Scrapbook For The Rotary Year July 2022 to June 2023

Club of Royston
President: Peter Mitton
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28th June - President’s Handover
A lovely summer’s evening and what a fine turnout of Rotarians, partners and guests arrived at the beautifully landscaped East Herts Golf Club. Rarely do we see such a range of smart and colourful attire as when the Rotary Club of Royston says farewell to its outgoing president and in turn welcomes the incoming one. The evening started with general fellowship in the bar and on the terrace, where everyone could catch up with friends’ news in relaxed surroundings. Soon the call came for dinner and we all trooped in to the dining room to our allotted places amongst the six tables set out, each seating eight people. We were treated to a meal of three courses (which we had pre-chosen a week or so earlier) and this was followed by cheese and biscuits plus coffee. All in all a most enjoyable dinner. Following a short speech from outgoing president Steve Higginbotham, he handed over the chain of office to incoming president Peter Mitton. Peter also gave a short address at which he mentioned that it was exactly twenty years ago that he had previously been president of the club and, like the first time, his president’s charity for the year would be “Hope and Homes for Children. Steve’s wife Sue also formally passed on the traditional president’s lady’s Jewel to Barbara Mitton. Finally the formal handover of chains of office to the incoming vice president (Phillip Martin) and the incoming junior vice (Derek Pinner) took place. The formal business of the evening having ended allowed for a continuation to the general association with old friends. A great evening, great food and a beautiful setting. You can see all the photos of the evening by clicking here (courtesy of Neil Heywood).
9th July - A helping Hand for Ukrainian Guests
On Saturday 9th July the Rotary Club arranged for a small coach to take a party of Ukrainians living in the Royston area down to Cheshunt for the annual Kupala festival. The photo shows some of the party being seen off by Rotary President Peter Mitton. During a recent presentation to the Rotary Club by Anna Barnard of The Association of Ukrainians in GB she mentioned that most Ukrainians living in Royston would miss their Kupala festival this year. The Club immediately decided to fund a coach to send many of them to The Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Cheshunt so that they could still participate in this popular festival. Kupala symbolizes the birth of the summer sun and is a traditional Slavic holiday. It also celebrates both the festival of St John the Baptist and the summer solstice and involves a great deal of dancing and general high spirits. Anna reported that a great time was had by all.
10th July - A Closely Contested Treasure Hunt
Day started well with sun shining and factor 50 applied liberally two of our entrants later regretted their choices of open top vehicles however one of the cars felt much better when the results showed they had won ‘best car in show’ and the ‘consolation prize for having missed most clues! I understand the occupants of the other open top are both vying for the services of a certain Mr Sassoli but I am sure the situation will be amicably resolved. The briefing before the start of the Hunt had to be altered at the last moment when the ‘eastern’ Rotarians announced ‘Road Closure on A505 - sorry we’re late’. Little did they know that this seriously impacted the latter parts of The Hunt and yours truly had to think on his feet rather fast. Revised routing advised to all entrants!! Off they all went at irregular intervals from 10.15 onwards 10 cars containing 27 hunters. I erroneously had anticipated a leisurely morning before the return of the Hunters but no I had to check out this reported A505 closure before the planned Costa coffee revised routing given to the now departed teams would prove to be OK providing there was no unexpected activity in the environs of the Melbourn Co-Op. All proved well for most teams with only minor diversions evident from examination of their ‘declared’ mileages. I can only sing the praises of the technicians who have managed to squeeze air-conditioning into even the smallest of vehicles without it we would be minus several members with fatal heatstroke. Moving on, all 10 vehicles return to base at 81 Green Drift for the Lunch and the scoring of their efforts to solve the 32 puzzles that had been set by Dick Dastardly. Food and drink seemed to be more important to all assembled rather than the result and justifiably so as a splendid feast had been put on by the ‘band of sisters’. Whilst most were munching Ruth was crunching (numbers not celery) the outcome of which was that two teams answered all the posers correctly so the mystic mileometer of fate came in to play which penalised one team half a point and the other team three and a half points. The result was a win for Team “Summer Berries” comprising the Berrys and the Wahlichs with Team Smyth Solos (“first time I’ve ever done anything like this”) taking silver. Presentations on our improvised podium took place to the ‘successful’ teams, speeches were made, and we all went home. Words by Phillip (Quizmaster) Martin.
It was a scorching summer’s afternoon when 30+ Rotarians and partners descended on the home of President Peter Mitton and his wife Barbara. A great deal of preparation work had obviously taken place because there were tables and chairs set up all over the back garden plus some very welcome gazebos to protect us from sunburn. As we entered the garden an enticing aroma of sausages and burgers met our nostrils and we found chef de partie (Rotarian David Beardwell) brandishing tongs and spatula in a very professional way. But our first call was to the bar in one of the gazebos to collect a refreshing drink and find somewhere cool to sit and chat. And so passed a very pleasant Sunday afternoon with loads to eat and drink and to catch up with people we hadn’t see for a while. Much praise must go to all our Sports and Social team for organising the event, the the volunteers who had prepared some delicious dishes and sweets for us and finally to President Peter and Barbara for hosting us all. Thanks to all you guys, your hard work is much appreciated. The album below show some snaps taken on the day; they will automatically step forward every 8 seconds.
24th July - President’s “Hello”
31st July - Garden Visit and Afternoon Tea at Longstowe Hall
Rotarians gathered at Longstowe Hall one Sunday to experience the gardens and, a new venture for the Hall, sample afternoon tea. We were rewarded with almost perfect weather with a very comfortable temperature and, while rain had been threatened, it managed to hold off while we toured the gardens. The gardens are kept in wonderful order and have the most magnificent herbaceous borders leading down from the Hall to a large lake. This held special memories for Ray who remembered walking his daughter Becky down that avenue when she got married there, on a small island in the lake, 8 years ago. There is a rose garden, although most of the blooms had disappeared by the time we visited, which is in a lovely, balustraded courtyard where the stonework has been, and is still being, restored. There are some very striking, mature trees spattered around. We only explored the gardens but they lead onto an estate of 1000 hectares which the owners of the Hall use to support nature as well as being farmed. Following the exploration of the gardens we retired to the Squash Court café (what better place to ‘serve’ tea?), luckily though for a relaxing afternoon tea rather than hectic sport. The tea, comprising sandwiches and a quite tempting cake assortment which were supported by excellent and friendly servicewith endless tea refills if required. It was all very delicious and quite filling, indeed several people took doggy boxes home with them. It proved a very worthwhile visit but I think that we were grateful that we don’t have to look after such extensive gardens, just enjoy them. Words and photos by Ray Munden.
The Hall and the Magnificent Herbaceous Borders
The Rose Garden and the Lakeside
Afternoon Tea in the Squash Court Cafe
14th August - Monthly Walk
Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun and so too, apparently, do some English women. On Sunday morning, when the temperature was 25 degrees and climbing rapidly towards 35, and mad dogs were thinking “I might have supported Boris Johnson but I’m not going for a walk in this!” eight people set off from the Three Jolly Butchers in Houghton. In times long since passed, these people might have helped build an empire. With reckless disregard for their own safety and comfort this intrepid group of coffin dodgers set off for St Ives along a path cut by natives through a forest, their journey periodically broken by the terrifying call of “cyclists take cover!” after which they threw themselves into the ditches by the roadside. The group were led by two experienced foreign explorers. One of them, a Czech, never learned to read a map and drove the group on relentlessly, showing no concern for the members suffering from dehydration, sunstroke and exhaustion. The other, and Austrian, was kinder and made sure the group paced themselves and took regular breaks. After what seemed like an age, the group emerged into a clearing where they found a crossing over a river and some ancient dwellings. Here they found a native with all manner of exotic foodstuffs vanilla, raisins, caramel, salt, even rum and a very thin primitive bread in the shape of a cone. They bartered for this life saving food with little bits of plastic which the native seemed to value. After looking wistfully at the river if only they had a boat, the journey home would be so much easier, they set off back the way they came. The chatter of the journey out was replaced by an introspective quiet on the way back. The group reflected on what they had lived though and how they had survived. The heat was almost unbearable now, their water all gone and no food until they returned to the comfort of base camp and the happy butchers – if they were still there. As they approached base camp, one member of the group had to be rescued by the RAF. The others battled on and were welcomed as heroes by kindred spirits who, through infirmity or idleness, were unable to join the expedition. Words by Martin Berry. Photos by Bryony and Tony
3rd December - Decorating the Christmas Tree at St George’s Nursing Home
And no sooner than can we turn round it’s Christmas again and time to decorate the tree at St George’s Nursing Home in Royston. The Rotary Club have been undertaking this task annually for many years now but at one one we would install and decorate three trees around the building. Since the onset of the covid pandemic St George’s have asked us to install just a single tree and the Club has continued this tradition under the auspices of the Community Service committee. The Club’s best interior decorators eagerly volunteered for the task this year namely Vice President Phillip Martin and Rotarian Jean Green. Their labours were accompanied by grudging grunts of approval from two other Rotarian elves who were (ostensibly) assisting and the final result was amazing. Thanks must go to the St George’s team for the ample supply of hot mince pies and glasses of sherry.
7th December - Christmas Concert in aid of Hope and Homes for Children
A party of 19 Rotarians and their partners set off on a cold December afternoon to London by luxury Richmond coach to the annual concert in aid of Hope and Homes for Children. This is a charity which has been supported by the Club ever since 1998 when David Richmond was president. After grabbing an early supper in Kensington we entered the magnificent St Mary Abbots Church where the concert was to be held to hear the London Metropolitan Brass Band playing festive songs and carols from the choir stalls. The concert started promptly at 7pm hosted by the very personable Sarah Jane Mee (TV presenter and news anchor on Sky News) who introduced the programme from the pulpit to the packed audience in the church. . The programme consisted of performances by various pianists, readings and choirs plus the rather novel Christmas medley by the “Show of Hands”, a group of hearing impaired youngsters who used sign language to accompany the words and music. The performer and writer Mel Giedroyc (of The Great British Bake Off fame and a long supporter of the Hope and Homes charity) was the guest presenter of the Clifford Chance choir. This firm of lawyers is a long standing pro bono supporter of Hope and Homes and all the choir are regular employees and it has become an important part of the firm. Perhaps the highlight of the evening was listening to the beautiful young soprano Katie Marshall, singing haunting renditions of “We’re Walking In The Air” and “O Holy Night” which really suited the acoustics of that lovely old building . She had such a beautiful voice without any of the “throb and wobble” that often comes after interminable years of voice training. After the concert we were treated to glasses of wine with mince pies and gingerbread men which allowed us to chat and to admire the old church. Eventually we headed back to the coach where the driver obliged us with a tour around the West End to see the Christmas Lights. We eventually arrived back at a bitterly cold Royston at about 10.45pm to scrape the frost off our cars. Many thanks are due to David Richmond for organising the visit.
The London Metropolitan Band
Katie Marshall
11th December- Monthly Walk
A very cold and frosty morning for our December walk but a creditable thirteen caged animals - I mean hardy souls, turned up for this last walk of the year arranged by Jonathan. The walk was to be about four miles traversing the old Barrington quarry (now known as the CMEX Barrington Landfill Site because it has reputably taken many thousands of tons of spoil from the London Crossrail project). Sorry to say that your scribe only did a short walk of about one mile in the company of Linda since she had to get back to prepare the food for the ravenous walkers, but the main party did the full circuit (with only one inadvertent route change) before hurrying back to Jon and Linda’s house at Melbourn. We were joined by other Rotarians and friends to enjoy Jon and Linda’s hospitality with a range of hot soups, bread, puddings and, of course, alcohol. We all spent a very pleasant time catching up with friends. The only dampener on the occasion was hearing that Ruth Martin was at the Addenbrooke Hospital’s MIU having had a fall, both she and Phillip had been due to join our gathering. Many thanks to both Jon and Linda for arranging the December walk and hosting us all. Photos by Linda and Bryony. Stop press: Ruth not seriously hurt and no hospital stay was required.
17th December - Party for Ukrainian Children
As many of you know, Rotarian Peter Homent has been heavily involved in providing a Christmas party for local Ukrainian Children. On December 17th in conjunction with the Meldreth Ukrainian support group, a party was held in Meldreth Village Hall. This was well attended and gave the children and their mothers a little bit of cheer at a difficult time. Many had hoped to go home for Christmas, but the escalation in air attacks, along with a lack of electricity and water have forced them to remain apart from their loved ones. Local companies Hotel Chocolate and The Emissary Prosecco provided some festive cheer for mothers, while the Royston Rotary club provided presents for the children and refreshments for all. Sadly Peter came down with the dreaded Covid, which was particularly disastrous as he was to be Santa Claus. Martin Berry ‘willingly’ stepped in and Santa’s visit proved to be the highlight of the evening. Barbara and I attended what was a most enjoyable evening, with plenty of games and piles of food. Don’t mention musical chairs to Barbara!. Many thanks to Peer Homent for all his hard work which contributed to an excellent evening. Peter Mitton
8th January - Monthly Walk
A winter walk on a day like today under a cobalt blue sky and a hoar frost touching hedgerows and trees can be wonderful. Unfortunately a wet December meant that our walk on the 11th had to be curtailed to lunch in front of the fire at the Red Cow at Chrishall, which was enjoyed by all. It also brought the additional pleasure of an entertaining chat with Peter and Barbara who turned up on our doorstep because as non- diners I had failed to warn them the walk was off. The walk postponed and reorganised for the 8th January was more successful. The esteemed participants shown left having met at the highest pub in Cambridge walked out the back of the pub garden across land once used as the training ground for archers destined for past king’s armies and turned left towards,at 146m, the highest point in the village and Cambridge. Over the fence to the left of the playing fields, was the residence of Binkie Beaumont a renowned theatre producer, where he entertained the rich and famous in the 50’s and 60.’s Having crossed the playing field we turned west at the road and skirted around the southern edge of the Maltings, the site of the past malted barley manufacture and a second gay community in the village, to May Street and a residential property now a long-lost pub. Then down to the steps and on to the Great Chishill Windmill, one of only seven open post mills in the UK, enjoying beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. There have been mills on this site since 1592. The current mill renovated in 2011 so that it can turn on its centre post to face the wind dates back to 1819. Having partaken a coffee break in the dry we crossed the road and followed permitted footpaths to New Road and The Pheasant accompanied by the rain. Here we were joined by Mike and friend for a very nice lunch with convivial hospitality. Jim Webb
9th January - Visit to Altro Flooring, Letchworth
As you probably know we have a flooring expert (retired) in our midst, one Howard Peacock, who professionally was familiar with Altro Flooring, based in Letchworth, and suggested it as a potential visit for Rotary. And, so primed, Peter Ross expertly organised said trip. Now maybe you wouldn’t intuitively consider this an exciting opportunity, but in practice we were floored by the excellence of the visit. Altro is a family run business with a turnover of more than £100 million and yet gave an impression of being a small, benevolent company with a philanthropic bent. We were welcomed (after some of us fighting the entrance door) by Ron and taken up through some lengthy corridors, and quite a lot of stairs, during which we were made aware of the quality of the Altro products, displayed by the lovely floors and with a myriad of striking and glossy colours on the walls. We arrived in a very large and elegant conference room where there was tea and coffee and, for the weak willed (guilty!), chocolates and biscuits. We were then shown a video proudly extolling the history of the company, which celebrated its centenary in 2019. The video took us through decade by decade, and at quite some pace. I am a quick reader but couldn’t keep up, let alone manage to make accurate notes. It was fascinating though. It started purely as a flooring company and developed much improved flooring in terms of: aesthetics - gone were ghastly concrete floors safety - with non-slip surfaces for both dry and wet conditions durability. They also, as previously mentioned, extended their products into wall coverings so we walked through a kaleidoscope of colours. In 1974 they also bought the AutoGlym car care company that makes polishes for cars and is very familiar to the car enthusiasts amongst us. Why? Well they were next door! I jokingly asked if we would get some free samples and as we were about to leave we were each presented with a body care kit - so look out for some highly polished cars at future Rotary meetings. Altro received Royal approval in the 90s and 80% of their manufacturing is in the UK, although they market worldwide. A considerable proportion of sales are for floors in motor vehicles (buses, coaches, vans) and trains, including Pakistan and Thai rail. Also in the 1990s they realised that they needed to treat all their customers more individually and less corporately and so introduced a complete new ethos to their customer interface. We were then take on a tour of the manufacturing area by the highly enthusiastic Chris. Unfortunately for Chris none of the three production lines were functioning. One should have been but the backing material for the run tore and was being fixed while we toured. Proper production resumed just as we exited. Nevertheless the tour was interesting and the factory remarkably clean for the type of production. They try to minimise waste with even the edge trimmings being recycled. We were all surprised by the small number of people in the manufacturing area, good old automation!. Having walked what seemed about a mile with a lot of stairs to the conference room and then back down again to the manufacturing area we were very grateful when we ended next to a lift which whisked us back up to the conference room. Here a very tasty and generous buffet lunch awaited us. We were also joined by Sally who explained the company’s charitable foundation, run by her and a company director, and which is funded entirely from company profits. The foundation has a specific target of helping out with charities that provide health support to needy communities, both in the UK and abroad. They focus on one or two identified charities each year. We also found out that the company looks after their staff well and are considered good payers and give shares in the company to employees. The overall feeling was of a compassionate company, certainly successful commercially but with a very philanthropic conscience and as pointed out, and unusual these days, doing most of its manufacturing in the UK. It was capitalism as it should be. Incidentally they suffered a cyber attack recently which closed down production and meant all their lap tops and PCs had to be carefully vetted and reset. They still haven’t fully recovered. It must have cost them a fortune and they have no idea who carried it out nor why. What a shame for such a lovely company. So a brilliant day out and thanks to Peter Ross for organising it and Howard for suggesting it. Words and pictures by Ray Munden