The speaker at our November meeting, was Dr Martin Hodson, who has given us several talks so is very popular.
This time he talked about “How I got into cancer research, food science, archaeology, beer and much more.
He mostly talked about silicon in plants, and how it is also found in some beers. He mentioned that silicon in
beer is good for osteoporosis, so we were pleased to think that beer is doing us some good.
As usual his talk was very interesting and we look forward to his next talk.
Our October main meeting was the AGM at we had a record attendance with nearly 200 members present. The meeting was led by our President, Michael George, and after reports by the Chair, Treasurer, Social Events Secretary and Acting Membership Secretary, Gill Wilkinson, our Chair, thanked Committee members who had completed their term of office and presented them with gifts. After tea and a large selection of delicious cakes, we were entertained with a wonderful presentation of “A Journey through Peru in music and pictures” by Richard Jones. Fantastic photographs of Peruvian men, women and children, colourful costumes and buildings, plants and animals all set against a backdrop of the snow-topped Andes and wild, barren landscapes.
The speaker at our September meeting was the well-known historian, author and speaker, Roger Moorhouse, who specialises in modern German and mid European history. Roger gave an excellent talk “The worst maritime disaster in history” which told the story of Hitler’s Titanic, the sinking of MV Wilhelm Gustloff in January 1945. Very few of us knew about this terrible disaster and it was sobering to hear how a Russian submarine whose captain was probably the worse for drink, torpedoed the civilian ship with the loss of nearly 10,000 lives, mostly women and children.. Roger also gave us a fascinating account of some little-known aspects of the wider history of the Third Reich.
Our speaker at the July meeting was Roy Smart, who gave us a rip-roaring talk about “The Last Naval Hero”, David 2nd Earl Beatty, hero of the WWI and the darling of the nation. Blessed with the Nelson touch, this matinee idol had a darker side to his character and was something of a bounder. We heard about Beatty’s astonishing climb to fame and fortune and his involvement in the Battle of Jutland leading to the death of over 3,000 British sailors but the surrender of the German fleet. He became immensely rich and had a Downton Abbey life style with his hedonistic, American, socialite wife, Ethel, Countess Beatty, which was marred by marital strife and scandal. Roy posed the question to us , “Was Beatty a bounder or a cad?” Answer: Probably both!
Our speaker at the June main meeting was Clare Smallman who was an ambassador from Great Ormond Street Hospital. Clare gave a most interesting talk about the history of the hospital, the current work being done and its future plans. With a very clear and enjoyable slide presentation together with video clips, Clare explained how the hospital was an international hub for the treatment of children and how it was at the forefront of ground-breaking research. Some very touching footage of young patients and their families telling their stories of how the hospital had saved lives enabled us to see the wonderful work of the hospital. Clare told us of the new buildings that had recently been constructed and the exciting fields of research that were being investigated to help children to survive life-threatening illnesses.
It was a delight to welcome back Ian Keable to our May meeting. Ian is a well- known author, broadcaster, researcher and member of the Inner Magic Circle who speaks on magic history, satirical prints, cartoons and 18th century hoaxes. This time we were entertained and informed about Dickens, the Conjuror through a playbill of his most famous show. Dickens was a keen amateur conjuror for around 7 years of his life, calling himself the ‘Unparalleled Necromancer’. Ian gave us a highly amusing and expertly presented account of this little-known part of the great author’s life and to round off an excellent talk, he performed two Dickensian tricks to the amazement of all.
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.