Changeover Dinner is our annual event to celebrate the changing of our current president of the club to the new president for the coming Rotary year (effective 1st July). It’s also an excuse for Rotarians and their partners and guests to dress up in their finery and enjoy a pleasant evening with good food and in the company of friends.This year the event was held at Madingley Hall near Cambridge and was the first time the club had visited there which proved to be an inspired choice. The hall is set in beautiful surroundings and the perfect weather showed it off at its best. A few Rotarians were unfortunately delayed by traffic so our meal was postponed until 8pm to allow for everyone to be present; but the catering staff were easily up to this challenge and the food courses were both timely and delicious.With the meal over, outgoing President Graeme Dargie thanked all who had supported and assisted him over the last 12 months, particularly his wife Linda (to great applause). He then proceeded to formally hand over the chain of office to our new President, David Blundell. President David made his acceptance speech before handing over the vice president’s chain to Martin Berry who, in turn presented the junior vice president chain to Nichola Sharpe.With the formalities now over, Rotarians mingled with all the other guests, some of whom had travelled a long distance to be there, and many who had had long associations with the club. A really great evening to celebrate our changeover.Words by Tony Briar, Photos mainly by Ray Munden. To see all the photos, click here.
New President David with wife Diane
8th July - Monthly Walk
We had a glorious English summer day for this 6.6 Km. walk. Hats and sun-cream were necessary. Had we given some thought to how hot it was going to be we might have taken swimwear too for a refreshing paddle in Ashwell springs. From the lovely village of Hinxworth we strolled to Ashwell and did enjoy a rest by the springs. But there were a number of families messing about in the water so poor Emmi, the Kelly’s lively Labrador had to make do with a paddle on her lead.As we neared the end of our walk we stopped by the medieval Hinxworth Place and admired the sculptures in the garden. The sculptor’s wife greeted us and invited us to look around the garden. She also kindly fetched a bowl of water for Emmi. The walkers who also needed a drink had to wait another ten minutes until we arrived at the Three Horseshoes. This pub is well worth a visit. The food and the service was excellent. We enjoyed a most congenial lunch in the shady garden.We were eleven in the group including regular walkers Jim and Sephrone Webb; Ray and Joan Munden; Peter Ross; Sandra Scott and John and Jennifer Kelly. We had a very special guest walker with us. Sophia Daoudi from Paray le Monial who is working in Cambridge for three months. She is a charming young lady who intends to come on the August walk. John Kelly had also invited along Keith and Marian Taylor. All told it was a very relaxing and enjoyable day.Words, pictures and walk arrangements by John Kelly
15th July - President’s “Hello”
It’s a Royston Rotary Club tradition that a new President for the year entertains the club members and their partners to a social event sometime shortly after his or her appointment. This year was no exception and our new President David and his wife Diane invited us all to their lovely home in Melbourn on a beautifully sunny afternoon.Of course, the whole event was held in the garden where a lot of preparation had obviously been undertaken with gazebos, awnings and plenty of tables and chairs. David had even arranged for an outside bar in the confines of a garden shed - eminently practical!Approximately 40 Rotarians and their partners were present in addition to 10 friends, helpers and family so the conversation was animated and it was pleasant to chat with people one hadn’t seen for a while. However, the talking had to be cut short once it was announced that the food was ready and we all admired the array of food on offer - even more so with the sweet course which followed. Throughout the afternoon we were entertained to old 78rpm vinyl jazz records on a genuine wind-up gramaphone. Our resident DJ was David’s son in law, Brent, who apparantly has a massive collection of vintage records. Your reporter was quite taken with the very effective and responsive volume control in the form of a large duster pushed up the horn to quieten the sound where necessary.Mention and thanks for the delicious food must go to Diane, Ann Bannister, Liz Beardwell, Linda Berks, Jo Mellor, Di Charles, Linda Dargie, Pat Easthope, Lesley Izod, Barbara Mitton, Glynis Smith, Clarice Wahlich, Sephrone Webb, Annie Whittaker and Polly Hardy. There were also welcome contributions of chocolates and wine. My apologies if I have left anyone out.A great afternoon and special thanks to David and Diane for hosting and arranging.
5th August - Annual Kite Festival and Classic Vehicle Show
A brilliantly sunny day for this annual event held as usual on The Heath and we estimate that over six thousand people from the Royston area attended. Ice cream vendors did a roaring trade and the fresh fruit juice stall was sold out by early afternoon, such was the demand. The show was opened by Royston Town Mayor, Cllr Iain Leggett and the photo shows him with Royston Rotary President David Blundell, DG Dave Ford from Rotary District 1260 and Royston Town Crier Graham Pfaff.Although very hot, the wind was a bit temperamental and there were long periods in the morning when the lack of it stopped the professional kite fliers from showing their skills; but the wind picked up in the afternoon so a spectacular show of kite flying was put on by the various clubs. Many children even got to see their beloved teddy bears do a long-awaited parachute drop from a kite (see picture).Apart from the kite flying we had children’s face painting, a kite-making workshop run by the Lions Club and, of course, Royston Rotary Club’s famous tombola tent with in excess of five hundred different prizes. All this plus various stalls and sideshows and, not forgetting the bouncy castle and childrens roundaboutIn the display area we were later entertained to a talented group of youngsters who were part of the Crystallite Majorettes from Letchworth. This troupe can certainly twirl the pom-poms, as we saw!There were some 75 entries in the Classic Vehicles Show which was run alongside the Kite Festival A number of the classic cars were eventually shortlisted for a prize and the selected cars were processed around the display area and lined up ready for the drivers to be interviewd by the MC. Eventually the winner’s cup was presented to John Ives, the owner of a beautiful 1955 Armstrong Siddley Sapphire limousine. The photo shows John Ives being presented with the cup by ADG John Hammond from Rotary District 1260 (left) and our own Royston President David Blundell (right).A great day out for all the family and all the money raised will benefit charity, especially Acorn House (part of the Sick Children’s Trust) which is Royston Rotary President David Blundell’s chosen charity for the year.Grateful thanks must go to all Rotarians and their partners who worked so hard to make the show a success. Particular praise must go to Rotarian Jonathon Berks who organised the Kite Festival this year, and to Ray Munden who organised the Classic Vehicle show. Thanks also must go to Royston Scouts for their hard work in the heat on car parking duties and litter picking.Words by Tony Briar, photos by Neil Heywood and Ray Munden. See all the photos of the Kite Festival and Classic Vehicle Show by clicking here.
10th August - Presentation of Cheque to Garden House Hospice
Music to Garden House Hospice Care’s earsWhen the Rotary Club of Royston heard that the Garden House Hospice Care were raising funds for Music Therapy sessions it immediately decided to support the initiative with a donation of £1000.Kash Sharma, Chair of Community Service for the club, said ‘We frequently support the Garden House Hospice care as a deserving local charity and so we are very pleased to be able to donate to this wonderful initiative’.Lisa Seccombe, Director of Fund Raising, Marketing and Communications for the Garden House Hospice Care, said ‘We appreciate the continual support we get from The Rotary Club of Royston and are grateful for their support of our Music Therapy sessions, which have been demonstrated to significantly benefit patients. Our qualified Music Therapist, provides one-to-one and group music therapy sessions for patients. Patients can choose to play instruments, sing or simply listen to a piece of music. They can then discuss the feelings, emotions and memories the music invokes. Music therapy helps improve emotional wellbeing, promotes relaxation and reduces feelings of anxiety. Our Music Therapist also runs an in-house choir including patients, family members and carers, and volunteers. Such support makes a huge difference to the local community of which we serve”.Words and picture by Ray Munden.
12th August - Monthly Walk Around Wicken Fen
A good turnout for the August walk saw 20 people take a leisurely 5 mile stroll around Wicken Fen. The party included Jonathan and Lyn’s family, complete with 18 month old grandson, Harrison. Sophia, daughter of Khalid Daoudi past president of Paray Rotary Club, also joined us before returning to Lyon the following day. Wicken Fen is such a special habitat. It may be flat, but the skies can be dramatic and at this time of the year there are plenty of dragonflies, damsel flies and butterflies to look out for. The walk took us past the Visitors’ Centre and right onto Adventurers’ Fen. We followed Wicken Lode to the footbridge at Reach Lode. A left turn here took us to the junction of Reach Lode and Burwell Lode where we stopped for a break. Ray took the opportunity to bird watch and spotted a Marsh Harrier in the distance. We continued alongside Burwell Fen until we reached Cock-up bridge, a swing bridge which, when lowered over the lode, can be used by pedestrians, horses, cycles and vehicles. This was supplemented by an ugly fixed concrete bridge in the 1990s which, as the guidebook says, is OK for pedestrians, difficult for bicycles and impossible for horses or vehicles. A left turn took us along Mark’s Lode with St Edmund’s Fen on the right and we followed this back to the National Trust car park.The Visitors’ Centre is well worth a look and facilities there now include a café and education room – a far cry from the ‘facilities’ that were present when I came on school trips in the 1970s and 1980s. There is also an electric boat which provides a very pleasant ride along the lode. Surrounded by magnificent swaying reeds you get a close up view of the wildlife. Lunch was at the Maid’s Head in Wicken village. This is a large pub and we were lucky to have a room to ourselves. The food was good and the staff friendly and helpful. A lively Harrison kept us all amused!Words and photos by Clarice
14th October - Annual Swimathon
This annual event was held in the Royston Leisure centre on a wet and dismal Sunday evening. Despite the rain we had a total of twelve teams participating spread over three sessions. Each session lasts for fifty minutes and each team has to swim as many lengths of the pool as possible in that session but with only one team member swimming at any time.There were a total of sixty swimmers in the twelve teams and the total number of lengths swum was 1206. It’s too early to say how much sponsorship money was raised by the teams but event organiser Howard Peacock expressed his satisfaction at how smoothly the event had gone to plan. Howard also expresses his thanks to the army of Rotarian helpers and partners who assisted at the event.
14th October - Monthly Walk
What a day! The rain had lashed down all through the night and only eight bedraggled souls turned out for this October’s walk. But with waterproofs on (Jim getting a little assistance with this from the ladies) the party set off from the Old Bull Inn in Royston, heading southward up the hill to the hospital. After turning west a further long climb was ahead through pathhways taking us eventually to the top of Therfield Heath.We walked westwards through the woods pretty much in parallel to the heath and, after crossing the Therfield Road eventually came out at the top of Pen Hill where we stopped for a well earned coffee break. The rain appeared to have eased but that was only to give us a sense of false security for once we had started off on the homeward leg over the Heath (with no trees for protection this time) the frequent sharp showers caught us all once again.Nevertheless, a pleasant walk of just over 5 miles and a welcome carvery and drink at the Bull once we’d returned.Words by Tony Briar
End of September - Isle of Wight Walking Week
Northcourt Manor RevisitedNorthcourt, for those who haven’t visited, is a handsome 3 storey Jacobean mansion hidden in a woody valley in the Isle of Wight. There are lots of bedrooms and bathrooms, a big kitchen and an enormous ballroom, lovely gardens, a good pub five minutes walk away, and a helpful landlord whose family had been smart enough to buy the place for less than £10,000 in the 60s. A bunch of Rotary monthly walkers went there last year and liked it so much, we decided to book in again this year – but this year, we booked a whole week (didn’t cost much more) so that those who had the time could do the full seven days. There were 19 of us, eight couples and three singletons. Peter and Sue Ross would have made it 21, had it not been for Peter’s serious accident. We missed them!Most of us arrived on Friday afternoon in time for tea and a lot of home-made cake (warning: there will be a lot of eating and drinking in this report) and then, after not very long, our first appointment: at the Crown at Shorwell where the food and beer were as good as we remembered from 2017.Saturday dawned grey and wet, and it must be recorded that not all of us were brave enough to pull on our boots and head for the great outdoors. Quite a few jumped in their cars and went sightseeing; several to Osborne, Queen Victoria’s country pile, and very impressive it was, even in the rain. Somehow or other our return trip took us back to the Crown (just checking that they were looking after their beer properly) in time to see the sodden walkers trudging back home for tea. Their spirits weren’t at all dampened; they’d had a lovely time, and later on, Clarice will tell you all about it. We had a festive dinner in the ballroom that evening, and serious inroads were made on the wine stocks. Another gloomy morning greeted us on Sunday. For some of us walking in such weather still failed to attract, and a surprising number were to be found instead visiting the island’s last few miles of steam hauled railway, where we puffed happily back and forth for an hour or so. Kash doesn’t approve of steam trains, we discovered; smelly and inefficient, he claimed. Then we dispersed to view other island delights such as the Garlic Farm (well worth the visit) and picturesque Ventnor, where the sun came out and the ice cream was good). When we returned to North Court the walkers were already back, and they had enjoyed an excellent day. Dinner was a barbecue, thoughtfully purchased during the day by Ruth and Phillip, and expertly sizzled by the latter. Some more of the wine stocks were consumed as nearly everyone settled in front of the TV to watch the last episode of an unmissable (they all said) TV programme.Monday came next; your scribe and Sandra Scott had to head for the ferry and the M25. Just as the sun was coming out too. Most sensible souls were staying on for another few days, including the Wahlichs. Clarice now continues the saga…….By popular request we did the Tennyson Downs walk again on the Saturday. Using our bus passes (the youthful Sandra missed out here) we caught the bus from the village pub to Freshwater. The walk takes you over the Downs and to Needles. Unlike last year, when we had glorious sunshine, the walk started overcast and got much wetter. We did manage some spectacular sea views but the café at the NT battery was most welcome. As a measure of how wet we were, Jim’s walking trousers had become transparent! Fortunately, they dried out quickly. After lunch, and a very wet wait at the bus stop, we took the island Breezer to Yarmouth. It’s a nice place but we didn’t see it at its best. Two bus rides later and we arrived back at Northcourt for tea and cakes. Special mention must go to Kash who did the walk without a waterproof jacket relying on a big umbrella to stay dry!On Monday we did the Warrior Walk named after a local war horse that was exercised along the route. It began inland then followed the coast before returning inland to the National Trust’s Mottistone gardens. The weather was sunny and warm giving us fantastic sea views. The church at Brook was interesting as we were able to have a go at bell ringing. Several of us followed the notes provided and one or two people even recognised the tune! Lunch was very pleasant. At Mottistone we met up with Lyn and sat in the courtyard eating our sandwiches before a quick stroll around the lovely gardens. After lunch we had a gentle walk, of about an hour, back through fields and woods.On Wednesday eight of us did a very good walk around Yarmouth. It was nice to enjoy the sunshine there after our soggy visit on Saturday. The walk was one Lyn had found in a newspaper. Sadly, Lyn and Jonathan were leaving that day so they didn’t get to experience it. It was a gentle stroll from the town, through fields and alongside the estuary. We had a quick stop coffee at the pub. Moving on, were lucky enough to see some red squirrels playing in the trees. Lunch was at a converted railway station. The food was very good although the portions a bit larger than we had expected but we coped. After lunch the walk took us alongside the seawall where we could watch the sailing boats. The last stretch was through the town passing some very nice buildings along the way. Once back at the cars it was boots off and on to the botanical gardens at Ventnor and some gentle walking to work off the lunch.Special thanks from us all to the organisers, especially to Peter and Barbara for planning and logistics, Clarice and John for masterminding the walks, and the several members who produced a lot of astonishing home bakery; not a soggy bottom between them. Wonder where we’ll go next year?Words by both Neil and Clarice. Photos courtesy of Neil. Click here to view all the pictures.
16th October - Presentation to Ken Charles for 40 years service
At the end of a successful partner’s evening we were delighted to see our long-standing member Ken Charles being presented with a certificate to mark 40 years of service with the Rotary Club of Royston.President David Blundell listed many of Ken’s achievements during the last 40 years. He had joined the club in 1978 and became president in the year 1983/84; he was elected Governor of Rotary District 1080 in 1997/98 and later went on to become RIBI International Chair for 1 year and RIBI Youth Activities Chair for 2 years. At Royston, Ken was instrumental in introducing various annual youth-centred activities to the club including Youth makes Music, Youth Speaks and the Technology Tournament. Ken was also active in the Children in Need charity and the Kite festival as well as founding and publishing the monthly Royston Rotarian magazine since 1998 (with the active support of wife Di).The photo shows Ken (right) being presented with his certificate by 1260 District Governor Dave Ford.In Ken’s reply, he thanked all concerned and passionately emphasised the need to continue to engage fully with the young which he was convinced would bring ample reward both to Rotarians and to the youngsters involved.
7th November- “Youth Speaks”
Once again we were treated to some entertaining and informative presentations from the year 4 children attending five of the local first schools. The range of subjects was extensive from “World War 2” to “Harry Potter”. Many of the presentations were done in groups of two or three but eight of them presented bravely on their own. The purpose of the event is to give the children an early confidence of speaking in public to total strangers.The full list of presentations was as follows
Tannery Drift School
Icknield Walk School
St Mary’s School
Studland Rise School
19th November - Presentation of Cheque to British Legion
This morning at Royston war memorial the Royston Rotary Club presented Chris Murphy of Royal British Legion with a donation of £500 to mark the centenary of the Armistice of WW1. Club President David Blundell said “It’s a time when we all remember the sacrifices made in two world wars and many other conflicts. The whole club wanted to show their gratitude, and we all respect the invaluable work the British Legion does for our veterans and their families. I know they will use our donation wisely.”Photo shows (l to r) Neil Guttridge (Secretary), David Blundell (President), Chris Murphy (British Legion) and David Smyth (Treasurer)
16th/17th November - Children in Need Collection in Royston
The annual Children in Need collection was held on these two days to co-incide with the BBC’s national appeal. Many Rotarians braved the biting wind to stand outside Royston Tesco and also up and down Royston High Street.As usual, Roystonians were most generous and organiser Rotarian Jonathan Berks has reported that the amazing sum of £3,309 was collected. This complete sum is being sent to the BBC Children In Need Appeal fund.The picture shows Rotarian Clarice Wahlich in the guise of Pudsey Bear outside Tesco.
13th Oct - A Very Special Wedding
A very special wedding ceremony took place between two of our Royston Rotarians at Fanhams Hall, near Ware. The bridegroom Mike Day was marrying Nichola Sharpe at this beautiful and romantic Jacobean mansion, tucked away in the Hertfordshire countryside. It is a beautiful location where brides and grooms can get married, enjoy their wedding celebrations and afterwards have some breathtaking photos taken in the vast grounds.The wedding was a black tie event and everybody dressed beautifully for the ceremony which was held in the Oak Room. Derek the bride’s dad, was on a mobility scooter and unfortunately was unable to walk Nichola the whole length of the aisle so her two sons Chris and Paul walked her three quarters of the way and then Derek walked her the last part. It was a beautiful moment that really touched the heart, Mike was very emotional and Nichola looked absolutely stunning. The ceremony was performed by Richard Edwards from Hertford Registry Office.After the ceremony the couple had their reception drinks in this amazing room and had their first dance together as husband and wife to the Shadows 4-piece tribute group The Runaways who really got the crowd going. The plastic guitars came out and people joined in and interacted with the band. What a great day so much laughter Mike and Nichola later honeymooned in Cyprus.
8th December - Decorate Christmas Trees at St George’s Nusing Home
A small band of Rotarians descended on St. George’s Nursing Home in Royston today to provide some festive decoration for the residents. This is an annual event for our Rotary Club and we derive as much pleasure out of it as the residen’ts themselves.We usually put up and decorate three separate trees in the nursing home in various communal areas and are often rewarded with some warm mince pies and sherry. This year was no exception. Our photo shows the lovely Rina from St George’s in front of one of the trees and about to dispense some Christmas fare to us.Many thanks to Rotarian Bryony for once again organising this.
9th December - December Walk
Our walk this month was ably organised by David Beardwell and he kept with tradition by not leading us on too gruelling a walk in the lead up to Christmas.We met up outside the stable block at Wimpole Estate and walked via Wimpole Church to admire the many monuments to the Yorke family who owned Wimpole Hall in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The church is interesting to visit but does not belong to the National Trust, rather it belongs to the benefice of nearby Orwell parish.Leaving the church, we headed westwards past the front of the Hall and followed the many pathways and tracks on the estate before arriving at the recently refurbished Folly which stands on a hill at the north end of the estate. By this time the sun had made an appearance so we settled down to a welcome break here, drinking in both the coffee and the view. A less energetic walk took us back to the stable block again but via a different route and those among us who had walkmeters had clocked almost exactly three miles.We repaired back to David’s and Liz’s home in Royston where we were tempted by three different hot soups followed by cheese and biscuits, mince pies and cake. A jolly time was had by all - thank you Liz and David and all your other helpers.