At our April main meeting, we were treated to a wonderful talk given by one of our members, Bernard Foot. Bernard’ talk, ”Behind the Edelweiss”, described the dark history behind Austria in the first half of the twentieth century and how it fashioned our modern world. With an excellent slide presentation, we were taken through the fall of the Austro Hungarian Empire after WWI, the collapse of the Austrian Republic, the rise of the Nazis and the Anschluss and the consequences of Austria’s alignment with Germany in WWII. A fascinating, illuminating story highlighted with memorable insights into Bernard’s personal links with Austria.
Our speaker at the March main meeting was Tom Way, a young, dynamic, award-winning wildlife photographer. Tom gave a fantastic talk on wildlife that we can find on our doorstep and illustrated it with his fabulous photographs. Beautiful images of foxes, puffins, kingfishers, birds of prey, deer, water voles and other British wildlife were accompanied by Tom’s accounts of the joys, and challenges when trying to find his subjects and to take the best shots. With hints on how he created his meaningful and wonderful shots, Tom enthralled us all with his passion and dedication for wildlife as well as his artistic skills. The ensuing long question and answer session showed how much the audience appreciated his presentation. I am sure that everyone will be very pleased that Tom has agreed to make a return visit in 2019.
It was a pleasure to welcome back Tim Addison, one of our longer serving members, who gave us a wonderful talk “In Search of Cetaceans”. Tim described his world travels searching for whales, dolphins and seals, his journeys taking him around the British Isles, Antarctica, and Western Australia. A most interesting and educational presentation illustrated with superb slides. Thank you Tim for reminding us of these beautiful creatures and why we should ensure their survival.
We were delighted that Dr Timothy Walker, former Director of Oxford University Botanic Gardens and BBC 4 TV presenter, was our speaker at our January meeting. It was the third time that Timothy had visited us and again his talk was excellent. Intriguingly entitled “Sex, Lies and Putrefaction”, Timothy described the wonderful pollination strategies of a huge variety of plants from around the world and their importance to not only the plants themselves but also to the survival of the animal kingdom including human beings. Superb slides with a fascinating, informative commentary and comments delivered in Timothy’s inimitable amusing style, brightened a dull, dreary January afternoon. We very much look forward to a return visit in the near future.
Our speaker at the November main meeting was Bernard Lockett who is a trustee of the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival and a broadcaster on the subject of the famous operas. He gave a most interesting and informative account of the lives of G and S and their collaboration in creating some of the most memorable songs and controversial lyrics which are still relevant today. Bernard explained how there has been a recent revival in the operas with performances around the world especially in Russia. In the UK, productions are much livelier with up-to – date choreography and are attracting sell-out audiences. It was very enjoyable to watch snapshots of some of the 2017 Festival performances.
The AGM was well-attended and after preliminary notices, Michael George, our president, opened the business part of the meeting. Reports on the year 2016-17 were given by the Chair, Treasurer, Membership Secretary and Social Events Secretary. Four members of the Committee, Steve Williams, Jenny Boorer, Pauline Watts and Christine Huggins, who were standing down from their posts, were thanked for their valuable work over the past three years. The remaining members of the Committee were re-elected and four new members, Colin and Jenny Robinson, Eleanor McGregor and Ray Marshall were elected to fill the vacancies. After the AGM had closed, the Walking Group gave an entertaining slide show presentation about their walk along the Grand Union Canal. The meeting ended with tea and a wonderful selection of cakes from Godwin’s Bakery.
By popular request, our September speaker was Sally Botwright, a well-known London Blue Badge Guide who gave Part 2 of her excellent talk “London Oddities and Curiosities”. We were entertained and educated with some of the unusual sites in London with many amusing anecdotes and intriguing pieces of information. I’m sure we will all be looking for those special red telephone boxes identifying them as listed buildings! Sally’s extensive knowledge of many aspects of London life always illustrate what a wonderful city it is and we hope that she will return in the future to give us Part 3 of her talk with more about the interesting things we have not noticed in our capital city.
The August Main Meeting speaker was Roy Smart, who gave an excellent talk entitled “Amy. Wonderful Amy”, which detailed the life of the famous aviator, Amy Johnson. Roy described how Amy, an unknown woman from Hull with very little flying experience,, became the darling of the 1930’s after she became the first woman to fly solo to Australia. The fascinating story of her flying exploits, her disastrous relationships with men, her brief stay in Princes Risborough and her mysterious disappearance when her plane crashed into the Thames, was superbly presented. Roy’s slide show complete with film and music clips, was absorbing and entertaining. We hope that Roy will return in 2018 to give another of his excellent talks.
Our speaker at the July main meeting was Roger Moorhouse, the well-known historian, researcher and author. Roger is no stranger to Princes Risborough having been on four occasions to give talks to packed audiences of members of the History Group. His talk “The Rise of the Nazis” explained the reasons behind Hitler’s rise to power in the years between the First and Second World Wars. A fascinating and informative talk from an expert in German and Mid-European history. We certainly gained a much greater knowledge of that particular period of history that had such tragic consequences for so many people around the world. Roger also gave his considered views on current recent developments following the rise of certain politicians in the world and whether there were similarities with the rise of Hitler.