Speaker reports 2012
Evening meeting – Young singer/Instrumentalist competition- 20th November 2012
This week’s evening meeting of the Rotary Club was devoted to the first round of the Young Singer/ Instrumentalist competition arranged by the Club’s New Generations committee led by past-president Ian Rees who introduced the competitors – Mared Lloyd Jones from Ysgol Tregaron who was a singer, harpist Nest Jenkins also from Ysgol Tregaron and flautist Georgina Hughes of Ysgol Penglais.
The adjudicators, Jane Leggett and Dr David Russell-Hulme were generous In their praise for all three young people They had a difficult decision but decided that
Mared and Nest would go forward to the Area final in Aberaeron in January.
Club president Hywel Wyn Jones warmly thanked the young musicians for a splendid evening which had been much enjoyed by the audience, and the adjudicators for giving of their time.. The Club wished to place on record the generous sponsorship by Libby Lawrence of Cerdd Ystwyth.
Lunchtime meeting – David Lewis – 13th November 2012
At this week’s meeting members were made aware of Community Resilience which is the ability to anticipate risk, limit impact and bounce back rapidly. When a community is truly resilient it should be able to minimize any disaster’s destruction to everyday life and the local economy. It has the ability to quickly return to work, reopen businesses, and restore essential services needed for a full recovery.
David Lewis is the Civil Contingencies Unit officer for Ceredigion County Council and with his colleague Aisling Staite, spoke of the working of the Civil Contingencies Act of 2004. The Act came about following the fuel protests and severe flooding in the autumn and winter of 2000 and the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001 which prompted a review of emergency planning arrangements.
Part 1 of the Act places a legal obligation upon emergency services and local authorities defined as Category 1 responders, to assess the risk of, plan and exercise for, emergencies, as well as undertaking Business continuity Management. Cat 1 responders are also responsible for warning and informing the public in relation to emergencies.
Part 2 provides temporary emergency powers limited to 21 days.
Category 1 responders known as the core responders, include the ‘blue-light’ emergency services as well as local authorities, NHS primary care and hospital trusts and the Environment Agency.
Catagory 2 responders act in support and are mostly utility companies and transport organizations .
Rtn John Harris thanked the speaker for a fascinating but serious presentation. The linking of the many agencies was a big challenge but recent events had shown its effectiveness.
Lunchtime meeting – Commander Iwan Gray – 6th November 2012
Todays speaker was Iwan Cray, head of Ceredigion County Command of the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service.
Commander Cray distributed copies of the Ceredigion Community Plan 2012-13 and outlined the key priorities which were, prevention of fires and other emergencies, protecting people in the event of a fire and responding to emergencies whether fire or road traffic collisions .
There are around 130 personnel based in the six stations as well as a volunteer unit at Borth. In the Aberystwyth station which also functions as the Command Headquarters, there are thirteen personnel organized into shifts of five firemen on duty every day of the year.
Mr Cray emphasized their aim to be proactive to reduce incidents and instanced the Home Fire Safety check – about 1500 are made annually with the issue of smoke detector alarms. Working with the University had reduced false fire alarms by 10% and grassland fires had also decreased by cooperation with farmers. Figures show that although there has been a reduction in deliberate fires the incidence is quite high particularly around the two main towns of Aberystwyth and Cardigan.
Since the 2004 Act which combined Fire and Rescue, the fire element is lowest and falling. It is not possible to be proactive with flooding for which the service is not funded but firemen were very busy in the June flooding which was rated as a major incident.
Following the talk, members were invited to the local station to view the equipment but were interrupted by an emergency call from the University! However the more intrepid accepted the offer for a 50 foot lift in the Aerial Ladder Platform to gain an unusual but impressive perspective of the harbour and town.
President Hywel Wyn Jones offered the thanks of the members for a very interesting talk and unique experience at the station.
Lunchtime meeting – Gareth Davies – 30th October 2012
Ceredigion Councillor Gareth Davies who had suffered personally in the June floods, was this week’s speaker. He spoke of the exceptional rain all in early June with a Yellow alert given on the 7th when the Rheidol and Ystwyth had 80 mm of rain which doubled on the following day. The River Authority issued a Red alert early on Saturday 9 th June for the Rheidol when Gareth’s house close to the river became surrounded by water. Deciding to cry off from work he rang a colleague in Talybont to stand in for him to learn that the village and other places had been severely affected by the flood water. That morning the water gauge in Llanbadarn registered its highest level in history.
The Environmental Agency recorded, in a 36 hour period, 117mmof rain in Cwm Rheidol, 148m in Pwllpeirian, 184mm at Dinas reservoir and 200mm at Nant y Moch .At the latter place, worried by the dam capacity, water was released .
This plus a high tide preventing a flow from the harbour, meant the water had no place to go so it burst its banks. Overall in the wider area 126 houses and 200 caravans were affected as well as damage toYstwyth Surgery and Cambrain Printers estimated at £3.5 million. It has been said that the event was more damaging than that in Boscastle, Cornwall in 2004.
Cllr Gareth hopes to return to his home in mid-November but the big worry for all those affected is the possibility of a huge rise in insurance excess which in some places could be as high as £7,000.
Parcyllyn had been troubled by flooding in earlier years, yet planning permission was granted for development on a flood plain. The speaker hoped that some lessons had been learnt.
Rtn Garfield Williams thanked Cllr Gareth for his personal account of what must have been a harrowing experience. The Rotary Resiliance scheme which was being developed nationally was designed to support people affected by such events.
Evening meeting – Prof Elan Closs Stephans – 23rd October 2012
Prof Elan Closs Stephens CBE who was the chief guest as this week’s evening meeting. has held a number of important positions and has made contributions to education, broadcasting /media and public life generally. She headed the Theatre, Film and TV studies department at the university, was chair of S4C from 1998-2006 and is a member of the BBC Trust as Trustee for Wales. This year she is High Sheriff for Dyfed.
After reminding her audience that it was in Wales, that Marconi, in 1897 made the first radio transmission over water from Lavernock Point to Flat Holm some nine miles away and how Marconi signals played a part in the Titanic rescue.
Mrs Closs Stephens included in her talk, the licence fee, pay, ratings and the role of Wales in broadcasting. The licence is to allow one to receive the signal but with internet connection, ipad, and other devices how can it be monitored? Pay has always been an issue. In the1930s, there were pleas from senior executives for pay rises’ to ‘maintain appearances’ Competition from Sky with three times the money available to the BBC is a concern. Chasing the ratings can bring out the worst for example the first night broadcast by ITV was countered by the BBC with the killing off of Grace Archer.
Wales has always had to shout loudly to gain attention. Lord Reid classed the Welsh as unpleasant and unreliable. However the trustees have always tried to get Wales her fair share. The vast new sustainable buildings in Cardiff Bay house Dr Who, Casualty, Holby City and Crimewatch but with seagulls a problem, weekly visits from a hawk have been necessary.
Future challenges include making Radio FM available throughout Wales, facing 10% cuts from the licence fee for BBC Wales and this at a time when newspapers are in decline.
Lunchtime meeting – John Williams – 16th October 2012
This week’s speaker, John Williams of Sketty, Swansea is the chairman of St Helen’s Balconiers. Founded 40 years ago, this Society celebrates the achievements of Glamorgan players and supports Glamorgan cricket and cricketers.
Asserting that St Helen’s was the spiritual home of Glamorgan C C, cricket was first played in the ground in 1875 after sand banks on the shore of Swansea Bay were reclaimed and levelled
Glamorgan cricket club was formed in 1888 and in 1921 became a first class county. It won the county cricket championship in 1948, 1969, 1997 and has beaten all the major Test playing nations including back to back wins over Australia in 1964 and 1968.
The speaker related the world beating record of Gary Sobers at St Helens when he hit six sixes in an over against the bowling of Malcolm Nash.
Another of the aims of the Balconiers is to ensure that first classn Jones warmly thanked the youngat St Helen’s, one of the few ‘out grounds’ remaining.
In thanking John, Rtn Robin Varley remembered being hooked on cricket after a visit as a youngster, with his father, to Old Trafford. He too was concerned about the survival of ‘out grounds’ as they struggle financially against the big stadia like Cardiff’s SWALEC
Lunchtime meeting – Glenda Johnson JP – 9th October 2012
Opening this week’s meeting, President Hywel Wyn Jones spoke of the tragic happening in Machynlleth and how the community as well as the specialised services had come together in the search for April. He asked members to stand in silent tribute.
The speaker was Glenda Johnson JP who distributed a list of 17 questions relating to magistrates in the community.
Glenda spoke of the intensity of the interviews for prospective candidates and the training, for which she found to be a very interesting and rewarding job. .
Arising from the questionnaire members learnt that magistrates were not paid but received a travelling and subsistence allowance. JPs are expected to be smartly dressed though since the 70s women are not expected to wear a hat and gloves.
Serving police officers, traffic wardens and members of the armed forces are ineligible. The required age range is 18 years to 70 years though it might be argued that at the lower limit a person would be lacking in life experiences. There are no special legal or educational needs and there are equal number of men and women sitting on the Bench.
Necessary qualities include good character- personal integrity with the respect and trust of others, understanding and communication, a social awareness, maturity and sound temperament and judgment, the ability to think logically and the need for commitment and reliability.
Gone are the days when every town had a magistrates court, Ceredigion has a joint bench with Pembrokeshire with the two magistrates’ courts at Aberystwyth and Haverfordwest. JPs hear a variety of cases including theft, motoring offences and juvenile matters brought by the CPS. There is a move for magistrates to specialize eg in youth or family courts and may have the title of a judge.
Ms Johnson showed a huge volume which contained the guide lines for sentencing where the maximum detention is six months. In addition to the fine, a defendant has to pay a victim’s surcharge. This also applies to a conditional discharge. Somewhat controversially, where non-payment of fines brings a custodial sentence, the fines are wiped out.
Rtn Martin Davies in thanking the speaker thought that the quiz format produced a good interaction with her audience, he was aware that a lot of effort goes into being a magistrate which is demanding and time consuming .
Lunchtime meeting -John Morgan – 25th September 2012
The Cambrian Mountains make up the largest area of open space in southern Britain with some of the most beautiful hills and valleys in Wales. It is one of Wales’ most special places – a peaceful largely unspoiled landscape with a rich cultural history, natural beauty and rich in wildlife.
Almost filling the space between the Snowdonia and Brecon Beacons National Parks,
a process was started in 1965 to designate the area a National Park.
However in 1973, the then secretary of Secretary of State for Wales Peter Thomas turned down the proposal despite it having the support of the Countryside Council for Wales.
He upheld the views of farmers and local authorities who feared loss of power and refused a public inquiry near election time.
The speaker at this week’s meeting was John Morgan of the Cambrian Mountains Society . The Society was formed in 2004 to promote measures to sustain and enhance the area and to increase awareness and understanding.
One of its aspirations is to have the mountains designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty . Wales has four AONBs while England has 33. That status would be a marketing brand for tourism which is becoming a major source of income for Mid-Wales, The speaker felt that on the issue of an AONB, the Welsh Government wished to keep its distance.
John also blamed the Welsh Government for the furore over wind turbines and power lines on our Welsh uplands traceable to the Government’s TAN8 which took away from local authorities their abilities to support local objections to massive turbine projects.
The proposed wind farm at Nant-y-Moch close to the acclaimed Pumlumon range was selected by the Government’s consultants without any consideration to ‘landscape analysis’ by the terms of reference of WAG .and without consultation with CCW.
The proposed wind farm which will feature 64 turbines 395 feet high, with miles of new wide roads, transmission lines and pylons cannot be justified under a EU directive on renewable energy- “must be in proportion to the objective to be attained”
In his vote of thanks Rtn John Pugh Jones said that the speaker had our landscape.
Lunchtime meeting – Josh Wheeler, RYLA Scholar- 11th September 2012
In late summer each year, the Rotary Club sponsors a young person to attend the Dol-y-Gaer activity centre in the Brecon Beacons. This year’s recipient of the Rotary Young Leadership Award was Penweddig student Josh Wheeler who at this week’s meeting spoke of his experiences at the outdoor adventure centre.
His first comment was that the interview for the award was a valuable experience in itself but the course, in which he had been privileged to take part, had opened a new world to him. The activities included gorge-walking, abseiling, canoeing and navigation.
The 25 participants were instructed in chosen activities , then had to pass on the learnt skills to their fellows in that activity. At the end of the week they were organized into teams for a competition. Although Josh’s team did not win he thought that the experience had made him a better person ‘ you can’t win all the time’.
Though often soaking wet and tired, he had seen how 25 young people could blend together as a family and perform difficult but rewarding tasks.
He thanked Rotary for the opportunity and hoped he had repaid the trust given to him.
President Hywel thanked Josh for his excellent talk and had pleasure in presenting the certificate for completing the course.
Lunchtime meeting -Elin Jones AM- 4th September 2012
Club President Hywel Wyn Jones introduced this week’s speaker- AM Elin Jones- as an inclusive politician
who had won respect across the political spectrum.
In answering her own question Why politics? Élan said that she did not come from a political family although when farm land was compulsorily purchased for afforestation , an uncle fought a campaign against it which led to the creation of Farmers Union of Wales.
In 1983 when a pupil at Lampeter School,she won a mock election standing as a Tory with Shan Cothy acting as her agent. At this time, she flirted with Communism when she became enthralled by the spectacle of a Russian state funeral!
In 1987 Elin settled in Aber as post-graduate student and won a bye-election for the Town Council in1992 becoming the youngest Town Mayor in 1997 the year of the devolution referendum. Although she had no orchestrated map to enter national politics, since 1999 she has been our Plaid Cymry AM dedicated to serve the people where she lives, so much so that her base is in Aber rather than in Cardiff Bay with a staff of three local people. Ceredigion and west Wales were vital to her as was her support for its populace.
Her particular interests are health, education, transport and agriculture, as health spokesperson she considers social services, food hygiene and organ donation vital issues.
Her support for Bronglais, Tregaron and Lampeter hospitals is unwavering and is encouraged by the promise of retaining fundamental services at Bronglais after the public outcry.
Rtn Lisa Francis, a former AM, thanked Elin for an entertaining and interesting talk.
She recalled working with her on several committees and although of a different political colour found her straight forward and honest. Her presence on the health committee where she would ‘punch her weight’ was reassuring.
Lunchtime meeting – Derrick Whiting – 21st July 2012
New member Derrick Whiting gave his ‘My Job’ talk at this week’s meeting. Derrick has recently settled in this area after a career as a London solicitor. He has 41 years membership of Rotary mainly with the Clapham club where he served as president on three occasions. As a young man ,after National Service in the Royal Signals, he served 12 years in the Territorial Army. His legal career started as a junior clerk in chambers, then a trade union lawyer specializing in health and safety in particular the employers’ duty of care. Then followed 8 years with the London Assurance established in 1720 which became the Sun Alliance Insurance in 1966 where he served as chief claims inspector. Retirement in 1992 allowed more time for a long standing interest in equestrian activities including carriage driving with the Windsor |Great Park club and lately acting as a judge in Llanilar show.
Lunchtime meeting – Richard Morgan – Banks, Ninjas and PIIGS – 31st July 2012
Banks, Ninjas and Pigs’ was the intriguing title of a talk given by Club member and past-president Richard Morgan, at this week’s meeting. His talk was the result of his trying to understand what happened to the financial world with the onset of the credit crisis of 2007 and which continues to reverberate in our world today. Richard opened with the fairly bald statement of what happened from 2007 ” a 20% drop in US house prices caused a global banking crisis that nearly destroyed the entire system, followed by global recession, verging on depression.” In considering these events, Richard started with Banking. In the 80s and 90s the genial bank manager of old disappeared as the dividing line between retail banking and investment banking increasingly became blurred. He argued that the so-called credit crunch arose from a climate or way of thinking, a problem, a mistake and a failure. With the success of capitalism over communism, belief in the free market became a matter of faith. We had abolition of exchange controls easing the international flow of capital and the Big Bang with massive deregulation. A system was created where the banks were allowed to write their own rules. The problem- sub-prime mortgage –’a triumph of language over truth’ someone said. The first President Bush forced US lenders to ensure that 30% of their loans went to borrowers on low and moderate incomes. People with poor credit ratings pay more when they borrow and higher fees and commissions are paid. The term NINJA was born- no income ,no job or assets. Schroders estimated that more than 30% of sub-prime borrowers failed to make the first repayment on their loans. A mistake- many bankers at senior management level did not fully understand what was going on. The demise of Barings Bank following the use of derivatives to bet on future levels of the Nikei index is one example. In the 80s and 90s advanced mathematics took over banking. The senior managers liked what the mathematicians or ‘quants’ could do and were happy to follow the herd but did not always understand what the quants were telling them. The quants made inaccurate calculations about risk and they failed to recognize that humans, even expert humans are prone to make certain sorts of cognitive mistakes. They did not consider that house prices might fall. Then it was the ‘failure ‘of regulators, politicians and central bakers all of whose job it was to look out for signs of economic danger. Many now point the finger at Alan Greenspan who as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank was in charge of US monetary policy under four US presidents between 19987 and 2006. PIGS is the collective name given to those countries in the Eurozone which arguably hitched a ride on the reputation of the German deutschmark when the euro was first created-Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain. The rescue by governments at huge financial cost meant that government finances suffered a significant low, leading in some cases, to austerity and recession ultimately leading to a sovereign debt crisis. The developed world mortgaged its future with a foolish bet on asset prices especially housing and a reliance on the finance sector. Something will turn up eventually to recue us but it may not be to the West’s liking especially to the USA’s liking. A new order will emerge and like many of the goods sold in Western supermarkets this new order will be made in China.
Lunchtime meeting – Dyfed Powys Police work by Chief Inspector Robyn Mason – 24th July 2012
Club President Hywel Wyn Jones in introducing this week’s speaker, Chief Inspector Robyn Mason, said that he had been brought up in Llandre, knew the people of the area and exemplified the concept of a community based police service .
In reviewing the history of the force, four county constabularies were amalgamated in 1968. The name changed to the Dyfed Powys Police in 1972 becoming geographically, the largest police force in England and Wales.
CI Mason emphasized that the force was community based, working with the consent of the community rather than imposing themselves on the people. He instanced the reaction of the Met police officers who accompanied the Olympic torch on its travels. They were hugely impressed with the interaction of the local officers and the public.
The force has 1,300 officers providing a 24 hour capability with a Chief Constable, Deputy Chief and Assistant Chief Constable as senior members.
The Force Mission Statement is “ to ensure the safety of the community and individuals in the force area and their confidence in their police force”.
The chief inspector personally encouraged his officers to mix with the public on every occasion enabling them to read situations when they arose.
Between April-June 2012 there had been 966 offences with a 50.9% detection rate showing an increase on last year.
The need to reduce costs by £13 million by 2015-16 was a huge challenge. A rise of 5% in the precept would for example cost a Band D household and extra 18p a week.
In November 2012 the Police Authority will cease to exist to be replaced by a Police Commissioner elected on the 15 of November.
Concluding CI Mason said that his force area was one of the safest in England & Wales, where criminals are most likely to caught and where people are more likely to have a higher quality of service from their police force. But a final word of caution, criminals now travel further afield so there was a need to avoid complacency.
Past –president Alun P Thomas thanked the speaker for the insight into the working of his force. Members were unaware of much that was said and were surely heartened by the presentation.
President Hywel announced that the total of Club’s Flood Appeal fund, supported by Rotary Clubs near and far had reached £10,000.
Lunchtime meeting – The life of David Lloyd by Dr Rhidian Griffiths – 10th July 2012
The great Welsh tenor, David Lloyd was the subject of a talk given by Dr Rhidian Griffiths of the National Library to members at this week’s meeting.
Born in Trelogan, Flintshire in 1912 he was one of seven children born into a coal mining family. He left school at 14 to become an apprentice carpenter at the same time competed and won in local eisteddfodau before being trained in Chester by Mathew Williams.
Flint people recognizing his talents, raising money to take him to the Guildhall School of music when he was 19. There under the tutelage of Wm Hyde he won all the available prizes being described as’ having a voice of uncommon beauty’ and the ‘voice of an angel’.
In 1938 Lloyd took the title role in the Glyndebourne Festival production of Verdi’s Macbeth as well as principal tenor at a Mozart festival in Belgium and Verdi in Denmark.
He also performed with Sadler’s Wells.
The war, with service in the Welsh Guards put his career on hold for five years.
In 1946 he resumed his singing career mainly at concerts all over the UK and radio broadcasts with series such as ‘Silver Chords’ singing sentimental songs rather than opera. He became well loved and a celebrity in his own time. During the darkest days of the war his hymn singing struck a chord which touched peoples’ hearts.
Sadly health and other problems undermined his career and an accident in June 1954 at a BBC production in Kinmel Park where he suffered a fracture spine left him unable to perform and he died in 1969.
His was a sad story where full potential was never achieved. Unusually fellow professionals like Isobel Bailey with whom he sang duets, were loud in their praise for his pleasant lyrical voice and great breath control .
Dr Griffiths closed his tribute with a recording by David Lloyd of ‘Bugail Aberdyfi’
Past-president Emlyn Watkin, a native of Flintshire, thanked the speaker for a fascinating insight into the life of one of Wales’ greatest singers –the Bryn Terfel of his time.
Lunchtime meeting – Meet the President Interview by Alun Rees – 3rd July 2012
The second meeting in the new Rotary year is always a ‘face to face’ with the new Club President .It fell to past-president Alun Rees to ‘grill’ the new incumbent Hywel Wyn Jones. Hywel, a Carmarthenshire man born in 1942 attended Llandovery College. In 1953 it still had a Victorian atmosphere where black ties, first worn on the death of Queen Victoria, were still part of the school uniform. The College taught him to fight his own battles-mental and physical as well as giving him the self-confidence to engage in public life. One member of staff in particular inspired him- Carwyn James, his Welsh teacher, a Welsh rugby international and later a successful Lions coach. In 1964 it was off to UC Swansea and then a year in the classroom before gaining an administrative post at UCW Aberystwyth where he stayed for almost 40 years. Asked about changes during that period, Hywel quoted the increase in student numbers from just 2,000 when he started to 10,000 when he retired adding that he had some reservations about the way in which university expansion had generally taken place. P/P Alun noted that Hywel must be ‘a public-minded fellow’ in that he had belonged to more than 16 public bodies including the former Ceredigion District Council, the National Eisteddfod Council,, school governors, the Standards Committee of Ceredigion Council, the Fire and Police Authorities, and an Independent Reviewer of Health Service complaints.. Hywel thought that his work with the NHS addressing and adjudicating on complaints often involving vulnerable people was very rewarding and he regretted the demise of Independent Review, which had focused on addressing weaknesses and improving services, rather than financial compensation. Hywel is also kept busy in his role as concert secretary to the Aberystwyth Male Voice Choir Their work for local charities is well known but prohibitive travel costs restrict their opportunities to travel further afield. As well as Rotary, the new president enjoys travel and rugby, as an avid Scarlets supporter. Alun thanked him for taking part in the session and wished him every success in his presidential year. President Hywel had great pleasure in congratulating past-president Iori Lewis on his award of the BEM and Allen Carr who had received the Queen’s Jubilee medal. The street collection last Saturday for the Flood Appeal had raised £383. The winning balloon from the recent ‘Olympic Day’ balloon race had reached west of Dublin.
Lunchtime meeting – International development work by Dr Ian Robinson – 17th April 2012
AA International Ltd is an Aberystwyth-based consultancy that specializes in providing agricultural advice, crop and livestock assessments, rural development, food security and marketing worldwide particularly in developing countries.Its managing director Dr Ian Robinson was the speaker at this week’s meeting. His company formed in 2005 is a spin-out from the Bangor University Centre for Arid Zone studies established in 1985 of which he was founder member.
Dr Robinson spoke of his work as team leader for more than 30 UN crop and food assessment missions in countries which included Albania, Angola, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kosova and Serbia. Many of these were in conflict or post-conflict situations where Ian, in some cases, experienced opposition and even arrest.AA International staff and associates have decades of relevant field experience providing services for the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the UN World Food Programme., the EC and the British Government department for International Development, Oxfam, FARM Africa and many others. Very recently the company had secured another contract for work with the Eritrean government. Past-president Richard Morgan in thanking Ian commented on his remarkable career which had been hazardous and challenging but very rewarding and worthwhile. His talk had conjured up images of starvation, ethnic cleansing and abject suffering but it had also been enriching for the members whose organisation was deeply involved internationally to learn at first hand of essential work in developing countries.
64th Charter night – Professor April McMahon, Vice Chancellor Aberystwyth University – 24th March
Prof McMahon was aware of the ambitious projects of Rotary in particular the sponsorship of international students through Rotary Foundation. Like universities, through local and international interaction, the lives of young people were enhanced and their prospects improved . The University was among the top three in the world for student satisfaction.
In fluent Welsh, Prof McMahon spoke of her background and of her seven months in the job. Her audience was pleased to learn that there was no intention to dispose of the Old College. It was a crucial part of the University, in a unique location on the promenade.
Future use could possibly be a gallery to house the large art collection of the University. and a post-graduate centre.
Culturally and economically the University was of great benefit to the town and it was vital that both worked together.
Commenting on being the first woman to head the University, Prof McMahon reminded her audience that in 1953 Prof Lily Newton was acting principal for a short time.
Club president Sonia Dobson in welcoming the guests, reviewed her year to date and paid tribute to the public who supported the many Club projects.
Lunchtime meeting – Keep Wales Tidy (KWT) by Richard Thomas – 27th March 2012
The speaker at the last meeting in March was Richard Wyn Thomas of ‘Keep Wales Tidy’. The aims of his organisation is to support the people of Wales to take responsibility for the quality of their local environment. This involves the establishment and development of community groups to carry out these aims.
In Ceredigion there are 68 active groups with more than 2000 volunteers giving nearly 20,000 hours of voluntary service. Since April 2211, 113 tonnes of litter have been collected from coastlines, woodlands and rivers.
We have become a nation with a throw-away culture, indeed it is a massive global problem. Richard showed images of the build up of plastic on the shore line-plastic bags and fishing net. With the abundance of wild life in the Irish Sea for example, to a porpoise or seal an inflated plastic bag resembles a jellyfish . recently a rare leather-back turtle was found to have a gut full of plastic.
Thankfully recycling is becoming the norm with children readily accepting the principle and are increasingly becoming involved in conservation. Tree planting, work on the coastal path, planting marram grass on sand dunes, coppicing and creating board walks are some of the activities. The removal rhododendrons, himalayan balsam and Japanese knot grass are other tasks.
President Sonia thanked the speaker for his wide ranging talk adding that Club members would again be actively involved on Environmental Day April 11 on clearing litter from various location in or near the town
Lunchtime meeting – Credit Unions by Malcolm Dye – 13th March 2012
Malcolm Dye spoke on the working of credit unions, with the aim of helping one to take control of money, encouraging saving and to borrow only what can be afforded. They are community savings and loan cooperatives where members pool their savings to lend to one another and help run the credit union. You can only join the organisation if you share a ‘common bond ‘ with other members, such as living or working together in the same area, working for same employer or belonging to the same union, church or other association. Members run credit unions in a not-for-profit way so that the money is used to run their services and reward their members, not to pay outside shareholders. Ceredigion has its own branch known as Cred Cer Credit Union, a friendly, community bank based in Cardigan which offers a range of savings accounts and loans available to anyone who lives, works or studies in the county. Ethical and focused locally, it keeps local money flowing around the community by pooling savings to promote loans.
Linked to credit unions is Credit Action a charity dedicated to helping educate individuals and families in all aspects of money management. . They produce a series of money manuals dealing with debt, control of money and saving money. The booklets are available from St Anne’s Church, Penparcau , they have been distributed to 10% of households in the village.
Mr Dye also spoke of Jubilee Storehouse another ministry of St Anne’s Church. It might seem unbelievable that anyone in twenty first century Wales would be unable to afford to buy food for their family but it does happen. Some 21% of families have no savings just relying on money coming in week by week. If something happens to stop that income
then a crisis can quickly result. Those living on the edge of poverty are particularly vulnerable. Jubilee Storehouse can quickly step in with a supply of food and other necessities for a few days while the underlying issues are tackled as well as pointing people to the organisations who can help. Supplies are given to those who have received vouchers from health or social workers for example. The project would welcome donations of long shelf-life foods –tins and dry or powdered foods are ideal. Churches or groups could be involved by becoming a collecting centre-more information from
0800 242 5844
Lunchtime meeting – Parc Natur Penglais by David Adamson – 6th March 2012
Parc Natur Penglais is a designated Local Nature reserve at the heart of the town comprising a mature woodland of mixed deciduous trees and including a long abandoned quarry in the Aberystwyth Grits which provided much of the stone for the building of local houses. The woods form part of the large Penglais estate built in the 18th century
A member of the committee responsible for looking after the reserve, David Adamson, spoke to Club members this week on its history and development .
In 1991 a group of local residents got together to advise and assist the owners, Ceredigion County Council, in the management of the Parc and four years later the Council declared the area a Local Nature Reserve. The partnership has transformed an old quarry and neglected woods into a venue that now receives 30,000 visits a year, according to the hidden cameras on the site, reaching a peak in May during the bluebell period.
In recognition of the work of repairing stone walls and improvement of paths, the reserve became the only UNESCO Man and Biosphere urban reserve in Wales. It received the Prince of Wales Award in 1993 and the Green Flag award in 2011.
The Committee arranges two work days a year when volunteers improve paths, rebuild walls, clear brambles, slash gorse and plant trees. In this respect the vital help of the University Conservation group has to be recognized.
Apart from its recreational use, local schools use the Parc for educational purposes and for the past 20 years, Penglais School has been involved using it for scientific field work. The erection of educational boards has assisted this pursuit.
The speaker invited members to join in the work days and to use it for recreation and walking. A newsletter published twice yearly is available.
In thanking David for his presentation, President Sonia also paid tribute to the committee and volunteers for their dedicated work in creating such a wonderful facility for the populace..
Lunchtime meeting – Palestine Solidarity Campaign by Elizabeth Morley – 27 February 2012
Elizabeth Morley is the secretary of the local branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. At this week’s meeting she spoke of the area and its problems and in particular the town of Marda with which the Aberystwyth branch of PSC is forging links.
Marda is located north of the West Bank and has been greatly affected by the Israeli illegal settlement of Ariel. Over one third of its land has been confiscated with large number of villages destroyed to accommodate 470,000 Israeli settlers.
Unemployment in the Marda region is 80%, life is dominated by gates and security fences. A thriving olive oil industry has been ruined by the wholesale destruction of olive groves. Water is scarce and the supply totally cut off on occasions to feed the new settlements. Children have been traumatised after witnessing the incursions of the military.
The speaker gave notice of a talk by Rabbi Cohen “Zionism v. Judaism” at the Morlan Centre on Sunday April 1st at 6.30 pm.
Evening meeting – Birds in Ceredigion by Mike Hayward – 21st February 2012
Dr Mike Hayward, a noted local wildlife photographer, was the speaker at an evening meeting this week.
Since his retirement as a PSO at the former Plant Breeding Station he has pursued his interest in bird life. As a young man he was inspired by the work of Eric Hoskin the undisputed expert at wild life photography.
Mike emphasised the need to take account of the welfare of birds and to be licensed by the CCW.
He was able to show the wealth of bird life in Ceredigion through truly magnificent images taken in many habitats including the sea shore. The Dyfi estuary, though poor in numbers due to little mud, had a wide variety of species including a heavy influx of waders like red shanks on passage from Siberia and Greenland to Africa. The plover and sanderling with three toes rather than four which enable it to move quickly. The purple sandpiper from Alaska stays for the winter and can be seen regularly on the harbour’s wooden jetty first recorded 1923. The nicely coloured godwits and the white barred turnstones and oyster catchers including an albino form were caught by Mike’s lens. The shelduck is very colourful regular visitor to the saltings on the Leri and Dyfi as well as the little egret a native of southern Europe which has bred in the county in the past 5 years-another sign perhaps of climate change. Similarly the glossy ibis, ringed in S Spain in ’07 had been photographed in Borth. Ceredigion is a stronghold of the chough though it is in decline. A shot of huge numbers of shearwaters and gannets diving for fish off Borth beach was particularly remarkable, these birds bred in their thousands on the Pembrokeshire islands
In the wetlands, lakes and rivers the dipper, kingfisher and heron have suffered from the recent severe winters. Perhaps less welcome has been the appearance of goosanders in the last 20 years on west Wales rivers. a voracious feeder decimating the fish stock.
With the help of amazing slides, Mike spoke of the great conservation success of the red kite thanks to the efforts of the Welsh Kite Trust. In 1935 there were two pairs left in Wales in the Towy valley, now we can boast of over a thousand breeding pairs.
A closing shot showed the now famous starling roost on Aber pier and their aerial acrobatics which has been a huge boost for local tourism following the BBC AutumnWatch programme.
Lunchtime meeting – Rhoserchan Drug & Rehabilitation centre by Annette Rumble – 14 February 2012
At a recent meeting the chief executive of the Drug and Rehabilitation Centre at Rhoserchan, Penrhyncoch , Annette Rumble, spoke of the work of this charity, a not- for -profit organisation.
The treatment is a 12 week programme of residential rehabilitation for men and women who need help to stop using drugs and alcohol.
Rhoserchan was founded 25 years ago housed in small cabins in Capel Seion but since 2007 uses purpose built premises in Blaencastell, Penrhyncoch with accommodation for 22 people.
The speaker illustrated the work of the centre which has a 54% success rate, with two cases, one of whom had been described as a one man crime wave to feed his heroin habit. He is now resettled and rehoused. The other, started drinking at 17, became a frequent visitor to A&E , divorced and lost custody of his son. With good food and care at the centre, his health improved he was able to leave after 6 months and has become an ambassador for Rhoserchan.
Only total abstinence is acceptable at the centre. Before admission, the cost to society is estimated at £86,000.
Ms Rumble was critical of the fact that not enough patients were being referred to the centre. The Welsh Government paid for 91 patients to have rehabilitation treatment but only 50% were treated in Wales.
The speaker extended an invitation to visit the centre- ‘the doors are always open’
Lunchtime meeting – My Job talk by Rtn Dr John Harries – 10th January 2012
Dr John Harries, a recently inducted member, gave his ‘My Job’ talk at this week’s meeting. Dr Harries retired from his post as Pro Vice Chancellor of Aberystwyth University in 2010.
An Aber graduate of 1970, he completed a PhD in 1974 and was appointed lecturer at the Welsh Agricultural College, becoming its Principal in 1992. When the College merged with the University in 1995 he became the first Director of Teaching of the newly formed Welsh Institute of Rural Sciences based at the Llanbadarn Campus.Following a period of four years as Dean of the University’s Faculty of Science, John was appointed Pro Vice Chancellor in 2005. His strategic responsibilities included the University’s estates, human resources and special projects. He jointly led the University’s successful application for degree awarding powers in 2006 and was significantly involved in the merger of IGER into the University to establish IBERS. Major areas of activity in Human Resources included staff promotion, pay structures and job evaluation for some two thousand staff, all significant challenges. During John’s time as Pro Vice Chancellor, he led the development of a new 10-year estate strategy with the major objective of focusing activities on the Penglais Campus in order to improve operational efficiency. Strong recruitment and growth in student numbers, reflecting the University’s excellent performance in national student satisfaction surveys, put greater pressure on ensuring sufficient student accommodation of good quality. John outlined a major project for developing new student accommodation on University land at Penglais Farm. Dr Harries concluded by emphasizing the internationally competitive nature of higher education, this inevitably meant continual and considerable change in order to progress and keep ahead.
President Sonia thanked the speaker for his Job Talk which had given an insight into his career and an overview of the changes he had witnessed.
Evening meeting – New Years message by Ken Richards – 3rd January 2012
At this week’s New Year Message meeting, Celia Gardner, the President of the Inner Wheel club brought greetings from her members and thanks for the support of Rotarians in their many joint ventures which had been happy and fruitful. She looked forward to the Strasbourg visit in May and another summer pig roast. Celia asked that we think of those suffering in other countries and to be aware of the possible detrimental changes in our local hospital.
The chief guest was Ken Richards former senior lecturer in Economics at the University whose theme was ‘ Thoughts on 2012.’ Regardless of the euro crisis, it would be a challenging time for the UK. He would speak on alternative ways of getting around the problem Distribution of wealth was very unequal with half of households having less than £1000 of assets while the top 10% own over half of the wealth. The speaker advocated increasing capital spending via housing, the rail network, for example, which would increase the taxation revenue. The 20% basic rate of tax penalises the lowest income earners. The rate could be raised with increased allowances for the needyThe VAT, raised last year to 20% is unevenly applied. It should be raised for all but the lower paid should be compensated. Inheritance tax could be levied on the donor not the recipient- the threshold of £650 K benefits the high income earners.Surprisingly Mr Richards showed that the cost of motoring had reduced in the last 30 years whereas public transport costs had increased. The net effect of Osborne’s delayed rise in fuel duty was a £1 billion loss in revenue which was retrieved by the cutting of child credit.In respect of higher education tuition fees, the move to shift the burden has failed. The loan system will increase spending while the support system is an anachronism where a family on £100K income can get the same support as a one-parent family
In giving the vote of thanks, past-president Richard Morgan said that the speaker had put forward many challenging ideas showing the tangle of economics with politics. The growing gap between rich and poor, the alienation of young people with a million unemployed may have serious consequences. He agreed that there was a need for redirection of policy for tuition fees where UK and overseas students were treated very differently.
The chair of Community and Vocational committee, past –president Meurig Lewis reported that the Christmas collection has raised £2,906 for local charities.. He thanked Vaughan Electricals, John Davies Jeweller, and Phillip Evans Estates for their invaluable support.
Lunchtime meeting – 2011 Scout Jamboree by Christopher Davies & Stewart Gethin – 3rd January 2012
At their first meeting of 2012, on 3rd January, Aberystwyth Rotary Club welcomed two Scouts as their guests to talk about their experiences in July and August 2011 when they attended the World Scout Jamboree in Sweden. Christopher Davies and Stewart Gethin are members of the 2nd Borth Scout Group, and they described the process by which they were selected to be in the 40-strong party of Scouts, Guides and 4 leaders, representing south-west Wales. Their unit was called Deheubarth, inspired by the name of this part of Wales in medieval timesWith an excellent display of their own photographs, the boys described the seven team-bonding meetings of the unit held in locations ranging from Burry Port to Cwm Newyddion to prepare them for the JamboreTheir outward journey included a stop-over at Copenhagen where they saw the sights, including the Little Mermaid, and began to appreciate the size of the UK contingent, at 4444.Arriving at the Jamboree in Sweden, they erected their tents and explored the site which was temporary home to 40,000 participants. The boys’ pictures included an Offa’s Dyke sign that they had humorously erected between Deheubarth and a neighbouring English unit. Christopher and Stewart described the many activities that they enjoyed, including going to another site to camp with Swedish scouts. On the return journey the boys were fortunate to travel via Iceland where they had the advantage of being accommodated in a scout-hut for 5 days. This provided the opportunity to visit hot geysers and to go whale-watching.Christopher and Stewart concluded their talk with thanks to local organisations, including Rotary, that had provided financial support for their trip.In thanking the boys, President Sonia congratulated them on being selected and on their excellent presentation and said that the Rotary Club was very pleased to have been able to help them to participate in such a wonderful experience >