Rotary
Club of Royston,Herts, UK
President: Steve Higginbotham

Scrapbook For The Rotary Year July 2021 to June 2022

11th July - Monthly Walk
Our walk of just under four miles long, started and finished at the Red Cow in the village of Chrishall. Chrishall Common at 482 feet is the highest point in Essex. Recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book in the hundred of Uttlesford with 58 households and 8 slaves, Chrishall in size is in the top 20% of settlements in England. It has not changed a lot in almost a thousand years. The land at that time was assigned to Count Eustace of Boulogne by William the Conqueror for his support in the battle of Hastings.
Hertfordshire MIND President’s Charity 2021-2022
27th July - Presidential Handover
This event was the first time in some sixteen months since the Royston Rotarians had been able to meet together socially. Thirty six members and guests met at the Garden Room at Chilford Hall near Linton at 6.30 pm. The event had been delayed due to the Government covid restrictions and despite the fact that the event could at last go ahead all guests had to book in with a Test and Trace recording. Guests were met with a Bucks Fizz drink and canapés and were able to mingle and chat for the first time in ages. A delicious meal followed served by carefully masked waiters. Following the meal the formal proceedings began with President Martin Berry (who had diligently served for a continuous two year stretch) addressing the attendees before passing on the chain of office to our new president Stephen Higginbotham. The twist here was that due to social distancing limitations of covid President Stephen had to place the chain on himself rather than have the past president place it round his neck. Sue Higginbotham was presented with the Lady’s Jewel by Martin’s partner Josephine who, in turn was presented with some white orchids to thank her for all her support over the last two years. After presenting the vice president’s Jewel to Peter Mitton and the past president’s jewel to Martin, President Stephen made an address where he thanked the past president and his council members. With the formalities out of the way the attendees were able to chat with each other long and animatedly, something they had all been missing for far too long.
27th July - Award of Paul Harris Fellowships
As one of his final duties, outgoing President Martin Berry announced two Paul Harris Fellowships at the Presidential Changeover. These fellowships are usually awarded for service to the club over and above what would be expected. Paul Harris Fellow recognition was created in memory of Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary. It has been a practice of many clubs to award Paul Harris Fellowships in appreciation of his or her service to the club or the local, national or international community. The citations announced by President Martin was as follows. It is my very great honour to present not one, but two Paul Harris Fellowships this evening. The first goes to someone who has found the past 18 months more restrictive than most of us but who, in spite of that, has continued to be particularly active within club. When we were no longer able to meet in person, he suggested we should meet on Zoom and helped the less computer literate of us to master this new technology. When we had to cancel our fund-raising events, he suggested we should raise money online with a virtual balloon race. And when we were approached by a scurrilous organisation about a ludicrous copyright infringement he responded quickly and very professionally to manage our risk and help Council deal with the situation. And, on top of all this, throughout the pandemic he has kept our “shop window” – our website - up to date and interesting. I am, of course, talking about Tony Briar. The second Paul Harris Fellowship goes to someone else who has kept himself busy on the Club’s behalf throughout the Pandemic. He has managed to become a very successfully blogger without even knowing what a blogger is! His ad-hoc musings have gained a wide following and kept many people, some of whom are living in difficult circumstances, entertained and connected during the lonely days of lock-down. He was the driving force behind the creation of our Memory Café, and he is always looking for ways to help the less fortunate in our community. To that end, he has served for several years as a Trustee of the Deard’s Trust and has been particularly busy in that role throughout the pandemic. He helped our new President set-up a committee to look at the future of the club and he has given us two excellent talks on Zoom both finishing exactly on time. I am, of course, talking about David Izod.” Sadly, Tony had to cry off from the event due to illness but David was able to accept the Paul Harris Fellowship award in person as shown in the photo.
11th July - Monthly Walk
Our walk of just under four miles long, started and finished at the Red Cow in the village of Chrishall. Chrishall Common at 482 feet is the highest point in Essex. Recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book in the hundred of Uttlesford with 58 households and 8 slaves, Chrishall in size is in the top 20% of settlements in England. It has not changed a lot in almost a thousand years. The land at that time was assigned to Count Eustace of Boulogne by William the Conqueror for his support in the battle of Hastings. The barn of the Red Cow, in the back ground to the picture on the left, was built in the 15th century and is the oldest building in the village. The pub itself was much modified in the 17th century. We started the walk by crossing the road and sports field before turning right on reaching a lane. The various thatched cottages on our left dated back several centuries. After passing the pond to our right we cut back through the trees to the road leading to the crossroad and memorial with the Red Cow on our right. At the top of Church Road we turned down Loveday Close. On turning right at the end we walked along the edge of the fields to a lane. At the lane we turned left to the end of the wood to get a view across the Cambridge countryside to the tower of Ely Cathedral in the far distance. You will need your binoculars to see it on a good day. Retracing our steps we continued along the edge of what is known locally as Bluebell Wood, a blaze of colour when the spring bluebells are in full bloom, to a crossroad. To our left is the village of Elmdon and to our right the village of Chrishall. We crossed the lane keeping the woodland on our right until we reached the fence paddocks of Hugo Lascelles Bloodstock situated in Elmdon, where we stopped for a coffee break. It was along this stretch of walk that John Wahlich remarked how easy it is to lose ones orientation on these walks and I remarked only a blind man could lose his way on this walk. After the coffee break to prove John’s point I had to eat my words. Instead of orientating myself I set off towards Pond Street before having to retrace my steps and turning towards Chrishall Holy Trinity Church. I have always done this walk the other way round but changed it to have a suitable break for coffee. With the private wood on our right we had a beautiful view across the undulating Essex countryside with Chiswick Hall on the far side of the B1039. This was the site of Flanders House, not that of the Simpsons, but that of Count Eustace of Boulogne, whose daughter Matilda married King Stephen. The remains of the fish pond and moat can still be found in the grounds of the house. On reaching the Church we crossed the church yard and descended to Church Road. The current flint built church dates back to the 12th Century. On crossing the road we followed the path up to Chalky Lane passed the hand pump which used to draw its water from the chalk aquifer, on to Hogg's Lane and the Red Cow and a pint of ale and a good meal. A pleasant and enjoyable stroll after all of the confinement. Jim Webb
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The weather prediction for the August walk promised rain from about 1.00pm and luckily it followed the script, with a substantial downpour occurring soon after we were ensconced comfortably in a marquee at the Fox and Duck in Therfield. Well maybe not quite so comfortably as a heater was turned on that proceeded to cook the occupants to medium rare until it was turned off after a request from the sweating diners. The walk was unusual in that it allowed options of 0, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 mile circuits. Only Sandra Scott joined Ray to walk the 2 miles from his house to meet everybody else, now totalling 8, at the F&D to set off for the 4 mile circuit - after the obligatory photograph of course. The walk started off north before joining the path following to the East along a ridge with spectacular views across miles of Hertfordshire as well as a vast expanse of Cambridgeshire. It is possible from a single spot on this ridge to see the tall transmitter aerial on Sandy Heath, Wimpole Hall and its folly, Ely Cathedral (some 34 miles away), a water tower (some 40 miles distant) in Littleport (Barbara Mitton’s birthplace apparently Littleport that is, not the water tower), lots of Cambridge including Kings College Chapel and Addenbrookes, Great Chishill windmill and Peter Homent’s and Neil Heywood’s houses. The only part of Royston visible is the tip of the 4 chimney stack in Johnson Matthey. Turning south we found our way to Reed End where, peeping over a high hedge, a cottage displayed a rather nice weather vane. We followed the road towards Dane End but turned west onto a footpath across the fields to Rooks Nest Lane. Here after a short southerly walk we once again turned west onto a footpath, Ray having been disappointed that a house that normally displayed several high performance cars, including a couple of Maclarens, was on this occasion merely offering an Aston Martin SUV. A further annoyance on this route was that in several places the farmer(s) had ploughed right up to the edge of the fields, leaving slightly difficult walking and no margin for wildlife. We followed various paths, hugging field sides until we skirted briefly through Kelshall and then back across to Therfield Church and from there onto the Fox and Duck, where we were joined by Tony, Kash and Di for a very nice lunch. Those choosing Sunday lunch were mostly defeated by the giant Yorkshire puddings. The rain deterred even Sandra and Ray from walking back to Royston and so only the 4 and 6 mile walks were completed. Words and Pictures by Ray Munden
The walking group waiting in anticipation
No photo can do justice to the view across Cambridgeshire
The Striking Weather Vane
15th August - President’s Hello
At last we were to have the President’s Hello, much delayed from the month of July when we normally have this highly anticipated event. The origins of the event are lost in the mists of time but it allows all Rotarians and their partners to meet the new president for the year in an informal setting. The setting this year was President Steve and wife Sue’s lovely garden situated in a quiet and secluded part of Royston and on a beautifully sunny afternoon. The event was very well attended and we all sampled the extensive array of drinks on offer. After much catching up among friends it was time to eat, alfresco naturally, and what a feast lay before us. Quite apart from the hard work of preparing the salads and cold meats by Sue and Steve, other Rotarians (or more often their partners) had also contributed to the feast. So we sat in the sun, contentedly chattering and munching away until it was time for the sweet courses - always the most anticipated part of any meal. Once again we were faced with delicious-looking sweet dishes (all ever so slightly fattening to the waistline!). With Steve serving out strong coffee to finish I think we can remember a really great meal in lovely surroundings and with like-minded friends, A big thank you to Steve and Sue, and to all the other contributors who had worked so hard in the preparation. Photos below (they automatically slide in at 8 seconds but you can use the arrows at each side of the picture to step forward or back at your own pace). Pictures Courtesy of Steve Higginbotham
8th August - Monthly Walk
31st August - Presentation to the Photographic Contest Winner
A highly talented young local photographer was recognised this week by Royston Rotary Club. President Stephen Higginbotham was delighted to present a certificate to Jack Kirby, aged 11, in recognition of his significant achievement. Jack, who lives in Foxton, reached the national finals of Rotary’s Young Photographer after earlier this year winning the junior category in a local contest organised by our cklub. He then went on to win at the district level (covering Herts, Beds and Bucks), securing entry to the national finals. Although he did not win nationally, his photograph, ‘Nature co-existing with Man’, which depicts a misty view of the church of St Laurence, Foxton, greatly impressed the judges with its quality and composition. He was told “many adults would have been proud to have taken it. You have the framing just right and a beautiful depth of field, with a spider’s web pin sharp and the church thrown out of focus to provide the perfect backdrop.” Presenting Jack with his certificate outside Foxton church (above), Mr Higginbotham congratulated him on his achievement and hoped that he would enter this year’s competition, which Royston Rotary Club will be launching soon.
1st September - President’s “Weekend”
The quotation marks above are intentional - it was decided that the much delayed President’s Weekend for past president Martin Berry would be held midweek for a change. This year the trip would be down to Wiltshire, near to Martin’s old stomping grounds and was meticulously planned by Jonathon Berks (with no doubt a lot of assistance from both Linda and Josephine). The Luxury Richmond’s coach picked us up in stages from Barley to Green Drift in Royston and we set off to Beaconsfield to visit the Bekonscot Model Village and Railway, claimed to be the worlds oldest original model village ( www.bekonscot.co.uk ). On arrival we met up with Graeme and Linda Dargie and David and Glynis Smyth who had travelled by car from Royston. We weren’t disappointed at Bekonscot, every facet of British life from the complete 20th century was there in miniature and in meticulous detail. And who can forget the tongue-in-cheek (if slightly corny) names of many of the miniature shops e.g. “Len D Cash, Pawnbrokers”, “Daily Reed, Newsagents” etc (See the picture gallery ). Back on the coach we travelled down to Great Missenden for lunch at the Cross Keys pub where we had pre-ordered our lunch selections, before wandering around the town itself for half an hour or so. We had originally wanted to visit the Roald Dahl museum in the High Street but they weren’t geared up to accept large groups whilst covid restrictions were still in force. Back to the coach which took us to the little village of Wroughton and the Alexandra House Hotel where we met up with Mike Taylor, ex Royston Rotarian, and his partner Ruth. That evening we all met up for a very pleasant dinner in one of the hotel’s function rooms. (See the picture gallery ). Thursday morning we all set off after breakfast to visit the village of Lacock ( www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lacock-abbey-fox-talbot- museum-and-village ). This picturesque Wiltshire village dates from the 13th century and nowadays is owned almost exclusively by the National Trust to maintain a very rustic charm. It won’t surprise visitors to know that it is a very popular filming location, Harry Potter, Downton Abbey, Cranford, Pride and Prejudice, to name just a few. In addition the village boasts Lacock Abbey, originally a 13th Century nunnery but with its upper floors converted for more comfortable country house living following the Dissolution. The Abbey is also home to the Fox Talbot museum, “Britain’s birthplace of photography”. (See the picture gallery ). Mid afternoon we set off back to our hotel via Avebury (stone circles) for a rest and a change of clothes before setting off in the early evening to the GWR Steam Museum ( http://www.steam-museum.org.uk/ ) in nearby Swindon. Here we were given a guided tour by an experienced old railwayman who was able to explain the beginnings of the Great Western Railway and Swindon’s central role in its development. We toured the exhibits, marvelling at the size of some of the steam engines, before having dinner in one of their function rooms. Eventually, back on the coach to return to our hotel well before 10pm. (See the picture gallery ). Friday, being our last day, we all checked out of our hotel to set off for Henley-on-Thames. Here we met up with our guide Graham, who walked us around parts of the town pointing out various bits of history. This town is evidently also a favourite place for filming, particulary scenes from Midsomer Murders, and Graham was able to point out various locations used in the many episodes. Once the walking tour was over we all boarded a pleasure cruiser from Hobbs of Henley for a two hour boat trip upstream and back, including traversing Hambleton lock. We were treated to a very acceptable buffet lunch on the boat so that we could see the sights passing by as we ate our food and listened to Graham describing points of interest. Having a licensed bar on the boat was a bit of a plus, too. (See the picture gallery ). Finally, we boarded the coach to return to Royston where we arrived safely about 5.30 having successfully negotiated both the M40 and the M25 on a typical Friday afternoon/evening. Special thanks to Jonathon (and his helper elves) for organising such a faultless trip - everything went like clockwork! (Word is that President Steve is also using Jonathon’s talents for his own President’s Weekend next year).
Group photo at GWR Museum
27th September - Results of Creative Writing Competition
The Rotary Club is delighted to have played a major role in overseeing Royston Arts Festival’s Creative Writing Competition. Winners have now been announced in the four categories and prizes of tokens for David’s Bookshops, Letchworth, have been distributed. Rotarian David Blundell, an organiser and judge, said: “The standards of entries were really high once again. It was very encouraging that so many youngsters in the 7-10 years group took part.” Carl Filby, Chair of Creative Royston, said: “Thank you to all those who entered the competition and congratulations to the prize winners. We would particularly like to thank Rotary and David’s Bookshop for their support. Together, they covered the cost of prizes amounting to £300.” Three judges from the world of literature and journalism, selected the following winners (full details can be found at http://www.creativeroyston.org/ ): 7-10 years Joint-Winner: Priscilla Tibenderana (9) New Life Joint-Winner: Nathan Tibenderana (7) Dinos and me Runner-up: Freya Johnson (8) The four heroes 11-14 years Winner: Genevieve Eaton-Banks(13) The Refugee 15-18 years Winner: Elizabeth Eaton-Banks (18) Phoenix Runner-up: Jasmine Brett(16) I’m a Were-What? 19+ Winner: Justine Blaydon. In the deep woods Highly recommended other entries Amelia Keen (8) Moving to Italy Edward Scales(8) A new person Darcey Brown (8) The girl who helped the world Imogen Clements(11) The heavens spoke to me
27th September - Results of Creative Writing Competition
1st to 4th October - A Kentish Adventure
The journey is part of the fun, they say. Not on a Friday during a national fuel shortage it isn’t, and not on a Monday when you’ve been stationary on the A2 for an hour trying to reach a 7 mile jam on the M25 (accident in the Dartford tunnel). What happened between these annoyances was luckily much more enjoyable. The club’s 2021 walking weekend took place in Kent. It was delayed a year thanks to the unmentionable, but it was well worth the wait. Peter Mitton had discovered our base: Knowlton, an estate not far from Canterbury, consisting of 1900 acres of farmland surrounding a splendid 18C mansion, with several buildings repurposed as holiday lets. Our home for the weekend was the biggest and finest of these; the 10 bedroom 17C Dower House. Well up the high standards of previous years, the handsome Jacobean pile was provided with all our basic needs (except, on occasions, hot water) and we arrived laden down with the rest. Everybody had contributed something: wine, beer, cheese, bread, a wonderful variety of cakes (thanks, all you Rotary bakers), sausages, potatoes, lamb chops, chicken, plus big dishes of pre-cooked curry and lasagne. We seemed unlikely to starve, nor to suffer from alcohol deprivation. After we settled in, it was off for supper in the pub at nearby Chillenden. Some brave souls even chose to walk there and back, no doubt getting in training for the next day’s trek, planned for us by John and Clarice. The scheme was to drive to nearby Deal, leave our cars at the station, then walk along the coastal path to Sandwich. From there we could catch a train back to our start point. I liked Deal; old fashioned and unpretentious, with quirky seaside teashops, Dickensian lanes, and a general air of 19th century cheeriness. Most of us obediently followed John to the end of Deal’s long and very windy pier and then (as is the way with piers) back again. Some people spotted a seal, and we all admired the town’s diverting roofscape as viewed from offshore. Then away to the north we went, sharing the stony path with many dog owners. Deal’s last villas on our left were succeeded by a golf course, with the steep pebble beach and the grey Channel always on our right. More nature notes: even more surprising than the seal were the two hardy middle aged ladies we spotted frolicking in the brown waves. A rare sighting for October. The gusty wind was strengthening at our backs and the clouds were gathering over the sea, but it stayed dry until we stopped for a break opposite the Yacht Club’s grand HQ. There, as we sipped our Thermos tea, the rain started. Hoods and my Rotary brolly went up, then off we trudged again, now with another golf course on our left - the prestigious Royal St George’s, where doubtless Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Jones once hunted for lost balls in the cruel rough. One of our number found two of them (lost balls, not golfers) while taking a discreet comfort break behind a bush. The path now left the coast and headed inland. We crossed the golf course, a typical links with hills and hollows, but mercifully dry underfoot thanks to the sandy soil. Soaking wet, we must have looked a little like Napoleon’s army retreating from Moscow, although there was no snow, and we didn’t have to eat any horses. The course then gave way to a long snicket (as we say in East Yorkshire) a narrow path overhung with briars, which continually snagged my umbrella until it collapsed and had to be chucked into a bin. I was soon as wet as everyone else. It seemed a very long way. Finally, the streets and houses of Sandwich appeared. We were cheered to spot two restaurants here, yards apart and both selling pizza. We split into two parties and crowded into both, greedy for Quattro Stagioni and toilets. Afterwards, warmer and a little drier, we emerged into the soaking streets and dashed through the rain to the station, where we bought our tickets from a machine, considerately placed outside the locked building and sited so that the drips from the roof fell on purchasers’ heads. It was like using a fruit machine; some people got one ticket, some two, and one lucky Rotarian got four. We all seemed to pay different amounts. But the train came soon, and it delivered us back to Deal in a very few minutes. It was still raining. Back at Knowlton, dry clothes replaced wet, and tea and more wonderful cakes made a good finale to a memorable walk. Someone’s fitness app said we had achieved 17,000 steps. That would be about 7 or 8 miles, though John assured us it was less. Miles seem longer in bad weather, but whatever the distance we had a truly enjoyable walk. There was certainly a sense of achievement in finishing it. Supper, taken round the Dower House’s enormous table, featured Kash’s chicken curry (plus trimmings courtesy of Jonathan) and Lyn’s lasagne. Both were splendid, as was what followed: Sandra’s bread pudding, Jo’s chocolate mousse, and Joan’s pear frangipani tart. Sunday was dry! We started the day with a visit to Goodnestone House and Park, which has a fine garden. We met the knowledgeable head gardener, Paul. He explained a little of the history of the place. Jane Austen was a frequent visitor. Her brother had married into the Fitzwalter family, who built the house and still live there. It’s now marketed for weddings and suchlike, so it would be ideal for another Rotary walking weekend. Three nights self-catering costs just shy of £10,000 in peak season. Well, perhaps not. After lunch, it was back to the coast again; this time to Walmer, south of Deal, a Cinque Port with a castle where Wellington died. A much more leisurely expedition, this one; we strolled along the coast path to Deal past innumerable ‘in memory of’ benches and fishing boats hauled up on the shingle, and then paid a visit to the town’s charming small museum, a lovely maritime jumble of pictures and models of ships and sailors and lifeboats, and long gone Deal shop signs. It was a bit like our Royston Museum; friendly, eclectic, and staffed by enthusiastic volunteers. Then we strolled back to Walmer again. Time to finish off that cake! The grand finale was Sunday’s barbecue. David Beardwell and President Steve, boldly wielding enormous tongs amid clouds of smoke, laboured over the modest Weber kettle in the courtyard, and there was salad and jacket potatoes to go with the grilled meats. How they produced so much on such a small barbie is a mystery, but it all tasted very good. John Wahlich’s signature ginger, cream and orange pudding made a ceremonial appearance afterwards, and was judged excellent. John and Clarice had produced quizzes, too, which entertained us in the sitting room after the meal, John’s featuring the fiendish standard of difficulty we’ve come to expect from him. As ever, Rotary fellowship kept us all smiling, Rotary cookery kept us very well fed, and Rotary management made sure nothing went wrong. Everyone who was there did something to deserve a big round of applause, and that, when you think about it, is what makes the world go round. What a weekend it was. Who cares about a bit of rain? We had a wonderful time. Words and pictures thanks to Neil Heywood. To see the photo album of the visit click here.