June Monthly Meeting: Withybush hospital to Saudi Arabia

Barry Vaughan was brought up on a farm near Clarbeston Road and attended Haverfordwest Grammar School so he is a familiar figure with many of our members.

Barry was employed as general manager at Withybush Hospital and when this job folded he found work in a very large, modern, high-tech hospital in the Royal Commission hospital Jubail, Saudi Arabia.  There are two directorates of the Royal Commission, Jubail is on the east coast near Kuwait and Bahrain and Yanbu, is on the west coast near Jeddah and the Holy City of Mecca.

There are very distinct rules which foreigners have to follow when living in Saudi Arabia.  Because he was in overall charge of the hospital he was the person who had to mediate with the authorities when a member of his staff knowingly or more often or not unknowingly broke one of these rules.  Some of the problems that he encountered had the audience in fits of laughter but the way he dealt with the problems was imaginative and could have had serious consequences if he hadn’t been so diplomatic.
He was in post during the first Gulf War and he vividly described the terror when the oil tanks at Kuwait were set alight, apparently the smoke was so dense that day was turned to night and the once prestine white hospital was turned black.

A big thank you is in order because Barry came to talk to us at very short notice, nevertheless, he gave us a fascinating insight into living and working in a country with such a different culture.

Jan Manning 

New Shared Learning Project launched looking at the Castles of Wales

My name is Ruth Smith. I am the leader of the craft group (Crafty Crafters) of Newcastle Emlyn U3A. For those of you who attended the All Wales Conference on 8th May, or have followed the Wales Coastline and Borders Celebration on Facebook, I coordinated the making of the Mwnt wall hanging which involved several of our members doing some part, whether knitting, patchwork, needle felting, fabric painting, embroidery, ribbon embroidery and embellishments, to complete it and, once all the component parts had been made, I stitched it all together and quilted it.

I hope by now that you have heard of the new Shared Learning Project, called Castles, that Chris Winner, our Welsh Trustee, introduced at the conference. The idea, that came from the group sat at our table, was to involve as many U3As from all over Wales as possible in making a “Castles Quilt” and I have agreed to take the idea further, to find out if there is any interest and coordinate the project. I’m now asking all Welsh U3As if they have a craft/sewing/quilting/art group or an individual person who would like to participate by creating a “picture” of a castle in their area which can then be joined with others to create a quilt, or perhaps we should call it a wall hanging as it would be intended to be hung up, not placed on a bed.
Suggested layout
I will limit the size of the picture to fit into a 10″ square. This will allow as many squares as possible to fit into a quilt size that I am happy to handle. (78” x 78”). I think less than 10″ would be too restrictive to produce something worthwhile. I’ve created an illustration of my idea using Excel and have attached a copy to give you an impression of what I would like to achieve. The pictures I’ve inserted are taken from Google just to illustrate the idea, not intended as suggestions of which castles should be included. I’ve tried to choose pictures showing different types of castles, parts of castles and also some old drawings/paintings which could be copied (please ensure there are no copyright issues) in order to show that it would be good to have a variety. Any medium can be used as long as it can be done on fabric or attached to fabric (but not so heavy that it distorts the fabric), e.g. patchwork, applique, knitting, crochet, embroidery, stumpwork, needleweaving, lace, painting (please use fabric paints), printing, felting, machine embroidery, ribbon embroidery, cross stitch. If cross stitch is used, this could be done on 14 count aida fabric and used instead of the calico. The greater the variety, the more interest is created.

I’ve chosen calico for the background of the squares because it’s neutral and it will be possible to paint or print on it as well if that’s what someone wants to do. I picked blue and yellow for the sashing and border as representative of U3A colours, it is a U3A project after all. I would also embroider the names of the castle underneath each in English and Welsh (if different).

10″ squares will allow for 36 castles to be represented which would be wonderful to achieve. If I have offers of more, the ones included in the quilt would be picked by a blind draw. The remaining squares could be finished as separate squares and made into cushions or put into a folder to be displayed at the same time. It would also be good to have a couple of paragraphs about each castle to accompany the quilt. I will ask for the squares to be returned to me by the end of October.

At the end of the Castles Self Learning Project, there will be the question of what to do with the wall hanging as it would be unfair for it to be kept by just one person/U3A. Suggestions so far are raffling it for charity (we would have to check if it is possible for U3As to hold this type of raffle), donate it to CADW as some Welsh castles are in their care, or possibly donating it to St Fagan’s who have items representing the activities of people in Wales.

I propose purchasing all the fabric myself and posting the squares to those taking part. I have worked out an approximate cost for the quilt of £160. This will depend on where the fabric is purchased from and how many U3As take part. I would need to ask if those U3A’s completing squares would be able to contribute towards the cost. If there are 36 U3As, the cost would be only £4 – £5 each. I will be able to confirm the amount when I know how many participants there are.

If your U3A, or someone in your U3A, is interested in taking part, please contact me directly at neu3atreasurer@outlook.com and I will be happy to discuss it further.


May Monthly Meeting: A walk around Haverfordwest

A talk by Robin Sheldrake

Robin Sheldrake is a well known authority on the history of Haverfordwest, having been the Chairman of the Civic Society.  With the assistance of photographs he had taken he took us along the Heritage Trail of Haverfordwest.

The trail commenced with a photograph of the Cleddau looking down stream and then turning back towards the weir, the large warehouse on the new quay, with a view of The Bristol Trader and the new Council Offices.  It is difficult to believe the quay saw sea going ships coming in on the tide, leaving their cargo at the warehouse and picking goods for transportation around the Country and beyond. 

It was delightful to be reminded of the old Haverfordwest, Foley House the substantial property in Goat Street designed by the famous architect John Nash, now standing empty with signs of decay visible.  The substantial properties in many parts of the town provided town houses for the landed gentry who, having visited the town, needed a residence in which to spend the night.  The Palace Cinema formerly the Corn Market, Temperance House, Hermon’s Hill House and others what a fascinating past the properties enjoyed.  Then the sadder part of our history, Union Hill so called because it led to the Union Workhouse.  A most interesting talk given by a gentleman who certainly knows his subject.

Penny Thomas 2nd May 2019

March Monthly Meeting – Pembroke Castle

A thousand years of history...

We are all very familiar with Pembroke Castle, a place where many of us have taken visitors.  Our Speaker for the month of March was Jon Williams General Manager of the Castle.  One thinks of historic buildings as having a curator rather than a General Manager but it became apparent that the Castle doesn’t function from simply being a well know Castle.  Jon, a local lad from Saundersfoot, explained he was a frequent visitor, with his parents, never dreaming for one moment that, in 2007, his career would take him to a managerial post.  It is a position which he clearly loves but uppermost in his mind is always ways to generate income to enable improvements and repairs to be carried out. 

To begin his talk we were show a short film documenting the history of the Castle narrated by none other than Eddie Butler who has a deep interest in Welsh History. 

Each year there are between 110,/120,000 visitors and Jon has some very inventive ideas for entertaining both adults and children.  The Castle is now providing a venue for outdoor concerts, weddings and of course, The Antiques Road Show. 

Penny Thomas 7th March 2019

Sue Thomas has passed away

Sue was an enthusiastic leader of  the Exercise to Music group which she took over from Gloria Droy and also a Stretch for Health group. She had a great sense of fun. She retired from both groups to enable her to have freedom to travel. Sadly her illness struck before this could happen.