Category Archives: Reports

Newspaper reports of the meeting


The Defibrillator has now been installed. Thanks for all the donations from members and other kind sources.

At the Drop of a Hat

Frank Ellis gave an excellent talk ‘At the drop of a Hat’. His presentation included snippets of the work of Flanders & Swan who were educated at Westminster School and Oxford.

Flanders was writing nearly all of the lyrics, and Swann the writer of most of the music (and the occasional lyric). The duo wrote over a hundred songs, and between 1956 and 1967 gave hundreds of performances in the UK, Canada, and the USA.

As Michael Flanders said, the animal songs made him and his partner Donald Swann famous.

The duo’s best-known number may be “The Hippopotamus,” with its cheerful, waltzing chorus of:

Mud, mud, glorious mud! Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood. So follow me, follow Down to the hollow, And there let us wallow In glorious mud!

Most of the Forum sang along!

The vote of thanks was given by His Honour Derek Clarkson QC.


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.

Derek Simpson’s Funeral

Derek ‘s Funeral Will take place at Skipton Crematorium on Monday 21st January at 2.10pm.

Skipton Crematorium Carleton Rd, Skipton, United Kingdom

Derek Simpson 1937- 2019

Derek Simpson 1937- 2019

The Treasurer Roy Smith informed the membership that our Registrar Derek Simpson had died on Monday 7th January 2019. Derek was a railway man through and through. He had a vast knowledge of the British rail network and the European railways.

His hobbies included walking, skiing and model railways. His layout of train models all complied with British Rail standards. When he retired Derek set himself the task of walking the towpaths of the English Canal system. He had no intention of becoming a ‘couch potato’!

In his library he had all the Ordinance Survey maps of England. Derek was a good skier and taught many folk to ski when there was a dry ski slope in Harrogate.

When out walking he always had the company of Fran or Meg his well behaved dogs.

He will be missed by many friends and colleagues.

Gordon Middleton

6 days ago
User Info

Derek Simpson 1937- 2019
Hi. My name is Gordon Middleton and I am Derek Simpson’s nephew. First of all I’d like to thank your members for their kind words regarding Derek’s life.
Any friends and colleagues who wish to attend his funeral are informed that on Monday 21st, 2.10pm It will be held at Skipton Crematorium then onto Carleton Social club about a mile away in Carleton village. Everybody is welcome.

Approved yes







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.



An Egyptian Odyssey

Mrs Jocelyn Brooks An Egyptian Odyssey

Mrs Brooks gave an interesting presentation about the importance of the River Nile to Egypt. It was illustrated with photographs of some of the temples and the wonders of the ancient world.
Without the Nile river, all of Egypt would be desert. Only about a 2.5cm of rain falls throughout Egypt each year. In summer, the Nile river level rises with water from it’s source in Ethiopia. The land in the Nile valley floods, enabling crops and trees to grow.

Egypt was founded 3150 BC by King Menes, leading to a series of dynasties that ruled Egypt for the next three millennia. The culture flourished during this long period and remained distinctively Egyptian in its religion, arts, language and customs.

Many of the members of the Forum had visited Egypt. The vote of thanks was given by Roger Bancroft. 36 members attended.


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.