Half a dozen members of the U3A Natural History Group were blessed with a sunny day sandwiched between two very wet ones when they met at Abercastle on Wednesday 29th September to seek out grey seal pups along our coastline. A Natural History highlight of our county famous nationally.
Members Pete and Carol Hall shared their wealth of fascinating knowledge about seals gathered working at a local seal rescue centre as they led us along the coast path to look down on the secluded beaches shielded by high cliffs where our mother seals come in late summer and early autumn to have their pups. We were rewarded by the sight of about a dozen pups, and in some cases their mothers guarding and in one case feeding them. We also got the “once over” as we set off from a bull seal, cruising in Abercastle Harbour near the nursery beaches in the hope of fathering next year’s pups. Female seals mate soon after giving birth.
After being enthralled by the seal spectacle, on the way back our group visited the 5,000-year-old Neolithic Carreg Samson Dolmen, in a scenic spot overlooking the coast. Some then sat down on the grass by the sea in the sunshine to enjoy a picnic, nicely rounding off what was generally seen as a most worthwhile morning.
The Natural History Group will be going out for at least one more outdoor activity at the end of October. All U3Aers welcome!
Pic 1 Pete enthrals us with his knowledge of seals. Pic 2 A bull seal keeps an eye on us Pic 3 Off we go! Pic 4: Seal Beach Pic 5: Mother and Baby Pic 6: Carreg Samson dolmen (Thanks to Myles Huthwaite for pics 4 and 5)
Indoor Bowls has re started but at a new start time of 9.15am to start bowling at 9.30am, this is to allow cleaning to take place before the next session ( Covid 19 precautions).
The session started with a minutes silence to allow bowlers to pay their last respects to Margaret Lloyd who sadly passed away during lock-down.
The days remain the same Monday, Wednesday & Friday but time is now 9.15am We are only allowed a maximum of 16 players per session so if you wish to attend a session you will need to ring me THE DAY BEFORE ON :- 01646 663623 to book in. It will be on a first come first served basis. Everyone agreed it was great to be back playing again as we had all missed the social and exercise elements of the game.
Below a few photos of the resumption of play.
Stay safe John Hodge Group leader U3A Indoor Bowls Group.
Today we were all impressed by the address by Mrs Katie Macro, who is the Community Co-ordinator for our Air Ambulance Service Charity and works from the head office in Llanelli.
Our Air Ambulance Service covers the whole of Wales from 8am-8pm every day. Last year they covered 3,600 missions. Since 2001 they have operated 34,211 missions and 20% were in S & W Wales. (Sounds like the missions that Spitfires & Mosquitoes completed in WW2). They work closely with the other emergency services and it costs about £6.5 million a year to keep one fully equipped and operational. The aim is to have a 24 hour service, and this would be possible but would need an additional injection of about £6m.
There are 5 Helicopters in all – the H145 Airbus which can travel at 150 mph and which is fully equipped for emergency transfer to the nearest appropriate hospital and which can include a NHS doctor and also H135 which is especially equipped for children and young people, pregnant mums with problems etc. There have been occasions where the patient has been in Theatre before the family could arrive.
What is most impressive is that the helicopters can reach everyone in Wales, after take off time, in 20 minutes. All they need is a site about the size of a tennis court to land – which we know all about at Withybush Hospital.
Katie illustrated the help they were able to give for a 4yr old boy who had two hours to be taken to London for an emergency liver transplant, and who received the surgery far quicker from any one here could get to London, and also for someone who had driven off a cliff at St Davids. (I am still puzzling about this one!)
Katie is charged with Community Fund Raising and welcomes volunteers and fund raising events to help with the running of the Wales Air Ambulance Service. She can be contacted on e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or 07817 961 207.
The Chairman thanked Katie for joining us and presented her with a voluntary collection of £120.15p from our members towards her fundraising
The speaker was Frank Harries BEM whose talk was entitled “Through the years, a full life” and what a full life he led. His father began his working life as a wheelwright in Pembroke Dock. He subsequently joining the army and taking his family to Gibraltar. Whilst on holiday in the Spanish City of Seville the Spanish Civil War broke out and Frank watched as bombs fell from the sky finding the experience exciting, but not realising how many people were being maimed and killed. Frank showed photographs of his family, Ration Books and Identity Cards issued at the beginning of the Second World War. Living in Pembroke Dock at this time he became an Altar boy and remembered the American Soldiers billeted in the area. Joining the army at the age of 18 Frank found himself in the Malayan Jungle searching out communists. It appears our hero was something of a footballer and played as goal keeper for Llanelli but in the days when footballers had a “day job” this proved too much for him. In his later days Frank became a referee and in retirement he joined the Rotary and became something of a fundraiser in fact he raised the staggering sum of £200,000.00. Indeed a very full life and still going at the ripe age of 90 it could make one’s own life seem somewhat dull!
Eleanor Parker gave a most interesting and enlightening insight into the work carried out by the Royal Voluntary Service. It is difficult to move away from wishing to refer to the Service as the WRVS, perhaps because that was how it was known until 2013 when it was decided, because of the number of male volunteers, it should simply be known as the Royal Voluntary Service.
Founded in 1938 by Lady Stella Reading, and then known as the Women’s Voluntary Services for Air Raid Precautions, it is now the largest volunteering organisation in British history. The Queen granted the organisation Royal status in 1966 in recognition of the work undertaken by the Service. There was a time when each Hospital had a WRVS tea bar sadly now replaced by Costa!
Eleanor spoke in the main on the subject of befriending. The Service has become a leading organisation in the field of social care, and has around 20,000 volunteers who give of their time to help make communities stronger particularly providing support for older people to remain active.
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.
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.
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.
Ian Hextall gave a most interesting and sometimes humorous talk about his work as a National Trust Volunteer. The National Trust owns some 7770 acres in North Pembrokeshire alone with very few fully employed Rangers overseeing its’ management thus volunteers are a very important labour source. The Southwood Estate is one of Ian’s favourite Trust properties he gives guided tours of the farmhouse and works alongside others on the land to include weeding the farmyard by hand, no herbicides are permitted! With reference to an old Ordnance Survey Map it could be seen hedgerows had been removed leaving a large open field the Trust decided to reinstate the hedges, the work of planting many hundreds of trees fell to the Volunteers, the time of year chosen November, Ian showed a photograph of said Volunteers looking decidedly like mud larks!
The National Trust helps to maintain and
reinstate important historical sites for future generations to enjoy but it
became apparent during Ian’s talk the Trust would struggle without the help of
its’ many Volunteers.