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It is with regret that the death of Dr. Brian Blakey has been advised.

A retired metallurgist in the steel industry in Scunthorpe Brian moved to Harrogate on retirement, joined the Forum and was Treasurer for 10 years and helped in the kitchen each week until ill-health prevented him from attending.

The Funeral and Memorial Service for Brian will be at the Wesley Chapel on Monday 11th February at 12 noon.


Chairman Michael Cochrane opened the meeting advising of three apologies having been received.

Today saw the return of Mr Roger Oldfield , a former Programme Secretary of Harrogate Men’s Forum, who had spoken to us a number of times previously and whose topic today was “The Yorkshire Residency Test”.

Roger started by indicating an alternative title for his talk which would be “An Alternative Yorkshire History”. He checked the composition of his audience which was primarily Yorkshire born with a smattering of Lancastrians and a solitary Scotsman!!

The audience was then reminded of the geographical size of Yorkshire with more acres in the county than words in the Bible; larger than twenty-six countries and West Yorkshire is bigger than any other counties. The number of sporting personalities was touched upon e.g. Freddie Trueman; Brian Clough etc and the fact that at the 2012 London Olympics Yorkshire would have been 12th in the Medal Table. Sheffield F.C has the distinction of being the oldest registered football club in the world; Yorkshire C.C. have been county champions more than any other (34 times) and the split in the rugby world resulted in Rugby League being formed in Huddersfield. Roger also mentioned the unique sport/pastime of ferret legging.

Industry and Science have been well represented by Yorkshire folk with nods to amongst others John Smeaton; Sir John Cockcroft and Joseph Priestley. Percy Shaw of Cats Eyes fame was acknowledged and John Harrison of Wakefield and marine chronometer fame noted.

Less salubriously in crime and infamy names such as Peter Sutcliffe, Guido Fawkes and George Hudson have a Yorkshire Heritage. More positively Yorkshire has supplied to the Arts and Music personalities such as Lesley Garrett; Kathleen Ferrier; Frederick Delius; the Arctic Monkeys and Def Leppard. Authors and actors number J.B. Priestley; the Bronte sisters; Charles Laughton, James Mason and Judi Dench. Roger advised the county encompassed seven cities and a number of other historical locations.

The morning had been thoroughly enjoyed by the audience as shown by the questions, comments and some light-hearted banter at its conclusion.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of the thirty-seven attendees was given by John Taylor who advised his mother returned to Yorkshire for his birth as otherwise he may have been of Irish heritage.





It is with regret that I have to advise you of the passing of former member Mike McKevitt after a prolonged period of ill health.

Mike was a professional actor and some members will remember a Tuesday morning meeting in the form of a question and answer session where he reflected on his career.


The first meeting of 2019 was opened promptly by Chairman Michael Cochrane at 1030 a.m. who advised of five apologies.

In an extremely sad start to the New Year members were advised of the death of our Registrar Derek Simpson. He had been admitted to hospital with pneumonia and passed away yesterday. Treasurer Roy Smith took a few minutes to remember and pay tribute to him.

A letter had been received from our outgoing President Reverend Christine Gillespie which thanked the Forum for her invite to the Christmas Lunch and stated how she had enjoyed her involvement with the Group which had now ended due to her location move.

Congratulations were also proffered to member Bill McNicol who will be ninety-five on Saturday!!

Today saw a popular returning Speaker Mr David Davies whose topic was “The Big Winter Freeze 1947”. The year 1947 proved to be a difficult one for the incumbent Labour Government who had been elected after the end of the war in 1945 with a large 150 seat majority. Events in 1947 would  have an enormous negative impact on the Government’s standing with issues to contend with including a Sterling Crisis (country basically broke!!); a Food Crisis; a Housing Crisis and a Fuel Crisis even before an exacerbation of the situation brought on by the Winter Freeze.

At the end of the war Lend Lease with the U.S.A.  finished and this led to food and equipment shortages made worse by the U.K.’s responsibility for feeding the defeated Germany. As a consequence rationing was increased with Bread Rationing introduced in 1946; in 1947 Meat Rationing, Bacon Rationing and in 1948 Cheese Rationing amounts were all reduced. Potato Rationing was also introduced in 1947. Horseflesh and Whale meat were amongst items consumed by the Public. The more serious implications of the Food Crisis were averted by the introduction of the Marshall Plan in 1948.

The Housing Crisis was a result of bomb damage to thousands of properties from the war further aggravated by blast damage which reduced the effectiveness of heat retention to doors and windows. The Government introduced a prefab building programme to address the issues but at best this could only be a longer term solution.

In 1947 Coal provided 93% of the country’s fuel needs but issues in the Industry, even with nationalisation on the horizon, relating to Owners, Managers, Workers and a lack of strategic vision would prove crippling not helped by the incompetence of the Minister for Fuel and Power Emmanuel Shinwell.

On January 23rd 1947 the Winter Big Freeze began with two months of almost continuous snow and ice, sub-zero temperatures followed by some weeks of immense flooding and considerable damage. All the Nation’s infrastructure was badly impacted or ground to a halt and increased the aforementioned Food, Housing and Fuel Crises to emergency/critical levels.

There was a 18% increase in mortality for the January–March 1947 period as opposed to the same period in 1946 overall. All these problems impacted on the Public’s perspective and increased the unpopularity of the governing Labour Party.

Questions and comments were raised at the conclusion of the highly informative and interesting talk and the Vote of Thanks was given by John Taylor on behalf of the thirty-six attendees.




Chairman Michael Cochrane opened the meeting on time and advised of three apologies.

Under “Initial Notices” members were advised of the death in London of former Chairman and Member Dr. Edward Bromhead at the age of ninety-eight.

Christmas Lunch bookings were confirmed at sixty-eight/seventy for December 11th.

Today’s Speaker saw Forum Secretary Neil Ramshaw share “Some of my British Sporting Heroes” with the audience. Supported by video clips, photographs and the occasional personal sporting reminisce, past British Sporting Legends from rugby, boxing, athletics, motor sport, snooker and wrestling were revisited. Included were stellar names such as Gareth Edwards, David Hemery, John Surtees, Henry Cooper and Jackie Pallo!! Whilst a nostalgic look back at former sporting giants the talk reflected the Speaker’s enduring and continued affection and interest for all things sporting both as a viewer and a former participant. Questions at the end showed the differences and debate sporting opinion can generate.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of thirty-nine attendees was given by Richard Brooks.




Today’s meeting started promptly at 1030 a.m. with Chairman Michael Cochrane advising of four apologies. He then read out a letter from our retiring President Reverend Christine Gillespie thanking the Forum for its support to her and the Church and wishing us continued success.

Secretary Neil Ramshaw took a few minutes to reiterate the need for a Second Vice Chairman and more importantly from a time perspective the need for someone to pick up the mantle of Programme Secretary from John Taylor who will not be carrying on in the role after this season but will provide support for the next holder of that office. Members were reminded that it is incumbent on them to ensure these positions are filled and there is no separate management committee that will resolve the matters.

The talk this morning was given by Mr Philip Solity and was titled “An Amusing Insight Into Road Traffic Law”. His fee would be going to St. Gemma’s Hospice. Philip had spent over 40 years as a Legal Adviser in Leeds Magistrate Courts and whist not exclusively on motoring matters much of his time was spent advising magistrates and defendants on those issues.

He started his talk by sharing the Motorists Lord’s Prayer with the audience which set the tone for the morning….at turns amusing, instructive and educational. We learnt about the single justice procedure for guilty pleas; were advised about the various bands of penalties namely A, B and C and the consequences thereof. Speeding Offences; Drink Driving and Mobile Phone offences were covered and the procedures for Speed Cameras disclosed. Some of the loopholes used by famous personalities were detailed but shown to being annoyingly legal.Various knowledge tests were given by Philip on road procedures and laws with responses from members either being reassuring or giving cause for concern!!

The differences between Careless and Dangerous Driving was explained and again the penalties ranging from fines, disqualification to imprisonment highlighted. Driving Capability (affected by illness or disability) was touched upon and the proper/improper use of Blue Badges mentioned. The talk elicited a good number of questions and comment both during and at its conclusion and showed that the audience had appreciated both the amusing anecdotes and knowledge imparted.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of forty attendees was given by His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C.




Chairman Michael Cochrane started the meeting with the announcement of five apologies.

Only two places remained available for this year’s Christmas lunch. On Saturday November 17th between 11.00 a.m. and 1 p.m. a Christmas Fayre will be held at the Church.

Last week’s Speaker Mr Stephen Caldwell sends his thanks for the “welcome” he received and hopes to talk to us again at some future date. He also advised that his fee will go to Martin House Hospice.

Today’s Speaker Mr Geoff Queen from Kettlewell  is a regular visitor, this being the ninth occasion he has spoken to the Forum. Over the years he has raised £11500 for Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Over the next hour Geoff , supported by his slide show, took us on an A–Z tour of Europe but in the main too some less fashionable places off the beaten track. Starting at A with Annecy and Avignon we stopped at Bayreuth, Carcassonne, Dubrovnik, Formentor, Granada, Krakow, Lisbon, Munich, Prague, Seville, Tallinn Ullswater, Venice, Yvoire and Zürich. Geoff used some “creative accounting” with his E choice being Helsingborg (where Shakespeare sited Elsinore Castle in Hamlet), X became a xtra slide of his favourite picture and I, J, and K were collectively covered under Interlaken!! He told us about Wagner’s influence in Bayreuth and under O showed us the Omaha Beach War cemetery from World War II. At the conclusion of his show the audience felt like they had partaken in a grand tour of Europe without leaving their seats and there was time for some questions and comment.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of 41 attendees was given by Tom Snelling.




Chairman Michael Cochrane opened the first Open Meeting of the season with a warm welcome to the ten lady guests and also guest Colin Alderton. The Forum also received new member George Hornsea (who likes to be known as Ginger) in the usual manner. Three apologies had been received prior to the meeting.

A reminder that John Taylor was taking Christmas Lunch bookings was given and he was already in receipt of forty-four orders.

Todays Speaker was Mr Stephen Caldwell and his fascinating discourse was “Living and Working in Windsor Castle”. Originally from Bradford where he attended the grammar school Stephen had a varied career taking in the Royal Navy, five years as a maintenance technician at the Halifax Building Society and various positions with other companies before responding to an advert from the Royal Household at Windsor. Two interviews later saw him take up a position as one of the Property Officers with responsibility amongst others of Pension Homes, security of Royal Lodge and Sunninghill Park and the 600 acres of Home Park. He told us about one of his first jobs being the lock on the Queens bedroom door!! Duties included reacting to emergencies, general maintenance, refurbishment of accommodation and “on-call ” emergency duties. His wife had also obtained a royal role namely secretarial working for the Duke of Edinburgh on his award scheme. We were told about attendances at Buckingham Palace Garden Parties; Garter Ceremonies; Duke of Edinburgh Award fund-raising events and Christmas Balls at Buckingham Palace. Being able to use the Royal Box at the Albert Hall  and a trip to see the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1996 was also mentioned. Other perks included live in accommodation, the opportunity to purchase maundy money sets and annual gifts from the Queen allowing a collection of minton crockery over the years in addition to the annual christmas card and christmas pudding. Stephen touched briefly on the Windsor Castle Fire of 1992, the devastation caused and the 4 year programme of works to repair.

On his retirement he was awarded the M.V.O. IN 2003. The talk was reinforced with an excellent slide show and questions from the audience at its conclusion.

The Vote of Thanks was given by Peter Staples on behalf of forty-one members and eleven guests.




Today’s meeting opened with Chairman Michael Cochrane advising of two apologies.

Under “Initial Notices” Programme Secretary John Taylor gave details of the Christmas Lunch arrangements for Tuesday December 11th at the Ascot House Hotel. Written details/menu choice and order form were available for members to take away. There is a numerical limit of 72 at the venue and reservations will be taken on a first come,  first served basis but orders and payments to John Taylor by the Tuesday meeting November 27th at the latest.

General Secretary Neil Ramshaw advised that our grant application for a defibrillator via Harrogate Lions/ Harrogate Borough Council Community Scheme had been successful and installation at the Church should take place in early December. Liaison with other parties was in hand and the electricians installation costs had been kick started by a very generous anonymous member donation of £100.

Today’s Speaker was the Forum’s own Alan Barker, a member of one year’s standing whose topic was “I Wish”. Alan started with a poetic tribute to his late mother in law and then told his audience about his road trip from the north-east to the 1968 Mexico Olympics. Much of this entailed hitching lifts with air flights from Scotland to New York, his journeys across the U.S.A. and Canada, back into the U.S.A. and eventually into Mexico and on to Mexico City. Accompanied by his brother Cec and dressed as English gentlemen complete with bowler hats and umbrellas the brothers were certainly noticeable and this led to many of their offers of assistance including lifts, accommodation and food and drink. Many places were visited including New York; Hamilton; Houston; Monterey; Washington and the eventual destination of Mexico City. In Mexico they came across B.B.C. reporter Martin Bell and his team and were interviewed at the Opening Ceremony drinking their “champagne” which had travelled with them namely Newcastle Brown Ale. The subsequent publicity home and abroad including a Newcastle Breweries advert led to some welcome sponsorship and their road trip finished very successfully and on a high  producing great lifetime memories for our Speaker and fulfilling his personal wishes . Questions and comments came from the floor when Alan concluded.

The Vote Of Thanks on behalf of the forty-one  attendees was given by Neil Ramshaw.




Chairman Michael Cochrane opened the meeting on schedule and advised of four apologies. He also advised that the Christmas Lunch invites will be available to members from next week.

Today saw Mr Trevor Moody travel from Huddersfield to present his talk/variety show entitled ” Comedians of our Good All Days”. The time period covered was the 1940’s–1980’s and members were entertained with a trip down memory lane listening too wireless clips and watching television sketches of some of the well-known and perhaps lesser known comedians of the times. These included Robb Wilton of “The Day War Broke Out “fame; Jimmy James with his gormless accomplices in the “In the Box” sketch and some homespun humour from Billy Russell. Albert Modley and Al Read received mentions with more up to date performances from Frankie Howerd; Tommy Cooper; Morecambe & Wise; Les Dawson ; Peter Sellers and Bernie Clifton and his ubiquitous Emu!! Excerpts from the Parkinson Show showing Howerd and Sellers at their best and a reminder of Les Dawson from his show displaying his skilful but tuneless piano playing added to the morning’s enjoyment . The presentation ended on a high with one of the truly great Morecambe & Wise sketches showing  Andre Previn playing a full and highly amusing part.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of 41 attendees was given by Frank Ellis our own Music Hall and Variety expert.