Open Meeting reports from January 2014
December’s meeting was a great success and had it all, Children, Choirs, Mince Pies and a man with a red nose! A great time was had by all.
Here are some photographs taken at the meeting by Mike Johnson:
Click on any photograph above to start a slide show.
George Buchanan, descendant of the family which has owned Hodsock Priory since 1765, and current resident/general manager of the 800 acre estate, talked to us at the November Open Meeting. If you have visited Hodsock you may have looked for traces of the “Priory”, but there are none! The “Priory” was added to the name to give it importance as “Hodsock” by itself seemed an incomplete title for an estate.
As we walked into the Church for the talk many of us wondered at the visual aids, especially a dress maker’s dummy, a rather large, solid – looking suitcase and a cricket bat.
George gave his talk in very clear, lucid tones and everyone could hear all he said. His talk was entitled “Growing up at Hodsock”. Being the youngest of the family by quite a few years, he spent quite a lot of time alone. His favourite indoor activity was delving around the cob-webbed attic where he found the fine suitcase which he had brought to display. Inside were some extra- ordinarily well preserved, extravagant garments and a helmet worn by an ancestor at a party in Devonshire House, London, given to “outdo” one held by Queen Victoria. There are now only 3 such outfits in existence. This one has been documented to have been to India in the very case, which apparently has been an excellent storage facility. George showed us photos of his ancestor wearing the costume. By the way, have you guessed why George had brought along the dress maker’s dummy?
What about the cricket bat? Hodsock estate grows some of the finest willow, 100% ideal for making bats which are now in use world – wide. The one on show had been signed at a wedding event for which Hodsock is becoming increasingly recommended as George and his wife seek to diversify the estate, repair the property and preserve it for future generations.
Nowadays, of course, Hodsock is perhaps best known for its snowdrop display – several days between 31st Jan. and 1st March (weather permitting). George would welcome us there, and, by arrangement, we could also be shown round the house.
Members thoroughly enjoyed George’s talk, evidenced by the applause and interest in his photos, visual aids and the many individuals who wished to thank him personally for his informative and amusing talk.
For the Open Meeting in October we heard Gordon Gadsby talking about French Impressions. A mountaineer and a former member of a Mountain Rescue Team, Gordon took us on a wide ranging tour of France and Corsica, showing slides of cities, caves, harbours, rivers and numerous views of stunning mountain scenery. It was rather like travelling in Dr Who’s Tardis as we flitted through the Pyrenees, the Dordogne, Provence, Corsica, the Ardèche, the Camargue, the Vanoise and Honfleur. Gordon and his wife are obviously a widely travelled couple. At the age of 83, he is still planning trips to France.
The September Open Meeting talk was given by David Darby. The talk, entitled “It’s behind you” told the story of pantomime. The story was told in a very spirited fashion in the style of Pantomime from its early days and up to the present time recalling many of the greats such as Grimaldi the clown and Arthur Askey.
For the open meeting in August we had a presentation by local Historian Stephen Flinders. The talk was Catherine Crompton’s Diary. Jean Evans writes: In 1865 Catherine married a member of one of Derbyshire’s wealthiest families. From1867 till 1897 she kept a diary, but was there more to the story than first meets the eye. Stephen Flinders had researched this interesting question very thoroughly and told this story with much flair and wit, and we were able to see the actual diary. Catherine was an illegitimate child and brought up in poverty but she married a wealthy man. She had many children; there was sadness in the diary in the entries which detailed the loss of some of those children. When Catherine died she left £10million in her will. This wonderful lady had come a long way from the circumstances of her birth. We all enjoyed this telling of the history of the diary.
Before the July talk, we had a couple of special presentations. Our Chairman Liz Barnes, presented flowers to Mona Howarth (pictured left) who was celebrating her 90th birthday. Mona has been a member since Beeston U3A began and attends many groups and outings. The committee felt that such a significant birthday should not be ignored. Another significant birthday was being celebrated by our Speaker Seeker and Outings Organiser Lucy Beardsley, (pictured right) though I daren’t tell you which significant birthday or she will kill me! Lucy works hard for U3A and the Committee wanted to mark this special occasion.
The July speaker was Audiologist, Elaine Clifford, whose talk was entitled HEARING MATTERS. Mike Allery writes: Elaine commenced this interactive talk with a quiz about hearing statistics. Most members were surprised to find out that about 41% of people over 50 have some hearing loss and by the age of 70 the figure is about 70%. Furthermore, on average, it takes people with hearing loss about 10 years before they seek help. This appears to be a combination of not admitting they have a problem and the perceived stigma of having to wear a hearing aid. There was some interesting discussion about turning hearing aids into more acceptable fashion accessories as has been done for spectacles. A Kim’s game, with the objects displayed in unusual angles on a “fussy” background, was an excellent analogy of the difficulty in separating important sounds/speech in a noisy environment. The members interacted well during a question and answer session to air the problems and their possible solutions for the hard of hearing. The length of this discussion period demonstrated how well the members related to the whole subject.
Paddy Tipping, Police Commissioner, (pictured left with Heather Lowth) was our Speaker on 5 June 2014. He told us about his role and that he is now approximately half way through his term of office. Paddy covered aspects of his work and said how he would like things to move forward. He touched on the subjects of alcohol, drugs and abuse of women and the effect this could have on their young children. Paddy explained how the funding of Nottinghamshire police force was made up and how these monies were allocated to the best effect. It appears that this is a balancing act and difficult decisions have to be made. The closure of buildings and police stations in order to save money was also touched on. Paddy ended with a question and answer session where our Members were able to question him on areas of specific interest to them.
May 2014 – AGM
May of course was Beeston U3A’s third Annual General Meeting. We took the opportunity to mount a Groups Fair in order to celebrate the wide range of Interest Groups available to our members. Almost all of the groups were represented by their Group Leader or a member of the Group and we took over the whole of the Chilwell Methodist Church. Members were able to circulate and talk to Group Leaders and find out what some of the Groups do . After refreshments the AGM started in the Church. The Financial Report and Chairman’s Report were presented and, in the absence of any opposition, the committee (pictured left) were re-elected, except for Hazel Brooke and Jim Turner, who had decided to stand down. Chairman Liz Barnes expressed the Committee’s thanks to both Hazel and Jim. Hazel had been a committee member for one year and had made a valuable contribution to Beeston U3A. Jim Turner was a founder member of Beeston U3A, taking on the role of Groups Coordinator. Liz paid special tribute to Jim, saying “Jim has been the Group Coordinator since Beeston U3A opened its doors. In the early days he cajoled, persuaded and twisted arms to get folk to become Group Leaders. He was tremendously successful and many of those Group Leaders are still with us today. Without Jim’s hard work I feel we would not be such a successful organisation.”
We are very fortunate that Helen Stewart has agreed to follow in Jim’s footsteps and take on the role of Group Coordinator. Helen is well known within our organisation, leading both Art History and Writing for Pleasure, and as well as producing the Rolling Notices at the Open Meeting is our Vice Chairman. Helen is very hard working and will no doubt embrace her new role with her usual enthusiasm and efficiency. We look forward to another successful year.
Photographs taken at the meeting by Mike Johnson of the Photographic Group can be seen below:
April brought us a History talk described here by Breda Cooper. Breda writes “I looked forward to the talk by David Templeman on Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, and Bess of Hardwick, and I was not disappointed. These ‘Women’ were extremely powerful, each in their own right, and used that power both to advance and survive. This point David made very clear, and I’m sure that the majority of the people who stayed to listen probably knew quite a lot of the history of this period already, but it was such a treat to hear it from someone who told the story with all the intrigue and misfortune that surrounded these women. It was a very comprehensive talk and left us wanting more. Should David be asked back at any time in the future, I will be in the front row so as not to miss a word.”
In March we were taken on an Iron Age journey by Daryl Garton, a professional archaeologist. Sue Cotton writes “We moved back in time to an interglacial warm period 14000 years ago when hunter gatherers followed migrating herds of animals, thought to be moving across what is now the North Sea, on their way to calve on higher ground.
Ice Age Journeys is a heritage lottery funded project of community archaeology, investigating flint scatters found in Farndon near Newark, when the A46 was widened. So far only a small proportion of the site has been investigated and already 500 flints have been found. The volume found and the unusual open air setting (usually they are found in caves) makes this site of national and even international importance. Daryl had brought flints and antler and stone hammers for us to see and showed a film of the works and archaeological methods utilised on the site last summer. 2014 season starts again in May and Daryl encourages all to visit the site or better still come to take part; everyone is welcome, no previous experience is necessary.”
Beeston U3A has supported the HOPE food bank for the last couple of years. The committee decided that we would promote the food bank to remind folk about the bank and its ethos. So the TEN BOB BONANZA was born. In January we reminded the members attending the monthly meeting that we supported the food bank and did a display of items all costing less than Ten Bob – 50p!
At our February meeting Nigel Adams – the Director of the food bank (pictured) gave us a short talk about the organisation and how it works. It was very interesting to hear how vouchers for food are accessed and how families are supported with three days’ supply of food. The organisation also provides furniture, guidance with claiming benefits and personal counselling. The response to the Ten Bob Bonanza was wonderful. We had large quantities of food donated. Thank you to everyone who helped to make this event a success. We have since learned that after a few busy weeks of the usual business at the food banks and stocking two new satellites recently, their supplies of food have dwindled significantly. They are now in need of the following: Tomatoes, Fish, Biscuits, Juice, UHT milk, Tinned Spaghetti, Meat and Custard.
The main speaker at our February Open Meeting was local wildlife and wilderness artist Paul Dyson. The countryside around Farnsfield was the natural backcloth from which Paul drew his initial inspiration. He studied Art & Design at the Mansfield College of Art, taking up a career in Graphic Design and eventually took courage to work full-time on his research expeditions and paintings. Paul strives to capture the atmosphere of the environment and the beauty of the wildlife in his favourite medium of watercolour enhanced with gouache.
Meticulous observation and research are a priority, taking him to many beautiful and remote areas of the world from the British Isles, the Andes, Canadian Rockies, National Parks of America, Nepal, Africa and India.
Paul is also a gifted photographer. His presentation included stunning colour photographs of his expeditions to Everest, K2, the Annapurna Circuit and the Garhwal Himalaya India, where seven climbers died in the group ahead of Paul and his companions. We were shown delightful close up photographs of snow leopards, lions, mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, tigers and birds. It was of great concern to be told about the state of wildlife in general – most species down by 95% in the last 100 years. Paul also highlighted climate change and warned of the escalating disappearance of the world’s glaciers. Paul has received considerable public recognition nationally through exhibitions and has won numerous awards. Through his work he contributes towards many wildlife and environmental charities. To view Paul’s work go to www.pauldysonart.com
Members that are interested in Paul Dyson’s work can find his details below. Click on the picture to enlarge it.
We were entertained in January by Peter Hammond who talked on the macabre subject of Murder, Misfortune and Misery. Peter had become interested in reports of deaths and inquests whilst researching other issues. His talk centred on his findings in such documents as Inquest Records, Newspaper Archives and Parish Records. Peter described prevalent causes of death in Victorian times, such as children being burned by open fires, and ladies in crinoline dresses catching fire. Many died in accidents such as falling asleep when driving a cart, often as a result of being drunk, and falling in between horses and cart. Suicides were often recorded as the cause of death being lunacy. There were many instances of concealed births and mothers killing their babies because of the stigma attached to being unmarried. An excess of laudenum caused many deaths. Peter descibed how inquests were often held in local inns or taverns and presided over by the local squire. Maybe Health and Safety isn’t such a bad thing after all!!
Special Presentation – 500th Member
From small beginnings Beeston U3A has grown rapidly and we now have a membership of 500 plus and in January we welcomed our 500th member Geoffrey Cawthorne. To mark this very special occasion Liz Barnes, Beeston U3A’s Chairperson, presented Geoffrey with a year’s free membership at the monthly Open Meeting on Thursday 2 January. Liz welcomed Geoffrey and said his joining represented a very important milestone in the development of Beeston U3A.
Geoffrey from Wollaton was looking for a friendly group of walkers so he could get some more exercise. A friend advised him to join a local U3A. After some research in his local library, he decided to come along and join one of the regular walking groups in Beeston U3A.