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: email@example.com 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
Carol Matthews (helped by Bob) talks about Growing up in Merlin’s Bridge
In 2010 when Bob & I were planning our move back to Pembrokeshire our friends in Owlsmoor were intrigued by our address i.e. Merlin’s Bridge. Although growing up here I’d never given it a thought but after arriving here we began looking into the meaning which we discovered had nothing whatsoever to do with a wizard but was just a derivation of ‘Maudlin.’ We also started looking at the old postcards which my parents had inherited from my great aunts – they were my maternal grandmother’s sisters who had been ‘in service’ all their lives & as I said if my Great Aunt Polly had been alive today she would have been constantly on social media because she was a prolific sender of postcards & therefore also received many postcards! Many of these were views throughout Pembrokeshire which inspired us to go out & try & take the exact modern day views – not always easy as trees had grown up or access was barred due to buildings etc. However, it seems that we all enjoy nostalgia & we still have more postcards to match up with today’s views so when we have time we could possibly do another ‘Memories of Pembrokeshire’!
A most enjoyable, amusing and illuminating talk was given by Mr Mark Fowler at our meeting on 5th February on the history of the coracle. Martin is the owner/manager of the Cenarth Coracle Museum by the Mill. (I remember buying flour from that mill many, many years ago). With a collection of old historic photographs displayed on the screen, Mark took us though the ages of the craft of coracle making. It is hard for us now to realise that this industry was first recorded about 1800 BC when it was necessary to move people and animals across rivers.There is evidence that Noah’s Ark (which would have been about half the size of a football pitch by today’s standards) was built in this traditional way, and especially the ‘Moses’ basket which features in our Bible.Martin illustrated (with his caricature friend Dai) how the coracle was developed and built to cope with the different waterways and needs; but always with the flat bottom for stability but evolved with a square front for steering safely. Basically, they are of wood and bitumen, however in some countries they were lined with animal skins and in Dakota they were traditionally covered with the pelts of bison. When you think that a man rowed a coracle many years ago from Vietnam to Hong Kong, and also a man rowed a Coracle across the English Channel it proves the design and strength they are famous for.
Back to the UK – coracles were used on the Rivers Severn, Towy and many others, but we have our own on the Teifi. Martin’s cartoon pictures of Dai were wonderful with great captions, I think the one we liked best was the Dai-li-Lama and Dai from Wales!
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.
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.
Based on Simon Hancock’s talk and an article in the Western Telegraph 13th August 2014
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!
The planned demolition of parts of Neyland Athletic Club is imminent. Whilst this is ongoing it is difficult for us to use this as a venue for our activities. The Pembrokeshire U3A Monthly Meeting, scheduled for April 5th, is therefore cancelled. Joe Rielly’s talk on Redundant Churches will be rescheduled for later in the year.
Group Leaders who have meetings at NAC during the week commencing 2 April should also postpone, or find temporary venues until the NAC becomes available again.
We are monitoring the situation, and we shall let you know when the venue is available again.