THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE given by Revd Andy Herrick
15 December ‘15
The Revd Andy Herrick delivered the Christmas Message at this week’s meeting which was preceded by the singing of Welsh carols by Rtns Alan Wynne Jones, Geraint Thomas and Alun John.
Revd Andy’s theme was poverty in the world. During a sabbatical in 2005 in Zambia, one of the world’s poorest countries where 80% of the population are below the poverty line, he saw for himself their desperate situation. The country cannot survive without Western help, over 20% of the over- 16 year olds have HIV AIDS and many are without adequate sanitation and fresh water. Some families he met went hungry on some days yet spoke of God’s goodness.
Andy came home a changed man determined to help. Some local churches have helped establish schools, deep water wells, brick built houses and a hammer mill for grinding corn. Over 150 orphans are now card for after fending for themselves.
Our own poor have not been forgotten with St Anne’s church , Penparcau, setting up a food bank for those in need.
Past-President Richard Morgan thanked the speaker for an appropriate and inspiring address adding that his theme resonated with many of the ideals of the Rotary movement. Richard also thanked Revd Andy for the work he had done for the community particularly in Penparcau where he would be greatly missed following his imminent move to a church in Lampeter.
CONTAINER SHIPS- 8 DEC 2015
Retired sea captain, and club member Linsay Fletcher, at this week’s meeting, spoke of his career and the evolution of container ships which were developed in 1956 from converted tankers.
Linsay spent 44 years at sea, the last 20 years in command of container ships which now rival tankers for size. He experienced attack by pirates, a collision in the Mississippi, arrested in Japan for a harbour oil spill, engine room fires, medical evacuation from the Pitcairn islands and rescuing sailors from sinking ships. Sea –faring, rather than mining is the most dangerous occupation with burns the most common injury.
An American, Malcom McLean in 1956, bought two World War II tankers which he converted to carry containers on and under deck. In April of that year, one of the ships- the SS Ideal-X was loaded and sailed from Newark, New Jersey to Houston, Texas carrying fifty-eight 35 foot containers along with liquid tank cargo~ containerisation was born !
Since then there have been seven generations of Container Ship, usually with a seven year gap between development. Maersk Line with whom Linsay finished his career, have been a major force in container ship design. The increase in size has been to meet a 10% per annum growth demand driven mainly by the Far East trade-the more containers a ship can carry the lower the slot cost. Container ship capacity is measured in twenty foot equivalent units or TEU. Nominal capacity is the maximum number of container slots on the ship, generally only 80% can be used by loaded containers. The SS Ideal-X was 800 teu, the next generation started in 1970 was up to 2900 teu with the containers fitting into cells below deck and 4 to 5 high above deck secured by wires and rods.
The next generation ships, up to 4000 teu with beam size of 32.3 mtrs were the first to reach the maximum width for transiting the Panama canal. Larger ships labelled Post Panamax class and New Panamax class are up to 15,000 teu and 49 mtrs wide are too large to use the Canal and will have to wait until the larger locks are completed by 2016.
In January 2015 MSC took delivery of MSC Oscar-capaciity 19,224 teu to become the worlds’s largest with even bigger vessels being planned. Other limiting factors could be the Singapore Strait, a relatively shallow channel that all vessels transit from Europe to the Far East and the number of ports these giants can enter. The only UK ports available are Felixstowe, Southampton and recently constructed Thames Gateway.
Club President John Harries thanked Linsay for a fascinating talk which showed the scale of the industry and the evolution of the vessels which carry a large proportion of the world’s goods.
SPECIAL GENERAL MEETING 1.12.15
At this week’s special general meeting the following Club officers were confirmed-
Club President: Derrick Whiting, President Elect: Martin Davies,
Junior Vice-President: Michael Deaville, Secretary: Hywel Davies,
Treasurer: Robin Varley
Retiring Treasurer Richard Morgan presented the end-of-year accounts. He reported that more than £10,000 had been raised for local and international charities during the year.
Arrangements for the Christmas collection at Morrisons and at Owain Glyndwr Square were well advanced, the proceeds as usual going to local charities.
This year the International committee would support the Wheelchair Foundation and Toilet Twinning providing toilet facilities for developing countries.
The Youth activities group had staged a successful young musicians evening, and mock interviews for Penglais and Penweddig students were ongoing.
Applications for grants for humanitarian projects should be received by the end of January.
President John Harries thanked the Committee chairs and members for their work.
YOUNG MUSICIANS COMPETITION 17 NOVEMBER 2015
This week’s evening meeting was devoted to the Young Musician competition where Jane Leggett judged the singers and Dr David Russell Hulme judged the intrumentalists. The singers were Emily Jones,,Niamh O’Donnell both Ysgol Penweddig and Gwion Morgan Jones Coleg Ceredigion. Eriin Hassan of Ysgol Penglais played the French Horn, Mared Emyr,Ysgol Penweddig, the harp and George Nash, Ysgol Penglais, the guitar.
The adjudicators were very complementary about the overall
performances adding that in some cases there was little to choose between them.
Emily ,’with a rich mature voice’ was placed first of the singers with Gwion second. The winning instumentalist was Erin where one piece was judged to be ‘absolutely brilliant’, Mared’s ‘very impressive harp playing’ earned her a very close second place. Emily and Eriin will proceed to the next round of Young Musician to be held in January
In presenting the certificates and prizes, Club President John Harries congratulated all the musicians, thanked the Club’s Youth Service committee led by Rtn Alun John and the adjudicators. The Club is indebted once again this year to the generosity of CERDD YSTWTH in donating the prizes.
11 November ’15- MIKE TAYLOR – ABER JAZ
The subject of this week’s talk was Aber Jazz given by Mike Taylor , one of two survivors of the original group of players, the other is John Davies (jeweller).
While a mathematics student at the University, Mike bought a banjo and learned to play the tunes he’d heard at the jazz sessions in the Angel hotel. Playing in the White Horse and the Coopers led to an idea, in the Seventies, to recreate music hall entertainment putting on a summer season in the King’s Hall. As the Crystal Vaudeville Company, named after the Crystal Palace, now Scholars where they. gathered to share ideas for a show, they put on a summer show for three years.
From this the Crystal Temperance Footwarmers was formed as a 9 piece, strict tempo dance band playing waltzes , fox trots and quick steps.
In the developing disco era the group realised that it was the faster upbeat numbers that filled the dance floor so they dissolved into a 6 piece Trad Jazz band that played under various names for over forty years. Like all skills, when done well, looks and sounds easy and many good musicians wanted to join in Brian Sansbury- clarinet, John Davies- trumpet, the late John Evans- trombone and Emyr Evans-trombone all had these skills in abundance, not forgetting the incredible Billy Owens on drums with Dick Skerret on bass and Mike providing the rhythm section.
Their fame spread, the band supported the Dakotas-as in Billy J Kramer of the 60s at Lampeter Uni, weddings of students in Cheltenham, Anglesey and Preston and Gregynog for a fireworks party in mid-summer! The late Tommy Burton, a well known jazz pianist who holidayed in Borth joined the group in the Coops and invited them to be the support act with him in the 100 Club in London, the Mecca for Trad Jazz in the UK. This led to the band playing in support of Kenny Ball and Acker Bilk.
The latter had a gig in the Students’ Union where Brian Sansbury and Acker Bilk played a duet of Stranger on the Shore, with Brian given the chance to improvise a couple of verses -an unforgettable night.
Billy Owen , the group’s drummer is ninety this year and the hope is to play a few charity gigs with him to continue Trad Jazz in Aber which has spanned forty years.
Club President John Harries thanked the speaker for a fascinating insight into the history of Aber Jazz which had provided fun and pleasure for many over a long period.
3rd November ’15 CHRISTOPHER SALMON PCC
Christopher Salmon, the Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner was the speaker at this week’s meeting. He was elected in November 2012 along with forty others in England and Wales The role of the PCCs is to be the voice of the people and hold the police to account as they are responsible for the totality of policing.
Mr Salmon’s area, Dyfed-Powys, is the largest in England and Wales-4000 square miles predominantly rural. From a budget of £100 million, 98% goes to the Chief Constable for him to run the force. The money comes from the taxpayer through the council tax precept and from the Government.
The word Crime in the title is perhaps peculiar. The Commissioner is able to commission other things such as drug intervention services where there is liaison with the health board rather than punitive action for drug addicts. Victims of crime such as rape or domestic violence who may be the chief witness in a case have to be protected from the tactics of the defence.
Mr Salmon emphasised that the police force had no military structure, all 41 areas were independent with a local force knowing local needs with prevention at the heart of the matter. The Chief Constable was accountable to the elected PCC who was accountable to the public. The Association of Chief Police Officers, a privileged limited company not accountable to the police authority had been abolished thus shifting power from the chief officers to the public via the PCC.
The lively question and answer session including cyber crime, the bobby on the beat, petty crime and use of modern technology brought the talk to a close with past-president John Ockey giving the vote of thanks for a much appreciated presentation.
27 OCTOBER ’15- DR ALAN AXFORD MY JOB TALK
Dr Alan Axford, a recently inducted member of Rotary, gave a talk on his career in medicine at this week’s meeting. He was born in Blaenau Gwent into a mining family- the village had two coal pits and mining was the only employment .
Interest in medicine probably started when his miner father was the area superintendent of the St John’s Ambulance. Accident victims came to the house since treatment was free where as a visit to the GP was not , in those days.
He got to the local grammar school and biology became a favourite subject so much so that when one of the family chickens became crop bound through eating fresh grass, he was able to anaesthetise the animal with ether, cut open the crop to remove the obstruction and stitch it up.- his first patient success.
When it came to deciding on medical school, his headmaster plumped for Cardiff adding that the London schools favoured public school candidates. However London was the attraction so applications went to St Thomas’s, Middlesex and UCL, the latter was favoured particularly as there was a vacancy for a scrum half in their rugby side The first academic hurdle was 2nd MB –low marks in biochemistry earned an interview with the Dean but a distinction at resits was rewarded with a scholarship of £150. After qualification came six months each in surgery and medicine. His first house job was in the Birmingham Accident hospital and first patient was a stabbed policeman . Alan had to give evidence in inquests and two murder trials
Four years were spent in the Bromley group of hospitals where he really learnt about medicine. Cardiac resuscitation with electric shock treatment was just being developed though some were not in favour as the shock stops the heart for some seconds.
Five years were spent with the Medical Research Council in Llandough before coming to Aberystwyth to succeed Dr G O Thomas who had specialised in Farmers’ Lung. The first years were difficult, making changes,and putting forward new ideas . Alan developed a medical oncology service which involved drug use as well as surgery. Previously, patients had to travel to Wolverhampton or Cardiff for distressing treatment.
Towards the end of 35 years at Bronglais Alan developed an interest in tele- medicine, and was the first in Wales to develop this technique where a team, pooling information, enhanced prospects for the patient. In his last ten years Alan took over the demanding and difficult role of medical director.
Club president John Harris thanked Alan for a marvellous account of a glittering career where ’you were your own man’. `
20 October ’15- RYLA- LIAM STANDING
Each summer a senior student from Ysgol Penweddig or Penglais School with leadership potential ,gets chosen to take part in a Rotary youth leadership residential course at the outdoor activities centre at Storey Arms, in the Brecon Beacons.
The aim of RYLA is to get the Awardees to work as a team rather than as individuals when they are placed in challenging situations, to develop leadership and team bonding skills and to increase personal confidence.
It was the turn of Penglais student Liam Standing to be selected for the course this year and at this week’s meeting he gave a slide presentation of his time at the Centre.
For each activity, one student acted as team leader after having received instructions in that activity with the aim to outdo the other teams.
Mountaineering on Penyfan, caving in Danyrogof, canoeing, gorge walking were first time experiences as well as a night time 3km walk. Most days they returned to the Centre dripping wet after leaping into waterfalls, sliding 20 m along a channel carved in the limestone on their backs or testing their own constructed rafts.
Liam thanked the Club for the opportunity given to take part in a demanding but enjoyable course.
Vice-President Derek Whiting in presenting Liam with his RYLA certificate, said he was sure that he had derived great benefit from attending.
13 OCTOBER ’15 STATUES & STUDENTS- ELGAN DAVIES
The speaker at this week’s meeting, Elgan Davies spent 38 years at the University Library Information Services. A native of Pontrhydfendigaid, he has written more than thirty children’s books in Welsh as well as a book on the Old College.
Elgan’s chose “ Statues and Students “ as his title for the talk with slides of those personalities associated in some way with the early days of the university college.
The first principal of UCW when it opened in 1872 was Thomas Charles Edwards, a Methodist minister. His statue by Goscombe John stands in the College forecourt and was unveiled in 1922. Edwards resigned in 1891 to become principal of Bala theological college.
The College building started life as the Castle House, a small mansion built by John Nash, later modified as the Castle Hotel built by Thomas Savin, a railway contractor and one-time partner of David Davies of Llandinam. By 1864 Aberystwyth had a rail connection but Savin’s grandiose plans were never fulfilled thanks to a Stock Market panic in 1866. A year later the building was purchased for the College at a fraction of its cost mainly as a result of the untiring efforts of Hugh Owen, a pioneer of higher education in Wales. The Sir Hugh Owen Library on the Penglais campus is named in his honour.
David Davies of Llandinam and sisters Gwen and Margaret were very generous benefactors. David built Barry Docks for the coal trade-his statue stands there as well as an identical version in Llandinam village.
A statue of Lord Aberdare towers over the Quad. He was the first President of the College serving from 1874 to 1895. He was Liberal MP for Merthyr Tydfil in 1854 and headed a commission that established the Official Table of Drops, listing how a person of a particular weight should be dropped when hanged for a capital offence. He was involved in the Welsh Intermediate Education Act of 1889 which created grammar schools in Wales and the university colleges in Cardiff and Bangor.
Lord Aberdare was succeeded as President by Lord Stuart Rendel who gave the land on which the Penglais campus would be built. Neuadd Rendel is named after him.
Another Quad effigy is that of Thomas Edward Ellis by Goscombe John 1903. He entered the College as a 16 year old, progressed to New College, Oxford and became MP for Meirionydd and a Liberal Chief Whip. He had a major role in the formation of the Old Students’ Association in 1892
In 1896 a bronze statue of the then Prince of Wales, later Edward VII was unveiled in the College forecourt. He is dressed in the robes of Chancellor of the University of Wales . Before the unveiling ceremony it was discovered that he had been whitewashed and many years later the head was removed in a rag week prank.
The Old Students raised £5,000 as a memorial fund to those fallen in the Great War. The fund was used to convert the Old Assembly Rooms to a Students’ Union premises with the names of the fallen on a memorial tablet now located in the Quad Another benefactor was Thomas David Jenkins of Bodhyfryd, Bridge Street later
TD Slingsby – Jenkins. He rose to be Company Secretary of Mathias & Son, a Cardiff shipping company. On business, he frequently visited Italy where he engaged the sculptor Mario Rutelli to design the war memorial at Tabernacle Chapel. This led to Rutelli designing the Town War Memorial rated as one of the finest in the country.
Slingsby- Jenkins .also financed the marble statue of Sir John Williams the founder of the National Library
Past-president Hywel Wyn Jones thanked the speaker for his presentation which showed the huge wealth of history in the Old College.
OCTOBER 6TH 2015- FRANK BOTT
Sir Henry Walford Davies was the subject of this week’s talk given by Frank Bott former head of Computer Science at the University.
Walford Davies was born in 1869 at Oswestry, the seventh of nine children in what was a very musical family. At the age of twelve he became a chorister at St George’s Chapel, Windsor later joining the Royal College of Music. At the age of 29 ,Walford was appointed organist at the Temple Church, Inns of Court.
The start of the Great War saw him entertaining the troops and visiting military hospitals encouraging the patients to sing. He was commissioned into the newly formed Royal Air Force becoming its director of music and composing the RAF March Past still played today.
From 1919 to 1926 he was the Gregynog Professor of Music at Aberystwyth succeeding Sir Joseph Parry and like him very popular with his students. As a composer he was no Elgar of Vaughan Williams but the popular hymn “God be in my Head” was his composition. He did much to promote Welsh music becoming chair of the Welsh National Council of Music . The Choral Union he established at UCW still exists. Taking singers from many Welsh choirs he formed a united choir which performed at Gregynog. His annual music festivals attracted such notables as Boult, Elgar and Bartok. He was invited to join the BBC advisory committee and was responsible for the first Schools’ broadcast and gave more than 400 weekly radio talks. His creation of the Welsh National Youth orchestra was the first of its kind in the world.
Walford Davies was knighted in 1922 and in 1934 following the death of Edward Elgar he was appointed Master of the King’s Musick. He died in 1941`.
Vice-President Derek Whiting thanked Mr Bott for his interesting talk on a very accomplished musician.
PROF JOHN WARREN- 22 SEPTEMBER 2015
“How we come to eat the plants we do” was the theme of a talk given by Dr John Watrren , Professor of Botany at IBERS, Aberystwyth University, at this week’s evening meeting He has recently published a book, “The Nature of Crops”
There more than four hundred species of flowering plants yet only two hundred are eaten, less than 1% of what is possible.
Most plants are of Eurasian origin and most are old and rapidly became domesticated. The cabbage for example disappeared and then reappeared as did peas and gourds.
There are very few modern crops- one example is the cultivated strawberry which arose from hybridisation of the ancient Fragaria virginiana and F. chiloensis. Of local interest is the wild perennial rye grass which was changed genetically at Aberystwyth plant breeding station and is now cultivated world wide.
The vast majority of plants are toxic which is a defence mechanism to deter mammalian herbivores but not birds. Root tubers are full of alkaloid poisons , almond fruit has cyanide, acorns have tannins, rhubarb contain oxalates
Prof Warren refuted the idea that if the bee disappears then man has only four years of life remaining. The ten important cereal crops are wind pollinated. He went on to give a fascinating insight into mechanisms of insect pollination. Avocado and Pawpaw have weird sex lives, the latter with 31 different sexes. Orchids, with twenty thousand species, more than any other plant, have ingenious devices to ensure pollination by specific insects. Because of its commercial value, the vanilla orchid is hand pollinated for the production of vanilla pods.
Club President John Harries thanked Prof Warren for a fascinating insight into the life of plants.
JORDAN SHAPIRO ROTARY GLOBAL GRANT SCHOLAR
AUGUST 25 2015
In October last year Club members welcomed Jordan Shapiro, a graduate of Rochester, NY living in Bennington, Vermont. As a Rotary Global Grant Scholar she was to spend the academic year at the University’s International Politics department working towards a Masters degree in Welsh politics.
This was not her first visit to Wales having secured a US / UK Fulbright Scholarship in 2011 where she spent time in Cardiff, Bangor and Aber. She had studied the Welsh identity as a small country- its people, language and culture. It had been a transforming experience and she knew that she had to return to Wales..
This week Jordan, about to leave for home, reflected on her year in Aberystwyth.
She began her talk on the women in her family who had shaped her life. A female ancestor had emigrated to New York from Moscow in the eighteenth century.
There followed a succession of strong female family members who had introduced her to politics and feminism.
During election year she had learned about the election process. She had held a seminar with students of Ysgol Penglais who had given her their views.
An important aspect of her research was a study of the Kurdish state in Turkey compared with Wales, where both countries, she thought, had to fight for recognition
Jordan hoped that her research which touched on conflict resolution would be taken further particularly that on the Kurdish state .
Jordan concluded by thanking Rotary for the opportunity provided in what had been a whirlwind year.
Club President John Harries thanked Jordan for the insight into her family and her research and wished her well in the future.
President John had welcomed two Aberaeron Rotarians, Malcolm Sumner and Ian Lampert and also Marianne Sansome, a Rotarian from Sydney who was attending a Welsh learners course at the University.
“This is my Life” talk- 18 August 20 15
As a fairly recently inducted Rotarian, Ken Young at this week’s meeting, gave his “This is my Life talk”
Born and raised in Llanfarian close to the then Carmarthen railway line he developed a passion for steam trains. Befriended by the station master and locomotive crews he had many footplate rides as wagons were shunted at Llanrhystud Road station even tavelling to Lampeter and back.
At the age of ten he took guitar lessons and having entered Ardwyn Grammar School joined local pop groups, the Fanatics,Xenons and Shakedown Sounds playing at Morfa Bychan holiday camp and the King’s Hall.
After being involved tinkering with cables, speakers and amplifiers, a career in electrical engineering beckoned. Leaving school at 16 Ken started a four year craft apprentice with MANWEB . With no prospects of employment locally he joined Hawker Siddeley in east Yorkshire working on the Trident and later on fighter
aircraft. Then came a move to Bristol to pursue a HND course in electronic engineering in the Polytechnic before joining the British Aircraft Corporation at Filton, Bristol to work on the Rapier and Swingfire weapons systems.
At this time he married Jan, a teacher at Filton high school and felt a pull back to Aber. Ken joined the University Physics department as an electronics technician and then the County Council education visual aids / IT department responsible for maintaining equipment in Ceredigion’s schools.
When his two daughters took up swimming ecame heavily involved with the local swimming club as coach, club secretary and chairman When the town twinned with St Brieuc, he helped organise the annual exchange visits of the swimming clubs.
He has been chair and secretary of the Town Twinning Association.
Ken and Jan are involved with the Rambling Club and have arranged walking visits in Brittany, Ireland and Scotland. In his retirement he found time to drive the minibus for Ceredigion Social Transport .
President John Harries thanked Ken for an excellent talk tinged with nostalgia for those who remembered the steam trains on the Carmarthen line.
President John was pleased to welcome Wendy Lauder nee Swain , an Australian Foundation scholar whom the Club hosted 2009-10. Wendy now works in Canberra with the Ministry of Agriculture,
Another visitor was Hywel Axford from the Rotary Club of Brynmawr. His Club organises the Lifestraw equipment which filters contaminates from foul water. He came to reassure the Club, which donated £1000 to the charity, that after some distribution problems, a Rotary Club in Nairobi, Kenya has delivered the Lifestraws to the Mogra Orphanage for use in its babies’ nursery.
VISIT OF DISTRICT GOVERNOR 4 AUGUST 2015
Early in the new Rotary year the District Governor visits each Club in his district. This week Club vice-president Derek Whiting welcomed DG Chris Williams of the Fishguard & Goodwick Club who thanked the Club for its support of the annual conference this autumn which would have a nautical theme..
DG Chris said that Rotary had two immediate priorities. The Rotary polio eradication scheme needed to be completed. Good news from Africa in that there had been no new cases this year. Pakistan and Afghanistan were the only two countries where the disease was still endemic.
The other priority was to stem the declining membership world wide. Perhaps the remedy was to adapt to the changes in society. Young people seem to be too busy to devote time. In Northern Europe including the UK, Rotary Clubs were not doing enough to attract lady members with some clubs not even making an attempt to do so.
Chris also felt that neighbouring clubs could be doing more to work together to tackle large projects
The result of a survey in Blackpool had shown that 40% of those asked had not heard of Rotary so there was an obvious need to raise the public profile.
He concluded by asking members to live up to this year’s theme “ Be a gift to the World.”
TUES 4TH AUGUST 2015
This week’s speaker was Chris Mackenzie-Grieve who runs MG’s and Wiffwaff cafes. Chris is also chair of the town’s Chamber of Trade and took ‘Challenges Facing Small Businesses in Aberystwyth ‘ as the title of his talk.
In respect of the retail sector he contrasted the daytime and night time economy, the latter student driven. But with the student migration to the campus with its retail outlets, the current student spend of £4,000 per annum would not be maintained
The declining student numbers -900 less this year was another relevent factor.
In the town, the car parking situation was critical, as was the need to make the Prom more attractive to increase visitor numbers. The Tesco and M&S developments would revitalise the town centre and perhaps help promote Aberystwyth as a mid-Wales retail centre with new town events and activities-a Zip wire perhaps.
The talk ended with the phrase-APATHY the biggest challenge.
Chris fielded many questions which included accessibility and the inadequate A44.
Past-president Meurig Lewis gave the vote of thanks adding that unless we adapt and change, the economy will stagnate.
MEET THE PRESIDENT- 21 JULY 201
At the start of a new Rotary year, the incoming Club President is interviewed for a ‘Meet the President’ session. Past-President Alun Rees was the interrogator on this occasion
President John Harries was born in Llanddarog, Carmarthenshire, his father had a butchery round supplying miners’ families who ate a lot of meat. He also spent many hours on his uncle’s farm, driving an old Fordson tractor and carrying milk buckets. He considered he had a strict but wonderful upbringing in idyllic surroundings
At age 16 John could have followed his father as he enjoyed helping out on the round, However his mother put him on an academic path, starting in Gwendraeth Grammar School, then the Agricultural Botany department at UCW Aberystwyth. He lived in Pantycelyn hall of residence at the same time as Prince Charles who spent a term at the University. It was a men only hall and the wearing of academic gowns for Sunday lunch obligatory
Three years of research followed graduation and then a teaching training year before being appointed lecturer at the Welsh Agricultural College in 1974. John became Principal of WAC in 1992 and oversaw its merger with the University ion 1995. He retired from the post of Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University in 2011.
John and wife Gill have three children and a recently arrived grand-daughter. With wide sporting interests he rates squash as his favourite though golf and cycling runs it close.
In thanking the President, Alun wished him well in his year of office.
Carrie Canham Curator Ceredigion Museum 1st July ‘15
Carrie Canham, the Curator of the Ceredigion Museum, spoke to members this week on the museum’s New Approaches project which will secure its future .
A lot of research has been done to ascertain what the community wants from its museum. This project will help achieve those things including offering staff and volunteers to develop skills to take the museum forward.
Carrie showed plans of the proposed internal design and views of the outside which embraces the former Boots building in Terrace Road. The museum service will be combined with the Tourist Information Centre (TIC) There will be a new street level entrance, a combined TIC and museum reception, a new shop, café , lift, displays and equipment for events and a refresh for the auditorium..
The proposals have the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund which already granted £70,000 for development funding. The result of a full-funding application of £800,000 will be known by late August. The County Council has pledged £200,000 towards the total cost of £1.3 million. If all goes to plan ,the completion date would be 2024.
Senior Vice-president Derek Whiting, thanked the Curator for her excellent presentation. The project would attract and allow more visitors to access the culture and heritage of Ceredigion.
CLUB ASSEMBLY= 30 TH JUNE 2015
Assistant Governor Carol Ramaya of the Lampeter Club attended the Club Assembly held this week marking the beginning of the 2015-16 Rotary Year.
Retiring Cub President Hywel Davies briefly mentioned the highlights of his year in office including the pig roast, Christmas collection and duck race which all raised large sums for the selected charities. Other enjoyable events were the cabaret evening, the memorable visit to Italy for the rugby and Charter Night with chief guest MarkWilliams MP. Hywel thanked the committee chairs, Club Secretary Michael Deaville and Club Treasurer Richard Morgan for their exemplary work.
Hywel’s last task was to induct John Harries as the Club President who warmly thanked his predecessor for his successful year in office. President John after inducting Derek Whiting as senior vice-president invited the new committee chairs to present their programmes.
Chair of Club Service Derek who had experience of high office in the Clapham Club, applauded the theme for the new year “ be yourself and a gift to the world “. He had plans for visits to the Royal Hospital Chelsea and a 20-20 cricket match in Lords.
The plans of the other committees were much as before although a choral concert in Aberaeron on 24 July jointly organised by Aberaeron, Lampeter and Aberystwyth Rotary Clubs was innovative. The Rugby Club would be the venue for the pig roast in July. As usual the Club will try to help the young people of the community with the Youth Service group organising the usual competitions, Mock interviews had already taken place for Ysgol Penweddig students with the same service to be offered to Penglais and Coleg Ceredigion.
It was the task of Assistant Governor Carol to comment on the plans. She was impressed with the programmes and confident they would get the usual support from members. Recruitment of new members and their retention was vital with no room for complacency.
In closing the meeting President John thanked everyone for their contribution and looked forward to a successful and enjoyable year.
VISIT TO FFERM PENGLAIS STUDENT VILLAGE
16 JUNE ‘15
This week, following lunch, a group of Rotarians met at Fferm Penglais student village to view the new £45m development with accommodation for 1000 students.
James Wallace, Director of Campus and Commercial Services led the tour of a series of three storey buildings with flats for six or eight students living in self-catering accommodation. Currently 236 have moved in but the site will be fully occupied by September next.
The buildings provide en-suite bedrooms, double kitchens and open plan lounge areas. A central hub provides a range of social and learning facilities with launderettes, bike stores, communal space for clubs and societies and a café.
The campus roads will be traffic free, cars will be confined to peripheral car parks.
In thanking James for the visit, past-president Richard Griffiths said that the design of the buildings fitted in with the rural surroundings and one could only be impressed by the quality of the individual rooms and their fittings.
SVP JOHN HARRIES- SPONSORED CYCLE RIDE – JUNE 2
At this week’s meeting the guest speaker was John Harries, the Club’s Senior Vice President. To raise funds for the Aberystwyth and District Hospice at Home Volunteers (see https://www.givey.com/harriesbordeauxbiking), John had very recently cycled 1045 km (627 miles) from Roscoff to Bordeaux. He was accompanied by fellow Rotarian John Bradshaw, who carried their luggage on his motor bike. The cycle route, known as the Velodyssey, passes through Brittany along the Nantes to Brest Canal. Much of the lovely scenery is reminiscent of Cornwall or Pembrokeshire and much wildlife was in evidence, including an otter. Crossing the Loire at Le Pellerin, just west of Nantes, the route then followed the west coast along the Vendee taking in La Rochelle and a number of small coastal resorts before eventually reaching Royan and another ferry to cross the Gironde. The final part of the journey was through the pine forests and sand dunes of Aquitane before heading east to Bordeaux and the final destination, the market town of Libourne. Despite generally cool, windy weather with heavy rain on occasions, good progress was made with over 70 miles cycled on many days. The importance of eating regularly on such a cycle trip was emphasised, John estimated an expenditure of 29,000 calories during the 11 days of cycling, most of which was replaced by croissants, baguettes and some red wine! The Rotary Club was delighted to learn that John had already raised over £1800 for the Hospice at Home charity. John thanked all those who had contributed so generously to a very worthy cause.
THE ABER CYCLE FESTIVAL – 19 MAY ‘15
Shelley Childs, the organiser of the Sixth Aber Cycle Festival which takes place at the Bank Holiday weekend was this week’s speaker.
Between 2 and 6 pm on Friday there will be road closures when 500 riders will race through Aber’s streets. There will six separate schools’ races, a Town v Gown fun race followed by the serious amateurs riders and the main feature ITV’s Tour Series Professional Criterium race at 7.30. The latter event will attract Olympic champions possibly including Bradley Wiggins and other top UK professionals.
On Saturday, the venue for the downhill racers will be Constitutional Hill.
As well as the races there will be many fringe events in the town including a film show at Y Drwm, National Library and social events in MG cafe
On Monday Bank Holiday evening,, ITV 4 will show much of the action shot from motor bike cameras.
On the evidence of previous festivals, the Town will benefit economically to the tune of £200,000.
Club president Hywel Davies thanked the speaker for his talk and for the work involved. As well as the financial benefits, the festival promoted the town which would increase tourism.
WOMEN’S PEACE MOVEMENT OF WALES
12 MAY ‘15
Dr Sue Pester who is a development officer at the University was the speaker at this week’s evening meeting. Sue who had been actively involved in the Womens Peace Movement of Wales spoke about her experiences with that movement in the 80s.
A group of Welsh women were the first to set up camp at the Greenham Common RAF base in Berkshire in September 1981. They were protesting at the decision of the British government to allow cruise missiles to be based there. The protests went on for 19 years until the base was disbanded in 2000. In December 1982, 30,000 women held hands around the 6 mile perimeter of the base. Although the actions were anti-violent, some were hurt very badly when attempting to take down the fences.
Similar protests were made at Brawdy in Pembrokeshire, a nuclear submarine base. After climbing the fence, some women were caught by US servicemen though no charges were brought.
During the construction of a nuclear bunker in Carmarthen in October 1985, the hole being dug was occupied by women protesting at the preparations being made in case of a nuclear war. Locals, in strong support of protesters, brought them food and drink. The security guards resorted to violence and Sue lost a finger in the fracas.
However the Council paid no heed and the bunker was completed but leaked badly and was never used.
Sue emphasised that she and her fellow protesters were committed to non-violence. She thought what she was doing was right and authentic and had made her a more sensitive person. In answers to questions she did not know if she was in the MI 5 records
She was aware the peace movement had infiltrators and that her phone had been tapped though a judge had ruled it legal. Sue did not know if she was barred from entering the US.
President Hywel thanked Sue for her interesting talk and admired her commitment to
her cause and beliefs.
NT ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS
ABERYSTWYTH EGO- HUW BATES 5 MAY ‘15
Aberystwyth EGO is a new magazine aimed at celebrating the people, businesses and organisations of Aberystwyth. Its founder and editor Huw Bates, for ten years a local solicitor decided to put his creative side to good use. While he is responsible for the conceptual side of the magazine, creating and collating content, his co-founder Paddy O’Malley is responsible for turning the vision and ideas behind the project into a tangible publication
At this week’s meeting, Huw explained that the EGO in the title stands for Economic Growth Opportunity with the hope that the publication will encourage the people of Aberystwyth to spend their money locally and support local businesses and organisations. All profit from the magazine sales goes back into the local community via its Good Causes scheme. The town should have more of a ego and shout a lot louder about what it has to offer.
At the conclusion of his talk he surprised his audience by introducing Dyfri and Heddwyn , eight year old twins from Llandre who gave a delightful exhibition of clog dancing or ‘clocsio’ which is very much a forgotten art in Ceredigion. In an effort to encourage interest in this traditional art , the April edition of EGO had featured the boys’ story.
Club President thanked Huw for his talk and wished the magazine further success.
INDUCTION OF DR ALAN QXFORD OBE
& TALK by SUE PETERSON-R.Coll. MIDWIFERY
21 APRIL ’15
At this weeks meeting, senior vice-president John Harries had the pleasure of installing Dr Alan Axford as a member of the Club. Alan was appointed Consultant Physician in Respiratory Medicine at Bronglais in 1975 where he developed a medical oncology and palliative care department. Since retiring in 2010 he has been involved with rural health groups and developing telemedicine in mid-Wales
The guest speaker was Sue Peterson of the Royal College of Midwifery who spoke of her recent visit to Kampala, Uganda under the Global Development scheme. The purpose of her visit with agroup of UK midwives was to help with the education and to strengthen the profile of midwives in that country where often they work without salary. Indeed the place of women in Uganda is very precarious with sexual violence quite common. As well as high rates of maternal fatalities, child birth deaths are 67 per 100K compared with UK figures of 6 per 100k
Sue took with her a piece of kit purchased from the donation by the Club of £400. Despite a problem with Uganda Customs, the teaching aid was soon put to use in training student midwives. Sue also carried a gift of cash from the Aber Salvation Army which was used to buy food for the Kiwoko Mission hospital where she spent some time at the special care baby unit. Here she saw things not normally witnessed such as death of babies by obstructed labour. The hospital also acted as a HIV outreach unit- the traditional midwife bag included HIV testing kits.
In thanking the speaker, past-president Robin Varley said that members were now aware of the value of the Global Development movement in reducing child mortality rate and in terms of the Club’s donation , where “so much good can come from so little”
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 14 APRIL 2015
At this week’s AGM, Officers for the next Rotary year were confirmed. President-John Harries, Senior Vice President-Derek Whiting,
Junior Vice President – Martin Davies, Secretary-Michael Deaville and Treasurer- Richard Morgan
The new Committee chairs are- Club Service-Derek Whiting, Community & Vocational Service –Hywel Wyn Jones, Youth Service- Alun John, International Service-Colin Fletcher and Foundation-Meurig Lewis.
The current Committee Chairs gave updated reports on their work, the recruitment and retention task group would be an ongoing feature and the level of formality at meetings would be kept under review.
It was agreed that £400 be donated via the BHF for defibrillators for use in near-by villages . The Club would again assist in beach clean-ups
Internationally, the proceeds from the annual pig-roast had purchased Lifestraws for a Kenyan village and had help provide mid-wife training in Uganda. The efforts of the local sea-cadets had provided a Shelterbox and £500 had gone to the Ebola appeal. Proceeds from a duckrace on the Rheidol in May would support Rotary work in the aftermath of the Ebola crisis.
On the Youth front, competitions in photography, writing, cooking, music had been very well supported and there had been great pleasure in the success of Ysgol Penweddig in winning the Welsh Youth Speaks final at the Senedd in Cardiff.
The recent Cabaret evening provided by the youth committee had raised £289 which would help fund next year’s activities.
Mock interviews held at three centres had been appreciated by 160 students including six Oxbridge candidates from Penglais School who had subsequently received offers.
It is the turn of Penglais to provide students for the RYLA outdoor activity in July at a new venue near Storey Arms.
President Hywel Davies thanked all for their sterling work throughout the year
67TH CHARTER NIGHT – 28 MARCH ‘15
On Saturday 29 th March members and their guests celebrated the 67th Anniversary of the Rotary Club of Aberystwyth at their Charter Night at the Marine Hotel.
Mark Williams MP, the chief guest, proposed the toast “Rotary-locally and globally”.
His theme was ‘internationalism’ where he spoke of his visit as a parliamentarian to Nigeria as part of a global education review. In a school of 600 there was no water supply in contrast to a debate in this country on whether to supply bottled water to our students in their classrooms.
He was aware that Rotary ran an ambassadorial scholarship scheme for overseas students. During his visits to Nigeria and Tanzania he had met former graduates of Aberystwyth university who held high positions in their country. In Morocco, where a party of MPs examining human rights, were obviously not welcome and were trailed by the secret police. Mr Williams thanked the Club for its work locally in the community and abroad in such ventures as ensuring the availability of clean water.
Aberystwyth born Tomos Llwelfryn Davies responded. Now living in Epsom, he was the Founder President of the local Rotaract Club in 1985. The club catered for young people aged 18-30 and were involved in charity work as well as having great fun. The Rotaractors were grateful for the support of the Rotary club in its establishment particularly from the then Club President the late Iori Lewis
The professional and leadership skills gained during those years had been invaluable in later life
In toasting the Guests, Club President Hywel Davies reviewed the Club activities to date. He thanked those who had been involved in staging the evening particularly the MC ,vice –president John Harries.
Dr Russell Davies who retired from the University in 2014 and now a full time writer on Welsh history responded on behalf of the guests. His humorous anecdotes drawn from Welsh life generated great laughter bringing a very enjoyable evening to a close.
March 17 2015 SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT
Sustainable transport was the subject of this week’s talk. The speaker, Huw Thomas works for the charity SUSTRANS, a charity enabling people to travel by foot, cycle or public transport.
The Welsh Government passed the Active Travel (Wales) Act in 2013, it legislates for the provision of routes designed for cycling and walking. The first integrated network is to be published by September 2017 after consultation with communities on the development of routes.
The speaker posed the question Why bother? Global warming and CO2 emissions. There are thirty million cars in the UK –one car to every two people. 40% of all car journeys are under two miles. Congestion costs the economy £4.34 million per year. Healthwise, 60% men and 72% women fail to meet minimum levels of physical activity which can be a contributory factor in many diseases.
Transport poverty-half the population is struggling with the cost of running a car. One in four cannot apply for a job because they have no car and public transport is inadequate.
The talk generated an interesting discussion which included lack of cycle parks, was Wales too hilly The need to integrate public transport and cycling. In peak times cycles were not allowed in trains. Why had cycle racks on buses disappeared ? Do children prefer the PC to cycling? Or were there too many cars parked in streets inhibiting kids on bikes?
Rtn Alun John thanked Huw for a very interesting talk that perhaps had made some guilty enough to get out their old bikes.
FEBRUARY 17 2015 Lunch meeting IOAN GUILE
At this week’s meeting, Ioan Guile of the Wardens theatrical group outlined its history from its formation by Aberystwyth Air Raid Wardens during World War Two to read plays and pass the time during wartime blackouts.
May 1945 saw the first production, a play called “The Private Secretary” by Charles Hawtrey performed in aid of the Welcome Home Fund for returning service people. Llanbadarn Fawr church hall was the venue which proved so successful that further performances took place in the Kings Hall, Aberystwyth, in Borth and Machynlleth
Peacetime saw the Society continuing to perform until the mid 60s when theatre going was in decline. The Wardens became the Aberystwyth Players for a short time but by the efforts of the late Jeff Davies, the re-formed Wardens staged “The Happy Apple“ in Theatr-y-Werin in April 1980.
In 1983 the Wardens performed their first pantomime “Jack and the Beanstalk”, directed by Richard Cheshire of the UCW Drama department. It won rave reviews in the Cambrian News and the pantomimes have become an annual event ever since. That first venture cost £5K to produce, the 2015 panto cost £50-60 K. The performers are not paid, the Art Centre takes 20% of the box office receipts, with the set costing £12 K. Local people are encouraged to do various jobs, the student population being particularly valuable with some going on to West End productions. Panto profits are used for a second show, last year it was “Noises Off”and in 2013, a tastefully done “Calendar Girls” was staged.
With a 80-90% capacity up to five thousand people attend the performances. Ioan was confident that next year’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” would fill the theatre so his advice was book now.
Club president Hywel Davies thanked the speaker for his talk on what was very much a local success story.
Lunchtime meeting – John Davies – Pwllpeiran – 22 January 2015
Mr Davies is a former student of Gelli Aur and Welsh Agricultural Colleges and has enjoyed a wide and varied career in the Agricultural sector. He recounted some of his experiences during the BSE crisis of the 1990s and the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001but on the positive side, during his time as Director of Food Centre Wales he was instrumental in setting up the Farmers Market in Aberystwyth which has wide ancillary benefits for the local economy.
Pwllpeiran is run under the umbrella of IBERS at Gogerddan and therefore Aberystwyth University and has 900 acres of upland under its control. Approximately 80% of land in Wales is either upland or marginal land and is producing the best quality lamb. However diversity is important and experiments on different types of grasses that will also support cattle are making excellent progress.
Biomass fuels are also being developed as well as carbon neutral materials to replace straw as bedding material. Daffodils are also being grown as a separate crop and in grassland as a chemical they contain-galanthamine-is showing in experiments as being effective in slowing down the progress of Alzheimers.
Mr Davies emphasised the need for the continued development of agriculture as food supplies would become critical as world population exploded but it was also essential that environmental considerations should be given the same priority.
Past-President Haydn Davies thanked Mr Davies for his talk and his contribution to Welsh agriculture and expressed his pleasure at the re-emergence of Pwllpeiran as a research centre.