Category Archives: Speakers – Monthly meeting

Articles about speakers and their topics presented at the monthly meetings

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.

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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.

Monthly Meeting: David Wilson Photographer

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David is a Welsh landscape photographer, well known for his black and white atmospheric images.  David, is also a fan of the Welsh detective series Hinterland, was offered a chance to produce a book promoting the series and not surprisingly to be entitled Hinterland.  Many of the visitors to Wales seem to zone in on areas such as the Gower, Pembrokeshire and Snowdonia bypassing the dramatic landscape of Ceredigion the County in which the programme is set.  In the main, there were photographs taken during filming grey skies, rolling mists and as David stated plenty of rain a perfect setting for brooding detective DCI Tom Mathias!  It is possible to purchase framed copies of David’s work the most popular, with the ladies we were told, being the head of a bull.  An interesting talk by someone who clearly loves his subject watch out for his next book, Pembrokeshire through the Year, produced with the well known television presenter Jamie Owen we saw a sample of the photographs to be included, a rather young looking Judge in his smart bowler hat clutching what could only be a glass of the hard stuff!

Penny Thomas  2nd November 2017

Safety in the home

Two representatives from the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service attended the meeting. Whilst Chris MacDonald tested members’ electric blankets his colleague Andy gave an excellent presentation entitled ‘Safety in the Home’.

We were reminded of the dangers of overloading electrical sockets, hazards in the kitchen, (thank goodness for the demise of the chip pan, the cause of so many fires in the home, which has now been replaced by the thermostatically-controlled deep fat fryer) and the need to ensure that our fire alarms are in good working order (these should be tested weekly!).

When the Service test electric blankets, if they fail to meet the required standard the plug is removed before the blanket is returned to its owner. One or two of our members are now looking for a new electric blanket. The overall message was – use your common sense when dealing with potential fire hazards in the home, and when locking up at night the key should remain in situ.

Monthly Meeting September 2017 – London Docks

Our speaker for the first monthly meeting after our August break, David Wilson, who would have given us a digitally produced tour of Pembrokeshire, was unable to attend. However, at very short notice our member Frank Harbud gave a most interesting talk about the London Docks.

Frank Showing a Typical East End Docker

Frank certainly knew his subject and with projected photographs he gave us a brief history going back to pre-war days when the docks were a hive of industry and provided jobs for the many who lived in the surrounding areas.  Much of this country’s food was passed through the docks, from nutmegs to bananas together with a large quantity of cigars, cigarettes and alcohol, and not forgetting vast quantities of timber. To Frank the epitome of an East End Docker is that depicted in the photo sporting a flat cap with a carcass on his shoulder.

As shipping changed and the move was made to containers, the Docks disappeared and became luxury apartments – Canary Wharf is one example, and one is now the City Airport. How quickly we forget and it was good to be reminded of how life used to be. A great talk.













Penny Thomas, 7th September 2017

Monthly Meeting July 2017 – An American Adventure

It is always a pleasure when the speaker is one of our membership.  In July, Philip and Marcia Whitehead related the story of their American trip – undertaken to visit those friends who were unable to attend their wedding earlier in the year. 

Marcia was concerned that we might think we would just be seeing their holiday photographs, but no – with the aid of bullet points she had prepared, and Philip operating the technology, we travelled from one side of America to the other taking in the Grand Canyon. Here we did have some splendid photographs!

With a temperature range from 4 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit this presented a challenge from the clothing point of view and a large quantity of luggage, but our intrepid travellers coped, well Marcia maybe! 

Upon entering the hall Marcia handed each member a slip of paper in order that they might guess the number of miles travelled – the competition was won by Ann Hyslop. A very interesting and informative talk.

Penny Thomas

May Monthly Meeting – The Railways of Pembrokeshire

It has been mentioned that a large proportion of our speakers represent an organisation but on Thursday 4th May Mr David Watts spoke about the railway system, particularly in Pembrokeshire.

David delivered his talk with an element of humour and, as a bit of an enthusiastic rail traveller myself, I found the information he gave fascinating.  He described how coaches were pulled on wooden tracks by horses but within a relatively short time these were replaced by iron rails.  With the aid of maps and diagrams held up by his assistant for the day, Bob Matthews, we were able to appreciate just how many railway tracks there were in Pembrokeshire, although in the main these were branch lines linking villages rather than the larger towns whose stations were on the main line.  Railways were initially a means of freight carriers; from Pembrokeshire many hundreds of rabbits found their way to the metropolis by this means, not to mention milk from the many dairy farms in the County, when milk was transported in churns as opposed to the collections today by milk tankers. 

When finishing his talk David reminded us just how safe it is to travel by rail and, if you book your seat in good time, relatively inexpensive when compared with the cost of petrol. 

Annette Peters – Monthly Meeting – October

Annette Peters

Annette Peters and Morgan


Annette Peters who, since the age of four and a half has been blind, delivered a most interesting and enlightening talk about the changes and advances made during the last 50 years to aid the everyday life of a blind or partially sighted person.  In the fifties a blind person would carry a white stick, this moved on to a symbol stick and eventually a long white cane was developed enabling any obstacles to be felt before contact was made.

Annette has a guide dog named Morgan, a crossbred Labrador/retriever who lay contently beneath the table whilst Annette spoke.  Morgan, without his harness is at rest and could be anybody’s pet but once his harness is attached he is immediately in work mode ensuring Annette’s safety when out and about.  She first had a guide dog in 1978.




Although blind, this did not prevent Annette from obtaining her O and A levels examinations enabling her to attend University where she trained to be a physiotherapist, much of her education was obtained whilst at boarding school although she returned to Pembrokeshire to sit her A levels.  Annette described her experiences as “character building”.

To hear Annette explain how she copes with her life as a blind person and the extraordinary technology that is now available was inspirational.

Penny Thomas

6th October 2016




Hidden Treasures of the Southwood Estate – Monthly meeting – July

At our monthly meeting on 7th July over seventy members listened to a talk given by Andrew Tuddenham on the above subject.  For sixteen years Andrew has managed farms and land owned by the National Trust in the North of Pembrokeshire.  His talk, in the main, featured Southwood Farm which lies above Newgale beach and extends to some 950 acres.  His talk was fascinating and with the usual technology he was able to show us some before and after pictures of the Grade II listed Southwood farmhouse and a range of outbuildings which are set out around a courtyard.  A considerable amount of renovation work has taken place at the farm; some of this required the consent of the Pembrokeshire National Park Authority who believed an addition to the range of buildings of a concrete block constructed extension to house the milk bulk tank should not be demolished.  However, said building is no longer!

Andrew Tuddenham


The work of the National Trust is invaluable in preserving our heritage. Questions were asked of Andrew; these were answered clearly and concisely despite one or two concerning land and buildings in the South of the County.  There are events planned at Southwood so look out for these, in particular a Christmas Fayre to be held in the newly renovated outbuildings.

Penny Thomas

7th July 2016

Link to National Trust – Southwood Estate

Welsh Wildlife Trust – Monthly meeting – June

Nathan Walton of the Welsh Wildlife Trust gave a most interesting talk about his work of conservation and management of the Trust’s 15 Reserves situate in Pembrokeshire.  The Reserves cover an area of some 775 hectares 319 owned by the Trust and the remainder on lease from the National Trust and Pembrokeshire County Council.

Nathan Walton 2

Nathan, with the aid of slides, gave us an insight as to what we might find at the various Reserves advising the site at West Williamson to be his favourite but with a tinge of regret he indicated was not owned by the Trust but the National Trust.   On this 20 hectare site one may see Curlews, and the elusive Brown Hair Streak butterfly that lays its eggs on the blackthorn which is the subject of a five year management scheme to ensure it is of the right size and structure to attract this beautiful butterfly.

Each Reserve has its own particular flora and wildlife, herons and, occasionally an osprey may be seen at Westfield Pill in Neyland.   Pengelli Reserve of some 65 hectares is the site of the largest ancient coppiced oak woodland in Wales.

Would you like to see some swamp buffalo then Teifi Marshes is the place to visit, these ponderous looking beasts do a magnificent job of keeping the waterways clear by feeding and wallowing in the water.

A most interesting talk, we live in a beautiful County it is good to know it is being looked after by organisations such as the Welsh Wildlife Trust who rely upon volunteers to carry out a lot of the “donkey work”.

Penny Thomas

2nd June 2016

The Great Pembroke Dock Fire

Derek Church - Speaker May 2016

Derek Church – Speaker May 2016

Monthly Meeting – May

An excellent talk was given by Derek Church, one of our members, on the subject “The Great Pembroke Dock Fire”. Without reference to any notes Derek, spoke for forty five minutes, explaining Pembroke Dock was, primarily, a ship-building dock with storage facilities for oil, there being several large tanks in the locality for that purpose.
Whilst the fighter airplanes of the RAF were engaged in the Battle of Britain and our army was in retreat at Dunkirk, a bomber from the German Luftwaffe, protected by two fighter planes, dropped a bomb on one the oil storage tanks.
A sewing machine Salesman from Neyland, Arthur Morris, who also happened to be a retained fire fighter made his way to the fire crossing the estuary by way of the ferry, taking charge of the situation with help from six hundred and fifty fire-fighters from as far away as Birmingham, Newport, Cardiff, Devon and Somerset. The fire raged for twenty one days unlike the great fire of London which burnt for three. Arthur Morris toiled for seventeen days without sleep, five Cardiff firemen were killed and there were thirty eight seriously injured men.
The fire must have been a most terrifying sight to see and experience, thank goodness we now live in relatively peaceful times.

Penny Thomas
5th May 2016

Derek gave a Masterclass in public speaking/story telling. He delivered an excellent talk with no notes, visual aids, ums & errs, hesitation or repetition which certainly left me with a brilliant mental picture of the events from Monday 19 August 1940.

Mike Wort