Chairman  Peter Staples opened the meeting at 1030a.m. with four apologies having been offered.The Anniversary Lunch Menu’s were out for members to take, with choices and payments to be returned to John Taylor by Tuesday April 11th 2017.

Secretary Neil Ramshaw gave notice of the A.G.M. on Tuesday April 25th 2017 and asked for proposals/prospective Officers elect to be advised to him by April 11th 2017 to allow preparatory work for the meeting to take place.He also advised names were needed to come forward for the Second Vice Chairman and also reserve cover for the Catering Team. Brief mention was also made of an informal approach to Harrogate Lions for Defibrillator Funding but this also needs to be taken forward with the Church if it is to be progressed.

Forum Members were today entertained and engaged by Mr Michael Duncombe from Leeds but originally from near Rotherham who shared his “Musical Memories of the 50’s and 60’s”. His story involved himself and two childhood friends growing up in the mid to late 50’s , joining a Methodist Church Youth Club in their village Whiston, attracted by the presence of girls but being introduced to music! Music was radically changing at this time as evidenced by T.V. Shows such as “Oh Boy!” and “Ready Steady Go” all promoting the “new” music. The three friends decided to pursue the new genre, clubbed together and purchased one guitar and a book “The Guitar Made Easy”. Supported by a kindly Aunt and Uncle (Edie and Philip) the fledglings used Sunday afternoons at the relatives house to hone their developing talent using Uncle’s tape recorder and the additional benefits of Auntie’s sumptuous Sunday teas!! We heard about homemade guitar cases made from blankets and rain coats , how the trio started locally but were invited to audition for the Carol Levis Talent Show at the Sheffield Empire Theatre courtesy of a helping hand from Aunt Edie and being inspired by shop names to adopt the moniker “The Saxons” as their show business name. A 30 second audition saw them make one of the initial main shows and then the Saturday Grand Final with a combination of talent and Aunt Edie’s “rent a crowd” activity! Compere of the Sheffield shows was interestingly a youthful Jackie Collins. The Saxons enjoyed local success and began appearing at Garden Parties, Charity Functions, Hotels, Dance Halls and leading memorably to an appearance at a Girls Remand Home. Following an invite , for a time they were part of the Burrells Concert Party and moved into appearances at Working Men’s Clubs. In the mid 60’s a particular highlight was being asked to perform in the finale of a production (“A God Forsaken Hole”) at the Royal Albert Hall. In 1969 the trio finished their time in entertainment together after 12 years due to domestic moves but stayed in touch as friends and twenty-four years later reformed and went back on the road but sadly and poignantly finished for good in 1997 due to the illness and subsequent passing of one of their number. During the talk tracks were played from the trio’s one C.D. which gave a lovely flavour of their talent and musical taste. These included “Crying in the Rain”; “Scarlet Ribbons”; “Another You”; “Let It Be Me” and “Jimmy Brown”. Whilst never going professional with their musical talents they came across as inspired amateurs.

It was evident from the questions, comments and general enthusiasm shown by the audience that the morning in pop parlance had been a hit delivered by a Speaker whose relaxed, amusing and most affable manner had greatly enlivened proceedings as well as attending with a great story.

The Vote Of Thanks was given by Roger Bancroft on behalf of thirty-six appreciative members.




Todays meeting was held in the main Church premises and was opened on time by Chairman Peter Staples with six apologies having been offered. Members attention was drawn to the launch of a new Harrogate and Knaresborough fund-raising group for the British Heart Foundation with the launch meeting being on Tuesday March 28th at 6p.m. in The White Room which is upstairs in The Pit, The Ginnel, Harrogate HG1 2RB and anyone interested is welcome to attend. Members were also advised that the menu and reply form for the 40th Anniversary Lunch (May 2nd) will be given out next week with a last date for booking being Tuesday April 11th due to the Easter break.

Todays talk was given by Les Parkes, in his second year as a Forum Member, but well-known in the area as he was a Liberal Democrat County Councillor for a number of years and a Governor at Rossett School for 10 years. As Chairman of the Yorkshire and Humber Branch of the  European Movement (origins 1948 under Winston Churchill’s Chairmanship) and a member of the Movement’s National Council his topic of “European Perspective” was highly appropriate but presented in a non-political or partizan manner and which consisted of his own experiences in Europe from a young age, during his National Service and then from his travels during his business career. He shared the information that his father had shaken the hand of Adolf Hitler at the Berlin Motor Show in the 1930’s and that his own education preferences had seen him choose languages (German and French) as opposed to sciences. We were treated to his reminisces about Germany particularly Berlin and the Berlin Wall during the Cold War period and the differences between East Germany and West Germany. During his National Service Les was based in Bergen Hohne (close to Belsen) and apparently missed Elvis Presley by about two months!! The educational priorities of East Germany were mentioned as well as the overweening presence of the Stasi in the everyday life of the country. Anecdotes about Poland, Czechoslovakia,, Yugoslavia and Romania were shared with the latter country having a dreadful reputation from the Ceausescu era and for being a byword for corruption. A number of audience members had also experienced National Service in Germany ,and Berlin in particular, including duty at Spandau prison and these experiences were also shared as well as a number of questions being asked.

The Vote Of Thanks on behalf of the thirty-five attendees was given by Vincent Naylor.



In Pursuit of the Kingdom of Happiness

36 members enjoyed an excellent presentation by Geoff Queen about his visit to one of the world’s most unusual countries, where there are no traffic lights, no plastic bags and no tobacco. This is the land of the Thunder Dragon, Bhutan, an isolated country the size of Switzerland but with a population no bigger than Leeds. It is a land of three layers – plains, foothills and Himalayas and 75% of the country is forested. Its history is shrouded in myth and legend but Buddhism arrived in the year 746. Prayer wheels and flags abound. We all learned the word DZONG, buildings which are part monastery, part fort and part school, many dating back several hundred years. Dzongs are architecturally very beautiful and we saw their influence even on the airport buildings. The capital Thimphu is smaller than Harrogate. A hereditary monarchy was established as late as 1907 and the first king’s belief that “gross national happiness is more important than gross national product” still applies today under the 5th king Jigme Wangchuck. Tourism is rationed but schools and health care are free for all. This gentle and peaceful people still wear national dress ( skirt and a dressing gown style garment for men) except when off duty.

Geoff’s excellent slides showed this beautiful country at its best, although we shared his disappointment that heavy rains prevented his visiting the most remote Dzong, the Tiger’s Nest. He told us not to visit the country if we did not like chillis as they form a large part of the national diet with buckwheat as rice does not grow at high altitudes. Numerous questions followed before Richard Wright gave the vote of thanks.

Please Note:
Members voted overwhelmingly for a 2 course lunch for the special anniversary meal at Ascot House on 2 May.


Chairman Peter Staples opened the ever popular Members’ Morning by announcing that three apologies had been received. He asked John Corby to update members regarding David Essam , a former member, who moved to Beverley last year and has experienced some ill-health but pleasingly is now on the mend and had asked to be remembered to those who knew him.

First up this morning was Mike Tutt giving his first talk to the Forum and who kickstarted the morning’s proceedings by sharing his experiences of “My Electrical Life”. Born in 1938 in Folkestone he made us aware of his  early moves due to evacuation in World War 2 and advised that he had always been interested in electrical things such as batteries and crystal radios even from an early age and when eight this was consolidated on receipt of a Meccano Set as a gift which stimulated his attention further. On leaving school he became a Unilever Electrical Trainee (Batchelor’s Foods) which after a year turned into a five-year apprenticeship including stints  at Port Sunlight Training School and Day Release at a College. Five years National Service from 1960 saw him chose an electrical trade, enjoy various postings around the world whilst working on aeroplanes.De-mobbed back to the U.K. in Southall with initial jobs on gyroscopic equipment at Heathrow he met his future wife and moved to Huddersfield with work firstly in Bradford and then with the C.E.G.B. ending up at Beckwith Knowle and is now semi retired taking contract work in his capacity as a sole trader. His entertaining discourse shared anecdotes about camels and golf clubs in unusual places!!

Our second Speaker was Richard Wright who has given a full talk previously to the Forum regarding Gambia and his personal and professional involvement there. Today he gave us an update particularly on the unstable, dangerous and changing political situation of recent months. Since 1994 the country has been under the despotic sway of Yahya Jammeh of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council which deposed the previous government and gradually assumed the trappings of a dictatorship–lack of democracy, corruption, Secret Police and a Death Squad and prohibiting the views of independent voices whilst imprisoning opponents and leaving the Commonwealth in 2013. The period also saw Gambia’s economic decline from being the third most prosperous country in West Africa to last and becoming an Islamic Republic in 2015. However the 2016 elections saw six Opposition parties come together and defeat the incumbent with Adama Barrow declared the new President. After more turbulence, threats and a constitutional crisis Jammeh finally  stepped down in January 2017 and Gambia has begun a new era including reverting the Islamic status of the country and looking to return to the Commonwealth grouping. It is to be hoped the country enjoys less interesting times going forward!!

Former Chairman Michael Cochrane gave the third address of the morning which shared his recollections of enjoying cricket and hospitality in “The Committee Room At Headingley”. The journey to the Committee Room had started many year previously when he met up in National Service at Catterick with John Budd who was a Gloucestershire Cricket Colt,  a very keen player and all-rounder who was able to indulge his passion whilst doing his military service. Mike’s subsequent invitation to Headingley came from him when Gloucester were to play Yorkshire in a one day match with the proceedings being enjoyed due to the game, the company, refreshments and betting on the results!! Sadly Yorkshire lost this match.

Our final Speaker was Terry Byrne , in his second season as a Forum Member, but well-known as Chairman of the Residents Group and a First Aid Lecturer. His talk “The First Eight Minutes”, in which he was assisted by a dummy patient, painted scenarios around somebody having a heart attack and the actions that could and should be taken to give the best chance of survival and recovery and in which the initial eight minutes are vital. Terry focussed on the following factors highlighted by the starting letter to assist recall;

Danger.       Response.       Shout.       Airway.

Breathing.     Compression.     Defibrillation.

He used his dummy to show how these actions should be addressed and we were reminded of the Bee Gee’s aid to compression and shown how to position an A.E.D. (Defibrillator) He stressed the importance of knowing where defibrillators are located and accessing them and finished by sharing some amusing recollections of situations he had been in.

The morning had obviously been enjoyed by the thirty-five members attending and the Chairman thanked all the Speakers for their excellent efforts and praised the variety and scope of the different talks.




Chairman Peter Staples opened the third Open Meeting of the season by welcoming the attendees and in particular the lady guests in the audience on what was St. Valentine’s Day!! John Tyreman was also welcomed back after a long absence. Three apologies had been received prior to the meeting.

Today’s Speaker Mr Terry Frazier has been one of our regular Speakers in recent years and the subject of this discourse was to be “Putting The House To Bed: Conservation And Housekeeping In The National Trust”. Backed up by a comprehensive slide show he started with some history of the National Trust which was formed in 1895 and now owns three hundred historical houses and is in need of constantly seeking to raise large sums of money for restoration and maintenance. National Trust properties are generally closed down in winter and open to the public from March onwards.

His talk focussed on the following areas:

–establishing causes of deterioration.

–preventative conservation.

–more radical conservation or restoration.

The problems confronted by the National Trust and its Volunteers are the effect of light (damage and fading); humidity (under or over); damage from feet and hands: mechanical issues; dust; incorrect use of proprietary cleaning products and insects (wood worm and carpet beetles).

Accompanied by slides from rooms in National Trust properties we were shown the before and after impact of various restored items therein. Terry also advised how the various problems were addressed including keeping humidity in the 50/60% range; use of matting and blinds to minimise dust, dirt and light damage; the use of barriers to create distance and again limit dust issues and interestingly allowing mechanical objects to remain inert and enhance preservation. Use of specialist restorers was looked at as was the range and variety of dusting and polishing for different items.

What came across quite strongly was both the professionalism and planning schedules applied to restoration and maintenance issues by the army of volunteers and others to the vast range of objects in their care including all types of furnishings, metal items, wood, ceramics, art work and books. The use of modern technology in the many processes was also highlighted.

A variety of questions and comments were put to the Speaker at the end of the morning.

The Vote of Thanks was given by Mike South on behalf of the forty member attendees and eleven lady guests— a record number for both an Open and any meeting!!

Before closing the proceedings the Chairman advised of a Harrogate Archaeological Society talk at Harlow Hill Methodist Church on Saturday March 4th 2.30p.m.–4p.m. by Marion Jefferies entitled ” Yorkshire Women At War: The Story Of Women’s Land Army Hostels Including the Beckwithshaw Hostel”.




The meeting was opened by Chairman Peter Staples who noted two apologies had been offered prior to the meeting.

Today’s Speaker was Honorary Life Member and Programme Secretary John Taylor whose talk topic was “Forty Years On” noting that our Forum was in its 40th/Ruby season. John spent the next hour giving a potted history of Harlow Men’s Forum,  its characters, and to provide context, some events from 1977 and some brief interludes from his own personal life throughout that period, including his involvement with the Forum from 2002.

Forty years ago in Harrogate the Reverend Goy Minister of Harlow Hill Methodist Church was planning the foundation of this group for retired men. At that time a youthful John Taylor in Mansfield was contemplating a career change from teaching to a position on the Public Examination Board which would see him relocate to the Otley Road in Harrogate.

“Forty Years On” was also a famous school song used by Harrow, Manchester Grammar School and many others in the Commonwealth and wider world. The 1977 Radio Times was 25p.(now £4-50), house prices much lower and it was also the 950th anniversary of the coronation of William the Conqueror in Westminster Abbey.

“Forty” seems to find particular resonance in religion with examples such as forty days and nights in the wilderness; forty days from Resurrection to Ascension; the forty days of the Old Testament Flood and Mohammed being forty years old when he received his Islamic Revelations. Ali Baba had forty thieves and Zirconium has an atomic number of forty!

Forty years are also a Ruby Anniversary which the Forum is currently celebrating ; a ruby is one of the four most precious stones and some other pertinent ruby facts were shared

1977 was the Queen’s Silver Jubilee; Jim Callaghan was Prime Minister; Jimmy Carter was U.S. President; Geoffrey Boycott scored his 100th “100” in a test match at Headingley; Virginia Wade won Wimbledon and ” Mull Of Kintyre/ Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” were popular tunes from the year.

Harlow Men’s Forum was one of the last to form in Harrogate behind Harrogate (1951), Woodlands (1960), Knaresborough (1970) and Bilton (1972). The driving force behind our Forum was the Reverend Leslie Goy supported in the early days by Edgar Scholey and Councillor Thackray. The first meeting was 20th September 1977 with Councillor Harold Hitchens talking about The People of The Pyrenees–we are now on our 1047th meeting!!

Our longest-serving members were Reg Jackson (36 years) and Ron Righton (30 years). Leading characters in the early years were the aforesaid Edgar Scholey and Speakers such as Major Frank Williams and Stuart Tate. Ray Coggan arrived in 1988 and was an immense force in the Forum in all capacities.

Presidents of the Forum have been Ministers from the Harlow Methodist Church and have included the Reverend’s ‘ Gordon Lister, Ron Dale, Shaun Swithenbank, Mark Godfrey through to current incumbent Christine Gillespie respectively.

Our pattern of meetings has changed little from inception although Returning Speakers, Members’ Mornings and Open Meetings are now regular features.

John’s miscellany covered more of his move to Harrogate, his continuing career and retirement and subsequent involvement with the Forum. He paid tribute to the contribution made by specific individuals over the years but saved his most fulsome praise for all the members who contribute to the strength and personability of this Forum. He shared some of the varied talk topics enjoyed over the years and also some of the special Ruby events occurring during this season. At the end of a well constructed, informative and entertaining journey from 1977 to date, questions and comments were made by the audience who had obviously appreciated the mornings procedures.

The Vote Of Thanks on behalf of the 40 attendees ( how appropriate!!) was given by longest-serving Forum Member Frank Ellis.

The next Meeting is an Open Meeting to which all, and in particular ladies, are most welcome–Tuesday February 14th 10 a.m. for 1030 a.m.




Chairman Peter Staples opened the meeting promptly at 1030 a.m. and advised of one apology. He offered a warm welcome to new member Peter Wilson and attending guest Keith Acum. Members were advised that *Bill McNicol was not well and in hospital and best wishes for a speedy recovery were given.(*Subsequently advised due to a misunderstanding that he was at a Doctor’s appointment)

Today’s Speaker was the Forum’s Secretary Neil Ramshaw whose topic was “Some Well Known Inventions and their Lesser Known Inventors”. Examples of the inventions were displayed to the audience and included The Zipper; Velcro, Dyson Bagless Vacuum; The Light Bulb and The Sliced Bread Machine. Pen pictures of the Inventors were drawn including known names such as Dyson, Wellington, Issigonis as well as lesser known or anonymous figures like Nesmith Graham, Sundback and Rohwedder. Engineering appeared to be a common feature with many of the Inventors and evidence of an enquiring and inventive nature from an early age displayed. Members raised a number of pertinent questions at the talk’s conclusion.

The Vote of Thanks was given by Vincent Naylor on behalf of the forty-two attendees.




Chairman Peter Staples opened the meeting by announcing four apologies. An apology had been received from St. Michael’s Hospice with regard to their misdirection of an acknowledgement following our Christmas donation. Roy Smith (Treasurer) suggested a link with Bilton Men’s Forum to allow members the benefits of sampling their respective meetings.

Today’s Speaker was Mr Brian Greenwood whose talk topic was ” Shop Talk: A Short History Of Retailing”. Brian formerly ran the Greenwood menswear shops which at its height consisted of 300 branches from Dumfries to Torquay. His experience made him the ideal person to deliver his topic and he advised of the gradual development of shops over the years which began with peasants who sold goods in the local market deciding that they needed secure and weatherproof storage to avoid taking their goods home every night. Some eighteenth century shop fronts with tiny panes of glass still survive in London where Debenhams opened in 1778. The first department store was the Cast Iron Palace in New York in 1846. The largest store in Britain is Harrod’s with one million sq.ft. of floor space, the equivalent of 1000 standard size shops. Macy’s in New York was the largest store in the world for many years (2.7 million sq.ft.) but was overtaken by a store in South Korea (5.5 million sq.ft.) in 2009. These mega stores could only develop with the introduction of lifts and escalators in the 1890’s. A nurse with brandy stood by to reassure nervous ladies making their first journey on an escalator!!

Brian then spoke about other store types–multiples like Boots and Smiths; long-lost men’s outfitters like Horne Brothers and the 50 shilling tailor; variety stores like Marks and Spencer which went more upmarket after the war; supermarkets; shopping malls and mail order, finishing with the amazing growth of Amazon.

Audience interest was displayed by the five or six questions raised by members and whilst Brian mentioned the adverse trading conditions in the early 1990s which affected his business his sales prowess was still in evidence as he promoted his book “Use it or Lose it” to encourage mental and physical activity and increase life expectancy in old age.

The Vote Of Thanks was given by John Taylor on behalf of the 37 attendees.





Chairman Peter Staples opened the second Open Meeting of the season which was also the “Ray Coggan Memorial Meeting” in memory of a former member and officer who made an outstanding personal contribution to the life of the Forum in many capacities. A warm welcome was extended to the nine lady guests in the audience and four apologies had been offered prior to the meeting.

John Taylor Programme Secretary gave the attendees a short pen picture of Ray Coggan and also advised about the St. Michael’s Hospice acknowledgement of our Christmas Charitable Donation which had been addressed and sent to Harrogate Men’s Forum!! John also gave a plug for Hampsthwaite Village Society’s showing of the film “Eddie The Eagle” this weekend.

Today saw the return of Mr Alun Pugh, now an established and regular Speaker with us, who was to complete the second part of his “A Journey Along The Leeds- Liverpool Canal”. Alun started with a brief resume of his first part Journey and commenced the second part of his talk today at Chorley in Lancashire. We were taken along the canal towpath to places such as Blackburn, Burnley, Barrowford Locks, Gargrave, Skipton and finishing at Kirkstall in Leeds. As he and his companion Martin transversed the Canal on bicycle and sometimes foot with the occasional lift from a barge various hostelries were visited, beer brands examined and sampled in detail and menu’s compared particularly those involving cooked breakfasts!! Interspersed amongst the amusing anecdotes and asides was historical information and  examples of architecture found on the route as well as advising of the original purpose of the Canal and Bridges to transport both non-perishable and perishable goods and also people. Lancashire dominoes , leggers and the colour coded mating habits of rams were other facts shared with the audience. Backed up by a sizeable slide show the morning passed in a thoroughly interesting, informative and highly entertaining manner, much appreciated by those in attendance with comments and questions following the conclusion of the talk.

The Vote Of Thanks was given by Neil Ramshaw on behalf of the 36 members and 9 lady guests.




The first meeting of 2017 and the start of the second half of our Ruby Season was opened under the auspices of Chairman Peter Staples who welcomed back members and wished all a healthy and prosperous New Year. Four apologies had been offered prior to the meeting and a “welcome back” was made to Peter Weatherill who had been absent for a spell following an operation.

John Taylor Programme Secretary thanked members for his Honorary Life Membership awarded at the Christmas Lunch and he made it clear it was something he much appreciated. He added thanks to Malcolm Wood for arranging flowers for his wife Margaret.

A letter had been received from Yorkshire Air Ambulance acknowledging and thanking The Forum for our Christmas Lunch Charitable Donation of £135.

Today’s Speaker was the Forum’s own Frank Ellis, a long-standing member, whose topic was “The Knut From Knotty Ash”. It seemed an appropriate choice of subject to start the New Year given the announcement of Ken Dodd’s knighthood in the New Year’s Honours List and a recent two-hour Channel Five documentary on January 2nd  2017. Frank shared with us some of Dodd’s life details having been born in Knotty Ash in November 1927 and even though in his 90th year still scheduled for 3/4 live appearances each month up to August this year!! His performing career started at the age of eight when given a Punch & Judy outfit; two years later he took up ventriloquism and developed his singing voice as a choir boy. His professional debut was at the Empire Theatre Nottingham in 1954 and four mid fifties seasons followed at Blackpool with him reaching top of the bill at the Central Pier in 1958. In the 1960’s/70’s he had seasons at Blackpool Opera House, two record-breaking seasons at the London Palladium and two show stopping Royal Variety performances. In tandem he also had a successful recording career with some chart topping singles.

The Dodd style of humour was discussed from its speed, surrealism/nonsense standpoint with the performer alternating between clown and stand up comedian but always conscious of and developing his relationship with the audience. Comment was made regarding his physical appearance and his trademark protruding teeth were the result of a bicycle accident as a youngster. Frank flavoured his talk with some of the material used by the artiste which gained audience approval!! A number of recollections and comments were shared by audience members at the conclusion of the talk.

Malcolm Wood gave the Vote Of Thanks on behalf of the 38 attendees.