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Newspaper reports of the meeting

The Bilton Hogspital

The Bilton Hogspital

Today’s meeting started at 1030 a.m. with Chairman Richard welcoming members and guests to our Open Meeting.

The speaker today was Teresa who was accompanied by her husband Robert from The Bilton Hogspital.

Teresa spoke about her work with Hedgehogs over a 25 years period. Richard set up the excellent visual aids.

Teresa explained the life cycle of hedgehogs and also about the injuries they sometimes suffered.

The talk was well illustrated with photographs. She did bring a live hedgehog which we saw for about ten minutes. This animal had been with them for rehabilitation and would be returned to its habitat this week.

The main aim of the talk was to make us well aware of this wonderful animal at a time their numbers have plummeted. This once common garden friend is in serious trouble!

We can all help by taking part in Hedgehog Street. Hedgehogs can travel more than a mile each night in order to find enough food or a suitable mate, often passing through several gardens. So we need lots of volunteer Hedgehog Champions to rally the support of their neighbours and create streets full of interconnecting hedgehog-friendly gardens. Visit the website: to join in. For one example a gap of 13 x 13cm gives access to your garden. That is the size of a CD cover. The British Hedgehog Preservation Society provides a leaflet on Creating a Wildlife Garden.

Hibernation is a complicated and often perilous conservation strategy. It is not just ‘going to sleep.’ When asleep all bodily functions remain nearly normal; but in hibernation metabolism is almost at a standstill.

Towards the end of autumn, hedgehogs consider the best places to build nests (called hibernacula). Favourite sites are under hedges and roots of trees, in piles of brushwood, inside compost heaps or in old rabbit burrows and underneath timber buildings and sheds. You can see the dangers! For further information check out www,

Some hedgehogs live to the age of ten.

It was an enjoyable meeting which was well received by all. We now know how we can help this small endangered creature to survive.

The Bilton Hogspital: “Helping Harrogate Hedgehogs …

The Bilton Hogspital is a private hedgehog rehabilitation facility based in the Bilton area of Harrogate. It is run by Teresa Marshall, who started caring for hedgehogs in this way in 1995. Although Teresa is listed as a hedgehog carer by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, the Bilton Hogspital is completely independent, voluntary and unfunded.

The vote of thanks was given by Roy Smith.


Today’s meeting started at 1030 a.m. with Chairman Richard Wright advising of three apologies. As it was Shrove Tuesday Chairman Richard had two anecdotes about pancakes, the second story highlighting the alleged growth properties that a diet of pancakes can give.

Secretary Neil Ramshaw gave the first call for the April 28th A.G.M. advising of the three vacancies that need to be filled namely Vice Chairman, Second Vice Chairman and particularly Programme Secretary.

Today saw popular returning Speaker Mr David Davies bring his talk ” The Awkward Neighbours: Britain’s Relationship with Europe Since 1945″. This proved to be a fascinating and well structured potted history of the major events and personalities that imprinted that time period starting with the Yalta Conference in 1945. David outlined the position that Great Britain, Europe, the U.S.A. and Russia were facing post World War II and some of the key decisions taken by the “Big Three”, Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. These included the division of Germany, creation of the United Nations and the need to rebuild France and give it a position on the U.N. Security Council. Britain’s powers were on the wane exhausted financially and economically by World War II. We heard about Jean Monnet, Father of the European Union; the Congress of Europe in 1948 which led to the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice. Ernest Bevin’s pivotal role as Foreign Secretary was discussed and the 1948/49 Berlin Airlift recalled. The Marshall Aid Plan of 1948–52 was covered and its impact and costs. N.A.T.O’s formation in 1949 and its aims were scrutinised. The Schuman Plan of 1950 saw the genesis of the European Coal and Steel Community–the E.E.C. forerunner.

Other key events mentioned were the Korean War 1950/53; Great Britain going nuclear in 1952 and the volatility of Stalin’s successor Krushchev. Britain’s torturous progress from staying out of Europe initially, to wanting to join in the 1960’s and being twice vetoed by De Gaulle, to eventually entry in 1973, led by Heath, and subsequent referendums in 1975 and 2016 received an airing with similar unresolved arguments being propounded by both sides over a sixty year period. Analysis of G.P.D’s, Defence Costs and their impacts were mentioned by David and the various Treaties that federalised the European Community e.g. 1988 Treaty of Bruges.

Up to date issues such as European Budgets and the ongoing Refugee Crisis explained some of the current tensions being experienced on the continent.

An interested and engaged audience had obviously enjoyed the morning which, for many, reflected the period of their own lifetime and questions were taken at the talk’s conclusion.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of the thirty five attendees was given by Vice Chairman Peter Wilson.



Chairman Richard Wright opened the meeting promptly at 1030 a.m. advising of seven apologies.

Under “Initial Notices” the final reminder of the Harrogate Forum “Nostell Priory” trip was given.

Chairman Richard then took a little time to “celebrate” the recent investiture of “The Greatest Living Yorkshireman” Sir Geoffrey Boycott with some recollections of his life, playing and media career including some of his standout and acerbic “bon mots”.

Today’s Speaker saw the return of Mrs Jenny Stacey with her talk “A Sniff of Snuff”. Jenny’s subject , illustrated with slides, focussed on her personal collection of snuff boxes which had been an interest/ hobby of hers since the age of fifteen. She advised us that contrary to popular opinion snuff was taken at one time by all classes of Society from the aristocracy to the working classes including particularly miners. Snuff hit this country at the beginning of the 18th century and a trend was established by King George III’s wife Queen Charlotte (Snuffy Charlotte) and her son George who were takers of snuff. We were shown pictures of the tobacco plant and how it was hung and dried before being ground down to make the snuff. There are still four snuff factories in this country including Kendal and Sheffield. Once ground down flavours can be added to the snuff to meet personal tastes and formal instructions for taking the product had been detailed in twelve points by “How to Take Snuff from John Arlott”. Snuff needs to be kept dry and away from light. Bowls of snuff for public use were at one time available in public places such as theatres and the Houses of Parliament. The product itself is addictive, carries a health warning and its risks can be exacerbated by the addition of various flavours.

The audience was then shown a selection of snuff boxes in various shapes and values , the most expensive being made from gold, silver, porcelain and ceramic with cheaper versions being crafted in wood or papier mache. One quirky holder shown was described as a “Misers” Snuff Box.

At the end of her interesting and enjoyed discourse Jenny took questions and invited members to look at and examine a selection of snuff boxes from her collection.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of the thirty two attendees was given by Neil Ramshaw.



“Members’ Morning” was started by Chairman Richard Wright at 1030 a.m. who advised of five apologies.

A reminder of the Harrogate Forum “Nostell Priory” trip was given to members with a sign-up-form available for those wishing to attend.

Five member speakers had offered and being chosen to provide the morning’s proceedings.

First up was long standing member and former Chairman Malcolm Wood who told us the story of a girl called Sarah. This was an emotive tale about a little girl from an impoverished one parent family who Malcolm came across when playing his role as Santa Claus one year at a school and the girl on seeing him jumped on his knee and gave him a homemade card. When asked if she had a Christmas List she demurred and said all she wanted was a mirror for her mother. Much touched by this selfless attitude Santa Malcolm “rallied” around with others and ensured some presents were found and delivered to the family’s children including Sarah as well as the much desired mirror for the mother. Malcolm contrasted this little girl’s caring attitude, wanting nothing for herself, with the often shopping list and expensive demands from much more fortunate children.

Our second Speaker was John Pearson, a retired Head Teacher, who recalled his own schooldays and a much feared Headteacher nicknamed the “Mekon”. Whilst amusingly told the Mekon was of his time creating a climate of fear reinforced by a foreboding silence and liberal use of corporal punishment! John detailed his own day of reckoning with the Mekon , being summoned to his presence following an episode involving the school’s open air urinals, a height competition with his cousin and some subsequent discomfort and dampness to other pupils playing on the other side of the toilets. Many years later John and his cousin were drinking in a Nottingham pub and spotted the now very elderly Mekon sitting in a corner and approached him to offer a reminder of that day and possibly to take retribution! The Mekon pointed out that his methods had made them into model and affluent citizens and the audience was left to ponder how this reunion concluded.

Today’s third spot on the agenda was filled by Brian Gallagher who shared some memories of his time in the R.A.F. in Germany in a group with responsibility for providing cables for R.A.F. — line work.R.A.F. flights at that time were being scrambled to monitor Russian air incursions into the aerospace but senior officers were not happy with the response times of twenty minutes and wanted it speeding up. The method put in place saw lines to planes being pulled out on take off but this affected the electrics due to damp. The solution was as a result of “Lateral Thinking” by a young Lance Corporal who suggested the use of a male contraceptive, as a cover, which he had in his pocket. This worked successfully and led to a large order being placed with supplies for these contraceptives and no doubt caused some raised eyebrows!!

David Hopkinson next took centre stage with his story about his time in Tanzania and his involvement with the fibre crop Sisal. He told us how it was grown, harvested, its uses and also its importance as an export crop in the country’s economy. He explained the people involvement in the crop and some of the quirks that developed affecting the rates of pay. Sisal has a variety of uses including rope, cord, handicrafts and carpets. Tanzania was at one time a world leading producer of the product.

Our final Speaker was Vincent Naylor who educated and informed the audience about the Philippines. Vincent had visited the Philippines on joint project for Christian Aid and he reminded us of the recent volcanic activity there. Vincent gave us a potted history of the 7,641 islands that make up the archipelago with references to Ferdinand Magellan, the Spanish colonisation largely overseen from Mexico, the American takeover and eventually independence. The rule of the Marco’s was recalled and the present day violent campaign against drugs which unfortunately impacts on innocents as well as the guilty. We learned about the geography, the ethnic and religious make up of the people and the languages spoken. The excellent education system was touched upon which leads to so many nurses and care workers emigrating.

At the conclusion of the morning and on behalf of a well entertained audience the Vote of Thanks on behalf of the thirty two attendees was given by Neil Ramshaw.



Today’s meeting started at 1030 a.m. with Richard Wright continuing in the chair. Five apologies had been offered prior to the meeting. Chairman Richard advised members about online motor insurance quotes and how his wife’s incredible driving skills had saved him £30 on his annual quote!!

Under “Initial Notices” Secretary Neil Ramshaw informed the assembly of the proposed Harrogate Forum trip to Nostell Priory (cost £20 transport; admission £12 for non National Trust members) on Friday April 17th with a list for those interested to annotate.

Our Speaker this morning was our own member Michael Williams whose topic was the “Tall Ships Youth Trust”. Mike started by sharing his own sailing experiences which started as a teenager in the North West and the importance of actually being taught to sail. In 2006 he retired from H.M.R.C. and extended his sailing interests by starting to do “delivery trips” of boats to new owners. He joined the Tall Ships Youth Trust as a volunteer mate and explained a case study to the audience of a troubled youngster of the type that the Trust would endeavour to benefit.

The origins of the Tall Ships Youth Trust dates back to 1956 when it started life as the Sailing Training Association before morphing into its present day guise. It obtained the iconic schooners Sir Winston Churchill and the Malcolm Miller through public subscription. These vessels gave thirty years sterling service but the late 90’s saw them replaced by the Prince William and Stavros S. Niarchos, brigg-rigged tall ships. Running costs were heavy but corporate monies were much more available in those times. Challenger yachts were used in the B.T. Global Challenge races in 2000/01 and 2004/05 crewed with one professional sailor and fifteen adult paying amateurs. The Tall Ships Trust bought four of the challenger yachts. Mike showed some videos which highlighted the vessels in action under extreme conditions but which displayed their excellence as training boats, the amount of job creation they gave and the volume of tasks needed to be undertaken. Youngsters in the age range 12-15 and 16-25 were able to enjoy and experience lots of different tasks developing their own individual personal skills and vital teamworking bonds. Skills included sailing, cooking and cleaning–all very necessary when on board and then being able to achieve “Competency Crew” with certificates issued to all participants detailing their achievements. The Trust then acquired a sailing ketch which was less strenuous to operate and allowed the involvement of children with slight disabilities as the environment was more comfortable. The Tall Ship Ketch was gifted by Bolton School.

The Trust helps children with difficulties or adverse life styles to turn their situations around and Mike shared some anecdotes to illustrate this and stressed how rewarding it had been for him to be involved with.

Questions were taken at the end from an engaged and interested gathering and the Vote of Thanks on behalf of the thirty two attendees was given by David Hopkinson.



Chairman Richard Wright started the meeting by welcoming two guests, Brian South (Mike’s brother) and Alex Jackson, a friend of the Speaker. Five apologies for absence had also been offered.

John Corby briefly took the floor to advise members about personal alarms and batteries but appeared to be the only one in possession of such an alarm.

Today’s Speaker, making his Forum debut, was Mr Bob Soper whose talk ” Motor Sport’s Golden Years — The Era of the Old F***s” would draw on his own personal experiences in the sport and also his time in the motor trade.

Bob took us through the period 1955 –76 when motor racing was really dangerous. We heard how he was taken out of Leeds Grammar School at the age of sixteen to work in the family’s back street garage when his main ambition back then was to be a journalist. He told us about his early car buying experiences, the vehicles bought and enhanced including an M.G. PA Midget and M.G. J2. Business boomed with resprays and the selling of “touch up ” paint sourced from I.C.I. which stopped when the company found out what was happening!!

Bob achieved a H.N.C. in Mechanical Engineering in 1959; served five years in the R.N.V.R. and was looking to do his National Service in the Navy but failed his medical. Tiring of repairing old cars for hit and miss payers he bought a shop on the Harrogate Road Leeds and whilst still motor trade linked diversified into more products. He became a stockist for racing driver Les Leston. The name of the shop was changed to “Rally and Speed” and Bob was advised to source products not stocked elsewhere. This also led to the development of his own customised products such as a “Toothed Belt Drive” and a “Hi Torque Ram Pipe”. In 1959 he was buying from big dealerships but by 1968 businesses/dealers all had an account with him.

We were then told of the various motor clubs Bob joined , becoming actively involved and ending up on various committees but also taking part in events as a competitor, enjoying the camaraderie and fun. He built a Lotus 7 from kit form and through the sixties took part in events such as B.A.R.L. ” All Fools” rally and was involved in the development of the Harewood Hill Climb site. He shared some stories of the characters and friends he made, with an odd one or two straying on the wrong side of the law!!. His journalistic ambitions were realised in 1966 when he became the editor of a motor magazine. He and his team’s progress in the Castrol Quiz was covered and in 1976 his era of motor sport came to an end due to the volume of cars and speed on the roads and the increasing amount of regulations.

As a postscript however 1993 saw old friends reuniting at a luncheon which morphed into the Old F***s Club still operating today.

Members were kept engaged and entertained by the talk; a number of questions and comments raised at its conclusion and the Vote of Thanks on behalf of thirty nine attendees was given by Roy Smith.



The meeting was opened promptly at 1030 a.m. by Chairman Richard Wright with two apologies having being offered. A letter from last week’s Speaker Mr Mark Smith was read out which expressed his thanks to the group for the warm welcome and positive feedback to his talk that he’d received and also his gratitude for the generosity of £145 raised in the collection taken at the end.

Before today’s talk Tom Snelling shared an anecdote with members, totally inappropriate for a Church Hall!!, but very funny and enjoyed by the audience.

Today’s Speaker was our own Frank Ellis, our longest standing member of over twenty five years and a veteran of many talks mainly on music hall/entertainment. His talk today was entitled “Tom Who?” and he shared the life story and reminisces about Tom Mennard, an English comedian and actor who had a long career in variety, radio and television. His comedic style was stories as opposed to just jokes.

Mennard was born in Leeds in 1918, the son of an undertaker, and left school to work for his father always claiming that being an undertaker gave him his sense of humour. He moved to Brighton where he worked as a bus driver, became involved in amateur revue and attracted the attention of singer Donald Peers on whose recommendation he obtained a B.B.C. audition. He also auditioned for the Windmill Theatre and afte two rejections was accepted to do a road sweeper routine. Other work followed including Harold Fielding’s “Music for the Millions” where he worked with his idol Rob Wilton. Subsequently he became a regular on Mike Craig’s Radio Show in Manchester where he reached a wider national audience. His radio work included his own show “Local Tales”. Some film and T.V. appearances were also made and in 1985 he joined the cast of Coronation Street playing the role of Sam Tindall alongside his real life dog Dougal.

Mennard died from cancer in 1989 at the age of seventy one.

Forum Members enjoyed the morning’s entertainment provided by Frank and the Vote of Thanks on behalf of the thirty seven attendees was given by His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson.



The meeting was started at 1030 a.m. by Chairman Richard Wright who advised of two apologies.

Under “Initial Notices” the funeral arrangements for Dennis Anderson were advised. A communication from Harrogate Forum was read to members which offered the opportunity to join them for future day visits/trips and some interest was shown from the floor.

Today’s Speaker was Mr Mark Smith, a double transplant recipient, whose talk was “Organ Donations: An Inspiring Story”. At the age of fourteen Mark’s ambition was to be a R.A.F. pilot but these aspirations were dashed when a period of ill health led to a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis which continued throughout the next twenty five years culminating in a double transplant of his pancreas and a kidney in 2009. We heard how he persisted with his education, obtaining a degree at Bradford University where he met his wife and following a career path which saw him spend ten years at R.B.S. before being made redundant following the financial crash of 2008. He also sadly advised of the loss of his brother aged twenty one after a traffic/bicycle accident. Mark told us about the relationship with Adam Roger’s (his donor) parents, having a family (two daughters)and the charitable and personal challenges he undertook to get the most out of his life. These included climbing Mount Snowdon, hiking the Yorkshire Three Peaks, walking the length of Hadrian’s Wall and winning a bronze medal in the Transplant Games supported by his family and his donor’s parents. His fund raising efforts include a charity dinner which raised £11,000 and another £3000 from his various talks and climbs. The beneficiaries from these achievements are Kidney Care U.K., The Donor Family Network and Harrogate Dialysis Unit.

Mark’s enthusiasm and energy/vigour for life following all that has happened shone through and was certainly inspirational and well received by his audience and clearly displayed by the questions asked at the talk’s conclusion.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of forty attendees was given by Michael Williams.



I can confirm that the funeral arrangements for Dennis are Wednesday January 22nd at 3 p.m. at Stonefall Crematorium and afterwards at the Pavillions.



Chairman Richard Wright started the first meeting of 2020 and advised of four apologies.

The year started on a sad note with the announcement of the death of Dennis Anderson, a member since 2012.

Michael Cochrane was thanked for his organisation of a successful Christmas Lunch where a collection of £312 was raised for the Just Giving Kate Curtis account on behalf of Martin House Hospice.

Toady’s Speaker was the Forum’s own Secretary Neil Ramshaw with his talk titled “The Two Funniest Words In The English Language” which looked at the career of one of America’s most highly regarded comedians, Film, T.V. and Radio performers Groucho Marx. It traced his career from vaudeville and films as part of the legendary Marx Brothers to his stand alone performances on T.V. and Radio where his unique and at times eye brow raising style of humour could prove controversial but also very funny.

Video clips highlighted Groucho at his performing best. Married three times his final companion Erin Fleming was controversial and whilst acknowledged as reviving his popularity and pushing for his honorary Oscar, was in dispute with his family over possible exploitation and after his death disputes over his estate. He died at the age of eighty six.

The Vote of Thanks on behalf of thirty six attendees was given by Chairman Richard Wright.