Monthly meetings articles

Monthly meeting articles

Meeting reports - January - April 2023

David Boag - January Speaker

David is a wildlife photographer and the author/photographer of 18 published books. His first book ‘The Kingfisher’ was published in 1982 and contained many unique photographs illustrating the life of this remarkable bird.

He lectures regularly to a variety of natural history, photographic and general interest audiences. He has often spoken at major conferences for organisations such as the National Trust, the RSPB, British Trust for Ornithology and the Royal Photographic Society.

His work has led him to travel in Europe, Australia, Africa and America.

Over the years he has taught photography to photographic degree and wildlife illustration students and has also taught on online courses, of which he is proudest.

He regularly led African camera safari trips to destinations that included Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

He has been a Cruise Ship Speaker for many years now and his talk was very interesting.

David's website with editing by Maggi Bridgman

Susan Howe - February Speaker

Fun, Fluent, Flippant and E-ffervescent
Inspired by her extraordinarily colourful life and passion for history, Susan Howe is an entertaining speaker in demand all over the UK. She has a phenomenal memory for quirky and unusual facts and her talks reflect her exceptional experiences and her love of history as a living and vibrant subject.

What marks her out as different is the funny, individual, conversational way that she speaks, without notes. Her enthusiasm is contagious.

Living West Sussex and Hants/London

From Susan's website

Brian Freeland - March Speaker

Brian’s theatre career started in 1959, direct from National Service, and has taken him to forty-four different countries including three residencies in the Middle East, eight tours of the Indian sub-continent and two circumnavigations of the globe.

He told us many amusing anecdotes about life on the stage years ago. He was drawn into the career by Peter O'Toole and became a trainee stage manager for Moss Empires, which in the 60s included the London Palladium, the Hippodrome and the Victoria Palace. ATV bought the Palladium and the staff were subjected to fingernail checks. He was once told to remove an elderly 'blue' comedian from the stage, to avoid more embarrassment. He worked with Sybil Thorndyke, Noel Coward and Franco Zefirelli amongst many others.

He has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, Scottish Opera, Sadler’s Wells and London Festival Ballet Companies, Nottingham Playhouse, Manchester Library Theatre and Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop Company.

Approaching retirement he has started to ‘branch out’ - directing, writing scripts, and giving talks.

From Brian's website and editing by Maggi Bridgman

April Speaker - Andrew Negus

We were entertained by 'The Weird, the Wild and the Wonderful' part 6 today. Andrew told us how he and his friend, Malcolm, had hitch hiked from France across Europe, sleeping in barns or in fields and seeing all the wonders of the world such as the Acropolis and Knossos in Crete, the home of the minotaur. They were perpetually short of money but made do with such delicacies as figs picked from the trees. In Venice they had to sleep by a canal under a plastic sheet. In the morning, across the bridge they saw a fruit market. The stall holders discarded leftover fruit, which they gave to the adventurers.

While in Greece they met a man they knew as Big Ed. He owned a battered Ford Zephyr and offered them a lift to India. They accepted albeit rather nervously. At a checkpoint Ed stamped his own log book with an old penny! The Turkish officials let him drive through without comment. They saw the walls of Constantinople and stayed in the New Gullhani Hotel which cost 4d a night to sleep on the roof.

They drove overland to Katmandu, making a detour to Troy, of the wooden horse. They also saw where the Gallipoli landings took place and went to Anzac Cove where there are many graves of Australians and New Zealanders.

They travelled through Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, a journey you couldn't make nowadays.

At last they reached Australia, flying into Darwin which had an international airport but only contained a shack where travellers were processed.

Andrew left there with that 'what have I done?' feeling.

Maggi Bridgman

Meeting reports - September - November 2022

September Talk

Judy Theobald worked as a newspaper reporter for 30 years, plus magazine editor and BBC radio presenter as well as having been a police officer, freelance writer and theatrical landlady. Not remotely educational or instructive, the talk (with a few poems thrown in) was a fun stroll through a long life of things not having quite worked out as they were meant to. Everyone in the hall laughed a lot - she really was amusing and full of fun. She was the author of the poems - another string to her bow!

Sonia Keeble

October Talk

After our A.G.M. on September 15th we had a visit from Paul Nelhams who is one of the Hayling Community Responders, volunteers working for the South Central Ambulance Service. Unfortunately, at the time of our talk there were only 5. The responders have been running for 20 years and are responsible for the funding and installation of 20 defibrillators across Hayling Island, they look after and check them each month. This is life saving equipment used in the cases of cardiac arrest.

He went on to tell us that we can all make a difference in a person's outcome after a cardiac arrest, on finding someone in trouble, by remembering to first call an ambulance whose staff will tell you where the nearest machine is, and a code which will unlock it. While someone locates the machine, someone else will prepare the patient by remembering ABC:

  • Airway - tilt the head to clear the airway
  • Breathing - is the patient breathing? If not...
  • Compressions - interlocking your fingers and placing your hands in the centre of the chest. Push down hard and release twice per second, helped if you do this while singing 'Nellie the Elephant'.

The ambulance call handler will help by talking to you until a medic arrives.

If you have a defibrillator, switch it on and it will tell you what to do. Carry on until a paramedic arrives or the person shows signs of life.

It was very interesting and I’m sure we all felt a little more confident than at the beginning.

Sonia Keeble

November Talk

After 26 years in the military, Lt Col Jeremy Prescott went on to start the Sacrifice and Remembrance Charity which was set up to help ex military people who were disabled or suffering from combat stress. They have raised £24,000 so far. This has been achieved through the sale and promotion of the red poppies.

Jeremy told us the history of the poppy in a very moving and interesting way. A young soldier, called John McCrae in the First World War observed a devastated field of battle where a symbol of life, a lone poppy, bloomed and that inspired him. He wrote the poem which became so famous, 'In Flanders Field'. It was published in a newspaper in 1915.

Cecil Roughton who was fighting in the trenches in France in 1916 when he picked the oldest known First World War poppy which went on public display in 2012. He had given the poppy to his girlfriend in 1923.

An American lady called Moina Michael decided to promote the poppy as a flower of remembrance and bought 24 silk poppies which she sold for a donation. A French lady called Anna Guerin travelled throughout America and met French widows and orphans. She encouraged them to make paper poppies and she sold them to the British Legion.

Major George Howson, once demobbed, managed to acquire a grant of £2,000 from the British Legion. He set up a poppy factory where he employed disabled ex-veterans.

Nowadays the sale of poppies is extremely successful and has led to wonderful displays such as the creation of the Field of Remembrance outside Westminster Abbey on the Thursday before remembrance Sunday or the Field of Red at the Tower of London's moat. 890,000 poppies fill the space!

Maggi Bridgman

Meeting reports - April - July 2022

Bobbie Darbyshire - April

Bobbie won the 2008 fiction prize at the National Academy of Writing and the New Delta review Creative Nonfiction Prize 2010. She has worked as a barmaid, mushroom picker, film extra, maths coach, cabinet minister's private secretary, care assistant and volunteer adult literacy teacher as well as in social research and government policy. Her talk was lively, interesting and full of inspiring quotes from other authors, such as 'We should be continually jumping off cliffs and developing wings on the way down' - Kurt Vonnegut.

Jane Glennie - May

Jane is an actress and historian with 30 years of experience bringing history to life in museums, theatres, heritage sites and u3a meeting venues! Her talks are stand alone theatrical performances using original and replica objects and costumes to illustrate the talks.

At our meeting she appeared dressed as Catherine Dickens and described her happy married life to the great writer and the terrible way it ended. Jane conveyed the injustice of his treatment of his wife and the genuine sadness of Catherine. It was an outstanding performance and very moving.

Martin Lloyd - June

Passports, Assassins, Traitors and Spies was the title of the talk at June's monthly meeting The speaker, Martin Lloyd, had worked for the HM Immigration Service for 24 years. He now appears on television and gives talks on the radio and to groups. He told stories of how three passports have played their influential role in the course of history: an attempted assassination which altered the regulations for issuing passports; the capture of a spy which caused a worldwide modification to the design of the document and for one person the passport itself which turned into a killer.

Andrew Negus - July

By popular demand, Andrew Negus came back to us for a 4th time to tell us about his travels in the Far East. The talk was as full of anecdotes and humour as ever and included some adventures such as meeting some Komodo dragons but avoiding being eaten by them! In addition he saw the largest Buddhist temple in the world - the Lotus on the Lake, built in 800 AD. He visited the live volcano Mount Bromo and was offered boiled eggs from a volcanic pool. While he was in Java he was warned not to put any valuables in his trouser pockets because thieves would come and slash the trouser leg just below the pocket, remove your wallet and you wouldn't feel anything until you noticed blood trickling down your leg! Andrew Negus found a way round this by putting a row of safety pins below the pocket. He was not robbed!
He returned to the UK via Australia where he camped in the bush and saw the Gloucestershire Lookout Tree, used for spotting forest fires and with strong pieces of wood driven into the trunk so that people could ascend.

He crossed the desert from Perth to Adelaide on the Nullabar train which is the longest straight railway in the world and his wine box was confiscated, much to his annoyance. What a memorable trip!

Maggi Bridgman

John Pitman - A life on the stage

Our November speaker was a lifelong amateur performer on the stage and an author of several novels. He was a very entertaining raconteur and kept us smiling throughout his talk.

He told us how a rabbit which had been shot dead and stuffed was used in the first play which he took part in. For many years before he took to the stage properly, he competed in ballroom dancing competitions, achieving bronze, silver and gold medals. He then joined the Winchester formation dance team but his dance career was cut short by meeting his wife to be, getting married and having two children!

In 1982 he started appearing in Pantomime and was a success as The dame. He also ventured to play Buttons in Cinderella.

We learned that amateurs are permitted to sing selections of songs from up to date musicals but are not allowed to perform them. John's daughter also takes part in the shows now.

A lot of his performances took place in Otterbourne Village Hall. Unfortunately, in recent times, He has found it increasingly difficult to remember his lines so has decided that it is time to leave the stage.

At the end of the talk he encouraged his audience to join him in singing such songs as 'Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do' and 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles', and the singing wasn't bad!

Maggi Bridgman

Owls about town

Andy Kendall, who runs 'Owls About Town' with his wife, Zsi, in Selsey brought several of his owls to our November meeting and it proved to be a fascinating afternoon. The owls all looked interested in what was going on and various people were allowed to hold the smaller owls, which caused much excitement.

Catherine Britton

Andy was invalided out of the army and unfortunately became homeless. He lived alone in a rural setting and began to adopt rescued owls. Often they had been bought as presents for children who were unable to care for them and they were in need of a new home. Andy developed an affinity with them. He met his wife and they started the business, 'Owls About Town'. They attend many venues and events, such as Residential homes, charity events, schools, birthday parties and team building sessions. They also run individual experiences and attend fêtes and fairs. Good animal welfare is very important to them - they are all fed on a healthy diet and they travel in purpose built boxes. It is an original way of ensuring that the owls are well cared for while members of the public experience interaction with these wonderful creatures.

Maggi Bridgman

Photos by Hannelore Hone