Despite (or perhaps because of!) the bitterly cold weather, the January meeting attracted the largest gathering of members seen to date including several who have just joined.
The attraction was the return of Antonia Gallop and no one was disappointed by her sparkling presentation.
Her subject this time was a trip to Northern India that she took a few years ago with seventeen others to raise money for the Charity, Stope. This however was very different from the usual package tour. She and her compatriots did the travelling on some well worn Royal Enfield Motorbikes. She explained how the first hurdle, even for experienced motor cyclist was how to master their steeds - as many of the controls were very different to those that they were used to riding in the UK. Sometimes they were the complete reverse. Nevertheless after some brief testing they were off.
Antonia went through the "adventure" of riding through the dusty tracks and the rules that the team had to keep going if one of the machines broke down. The repairs would be carried out by the back up bus that also carried supplies and a doctor as well as providing an area for recuperation for anyone who was suffering from illness (Apparently they all did at one time or another). She told us that the party soon found the necessity of sounding the horn as loud and long as possible and whilst this was used when confronting other traffic they also had to watch out for unexpected speed bumps. These could be very high but were not always obvious when covered by sand and could prove to be a very unwelcome hazard.
On at least one occasion this resulted in sending her flying off her motorcycle. During the first part of the journey most of the inhabitation comprised rural villages but they did spend one night in an old fort with over 700 rooms - although most were uninhabitable. They also visited the Rats Temple - the home of 300,000 rats but declined the offer of water from the pool that contained waste from the said creatures! Antonia spoke about her various experiences with the lack of "facilities". Amusing in retrospect but, perhaps, less so at the time particularly when she drew the attention of several thousand mosquitos whilst using one of the rare closets that she did find! She advised that as the journey neared its end they found the area more built up.
They eventually reached the India Gate at Delhi and the horrendous traffic in that City. When they had arrived there at the beginning of the trip the windows of the coach picking up had been covered up. They now knew why! Seeing the traffic may well have deterred them from starting off.
They had initially intended raising £3,000 but had, in fact, raised £47,000. So a good cause had been well rewarded by their experience. She concluded by saying that despite certain misadventures, it had been a journey that she would always remember and was glad that she had done it. Whether she would do it again was another matter!
Members at the October monthly meeting were taken back to the darker days of the Second World War and its impact on the teachers and pupils of Maidstone Grammar School for Girls.
The inspiration for this nostalgic talk by Mary Smith, a former headteacher of the school were the bright colour drawings by Miss Keen, the Art Teacher at the time. These were subsequently incorporated in the War Diary produced shortly after the war and reproductions of these drawings depicting life before, during and just after the war were shown throughout the talk.
They vividly showed the daily existence during those troubled times starting with the building of a brand new spacious school just before war broke out until the removal of the wartime attachments from the school after the war ended.
We heard how the school soon had to be shared with girls evacuated from London - even though Maidstone itself was a target for the Luftwaffe and saw, through the often humorous drawings, how staff and girls adapted to the changed circumstances. This included protective shielding for the school and lessons being adapted to fit in with the blackout as well as the steps that had to be taken if the alert was sounded.
Of critical importance when this happened were the air raid shelters which were installed in February 1940. During air raids, lessons took place in these shelters and although in a zig zag shape to minimise injuries in the event of a direct hit these also enabled different lessons to take place at the same time - although the speaker admitted that minimising noise from competing classes could be difficult! She advised that for many years after the war there was rubble blocking what was thought to be one of those shelters. When this was finally cleared, the shelter was found to be still in existence and in excellent condition. As a result it was now used for educational purposes to show current students what it was like in those days.
In conclusion we were told that more recently some students from those days had recently returned to the school and we were shown photos of the "old girls" (as they call themselves) back down in the shelter they hadn't seen for over 70 years - recreating their experiences of those days. A poignant end to a fascinating talk
There was a good turnout for our first Members meeting after the Summer break. We were treated to an enthralling talk by Alastair Scott, former President of the British Interplanatary Society (BIS).
We learnt that theBIS was founded inLiverpoolin 1933 and is the oldestspace advocacyorganisation in the world. Its mission is to promote the exploration and use of space for the benefit of humanity by connecting people to create, educate and inspire and advance knowledge in all aspects of astronautics.
Alastair explained how BIS members became involved with the British Aerospace industry and told us of his own career in the industry and how it had evolved over many years through a sequence of mergers.
The speaker pointed out that it was a myth that there was no British Space programme and that in fact it had a proud heritage in taking space travel from imagination to reality. This included in the early days providing the inspiration for Apollo 11 and showing the USA how to build satellites.
To the surprise of many, he told us that the centre of the British aerospace programme was based at a complex in Stevenage. The projects carried out there were divided into two categories - 'Upstream' and 'Downstream'. 'Upstream' was design and manufacturing and included the development of projects such as HOTOL, Blue Streak and Black Arrow missiles. Whilst most satellites continued to be built there before being completed in Toulouse.
In the past this also included the Giotto Satellite that intercepted Hailey's comet in 1984 whilst some of the satellites built today photographed weather conditions for onward sale to the farming community. Even the first digital telephones were designed at Stevenage. However although the 'Upstream' business of design and manufacture amounted to a turnover £2 billion p.a., the 'Downstream' business of operations and use including Sky discs and global communication generated even more income - £13 billion p.a.. It was planned to employ up to 100,000 people by 2030 with the aim of obtaining 10% of worldwide business generating sales of £40 billion p.a. but he emphasised that the future lay with Commercial operations particularly with launchers and satellites rather than Government contracts.
He then gave a brief resumé of current projects including Scientific Exploration that continued to be a major factor with the ultimate aim of remaining to get a man to Mars - which would be a one way trip!
The talk was concluded with a resumé of the ongoing work by the Society today to generate more interest at all levels in Space including holding numerous events involving well known celebrities such as astronaut Tim Peake.
The talk concluded with a Q&A session and our speaker was greeted with well deserved and generous applause from an appreciative audience.
The Eden Valley Museum in Edenbridge, is hosting a hop-picking exhibition in 2019 and would like to hear from any members who have memories to share about travelling down to Kent to pick hops in any of the villages of the Eden Valley including Edenbridge, Chiddingstone, Cowden, Crockham Hill, Toys Hill, Four Elms and Penshurst.
Please call the museum on 01732 868102 and leave your name and contact details, or email email@example.com putting Hop-picking memories as the subject of your email. Alternatively write to Eden Valley Museum, Church House,
3.Approve minutes of the Fourth Annual General Meeting held on 25thJuly 2017 Approved Unanimously
4.Receive the Treasurer’s report and approve the accounts for the year 2017/18 Approved Unanimously
5.Confirm the appointment of the Financial Adviser Approved Unanimously
6.To approve deleting clause 3 of the constitution and replacing it by the following clause:
"The charity’s object is specifically restricted to the following:
The advancement of education and, in particular, the education of older people and those who are retired from full time work, by all means including associated activities conducive to learning and personal developments in Edenbridge and its surrounding locality”
(Note: This is a new standard Objects Clause that all U3As have been asked to implement. The only variation being the regional reference which will obviously differ) Approved Unanimously
7.To approve deleting the number three where it appears in clauses 7(v),7(vii) and 7 (viii)(b) of the constitution and replacing it by the number 6.
(Note: Currently the maximum period that Executive Committee members may stay in office is a mixture of three and six years. This will standardise it at six years) Approved Unanimously
8.To approve deleting the number 10 where it appears in clause7 (ii) of the constitution and replacing it by the number 12. (Note: This will enable the maximum number of Executive Committee members to be increased to 12) Approved Unanimously
9.To report on nominations for Chairman, Vice chairman, Treasurer and Secretary and put these to the vote. Approved Unanimously
10.To report on nominations for the remaining Executive Committee Members and put these to the vote. Approved Unanimously
11.Approve the annual subscription rates for 2018/19 which the Executive Committee has recommended remain unchanged from 2017/18. Approved Unanimously
12.Any other business. The next few monthly meetings were displayed on the screen. Stephen Harding outlined to the meeting the policy on photographs displayed on the website. Presentations were made to Molly Ward (Speakers Coordinator) and Stephen Harding (Website Manager) who will be leaving the committee after five years service.
The Accounts for the Financial Year 2017 - 2018 can be found HERE
We are committed to saving paper and money. Notice of the AGM was sent out to all members by email and by post to those who had requested otherwise. Details of the agenda, minutes, accounts etc will be displayed on a screen and the notice board.