Meeting reports – 2016

Meeting reports 2016

Alison Sutherland, District Rotaract Officer: Aberystwyth Rotaract Club 29 November 2016
This week the Club gave a warm welcome to Alison Sutherland, Assistant District Governor and District Rotaract Officer, who spoke to us about the newly created Aberystwyth Rotaract Club.

With support from members of the Aberystwyth and Aberaeron Rotary, the Rotaract Club has grown since 2015, drawing its membership predominantly from amongst the student body but recently extending into the local community. It has now met the current criteria for receiving its own charter and thus being recognised in its own right. It has deliberately chosen not to become an Aberystwyth University Club in order to reflect its ongoing commitment to the local area and maximising its membership base..

Members of Aberystwyth Rotary Club wished it every success in its future activities and for its future sustainability and hoped for collaboration on a number of important projects reflecting the Rotary ideal of service above self.


Young Musicians Competition 15 November 2016


Club members experienced a wonderful musical evening with fine performances as part of its Young Musicians Competition on 15 November.

Young musician competition winners 2016

Young musician competition winners 2016

Taking part were Nanci Dingle (saxophone), Rhodri Davies (solo singer) and Mali Gerallt (flute) who demonstrated their skill and musical artistry to an appreciative audience. The judges, Louise Amery and Eurwen Hughes, had a
difficult job in deciding who should go on to the next round of the competition, to be be held in Ysgol Penglais School in January. In the end, they decided that Nanci and Rhodri should represent the Club at that stage, although they warmly acknowledged Mali’s fine performance.

The Club gave its sincere thanks to Alan Wyn Jones for organising the evening and to Cerdd Aberystwyth for its generous support in awarding prizes



Howard Jones 8 November 2016

This week’s speaker was Rotarian Howard Jones who stepped in at the last moment to present a talk on his recent visit to India.

The highlight of the tour was a trip on the Kolka-Shimla narrow gauge railway to the foothills of the Himalayas and the summer capital of the British Raj in India.

The railway is recognised by a UNESCO as World Heritage Site in its own right and is an amazing piece of Victorian engineering, rising to 9,000 feet over some 55 miles. The line goes through 102 tunnels and over 869 bridges in that short journey, which takes some five hours to complete.

Shimla itself has developed from the small town in Victorian times to a bustling city of 330,000 people spread over seven hills, with many houses clinging to precipitous mountainsides. The centre of the city is the  5 kilometre Mall which contains many reminders of its British past, including its magnificent Anglican church and the Vice-Regal lodge, now home to the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, renowned for its high quality research. The Mall is the thriving commercial centre of the city standing as it does on a ridge connecting two of the main hills.

Howard’s trip was a memorable experience, extending from the overwhelming crowds of Delhi’s 22 million people to the Maharajah’s hunting lodge in Rajastan, where all was peace and quiet.




Glan Davies 1 November 2016


The guest at this week’s meeting of the Rotary Club was Glan Davies, who took great delight in telling us about his home village of Brynaman. With three chapels each in Upper and Lower Brynaman, there was a thriving Welsh cultural scene in the village, with keenly contested eisteddfodau, culminating in the annual eisteddfod for the whole village in a hall seating over 800. Glan recalled his first stage experience at the age of 4, having been encouraged to perform by the mother of Past President Hywel Davies. He was a regular participant over many years and developed his love of acting there, leading to a long career in Welsh television. Many of his contemporaries from the village also enjoyed success in acting, singing or the arts more generally, such was the effect of the strong performance-focused culture of the time. Among these he mentioned Hywel Bennett, Dafydd Iwan and Ryan Davies as known throughout Wales.

Glan shared his warm reminiscences of many characters from the village, some of them embellished to reinforce the characteristics that their neighbours knew so well.

Glan has more recently become very involved with Calonnau Cymru/Welsh Hearts, a charity which spends in Wales all the money it raises here. In recent years it has supplied over 450 defibrillators, 66 of them in Ceredigion alone, and promoted associated CPR classes to ensure their effective use. This has helped save many lives as emergency ambulances can be delayed by the road infrastructure in rural Wales. Four defibrillators were being placed in villages around Capel Bangor this week, such has been the success of the campaign.

Hywel Jones gave the vote of thanks for Glan’s talk, confirming the high regard held of Brynaman by those living further along the valley, and  wishing him continued success for his efforts for Calonnau Cymru/Welsh Hearts.



Park Run Wales 25 October 2016


This week’s guest at the Club was Jane Thorogood who spoke of her role as volunteer co-ordinator of Aberystwyth Parkun and Events Director of Junior Parkrun in Wales.

Since her first (very reluctant) Parkrun at the insistence of a family member, Jane has become an enthusiastic participant and has taken part in over 130 runs. Adults run over a 5 kilometre course and juniors (aged 4-14) over 2 kilometres. Participation in the runs has been increasing steadily over recent years (a 57% increase in Junior runners in the UK alone last year).

Last weekend, over 120,000 Parkruns were organised world-wide, with almost 2 million participants, assisted by more than 200,000 volunteers.

In Aberystwyth, the Parkruns (for those aged over 14) are held at 9am each Saturday starting at the entrance to Plascrug park (the green gates near the bus station), followed by a hearty breakfast in the Rugby Club for all involved. Aberystwyth was the third Junior Parkrun to be established in Wales and its events begin at 9am each Sunday from the children’s playground in Plascrug. Last week, over 100 took part in the adult run and 30 in the Junior.

Entry is free for all runners. It helps the organisers if runners register in advance on as this ensures that you turn up with a bar code which enables your time to be recorded on the website. Special coloured wristbands are given to those who take part in a number of runs equivalent to half marathons, marathons and ultra marathons, while distinctive tee shirts are given to those who help as volunteers at 25, 50 or 100 events.

The Parkrun team at Aberystwyth is always looking to increase participation in the runs, from eager enthusiasts to those looking for a fun way to increase their fitness. They hope to develop first aid training opportunities, set up permanent course markers and increase and purchase a gazebo with first aid equipments and wet weather gear.



Radio Bronglais 18 October 2016

The Club gave a warm welcome this week to Gemma Freedman, volunteer co-ordinator of Radio Bronglais. The station has been operating for 49 years and is one of the oldest in continuous operation in the UK, a remarkable achievement in such a small town. This is a great credit to its dedicated team of volunteers who provide such a valued service to the hospital and its wider community.

It broadcasts 24/7, with a mixture of recorded music and some 70 hours per week of live programmes, working in collaboration with hospital managers and heads of ward to ensure that it fits into their day to day working. Its ward visits are highly regarded by patients and its own volunteers as a means of changing perspectives on a typical stay in hospital.

The broadcasts on FM 87.8 have a normal range of 12 miles over land, further over sea, so its listeners are not restricted to the hospital building itself.

Radio Bronglais is totally reliant on its own fundraising activities and has operating costs of £3-4,000 a year, including its OFTEL licence. It benefits from a team of enthusiastic and multi-skilled volunteers but is always looking for new pools of talent to tap into and help it develop in a manner consistent with current needs.

Gemma extended a warm invitation to the Club to visit the Radio Bronglais building, built with Lottery support in 2000.

Rotarian Hywel Davies thanked Gemma for her stimulating talk and acknowledged the breadth of experience in broadcasting that she brought to her current role.


RYLA Presentation 11 October 2016

The Club welcomed Bethan Benham to this week’s meeting.

Bethan is currently an A Level student at Ysgol Penweddig. She was given the Rotary Youth Leadership Award, (RYLA) this year to enable her to participate in a course at the Storey Arms Outdoor Centre in the Brecon Beacons.

The aim of the course is to develop leadership, teamwork, organisational and communication skills amongst young people, based largely around physical pursuits in the National Park. For Bethan, these included organising for her team and leading a walk up Pen y Fan, canoeing and kayaking, caving and canyoneering.  This was a challenging and very enjoyable experience for Bethan, who came away with vivid memories of the glorious views from the top of the Beacons, struggling through tiny potholes and jumping from great heights into mountain pools.

The RYLA scheme is advertised in local schools each year and is awarded to students who appear most able to benefit from residential course at the Storey Arms Centre. Those who complete the course successfully a given a certificate which can be added to their CV for applications to university or employment anywhere in the world.


Iestyn Hughes 20 September 2016

The audience at this week’s meeting were led on a journey around Ceredigion  by local photographer  Iestyn Hughes, through past and present images of the county.

Iestyn’s formative years were spent in Anglesey,  then after graduating from UCW Aberystwyth he spent his working life in the National Library.

In retirement, photography was rediscovered and a photographic project based on Ceredigion took shape. Work began in the National Library delving back through pictures and photographs, many of them the work of an anonymous artist known as the Welsh Primitive, a nineteenth century photographer John Thomas, a native of Cellan and a twentieth-century photographer Geof Charles.

Iestyn wandered here, there and everywhere getting acquainted with the landscape and the people particularly in the south of the county which was unfamiliar to him.

His photographs, as well as some images from the Library’s collection are to be found in his bilingual book, “Ceredigion, Wrth fy Nhraed, At my Feet  “. In the words of the introduction- “The striking pictures accompany one from coast to uplands, through towns and villages, through good times and bad, through the eyes of an adopted Cardi whose love for his county is visible in every frame.”


RNLI  6 September 2016

This week the Club gave a warm welcome to Richard Griffiths, Lifeboat Operations Manager at the RNLI station in Aberystwyth.

The RNLI has had a boat based in Aberystwyth since 1861 but there is a history of a locally-owned lifeboat operating from the harbour since 1843. Many local people will remember the lifeboat being hauled by tractor from its base in Queen’s Road to the slip on the promenade until 1964, a most impressive sight for locals and tourists alike.

Operated entirely by 25 male and female volunteers, the local station costs £90,000 a year to run, with training costs of £1.600 per crew member each year. The latest rescue boat, an Atlantic 85, cost over £214,000 when originally purchased.

Nationally, RNLI costs over £168 million to run annually and thanks to phenomenal fund raising activities last year managed to raise £181 million. It has 349 lifeboats and took part in 7,800 rescues around British and Irish waters.

The first in-shore rescue boat in the UK was in fact trialled in Aberystwyth in 1963 and proved so successful that it proved the model for many bases around the UK.

Richard shared with the Club some memorable incidents, from the death of crew member John James in 1877, when the lifeboat was unable to return to harbour safely, to the unusual request from Bronglais Hospital in 1980 for a supply a clean sea water to be used in the treatment of a child suffering from severe pneumonia. Numerous cliff rescues had been undertaken, some in collaboration with air rescue teams, and recently some local crew members had participated in flood rescue work in Cockermouth in Cumbria. In recent weeks, the Aberystwyth station has been involved in seven rescues and two sad fatalities, which are fortunately very rare in the area.

Rotarian Lindsay Fletcher, a former sea captain, gave the vote of thanks on behalf of the club and paid tribute to the bravery and devotion of RNLI’s volunteer crew members, whatever the conditions they are faced with.

Air Training Corps 16 August 2016

This week the Club gave a warm welcome to Flt Lt Clive Parker of Air Training Corps 561 (Aberystwyth) Squadron.

The ATC was founded in 1941 in the depths of World War II but its ideals date back to 1928 with the foundation of the Youth Air League in Bournemouth and that of the  national Youth Air League in 1938 as concerns grew about the likelihood of war in Europe.

Originally there were three separate local branches in Ardwyn, Aberystwyth and Llanbadarn Fawr offering training to 16 and 17 year old boys in navigation, aeronautics, radio communication and outdoor pursuits, which made them ideal recruits for the RAF as pilots or ground support staff. By the end of 1944 over 800 boys had been trained in Aberystwyth alone, by which time the air war in Europe had been largely won and a place in the RAF was no longer automatic.

In the early 1960s the three local branches merged into 561 Squadron. The 1980s and 1990s saw continued contraction of the armed services and the ATC had to realign itself to succeed in the face of financial challenges. It is now open to boys and girls from the ages of 12 to 20 and focuses on the delivery of soft skills which can be used in a number of different careers, not just the armed forces, and higher education. These include teamwork, leadership, outdoor activities as well as the traditional skills relating to the airforce, all aimed at improving life opportunities for young people. Cadets are still able to participate in flying sessions at RAF bases around the UK.

At present numbers in the Aberystwyth Squadron are buoyant, with 31 cadets at the end of the summer session. Some will move on but there is confidence the Squadron remains strong enough to attract new recruits in the autumn and continue to offer great opportunities to youngsters in the area.

Club President Derrick Whiting thanked Flt LT Parker warmly for his talk and wished him and the Squadron every success on their Open Day on 20 August.


Visit of the District Governor 2 August 2016

This week the Rotary Club was pleased to welcome the District Governor, Steve Jenkins, and his wife, Felicity, to our weekly meeting.

Steve is a native of Cardigan and was most pleased to revisit the county of his birth. He spoke of the broad aims of Rotary whose membership internationally is now at its second highest ever, thanks to buoyant recruitment in India and the Far East. The theme this year is ‘Rotary Serving Humanity’.

The first club in Wales was founded in Cardiff and would be celebrating its centenary in 2017, a very special occasion for all clubs in the District. A series of events would be organised to mark the occasion.

Steve had set three priorities for his year in office:

  1. Eradicating Polio, where numbers have fallen dramatically as a result of a world-wide efforts involving Rotary to only 16 so far this year, compared with 1,000 per day before the campaign. The District has raised the equivalent of $880,000 towards the campaign (including $80,000 from Aberystwyth) and Steve is hoping to reach $1,000,000 before the end of his term of office.
  2. Sponsoring Scholarships and Studentships, where over the years almost 300 awards had been made from the District. The Aberystwyth Club has sponsored some 25% of these awards over the years.
  3. Increasing membership in the District by encouraging the establishment of clubs in communities currently without one and developing e-Clubs, open to people with time commitments elsewhere as well as to all Rotary Ambassadors and Scholars with links to the area.

He commended the Club for its excellent webpage and Facebook site and encouraged the use of Rotary Club Central website as a means of communicating and co-ordinating activities more widely.

Club President Derrick Whiting thanked the District Governor warmly for his talk and wished him every success for his year in office.

19 July 2016 Howard Jones: New Member’s Talk

All new members of Rotary are given the opportunity to give a talk about themselves and their career. This week it was Howard Jones who addressed the Club.

A native of the Upper Amman Valley in Carmarthenshire, Howard has worked extensively across the world with deaf and blind people, helping them gain valuable communication skills and to play a full part in society. He was inspired originally when working on VSO as a teacher in Upper Egypt in the mid-1970s. His landlord’s son was profoundly deaf and because of his disability was excluded from the Egyptian education system. Howard saw the boy’s potential being denied him and, on his return, determined to study Audiology, which he was able to put good use on further stints abroad in Tanzania and Vietnam, working for a Swedish Overseas Aid Organisation..

He has worked with deaf children in all three areas of the old Dyfed at different times and as Deputy Headmaster in the Royal School for the Deaf in Manchester. He moved on to complete a Master’s degree in Blind Education before becoming Head of Sensory Education in Ceredigion before his retirement in 2014. Until very recently he has been an Honorary member with Sight Cymru, as an advocate for those with sight impairment.

Howard has spent his life helping disadvantaged people and firmly believes that the best gift you can offer is that of your time, to enable them to reach their potential and participate in society as full and equal members.

5 July  2016    Meet the President

At the start of the Rotary Year our incoming President is interviewed for a ‘Meet the President’ session. This week’s meeting was chaired by Past President Richard Griffiths.

President Derrick Whiting was born in 1932 in Balham and vividly remembers the outbreak of World War 2 and his evacuation to boarding schools outside London.

He left school at 14 to work as an office junior in several law firms  before being called up for National Service in 1950, when he became a member of the Royal Signals Corps, serving in both the UK and Libya.

After demob he was fortunate to rejoin the law profession where he had a long and very happy career, working initially on personal injuries claims and later as an insurance lawyer. He continued in the Territorial Army until 1964.

Since retirement he has become active in both Rotary, where he has been a member for over 40 years, and, inspired by his father’s gift of a Welsh Cob pony to his brother and him in 1945, on the carriage driving circuit across the UK, where he and his wife, Cynthia, are team sponsors and organise, steward and score events.

In a life with many fond memories one highlight he shared with members was the long carriage ride from Bavaria to St Gallen in Switzerland, over the Simplon Pass in the Alps, down to Milan and ending amidst a huge cheering crowd in the arena in Verona. This was a significant achievement given the size of the coach and a single team of seven horses for the whole trip.

Richard thanked Derrick for his evident warmth and enthusiasm and wished him well for his year as President.


      21 June 2016               ROMAN VILLA- ABERMAGWR


Dr Toby Driver of the Royal Commission for Ancient Monuments Wales (RCAHMV) spoke to members this week of the discovery of the site of a Roman Villa at Abermagwr.and its subsequent excavation in July 2010.

Royal Commission aerial photography during a severe drought in 2006, had revealed a double- ditched enclosure of 1.1 hectares with a buried stone building in one corner.

This was confirmed as a winged building, 22m by 8m, with three inner rooms and a south facing verandah after a geophysical survey in July 2009. This plan is characteristic of Roman villas found in south Wales and southern England but is the only one found in Ceredigion, is the most north-western villa in Wales and the most isolated..

The building was roofed with local slates each having five sides and a fine point common with villas in S-W England . The walls were built of local stone on cobble foundations.

Coin and ceramic evidence indicates occupation of the building circa AD 230-350. The coins were minted in Trier , Germany , London and Lyons , France

The walling had been robbed possibly when the nearby Trawsgoed mansion was being built in the nineteenth century.

Another treasure was a very rare cut- glass vessel in fragments, confirmed as originating in Cologne .

On the basis of coin and other evidence there was a catastrophic fire after AD325.

Last year more excavations have uncovered a bare farmyard of gravel and clay but as yet no more buildings.

Dr Driver in answering the many questions said than Roman villas were high-status homes of wealthy landowners which sat at the heart of a farming estate and were common throughout southern England . 

Past-president Emlyn Watkin thanked Dr Driver for his presentation which had intrigued his audience as evidenced by the many questions with which he had dealt with.

President John Harries informed members that a social evening at the home of  Rtn Colin and Delyth Fletcher had raised £540 for the Wheelchair Foundation and the Toilet Twinning charity




Each year Aber Rotary makes an award to a young person who intends to undertake some form of humanitarian work over seas.

The recipient this year, of the Lionel White scholarship, was Tesni Clare from Borth, a former student of Penglais School .

At this week’s meeting Tesni spoke of her conservation work in Costa Rica , Central  America . The country has one of the most progressive environmental  policies in the  world  where 25% of the country’s area is  in protected National Parks one of which is Corcovado renowned for its biodiversity

Tesni’s main task was to survey the wild life in some of the parks which meant an early start particularly to study the bird population –the scarlet macaw and the keel-billed toucan are particularly exotic.

Like other wild life they are threatened by climate change where temperature rise affects the flora and insects as well as by poaching and deforestation  Another early morning task was to record the species types and activities of primates. There are four species of monkey including the endangered spider monkey. These primates also face threats for example from the black market pet trade.

Tesni also took part in patrols of the olive and green turtle, the latter is becoming endangered. The threats here are removal of eggs from their nests, poaching and ingestion of  plastic litter. Turtles travel up to 2,000km from their nest to their feeding sites but always return to the same place to lay eggs which can number a hundred a night. To curb population decline, turtle hatcheries have been established.

Her illustrated talk featured pictures of the wide range of wild life which enhanced an excellent presentation. Her last slide was a thank-you to Rotary for the financial help given for the visit which had added to her life long passion for the environment

In thanking Tesni, President Dr John Harries was sure that she had benefited greatly from her experiences and wished her the very best in her future studies at Cambridge university.


The Ceredigion County Archivist was this week’s speaker. Helen Palmer who was appointed to that post in 1996 explained that the Archives collects, preserves and makes available to the public , all sorts of records relating to the history of the County.

An estimated 246 cubic metres of material going back to the 1500s as well as 20,000 semi-current records of the Council are in storage at Glanyrafon.

The original Record Office was housed in Swyddfa’r Sir-the old Queen’s Hotel before moving four years ago to the Old Town Hall  now known as Canolfan Alun R Edwards. A Search room is available for public use and the Accessions Room is where items are sorted, cleaned and held until they are catalogued. The Strong Rooms are fitted with  mobile shelves for ease of use.

Ms Palmer showed a photograph from the motor vehicle licence records of EJ 219, a Morgan car, records of EJ 1 are extant  Among the Births, Deaths and Marriages is an example of a clandestine marriage certificate where the couple married in secret in 1837 and are not included in the parish register of marriages. The union was perfectly legal.

Police records detail  the trial in 1867 of a female accused of stealing a petticoat.

PC 1713 gave the evidence in the court in the Falcon Hotel, Llanilar- public houses were for the use of the public and many activities were pub related.

The Llantood Letters available as a blog were written by two brothers to their farming parents in the period 1811 to 1820. Daniel fought in the Battle of Waterloo and Morris worked near London . The letters show how family members could keep in touch though widely separated.

The archives also have a blog of the effect of the Great War in Ceredigion.

Past president Hywel Davies thanked Helen for her presentation delivered with humour and enthusiasm.

At the close of the meeting President  John Harries presented the final cheques from the Christmas collection to the CAB, Llwyn yr Eos after-school club and Arthritis Care


‘Music of the First World War’ was the title of this week’s talk given by Lt Col (Ret’d) Geoffrey Kingston. He began a very illustrious army musical career in 1964 as a French horn player in the Staffordshire Regiment.

In forty-one years of military service he was judged, in 1978, the best student bandmaster in the British Army after a spell in the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall.

He served as band master  to many regimental bands and in 2000 was appointed Principal Director of Music at Kneller Hall.

Music is everywhere-in supermarkets, on the telephone even in lifts The popular music halls of old, were accessible to all , inexpensive with wonderful lyrics. The speaker had conducted the community singing at the last Cup Final in the old Wembley Stadium- standing in the centre of the pitch the noise was unbelievable.

Col Kingston’s presentation included sound clips of many soldiers’ songs.

‘Pack up your Troubles’ written by Felix Powell as a marching song regained popularity in the second world war and still provides large sums in Royalties. Equally famous was ‘ It’s a long way to Tipperary’ written by Jack Judge though Tipperary was originally Connemara.  Perhaps ‘ Colonel Bogey’ by Ken Alford is the most famous marching tune.

‘Mademoiselle from Armentieres’ gave ample opportunity for the Tommies to insert their own words to make a bawdy version.

In the early 1900s, Britain had a small standing army. With the prospect of war, there was imminent need for soldiers. In the recruitment drive, the Saturday evening music hall played a big  part. ‘Your King and Country  needs you’ sung by a famous artiste Vesta Tilley incited young men to join up. Recruiting sergeants were on hand to take your name.

Singing in the trenches helped morale, though as the war moved on, the music became a lot more darker and home sickness prompted songs like ‘ When this b….y war is over’.

Some songs told of the gap between the officer class and the Tommy and attempts were made to ban them. The lyrics of ‘Hanging on the old barbed wire’ spoke of Officers and NCOs drinking the company rum with the private soldier ‘hanging on the old barbed wire’.

War poets like Rupert Brooke’s ‘The Soldier’ emphasised the futility of it all.

The entry of the USA into the conflict in April 1917 brought their own music-

‘Over There’ and ‘The Marines’ Hymn’soon took their place.

The rendering of ‘Take me back to dear old Blighty’ brought a fascinating talk to an end.

In giving the vote of thanks past-president Hywel Davies said that it had been a real joy to have a multilayered sound and visual presentation so professionally given.


The volunteer coordinator for Sight Cymru, Jane Guest was this week’s speaker.

The charity Sight Cymru, formerly Sight Support has been supporting people with sight loss since1865 but only recently has come to Ceredigion.

People of 40+ years can expect to suffer some sight loss. Exercise, no smoking and reasonable alcohol consumption will reduce the chances.

The speaker outlined the main causes of sight impairment- Age Related Macular Degeneration or AMD, Cataracts, Diabetic Retinopathy, Glaucoma and Dry Eye.

Jane passed round glasses which replicated the effects of the above for members to appreciate those conditions. She emphasised that the conditions can be picked up early so regular eye checkups are critical.

Ceredigion has an aging population and sight loss can result in being stranded in the home, inability to drive resulting in social exclusion. This can lead to depression, lack of confidence perhaps lack of employment and the increasing risk of accidents in the home.

Sight Cymru  can provide access to a whole range of support services including help with entitled benefits, emotional support, use of a resource centre and assistance with computing  and access to the talking book service.

Jane appealed for volunteers to expand the home befriending service including via the telephone particularly for rural clients.

During question time, Dr Alan Axford suggested that the Hospice at Home Volunteers could play a part in the service and Jane agreed that some liaison would be advantageous.  Rtn Iori Jones thanked the speaker for her talk adding that many were unaware of the charity which was vital to those with sight impairment.


Registered charity Blood Bikes Wales is made up of a group of people, most of whom are motor bike riders, who aim to use their skills, time and enthusiasm to help the Health Service in Wales

The Aberystwyth group was formed in March 2015 , and its Area representative, Medwyn Parry spoke on the  work of the charity at this week’s meeting of Rotary.

The NHS uses its own transport to move blood supplies, plasma, documents and other items Monday to Friday. Between 7pm and 7am  on weekdays, on weekends and bank holidays, the regular system was curtailed and the NHS used the police, the ambulance service, taxis and couriers to carry vital supplies. In 2011-12, the Hywel Dda Health Board spent £250,000 on taxis alone.

Blood Bikes Wales provides the NHS with out-of-hours transport saving substantial sums which can be used for frontline patient care. Their service is free of charge and operates between 7pm on Friday evening until midnight on Monday morning including bank holidays and Christmas Day. BBW is not a blue-light service and has to obey road traffic regulations. South, Mid and West Wales are covered and there is hope for a Bangor group soon.

The charity is funded entirely by public and business donations, has over 200 members with 90 riders with advanced riding qualifications. Their liveried bikes can get through traffic easier than taxis.

Medwyn acknowledged the generosity of many donors. The local Lions Club gave £9,000 which allowed purchase of a Triumph Trophy bike adapted with racks for blood porter boxes. Cambrian Tyres generously supplied tyres which retail at £200 per pair. Running costs are considerable and donations are welcome. £490 for example will pay for one motor cycle annual insurance premium.

In giving the vote of thanks, Michael Deaville said it was gratifying to have such a  feedback from a group which had received a donation from the Club.


The topic of this week’s speaker , Peter Henley was the history of the post card.

The first post card issued in the UK in 1870 had a plain back and front with a pre-paid

stamp, produced by the Post Office who held a monopoly. This led, in 1884 to the first picture postcard.  In 1899 cards were standardised to 5.5ins by 3.5 ins. Cards had a picture on one side with little room for a message which was considered unseemly –these were the ‘undivided backs’. Later in 1902 came the ‘divided backs’- message on one half, address on other half and a picture on the front.

The speaker was able to show slides of cards produced by local photographers for the increasing number of tourists as Aber became a major resort. ER Gyde of Pier St produced a carte de visite  and Henry Hicks Davies produced cards of the opening of the Pier in 1895.

The Golden Age of the post card was 1907 to 1915. Peter was able to show a hand woven card sent by a relative, Fred Henley from the WW1 trenches. Post cards had a great propaganda value with such captions as ‘Marching through Berlin’ in September 1917 as well as Kitchener’s ‘Your Country Needs You’.

The saucy seaside post card with its double entendres came into its own after the war mainly published by Donald McGill  although there was a Government crackdown in the early 50’s using the Obscene Publications Act of 1857, but by the 60’s in a more  liberal era they were considered to be an art form.

Another local photographer was Arthur Davies, his famous photograph of an elephant  ‘bathing’ in the sea marked the move to mixed bathing where previously there was segregation in the use of bathing huts.

Deltology- or card collecting ranks third in popularity behind philately and coin collecting. Except for rare issues, generally cards have no high value though Titanic and Antarctic expedition related can  fetch thousands of pounds.

Peter concluded his talk by showing examples from his large collection as well as his own publication of local views and events in his book Aber Prom.

AGM  2016   12 APRIL

At this week’s AGM members confirmed the main officers for the 2016-17 Rotary year.

They are Club president -Derrick Whiting, senior vice-president  -Martin Davies

junior vice-president-Michael Deaville, secretary Hywel Davies, and treasurer Robin Varley.

The current committee chairs gave their final reports of the year. Due to the generosity of local people, the Christmas collection raised £4.125 a figure which includes the Gift Aid supplement.

Hospice at Home was the main beneficiary receiving £1,200 plus a further £1000 from a District Grant.  The Club continues to provide transport for the Visually Impaired Club.

In conjunction with the other two Rotary Clubs in Ceredigion, a concert in Aberaeron raised £1,830 for the Nepal earthquake appeal.

There was just one application for the Lionel White scholarship which was awarded to Hannah Glasser of Penglais. The sum of £750 will help her in her task as an International Volunteer with IVHQ in Madagascar.

From the proceeds of last summer’s pig roast a Shelter Box was purchased. This June a fund raising event will support the Wheelchair Foundation.

As always the Youth Service group have been busy arranging competitions in photography, singing and instrument playing, Penweddig again supported the Youth Speaks and will supply a young person for the RYLA scheme     . Mock Interview sessions with the secondary schools and Coleg Ceredigion were much appreciated.

Club President, Dr John Harries thanked members for their contribution during the year and a special mention of the sterling work over a five year period of Richard Morgan and Michael Deaville,  treasurer and secretary respectively.


At this week’s meeting, Club President John Harries introduced one of his former students at the Welsh Agricultural College as the speaker.

Dewi Jones , following his studies at the College, pursued post-graduate work in New Zealand before returning to the Institute of Rural Studies in 1991.

For the next ten years he led a range of  ground breaking sheep research projects funded by the EU and the then Welsh Office. He went on to establish a spin-off company from the University, CBS Technology which was one of the most successful spinout enterprises to emerge from AU. The company merged with two others in 2004 to create Innovis which, due to Dewi’s foresight, innovation and hard work as CEO, Innovis, here in Aberystwyth, has developed an excellent record world-wide for livestock breeding research and development.

The speaker said that in the UK sheep industry, there were 13 million breeding ewes owned by 70,000 farmers. They were heavily dependent on EU subsidies to maintain a modest profitability. Business planning and cost analysis were rarely practiced and there was a complete disconnection between pedigree breeding and the commercial meat sector –some 10-15% was wasted on supermarket shelves.

There was a need to produce more food with genetic improvement a key catalyst to enable greater production. Sheep are relatively small animals with a lower meat yield per carcass compared with pigs and chickens and also a lower reproductive rate. But sheep were very effective utilisers of grassland and metabolising protein from land areas where no other species can.

The mission of Innovis under its new title- Animal Breeding Europe, was to become the global leader in sheep breeding and in the next five years to grow by 25% per annum in sheep genetic sales.

In  giving the vote of thanks, Rtn Colin Eagles said Dewi had given a deep insight into the  sheep industry and how to run a business. Set out a viable business model and you will deliver more succulent lamb at a cheaper price.

CHARTER NIGHT      5;3;201

The 68th Charter Night Celebrations of Aber Rotary

The chief guest was Professor Wynne Jones OBE, formerly principal of Harper Adams Agricultural College. He spoke amusingly of his student days in the town sharing ‘digs’ with President John as well as being fellow staff members in the former Welsh Agricultural College.

On a more serious note he spoke of the problems in the farming industry where if the UK withdrew from the EU 86% of farms would not be  viable.

In responding to Wynne’s toast- ‘Rotary-locally and globally’ , Assisant Governor Carol Ramaya of the Lampeter club spoke of the need for increased membership and the forthcoming centenary of the Rotary charity-Rotary Foundation which had done so much to eradicate polio from the world’

President John Harries in toasting the guests oulined the Club’s activities in the past year. As well as a strong youth and other programmes , charities, both local and international had benefitted to the tune of £12,000.

The former assistant director of Social Sevices,David Harries responded on behalf of the guests. He gave a very appropriate ‘englyn’ composed for the occasion  by Gwyn Jenkins of Talybont which deserves further exposure.

The MC for the evening, Rtn Derek Whiting was warmly thanked for his efforts. As a result of the evening’s raffle £350 would go the DASH Ceredigion.

Tuesday February 23rd 2016
At the beginning of last week’s meeting, President John Harries read out a letter from Water Aid, the global charity that sets out to provide and improve water supplies in the Third World, to acknowledge the Club’s donation of £1270, the result of money collected in the Wishing Well on the Promenade during the past 12 months .This sum was being matched by the Treasury thus producing a very worthwhile total of £2540.

The speaker at the meeting was Mr Gareth Lloyd Roberts who had been appointed to the post of Director of the Aberystwyth Arts Centre in November 2013. Prior to his appointment, Mr Roberts had held various roles in the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay and had also worked as a director, script writer and researcher for Welsh language T.V.programmes.

Mr Roberts emphasised the importance of the Arts Centre, which in his opinion, is the largest and most dynamic of its type in the country, to the Aberystwyth area. A recent economic intelligence survey had estimated a positive impact of £10.5 million on the local economy it having attracted upwards of 750,000 visitors The aim was to increase this even further by making Mid Wales a major player in the production of artistic output and promoting Aberystwyth as a centre of cultural tourism. It was hoped to stage an Arts and Music festival in the town in 2017/2018 as well as various other productions.

Major refurbishment of the Arts Centre was programmed assuming sufficient funding was forthcoming. In this context, Mr Roberts emphasised the need for more commercial activity to alleviate the effects of government and local authority grant cutbacks and generating outside funding was to become more and more vital in ensuring the continued success of the Arts Centre in the future.

Tuesday February 16th – Speaker – PCSO Mary Weller
Aberystwyth Rotary Club welcomed PCSO Mary Weller as the speaker at their meeting on 16 February. Mary works in Aberystwyth where her community policing role is supporting and engaging with the community, and being visible in the community.
The talk covered a range of low level crimes including rogue traders and doorstep cold callers and ways to avoid becoming a victim. Only a small number of these crimes are reported so those approached are encouraged to ring 101 so that the police are aware of the scams operating in the area. Fraud and internet crime can also be reported to Action Fraud. Telephone and email scams, befriending on Facebook, vehicle crime, farm crime and hate crime were also described. Leaflets are available about these low level crimes and personal safety advice. The Telephone Preference Service was mentioned as a means of reducing unwanted telephone calls.
There was an extreme case of a lady who was hounded by criminals after entering a competition she thought would lead to a large cash prize. The scammers put her name on a “suckers” list and sold her details to other criminals all over the world. She received 30,000 criminal letters over a 5-year period and sent thousands of pounds to the criminals in the belief that a big prize was imminent.
Rotarian Emlyn Watkin thanked the speaker for a very informative talk about low level crimes of which anyone can become a potential victim.

Tuesday January 26th – Speaker – David Russell Hulme

David Russell Hulme

Rotary Club members were privileged to be addressed by Aberystwyth University’s Director of Music at their weekly meeting. A native of Machynlleth, David Russell Hulme is a former student of UCW, Aberystwyth and later studied conducting under Sir Adrian Boult. After postgraduate degrees based on research into the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, he eventually returned to Aberystwyth in 1992 as Director of Music.  He is totally immersed in the music scene, locally, nationally and globally.

David’s talk focussed on his work re-constructing musical pieces that had been discarded for one reason or another by their composers.  In 1987 he was largely responsible for making possible the Sadlers Wells Centenary production of Ruddigore in its original form.

David Russell Hulme’s great interest in the works of Gilbert & Sullivan drove him to reconstruct a tenor solo from the operetta, Patience.  Sullivan composed this solo shortly before the scheduled opening night but culled it from the operetta at the eleventh hour.  All that remained was the accompaniment but not the tune.  From clues available, David Russell Hulme produced the solo, earning the soubriquet, “Inspector Morse of Gilbert & Sullivan!”  Members were able to listen to a D’Oyly Carte recording of this “lost” solo.

One of his more challenging projects was the reconstruction of a contralto solo from Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Sorcerer,” to be performed on BBC’s Friday Night is Music Night.  The solo had been cut and all that remained were the lyrics and a few instrumental parts, though, crucially, the bass parts.  The solo, Ballad in days Gone By was duly performed by Sylvia Clarke, the renowned Australian contralto.

David is also a leading authority on the music of Edward German: he successfully converted the Solemn March from a military band arrangement to an orchestral version to be recorded by the BBC Concert Orchestra.  Later, David was approached by the recording company Naxos to edit the score of German’s Tom Jones for the first time; he duly conducted the recording.  This was so successful that it reached No.3 in the UK classical charts!

Rtn. Alan Wynne Jones delivered a vote of thanks that was enthusiastically endorsed by the large number of members present.



Dr Debra Croft is the Director of Equality at the University but her talk to the Club members this week described aspects of the application of science to criminal and civil laws –Forensic Science

Dr Croft’s academic qualifications are mainly in the field of geology and her wide-ranging presentation included the role of geology in forensic work.

A basic aspect of the science is that of “Trace Evidence.” Locard’s Exchange Principle  states that when two objects come into contact with one another, materials are exchanged between them. This means that every contact by a criminal leaves a trace.

Footprints can be revealing to experts who can deduct the history of the shoe and gain more knowledge from the  soil adhering to them.

“Physical Fit” can provide vital evidence. Dr Croft gave as an example a pair of boxer shorts cut up and found in a laundry basket linked with the gag of a kidnap victim.

Rocks in a body bag, used to weigh it down, were found in a lake. These rocks were linked to similar rock fragments found in a car boot.

Use of dental records can solve, for example sexual crimes. A burglar leaving a bitten apple at the crime scene can be convicted on the bite pattern.

Dental records  are commonly used to identify unknown bodies. Similarly examination of stomach contents can give an indication of country of origin as does the chemistry of the bones.

Electron microscopy is increasingly used for example, in ballistics to compare rifling grooves on bullets . Minute pollen grains and spores  extracted from mud on shoes can provide evidence of soil nature and  vegetation  then traceable on  maps.

Surface changes in vegetation can often lead to burial sites

Past President Hywel Davies thanked the speaker for her very comprehensive presentation of a science which uses many disciplines.


Comments are closed