Author Archives: Geoff Winterman

Monthly Talk: “Living on an Island”

The speaker for October was Janet Gibbs, a member of the Canasta Group, who talked to the membership about her time living on the Island of Guernsey.

Photo: GW

Janet lived on the Island for six years, working for a private bank at the time when off shore accounts received tax benefits.  Her husband,was a policeman.  Guernsey to some conjures up Guernsey cows and the German occupation, but Janet told us so much more.  The second largest of the Channel Islands and once the home of Victor Hugo, whose home can be seen today and is, as you would expect, very much decorated ornately in the French style.  With a speed limit of just 35 miles per hour it is strange the racing driver Jensen Button should be a resident! 

In addition to its’ dairy industry, Guernsey was a grower of tomatoes but sadly in the 1987 gales many of the greenhouses were destroyed and remain today mounds of debris because of the difficulty and cost of removal and disposal.  Janet brought with her some very stylish jewellery designed by Catherine Best who has a workshop on the Island of much interest to the ladies!

The talk was both informative and interesting it is always great to hear from a member.

Penny Thomas 4th October 2018

Monthly Talk: “Gathering the Graves” a film

Local filmmaker Bob Phillips presented his debut film ‘Gathering the Graves’.

The story is based on the work of the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission and follows the lives of several characters affected by the loss of Evan, a soldier who went missing on the Western Front during World War I.

An introduction was given by Bob.  He started with a short talk introducing us to a map with numbers written, 21, 13, 870 etc these represented the number of bodies found after the Great War some 10,000 in an area of not much more than an acre, shocking.  The hall descended into silence as Bob explained the reason behind the making of this truly remarkable film, a grandfather, great uncle members of his own family lost, the more he investigated the greater the desire to record events.  We followed the young lives of two friends who had seen the Buffalo Bill Cowboy Show when it visited Pembroke Dock, we saw photos of two boys playing cowboys and Indians.  These boys, as did so many, saw the War as an adventure and signed up to do their duty, my own tears started as we saw them leave, boarding a train which would take one to his death the other to be a prisoner of war.

The film centred on the commissioning of War Graves, those who had wealth were able to arrange for their loved ones to be brought home for burial others lay where they had fallen for some there were no remains.   War Grave Commission headed by Mr Fabian Ware set about finding the bodies buried beneath the killing fields each was given a burial and the grave marked with a simple cross to eventually be replaced by a simple headstone that we now recognise.  

Penny Thomas  6th September 2018

“Catharine Memorial Walk” – Saturday October 6th

The Rovers Walk on Saturday October 6th, led by John Baylis, has now been designated as the Catharine Memorial Walk, in memory of his wife who died suddenly earlier this year.   Anyone who would like to join us on this walk will be very welcome.  Details are in the current U3A Newsletter.  The distance is 7.5 miles; wear walking boots, and suitable clothing, and bring lunch and water.  Ring John the previous evening to inform him, and receive any last minute information.      Chris Taylor 01646-600225.

UPDATE:  If U3A members would like to join us, but are unable to manage the full 7.5 mile walk, the first three miles of the walk is a loop, and come back almost to the starting point, (at Haverfordwest Football Club, behind/beside Morrisons).  So you could drop off after three miles rather than complete the longer walk. 

Horticultural Show 2018

RULES
1. Entrants must be U3A members.
2. Exhibits must be staged from 8.30 to 10.20.
3. Entrants may submit only 2 entries per class.
4. Entrants must provide their own containers (vases etc.)
5. No exhibits may be removed before 4 pm.
6. The Judge’s decision is final.
7. The committee accepts no responsibility for any damage, loss or accident.

Penny Thomas 01437 766775 pen.thomas46@googlemail.com 

Entry Forms can be downloaded here CLICK HERE

     

U3A TABLE TENNIS OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS 2018

Firstly a huge thank you to everyone who came to Cardiff, smiled their way through 8+ hours of an extremely hot and stuffy Jubilee Hall and played magnificently.

This year the competition was open to teams from England, was very much bigger and we met with a lot of serious and dedicated league players.  There were 34 teams and everyone played an average of 9 matches.  Overall we took 7th place (Gaynor Evans & Tony Tiffen) and 9th place (Chris Harries and myself), and the trophy for Group 4 went to Pauline Tiffen & Geraint Williams.  John Healey partnered Pat Mason who kept going even though still recovering from an injured wrist, and Ray Lockyer was partnered by Margaret Carter, our newest member.  All of them did us proud.

Receiving their trophy from Ron Davies board director of Table Tennis Wales,
Pauline Tiffen and Geraint Williams

The Sophia Gardens cafeteria provided very good breakfasts and lunches.  Thanks go to Chris who organised a Portuguese meal on Monday night, and to Gaynor who took us back to last year’s Italian restaurant on Tuesday – both excellent meals.  Thanks also to Muriel who was unable to play but stayed with us all day and gave help and encouragement.  Last but not least we owe thanks to Phil Avery who gave the time and effort to organise the competition.

June 2018 Meeting – “Witchcaft in Pembrokeshire” by Simon Hancock

This month, Simon Hancock, social historian and curator of Haverfordwest Town Museum, shares his fascinating research into witchcraft in seventeenth-century Pembrokeshire.

When we think of witches and witchcraft there is an almost instinctive mind picture of an isolated, warty old woman, invariably accompanied by a pet cat. This stereotype is culled from popular literature, folk and fairy tales. Our knowledge of witchcraft prosecutions is dominated by the person of Matthew Hopkins, ‘Witchfinder General’ in East Anglia during the English Civil Wars and even more so by the Salem witch trials at Salem in Massachusetts in 1692.  Witchcraft accusations tell us a lot about the role of women in society, male attitudes and forms of control, relationships within communities and how local conflicts were resolved.

Simon’s is interest was awakened by reading Richard Suggett’s excellent book A History of Magic and Witchcraft in Wales, published in 2008, in which he mentions a number of local cases. This prompted Simon to consult the actual court papers of the Great Sessions which heard such cases.

Across England and Wales between 300 to 1,000 people were executed for witchcraft, the great majority of whom were women, although in Wales prosecutions were rare. Most accusations, when they were made, were thrown out by grand juries. There were five executions for witchcraft in Wales, the last being at Anglesey in 1655. There were no executions in Pembrokeshire but around half a dozen cases are mentioned. Perhaps the most interesting appear during the final flourish of witchcraft accusations in the 1690s.

The earliest known case dates from 1607 when Katherine Lewis, the wife of Thomas Bowen of Tenby, labourer, was suspected of bewitching some pigs at Gumfreston. Two sows ran about ‘in a most strange manner’ and lost their litters. Witchcraft was part of the mental furniture and viewed the supernatural, cursing, charms, cunning folk and belief in diabolical forces as part of everyday life.  Quakers were initially suspected of associations with witchcraft. In 1668 at Haverfordwest, Hugh Lloyd had become ‘distracted’, saying the Quakers had enchanted him and that Quaker women were ‘inchanted Devills’.

Perhaps the most interesting local case of witchcraft accusation occurs in that of Olly (Olivia Powell) of Loveston in 1693. A whole list of calamities supposedly followed in her wake, including the destruction of a rick of hay, sows sickening and poultry suddenly expiring. When one man refused to give her ‘coals’ (an interesting reference to local mining) he soon developed unexplainable pain in his legs. Other Pembrokeshire cases include a cattle thief who met a man with horns who induced him to steal at Narberth fair in 1612, and a cunning man or conjurer at Llanychaer in 1693.

The last indictment for witchcraft in Wales occurred at Haverfordwest in 1699. Dorcas Heddin, a native of Cambridgeshire, was accused of bewitching sailors on a ship which was bound for Virginia. The Devil appeared to her in the image of a black man and demanded three drops of her blood. He offered to founder the vessel but Dorcas only wanted the two men who had short rationed her to be struck down with sickness. The examinations of Dorcas and Olly Powell were heard at Haverfordwest Castle, so the medieval structure was still being used officially on the cusp of the eighteenth century.

Geoff Winterman
Based on Simon Hancock’s talk and an article in the Western Telegraph 13th August 2014

Pembrokeshire U3A Annual Quiz 2018

Friday 11th May at Neyland Athletic Club.

Organised ably by Peter & Ann Brown

Another fine turnout equalling last year’s record attendance saw 19 teams compete at Neyland in our annual General Knowledge Quiz on Friday. 15 teams from our own U3A were joined by 3 from Narberth U3A & 1 from Preseli U3A to scrap it out over 9 rounds of questions. After last year’s very close finish, this time our own “The Amnesiacs” (Helen & Peter Kift, & Wendy Symonds) seized the lead in round one & kept it throughout to win with an impressive 104 points out of a possible 120, holding off the “Narberth Nerds” in 2nd place with 99, & Preseli’s Fishguard Fencibles” in 3rd with 96. “Densa” (Anne & Derek Church, Marcia Whitehead, & Geoff Winterman) finished 4th, Narberth’s second team 5th, & “The Newbies” (Daphne & Graham Morgan, Alan Colley, & Paul Williams) 6th……….. Peter Brown

Winning Team – The “Amnesiacs” Featuring Helen & Peter Kift together with Wendy Symonds.  Our Chair Penny Thomas & organiser Peter Brown congratulate the winners.

Some of the 19 teams taking part can been seen below!

 

 

 

 

 

March 2018 Meeting: The Samaritans

‘Samaritans’ is a registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland, often through their telephone helpline. Leo and Gil from the Haverfordwest branch gave us an informative talk about the wonderful and important work that they do.

Samaritans began in 1953 in London, founded by a vicar called Chad Varah.  Throughout his career Chad had offered counselling to his parishioners, and wanted to do something more specific to help people struggling to cope and possibly contemplating suicide.

The initial idea for Samaritans came from the first funeral Chad conducted early on in his career: a girl aged 14 had started her period, but having no one to talk to believed that she had a sexually transmitted disease and took her own life.

Chad was immensely moved by this senseless loss of life, “I might have dedicated myself to suicide prevention then and there, providing a network of people you could ‘ask’ about anything, however embarrassing, but I didn’t come to that until later”.

When Chad was offered charge of the parish of St Stephen in the summer of 1953 he knew that the time was right for him to launch what he called a “999 for the suicidal”. He was, in his own words, “a man willing to listen, with a base and an emergency telephone”.

The first call to the new service was made on 2nd November 1953 and this date is recognised as Samaritans’ official birthday.

Chad knew he would need to get word out about the service. Luckily he wrote and illustrated articles for children’s comics, so he knew many of the journalists who worked on national newspapers. The service received lots of press coverage and on December 7th, 1953 the Daily Mirror coined the term “Telephone Good Samaritans” and although Samaritans is not a religious organisation, the name has stuck and become synonymous with the idea of people being there for others struggling to cope.

The newspaper coverage worked and Chad received many callers wanting support both on the phone and face to face, as well as people wanting to help as volunteers. Initially the volunteers’ duties were to sit with the callers whilst they waited for their appointment, offering them someone to chat to, but it soon became clear that their role was much more central to the service. Often, the callers would pour out their problems to volunteers and many felt no need to speak to Chad afterwards.

The simple act of listening and offering non-judgmental support was enough for most callers, and Chad realised the power of the service was in providing a safe space so people could talk and be listened to, without judgment.

Publicity for the London-based service created a lot of interest elsewhere in the UK and as a consequence several more Samaritans centres were set up in the following years – the second being Samaritans in Edinburgh which took its first call on 1st June 1959. There are now 201 branches across the UK and Republic of Ireland.

In February 1954, Chad officially handed over the task of supporting the callers to the volunteers, and Samaritans as we know it today was born. Samaritans service today still operates on Chad’s guiding principles of confidential, non-judgmental support.

February Meeting – ” Madagascar” a talk by Julian Cremona

An illustrated talk by Julian about his visit to the island country of Madagascar in 2016. Julian is one of our most popular speakers and again he delivers a most interesting talk about his travels, illustrated by stunning photographs.

Our speaker for February’s meeting was Julian Cremona, a well known local biologist and naturalist. His subject was the island of Madagascar.  One of the largest and poorest places in the world and with little or no infrastructure, travelling through the island proved to be a challenge for Julian in his quest for wildlife. In the dense vegetation, most of Julian’s photographs were taken using flash photography.

With the aid of local guides he was able to take some 16,500 photographs, including the rare red ruff lemur which he located in six hours whereas David Attenborough had taken six days!
Having no natural predators, many species of bird life flourish on the island and in the main can be found on the forest floor. We journeyed by means of photographs from dense forestation to arid desert.   
He told hair-raising stories of his internal aeroplane flights and leeches clinging to his body as he climbed through the forest. I think I would prefer to look at his photographs rather than visit the island. In fact, Julian said that much as he loved the wildlife it was unlikely he would visit again even though he deemed it to be a paradise.