrane who arranged this years successful event.

The second half of the season begins on Tuesday January 7th at Harlow Methodist Church 10 a.m. for 1030 a.m.



Chairman Richard Wright returned, after his holidays, to take the meeting which started promptly with five apologies having being advised. He welcomed those attending particularly the lady guests who had been saved from the perils of retail shopping!!

Under “Initial Notices” Richard read a note of appreciation from Angela Scofield, last week’s Speaker, who collected £83–93 for her N.H. S. charity.

Members of the forum were also advised of the arrangements for Bill McNicol’s funeral which is at Stonefall Crematorium on Thursday December 12th at 1220 p.m. with refreshments at the Yorkshire Hotel near the Cenotaph afterwards.

Today saw a popular returning Speaker Alun Pugh whose talk was titled “The Long and Winding Road…How the Beatles Became”. This would be a story of how the Beatles came together and their early incantations before hitting the big time. Alun painted pen pictures of each of the protagonists –from being born, their parents and family, the areas of Liverpool they grew up in, the schools they attended and how in various ways they met each other. John Winston Lennon was born to Julia and Alfred (a seaman and absentee father from John being six) with custody being passed to his mother’s sister Aunt Mimi who with her husband George became formative influences on the young Lennon. Failing his O Levels at Quarry Bank High School he went to Liverpool College of Art. At the age of fifteen he formed a skiffle group The Quarrymen. James Paul McCartney was born in 1942 to Mary and James (Jim). His father was a musician and his mother died when Paul was fourteen. At age fifteen he met Lennon and joined the Quarrymen where he recommended his young friend George Harrison as lead guitar.

Other names that featured in the story were Stuart Sutcliffe (the Fifth Beatle) and Pete Best hired as a drummer. In 1960 the group went to Hamburg to learn their trade and where Sutcliffe decided to stay when the group returned to the U.K. Best was replaced as drummer by Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr)who had been playing with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Brian Epstein became their manager in 1962, by which time they had morphed into the Beatles, and their first single “Love Me Do” was also cut. Mainstream success followed in 1963 and the group was on its way!!

Alun’s talk was supported by picture slides and he played samples of some of their records related to Liverpool locations e.g. Eleanor Rigby; Strawberry Fields; Penny Lane etc.

The morning’s entertainment brought back happy memories for many and questions asked at the talk’s conclusion displayed the interest that had been stimulated.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of thirty nine member attendees and the six lady guests was given by Richard Brooks.



Bill McNicol’s funeral will be at Stonefall Crematorium at 12 20 p.m. on Thursday December 12th with refreshments afterwards at the Yorkshire Hotel near the Cenotaph.



The meeting was started by Vice Chairman Peter Wilson who formally introduced to members our new President Reverend Moses John who was warmly welcomed and stayed for the early part of the meeting.

Four apologies had been advised prior to the meeting.

Mike Cochrane advised members that today was the cut off date for Christmas Lunch bookings with a take up of about 59/60. He asked the audience to consider a local charity to benefit from our traditional lunch collection so this can be agreed next week.

Today’s Speaker was Mrs Angela Schofield, Chairperson of the Harrogate and District N.H.S. Foundation Trust, whose talk would be about the said “N.H.S. Hospital Trust”.

Angela advised us about the start of the Trust eleven years ago and how it was formed to have independence and accountability to the local community. She also encouraged Forum attendees to join the Trust as members and make their own contribution. It was explained how the Trust needed to demonstrate standards and credibility to be able to operate, the importance of accountability and being held to account. We heard about the core principles of being respectful, responsible and passionate.

Our Speaker then outlined the services provided by Harrogate and also Ripon Hospitals including all the Community services for Harrogate and the Rural District. Less well known were The Children’s 0–19 Community Services for healthy children which extended to much of the North East; Minor Injuries Services and Dietary/Dentistry services which also extended to a wider area. Not all services can be provided at Harrogate Hospital with an interdependence and need to work together with Leeds, York and sometimes other Districts to achieve the best outcomes.

Angela shared some statistics and key information related to the Trust and explained the management structure involving Executive Directors, Non- Executive Directors and the Board of Governors. The audience were advised about the monitoring bodies i.e. The N.H.S. Improvement ; The Care Quality Commission and some of the targets the Trust needs to achieve or strive for.

The morning’s proceedings had held member’s interest, supplemented by their own personal experiences, and a number of questions were raised at the end.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of forty one attendees was given by John Taylor.



In the absence of Richard Wright, Peter Wilson continued in the chair for a second week and started the meeting at 1030 a.m. advising of three apologies.

Under “Initial Notices” Secretary Neil Ramshaw advised of the sad death of Bill McNicol, a long time and popular member of the Forum who had been in ill health for some time but died peacefully at the Nursing Home he was in with family members in attendance.

Mention was made of the Harlow Methodist Church Christmas Fayre on Saturday November 30th between 2 and 430 p.m. Donations from Forum Members (Bric a Brac etc) can be brought to the Church Hall prior to the event and attendance (and spending!!) on the day would be welcomed.

The previous week’s Speaker Andy Dennis had sent an appreciative note to Forum Members thanking them for their welcome/hospitality and advising of his collection for M.S.F. of £169–71.

Mr Eric Jackson, today’s Speaker, was returning for a second time with this talk entitled “Wonderful Things”. His subject proved to be a fascinating and detailed discourse concerning the discovery in Egypt in 1922 of the tomb of Tutankhamun by British Archaeologist Howard Carter funded by his patron Lord Carnarvon. The nearly intact tomb (unlike others that were desecrated in the Valley of the Kings) received worldwide coverage in November 1922 and by February 1923, with the antechamber having been cleared, on the 17th of said month with witnesses, including Carnarvon, Egyptian Officials, Government Press Staff and Museum Representatives, the tomb was unsealed.

Eric advised us about the concession rights for excavation in the Valley of the Kings held by Theodore Davis who passed them to Carter in 1914 when he felt the area was exhausted of finds. World War 1 delayed progress until later in the decade when Carter resumed his work.

Over 5,000 items were found in the tomb including a solid gold coffin, face mask, throne etc all exquisitly decorated with gilt and precious stones and it took ten years to catalogue all the find.

Eric explained how the “Curse of the Pharoahs” had no real credence but told us that Tutankhamun, one of the least known and esteemed Pharoahs in life had become, in death, the most remembered.

“Wonderful Things” is the phrase uttered by Carter to Carnarvon when asked what he could initially see in the tomb for the first time.

The talk was reinforced by excellent and detailed slides and a highly interested audience asked a number of questions at its conclusion touching on the tour of Tutankhamun’s artifacts currently in this country.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of forty one attendees was given by Vincent Naylor.



It is with some sadness that I have to advise that member Bill McNicol has died peacefully at the nursing home he was in. There is no news currently regarding funeral arrangements.

Bill was the last of the Forum’s World War II veterans and was always a genial friendly presence when attending Forum and when mobile a valuable part of the kitchen team.

Bill would have been 96 in January, a good age, but will still be sorely missed by those who knew him.

Thanks to Mrs Clarkson who advised John Taylor of Bill’s death.



Today’s meeting was taken, for the first time, by Vice Chairman Peter Wilson who started the meeting promptly at 1030 a.m. and advised of three apologies. He also welcomed our guests and members to the first Open Meeting of the season.

Our Speaker was Mr Andy Dennis, a nurse with the N.H.S. who also works and fund raises for ” Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres)” the subject of today’s discourse. Andy started his presentation with some statistics about M.S.F. (working in 70 countries; 27,000 National Staff and 3.000 Ex-Pats) and also provided context to his talk and where M.S.F. operates focussing on Conflict Areas; Remote Locations e.g. South Sudan; Exclusion from Care/Overwhelming Demand e.g. Uganda; Epidemics e.g. Ebola Outbreaks in locations such as Sierra Leone/ D.R.C. and Natural Disasters e.g. Haiti and earthquake.

Andy then took us through some of the missions he had previously worked with in places like South Sudan and as an Ebola Nurse in Sierra Leone in 2014. The audience were shown some shocking pictures of affected patients with issues such as malnourishment, dehydration and also gunshot wounds. Happily there were some encouraging recovery pictures shown which highlighted the benefits achieved by M.S.F..

On his return to the U.K. Andy detailed the “Suspect Ebola” process he experienced when falling ill involving Ambulances, Police and a Leeds Hospital, in marked contrast to facilities abroad where he’d worked (fortunately a false alarm!!). He explained about a fund raising book co-written with an M.S.F. colleague, Anna Simon, from journals both had kept when on service and which is for sale in “Imagined Things” bookshop in Harrogate.

The latter part of his presentation centred on his fund raising activities for M.S.F. in conjunction with his girlfriend and involving sponsored walks; half marathon ; burlesque shows and a San Francisco — New York bicycle ride. Initial targets were quickly exceeded, reset and he has currently raised over £100K with a current target of £200K!!

The talk was brilliantly presented, being informative, educational and entertaining but more importantly inspiring. It was accompanied by excellent slides and some supporting D.V.D clips. Questions were raised at the end by interested and appreciative audience members.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of thirty members and six lady guests was given by Neil Ramshaw.



The meeting started at 1030 a.m. with Chairman Richard Wright advising of four apologies. He mentioned the Christmas Lunch, where a charitable collection is traditionally made and asked for suggestions from members as to which cause(s) should be supported.

Secretary Neil Ramshaw updated members with details of next weeks Open Meeting (Medecins Sans Frontieres) and also about Members Morning on February 11th 2020 and the need for volunteers to speak for 10/15 minutes on a topic of their choice. Members who felt able to do a full talk for 55/60 minutes and would like to be included in next season’s Programme were asked to make the Secretary aware.

Today saw the first appearance of Canon Roger Dedman with his talk “The Rise of the Post Office”. His subject consisted, in the main, of the Postal History of Great Britain and Ireland up until the 20th century. As befits his office he started with a biblical reference from the book of Esther regarding communication to 127 provinces by mounted carriers on horseback. He also advised that under the Roman Empire effecting a communication from York to Rome (1,000 miles) was achieved in five days including the Channel crossing.

Roger then took us through the early days of our postal history starting in 1516 with Henry VIII establishing the Master of the Post. In 1635 Charles I extended use of the Royal Mail and opened it to the public with charges. 1657 saw the first Post Office and the formation of the G.P.O. He talked to us about early systems for tracking postal delays; how the postal system required good roads which saw the introduction of turnpikes and the period of horse drawn Mail Coaches from 1784-1846. As communication links improved so did the Postal System and it expanded to all parts of the United Kingdom although charges initially were expensive. We heard about Sir Rowland Hill who reformed the Postal System and introduced the concept of Universal Penny Post in the late 1830’s/early 1840. Another postal reformer was Ralph Allen responsible for Crosspost. Roger detailed the involvement of the Railways in the Postal System and also Shipping (Steam Packet Companies). Post Boxes were first introduced in 1857 into St. Helier Jersey and other developments would follow e.g. Post Office Savings Bank, Telegraphs and in 1897 Delivery to every house!!

The talk was fascinating, detailed and supported with excellent visual representations. A number of Postal scrap books had been circulated amongst the audience prior to the talk.

Questions were asked as the talk concluded and the Vote of Thanks on behalf of thirty seven appreciative attendees was given by Peter Belton.



Chairman Richard Wright opened the meeting promptly at 1030 a.m. and advised of seven apologies. He also gave an update on member Bill McNicol who is comfortable in a Care Home but not in the best of health.

Under “Initial Notices” Treasurer Roy Smith issued the Annual Accounts and took questions from the floor.

Today saw a popular and regular returning Speaker Professor Martin Curzon with his talk on ” Artists of the Great Plains: George Caitlin and Frederick Remington”.

Professor Curzon gave the background to these two American artists, born sixty five years apart, and displayed their developing art styles but also highlighted their different and contrasting approach to the subject in question–American Indians (First Nation).

In the early 19th century there were still many Indian tribes and huge Indian territories but this would drastically change as attitudes to Indians hardened and there was an ever moving settler population heading west and pushing the natives further out. The exploration and later settlement of the mid west was facilitated by the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804–1806 and by the Cumberland Gap Pathway used by frontiersmen such as Daniel Boone.

George Caitlin, born 1796, studied law 1817–1824 and then moved to Philadelphia where he started painting in oils. His interest in America’s “Vanishing Race” was inspired by a visiting American Indian delegation to Philadelphia and by relics from the Lewis/Clark expedition owned by his friend Charles Wilson Peale. He set out to record the appearance and customs of American Native People. . His initial basic efforts improved over time and Professor Curzon showed us pictures of Seneca Chief Red Jacket, Buffalo Bull’s Back Fat and The Surrounder amongst others. Caitlin felt a gallery of Indian paintings should be established but lacked support.. He moved to St. Louis which was the base for his various Indian trips in the 1830’s. Whilst he showed his paintings in American cities they were not well received and in 1839 he crossed the Atlantic to tour European Capitals. He died in 1872 and most of all his first Indian Gallery Set is housed in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Frederick Remington , born in 1861 in New York, was a controversial artist who, in simple terms, regarded Frontiersmen and Cowboys as “good” (heroes) and Native Americans as “bad” (villains). Whilst he became an accomplished artist and sculptor and successful in his lifetime, his depiction of the American Native Indian still causes upset today. His later works show “Impressionist” influences and his works include The Bronco Buster, The Cowboy and the Apaches amongst many. He died at an early age of forty eight due to peritonitis.

The excellent presentation was very well illustrated with slides and audience interest was high as evidenced by the number of questions at the end.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of thirt five attendees was given by Ian Blyth.



Chairman Richard Wright opened the meeting and advised of three apologies.

Under “Initial Notices” Treasurer Roy Smith advised that audited accounts would be available in a couple of weeks but that finances were in very good order.

Secretary Neil Ramshaw told members that last weeks Speaker Steve Caldwell was not able to advise of his additional collections for Martin House Hospice from the Forum as monies had mingled with other collections.

Michael Cochrane had issued documentation relating to this years Christmas Lunch. The venue is Ascot House Hotel on Tuesday December 10th at 12 for 1230 p.m. with a cost of £23-50 per person. Menu Choices and full payment needs to be back with Mike A.S.A.P. but at the very latest at the Tuesday meeting on the 26th November.

Today’s Speaker was long-standing Forum Member Keith Wadd who would regale his audience with tales of “My Sporting Life: The Life of a Mediocre Sportsman”.

As well as detailing some of his sporting exploits in football, cricket, golf, snooker and mixed hockey Keith also gave us some of the history of the particular sports and how they fitted into the social context of in particular the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. He reminisced about starting playing football at aged eight or nine years old in the playground and later honing his skills on “The Tip” and recalled watching games at the Baseball Ground (Derby County) and in his hometown of Chesterfield at Saltergate. Former players were remembered and their close affinity and connection with locals, something lost in recent years. Keith played intramural football at Leeds University and later started a side Wakefield Tech and Art team. He advised the audience of how the early F.A. Cup and First Division Championship winners were mainly amateurs before the more known clubs came to the fore (The Wanderers; Oxford University and Preston North End).

We were then advised of his cricketing background, of developing his skills on a footpath, hitting two sixes in his career and watching the well attended county games at Queen’s Park with mention again of some local players known to him and his father. He then produced a cricket ball and attempted to explain the intricacies of spin bowling such as leg breaks and googlies!! He explained why cricket was a county game as opposed to football and highlighted the Gentlemen versus Players differences that persisted until the 1950’s.

He briefly covered his less distinguished but enjoyed golfing adventures, the game’s development and its sharp social separation. Snooker was touched upon, Joe Davis mentioned and Keith’s starting of Leeds University Snooker Club and concluded with his painful experience of Mixed Hockey. He did briefly play for “England” at football on a student trip to Krakow but was injured early doors!!

His final remarks were that “Sport should be physical, competitive but fun”…a view shared by his audience.

The Vote of Thanks was given by Michael Cochrane on behalf of thirty six very satisfied attendees.

The Chairman closed the meeting by asking for member support in setting up the room next week at 930 a.m. onwards due to the absence of Mike South.