Lunchtime meeting – Dr John Fish – 10 December 2013
Dr John Fish MBE, a former Director of IBERS and Dean of Science at the University between 2006 and 2008 was this week’s speaker. His topic was the ecology and fisheries of Cardigan Bay very appropriate for one whose research been on the coastal and esturine ecology and management of inshore fisheries. In so doing, Dr Fish has worked closely with local fishermen on the sustainable management of Cardiga n Bay fishing.
The Bay is special but Dr Fish considered that maximum benefit from those waters was not being achieved particularly in regards to tourism.
He spoke of the extremely important geological features, the sarns , glacial features produced when different ice flows met each other dumping their transported material to form the five causeways of the Bay. The Sarns are host to a variety of plant and animal life- the benthos, which are environmentally sensitive and need protection.
EU member states have to designate special areas of conservation, Cardigan Bay is one such an SAC with probably the largest breeding populations of dolphins in the UK.
Of great concern is the effect of dredging for scallops, a high priced item worth £6-7 per annum with more than 95% of no benefit to Wales. Merchants travel along the coast collecting live lobster and prawn for markets outside Wales because there is no shore-side infrastructure like vacuum packing and freezing.
Dr Fish thought that Aberystwyth was perfectly suited to become a maritime centre around the harbor with possibly an aquarium open to the public, coffee shops and restaurant which would generate revenue from tourism to sustain the facilities.
Past-president Hywel Wyn Jones thanked the speaker for painting a wholesome picture of what the sea provides and setting out an agenda for the future.
Lunchtime meeting – Rev. Paul Thomas – 12 November 2013
The Founder Director of Ty Cariad Africa, the Revd Paul Thomas, was this week’s speaker. For 34 years he was an operational fireman , completing a theological training course whilst still in the service. On retirement, Rev Paul became a full time minister and was appointed as service chaplain for the whole of the UK fire service.
Paul became involved in Missions Ministry in Uganda once the pearl of Africa ,before the time of Idi Amin. More than half of the population are children of whom 12% are orphans. There is no birth control and AIDS is rife.
Using funds raised by fire stations he has been able to build a school in the bush and his latest project is the construction of a baby / child rescue unit called Ty Cariad.
Where before water had to be brought in from distance, a water bore hole provides clean water which supplies showers and a new kitchen block. Using homemade equipment a play-ground has been created as well as a productive garden.
Paul’s wife a retired teacher has helped 47 children to attend school .For the older children a new accommodation block with individual rooms has been built which will provide a home for life whereas 8 years ago the children had nothing.
After a moving account of a successful operation, Rtn Colin Eagles gave the vote of thanks saying that members will have been moved by the vision and commitment of Revd Paul in the establishment of Ty Cariad Africa.
Lunchtime meeting – Dr John Harries – 5 November 2013
At this week’s meeting, Club member John Harries gave a slide presentation of a visit to Uttar Pradesh in northern India and Nepal.
Uttar Pradesh is India’s most populous state , at 200 million it is the most densely populated area in the world.
Shots of Delhi showed it to be crowded, noisy, dilapidated and dirty, with bicycles and tuktuks the main mode of transport and tricycles the load carriers. Cows, given exhalted status by Hindus, roamed the street . Their milk has a key role in religious rituals, they till the fields and their dung is dried for fuel.
India’s largest mosque- Jama Masjid built in the 17 th century holds 25,000 worshippers
By contrast New Delhi, capital of India has magnificent buildings largely designed by Lutyens in the early 1900s, the tree lined avenues of Rajpath and the tallest stone built tower in India at 72 metres high, the Qutub Minar a UNESCO world heritage site.
The Taj Mahal at Agra seen at dawn is unforgettable with detail of its marble mosaic and inlays. Another UNESCO site east of Delhi, Khajuraho with its surviving 22 temples famous for erotic carvings.
Away from cities to the banks of the river Ganges, one of the most polluted rivers in the world . The steps or Ghats on the banks held crowds waiting to bathe in the sacred waters or involved in open cremation which to the Hindus provided instant salvation.
Khatmandu at 4500 ft above sea level is capital of landlocked Nepal and overcrowded with 2.5 million people. Power failure occurs daily due to an inefficient hydroelectric system. With 46% unemployment men just sit around while some find escape from poverty and join the very competitive race to enlist in the Gurkhas.
Most Nepalese are both Hindu and Buddhist and share the same temple- Boudhanath Stupa is one of the largest in the world. The people are constantly walking around chanting, praying and turning prayer wheels.
The final slides were of Everest and Lhotse’s south peak- the world’s fourth highest mountain .
Presient Colin , in thanking John, said his talk had portrayed a way of life, culture and religious customs as well as the sites attractive to tourist.
Lunchtime meeting – Allan Wynne Jones – 29 October 2013
Allan Wynne Jones, this week’s speaker, was the first chair of the Dyfi Biosphere partner ship. The area of the Dovey Valley, Aberystwyth and surroundings has been recognized by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve since 2009, the first in Wales, one of 610 worldwide including Mount Olympus, Yellowstone National Park and the Central Amazon Reserve.
The core area includes Cors Fochno-Borth Bog with three Special Areas of Conservation though most of the biosphere is not a conservation area simply areas where people live work and visit. It is home to some of the best examples of special landscapes and wild-life areas in Europe with a community that cares for and takes care of this special place which allows its heritage, culture and local economy to thrive in harmony with the natural environment.
The speaker outlined some of the challenges- the need for better relations with the farming community, to engage more with Welsh speakers, and the business section as well as with the general public. He hoped that Rotary with its link to UNESCO would add its weight to the aims of the biosphere project and join with the groups of volunteers who make different aspects of the project happen.
President Colin thanked Allan for his presentation, the content of which was perhaps new to many present.
Evening meeting – Professor Alex Maltman – 22 October 2013Professor Alex Maltman of the University’s department of Earth Science was the speaker at this week’s evening meeting. His choice of topic “Wine,Whisky and Beer- the role of Geology ” posed the question-‘Does geology affect the tastes of wine, beer and whisky. And if so, how and by how much in each case ?
Many wine writers use terms like earthy,stony, flinty or mineralic even suggesting that vines growing near Vesuvius impart a taste of the volcanic ash into the wine. The implication being that the taste is due to the take up of minerals by the vine from the underlying rocks and soils of the vineyard. But minerals in the bedrock and soil are complicated compounds and insoluble which is significant as vines like other plants can only take in dissolved matter. Additionally practically all geological minerals are tasteless. The speaker argued that the taste characteristics arise during the process of winemaking and geology only indirectly influences the performance of the vines for example land form, slope angle to catch the sun’s rays, soil colour , water availability. Overridng the natural geology by terracing, irrigation and windmills to prevent frost damage all contribute to the character of the wine if not the flavour.
In the marketing of whisky we are told that water is all important-soft water absorbs more from the malted barley, granite is the key to it all. Not so says, Prof Maltman , Speyside has 40 distilleries with only two on the granite. Although water is important in distilling, factors like cereals used, the use of peat smoke during malting and the distillation and maturation processes all seem to have a greater influence on the taste of whisky than does the water used.
The influence of geology on beer is undisputed . the growing of hops needs well drained soil and dry air as Kent soil provides. Beer is 97% water which ideally is drawn from aquifers where the water has lain for centuries.. The ground water of Burton-on-Trent is an ideal brewing water with a blend of ions which give a perfect acidity and the underlying gypsum deposits provide a high sulphate content which gives the beer a stability which allows it to be exported-Indian pale ales were born in Burton.
The speaker concluded that the role of geology had been overhyped for wines, less so for whisky but geology and the character of beer is undisputed.
Rtn Iori Jones thanked the speaker for a fascinating and entertaining talk delivered with humour and wit.
Lunchtime meeting – ADG Bill Walker – 15 October 2013
The Assistant District Governor, Bill Walker, a member of the Llandovery Rotary Club, spent 40 years in Zimbabwe involved in agricultural engineering.
At this week’s meeting he spoke of his life there from 1971. Much of his time was spent developing irrigation systems- with autumn temperatures around 35C, sugar cane was intensively grown though cut and bundled by hand. At 20 degrees south of the equator it is claimed to have the most equitable climate in the world,
With the declaration of UDI under Ian Smith in 1965, its economy grew, land was cleared and crops like tobacco, maize and cotton flourished. However after 1979 under Mugabi and land grabbing, thousands of farmers fled the country. Today the country depends on imports of food and has spiraled from being the most wealthy of African countries to being the most impoverished and under sanctions.
In 2006, discovered after an earthquake, what is the world’s richest diamond mine was found in Marange . In 2013 it will produce 16.9 million carats but it has not brought wealth to the people or to the government, it has gone into the pockets of senior politicians and Zanu-PF officals. Indeed many illicit miners were machine gunned by the air force in the Marange massacre.
Club President Colin Fletcher thanked the speaker for a fascinating talk albeit a sad commentary on a country so rich in natural resources but brought to its knees by corruption and bad government .
Following the meeting, Rotarians were engaged on assembling the Message in a Bottle container. Social Services will distribute the bottles to the elderly and infirm, which will contain information about the person’s medication . The bottle, clearly marked with green cross , will be kept in the household fridge where it will be accessible to the emergency services.
Lunchtime meeting – Dr Joanne Hudson – 8 October 2013Dr Joanne Hudson of the University department of Sport and Exercise Science was this week’s speaker with a talk entitled Fat, Fit ,Forget It. The basis of the university degree course is the application of science to enhance sport and exercise experiences taught in state of the art facilities in the Carwyn James building on the campus.
Dr Hudson spoke of the health benefits, both physical and mental , of exercise, reminding us that two thirds of adults are obese. She spoke of exercise for prevention and exercise for treatment –exercise helps us cope with life stresses which if one is physically fit allows of a higher quality of life. This applies particularly to the older adults who should be aware of fall prevention for which programmes are available. Most are not active-we need 30minutes of moderate intensity sport at least three times a week. Exercise must become a habit-forget excuses like ‘I’m too fat’, ‘ its too much like hard work’. ‘I’ve too much work to do’ . Unless something is done, with the elderly population increasing, the NHS will not be able to cope.
Rtn Bob Hughes Jones, in giving the vote of thanks, highlighted the situation of the modern child who spent too much time indoors. They need to get out and be active.
Lunchtime meeting – Zambia volunteer (Foundation scholar) – Ella Fletcher – 3 September 2013
The second young person to receive the Club’s grant towards oversees humanitarian work, spoke of her experiences at this week’s meeting.
Ella Fletcher, a sports science and geography student at Loughborough University recently spent six weeks in Zambia with the IDEALS project- International Development through Excellence and Leadership in Sport. Ella was one of sixteen students from seven UK universities supported by Sport in Action and Edusport , two NGOs whose purpose is to improve people’s quality of life through sport and recreational activities .
Ella specialized in netball, football and volley ball in six schools integrated with the message of HIV and AIDS, drug and alcohol abuse prevention, gender equality, and other health and life skills. The some regions of the country 70% of children have been diagnosed with HIV
The Zambia IDEALS scheme has reached 14,000 young people since it was established in 2006.
In thanking the speaker, Rtn Hugh Davies said that without exception the awardees of the Club’s grants had proved themselves to be excellent ambassadors and Ella had shown the same degree of commitment and enthusiasm, an experience which would surely enhance her future career.
Lunchtime meeting – Introductory talk – Martin Davies – 13 August 2013Rtn Martin Davies, as a relatively new member, gave his introductory talk to the Club this week. Martin has been a solicitor in Aberystwyth for 25 years and his talk focused on his early years and the changes he has seen in his professional career.
A native of Aberporth, he attended secondary school in Cardigan and graduated in law from UCW, gaining professional qualifications in Guildford. He spent six years in a law practice in Canterbury, first as an articled clerk and then specialized in company law at a boom time in industry when many new companies formed. Though work was a priority, socially the closeness of France was very attractive.
However ‘hiraeth’ took over and in 1987 Martin came to Aber and ever since has been involved in private practice in the town.
In those intervening 25 years he has seen great changes in the profession with such things as money laundering and company fraud, and recently significant changes to civil Legal Aid where all family law has been removed from the scheme in order to save money.
As people live longer, care homes become an issue as does the mental capacities of individuals.
In Wales the number of solicitors has risen from 46,000 twenty five years ago to 120,000 currently though locally the number has remained fairly constant.
In the past it was possible to ‘pop next door’ to a fellow solicitor to discuss matters but with electronic communication it means that there is now competition with solicitors nationwide as the public scan the internet so no longer is there a face to face consultation. This has resulted in more active regulation where before the profession was ‘local’ and self-regulating .
The once confidential client-solicitor relationship has been eroded, where some cases for example, money laundering has to be disclosed to the authorities without informing the client. Martin considers this to be disappointing development.
He touched on ABS- the alternative business structure which provides for legal services with some form of non-lawyer involvement. Will banks and insurance companies move in with buy one get one free philosophy?
President Colin thanked the speaker for a very interesting and informative talk adding that the loss of legal aid could have serious consequences for some families.Lunchtime meeting – Honduras volunteer (Foundation scholar) – Rhianna Davies – 6 August 2013
Global Brigades (GB) is a student-led, nonprofit health and sustainable development organisation. Participating student and professional volunteers empower communities in developing countries with sustainable solutions that improve quality of life and environment while respecting local culture.
Rhianna Davies from Pontrhydygroes received a grant from the Club to undertake humanitarian aid with GB . She recently informed members how she used her award.
Rhianna , a second year medical student in Birmingham University, spent ten days this summer in Honduras where as a member of a medical brigade she helped distribute anti-parasite tablets and multivitamins as well as helping in an orphanage where 7-11 children lived in a house with a nanny. Her Spanish soon improved by these contacts as well as by educating children how to clean their teeth using the bristle end not the handle!
She was also involved in community work where one of the tasks was to mix concrete for the base of a new hygiene block which she saw to completion.
Rhianna thanked the Club for enabling her participation in the aid work which had been a great experience particularly for a medical student.
Rtn John Pugh Jones thanked the speaker for her presentation adding that a modest investment by the Club had resulted in great work and a possibly life-changing experience
Lunchtime meeting – Ambassadorial Scholar Chi-Mao – 9 July 2013President Colin Fletcher and fellow Rotarians were delighted to welcome back John Bradshaw who had recently had an operation; he was wished a full and speedy recovery.
In the previous week, Rotarians had been running mock interviews for pupils at Ysgol Penweddig. John Harries, Alun John and Geraint Thomas from the Rotary Club, joined three professionals from the community to conduct interviews for some 85 year 11 pupils who had recently been undertaking work experience. Mrs Joyce Howells, Head of Year 11 at Penweddig, said that the interviews had been very valuable for the pupils who would be taking GCSE examinations next year.
The guest speaker at the meeting was Ambassadorial Scholar Chi-Mao Wang, who was accompanied by his wife Ker-Hsuan. Chi-Mao had been sponsored by the Rotary Club of Taipei Shilin in Taiwan and, for the last three years, had been a research student at Aberystwyth University’s Institute of Geography and Earth Studies (IGES). The Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship programme aims to bridge cultures and encourage goodwill among people from different parts of the world. While abroad, scholars serve as goodwill ambassadors to the country where they study and give presentations about their own culture to Rotary clubs and other groups. Back home, scholars share with Rotarians and others the experiences that deepened their understanding of another culture.
As Ambassadorial Scholar, Chi-Mao had fulfilled speaking commitments at a total of eleven Rotary Clubs in west Wales and beyond. He illustrated this using a skilfully constructed and entertaining digital presentation to the accompaniment of “You’ve got a friend in me”!
Chi-Mao had recently completed his PhD dissertation in rural politics and was awaiting the viva voce examination in September. Ker-Hsuan was also a PhD student at IGES. Chi-Mao thanked all the members of the Rotary Club for their warm welcome, in particular President Colin and Delyth Fletcher for their hospitality, John Bradshaw, who had been his host counsellor, and Sonia and Max Dobson and Emlyn Watkin for their support and friendship.
In proposing a vote of thanks, John Bradshaw noted that Chi-Mao had fulfilled the role of Ambassadorial Scholar to the highest standards and wished him and Ker-Hsuan every success for the future. In conclusion, President Colin presented Chi-Mao and Ker-Hsuan with a pair of wine goblets each emblazoned with a dragon to symbolise Welsh and Taiwanese cultures
Lunchtime meeting – Meet our President – 2 July 2013
Traditionally the first meeting of the new Rotary year is the interrogation of the new club president. It fell to past-president Alun Rees to question Club President Colin Fletcher on his life and career.
Colin was born in Cheshire of English and Scottish parents, He graduated in Economics at Aberystwyth , then followed an MA from Lancaster. After a period in the Finance department at Manchester University he joined UCW in 1972 as an administrator in the Buildings Office working on the new buildings programme including the conversion of Brynamlwg into a Sports and Social club
.Colin then moved to the Finance Department with responsibility for Support Staff within the University, subsequently becoming Director of Human Resources for all staff.
In a period of change, funding for teaching and research had implications for staffing levels across all departments. Some new departments were established including Theatre, Film and TV Studies which proved to be very popular. Another development was the merger of the College of Librarianship and the Welsh Agricultural College into the University.
The establishment of the Welsh Assembly saw it responsible for the funding of Higher Education in Wales. Colin’s last major project before retirement was to manage a programme for the introduction of a new pay and grading scheme across all Higher Education institutions in Wales.
Asked about his interests, Rotary was important as was golf and bowls together with reading and travel.
Members were pleased to learn that the Club Service committee recommended that a Paul Harris Fellowship be awarded to past-president Meurig Lewis in recognition of his work for the Club, the local and business community and his church at LlanbadarnIt was also announced that Hugh Davies had won the Roy James and Alun Thomas Sports trophy for his prowess in the bowls, pool and golf tournaments
Evening meeting – Cub Assembly – 25 June 2013
At this week’s Club Assembly, the retiring Club President Hywel Wyn Jones reviewed the year’s activities. As well as the great fellowship enjoyed particularly with visits to Land Rover and Dan yr Ogof and Aberddulais, the fund raising for the Ceredigion Flood Appeal, the Air Ambulance and local charities via the Christmas street and supermarket collection had realised more than £17,000.
The many youth competitions , RYLA and the mock interview sessions had been very well supported.
Four new members had been recruited but sadly the Club had lost two in the passing of Bill Jones and Alan Thomas.
Hywel warmly thanked the committee chairs and members for their endeavours and support during the year before installing Colin Fletcher as the Club President for the Rotary year 2013-14.
Colin thanked Hywel for his very successful year in office and briefly outlined plans for fund raising and fellowship. John Harries had compiled a full programme of lunch time speakers and a fashion show was to be held in September as well as the July pig roast,
Hywel Davies having been installed as vice-president said that membership must be sustained and hoped that a junior vice president would soon be appointed to ensure succession.
The incoming committee chairs outlined their plans which included the litter collection for the environmental project of Keep Wales Tidy, vocational visits, the Christmas collection. Internationally,District proposed supporting a ‘neglected tropical diseases’ project where for very little cost great advances could be made. Water Aid, Mary’s Meals and aqua boxes would again be supported by funds from the July 28th Pig Roast and a spring sponsored swim.
Youth Services would again offer competitions for music, singing, photography, chef, and young writer as well as RYLA, Kids Out, and mock interviews.
The scholarship to assist young people travelling abroad on humanitarian work would again be available .. The Alzheimer Society would be supported by the sale of Christmas puddings.
The District Officer present, Kistia Ramaya congratulated the Club on its programme for the year.
Lunchtime meeting – Katy Spain – 18th June 2013
Since June 2012 Ceredigion County Council has been responsible for operating a Civil Parking Enforcement ( CPE) scheme in the County taking over from the Police Authority. This followed a period where there had been no enforcement of parking restrictions.
Katy Spain, the County Parking Services manager , this week’s speaker, vividly described the chaos in Aberystwyth streets during this period which proved that no enforcement was unacceptable.
The aims of the CPE scheme is to maintain the flow of traffic and ease congestion, retain and protect access for vehicles and pedestrians, make the best use of the available parking capacity and to contribute to improving road and public safety.
Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) who have replaced Traffic Wardens , patrol regularly and can issue ‘parking tickets’ officially Penalty Charge Notices .
The speaker correctly thought that few members present had re-read the Highway Code since the Sixties since when more that a hundred amendments had been made.
Some sixty offences can lead to a penalty charge including parking in bays reserved for disabled badge holders, on double yellow lines, overstaying time limits in parking bays, parking across dropped curbs, parking more than 50cms from edge of curb, not paying and displaying in a car park.
There are two penalty bands for tickets issued, higher and lower-£70 and £50 respectively with reduction for prompt payment. There is an appeal process, but Katy’s top tip was check signs and lines and notices and keep up to date with the Highway Code.
For more information visit www.ceredigion.gov.uk/parking
Rtn Garfield Williams in thanking the speaker, had seen Katy, an engineering graduate, rise in operational management in the Council and congratulated her on her clear and informative presentation and her response to the many questions asked.
Lunchtime meeting – Dr Stan Moore – 4th June 2013
This week’s talk by Dr Stan Moore, a member of Wrexham Rotary Club had the intriguing title “Bomb, Book and Compass- the Chinese invented them first”
Dr Moore, an Aber chemistry graduate, and a former lecturer in Glyndwr University, spoke of Joseph Needham CH, FRS 1900-1995, an outstanding scientist and noted Sinologist whose research and documentation listed a whole range of inventions in science, technology and medicine centuries before similar discoveries in Europe.
The Chinese were the first to produce gunpowder by mixing saltpetre, charcoal and sulphur and then by adding metals produced the first fireworks and projectiles for weapons.
In agriculture, in the sixth century, the iron ploughshare and mould board was used along with the seed drill which Europe discovered in the seventeenth century. In AD 300 citrus ants were used as biological pest control first used in the US in 1910.
Fourth century saw the first blast furnace and the making of cast and wrought iron.
In The fourth century BC came the first magnetic compass and in 150BC they produced the first gimbal which keeps a compass level. Using bamboo pipes the first deep drilling for gas was undertaken in the first century BC. Use of lacquer from the sap of a tree would have been the world’s first plastic. Bakelite was a 1907 invention.
The Chinese produced paper from hemp fibres thirteen centuries before Europe while the Chinese version of the Diamond Sutra dated 868 is the earliest complete dated printed book. They had porcelain made from kaolin fifteen centuries before Europe and the first mechanical clock as well as the wheelbarrow, the kite which allowed of the first manned flight in 560 AD, canals, a boat rudder, paddle wheeled boat and the first seismograph in AD 132.
In medicine, Harvey is said to have discovered the circulation of the blood in 1628 but the Chinese knew of it from the second century BC as well as knowledge of endocrinology, diabetes, the thyroid hormone and immunology using an attenuated version of small pox virus.
With this impressive list,the speaker asked why did the Chinese miss the Scientific Revolution which started in 1550 AD ? Whatever the reason they are catching up rapidly.
Rtn John Bradshaw said that he had been so enthralled by the talk that he had difficulty in collecting his thoughts for the vote of thanks, but he was sure that everyone present had been fascinated by the detailed and graphic presentation
Lunchtime meeting – David McParlin – 7th May 2013
Recently inducted member David McParlin gave the traditional job talk of a new member at this week’s meeting.
David has worked at the Academic Office of the University since 1974 where his responsibilities included overseeing the academic records of students, student appeals and discipline as well as unfair practices in exams and course work. The rules and regulations of the University were also within his remit.
In his 30 year service he had seen student number rise from three thousand to more than eight and a half thousand with two and a half thousand part-time students..
There has also been a huge increase in accountability, the Funding Council requires detailed information on many aspects. In the past the universities could do much as they liked for example in regards of courses . In the late eighties came he demand for details of research output. It came as shock to find Aberystywth rated 46 out of 51 !
One of the biggest change was the upsurge in strategy- there is a strategy for everything.
The university’s relationship with its students has changed from the days when marks were never disclosed . The website is brimful of information for prospective students and their parents including employability prospects.
One heartening fact is that in the annual National Student Survey where students express satisfaction or otherwise, Aberystwyth came out top in Wales for several years.
On university funding, in 1974 tuition fees were £60 per student, paid for by the county councils. Since 1998 fees have increased to £1000, £3,000 and today they are £9,000 though Welsh students are protected from the increase by the Assembly Government although there are concerns about sustainability. It has emerged that 40% of students are unable to clear debts within the time scale laid down.
President Hywel Wyn Jones thanked the speaker for an instructive and interesting talk adding that David had been involved at operative level in implementing and masterminding change.
Lunchtime meeting – Jim O’Rourke – 30th April 2013
This week’s speaker, Jim O’Rourke spent 25 years working with the Urdd, leaving as Chief Executive in 2004, to take up consultancy work with charities.
One of his early tasks was to devise a new business plan for Nantgwrtheyrn, which since 1982 had been a centre for residential and daily Welsh language courses.
The centre is in an old quarrying village situated on the north coast of the Llyn Peninsula, surrounded by the Eifl mountains and Nefyn Bay. The cottages in the village were built in 1878 to house the workers at the nearby granite quarries which provided the stone for sets to pave the streets of Liverpool and for curling stones. It became an English enclave of 2,000 men whose families travelled to Liverpool by boat for their shopping.
By 1959, the demand for sets had declined and the bay had become too shallow for the larger boats being used which allowed Penmanmawr to become the exporting centre for granite.
The Nant became a ‘ghost village’ becoming trashed by a Liverpool commune in 1970. A Manchester GP, Dr Carl Clowes arrived in 1978 and brought the village to life again and by 1982 the houses were repaired and housed those on the Welsh language residential courses which were established in 1982. Since then more than 30,000 have taken the courses offered at all levels.
The new business plan had provided a new road at a cost of half a million pounds and grant of £4.8 million had allowed redevelopment- accommodation for 120, a function room where 30 weddings were held last year and an extended café for the increasing numbers of day visitors to this beautiful area. An enlarged car park is a future project.
Rtn Geraint Thomas gave the vote of thanks for an enjoyable and informative talk adding that very few in secure jobs would seek new challenges as the speaker had done so successfully.
Lunchtime meeting – Professor Ceri Davies – 9th April 2013
Professor Ceri Davies former head of Ancient History and Classics at University of Swansea was the speaker at this week’s meeting. He spent his youth in Aberystwyth, attending Ardwyn where he was head boy and from where he gained an open scholarship to Cardiff University to study Classics and spoke of his indebtedness to his teachers at the School. Although Latin and Greek are taught less these days, there is a huge interest in the ancient world aided by television programmes. Ancient Greek was the language of Homer, Plato and the New Testament and is the root of our civilization giving us the arts, philosophy, science, maths and politics. Evidence of the Roman poet Virgil is all around us. In our pockets on a £1 coin are inscribed his words ‘decus et tutamen’- an ornament and a safeguard, a reference to an armoured breastplate. The Welsh word for pharmacy- ‘fferyllfa’ is from the root’ fferyllt ‘-an alchemist or sorcerer and the Welsh word for Virgil who, in mediaeval times was regarded as a mystical figure. The speaker concluded by referring D Gwenallt Jones who in his poem ‘Cymru’ spoke of the threat to Welsh society from industrialization and materialism using the imagery of Virgil’s classical mythology of two constricting serpents in Aeneid . Past-president Huw Spencer Lloyd in giving the vote of thanks referred to Ceri’s distinguished career at Ardwyn and his talk had made a perhaps remote subject come alive.
Lunchtime meeting – Gerald Morgan – 5th March 2013
The Rotary Club marked St David’s Day by inviting Gerald Morgan to speak at this week’s meeting. Mr Morgan was the first head of Ysgol Penweddig laying the foundations of a bilingual secondary school in the town. His notable book on Ceredigion is now out of print.
His reaction to the first St David’s Day parade in the town was one of joy and pleasure. Its obvious success was to be seen in hundreds of smiling faces with local primary schools well represented. The yellow and black flag of the Cross of St David more than 100 years old was well in evidence.
Aberystwyth has a lot to smile about with the current facelift, the new library though somewhat small was a pleasure to visit as was the National Library, no longer an ivory tower just for academics.
St David would be overwhelmed with modern life. Rhigyfarch, his biographer told of an intelligent, modest, and a hardworker in a monastery garden. He inspired others and was one of the early saints who spread Christianity among the Celts and beyond.
His oft quoted words dying words” keep the faith, be joyful and do the little things you have learnt from me ” are the foundation of a good Christian life.
Gerald , after a head count of attendance of Rotarians at the St David’s Day parade, urged members to attend with their flag next year.
Club President Hywel Wyn thanked the speaker for a great exultation of our patron saint adding that ” do the little things and be joyful” was apposite to the work of Rotary.
Lunchtime meeting – Richard Morgan – 26th February 2013
The town of Esquel in Patagonia has been twinned with Aberystwyth since 2009. At this week’s meeting a resident of that town, Jeremy Wood , brought a message from the President of Esquel Rotary Club suggesting a twinning between the two Clubs. Following an exchange of Club banners, Aber President promised that serious consideration would be given to the proposal.
At short notice Club past-president Richard Morgan discussed the recently published biography of Lord Elystan Morgan “Atgofion Oes” (Lifetime memories) –the vision of a man in terms of greater power and self determination for a nation. He contrasted this with the 2012 biography of Lyndon B Johnson who strove for personal political power whatever the cost.
Recalling his early days at Ardwyn School El;ystan admits that he lost count of the times he was called before the headmaster and how he successfully avoided the cane.
Elystan’s stay in the House of Commons as MP for Cardiganshire was relatively brief although he did begin to climb the ministerial ladder becoming Junior Minister at the Home Office. He speaks warmly of his friendships with Cledwyn Hughes and John Morris, a fellow pupil at Ardwyn. During his time in the Commons he was asked to name the orator who had formed the greatest impression on him, Elystan named two, Enoch Powell and Michael Foot.
The speaker then focused on the reasons why Elystan decided to move from Plaid Cymru to the Labour Party. There were divisions within Plaid Cymru, its President was Gwynfor Evans but his predecessor was Saunders Lewis who remained an influential and provocative character. There was an opinion in Plaid that there was need for direct action, an opinion not favoured by Gwynfor or Elystan who, in broad terms spoke with the same voice. There was one fundamental difference- Gwynfor had no time for the Labour Party, he despised what he regarded as the neglect of Wales by Labour. Elystan, however being more of a socialist recognized that if the people of Wales were to have a greater say in running their affairs, this could only be secured through the Labour Party.
Following the General Election of 1964, the Labour Government announced its proposal to create a new Cabinet Office as Secretary of State for Wales and the setting up of the Welsh Office in Cardiff.
For Elystan Morgan 1964 represents the beginning of a process which remains with us today and which is ongoing. Elystan never believed in a fully independent Wales, he prefers what he calls ‘dominion status’. With the setting up of the Assembly and its change into a Senedd or Parliament with limited law making powers and now through the Silk Commission the prospect of these powers being deepened, for Elystan Morgan, a dream and vision of Wales having the power to make its own decisions has been largely realized.
President Hywel Wyn thanked Richard for an enthralling presentation of the high quality we had come to expect from him.
Lunchtime meeting – David Steeds – 12 February 2013′
The Politics of Commemoration ‘was the title of the talk given by David Steeds at this week’s meeting. David, a retired lecturer in the department of International Politics Aberystwyth University said that the general public were aware of the significance of monuments but were less good on dates of events. The country had in the last few years seen the erection of monuments to animals in war, women in war and to the Few of the Battle of Britain. With notable exceptions such as Remembrance Day,on the eleventh day of the eleventh month marking the end of World War 1, the country was not so good on dates.
Unlike France we do not celebrate the end of the Second World War in Europe– May 8 1945 or VJ day 15 August 1945. For Australia and New Zealand, Anzac Day, marking the Gallipoli debacle, is a national holiday-April 25. The National Trust, in 2005 made a brave attempt to celebrate the centenary of the Battle of Trafalgar, one of the great naval battles which had we lost it we would all be speaking French today! The speaker asked the question what will the Government do to mark the centenary of the First World war in 2014 ? He hoped that it would not be on the lines of “O! What a Lovely War ”
Some 45 years after the Katyn Forest massacre in German -occupied Russia, a monument to the 15-30 thousand Polish nationals killed, including 8,000 Polish officers captured in 1939 by the Russians, was established in London. The mass grave was discovered by the Germans in April 1943 who were then blamed for the killings. It was not until 1990 that Russia admitted responsibility.
In thanking David, vice-president Colin Fletcher said that it was vital to remember the past to prevent similar events in the future. Like generations of his students, Club members and guests had appreciated his excellent analysis which had been joy to listen to.
Lunchtime meeting – Gwenan Williams – 29th January 2013
Gwenan Williams was a beneficiary of the Club’s scholarship scheme which helps finance voluntary work usually overseas. At this week’s meeting Club members were pleased to welcome the student from Pontrhydygroes who attends Ysgol Uchradd Tregaron to hear of her eight week visit to Ghana arranged by the Volunteer Exchange organisation.
Gwenan was based in two schools, one where youngsters of a wide age-range were taught by one teacher in one room without the advantage of desks. The other school had three teachers and was better equipped.
Gwenan had taken knitted items and toys as well as stationery which were put to good use. A project on the big cats involved the children making colourful cat-masks.
As a St John’s Ambulance cadet, she was also able to demonstrate First Aid to the children.
A visit to a monkey sanctuary involved travelling by canoe to an island where trees were planted to mark the visit. A walking safari was also undertaken as was a canopy walk above the trees using some rather precarious swing bridges.
Such was the enthusiasm of the group they ran a summer school during the school holidays where her charges were taught English, science with dancing a particularly popular activity.
Gwenan outlined what she had gained from the trip. Before going she lacked confidence and would never have been able to give such a talk as she was doing. It also made her aware of poverty which she had not seen at first hand before her visit.
Such was her enjoyment and satisfaction , Gwenan plans to return in the summer for ten weeks before training for work in a Montessori school.
Rtn John Pugh Jones thanked Gwenan for an inspiring presentation. It was rewarding to see what she had achieved for herself and for many others.
Evening meeting -Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn – 8th January 2013
The club held its traditional New Year meeting at the Marine Hotel. We were pleased to welcome members of the Inner Wheel and in particular their President Mrs Pat Griffiths who spoke very movingly of her time in Inner Wheel and of the enjoyment her late husband Mr Don Griffiths derived from his membership of Rotary. She felt that Inner Wheel gave the members the opportunity to be active in the community and to contribute to a movement that was involved in humanitarian projects worldwide.
The guest speaker was Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn , Leader of Ceredigion District Council. Councillor Ellen had been born in Scotland to a Scottish father and a Welsh mother but tragic family circumstances led to the family moving back to Porthmadog where she was brought up. She graduated from Aberystwyth University and worked for a while for The Wales Books Council. She was active in the field of Nursery Education and ran a Nursery School for five years. She was also active in education through the medium of theatre and was one of the founder members of Theatre Arad Goch. She was a member of the Welsh Arts Council and was instrumental in setting up Radio Ceredigion as a Community Radio Station.
Her interest in local politics led her to being elected as a County Councillor in 1999 and she became its leader in 2012. Most of her time during the first period of her leadership was taken up with fashioning an appropriate response to the devastating floods that affected many parts of North Ceredigion in early June.This included setting up an Appeal Fund which to date has realised over £120,000. ( During the course of the evening our President Hywel Wyn Jones presented Councillor Ellen with a cheque for £2110 bringing Rotary’s contribution to the Fund to £12110).
Local authorities were facing difficult times due to the funding constraints being imposed by central government but she was hopeful that with some constructive planning and increased collaboration with other local authorities the storm could be weathered without too many drastic cuts in services.
In thanking Councillor Ellen, Past President Emlyn Watkin paid tribute to her leadership of the Council and in particular her administration of the Flood Relief Appeal Fund.