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.




60 Members and guests gathered today at the Ascot House Hotel for the Forum’s Christmas Lunch and an excellent time and meal was had by those who attended in a beautifully laid out and decorated dining room. It proved a fitting end to the first half of the Forum’s 40th season and a positive start to the forthcoming festivities.

Chairman Peter Staples welcomed all to the gathering and paid tribute to those members who facilitated the smooth running of the Forum. It was a delight that our President Reverend Christine Gillespie was able to join us and offer the grace.

His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson provided an amusing and entertaining after lunch interlude based on a sideways look at some signs and notices he had come across.

A charitable collection during the lunch raised £266-50 and would be shared by Yorkshire Air Ambulance and St Michael’s Hospice.

In a special presentation John Taylor Programme Secretary was made an Honorary Life Member of the Forum in recognition of his outstanding contribution as a Member and Officer, with a bouquet of flowers presented to his wife Margaret for her behind the scenes support. These awards were very well received and acknowledged by the audience.




A prompt start to the meeting at 1030a.m. was made by Chairman Peter Staples who advised of the one apology received. A reminder was given that at next weeks Christmas Lunch the charitable collection would be shared between Yorkshire Air Ambulance and St. Michael’s Hospice.

Today’s Speaker Professor Mike Dixon was Professor of Pathology at Leeds University and is now Emeritus Professor. As a leading authority on the history of Ilkley his talk today was titled “The Ilkley Water Cure”.

In the late 18th /early 19th century Ilkley was a small village described as “Rustic, inaccessible….” and what appeared to be an unprepossessing place to be. Ilkley had a Spa (Spaw) on Rombalds Moors with the water not having any medicinal value although this was sold as a virtue!! However the water from the moors was ice-cold (4 degrees C) and would be an important feature of the developing Spa Town. Our Speaker then gave us a historical tour showing the development of Ilkley and Ben Rhydding and how in Victorian times it developed into a major Spa location with visitors flocking for the reputed cold water health treatments. We heard about Ben Rhydding Hydro, a hydropathic establishment at Wheatley, White Wells House and other spa locations. Charles Darwin underwent hydropathic treatment at Wells House; Madame Tussaud had a property in the town and initial transport was provided by Donkey Jackson. Major influences in Ilkley’s development and growth as a Spa Town were Vincenz Priessnitz, a peasant farmer from Grafenburg Austrian Silesia and generally considered the founder of modern hydrotherapy and Hamer Stansfield (Lord Mayor of Leeds) who put Ilkley and Wheatley on the spa map.

The population of Ilkley dramatically increased through the 19th century from 462 in 1801 to 7455 by 1901 fuelled by the introduction of the Ilkley Water Cure (hydrotherapy), the coming of the railway in 1865 and the sale of land for development forced economically upon the main Middleton landowners. The Professor detailed the spa treatments e.g. cold water baths; cold sheet treatments, rough towelling; massage and exercises together with some peculiar but substantial dietary measures.

With his  excellent slides and amusing but informative delivery an enjoyable morning was had by members with some insightful questions asked.

The Vote Of Thanks on behalf of forty members was given By His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson.




The first Open Meeting of our Ruby Season was opened by Chairman Peter Staples who welcomed the nine lady guests in attendance. Four apologies had been offered prior to the meeting.

Regrettably sad news had been received of the passing of former member Phillip Sladdin who had left due to health problems and had been in Belmont Care Home for some time.

A final reminder for Christmas Lunch orders to John Taylor today was given and thanks proffered to Peter Belton for deputising in Mike South’s absence and preparing the room.

Today’s Speaker was Miss Sue Wood from Harrogate Borough Council’s Park and Open Spaces Department whose titled talk was “Park Life”. Sue , a horticultural expert , of twenty-eight years with Harrogate Borough Council Parks Department is also a Judge on Yorkshire and Britain in Bloom panels. Her coloured slide-driven presentation updated the listeners on current parks and garden projects and advised of the consolidated work structure now in operation which encompasses environmental and waste issues. However her concentration was on parks, gardens and gardening services including tree maintenance, plant and flower propagation and grass-cutting work and we were made aware of some significant statistics in terms of areas of land covered, number of plants/flowers produced, trees looked after and monitored and also the number of visitors to Council sites. The operation of Harlow Hill Nursery was discussed and the considerable output of flowers and plants by a low number of staff with minimal mechanised aids–600 baskets and troughs for the Council and over 200 also produced for private clients e.g. hotels and sales to the public. Displays were also prepared and produced for events at the Harrogate International Conference Centre and occasions such as the Mayoral Meeting at the Royal Hall. There was also a large emphasis on green waste composting and the recycling of broken equipment such as plant pots and tools. Sitting benches positioned around the District are now made from recycled plastic with much improved durability and lifespans.

Bereavement was also part of the team’s remit with 10 cemetaries and 11 closed churchyards looked after with approximately 1500 cremation and 350 burials annually. Over 6/7 years a project of making safe the gravestones has been carried out with help from the Probation Services and indeed the Parks and Gardens Department work with Schools, Junior Soldiers, Askham Bryan students  and Community Groups to enhance the considerable and varied flower and foliage enjoyed in Harrogate District.  Responsibility for the 900 Hectares of grass-cutting on a fortnightly basis is another challenge and other events supported include the Trans- Pennine Rally (August each year); the 1940’s day in the Valley Gardens; Cie Carabosse (Harrogate International Festival), the erection of Christmas trees around the District and working with “Friends” of groups e.g. Jacob Smith; Bachelor Gardens ; Valley Gardens and various “Bloom ” Groups. Following the end of the talk an attentive and enlivened audience raised a number of relevant and sometimes controversial issues making it obvious that the presentation had been well received.

The Vote Of Thanks was given by Roy Smith on behalf of the thirty-eight member attendees and our nine lady guests.