Club Scrapbook For The Year 2016/2017
In what was probably her final official duty for the current Rotary year, President Karin Weston presented a cheque for £2,000 to the Herts Air Ambulance on behalf of Royston Rotary Club. The Air Ambulance helicopter was on a visit to Royston as part of a county-wide event to thank the different communities for their generous donations over the last few years and which has enabled them to purchase this new helicopter..
The Herts Air Ambulance Service has been President Karin's nominated charity for her term of office. As she has often said about the service "it is something we hope we never need to use but still want to know it's there".
The images include the helicopter coming in to land on Therfield Heath and the group of Rotarians and flight crew in front of the new helicopter.
Pictures courtesy of Ray Munden. Click on the images to see them full size.
27th June 2017 - Presidential Changeover Dinner
The annual presidential changeover was held at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Cambridge. The evening was to start with guests meeting on the lawn by the lovely River Cam which flows past the hotel but the torrential rain put paid to that and we all met up in the bar area. And what a glittering event it promised to be with the ladies in all their finery and the gentlemen in formal black tie rig.
The main event of the evening was in one of the hotel's large function rooms where we were fussed over by a very competent team of waiters, all carefully managed by one of the hotel's event staff. And what a meal we were served - three courses of beautifully prepared food that we had all pre-ordered some days earlier.
With the meal over the serious business of the evening began. President Karin first summarised her accomplishments for the year and announced that a very creditable £22,500 had been raised for the various charitable causes throughout the year. Karin particularly thanked Lin Berks who had acted as her mentor and wingman throughout the year and she proceeded to award a special bouquet to her in recognition of all her work. Another bouquet was awarded to Di Charles for all her hard work behind the scenes in producing The Rotarian so reliably every month.
The time had now come to hand over the chain of office to the incoming president Graeme Dargie. President Graeme accepted this gracefully and was awarded a humorous hat by Phillip Martin which seems to be a bit of an annual tradition. At this Graeme gave a humorous address in which he sketched out his hopes and ambitions for the coming year, but lost no time in replacing his new hat with a more familiar tartan cap of his native Scotland (though not a true Tam O'Shanter I noticed!).
Further baton changes followed with the Vice President's medal being passed to David Blundell, and the Junior Vice President's medal being passed to Martin Berry. And so the old order continues.
An absolutely fabulous evening and a special vote of thanks to Graeme and his many helpers for organising it so faultlessly.
Words by Tony, photos by Neil Heywood. Click here for the full set of pictures of the event.
15th to 18th June 2017 - Visit to Paray
Unlucky for some but very lucky for us, a group of thirteen travellers ventured to France for the annual twinning of the Two Clubs and the Battle of the Ashes. As always, their hospitality was immense and with the addition of the wonderful weather the weekend was just brilliant.
Nine of us travelled by air and four by car. Jonathan and John Wahlich shared the driving from the airport and we arrived in Paray le Monial safely and ready for our first evening of lots to eat and drink along with the sharing of news and excitement of everything that had happened over the last twelve months on both sides of the Channel.
Friday morning took us to Charolles, a beautiful town just a few kilometres from Paray le Monial. Here we were treated to a short organ recital in the church. The glorious organ was built and installed in the church just one year ago after fifteen years of fund raising. The original had been destroyed many years ago, and worshippers were managing with an elderly electronic instrument. The Charolles club had made a donation which bought three of the pipes. Each one was labelled with the name of the club and were played by the organist in recognition of their support. Clarice also impressed us all with her keyboard skills!
Lunch at the Brewery Doucet was followed by a tour and lots of sampling at the Dufoux Chocolate factory. What a dreadful thing to do! Superb chocolate and a shop to spend your pocket money in – what could be better than that. Despite the heat we all managed to purchase some goodies and get them back to Blighty unscathed.
A short trip around the Charolais Museum expanding the history and life of the Charolais cattle finished the day’s tour. After well earned drinks and cold showers, we made ready for another evening of Franglais and fun while enjoying the hospitality of yet more delicious meals in the homes of our French hosts.
The Saturday morning was gloriously bathed in sunshine as we wandered into the Observaloire Museum. This is an observatory on the River Loire providing lots of information about the river, its history ecology. We then had a wonderfully relaxing trip and lunch on board a Canal Boat taking us through one of the locks and slowly meandering along through the countryside. So much to see and many new species of birds along the canal kept many of us in awe.
Then for the big event – Ten Pin Bowling for the return of The Ashes. Mixed teams across four bowling lanes created lots of fun as each group picked up the gauntlet and made a brilliant effort to outdo the opposition. The norm is always that no matter what the final score in the challenge, the guests will always take the ashes home. However, this time team Royston were outstanding right across the board and we won hands down with a very large score and some seriously hot bowing skills in evidence (Modesty forbids us to tell you who). Well done Team Royston.
Dinner on the last evening was delicious, once more dinks outside in the garden of the Hotel du Gare went on till well past nine but we were all beginning to flag somewhat after a very eventful and hot weekend. The speeches were amusing, the steaks (Charolais, naturellement) were superb, and the Ashes are now safely back in the hands of Madame President ready for an even bigger challenge next year.
We look forward to welcoming our great friends back to Royston next summer as we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the twinning of Royston and Paray-le-Monial et du Charolais Rotary clubs. Cheers and Congratulations to all and a huge thank you to Jonathan for another safe and brilliantly organised trip to France
Words by Lyn, Photos by Neil. Click here to see the full range of photos.
11th June 2017 - June Walk
This month's walk was organised by Neil Heywood and turned out to be a lovely summer ramble in the Hertfordshire countryside with beautiful weather and just a pleasant breeze to stop us all overheating.
Our eleven walkers met up at the Catherine Wheel pub at Albury and set off smartly at 10 o'clock up a long slope out of the village and around the nearby Patmore Heath. This 18 acre "wilderness" is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and managed by the Hertfordshire and Middlesex Wildlife Trust.
After passing by on the west and south sides of the heath we branched off to walk through grasslands and follow alongside a dried up river bed until we reached Hixham Hall which, despite its grand sounding name is actually a farm and these days offering stabling and horse riding lessons. We saw some fine examples of these animals as we continued our walk southwards until we came back to the northern boundary of Patmore Heath.
Here we rested in the middle of the heath to savour our coffee having already walked about 3 miles. With the warmth of the sun and our final destination in view only 200 yards away we had to discipline ourselves to tackle the second half of the walk. Neil had promised us some long uphill climbs and he was proved correct as the route led us via the outskirts of Albury Hall through some lovely fields and woods. "Isn't this bosky?" Neil exclaimed at one point, showing off his vocabulary; I suspect he had been looking for an excuse to use that word.
After heading eastwards there was one last climb to master before arriving back at our starting point, having completed a very pleasant 6 mile walk in a figure of eight. We all sat down to a very welcome drink and meal at the Catherine Wheel and I can report that the roast beef is to die for!
Thanks Neil for the lovely walk you led us on.
Words by Tony, pictures by Bryony. Click on the images to see them normal size.
6th June 2017 - Presentation to David Bannister
It was at our normal weekly meeting that President Karin sprung a surprise upon the the Club's most senior member. It was a certificate from Rotary International to mark 40 years of continual membership of the Club by David Bannister.
Karin said that David has probably brought more people into Rotary than any other member; he has been President twice which saved the club from folding when no-one else was willing to take on the job. He is always a keen and energetic member of any committee to which he has been assigned and was presented with a Paul Harris Award in 2002.
On a lighter note, Karin noted some of the more unusual happenings to David during his time with Rotary. On a Club karting trip he evidently turned up ‘in all the gear’ shiny racing overalls etc, however sadly he crashed on the very first lap preventing anyone from actually challenging him! David had once given a presentation to the Club about hats so this subject was obviously very dear to his heart: We therefore presumed he would have had the appropriate headgear for when running around in a rather nice MG sports car in which, we are reliably informed, he was to set about "pulling the birds". It must have worked too since he achieved one of the greatest successes of his life by meeting Anne and persuading her that he was the man for her.
David continues to be a very keen nature lover and conservator, and for those of you who have read the Skylark Warrior’s blog (aka Robin Page) it was our David Bannister who was mentioned in a recent one describing their trip to Hoffa Brook to see the brook lampreys. David is also a staunch supporter of the Methodist Church, And as most of you know he is renowned around the world for his fern growing and (it is believed) he numbers Royalty amongst his clients. And as if that were not enough he even has a road named after him in Royston!
The photograph shows the certificate of Service presented to David by visiting Assistant Governor, Simon Lake. Click on the photo to enlarge it.
0900 on Friday 12th May and everyone on board our Cruiseliner to Bakewell in Derbyshire, President Karin’s hometown. She was born and reared on her parent’s farm – in the farmhouse that is – not out with the livestock - and after completing her local education she went to finishing school in Switzerland – Ooops I think that bit might have been a piece of Kash’s imagination. However, she still has very fond memories of the area and we are all very glad that she chose to take us on a journey back to the past with her.
Friday was a grey drizzly day and the early morning lively chat soon turned to droopy heads fast asleep and dreaming of the first coffee stop half way there. On arrival in Bakewell we had free time to wander and grab some lunch between the showers. Karin led some of the team to The Original Bakewell Pudding Shop where some took the challenge of devouring a whole Bakewell Pudding while others took the soft option of a sandwich. Karin insists that Bakewell tarts are absolutely nothing to do with Bakewell and were conjured up by some local baker maybe. Such a pretty little town and well worth a return visit. The pudding is much more like an egg custard only huge.
Once fed, we then continued on to the Thornbridge Micro Brewery where we had an excellent tour after sampling several of their beers. As you can imagine, this sparked off lots more chatter and the occasional song, making for a happy last leg of the journey into Buxton and Karin’s own hotel – The Best Weston. Actually the Best Western but it was Karin’s weekend. Dinner was enjoyed at The Dome Restaurant which is a part of the University and only a stone’s throw from the hotel. This is a really beautiful building with a superb ornate high dome in the centre of what had originally been built as a hospital some years ago. It is also a wonderful Wedding Venue now.
On Saturday after a delicious breakfast we set off to find Chatsworth House the stately home of The Cavendish Family. We were taken on a tour of the house and the fabulous Exhibition of Fashion. The Exhibition tells the rich history of both international style and the Cavendish family. It looks into the power of fashion as a conduit into the stories of the extraordinary characters who have shaped the Chatsworth Estate. We had plenty of time to wander around the grounds and gardens which were designed by Capability Brown. A few of us ventured away from the house to watch some of the International Horse Trials events which were also in action on the Estate over the weekend.
By the end of the afternoon many were feeling rather chilly in the cold wind and we headed back to the warmth of the coach and then the hotel. On arrival back in Buxton some of the party ventured into the town before going back to the hotel for dinner. Buxton was put on the tourist map by the fifth Duke of Devonshire in 1780’s and is famous for its Natural Spring Water. There are many points of interest in the town, not least the redevelopment of The Crescent and a visit to The Opera House and the Pavilion Gardens. Dinner at the hotel rounded off a superb day and everyone slept very well before starting out on our journey home on Sunday morning.
Our last outing was to The Crich Tramway Village / Museum. For the price of 1 old penny we had a ticket for the day to travel as many times as wanted on the wonderful old trams. The museum holds dozens of retired trams from all around the country. Renovation work is ongoing and the whole village was a very jolly place to spend a few hours before lunch. The last couple of hours back home were amazingly quiet: more nodding heads, many yawns and very little conversation. Totally exhausted but having enjoyed a really good weekend we finally arrived home in Royston. I expect the national grid was put under pressure with the number of kettles going on all at the same time once we all got home.
Thank you Karin for sharing your beautiful homelands of Derbyshire and for your choice of activities. We all had a great time.
Words and (most) pictures by Lyn Berks, others courtesy of Google. Click on any picture to see it enlarged in a new window.
8th May 2017 - Visit to Herts Air Ambulance
A dozen members of the club set off to travel to the the famous old wartime airfield of RAF North Weald. Nowadays it is devoted entirely to civilian use but in Hangar 7 is based the Hertfordshire Air Ambulance Service.
President Karin's nominated charity is the Herts Air Ambulance service and the visit was intended to present a cheque for £2,000 to this very worthy cause which save dozens of lives annually. Whilst there the air ambulance team showed their visitors over both the aircraft and also their supporting vehicles and equipment.
7th May 2017 - Monthly Walk over Therfield Heath
We gathered at the Heath Sporting Club. It was great to see Therfield Heath so well in use with apparently up to five hundred mainly young people making use of this excellent facility. The normal sports of tennis, Golf and Archery were supplemented by a 100 mile Sponsored Cycle event (having their half way break) and a multi aged area Ladies Rugby Tournament. There were so many activities going on and so many people milling about that it was a minor miracle that we actually met up and were ready to set off on the stroke of 10.
Moving off towards the Golf Club in order to start walking the edge of the Heath without too much of a hill, we climbed gradually to the top of the heath pausing to view the piece of common land whose future is the subject of much debate. The ground was very dry so happily not slippery as can be the case. We entered the wooded edge and those of us with sticks were quite pleased that we had thought to bring them as it is rather up and down along the path. Coming out beside the golf course we admired the fine views across Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire eventually crossed the Therfield road, being careful to avoid the cyclists streaming up the hill with no sign of heavy breathing at all. The two with baggy shorts who were pushing their bikes got more sympathy and fellow feeling from our group.
Having crossed the road we entered the woods and stopped to look at the stone placed there in 1977 for the Queen's Jubilee. We then saw notices asking us not to step on the rare Helleborine Orchids. Well, being very keen, we started looking for one. Amazingly having found one we could then see that there were dozens dotted about, not yet in flower although Ray did manage to get a picture of one almost out. It should be quite a show soon so worth popping up there to check them out.
The next floral extravaganza was turning onto the hill to see the famous Pasque flowers on one side and the cowslips on the other. A little past their best but still quite a sight. Here we stopped for a break as there was a handy seat and lovely views yet again, the fresh green of the new leaves on the trees and the bright green of the crop fields behind them. Then having descended the hill we turned to come back towards Royston following the chalk path along the bottom edge of the golf course. Crossing the Therfield road once again and following the path up the hill to the Alfie Deards Memorial. This of course entailed much pointing at various indecipherable things in the far distance, the visibility not being too good. Having spurned MacDonalds earlier we were now keen for the final descent to the Sporting Club where refreshment awaited and happily some more friends waited to join us for what proved to be an excellent meal.
N.B. Checked the cake display on the way out , incredible!
PS This was a tough walk . Congratulations to all participants. DB
Text by Liz Beardwell, leader (David having been injured in training); Pictures by Ray Munden and Neil Heywood. Click on any of the pictures to see them enlarged.
1st May 2017 - Historic Vehicles Show
This annual event had this year seen 104 pre-registrations, a record number, but traditionally if the weather is good, we would expect to get about 40% or 50% more as many don’t bother to pre-register, waiting to see what the weather brings. As, however, the weather did not look too promising the total number attending was less than it might have been, at around 110 including the motor bikes, far short of our record of about 140. In practice we were very lucky with the weather as while we only had a few drops of rain, less than a mile away there was apparently quite a downpour.
There were some wonderful vehicles again, with arguably the most interest being generated by the American Wrecker, a 1943 Ward LaFrance tank recovery truck, a huge vehicle. It only does about 4mpg, so manoeuvring it across the car park and into position probably used about a gallon! Last year we had a tank but not this year - I wonder if it broke down? Well, they only had to call and we could have collected them.
This picture shows the American wrecker with owner Alan Dossett and helper Pete Saunders
Honours went to a most unusual car built out of wood, based on a Citroen 2CV chassis, owned and built as a 5 year labour of love by carpenter Pete Kelly and which had previously featured in the national press. Indeed so taken was Mayor Sarah Dingley that she chose it is as her Best Vehicle in Show. While most of us worry about rust, I guess Pete’s biggest worry is woodworm.
The picture shows Pete's impressive hand-built wooden car and receiving his trophy from Mayor Sarah Dingley
Royston Rotary President Karin Weston was not fazed by the diverse choice of vehicles and made two very good selections, choosing Alan Payne’s lovely 1924 Bullnose Morris as best vehicle in show and John Gore’s stunning 1955 500cc BSA M33 as best motor bike. The photographs show President Karin presenting trophies for Best Motor Bike to John Gore and Best Vehicle to Alan Payne.
It is always difficult to pick out individual winners though as there are many splendid vehicles around, as you can see from the photographs above and in the picture gallery. Plenty of visitors visited us from the May Fayre across the road and there was a wide variety of striking vehicles for them to admire, as the photos show.
So another successful show and thanks to the enthusiastic Rotarians who helped to steward the show and who had to put up with bad tempered visitors complaining about the lack of parking spaces!
Words by Ray Munden, photos by Ray Munden and Neil Heywood.
25th April 2017 - Cheques for Mercy Ships and for Khandel-Light
On Tuesday 25th we held a partner's evening in lieu of a charter night to celebrate close to 55 years since the Royston Rotary Club was formally founded (chartered). After the meal we had a very powerful presentation from Dr Leo Cheng, assisted by his wife Hilary, on his experiences with the Mercy Ships organisation. Mercy Ships are a team of nurses, doctors, surgeons, and other crew members from all over the world, donating their time to help on board the world’s largest non-governmental floating hospital. As a floating hospital, they can sail directly to some of the world’s poorest people to deliver life-saving medical care and provide safe, state-of-the-art facilities in which to treat them. Although having a full-time job as a cancer surgeon in London, Leo has now been on a number of voyages to Africa with Mercy Ships to operate on patients; his visual presentation of the work and his experiences were both thought-provoking and inspiring. His wife Hilary has also been on a number of these trips as a spiritual support for the patients and even their daughters have more recently joined them. What makes it all the more inspiring is that every volunteer has to pay for their own passage and for accommodation as well as provide their considerable expertise for free. To see more about Mercy Ships go to MercyShips.org. The club was privileged to provide a cheque for £500 to Dr Cheng on behalf of his work for Mercy Ships.
This same evening the club was happy to present a cheque for £1500 to Dr Peter Gough, the Chairman of Trustees for Khandel-Light. This money had been raised by the Club in 2016 by its annual Swimathon event and the Swimathon organiser Howard Peacock had proposed that Khandel-Light should be the recipient this year. Khandel-Light is a UK registered charity and works to improve the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged families in Khandel and its surrounding villages situated in the desert State of Rajasthan, India. The club has previously been given a presentation on the charity by Peter Gough and we were delighted he was able to be our guest together with his wife Bridget. Click here to see more about Khandel-Light
Our picture shows President Karin after have presented the cheques to Dr Leo Cheng (left) and Dr Peter Gough (right).
April 2017 - Collaboration with Embocraft in Southern Africa
The Club is delighted to report on the continuing success of its collaboration with the Hillcrest Rotary Club in Kwa/Zulu Natal, South Africa, in supporting a self-help project known as the Embocraft Training Centre. This is in the Valley of a Thousand Hills close to the Inanda Dam. The people of this Zulu-speaking area are devastated by poverty and HIV/Aids is endemic. As a result there are many broken families and orphaned children.
A grant of £1000, made up of money donated by Royston Rotary Club members and a gift from this Rotary District has just been sent to our partners in South Africa, where it is helping to buy sewing machines and to fund sewing courses. Those taking part in the courses, which run throughout the year, are able to use the skills they acquire to benefit both themselves and the wider community. Rotarians have been involved in the project from its inception.
A new development is a growing link with the HIllcrest Aids Centre. This charity helps Aids orphans through the funding of education, school uniform and transport and the provision of much needed food. It is a registered charity and is supported by a number of individuals, schools, churches and charities here in the UK.
9th April 2017 - Monthly Walk
A gloriously sunny day was not only forecast but also materialised such that a number of our male walkers were showing off their legs by wearing shorts for what must have been the first time this year! We met at the Three Jolly Butchers pub in Wyton (though we made sure we didn't park in the space reserved for Mercedes cars - see picture) and set off at 9.50 in the direction of the historic Houghton Mill. Here we picked up the Ouse Valley Way (but known locally as Thicket Road) which runs along the northern route of the river Great Ouse. It was so popular though that a great many cyclists like to use this route so we were constantly interrupting our conversations with fellow walkers to get out of the way of hurtling bike riders.
The route led through a delightful wooded area which is designated The Thicket and managed by Huntingdonshire District Council. We came to a very welcome sign which showed us that we were nearly at our halfway point of St Ives, and we eventually came out by the town's All Saints Parish Church. We stopped for a coffee break a few hundred yards further at the river moorings known as The Waits and overlooking the nature reserve known as Holt Island (which really is an island since access is via a small bridge).
After our break we walked over the original old road bridge of St Ives (thankfully closed to vehicles these days) with its chapel in the centre, and took in the fine view from it. We then started on the return section to the south of the river with the long walk over Hemingford Meadow which at this time of year was full of lush grass but in winter serves as a huge flood plain for the river. We eventually got to the village of Hemingford Grey where we marvelled at some of the beautiful houses as we passed by this quiet hamlet; this was repeated a short while later as we reached the village of Hemingford Abbots with it's church spire showing above the trees.
After crossing a back channel of the river we made our way over a further meadow until we came to Hemingford Lock which was full of the usual boats, boaters and onlookers. By now we were almost back at Houghton so we walked through the old mill and back to the Three Jolly Butchers pub. A total of 6 miles in nearly three hours - we'll never get a world record for that!.
We enjoyed an excellent meal in the pub having pre-booked our meal preferences and that first glass of beer tasted delicious! Many thanks to Martin Berry for organising this walk, ably helped by partner Josephine.
Photos by Bryony, Tony and David - click any of them enlarged.
This annual event is eagerly awaited by most of the schools in Royston and the surrounding villages and was held at the magnificent University Concert Hall in West Road, Cambridge.
The concert began with a rousing rendition of "In The Hall of the Mountain King" by Grieg played by the combined schools' orchestras and conducted by Nathan Collins. This was followed by a haunting version of Michael Jackson's "Earth Song" sung by a combined choir with lots of audience participation of oohs and arghs in the choruses, directed by Jenny Warburton. The combined choir followed this up with a traditional Brazilian song "Hey Dumba", atmospherically brought to life with a wide range of animal noises off-stage, all held together under the direction of Shaunaid Crosby.
Roysia School under the direction of Nathan Collins performed a piece by Pergolesi and with a beautifully played solo by Willow Wilson (with excellent breath control). This was followed by "Ave Verum" which was sung in Latin completely from memory - no small feat for middle school pupils. Roysia's final offering was "Seasons of Love" by Larson which has the memorable lyric "Five Hundred Twenty Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes, How do you Measure a Year In The Life".
Greneway School gave us a lilting rendition of Danny Boy using violins, cello flute clarinet, saxophone, trumpet and drums, all held together under the direction of Shaunaid Crosby. This was followed by their choir singing a Northumbrian folk song "Bonny at Morn" and with the haunting effect of two descant recorders playing 2-part. A change of singers followed which presaged a catchy performance of "Mercy" (written by Duffy and Steve Booker).
Next came Meridian School orchestra who first performed Rachmaninov's Prelude in C# minor under the direction of Sue Pettit made up of an impressive array of no less than eight clarinets plus an awesome sounding bass clarinet. The tempo was increased with a rendition of "Live and Let Die" with excellent playing from the brass section to give a rousing performance under the direction of Jenny Warburton. This was followed by an atmospheric performance of "Sing Bosanova" mostly in the dark but with each member of the Meridian Choir wearing luminous bracelets or Alice bands.
It was now the turn of the First School choirs to perform, firstly with Meridian School ("cant Stop the Feeling") and then on their own. They sang "Chocolate Molinillo" in the original Spanish completely from memory and complete with hand and body movements: this was followed by the African traditional song "Nanuma" and which was accompanied by Louise Atkins on a tom-tom who was also directing. Finally the first schools gave a masterful performance of "Hey Mr Miller" (a tribute to the band leader Glen Miller) in which the schools were singing in rounds but all came together beautifully at the end.
After a few words of praise by the President of Royston Rotary Club, Karin Weston, the combined orchestras and choirs assembled on stage to give a rendition of "Something Inside so Strong" which was so obviously enjoyed by all the performers. The performance ended with a dizzying rendition of "We Go Together" with it's immortal lines "Remembered forever as shoo-bop sha-wadda-wadda yippity boom-de-boom" which was performed both with gusto and with hand jiving!.
A great performance, made possible by Royston Mayor's Community Trust Fund, HCC Locality Budget and NHDC Discretionary Grant. Thanks also to Brian Whittaker (organiser) and Tim Penn (compere) both from Royston Rotary Club.
See all the photographs here (courtesy of Ray Munden)
19th March 2017 - Spring Into Spring Social
Today many Rotarians and partners descended en masse to the home of Peter and Sue Ross for the first social event of the season called "Spring into Spring". Although still a bit windy many of us braved the weather to enjoy their lovely garden in the sunshine with glasses of wine or beer close at hand. At 2.30 promptly the cry went up "food's ready" and everyone made their way to the kitchen to select from dishes of coq au vin, lamb curry, lasagne (both regular and vegetarian) and dauphinoise potatoes. The sweet courses to follow were equally mouth-watering (especially the strawberry jelly mix!)
Time simply flew by as we ate our meals contentedly and put the world to rights between us. Our table was particularly exercised with the similarities between the hairstyles and personal characteristics of President Trump, Boris Johnson and Geert Wilders which all led off down some interesting and amusing conversational byways.
It happened that today was also Polly's birthday so she was presented with her own special birthday cake complete with candle and a general rendering of Happy Birthday to You.
Thanks Peter and Sue for hosting us all and thanks too to the members of the Sports and Social committee for all their hard work. Particular thanks to all the talented chefs that rally round for these events - we rely upon them so much and they never disappoint.
12th March 2017 - Monthly Walk from Much Hadham
An intrepid band of walkers gathered outside The Bull, Much Hadham, eagerly anticipating the route I had in mind, well let’s face it my track record is not good but today was the day to put things straight. Reconnaissance mission completed at the end of January and lunch venue sorted out, all I had to do now was to remember the route and pray for good weather.
Well in the week leading up to the walk the weather seemed set to be wet all day, this really wouldn’t be a very nice walk in the rain but thankfully on the day the weather had improved. In the car park David Izod asked if I’d arranged for a special muddy spa for Lesley on route, a reminder of my previous walk almost to the day back in 2016, which was particularly wet and muddy in places, less said about that the better, those who were there will remember it well!! As it had been dry for a few days we should be ﬁne, I hoped!!!!
We set off along Much Hadham high street, passing an array of character properties (dating back many centuries) and the Forge Museum, turning off by the War Memorial into the grounds of Moor Place, where we crossed the ﬁelds and admired even more fabulous buildings in the Moor Place development.
A short stretch along the road to Kettle Green, passing over a railway bridge, part of the dismantled Buntingford to Hertford East branch line. A suitable large muddy puddle on a track nearby, should Lesley wish to partake of the muddy spa David requested, this was declined.
Passing Moat Farm and heading to Camwell Hall, we stopped for coffee before Bryony and Tony took the alternate route back and we carried on, passing under a railway bridge and then crossing the main road through Much Hadham, passing Much Hadham Mill and along Bourne Lane to rejoin a path to the East side of the river Ash, following the path running alongside the river through woodlands which in a few weeks will be carpeted with Bluebells, my timing always pans out wrong for these things!
Thankfully the wet weather had held off and was very pleasant for most of the walk but a few drops appeared as we made our way through some grass ﬁelds towards Much Hadham church and back to The Bull. There we had a fabulous lunch and even the Steak and Kidney pudding I chose was the source of some merriment, the suggestion that it’s size would be more suitable for two people or even a family, how could I plough my way through it all by myself now!! Well I did and it was delicious.
Thanks to all those brave enough to come along (knowing my track record of dodgy walks). Very enjoyable day.
Words by Sandra Scott, pictures by Ray Munden. Click on any image to show it full size
18th February 2017 - The First Signs of Spring
A dozen or so Freewheelers and Rotarians had the privilege of visiting David Bannister's delightful 12 acre (approx 5 hectares) meadow in South Cambridgeshire to see the first signs of Spring. The site is dotted about with many old and gnarled chestnut and willow trees and is bounded by a pleasant little Brook which meanders along the western edge until eventually flowing away into the River Cam a few miles away.
Over seventeen years David has lovingly (and laboriously) planted thousand of snowdrops around this meadow which have now become firmly established and are spreading fast. We wandered around the complete site admiring the displays of these ubiquitous white flowers which were frequently interspersed with yellow aconites to form an attractive complementary display giving us that first glimpse of Spring!.
David's wife Ann had kindly prepared both coffee and biscuits for us all so we stood and took in our peaceful and natural surroundings munching contendly. In appreciation for the visit, Ann was presented with a lovely flower arrangement by Annie Whittaker on behalf of the Freewheelers. Many thanks to both David and Ann for allowing us to visit.
17th February 2017 - Indoor Bowls Evening
Our Entertainments Committee organised a very pleasant Indoor Bowls evening at Thriplow Village Hall. I have to report that we were all in need of a lot more practice (it's harder than you think, especially when there is a dirty great obstacle along the middle of the "green" that one's bowl must circumvent without hitting!!). We were split into six teams of four people each, and each match consisted of five "ends".
Halfway through the evening we all sat down to a very welcome meal of chilli & jacket potato topped with cheese which had been prepared by Pat and David Easthope. We all thoroughly enjoyed the evening and I'm looking forward to the next one before my newly learned skills are forgotten!
See photo gallery of the evening here (courtesy of Neil Heywood)
12th February 2017 - Monthly Walk
The Chequers in Barley, our start and finish point for this month's leisurely 5 mile stroll was particularly picturesque under a 3cm covering of snow, as the photograph shows. School skiing and sunnier winter holidays cut our usual numbers significantly.
The village, which dates back to Roman or possibly earlier times has a number of interesting famous associations. (See Wikipedia) Interestingly it's named after a woodland clearance of a Saxon Lord and not the cereal used for brewing beer. The pub sits on the medieval route, later to come a major coaching road, from London to Cambridge. The road must have been travelled by Daniel Defoe as the village is mentioned in his writings.
After walking towards the village we cut left and walked down a deep defile cut through the chalk to reach the Black Barns on the Barley/ Royston road. Why such an undertaking was ever carried out is a mystery, unless it was at one time part of the old coaching road. In the Summer there are extensive views over the countryside to the North.
At the Barns we turned left on a track and on finally reaching the road we crossed back and walked up the edge of the field, with equestrian jumps, on the northern side of the road to the junction with Barkway Road.
The house at the junction was at one time a public house sitting on the Prime Meridian. Here we turn south along the line of zero degrees of longitude towards the Greenwich Observatory passing Sandra's herd of Alpaca's. The quality/warmth of wool from the alpaca's is greatly appreciated by the local birds for nests. As we continued down the side of the field on our right we observed two red kite and a number of hares.
The extensive and beautiful views over the surrounding countryside and Newsells Estate were marred by poor visibility. As we proceeded down the hill we had to take to the road for a hundred yards. The Newsells Estate specialises in horse breeding and there were several herds of breed mares in the fields. On passing the entrance gates to the Estate we turned left for our last mile, along a bridle track, to Barley and the Chequers to join Jonathan for lunch. Despite the greyness of the sky, which limited the views, the walk was enjoyed by all.
The walk was led and written up by Jim Webb. Photos courtesy of David Beardwell. (Click on the photos to view them enlarged)
1st February 2017 - Technology Tournament
Our youth programme continued this week as 22 teams from 5 local schools met to compete in the 2017 Rotary Technology Tournament. Their task: was to construct a vehicle to crawl along a pipeline and clear debris from inside. Equipped with tools, an electric motor and construction materials, teams needed to conceive, draw and show the principles of the vehicle, assign team roles and create a working model ready for testing.
As ever, the task produced a variety of solutions, some more successful than others, but win or lose, there were important lessons to be learned by all teams, which included an encouragingly high number of girls. "The objective", said judge David Easthope, "was innovation and elegance - as well as being able to perform the job"!
Congratulations to Foundation winners Freman College 2 and Senior winners Meridian School.
Too many people to list individually were involved as judges, stewards and helpers, but grateful thanks to them all and especially to Jim Webb for managing the whole event, to external judges Joe Daintrey, Iain McDerment, and Glen Hunt.
Thanks, also, to our generous sponsors North Herts District Council, NCPI Solutions, Johnson Matthey and the TTP Group.
The Immortal Memory of Scotland's most famous son, Rabbie Burns, was celebrated by Royston Rotarians and their partners this week in the traditional way. (For our overseas readers, this involves the consumption of haggis with tatties and neeps, accompanied by Scotch whisky, with speeches and toasts). A few culinary conservatives opted for egg'n chips, but most of us enjoyed the mixture of spiced deer's innards and oatmeal, packed, so they tell us, into a sheep's bladder, piped into the room by an authentic piper and cut with great ceremony by Graeme Dargie, the club's resident Scot.
A verse-reading contest (Burns, of course) was won by David Beardwell, and toasts were proposed by Graeme Dargie and Martin Berry, and responded to on behalf of the lassies by Clarice Wahlich in impeccable rhyming couplets. Rabbie would have been impressed, and so were we all.
Thanks to Graeme and Linda for organizing a fine braw nicht wi' ne'er a grummle.
The photo shows the traditional "piping in ceremony" of the haggis. See more photos of the event here (courtesy of Neil Heywood and Ray Munden)
8th January 2017 - Monthly Walk
Thirteen walkers set off from the Fox and Duck at Therfield on the first Rotary walk of the year. We headed towards Royston before turning east across a ridge with lovely views towards Cambridge and, for the bird watchers, a buzzard lazing in a tree and a few Yellowhammers, followed shortly by three Red Kites in one view. Amidst much chatting Hay Green was reached and a recently ploughed field sent Phillip and Ruth wisely on a short cut back to Therfield. The rest ploughed on, almost literally, picking up about 5lb of mud on each foot before reaching the safe haven of the Icknield Way. Here an early coffee break was taken and a poor, innocent signpost took a vigorous kicking as much of the mud was dislodged.
Starting off again with lighter feet we reached a ford where we tuned right towards a relatively new nature reserve, Hawkins Wood. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to detour around this delightful little wood so we marched on before turning right into more mud. Never daunted and hauling feet along, the intrepid walkers never complained but continued to enjoy quite nice, if coldish, weather and beautiful countryside. Before long we came to a right turn where a puddle of water allowed Sephrone to clean her boots, which then stayed clean - for at least 15 yards!
Avoiding a very, very muddy lane we went along the edge of a field where we had good views of our next destination, Kelshall, and Therfield beyond that. Feeling light footed we picked up some more mud before reaching a metalled path into Kelshall.
From here we plunged off across a few more fields before passing Therfield church and, a few yards further on, reaching the very welcoming Fox and Duck. Here we had the great delight of being joined by Jennifer Kingsley for lunch, which proved rather good in a very busy (unsurprisingly) pub.
Text and photos courtesy of Ray Munden. Click on any photo to see it full size.
Throughout December 2016 - Helping Father Christmas
Between 26th November and 18th December Rotarians helped Father Christmas in his grotto at Bury Lane Farm Shop no less than forty four times by holding his reindeer while the Great Man distributed presents and entertained the children. In one two hour period on the last day no less that 27 children were queued up to visit Father Christmas! Thanks go to Ray Munden and Bryony Plock for organising the schedules and liaising with Bury Lane Farm Shop.
Also in December Rotarians turned out to help Santa on his rounds touring part of Royston (on the 14th) and the village of Bassingbourn (on the 19th). Santa's sleigh was towed around the various housing estates stopping off where necessary to greet the children and parents who stood by on the roads and who were often passing out mince pies and (once) good Scotch Whisky. The charity collection at these two rounds raised just over £640 for local good causes. The photo shows Santa on his sleigh stopping at the roadside to greet the children of Bassingbourn. Thanks go to David Easthope for once again organising this very popular annual event.
13th December - Christmas Dinner at South Farm
Some sixty nine Rotarians, partners and guests converged on South Farm in the village of Shingay for the a glittering annual Christmas Dinner. We were all met with a glass of champagne to welcome us while we chatted to old friends before setting off to the dining room for the main event. And it didn't disappoint - with a cheery Christmas menu (which we had all pre-ordered) and with crackers on the table and party hats we were soon into the party spirit! Before the dinner started and during the final course we were entertained to the band "Five in a Bar".
A more serious point came later in the evening when, during President Karin's address, she was able to present a cheque for £5,000 to the Herts Air Ambulance. This is the President's nominated charity for this year and, as she observed, "we never really want to use them but it's a comfort to know they are there".
The evening ended with dancing to the band although only the brave participated - we have the photographic evidence David and Lesley!
More photos of the evening can be found here (courtesy of Neil Heywood)
11th December - Monthly Walk
On a gloriously sunny morning, nine walkers met at the Audley End miniature railway car park for our December walk. Even at 9.30am the overspill car park was like Clapham Junction as families arrived, in their masses, to ride on the little train. It was with some relief that we followed the sign to St Mark’s College and wandered down between the pretty row of cottages heading off on our five mile hike. This one street hamlet is all that is left of a busy medieval village destroyed to fit in with the plans of the wealthy landowner Sir John Braybrooke.
John and I found the walk in a book of historical walks around Saffron Walden. We had done a recce the previous week and had some idea of what to point out. This task was admirably taken on by John who took great delight in recounting many anecdotes along the route, almost all of which were of doom and gloom. Not something we’d picked up on during the recce!
The College is an imposing building down a quiet leafy lane. One of its uses is as venue for Christian courses for young people. Nearby were a few farm buildings which house a reclaimed furniture business and the Saffron Walden Ice Cream company. Our walk took us through the valley of the Fulfen and Beechy Rye once a common haunt for tramps. It was here that Dr. Hedley Barlett, who had the first car in Saffron Walden, attended a tramp called Alice. Although dying, she refused to be taken to the workhouse preferring to end her days surrounded by the beautiful trees.
The railway line used to cross the fields nearby. No trains these days but we were able to watch a light aircraft take off from the landing strip beyond our footpath before we crossed the road and into the fields opposite.
As the path curved around we heard that this spot was called Thieves Corner and John told us of a mugging which had occurred there in 1826. After a long straight section, along a bridleway, we emerged by Rosse Farm where in 1828 the farmer was awoken by a gang of six thieves trying to steal his poultry. He and his sons caught the thieves who were then taken to prison. One was given a year on the treadmill, one died in prison before he could be tried and three were transported to Australia. As some light relief from the stories we were hearing, we stopped for a break and some Christmas shortbread biscuits!
The next part of the walk involved a slight climb and give us good views over the countryside. After passing Herberts’s farm we entered the playing fields. The story here was so sad that I think it’s best we move on.
We eventually ended up in a lovely lane called Seven Devils Lane. The name possibly refers to the ghosts of miscreants who were hanged there. The few houses here were rather grand. Following the path we skirted the edge of the built- up area of the town eventually crossing the busy Newport road into Beeches Close. Almost hidden between two of the houses was a long narrow footpath which brought us out near the County High School. By now we could hear the Christmas music from the miniature railway and see the cars.
We retraced our steps back past St Mark’s and once again joined the hoards in the overspill car park. Despite the sad stories, spirits were high after a pleasant walk in the December sunshine. Whilst we had been walking, a team of elves (Linda , Jonathan and Polly ) had been hard at work, back at the School House, heating up the soup. We were joined by Neil and we all enjoyed a delicious lunch. Many thanks to everyone who provided food and helped to make our last walk of 2016 such a success.
Walk arranged and words provided by Clarice. Click on any picture to see it enlarged
4th December - Visit to the Winter Lights at Anglesey Abbey
Forty three Rotarians and friends journeyed to Anglesey abbey by a luxury Richmond's coach to see the famous winter lights. Most of us had never been before to this event and so there was a real sense of expectation in the air as we set off from Royston at dusk. Upon arrival we were provided with a sustaining hot meal in the National Trust restaurant there before setting off to walk the tree-lined paths at 5.15.
This proved to be a magical experience as it was obvious that a great effort had been made to illuminate the walkways with different coloured lights and a great deal of ingenuity had been employed to show the trees and shrubs in a completely new light (excuse the pun!). Of particular note was the plantation of young silver birch trees where the different coloured lights reflecting off their white barks gave some remarkable results. As we progressed past the old water mill and alongside the water we could look back to see the mill all lit up in a multi-coloured array with the river bank sparkling in ever changing coloured lights.
At various points around the walks we came across resting places where there was live music playing with mulled wine and roast chestnuts on offer. There was even a selection of warm doughnuts for those so inclined!
The walking tour lasted about an hour and a half which was quite enough on such a cold evening as that particular day. All agreed on what a marvellous experience it had been and thanks were due to Martin Berry for organising it all so well.
See more photos here (courtesy of Bryony)
3rd and 5th December - Erecting Christmas Trees in Royston Care Homes
Club Members descended upon two care homes in Royston during this last week to erect Christmas trees. On Saturday we visited St George's Care Home, in Kneesworth Street, where three trees were installed and decorated for the residents. On Monday it was the turn of Richard Cox House, in Dog Kennel Lane, to have a tree installed and decorated with the help of residents.
At St George's both the residents and Rotarians were treated to festive cheer of warm mulled wine with mince pies and tarts. The residents were able to sit back and relax whilst watching the trees being expertly decorated in front of them.
At Richard Cox house a single tree was erected in the middle of the common room whilst the residents both looked on and helped. We were all treated to sherry and mince pies whilst the tree was decked with Christmas music playing in the background.
These festive visits are an annual event performed voluntarily by the Rotary Club for many years and continues a tradition of providing Christmas trees at Royston Hospital until ward-based care there ceased a few years ago.
24th November - Bowls Evening with Royston '41 Club'
A dozen or so Club members had a most enjoyable evening at the bowling alley in Cambridge playing against the Royston 41 Club. The Rotary team was led by Ray Munden and the 41 Club team by Lee Fleming.
The 41 Club members had a distinct age advantage (youth!) over the Rotary Club team Inevitably therefore, the 41 Club easily won the event although there were notable exceptions (Ray, Derek and Martin for instance). We all adjourned to an international-themed restaurant nearby, following the bowling and the Royston Rotarians were presented with the Wooden Spoon prize for coming an honourable second.
Click on any of the images below to see them full size (Photos courtesy of Ray Munden)
22nd November - District 1080 Golfing Tournament
We had two guests from the Brandon and District Rotary Club at our regular meeting this evening with a special purpose in mind. Our intrepid team of club golfers having won through five rounds of the District 1080 Golfing Tournament emerged the winners and were to be presented with their award. John Barton, District 1080 Golfing Organiser, presented a cup and a cheque for £300 to Graeme Dargie who played throughout the tournament. Other members of the winning team were David Williams and Martin Berry.
The photo shows Graeme (on left) receiving the cheque from John Barton having also just received the cup (on table).
Royston Rotary Club is naturally proud of our triumphant golfers!
18th/19th November - Record Collection for Children in Need
We were delighted to have collected £3,750 in this year's Children in Need collection in Royston. This was a record by any standards, and more than twice last year's total. "Royston people really dug deep this year" said organiser Jim Webb."We've always known Royston folk were a generous lot, but this really exceeded expectations." Thanks to Tesco for hosting our collectors and to all the Pudseys who entertained the children so brilliantly.
16th November - Youth Speaks at Greneway School
It was the turn of students in years 5 to 8 to talk in public on a subject of their choice. The event was held at Greneway School for students from Greneway, Roysia and St Mary's schools. A wide range of subjects was presented and three students even bravely opted to speak on their own. This annual event enables youngsters to articulate a topic in public and helps to give them enormous self confidence. The picture shows all the students holding their certificates of participation.
Clarice Wahlich and Di Charles were the adjudicators who provided valuable feedback to the students on their respective presentations.
12th November - "French Themed" Social Evening
Some 40 or so Rotarians and partners enjoyed a very successful social evening with a French Theme, hosted by Jim and Sephrone Webb . Every room in their house seemed to have fiendish quiz questions related to France and the French pinned up on the walls, and Rotarians could be seen rushing around from room to room with pieces of paper arguing with each other about the correct answer whilst Phillip (the quiz setter) had that infuriatingly superior face set!
A great feast was enjoyed by all thanks to the army of wives and partners who had excelled themselves with the spread put on. Meantime we all enjoyed the assortment of French-themed outfits that people had come with: there seemed to be a preponderance of striped Breton shirts and black berets in attendance - but maybe that's how we fondly remember our friends over the Channel!
Phillip eventually put us out of our misery on the quiz answers and announce the winners as Tony and Bryony, who were presented with a suitable bottle of sparkling wine as reward.
Thanks to Jim and Sephrone for hosting us and to Peter Mitton and his Social Committee for arranging it all.
Click on any of the images of the evening below to see them full size.
9th November - "Youth Speaks" at Studlands Rise School
On Wednesday 9th November, Studland’s Rise School hosted the 19th annual ‘Youth Speaks’ event for Year 4 Students. This event gives young people the opportunity to speak on a subject of their choice to an audience of parents, family members, Teachers, fellow students and members of the Rotary Club of Royston.
This year we were delighted to have thirty one speakers from five local schools. The children spoke on ten subjects ranging from Art to World War I; from the Stone age Period to Healthy and Unhealthy foods. All the presentations were interesting and informative and Karin Weston (President of Royston Rotary Club) presented each child with a certificate to commemorate their participation in this event.
The different subjects covered were as follows
Tannery Drift First School:
• Vikings - Ollie Harrop & Arthur Gillson
• Vikings - Honey Butcher & Phoebe Draper
• Vikings - Ian Barnes & Susannah Linger
Studlands Rise First School:
• World War 1- Tom Green, Gethin Hill and Rosie Iontton
• Ancient Greece - Louis Oppen, Corey Miller and Hannah Vale
• Anglo Saxons - Oscar Lamb, Jacob Rowe and Edward Ormsby
Roman Way First School:
• The Stone age Period - Nicolas Schroeder, Thomas Baker and Olivia Darby
Icknield Walk First School:
• Dance - Amelia Ratcliff, Lily Arquati, Maise Macpherson, Imogen Grimes-Page
• Healthy and Unhealthy foods - Evie Blair and Ella Tobin
• Art - Eliza Kimsey, Nancy Bradley and Joanna Siddle
St Mary’s Primary RC Primary School:
• Great Barrier Reef - Fred Lennox-Smith & Damian Messore.
• Dance - Freya Gordon & Minna Holliday.
We are very grateful to Mrs Alison Doke, Head Teacher of Studland’s Rise School, for hosting the event.
To see pictures of the event Click Here (photos courtesy of Ray Munden)
6th November - Monthly Walk Beating the Bounds of Bassingbourn
Our walk this month had suitably autumnal weather with very cold air temperature but with a bright sun to compensate. Eleven walkers set off on the first leg with the promise of two more walkers joining us for the second (and final) leg.
Eventually we met the quiet Guise Lane heading westwards which we took and
which led on to Fen Road, heading further westwards. We passed a house
intriguingly called the "John O'Gaunt" which at one time had been a pub of
the same name. The reason for this name was that it was almost opposite
Bassingbourn Castle which at one time was owned by John O'Gaunt and which
was built in the 13th century. Most of the remains were removed last century
but some villagers still remember walking up the long drive to the castle
off Fen Road where we now stood
1st November - John Grant Trophy Shortlist
At tonight's Rotary meeting David Blundell proudly announced that our club's support for the Embocraft/Phakama Community project in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa had been short listed for the prestigious John Grant Trophy. This is awarded each year in Rotary District 1080 to the Club which achieves the best and most effective international service project and a grant of £500 has been agreed by District 1080 towards this project.
The Embocraft/Phakama community project, Kwa/Zulu Natal is designed to empower the people of an area devastated by poverty. It is based close to the Inanda Dam where the population of 25,000 is exclusively Zulu-speaking, with 88% considered poor. HIV/AIDS is endemic. Embocraft conducts skills training to develop products which can both benefit households and generate income. Those taking part learn to sew both for themselves and their community. The project is actively supported by the local Hillcrest Rotary Club and donated funds from Royston Rotary Club and from Winnipeg, Canada, have already been used to purchase industrial electric sewing machines. Rotarians in Hillcrest have been actively involved in Phakama since inception, as has our representative from Royston (David Blundell).
Click on the certificate to view it enlarged.
Another Great Swimathon! Nearly eighty people of all ages swam 1580 lengths of the Royston Leisure Centre pool in teams of up to six each.
The Sponsorship Monies promised to our Reception at the point of booking in was £2730 - that's a provisional figure, of course, but one we're very pleased with.. Fifteen teams of swimmers took part, the youngest being 5th Royston Rainbows, and the oldest - well, it would be ungallant to say. But there was a team of Royston Rotarians! And the Mayor, Cllt Dingley, came along, not to present trophies, but actually to swim, accompanied by her Deputy,Cllr Vera Swallow, and Cllr John Davidson. Well done, those councillors, we say. They raised about £500.
Rotarian Howard Peacock planned, managed, and supervised the affair, backed by a loyal band of Rotarians and partners, counting lengths swum, making announcements, blowing whistles.......
It was a good night for everyone, in short. Now for some pictures (courtesy of Neil Heywood and Steve Higginbotham). Click on any picture to view it full size.
Don Kingsley 1932 - 2016
We are mourning the loss of Rotarian and Paul Harris Fellow Don Kingsley, who died on 26 August aged 84. Don had been ill for some time but he continued to support Royston Rotary Club, of which he was a Past President and Honorary Member, until very recently. His funeral was held in Therfield on 8 September.
Don joined Rotary in 1976 and was President in 1999/2000, his nominated charity being the Garden House Hospice in Letchworth. He was a staunch supporter of our links to the Paray le Monial et du Charolais Rotary Club in France. He visited Paray many times and entertained their members when they visited Royston, making lifelong friend with many. It was during his Presidential Year that he led a party of 19 Rotarians, partners and Inner Wheel members to Paray for their 50th anniversary year celebrations. It was a tribute to that friendship that some of the Paray Club came all the way from France to his funeral.
He was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship in 2005 and was made an honorary
member of the Club in 2012 after stepping down from regular membership
because of his increased hearing problems.
Don always enjoyed good food, good company and telling a good story with a
glass of whisky in his hand. He will be sorely missed.
17th September: "Harmony in Harlem" Concert
Harmony in Harlem’ at the Royston Fringe provided one of the first events of the Royston Arts Festival. The band, led by Michael Kilpatrick, performed a programme of authentic music by Duke Ellington from the 1930’s to the 1950’s. In an evening of foot tapping swing and sumptuous jazz the vocals were provided by Jane Mayo
16th to 18th September: Walking Weekend in the Cotswolds
Sixteen extremely hardy souls ventured again into the Cotswolds for the second year's Walking Weekend.
The accommodation in an old farm house was excellent, although some had to stay in somewhat less grand surroundings.
Friday night was spent at a local hostelry where we were made very welcome, and enjoyed good food (The Coach & Horses at Longborough if you are that way). The other evenings were spent eating in house - an excellent Berks chilli one evening, and a Phillip Martin BBQ on the other. Suffice to say, much laughter prevailed on both evenings!
The walks were organised by the Wahlichs and were, well, challenging at times. Both days were around seven to eight miles (depending whether you believed John Wahlich or not). Sunday especially was quite taxing, but those that tackled it all survived; others went shopping!.
It really was a great weekend.
(Additional words by Sandra)
Wow, What a weekend - fabulous weather, interesting if a bit challenging
at times walking, fantastic companions, as well as a little bit of wine
Click on the pictures to see them full size - photos courtesy of Martin Berry and Neil Guttridge
14th August: Monthly Walk
This month's walk was arranged by David Izod and took us on a circular route of 4½ miles from the centre of Baldock to take in the villages of Norton and Radwell and to see the source of the River Ivel.
We started from the almshouses in the centre of Baldock High Street. The town of Baldock had Roman origins but after a period of decline, the Knights Templar re-founded it as a medieval market town in the 1140’s. Baldock was named by the Templars after Baghdad which they were thwarted from capturing during the Crusades, and the then Baghdad was regarded as the most prosperous market in the world and perhaps they thought some of the wealth would rub off. The wide High Street was created to accommodate all the market stalls. The town thrived because it was a major staging post between London and the north and a crossroad where the Icknield Way and the Great North Road met. Many of the old coaching inns still operate as pubs and hotels. From the 16th century, the town was a centre for malting and had three large brewers operating until the end of the 19th century, latterly benefiting from the growth of population in Letchworth Garden City with its ban on alcohol.
On our way out of the town we went past the lovely old parish church of St Marys which unfortunately, because there was a morning service taking place, we decided not to enter. But we admired the gothic faces that seemed to be dotted all over its ancient walls and tower (see photo on right). We progressed along and over the noisy AI(M) and, now in open countryside, we eventually came across the quiet hamlet of Norton. Here we cut through the St Nicholas churchyard, noticing many unusual gravestones, before coming out onto farmland again. After another mile or so we came across the Radwell Meadows Country Park where we met up with Bryony who was doing a shortened walk with us.
We passed and re-passed the River Ivel and its tributaries and eventually came out at the hamlet of Radwell where we stopped by the lake to have a coffee break. The wildlife must have known we were coming because there were swans, geese, ducks, coots and moorhens all fighting with each other to get at the breadcrumbs we had thoughtfully brought for them.
Suitably refreshed, we continued on our way and after another mile, waved cheerio to Bryony before heading back towards Baldock. Although we had earlier met with a number of "kissing" gates on our walk we were now faced with a particularly high stile which we needed to negotiate, some with more difficulty than others (see picture)!
We made a small diversion to view the source of the River Ivel but unfortunately the springs dry up in summer so we had to imagine what it would look like on a typical wet winter's day! Carrying on, we reached Baldock again at the southern end of the town and made our way back to the High Street for some very welcome refreshments.
David had chosen The White Lion pub in the High Street for us to eat in and the Sunday roasts proved particularly fine; we were joined by both Leslie Izod and David Beardwell for our meal.
Click on any of the pictures above to see a larger view. Photos courtesy of David Izod and Ray Munden
7th August: Royston Charity Kite Festival
Our annual Kite Festival again attracted big crowds to Therfield Heath on Sunday, after cloudy skies and high winds in the morning created problems for kite fliers and exhibitors. A strong west wind buffeted marquees and tents, and a few stallholders had to pack up their wares as gazebos threatened to fly away. It wasn’t safe to erect the bouncy castle, and our own HQ tent really did fly away! It had to be rescued from nearby woodland. But by mid-morning the winds slackened and the sun came out and it was business as usual for the rest of the day.
“We were really worried at first” said overall event manager Jonathan Berks. “If the wind had kept blowing so strongly, lots of families would have stayed at home – and the bigger kites wouldn’t have been able to fly.” But by lunchtime and the official opening by Royston’s Mayor Cllr Sarah Dingley and North Herts District Council vice-chair Alan Millard, the Heath was crowded with picnicking families enjoying the show and the flying programme went ahead, including the ever popular Teddy Bear Drop. Traders reported brisk business, and there were queues at the ice-cream vans and burger stands. The club’s famous Tombola sold out long before the event closed.
The children had the chance to make and decorate their own kites in the kite workshop. These were later judged by the Club's deputy president Graham Dargie and prizes presented by both Graham and Karin Weston (our 2016/2017 President). The picture on the right shows the children hard at work creating their kites. All the money raised by the Festival goes to a number of charities, but the main one to benefit this year, chosen by President Karin Weston, is Herts Air Ambulance. As for how much money has been raised the club is optimistic; “2016 won’t be a record-breaker because of the slow start in the morning” said Jonathan Berks, “But we’re hoping the show will raise in excess of £6,000 after expenses, so we’ll be able to make some generous charitable donations as usual”
This year we even sold our own Royston Kite Festival kites at the gates which were very popular. This photo shows a dad helping his son to fly one of these for the first time. (picture courtesy of Cambridge News)
Do look at all our pictures here (courtesy of Neil Heywood and Ray Munden). They feature some familiar faces, one of a tent mixed up with a lot of trees, and a pair of flying legs.
But to get a more complete flavour of the event have a look at the YouTube film clip here, cleverly made by one of the event's contented visitors, Keith Palmer.
31st July 2016: Summer Barbecue
About 50 Rotarians and guests attended the annual summer barbecue, this year at the home of Peter and Barbara Mitton in Comberton. The weather stayed fair and there was plenty of time for conversation as well as eating and drinking. The entertainments committee and their helpers had done a remarkable job in arranging the seating, the food, the alcohol and the general comfort of all the attendees.
A great afternoon and special thanks to Peter and Barbara for hosting us, and thanks to all the organisers and helpers who are so necessary in making of an event like this such a resounding success.
Some photos of the event are shown below - just click on any one to see it larger size.
17th July 2016: Monthly Walk Around Fen Drayton Lakes
A few hundred years ago Fenland was largely under water. Then along came selfish mankind and drained virtually all of it to provide food for the ever expanding human population. The water covered area dropped to around only about 4% of what it was in its glory days. Over the past couple of decades or so there has been a major project to restore some tiny part of this. Called the Great Fen Project it is one of the largest restoration projects in the UK and the idea is to restore sufficient of the Fens so that there is some connectivity between the wetland areas. These wildlife corridors are extremely important for wildlife to be able to survive and increase. I have heard it said that were it possible (but it unfortunately isn’t) for the Fens able to be restored completely it could become our equivalent to the Everglades, potentially attracting millions of visitors.
This restoration is still in progress and Fen Drayton Lakes, of which there are 13, form a very significant part of the effort and were our destination for the July Rotary walk. A total of 20 walkers (is this a record?) gathered in the RSPB car park close to Ferry Lagoon.
The intrepid 20 (well 19, someone has to take the photo) before setting off and then quickly spreading out.
After the obligatory communal photograph, and on a beautifully warm and sunny day, we set off towards Drayton Lagoon. This we skirted southwards to meet the guided bus way, looking out for rogue buses after a couple have recently departed the guided bit and ended up on their sides, not good if you happen to be walking or cycling there! This day, however the buses were well behaved and, as we chatted away, we pretty much ignored the few that passed.
Amongst the first birds of the day were a flock of around 20 Goldfinches, which fled some thistles as we approached. We walked around Drayton Lake to meet the River Great Ouse, where we waved to the occasional pleasure boaters who floated by. There were lots of butterflies to be seen, many Meadow Browns, some gorgeous Red Admirals, Gatekeepers, Ringlet, Peacock plus the inevitable Small and Large Whites. There were also many damselflies, including the occasional splendidly beautiful Banded Demoiselle, and lots of dragonflies.
Reaching a turnoff back to the car park we partook of a refreshment stop. Here Bryony, pleasingly back amongst the walkers but wisely limiting her first foray, peeled away to await us in the car park with the Sunday papers and a good book.
Refreshment break alongside the River Great Ouse, up to now edged quite densely with trees and bushes.
We continued along the Ouse, sandwiched between it and first Ferry Pond and then Ferry Mere and moving from densely wooded surroundings into more open countryside with grazing cattle.
Dense edging gives way to open countryside, with the river on one side and Ferry Lagoon on the other.
Finally we left the Ouse turning down besides Ferry Lagoon. Those of you actually reading this article will have notice the word Ferry frequently here. This is because there is, or at least was, a ferry from Fen Drayton across the Ouse to link up with the village of Holywell, where there was a very inviting looking pub on the riverside.
Studying Ferry Lagoon with binoculars brought several Common Terns, quite a few Tufted Ducks, Pochard, Cormorants, Coots, Black Headed Gulls, Great Crested Grebes, Swans, Canada Geese, and a lone Grey Heron. We turned west as we were reunited with the busway and then north back to the car park, still skirting Ferry Lagoon. A few speedy walkers reached the car park to turn and see - well nothing, there being no sight of the remaining walkers. It transpired that they had stopped off at a jetty to admire the view across the lagoon, very sensible.
Many took a brief rest in the cool shade of the seats in the car park before 18 of us drove along to the Three Tuns in Fen Drayton village where there seemed to be general satisfaction with the refuelling that was provided.
Pictures and words thanks to Ray Munden (who also organised this month's walk). Click on any of the photos to see them full size.
10th July 2016: President's Hello
Following her new appointment for the year, President Karin invited Rotarians and partners to her lovely house and garden in a tranquil countryside setting for the traditional President's Hello. The unpredictable English weather threatened showers but after just a few spits and spots the clouds soon cleared and we all enjoyed beautiful summery weather for the afternoon.
Karin and her team of helpers did us all proud with marquees, tables and chairs all set out. And what a feast we were offered with a huge roast turkey, two whole cooked salmon, a huge joint of ham and all the usual trimmings. Karin's Little Helpers had also been busy providing a range of delicious puddings plus loads of cheese and biscuits with coffees to follow. And did I forget to mention that alcohol was also flowing freely the whole afternoon.
It was particularly nice to see that our only Honorary Member Don Kingsley and his wife Jennifer were able to attend, with Don wielding the turkey carving knife with his usual aplomb.
A great time was had by all as can be vouched for by seeing pictures of the event here. (Pictures courtesy of Neil Heywood)
28th June 2016: Presidential Handover Dinner
The Presidential Handover Dinner was held in the atmospheric surroundings of the Hall at Magdalene College, Cambridge with the names and coats of arms of dozens of famous alumni such as Samuel Pepys and Thomas Cranmer above us. The whole event was held in candlelight, there being no electric lighting the the Hall (previously the monastic refectory).
Following a champagne reception in Benson Hall (previously the Masters Dining Room) the nearly sixty Rotarians and guests were taken to the Hall where we were served with a delicious meal consisting of:
(with an appropriate vegetarian alternative)
Following the meal President David Williams gave a short address and then formally handed over the chain of office to our new President for 2016/2017, Karin Weston to much applause. President Karin in turn spoke of her plans for the year and also passed on her Vice President's chain of office to the new vice president, Graeme Dargie.
This annual event is always something to be savoured with the ladies looking beautiful in their finery by candlelight and the men in formal dress looking very distinguished, but this year your author felt was particularly memorable because of the historic atmosphere of the place. It would be good to return there another year.
See all the photographs of the evening here, pictures courtesy of Neil Heywood.