News and views
Rotary Club of Gloucester Severn
Looking ‘Back’ and ‘Forward’
A cold but fine October day at RAF Cosford
enabled all to move at their own pace
between hangers to view the amazing collection
of planes and equipment on display. I had visited
in the past but it is a very impressive modern
museum. The next event was competitive: the
tenpin bowling proved once again that it is
obviously not my forte! The visit to the Everyman
Theatre was a revelation to us all, in particular to
stand on stage and see the architecture of the
auditorium from a different aspect. Our mixed
company enjoyed a more than adequate buffet in
Matcham’s afterwards. We continue to have
excellent speakers on a variety of subjects at our weekly meetings; Jeff Dawson has
done us proud! Improved attendance at our weekly meetings could see his efforts
It was great to welcome so many members to ‘Yew Trees’ for the President’s Drinks.
The Frost/Paterson combination and their ladies proved themselves as great
organisers and providers for everyone’s needs. The house seems very quiet now!
Thanks to everyone who made it possible and such a good informal social occasion.
I have no doubt that the Club Christmas Dinner will be equally enjoyable and that
the Bowden Hall staff will look after us, as they have throughout the year.
Derek Thomas and I went over to Sue Ryder to be shown round in advance of our
proposed donation from the proceeds of the Sporting Dinner event. Steve Markham,
Adrian Smith and myself then had a most informative visit to the Thirlestaine Breast
Centre. A Consultant and a Specialist Radiotherapy Practitioner gave a demonstration
of the advantages of the new facility. The new equipment creates images revealing
suspected tumour areas with greater clarity and then controls the directing of a
biopsy needle to the area under scrutiny. Sometimes a small tumour can be excised
completely without further surgery. This project was the Charity of choice in Steve’s
year and, after a little delay, has been satisfactorily concluded.
For the future there has been much background deliberation which culminated in
establishing a list of members willing to secure the Club’s future for the next few
years by taking on the task of President. Then a special Council meeting was called
to discuss views on recruiting new members to the Club and Jeff Roberts has
undertaken the job of coordinating this vital project. We need all members to give
2020 beckons with more opportunity to serve both our local community and further
afield. I can only thank the Council and Members for their support in my first six
months and trust you all have a great Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.
B y the time you read this Christmas and the
General election will all be over and we shall
be in another year, and the world may be a
My “jaunts” did not get off to a good start as
nobody was very enthusiastic about going to the
gallery at Upton Bishop and lunch at “The Moody
Cow” and the event had to be cancelled.
However, the Resuscitation and Defibrillation
evening at Myra’s was very popular. Perhaps this
reflects our advancing years and concerns about
health issues: or maybe the reputation of our
speakers, Sue and David Bruce was the attraction
coupled with the venue being Myra’s lovely house.
I must say we all seemed to enjoy crawling around the floor resuscitating the
mannequins and being taken through the procedure step by step. We are very
grateful to Myra for hosting the evening and also to our treasurers who sanctioned
the payment for the hire of the mannequins from the Charity fund - not forgetting a
big thank you to Sue and David for giving up their evening to train us so well.
It has been quite a revelation to me since being more involved as “President’s Wife”
just how much organisation goes on behind the scenes, and how much we have been
helped and backed by the Secretary, Treasurers, the Social Committee and their
wives. This was very much brought home to me this last weekend in our own house
at the President’s Drinks when so many people were involved in bringing in the food,
arranging it and handing it all around. Likewise the bar was expertly set up in the
garage and drinks efficiently dispensed.
Special thanks must go to Gaynor and Mike and Sheila and Bob and their teams of
helpers for completely taking over the kitchen and giving Mike and I the opportunity
to socialise and enjoy ourselves. When everybody had gone you would never have
believed that seventy people had been in the house eating and drinking. There was
very little clearing up for us to do and my emergency kit for dealing with red wine on
a cream carpet was unused!
The ladies also enjoyed another “Afternoon Tea” - this year at Hatton Court Hotel
where we sat in the late afternoon sun enjoying the lovely view and, as usual,
chatting. Pauline Sugdon has organised this occasion at several different venues for
some years now and we are all very grateful to her for doing so.
The next event is the Christmas Dinner on December 18th and we look forward to
seeing some of you then. If not, we wish you a very Happy Christmas and Best Wishes
for the New Year!
Oh Yes He Did!
Cover photo: Mike explores his feminine side during our tour of the Everyman Theatre
Life at BBC Points West
2 October 2019
Tonight, we enjoyed a very enjoyable and
engaging talk from the Steve Knibbs of BBC
Points West fame, although there were some
club members whom claimed to watch ITV News
and not recognise him. God forbid! Some
members even admitted to reading the Daily
Mail which did not impress Steve, probably due
to their frequent stories about the BBC.
A Gloucester man born and brought up in
Tuffley, who attended The Crypt School before
popping off to University and then returning to his hometown, although he now
lives with his wife and family in the posh suburb of Gloucester called Cheltenham.
He started by saying he was going to break a few myths about being a TV reporter
- now didn’t we all think they were chauffeur driven and always had a makeup lady
to hand? Apparently not, he does his own makeup. On a more serious note he
stressed he was not told what to say and investigated and wrote all his own
journalism, in an independent and informative way. Clarification was also made
of his job title ‘Reporter’ not ‘Correspondent’ the later specialising in a particular
area of news and the other key difference between the two being the £30,000
salary difference, about which he wasn’t obviously bitter about at all.
His first foray into the industry he now works in was at the age of 16, was when he
called the newly built Radio Gloucestershire in 1988 and asked to come for a look
round. They bit his hand off and asked him to pop in and take some dummy phone
calls before the station launched. He obviously impressed as they took him on to
do it for real, albeit for free. After 9 months the BBC felt guilty and actually paid
him, the grand sum of £5 a day. After graduating from University he returned and
got a staff job with the BBC as a reporter. Whilst doing this the opportunity arose
to take on a presenting role and he couldn’t believe it when, at the tender age of
23, he actually got the job to present the afternoon show on Radio Gloucestershire.
This only lasted a year as a new boss came along and thought he was too young to
being broadcasting to people the average age of our club members!
He then took the opportunity to go into news and worked in Swindon as a news
reporter for Radio Wiltshire and on his first day, one of the biggest stories of the
year broke with the Paddington rail crash. This made a huge impact on his decision
to pursue working in news as, although not a pleasant news item, it was the ever
changing and frantic nature of the work that he found exciting. After doing that
for a while it was time to do something he said he’d never do, work in television.
He went on a ‘TV conversion’ course, which apparently isn’t as painful as it sounds!
Life at BBC Points West (continued)
He was surprised at how strange it was going from radio where your face is
anonymous to being on TV, where people recognised you in the supermarket.
2006 was when he returned to our screens in Gloucestershire as the Gloucester
reporter, replacing Graham Gardner - and he’s being doing it ever since He believes
it’s a real privilege and the day he stops thinking that, he’ll pack it in.
Steve went on to explain that a typical day starts at 8:30 am and usually finishes
around 7 pm. The first thing he does in the morning is to source a story for the day
and suggest it to the editors. They then choose which one they want to go for and
it’s Steve’s job to find the people to interview and convince them they want to be
on the box, which isn’t always easy. Then, if they agree, it’s just Steve and his
cameraman to go and film it, no big production crew. He then edits all his own
material on his laptop wherever he is and gets it ready to be broadcast, for either
the lunchtime news or more typically the evening Points West News. This is has
all made easier with the advent of a complete digital system with the video and
sound recorded together onto SD cards.
It’s not all Gloucester based as he has had the chance to go up to the bright lights
of London for the BAFTA awards to interview the stars of ‘This Country’. Daisy May
Cooper was particularly memorable in a dress made from bin bags! It was an
experience, but Steve prefers to be in and around Gloucester and Cheltenham.
He finished with some “bloopers’ from his showreel, which generated quite a few
laughs from the club members and ladies.
One of the most interesting questions, raised at the end by Richard Sugdon, was
why we don’t get Points West in glorious HD or even 4K. Steve explained we still
get it in blurry standard definition and that frustrates him as it is all filmed and
edited in HD. The reason, money (or rather the lack of it). There are eleven BBC
regions that would all need refurbishing at a huge expense, but no date has been
set yet. It annoys his cameraman even more as he spends all take taking beautiful
shots and then gets to see them all looking out of focus in blurry standard definition.
It was a very enjoyable evening and the attending club members and ladies enjoyed
it very much.
Many happy returns this coming quarter to:
Richard Allison 1 January David Threlfall 10 February
Peter Harris 4 January John Bowman 14 February
Simon Owen 7 January Michael Holyoake 20 February
John Jameson 11 January John Cresswell 23 February
Roger Hart 20 January Chris Brent-Smith
31 January Martin Odell 10 March
Steve Markham 6 February Phil Witcomb 17 March
Jerry Ballinger 22 March
Visit to the Royal Air Force Museum
9 October 2019
About two dozen of us arrived very promptly at RAF Cosford. Despite both David
Bruce, who had organised the outing, and our own Sat Navs advising us that the
journey would take about 90 minutes, most of us had distrusted the M6 but were
still left with ample time for coffee and a stroll around before we commenced out
guided tour of the Cold War hangar.
Mick, our group leader, had spent many years in the RAF as an airframe fitter, at
RAF Leuchars, the Far East and elsewhere, and recounted a variety of anecdotes
to us during out walk around. There are a lot of aircraft to see in this atmospheric
hangar, giving a very broad history of the period.
After another refreshment stop we were able to browse around all of the exhibits,
tracing the history of the RAF from its beginnings, and also including some WWII
aircraft from Germany and Japan.
There is only so much that can be absorbed in a single session, so although this was
not my first visit, I was still left with the feeling that I will go again in the future to
take in more of the Cold War background that is so well displayed.
Many thanks to David for organising our visit.
More from the RAF Cosford Visit
Leckhampton Court Hospice
Sue Ryder was our nominated ‘headline
charity’ for the 2019 Sporting Dinner,
and, prior to our making a significant
donation from the funds raised, Mike Till
and Derek Thomas made a familiarisation
visit to the Leckhampton Court Hospice on
We met Elise Hoadley, the Hospice Director, who told us that Leckhampton Court serves
the whole of Gloucestershire and is the only inpatient hospice in the area. The ‘Day
Hospice’ provides planned care and a ‘drop in’ service for counselling, physiotherapy,
occupational therapy and use of other facilities. In addition to the on-site daycare
services they have established “Hospital at Home” units staffed by community nurse
specialists, as distance to the hospice is a barrier for some patients and visitors. The
rural location is a delightful environment, but it is nowhere near to a bus route. The
travel problems are reduced by having their own minibus.
The 16-bed inpatient facility has an ‘open door’ policy and cares for patients with a
variety of illnesses, not solely cancer as is often assumed. 40% of patients have major
progressive neurological problems, and it has been noticed that, statistically, there is
a higher rate of motor neurone disease in Gloucestershire than the average. There is
no age restriction and all services are free to the patient.
We were shown around the inpatient and daycare buildings by fundraising managers
Charlie Homer and Alysia Cameron-Price and we were impressed by the peaceful and
pleasant ambiance, despite the purposeful business of being a busy hospital.
The hospice survives through the support of
250 volunteers covering many areas including
administration, maintenance, patient support
and the extensive garden area. The NHS
contributes to the hospice costs, however the
contribution has not been increased for ten
years and so these funds have fallen from 60%
to 30% of the annual income they need to
maintain their service. The cost of providing
the services, including those contracted
through the NHS continues to rise, leaving the
gap to be filled by an increasing amount of With Charlie Homer outside the Day Hospice
Beyond ensuring that the existing services are maintained, the priorities for
improvements are to refurbish bathroom facilities and to improve the use of available
space in the building. The attractive chapel is perfect for use as a ‘Sacred Space’ for
all faiths and those just seeking a quiet area; however it is presently the only area large
enough for meetings and training sessions. Plans are in hand to create a separate space
more suited to these purposes.
Mike Till and Derek Thomas
Success in Nigeria
Many of us are old enough to
remember what a scourge polio
was until the early 1950s when Jonas
Salk’s vaccine became available and the
disease began to be eliminated. I still
remember frightening pictures in the
1960s of vast rooms filled with iron lung
machines like the one on the left.
Polio has now almost been eradicated in the world, due in no small part to the
work of Rotary’s End Polio Now programme, whose efforts are supported by the
Bill Gates Foundation. However, there remain a few countries where it is still
endemic - one of which was Nigeria.
End Polio Now organised a World Polio Day on 24 October to raise awareness and
funds for the continuing battle to eliminate this dreadful disease across the world.
Before the event took place we received the following message from Michael K
McGovern, who is the International Chair, giving us good news of significant
progress having been achieved in Nigeria. Michael writes:
“I’m pleased to share the important news that as of today, 21 August 2019, it has
been three years since a child in Nigeria was paralysed by the wild poliovirus. This
means that the entire World Health Organization (WHO) African region could be
certified as wild poliovirus-free as soon as mid-2020.
Along with our Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners and the Nigerian
government, we’ve strengthened immunisation and disease detection systems, and
we are now reaching more children than ever in some of the hardest-to-reach places
We can take pride in this progress, but it is not time to celebrate quite yet. We still
have work to do and we must continue making it a priority to reach every child in
Nigeria - and other polio-threatened countries - with the polio vaccine, and build
strong levels of immunity to fully protect the entire population against polio.
In part because of the hard work and dedication of Rotarians in Nigeria and around
the world, we will soon be able to check another country off of the polio-endemic
list. Rotary members in Nigeria have been hard at work raising awareness for polio
eradication, advocating with the government and addressing other basic health
needs to complement polio eradication efforts, like providing clean water to
After the African region is certified wild poliovirus-free later next year, five out of
the six WHO regions in the world will be considered polio-free. As the first
organization to dream of – and promise to deliver – a polio-free world, Rotary is
committed to fulfilling our promise. Our progress in Nigeria is a big step toward
that goal, but we need to maintain momentum so that Pakistan and Afghanistan
see the same level of progress.
I look forward to joining with Rotarians as soon as mid-2020 to celebrate a wild
The annual tenpin bowling challenge went
well and was an enjoyable evening as
always. Even our President had a go,
although he struggled a bit at the beginning.
It’s always a bit embarrassing when the
organiser of an event wins, but I did try very
hard to lose in the second half of the game, with Bob Paterson and
Dave Threlfall coming up quickly on the rails.
After the game, we adjourned to the Wheatstone pub across the way
for a nightcap and to put the world to rights ………
As I had a small space to fill I thought I’d tax your brains a little bit. Below are some cryptic clues to a
few towns and villages in Gloucestershire. How many can you work out? The answers are on page 23
1. A good place to rest your head 6. Disney’s above this Welsh city
2. Lower the electric current on the leg joint 7. Welcome
3. A fish 8. Inter the French head
4. Forester’s jacket 9. Greater weight in the mire
5. Pub’s value 10. Wade across here
- 10 -
District Governor’s Visit
30 October 2019
Judy and her husband, Dave, are
members of the Fishponds and
Downend club and she is the third female
Rotarian to become our District Governor.
She had attended many Rotary club events
with her husband and had often said: “why
don’t you do it another way” - the upshot
of which was that she was invited to join!
Judy presents a Certificate of Appreciation to Mike Judy then worked her way through various
recognising our support of Foundation in 2018-19 posts within her club before taking up a
number of appointments in District and eventually being elected as District Governor.
She gave some background information about the RI President, Mark Maloney, who is
a lawyer in Alabama, and told us that this year’s ‘motto’ was ‘Rotary connects the
world”. The aim is to strengthen clubs and give the best possible experience to retain
membership, as quite a proportion of new members resign within the first three years.
We need to encourage new or prospective members to be engaged and involved,
allowing them to use their personal skills and interests to advantage.
Within the District membership has dropped somewhat (two clubs have closed) but is
now on the rise again due to the advent of Satellite and eClubs. Clubs should work
together on projects. Rotary’s service in the community is vital to support many who
have suffered due to austerity.
Judy told us about her personal background, first working in Social Services and also
in the Benefits section, before working with her husband in their financial services
business. Together they have raised four children and have now retired and live near
She then took some questions and addressed one or two members’ worries about the
Judy’s presentation was encouraging and it was good to see her socialising with
members afterwards. We found her outgoing and excellent company and we are sure
that she will fulfil her
duties to everyone’s
Right: Judy presents the
District Skittles Plate to team
captain Roger Barrett and the
other members of the team
- 11 -
6 November 2019
We were entertained once again this evening
by Maria Lees, ably supported by her
husband David (IT matters and time control),
speaking on the subject of the Russian Oligarchs.
She explained that the term "oligarch" derived from
the Ancient Greek oligarkhia meaning "the rule of
the few". The Russian oligarchs are businessmen
of the former Soviet republics who rapidly
accumulated wealth during the period of
“perestroika” in the 1990s.
They initially emerged as business-sector entrepreneurs under Mikhail Gorbachev
(General Secretary 1985–1991) during his period of market liberalisation. Maria had
assembled a number of unflattering photos of the main protagonists and provided
details of their dubious and often corrupt methods.
During the early stages of Gorbachev's perestroika many Russian businessmen
imported or smuggled goods such as personal computers, women’s underwear and
perfume into the country and sold them for huge profits.
During the 1990s, the oligarchs emerged as well-connected entrepreneurs who started
with nearly nothing and became rich through participating in the market via
connections to the corrupt, but elected, government of Russia during the state's
transition to a market-based economy. The so-called voucher-privatisation programme
enabled a handful of young men to become billionaires, specifically by exploiting the
vast difference between old domestic prices for Russian commodities (e.g. gas, oil) and
the world market prices. The oligarchs became extremely unpopular with the Russian
public and Maria’s view of their dealings also reflected this perception.
Between 2000 and 2004, Putin apparently engaged in a power struggle with some
oligarchs, before reaching a "grand bargain" with them. The bargain allowed them to
maintain their powers, in exchange for their explicit support of - and alignment
with - Putin's government. Many more business people have become oligarchs during
Putin's time in power, often due to their personal relationships with Putin; such as
Vladimir Litvinenko, the rector of the institute where Putin obtained a degree in 1996,
and Putin's childhood friend and judo-teacher Arkady Rotenberg. However, other
analysts argue that the oligarchic structure has remained intact under Putin, with Putin
devoting much of his time to mediating power-disputes between rival oligarchs
The wealth of the oligarchs has led to their buying homes in upmarket districts of
London and an influx of them into the United Kingdom. There have also been well
publicised purchases of luxury yachts, football clubs and newspapers.
Maria concluded with some general views on the current political state in Russia, its
impact on the USA and the UK and provided a lively response to various questions
raised by the audience.
- 12 -
History of Aviation in Gloucestershire
13 November 2019
Our speaker, Barry Simon, was an aviation fan
right from an early age when, as a young boy,
he would try to cadge rides at the local airfield. He
then joined the RAF and served for over 35 years,
finishing his career as a Wing Commander.
Although he was not a pilot in the RAF, he has held
a pilot’s licence for many years and still continues
to fly whenever the opportunity arises.
Gloucestershire has been involved in aviation since
its inception. The Montgolfier brothers flew their
first dirigible at Annonay in November 1783 and only
three months later Caleb Hillier Parry launched a similar balloon from Bath. Parry’s
friend, Edward Jenner of vaccination fame, wanted to try the experiment himself, so
Parry and Jenner launched a hydrogen balloon from Berkeley Castle in September 1784.
It originally flew ten miles east before coming down at Kingscote where they refilled
and re-launched it. It then flew north, finally landing at Birdlip. This event is
commemorated in the naming of the Air Balloon pub in the village.
Amazingly, the first successful parachute jump in England was made by John Hampton
into Montpellier Gardens, Cheltenham on October 3rd 1838.
In 1910 a powered airship was launched from Montpellier Gardens, headed for
Gloucester where it circled the Cathedral tower before flying on to Cardiff.
In July 1911 the first plane landed in Gloucester on St Catherine’s Meadow; and in 1913
over 7,000 people turned out to watch an Australian pilot land his Blériot monoplane
In 1915, the Cheltenham woodworking company H H Martyn & Co started building
fuselages before progressing to constructing whole aircraft. By 1917 they had become
one of the main manufacturers of aircraft in the country and formed the Gloster Aircraft
Company. By the end of World War I GAC had built over 200 Bristol fighter planes, as
well as many other aircraft.
In 1928, GAC built a new factory at Hucclecote, and in 1931 held their first air show.
Staverton airfield opened in 1936.
By 1937, the factory had built over 750 Gloster Gladiators and, by this time, Dowty
were making the undercarriages. The Smith’s factory opened the same year.
During World War II, Typhoons and Hurricanes were built at Brockworth, followed by
Meteor jets. The Gloster Javelin was built at the new factory at Moreton Valence.
Overall the Gloster Aircraft Company produced over 6,000 planes before it merged
with Armstrong Whitworth in 1961 and eventually was subsumed into BAE.
Barry had given us a very enjoyable and informative talk, and after a few brief questions
was given our usual thanks.
- 13 -
Doddo Defiled: Tewkesbury’s
History Bulldozed For The Kremlin
20 November 2019
This evening we welcomed John Dixon, a
retired teacher and the author of a number
of historical books and publications on
Tewkesbury. He is also the Life President and a
very active member of Tewkesbury Historical
Society. Originally from Grimsby he moved to
Gloucestershire in the seventies for work and
spent some time teaching at Oxstalls School in
Gloucester before moving to Tewkesbury School
in 1983, where he was Head of History until his
retirement in 2001. He was ably assisted in his presentation by Jan Nattrass, also
a member of Tewkesbury Historical Society and a former teacher at the School.
John’s talk concentrated on the redevelopment that occurred in Tewkesbury’s
Upper High Street in the 1970s where a 'historic' part of the town was demolished
to make way for a new shopping precinct. He likened this development to many
in the country, including Gloucester, where the heart of towns was bulldozed for
He had many old photographs showing the buildings that had graced the Upper
High Street before the new shopping area was built. Medieval buildings were
behind a more recent and pleasant façade - but all were destroyed. Locals refer
to the new development as the "Kremlin", although John argued that this epithet
did the Kremlin an injustice as that is a significant
worthwhile building and felt that a monolithic
slab like the Lubyanka Prison was a better
He referred to two groups, the "Progs" who
wanted the scheme in the name of “Progress”
and the "Meds" who resisted the scheme in order
to preserve our medieval heritage. The “Progs”
were personified by the Town Clerk at the time,
Kenneth Smale, and the “Meds” were
represented by local author, John Moore, the
writer of “Portrait of Elmbury”. The plan to
demolish the Doddo Restaurant (pronounced
locally as "Dodo"!) particularly galvanised local
people and prompted them to form the Civic
Society whose aim was (and still is) to prevent
the wholesale destruction of the town's Historical
- 14 -
Doddo Defiled - continued
The Doddo Café was a Tudor-style building, the site of which, since 2015, has been
occupied by a nondescript Lloyd’s pharmacy. In 1931 it was known as Penfolds
restaurant and in the post-war era it was a favourite cafe for the better off and
perhaps that is one of the reasons why the proposal to demolish it to make way
for the shopping centre caused such uproar. Its demolition also involved the
removal of two of the famous Tewkesbury alleys.
The background to the development lay in the early 1960s when Tewkesbury
Borough Council became concerned about the long-term viability of its existence
as an independent local authority and embarked on a bold plan to expand the town.
Talks took place with Birmingham exploring the idea of Tewkesbury becoming an
overspill town for the city. The Council viewed the proposed shopping precinct as
a major attraction. Kenneth Smale and the “Progs” won this battle and the
development went ahead. But since that defeat the “Meds” have slowly won the
long-term war and now Tewkesbury greatly values its heritage.
John gave us a fascinating account of the controversy surrounding post-war
development which has also been reflected in other market towns throughout the
Acknowledgement: the photo of the Doddo Café and the earthmover used by kind permission of the
Tewkesbury Historical Society
Tuesday, 19th November saw twenty Rotary wives and partners
descend on Myra’s house to learn what to do should we ever need to
carry out CPR or use a defibrillator. The evening had been suggested
after Rotary had purchased a defibrillator to be kept at Bowden Hall
and it was felt it would be a good idea if we knew how to use one
should any of us ever be called upon to do so.
David and Sue Bruce had bravely offered to teach us the basics and
first showed us a short slide show giving the essentials; the first
of which was to call for help, then to check for breathing, to
commence resuscitation, if necessary, and, finally, to put the patient
into the correct recovery position.
They then demonstrated the correct techniques and we were then
split into two groups to try it ourselves. Everyone was amazed at
how tiring CPR is and I think many of us felt that by the time
paramedics arrived we might also be in need of their assistance!
I was surprised how simple the defibrillator is to use and also how
small it is. I had expected something much larger.
This was an informative and entertaining evening and I think everyone
felt they had a better understanding of what to do in an emergency,
a skill that, hopefully, none of us will need to put into operation.
We are lucky as a Club to have so many medical personnel amongst
us and our thanks to David and Sue for such an informative evening
and to Myra for hosting us.
- 15 -
All’s well that ends well!
I won’t bore everyone with the
“whys and wherefores”! Yes, it
took a long time coming, but
finally the Vacuum Biopsy
Machine that we helped to fund
through our Sporting Dinner a
couple of years ago is now in situ
at the Breast Clinic in
Cheltenham - and mighty
impressive it is too!
Adrian, President Mike and
myself journeyed over there to
see it, hear what it can do (don’t ask me, ask Mike!) and we left knowing
that we will be helping the, on average, 30,000 patients the Clinic attends
to each year - their borders of
operation stretch throughout
Gloucestershire and out to
Chepstow and the South Cotswolds.
As you see, a very impressive board
has been put up outside the
treatment room acknowledging our
donation, so well done Club! For me
it’s a job well done and, at last, a
very satisfactory outcome!
Greetings from Chelsea
No, not that one! This Chelsea is a bayside suburb
of Melbourne, Australia roughly 20 miles south-east
of the city centre.
Michael Martin is a member of their Rotary Club,
although he originally hails from Tewkesbury. He
is over here for three months visiting family and
came to John Dixon’s talk about the despoiling of
Tewkesbury town centre.
Michael brought greetings from his club and from
its President, Stan Paull, before presenting our Mike
with a banner. Mike reciprocated the good wishes
and promised to send on a banner once we had
found our stock! I’m pleased to report that we have
since unearthed a hidden hoard of fifty of them, so
we will, hopefully, always have one to hand in future!
Fortunately, Michael was able to join us for the Everyman visit a couple of weeks later and this gave
the President the chance to present one of our newly-discovered banners to him.
- 16 -
Mental Health and
Alexandra Wellbeing House
27 November 2019
Hazel Howe, CEO of Swindon and
Gloucestershire Mind, gave us a
comprehensive presentation on the current
state of local mental health. Suffice it to say
that things are far from well, with the NHS
struggling to deal with a continual rise, year on
year, in mental illnesses. This situation is
compounded by the great shortage of mental
health nurses upon whom much treatment
depends. Treatment itself being very time
consuming and inevitably on a one-to-one basis.
The good news is that the staff at the
Alex are able to do this as they currently
have five bedrooms in use. Guests
usually stay for two weeks’ respite from
the normal daily grind, in a non clinical
safe space and altogether comfortably
different world. Hopefully, this either
allows them enough time to recover
sufficiently to avoid hospital admission
or provides respite on discharge from an
acute hospital unit. All guests have to be
referred by GPs or hospital staff, and are
then assessed; usually to enter the Alex
a few days later. The Alex’s staff are the
stable individuals who keep this miracle
going as there are no in-house medics, Alexandra Wellbeing House
nor prescribing of drugs. Self-harming is on the rise locally and the Alex deals with
The Alex opened in April 2017 in partnership with the NHS 2gether Trust, who own
the house. This is a completely fresh new start in Gloucester for Swindon and
Gloucestershire Mind, who only had a shop in Southgate Street previously. We
donated £4,000 to them just over a year ago to refurbish four more bedrooms and
the counselling room, following Adrian’s Presidential suggestion that the Alex be
looked into. Clearly help is required to get the building into better usage. As with
new businesses there is an element of feeling your way, and it was realised that
the immediate priorities are to create disabled access, a wet room and suitable
accommodation for disabled. Mind doubled up our contribution to £9,000, and
the NHS doubled it again to £18,000 to enable the ongoing ground floor work. We
will be invited to inspect when complete, and look forward to doing so.
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Mental Health and Alexandra Wellbeing House - continued
S and G Mind have twenty-five staff,
mostly of them part-timers, and just six
being full-time. The main base is in
Swindon where a number of mental
health courses are run. They are also
affiliated to National Mind. Prince
William, Catherine, and Prince Harry
are involved in helping awareness; and
Parliament is also a backer.
The Living Room Associated with Mind is the Cavern in
Westgate Street - an evening drop-in
café and support centre that we also helped last year, at Adrian’s request. The
Cavern has mental health nurses in attendance, acts as a refuge, nips mental
trouble in the bud, and is a counselling service for the self-harming.
A new departure is the Schools Service, The Garden
with help from Gloucester Rugby Club.
Children’s exposure to drugs, mobiles
and tablets, unrestricted info and use
thereof, harms children as many are
unable to deal with it, suffer from low
esteem, and worse. Education is the
name of the game and so the service is
pushing the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing‘
principles. Sheer common sense.
It was a pleasure to meet Hazel and talk about the Alex and the hopes for the future.
Additionally, we discovered she is a keen Gloucester rugby supporter both at
Kingsholm and at Minchinhampton. Hazel is completely committed to what she
does, and we wish her success with this vital venture in Gloucestershire.
Acknowledgement: Photos of Alexandra Wellbeing House used by kind permission of Swindon and
After the success of last year’s lapel badge
commemorating the end of World War I, this year
The Rotary Club of Chelmer Bridge commissioned a
badge to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the
D-Day landings, with the proceeds from their sale
going to the Royal British Legion.
We were pleased to support this initiative again
and many of us purchased and wore the badge in
remembrance of all of those who gave their lives
so that we are able to live ours in freedom. A
couple of members donated more than the
suggested amount and we popped the small surplus
into a poppy-seller’s tin to balance the books.
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Overture and Beginners Please!
On 4th December we enjoyed an opportunity
to explore the Everyman Theatre. When we
arrived, we were met by Caro and Millie, who were
to be our guides for the visit, who first sat us down
in the Dress Circle for an introductory talk.
Caro told us that the theatre had been designed
by the renowned architect, Frank Matcham, who
was responsible for building 162 theatres between 1879 and 1912. The Everyman was built
in 1891 and is the oldest Matcham theatre still in regular use; it is also the second smallest
theatre that he created. It cost £8,000 to build which was paid for by donations from the
people of Cheltenham. Today, the auditorium can accommodate 670 people: however,
when it was built the audiences could be as large as 1,350 – in those early days patrons in
the Upper Circle and Balcony were accommodated on benches rather than on seats, which
greatly increased the numbers that could be crammed in. No ‘elf and safety in those days!
It was also one of the first theatres to be lit by gas and there was a sun burner installed in
the dome (where the chandelier is now) with further gas lamps around the sides. In the
intervals they would open the dome to the sky to vent all the poisonous fumes, cigar smoke
and other noxious smells to the outside world!
Whilst the size of the main auditorium has
remained unchanged since the outset, the first
backstage extension was in 1893. There followed
a complete refurbishment in 1913. In the late
1920s the new-fangled talking pictures became
more popular than live action so, for a period of
four or five years, it became a cinema; but it
reverted back to a theatre during the 1930s.
The wartime years were a boom time for
provincial theatres. The London Blitz resulted in
many actors and producers not wanting to put
themselves at risk by appearing there, so the
Opera House (as it was then known) hosted many Caro explains things on the stage
touring productions with star actors in the lead roles. However, when the War ended they
all returned to London and the lack of star performers coupled with the growth of television
meant that audiences evaporated and the theatre was struggling to survive. Cheltenham
Corporation bought the theatre in 1955 to try to rescue it, but failed to do and, as a
consequence, it was decided in 1959 that it would have to close.
Two proposals for the Opera House’s future were then put forward for consideration: the
first was to demolish it and build a supermarket on the site and the other was to turn it
into a carpet warehouse for Cavendish House!
These possibilities caused outrage in the town and a group of local people got together to
form the Cheltenham Theatre Association with the object of keeping the theatre open.
After many meetings with both the Corporation and the Arts Council enough money was
raised to be able to save it and the theatre reopened in late 1959. It was rechristened the
Everyman Theatre to emphasise that it was a venue intended for everyone. The Association,
now called the Everyman Theatre Association, is still going strong today and we discovered
that the day following our visit would be the 60th anniversary of the reopening.
From 1959 onwards the Everyman no longer hosted touring productions, instead housing
a repertory company whose weekly productions gave a start to many actors who
subsequently went on to great success.
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Overture and Beginners Please! - continued
The next major milestone was in the 1980s when the Council made £3 million available and
the theatre was closed for three years to construct a major extension to the backstage
areas and to build the 60-seat Studio theatre, new bars, restaurants and an administration
block. At the same time, the main auditorium was refurbished and the building was linked
to the newly-constructed Regent’s Arcade.
When the Everyman reopened it was no longer economical for it to remain a producing
theatre with its own resident company, so it became a “receiving theatre” instead – i.e.
hosting touring productions – and it continues to operate on this basis to the present day.
The most recent refurbishment took place in 2011. The cost, coincidentally again £3 million,
was funded by Cheltenham Council, the Arts Council and, importantly, also by the Heritage
Lottery Fund; as well as a number of individual contributions. The aim of this project was
to restore the auditorium to its 1891 condition. Beside essential remedial works, the centre
aisle in the stalls was removed and the auditorium’s plasterwork and murals were restored
and repainted. A fragment of the original wallpaper was discovered in one of the boxes.
This was exactly matched and the resulting wallpaper (at £90 per roll) was re-hung
throughout the auditorium. In my opinion all of this expense was well worth it – the place
looks absolutely stunning these days!
We were, by now, totally involved and bombarded both our guides with questions about
the economics of running a provincial theatre. We learned that they do receive an annual
Arts Council Grant – presently £180,000 but reducing every year – and that balancing the
books is both an art and a challenge.
Many of the major musical productions actually cost the theatre money to put on as there
is no way that such a small venue can generate sufficient ticket income to cover the costs:
however, it is important to offer a full range of entertainment to encourage a theatre-going
habit. Other smaller productions will generate a surplus; but the major income-producer
is the pantomime. This is produced by the Everyman itself, so they get the benefit of all of
the profits. All in all, the theatre puts on about 800 performances a year, entertaining more
than 200,000 customers.
We finally tore ourselves away and headed downstairs
to the stage door and through onto the stage. Caro
and Millie first showed us the Deputy Stage Manager’s
station, which is located stage right. The DSM is a vital
part of any production – he/she is responsible for
managing everything during a performance; they call
the audience into the auditorium and the actors to the
stage; manage all the lighting, sound, scenery and
special effects cues; all while following the script and
coping with any crises, such as dialogue missed and
the consequent knock-on effect to the cues. Apart
from that they can sit back and enjoy the show!
We then craned our necks to look at the Grid. This Mission Control - the DSM’s Station
was installed as part of the 1980s refurbishment and is eighteen metres above the stage.
Previously, scenery had to be manhandled from the wings, but the grid gives the ability for
it to be “flown” in and out using a counterweight system.
Leaving the stage, we then moved on to the wardrobe room where all the costumes are
stored. It was there that President Mike indulged in his penchant for cross-dressing (our
cover photo), much to amusement of everyone present.
We finished our tour with a visit to one of the dressing rooms and the Green Room before
adjourning to Matcham’s Restaurant on the second floor for a buffet supper. This was a
fascinating evening, made even more so by Caro and Millie’s command of their subject.
- 20 -
President’s Drinks – 7 December 2019
Just under seventy of us descended upon Mike and Gill’s house
at Saturday lunchtime for our annual drinks party.
When I arrived, I was greeted by a vision in a Gloucester Rugby
Christmas shirt, a Santa hat and shorts. This turned out to be
Nick Bishop who had run from his home into Gloucester, then
completed a 5K Charity Fun Run, had now run on to Mike’s for
the party and was then going to run back home. The man must
A drink was thrust in my hand by a waiter in a skimpy bikini
who, on closer inspection, turned out to be Duncan Lord
wearing an “interesting” apron, as were other Rotarians who were circulating with drinks
and nibbles. Clearly this was going to be a fun afternoon!
And so it was - there was much laughter mixed in with
conversation and everyone was clearly enjoying themselves.
An added bonus for the blokes was to be able to sneak
upstairs and check out Mike’s magnificent model railway.
It really is amazing with its sound and lighting effects, smoke
rising from the steam engines; and all set within fantastic
There was an abundance of
food and sufficient to drink;
all arranged by Mike Frost
and Bob Paterson with their customary efficiency. Our
thanks to them and all of those who helped set up, run the
bar and kitchen, act as waiters and clear up afterwards.
Our greatest thanks are due, of course, to Mike and Gill for
inviting us into their home. I’m pleased to report that
nobody spilt red wine or dropped any food on the carpet!
More photographs overleaf
Ladies' Christmas Afternoon Tea
2 December 2019
Nineteen Rotary Ladies met at Hatton
Court Hotel on Monday afternoon for
an excellent afternoon tea. The festive
fare included turkey sandwiches,
scones, stollen cake, chocolate log and
copious quantities of tea and coffee. We
met in the dining room, which overlooks
beautiful countryside, and watched a
glorious autumn sunset.
We all enjoyed catching up with everyone’s news, views and Christmas
Most kind of our gentlemen to treat us!
- 21 -
- 22 -
We held our Special General Meeting on 11 December to approve last year’s accounts
and also to elect the 2020 - 2021 Club Officers. Our new Senior Management Team will
Roger Hart John Barnes
President Elect President Nominee
Richard Colley John Bowman
The annual business dealt with, we then moved on to discuss other matters. In summary:
President Mike reviewed the last quarter, thanked Jeff Dawson for the interesting visit
to the Everyman and Bob and Mike Frost for all their work in organising the President’s
Richard then updated us on the Presidential succession and membership issues. A
number of members have now agreed to serve as President (of whom Roger Hart and
John Barnes are the first two), so the succession problem has been resolved for now.
Also, a small group has been set up, headed by Jeff Roberts, to formulate a programme
to find new (and younger) members. The Treasurers reported that we were solvent and
Peter Burton and Richard Allison detailed the current and proposed domestic and
international donations proposals. Other committee chairmen also brought us up to
Nick Bishop told us he had a number of verbal commitments from teams for the Dragon
Boats and that, importantly, one of our major sponsors has already confirmed that they
will continue their support. Everything is proceeding as planned at present.
Jeff Roberts has decided to stand down from organising the Sporting Dinner after
nineteen years at the helm and we all expressed our gratitude for his hard work in making
it such a success. Both incoming President Jeff and Council are very keen for this major
fundraising event to continue and are assessing the best way forward. We shall revisit
the matter early in the New Year.
Nick Bishop and Simon Owen have been busy with the preliminary stages of
organising our Dragon Boat Festival (as it has now been rebranded) and
everything is in train for it to go ahead on 10 May 2020. The event now has
this snazzy new logo, courtesy of Simon’s in-house design team:
Nick and Simon will need all of our support to ensure a successful day, so
please put the date in your diaries so that you are available to help if needed.
Quiz Answers (see page 10)
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1. Pillowell; 2. Down Ampney; 3. Bream; 4. Woodmancote; 5. Innsworth
6. Walton Cardiff; 7. Greet; 8. Tetbury; 9. Moreton-in Marsh; 10. Ford
The final meeting of 2019 was our Christmas Party at Bowden Hall,
impeccably organised, as always, by John Roderick. The hotel looked after
us very well and we all enjoyed an excellent evening - a very good start to
the festive season. Thanks John!
We normally meet on Wednesday evenings at the Bowden Hall Hotel, Upton St Leonards; at
7:30 pm for an 8:00 pm start, unless otherwise advised. Details of the programme can be found
on our website: www.gloucestersevern.rotary1100.org.
Apologies for absence should be given to Mike Beard no later than 5:00 p.m. on the Monday
preceding the meeting, otherwise you will be charged for your meal and a share of any other
non-recoverable costs. Apologies may be given by email to [email protected], via the
apologies section of the website or by phone to 01453-882519.