Chairman’s report, March 2014

Speaker Geoff Carter, Chair Jean Pearson and Mayor of Hebden Royd Karl Boggis
Speaker Geoff Carter, Chair Jean Pearson and Mayor of Hebden Royd Karl Boggis

We now have 358 members and today 118 attended our meeting together with 5 visitors.

It was a great pleasure to welcome the Mayor of Hebden Royd Town Council – Mayor Councillor Karl Boggis.

We opened our meeting with a slideshow compiled by our U3A Tod official photographer – the late Philip Willis – who died so suddenly and so very recently. It provided us with a wonderful range of photographs of our U3A Tod events and activities and I think it was a fitting tribute to Philip’s contribution to our organization.

I reported how our AV equipment and team (led by Peter Gibson and ably supported by George Boyle) has been acclaimed as superb by visiting speakers. David Sutcliffe has now joined this team bringing with him his experience and expertise as a result of his involvement at the Hippodrome Theatre.

Three members observed our recent Committee meeting and it was a pleasure to welcome them. I’ve already received some extremely valuable feedback. I again asked for more members to come along to see what goes on at our meetings – please let me know if you do. Already we have one volunteer observer for our next merry Committee meeting.

The Publicity Group has been working hard on improving our website and other aspects of publicity. Nick Littlewood gave a presentation to our recent Committee meeting and I was able to show our members today the new design for our posters which go up around our region prior to our meetings.

I did remind members that at the AGM in June we will need a Chairperson, a leader of our speaker-finders team and three or four more Committee members. So I am appealing again for you to come forward.

Our Treasurer, Keith Coates, informed us that our fees for next year will remain the same (£15) and asked for members to use standing orders, if possible and also it helps with our finances if you can sign up for Gift Aid. Forms will be available from our Assistant Treasurer – Roger Howard – at the April meeting.

Gail Allaby – our Groups Co-ordinator – gave an update on developments associated with some of our special interest groups and I am attaching her full groups’ report with this letter.

It was a delight for us to welcome back Geoff Carter (Retired GP), our guest speaker, who gave us such an interesting talk entitled ‘The Galapagus, Darwin and the Theory of Evolution’. This was informative and entertaining and Geoff took questions at the end.

Mayor Karl Boggis gave the vote of thanks on our behalf – he almost walked off with our token of gratitude – but I reminded him to hand it over to Geoff!

Next month’s guest speaker will be Dave Wilson, Area Countryside Officer, Upper Valley with his presentation ‘The Protection of Our Rich and Natural Environment’ – the work of the Calderdale Countryside Service.

Ernie Rogan gave us information about the next Let’s Go trip to the Wedgwood Museum. This made a neat link with Geoff’s talk because Charles Darwin married a Wedgwood heiress! Contact Linda Cook if you wish your name to go on the list for this popular outing.

Thank you to all those who helped in returning the chairs to the edges of the Hall at the end of our meeting – we do appreciate this help.

Alison Greenwood needs volunteers to help with the refreshments at the June meeting. Please contact Alison on 01706 816870 or alison.greenwood@talktalk.net if you can help us.

Sincerely – Jean

Next meeting Thursday 20th March

Our next members’ meeting will take place on Thursday, 20th March, 2014 at Central Methodists Hall.   I know you will happy to welcome as our guest Mayor Councillor Karl Boggis of Hebden Royd Town Council.

 We propose to show a slideshow prior to the beginning of our meeting which was recently compiled by the late Philip Willis.   Philip was a very active member of the Publicity Group and its members wish to express their special thanks for all Philip’s work for u3a tod.   Additionally, Philip was a great asset to our Photographic Group with his experience, knowledge and passion for photography which he generously and willingly shared with fellow members of the Group.   He will be very sadly missed.

Our guest speaker – Geoff Carter (Retired GP) is returning with his talk ‘’The Galapagos, Darwin and the Theory of Evolution’.   Geoff tells me he has already given this talk to another U3A and it was extremely well received.   He will be happy to take your questions at the end.

I look forward to meeting you on the 20th.

We now have, as our guest speaker in April, Dave Wilson – Area Countryside Officer – Upper Valley – with his talk ‘The Protection of Our Rich and Natural Environment’ – (The Work of the Calderdale Countryside Service).

 The funeral of Philip Willis will take place at 1.30 pm on Monday, 17th March, 2014 at Priestwell Chapel, Todmorden.

 Sincerely – Jean

Jean A Pearson – Chairman – U3A Todmorden

Sanctuary from the trenches

dunham massey 015bDunham Massey, a National Trust property, was converted in 1917 as an auxiliary hospital and over 280 members of the armed forces received treatment there. 50 members of u3a Todmorden’s let’s go group visited the hall recently and were transported back to the days of ww1.

 

A re-creation of the hospital has been made from the archives. Rooms have been transformed into hospital wards and the stories of real people are revealed. Actors are around to add authenticity; some showing disturbing signs of shell shock , others the effects of amputation. The recorded voice of Lady Jane Grey describes her part in surgery on the brain of a wounded serviceman: she held a torch, while the surgeon worked.

 

By today’s standards, equipment and treatment was antiquated. However, the care of the nursing staff was apparent ; “eventually when they were clean and in bed, all they wanted was a cup of tea and a cigarette: they come in dead tired, the chief thing they need are bed and food.”

 

This proved to be an emotional day for all; medical notes and letters home were available to be read.

 

Report by Ernie Rogan

The machine that changed the world

The Machine that Changed the World. This was the sub-title that Barry Yates chose for his talk given at the February Todmorden U3A meeting. It could describe a number of items but Barrie was referring to the almost ubiquitous motor car. Barrie himself is an engineer with experience of working in many different fields and countries. There is probably little that he doesn’t know of the subject.

He started by displaying a picture of a Sumerian cart circa 3,000 BCE, pointing out that the basic shape of the motor car remains the same. Apart from improvements to the interiors and the suspension of the horse-drawn coach, the next significant development was the invention of the steam engine in the 18th century.

There was no prospect of steam driven vehicles until Richard Trevithick designed the first high-pressure steam engine, enabling them to be much reduced in size. Barrie told his audience that a number of discrete developments were needed to take place before the final advance to the petrol-driven internal combustion engine was made.

The first of these was, Alessandro Volta, investigating gases, ignited marsh gas with an electric spark, paving the way for the spark plug. Giovanni Venturi determined that when a fluid flows through a tube that narrows to a smaller diameter, the partial restriction causes a higher pressure. This principle was later used to develop the carburettor. Some others included the building by François de Rivaz of an internal combustion engine powered by a hydrogen and oxygen mixture, and ignited by electric spark. In 1860, Etienne Lenoir produced the first internal combustion engine, which was gas-fired. Two years later, Nikolaus Otto was the first to build and sell such engines. In the 1870s, Otto worked with Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach to develop a 4-stroke gas engine and meanwhile Karl Benz worked on a 2-stroke then a 4-stroke engine, patented in 1886 which was used to power the first cars in production.

In 1884 Edward Butler constructed the first petrol internal combustion engine. Butler invented the spark plug, ignition magneto, coil ignition and spray jet carburettor, and was the first to use the word petrol. A year later, Benz built the Motorwago, the first car to have a petrol engine. It was much lighter than the steam engine and was faster.

In the beginning, cars were very much a rich man’s toy, and were custom built. Moreover, they were not built by a single concern. A coach builder would construct the body, while the engine would be built elsewhere. Production-line manufacturing of more affordable cars was started by Ransom Olds in 1902. His Oldsmobile factory was based upon the assembly line techniques pioneered by Marc Isambard Brunel (father of Isambard Kingdom) at the Portsmouth Block Mills in 1802. Henry Ford took up and developed this to produce the famous Model T Ford. 20 millions of these cars were produced. A figure exceeded by only one other model of car. You’ve guessed it! The VW Beetle.

General Motors under Alfred Sloan became the biggest motor manufacturer in the world. Sloane developed a range of models which had the same chassis, starting with basic model and the cheapest – the Chevrolet. Owners could then upgrade as their income grew, to Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick; culminating in the Cadillac. Production costs were minimised and buyers were encouraged to stay with GM.

Britain has an illustrious history in motor manufacture at all levels. The most prominent names associated with the mass market are Herbert Austin and William Morris. It was the latter who pioneered Ford’s mass production methods in this country and the famous Morris Minor can still be seen on our roads as well as those of other countries, notably India.

Barrie brought his talk up to date by commenting on the implications of depleting oil reserves and climate change. In his opinion, until our public transport is improved to the degree that many can dispense with car use, hybrid vehicles are the best choice of car for those who wish to keep their emissions as low as possible. Membership Secretary Margaret Gunnill gave the vote of thanks for a well-received talk and presented Barrie with the customary book token.

Report by John Bouttell

Now with added video

We’ve added video to our repertoire of ways of recording our activities – and publicising them to our members and the wider world.  See the first of what we expect to be many in the ‘Video’ section!  Thanks to Gail Allaby for her enthusiasm and technical wizardry in making this happen 🙂

Chairman’s report February 2014

Speaker Barrie Yates with Jean Pearson
Speaker Barrie Yates with Jean Pearson

What a pleasant and enlightening afternoon we have again enjoyed at our members’ February meeting. We tried a new signing-in system in attempt to cut down on our inevitable queues at the beginning of our meetings – I think we all found it much easier and quicker.

We also put the notice board at the front of the Hall after the meeting so that members had an extra chance to peruse all the announcements, posters and so forth.

We congratulated Geoff Boswell on becoming the u3a national adviser for Science. Copies of the Report by the Steering Group on the Future of the Todmorden Markets were available – you can get more information from the Tourist Information Centre.

U3A Todmorden is a member of the Calderdale 50+ Network which provides a wide range of information about services available for us throughout our region. A document has now been produced and copies are available in public buildings and in GPs surgeries. If you or someone you know needs support in any way this document might provide contact details of appropriate and useful organisations.

Thanks were extended to Peter Gibson and Alan McDonald for their comprehensive computer advice and guidance which has been circulated to all our email members. Dr Paul Whittaker, OBE, has thanked us for our donations to his charity ‘Music and the deaf’ at our January meeting which amounted to £350.

We now have a little over 350 members! 98 members and four visitors attended today’s meeting. Our guest speaker in September, 2014, will be the National Chairman of U3A – Barbara Lewis. She was born in America, has lived in England for many years and currently lives in Hertfordshire but we understand that she knows very little about our region. We are sending her a copy of the book ‘A History of Todmorden’ by Malcolm and Freda Heywood (U3A Todmorden members) and Bernard Jennings. We hope she will enjoy reading it prior to her visit to these northern parts.

Our guest speaker in March will be Geoff Carter – we will all be happy to welcome him back, I am sure – and his talk is entitled ‘The Galapagus, Darwin and the Theory of Evolution’. Please note that Sally Pulvertaft is not now able to give her talk about India at our April meeting – she’s re-located to France – so we are now working on a replacement speaker for you. I will keep you all informed.

We were happy to show our appreciation to Alison Greenwood and her team of helpers who provide us with refreshments every month. Alison gave the Groups Report and there are two new groups – Anthony Peter’s group – Novel Appreciation – will meet at TRCR at 11 am on 10th March, 2014 and Geoff Boswell is starting an IT group as well. Sheets were available to sign up and Gail’s report will give further details. If you would like to join these groups please put your name down as quickly as possible. I will send Gail’s report to you separately – if you are on email. Gail’s full list of groups and their reports are also available on our website.

Our guest speaker today was Barrie Yates – retired engineer – who presented his talk entitled ‘The Machine that Changed the World’ – the development of the motor car. We all thoroughly enjoyed his presentation which – for people like me – was not too technical. This prompted many questions from members at the end. Margaret Gunnill (Membership Secretary) gave the vote of thanks.

Finally I made an appeal for members to step forward and volunteer to be nominated for the U3A Tod Committee. At the AGM in June we will need a Chairperson together with four members (one to act as Assistant Treasurer and one to be leader of the Speaker-finders team). I do hope that some of you will be prepared to give just a little time to ensure that U3A Tod continues.

Sincerely – Jean

Jean A Pearson – Chairman – U3A Todmorden

Next meeting Thursday 20th February

Our next members’ meeting will take place on Thursday, 20th February, 2014 at the Central Methodist Hall, Todmorden writes Chairman Jean Pearson.

Our guest speaker will be Barrie Yates with his talk entitled ‘The Machine that Changed the World’ – (The development of the motor car).

Barrie tells me that he is what our American cousins would call a value engineer which means that he ran teams carrying out cost reduction activities and also design for manufacture but he says the best description would be that he is a clean hands production engineer!

He says that his talk will not be too technical and that he’s enjoyed his research for his talk for us.   In fact, we might like to put our brains in gear and ponder upon what have scent sprays to do with a car engine!

I know we will give Barrie a warm welcome to U3A Tod and I look forward to our February meeting.

Super-cali-quite-fantastic!

Dr Paul Whittaker OBE (right), Andrew Hesselwood, & Jean Pearson of U3A
Dr Paul Whittaker OBE (right), Andrew Hesselwood, & Jean Pearson of U3A

At the January General Meeting of Todmorden U3A, Dr. Paul Whittaker OBE, Artistic Director, Music and the Deaf, was another speaker making a welcome return to address the U3A audience. More Music To The Ear – The Osmonds, The Proms and More . . ., he entitled his talk.

Before Paul got under way, members heard that three new U3A groups have been formed: Critical Reading; First Aid; and Photography is so popular that a second Photography Group has been formed.

Paul explained for the benefit of those not at his first talk that from a young age, he wanted to help other deaf children and help deaf people get involved in music. Paul told his audience that they were not just going to sit there and listen and he wasted no time in getting everyone involved. Rather than merely state that rhythm is the foundation of all music, Paul got his audience clapping. Firstly a fairly simple rhythmic clap, then one a little more complicated before advancing to a round. Paul is one of those people who had no difficult in getting the one hundred plus attending involved in such ways early on. His warm and charismatic personality, along with the fact that he had his audience laughing from the word go, meant that they were relaxed and ready to let go of any inhibitions they may have had.

That part over, MatD, Paul continued to say, have set up Music Clubs in Yorkshire, Manchester, London and Peterborough. Two further groups have been launched in conjunction with the Nottingham City Music Hub and the North East Hub Cluster. In these clubs, deaf children have an opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument. Some go on to develop further skills, such as composition. More clubs are being formed in other parts of the country.

Signed Song is a project that brings deaf and hearing people of all ages together to make music. The Jersey Eisteddfod was the first music festival in the UK to have a signing choir class in competition. Paul has been invited the adjudicate this class since it started.

More audience participation! This time Paul invited his audience to join him and his very able signer and confederate, Andrew – who got his own well-deserved round of applause at the end of the meeting – in a signed rendition of “Hey, Mr Miller!”, a song dedicated to Glenn Miller. To get an idea of what this involved, those readers with a computer can key in the title of the song and get a link to YouTube (Sing Up) and see Paul and Andrew perform the number. The trombone is the sign for Glenn Miller.

Paul then brought the Osmonds into the picture. Two non-performing Osmond brothers Virl and Tom, were born deaf as was the second son of Merrill, Justin. This lead to much of the charity work of Merrill focussing on supporting the deaf and eventually bringing him into contact with Paul and Music and the Deaf. Paul was overwhelmed at the prospect of having support from the Osmonds with their presence. So were some of his older female colleagues, but for a different reason.

Merrill Osmond and his deaf son Justin, visited Music and the Deaf in Huddersfield. A fund raising show at the Grand in Leeds was held, featuring Shane Ritchie, Chico and other celebrities but especially the Osmonds, who could guarantee a sell-out. Proceeds went to The Hearing Fund UK, whose 2013 charity partner was Music and the Deaf.

At a concert in Cardiff, Paul encountered a woman from the BBC and challenged her on why there was no signing at the Proms. The message was taken back to London and in due course Paul was invited to sign for a concert of songs from musicals. The BBC would go for one of two options: Rogers and Hammerstein or Stephen Sondheim. “Lovely”, thought Paul. “They’re bound to opt for Rogers and Hammerstein”. The Beeb, however chose Sondheim, which posed difficulties for Paul as few of his songs stand alone outside of the context of the musical. Paul has gone on to do more signing at the Proms.

Paul performed himself and has a good singing voice and knows, he said, in answer to a later question, when he is out of tune. Back in speaking mode he explained that deaf children are often isolated because integrated education does not bring them into contact with other deaf children. This is another great benefit that MatD brings to them, they realise they are not alone. Although founded in 1988, there are still only a handful of people who are trained to teach music to deaf children.

Before he finished and took questions, Paul and Andrew delivered what was perhaps the high spot, a mimed performance, signing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. Reader, you needed to be there. For more information on Music and the Deaf, go to matd.org.uk.

 

John Rylands’ eyes

John Rylands Library in Manchester
John Rylands Library in Manchester

Rain and hailstones greeted 43 members of u3a Todmorden’s let’s go group on their walking tour of Manchester recently. Members had an introductory talk in the Old Pump House engine room of the Peoples History Museum, in the Spinningfields district of Central Manchester.

Led by two blue badged guides, the groups then moved on to the John Rylands library and were shown fragments of an early copy of the Bible and the eyes of the John Rylands, a shy cotton millionaire, left for scientific research. One of the guides commented that, in her opinion, everyone should spend a day in this magnificent building, with its thousands of books.

The tour ended at the town hall, where the group were told that Queen Victoria declined to attend the opening of the building. Apparently the then mayor Abel Heywood had too radical a past for her. Still his name lives on: the town hall’s bell, inscribed AH, is the Great Abel!

Chairman’s Report 16 January 2014

What a wonderful afternoon we’ve had! Absolutely exceptional I would say! Our guest speaker – Dr Paul Whittaker, OBE – presented ‘More music to the ear – The Osmonds, The Proms and More …’. For me it was a quite stunning and inspirational experience! Peter Gibson gave the vote of thanks to Paul and his interpreter – Andrew. Amusingly Paul had brought along a collection bucket for his charity ‘Music and the Deaf’ – much better and bigger than our usual collection boxes – and I do hope it was full to the very top with your donations – thank you.

Everything else was rather insignificant!

Nevertheless I will just mention that Calderdale SCOPE is seeking to provide mentors for survivors of stroke. For further information please contact Heather Barham on 01522 367544 or at aspire.mentoring@scope.org.uk or our Secretary – Anne Foster – can provide further information.

We need much more help, please. I reported that there will be 4 or 5 vacancies on the Committee in June when we have our AGM. We will definitely need an Assistant Treasurer. We have each written a job description of what we do and these are now on our website – on the Committee page. Please have a look at them. I’m sure some of you would like to make a greater contribution to U3A Tod. You are also invited, as ever, to observe our Committee meetings – the next will take place at 10 am on Tuesday, 18th February. I’m developing my Chairmanship skills by the way – last Tuesday the meeting lasted much less than two hours! Let me know if you would like to observe us.

Gail Allaby – Groups Co-ordinator – reported on our new special interest groups – I will send her full report separately – and she thanked our 30 Convenors. I second her comments – our Convenors do such a wonderful job all the time and we are lucky to have such dedicated members who provide us with such pleasure and enlightenment.

Ernie Rogan outlined the plans in place for the next Let’s Go event to Dunham Massey Hall in March. You need to contact Linda Cook quickly to get your name on the list and further details will be available shortly.

Our next meeting is on Thursday, 20th February, 2014 when our guest speaker will be Barrie Yates – ‘The machine that changed the world – the development of the motor car’.

Sincerely – Jean

Jean A Pearson – Chairman – U3A Todmorden

Next meeting Thurs 16 January

Our next members’ monthly meeting takes place at 1.30 pm onwards on Thursday, 16th January, 2014, at the Central Methodist Hall, Todmorden.

GUEST SPEAKER:

Dr Paul Whittaker, OBE
(Artistic Director ‘Music and the Deaf’
“The Osmonds, The Proms and More …”

Paul is really looking forward to his return to U3A Tod and his talk is eagerly anticiped. There will be a retiring collection for Paul’s charity – Music and the Deaf – at the end of the meeting.

Talk: Of Ladas and Quaid-e-Azam

 

Musicians from the Tod Orchestra's string quartet with speaker Trevor Drive and Peter Gibson of U3
Musicians from the Tod Orchestra’s string quartet with speaker Trevor Drive and Peter Gibson of U3A

Members having sampled the delicious non-alcoholic punch being served, the December Todmorden U3A general meeting opened with another Christmas treat. A delighted audience heard four string players from Todmorden Orchestra, lead by Andrew Rostron, perform Haydn’s Quartet No. 53 in D major, Op. 64, No. 5, “The Lark”.

 

Before getting down to the quiz, set by Quiz Group convenor Myrna Beet, retired local magistrate Trevor Driver gave an amusing talk drawing on his 23 years as a magistrate. Trevor started with some brief historical facts. The magistracy began in the 13th century with landed gentry being nominated from among their local number. Nomination was the norm throughout the evolution of this post until relatively recently when personal application to become a magistrate was introduced.

 

No formal qualifications are required but magistrates need intelligence, common sense, integrity and the capacity to act fairly. Listening skills and a balanced view of human nature are also necessary. Membership comes from all parts of the area covered and drawn from all walks of life. When Trevor started, his training consisted of a list of do’s and don’ts. Now, all magistrates receive a 3 day training before sitting, carried out in conjunction with a mentoring programme (mentors are magistrates with at least 3 years service). This covers basic law and procedure, and they continue to receive training throughout their judicial career. Additional training is given to magistrates choosing to sit in the Youth Court, or those dealing with family matters. New magistrates sit with mentors on at least six occasions during their first eighteen months. Magistrates are compulsorily retired at 70.

The bench usually consists of three magistrates and it is the chair who speaks in court. Magistrates don’t cross examine. The only questions they may ask are those for clarification. They are assisted by the Clerk to the Court, who is on hand to give advice and is legally qualified. Trevor said magistrates can sometimes find it difficult to decide on a sentence to impose and ask the clerk’s advice. The clerk will then go through the list of options for the offence in question without recommendation but enabling the bench to take a decision. Sometimes decisions are of a different nature. Trevor and his bench were faced with one such on Christmas Eve. Should we remand, and deprive the defendant and their family the Christmas they had planned? On the other hand, remand would give certain kinds of defendants a bed for the night in the warm and dry.

Like many of the speakers at U3A general meetings, Trevor raised some laughs. His humour was mostly contextual, so not easy to relate here. He said that some of the stories told by defendants are often a source of amusement for the court. One such tale came from some youths captured on CCTV on the roof of a supermarket and caught later with a bag of lead. They were taking a short cut across the roof, they said, and then found the bag later and were on their way to hand it in.

He did, however, tell one joke he had told in the days when Lada cars were on the roads. What’s the difference between a Lada driver and a hedgehog? In the case of the hedgehog, the pricks are on the outside. It happened that his earlier telling was in company, one of whose number was a Lada driver. Oh dear!

The afternoon was rounded off by Myrna’s quiz, which consisted of seasonal questions with a sprinkling of some general knowledge. “White Christmas”, a cake made of coconut, crisped rice and dried fruit, is popular in which country? This one, exclaimed a contestant, appeared last year, but she couldn’t remember the answer. Not much help, then. Some were of a popular culture nature, like what was Girls Aloud’s 2002 UK number one single? But a real teaser was, Quaid-e-Azam’s Birthday is a 25th celebration in which country? Sorry reader, you’ll have to look those up. Christmas is over. The winners were rewarded with a box of a popular brand of wrapped chocolates assortment. Such a lavish prize meant that the teams who were second and third had to leave empty handed.

 

Report by John Bouttell Photo by Philip Willis

Chairman’s Report 19 December 2013

A musical quartet led by Andrew Rostron
A musical quartet from the Todmorden Orchestra led by Andrew Rostron

Hi Everybody

I am sending out this month’s report on behalf of our Chairman, Jean, who is currently indisposed and was unable to attend our December Members’ Meeting.  I’m sure you’ll all join with me in wishing her a speedy return to good health.

There were 109 members and 3 visitors at our special Christmas meeting and we had a change of format from our normal meetings.  We started with a live performance of Haydn’s “The Lark” by a string quartet from Todmorden Orchestra under their leader, Andrew Rostron. This was beautifully played and was much appreciated by the audience.

After that we had a number of announcements.  Briefly these were as follows:-

–  A request for people in their 80s or above, who have vivid and interesting stories to tell about their past, to participate in a new BBC2 series called “Britain’s Greatest Generation”.

–  A request for U3A members to get involved in the Imperial War Museum’s Centenary Partnership Programme.

–  The 2014 Residential U3A Summer School.

If you would like further information about any of these, please look on the internet if you have access, particularly at the National U3A web site or, alternatively, contact our Secretary, Anne Foster.

We didn’t have a Groups Report at the meeting and, in fact, we’ve decided that in future, we will only have a very short report at monthly meetings – just covering exceptional items such as new groups, out-of-the-ordinary events and changes of dates or meeting rooms. The full report will continue to be posted on our web site and sent out with these monthly emails and mailshots. 

We were pleased to announce the formation of a new Group, “Novel Appreciation”.  Anyone interested in joining this group should contact our Groups Co-ordinator, Gail Allaby.  Also on the subject of Groups, we expressed our appreciation to Duncan Relf, Convenor of the Spanish Conversation Group, which has now ceased meeting after over 5 years of dedication from Duncan.

We then moved on to our Guest Speaker, Trevor Driver.  As well as running a dental practice in Todmorden over four decades, Trevor has also spent 23 years as a local magistrate and he gave us an extremely interesting and amusing talk about his experiences as a magistrate over that period.  The vote of thanks was given by Ernie Rogan.

The final part of the afternoon was devoted to the annual Christmas Quiz, which was devised once again by Myrna Beet, the Convenor of our Quiz Group.  The winning team (who I won’t embarrass by naming!) only marginally out-scored the second team by just half a mark and won the afternoon’s “star prize”, a modest box of chocolates.

Next month’s meeting will see the return of Dr Paul Whittaker OBE, the Artistic Director of the charity “Music and the Deaf”.  Many of us fondly remember the amazing talk he gave to us nearly three years ago.  There will be a retiring collection for Paul’s charity at the end the meeting.

So all that remains now is for me to wish you all, on behalf of Chairman Jean and the rest of the committee, a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

Best Wishes

Peter

Peter Gibson

Temporary Acting Chairman

 

CREAM TEA AT THE MIDLAND

Lets Go Group at the Midland Hotel, Morecamb
Lets Go Group at the Midland Hotel, Morecambe

U3a Todmorden’s Let’s Go group visited the historic county town of Lancaster last month (November 2013). 52 members wandered the ancient streets, museums and the castle, formerly a prison. The Grade 1 listed building dominates the town and dates back almost a thousand years.

 

After lunch the group moved on to the restored Midland Hotel in Morecambe. They all enjoyed a comprehensive guided tour of the art deco Grade 2 listed building.

Lets go group in the Foyer at the Midland
Lets go group in the Foyer at the Midland

The present hotel opened in 1933 and Eric Gill was responsible for much of the interior decorations.The hotel was used as a hospital during the second world war. Forced to close in 1998, the hotel reopened, after refurbishment in 2008.

 

U3a members enjoyed an afternoon cream tea, while overlooking the magnificent Morecambe Bay.

 

The next U3a let’s go trip will be a guided walking tour of Manchester City Centre in January 2014.

 

Talk: the age-old question

The Age Old Question, that was the title of the talk given at the November general meeting of Todmorden U3A. However, since the speaker was from the Institute of Advanced Motorists, members were not expecting a profound, philosophical lecture. They might however, have gone into the meeting fearing they may have to hand in their driving license. What they got was an informative and interesting talk with nuggets pertinent to drivers of all ages. And reassurance that they could probably hang on to their license. Members also got a couple of films thrown in for good measure.

 

Ian Andrew is Senior Motorcycle Observer for the Rochdale branch of the IAM and was accompainied by their Chairman, Eileen Taylor and Club Secretary John Bradshaw. Ian’s favoured form of road transport is motor cycling and it was from this perspective he gave his talk. However, he is a car driver as well and the principles of each mode are virtually the same. It came as no surprise to his audience when they heard that older drivers are safer drivers – they are more cautious. They less likely to exceed the speed limit, brake suddenly or their driving be impaired by alcohol.

 

Failed to look properly’ is the most common factor leading to accidents among all age groups but is particularly high among drivers over 70. Ian reassured his audience by pointing out that this is something that can be easily remedied. Other factors that appear in the statistics of older drivers involved in accidents include: failure to judge the other car’s path or speed; poor turning or manoeuvering; loss of control; illness or disability; nervousness, uncertainty or panic. Driver and rider error or reaction factors are recorded more frequently in accident statistics than other types. This is the case for all drivers.

 

Other good news for older drivers is that research has revealed that reaction times do not differ much between age groups, although they are slower amongst older drivers. This is compensated for by the fact that they are slower drivers. An area that needs attention comes with the care that drivers take when turning onto a road into traffic. It is highest amongst the youngest group of drivers, who look three times as often as older drivers – surprised, reader? Goes against the stereotype, perhaps. This declines with age and is worst amongst older drivers, again this can be remedied, although older drivers can have difficulty coping with the traffic environment.

 

How did Ian get involved with IAM? When she reached the age of 18, Ian’s daughter announced to her parents that she was going to get a motor bike. Trepidation on the part of Ian and his wife. After considering the options, Ian decided that the best one was for him to get a motor bike so that he could talk with his daughter about the craft of motor cycling on equal terms. Where to learn? With the IAM. Ian realised while taking their course that he had much to learn and bought a book on road craft.

 

Ian didn’t gloss over the fact that most if not all drivers have exceeded the speed limit. He stressed though, that some accidents are caused by driving at the wrong speed for the conditions. Whilst a driver may not be speeding acording to the designated limit, for example, driving at thirty past a school when the children are coming out, this is not driving at the appropriate speed for the conditions. 95% of crashes are due to driver error. Crashes – Ian always used that word advisedly, there are no accidents. Keeping one’s vehicle up to scratch helps, too, Ian said. Keep windows clean and wipers working properly, especially at this time of year with the sun low in the sky.

 

Ian showed a film he made, shot from a camera on his bike. He tallked his audience through the journey, commenting on his manoeverings and the reasons for them.

 

In talking about the factors of health and fitness, Ian pointed out the neck fexibility reduces with age, thus reducing the ability to look to each side. He also gave a tip for testing one’s peripheral vision. Using the index fingers, raise them each side of the head to eye level, behind one’s vision and slowly move them forward. The point at which they come into sight indicates one’s peripheral vision capacity. The value of convex mirrors were mentioned and Ian said that they are an asset but take getting used to as the images are smaller, initially leading to misjudgement of the distance of vehicles behind.

 

Ian talked about what drivers could expect from the IAM training. Comments on driver performance are given in a matter-of-fact, non critical way and one can take the test as many times as is necessary. For more information on IAM and the research they undertake, go to iam.org.uk. Ian belives that tailored driving assesments are needed because of the variation in individual drivers of all ages.

 

The first film shown was made in the 1930s and entitled Your Driving Test. Ian told his audience it was funny and it was. Being a period piece, trilbys and raincoats were to the fore and the driving practices owed more to slapstick than “this is how you should do it”.

 

So, some fun in addition to a talk which was not just interesting and informative but with useful content as well.

Chairman’s Report 22 November 2013

The main speaker yesterday was Ian Andrews of the Institute of Advanced Motorists. We also looked forward to our Christmas meeting, and our newly-published programme of meetings for the first half of 2014.

At yesterday’s monthly meeting we all enjoyed a most interesting and entertaining talk entitled ‘Age Old Debate’ presented by members of the Rochdale Branch of the Institute of Advanced Motorists. The main speaker was Ian Andrews – Senior Motor Cycle Observer – accompanied by their Chairman – Eileen Taylor – and John Bradshaw their Club Secretary. I feel that we were all encouraged by the talk even though we are no longer young drivers. Ernie Rogan gave the vote of thanks in his usual entertaining fashion!

I must tell you that at the end of the meeting several members suggested that I make a request at future meetings for mobile phones to be switched off during our meetings – I’ve been told that at least four mobiles rang during the talk!

Thank you for your kindness in remembering our late Chairman – David Cross – by making donations to The British Heart Foundation. We will be putting the collection boxes out again, for the same purpose, at our December meeting and then our Treasurer, Keith Coates, will forward your donations on for you.

We hope to run First Aid Awareness Courses shortly and members were able to sign-up. Please let me know if you have not seen the information about this and would like to participate.

The two new groups ‘Going to the pictures’ and ‘Gardening’, which were announced last month, are up and running. Information about these groups will be included in Gail Allaby’s groups report.

There was also an opportunity to sign-up for the U3A Todmorden bunting making party in support of the Cragg Vale Bunting World Record attempt as a part of the Tour de France event next July. I also mentioned that Todmorden people are also making bunting for Todmorden and you can get further information from TIC and there will be an article about this in Tod News next week.

We placed Gift Aid forms on the chairs for members to complete and hand to Keith and Roger Howard our Assistant Secretary. Thanks for completing these for us.

Also everyone received the Programme of Members’ Meetings for January to June, 2014. It looks interesting and exciting and I thanked Anne Crane for all the work she has put in to sorting out this programme for us. I think it must be time-consuming work for which she really does deserve our acknowledgement. I attach a copy for you.

Margaret Gunnill is now our Membership Secretary. As you know the signing-in table is always a bit hectic prior to our meetings starting – I experienced it last year – and Margaret already has some wonderfully willing helpers but if you would like to get involved please let me know.

Peter Gibson is no longer Membership Secretary but will continue to be in control of the database – which is a very big job nowadays – we now have 344 members! This reminds me to ask that if you have changes to your contact details do please let us know. If you are currently a member receiving information by post but you can have access to a computer – again, please let us know. Postage is so very expensive these days. Peter’s new title is Database Controller – unfortunately I gave him the title of the Fat Controller at the meeting yesterday!

I mentioned that when photographs are taken at our meetings, activities or groups meetings we assume that you are giving your consent for the photographs to be used in our publicity materials.

If you are on Facebook please look at the Facebook u3atod page. The publicity group have put us up there and we are asking you to invite your friends to ‘like it’. The page gives up-to-date information about U3A Tod and, of course, there’s an opportunity to post your comments.

We have agreed that the Groups Reports will continue go on our website, I will continue to send Gail’s report to you by email and this report will also be included in the mailshot. This means that Gail’s report at our monthly members’ meetings will focus purely on new groups and changes associated with our groups. In other words all the new news!

As you know Gail Allaby – our Groups Co-ordinator – has been on holiday – only returning late on Wednesday night – but I’ve just been chatting with her and she is busily putting together her monthly report for you. Unfortunately, as I mentioned yesterday, she is not very well and I know you will all wish to join me in wishing her a very speedy recovery. Best wishes, Gail. As soon as I receive her report I’ll forward it to you.

Finally, I announced details of our December meeting – on Thursday, 19th December at the usual time and place. There will be seasonal refreshments including mince pies and the now very famous non-alcoholic punch. We are thrilled that members of the Todmorden Orchestra will be coming along to play for us. Myrna Beet our Quiz Group Convenor will be devising a quiz for us – which I am sure will again be challenging as well as giving us an opportunity to meet new people – because we do the quiz in small teams. There will also be a short talk by Trevor Driver entitled ‘Humorous experiences as a Magistrate’.

This will be a packed programme – do come along – and join all your U3A Tod friends!

Sincerely – Jean – Chairman, U3A Todmorden

Next meeting Thurs 21 November

Our next monthly members’ meeting will take place at 1.45 pm for refreshments and a chat before the meeting proper at 2 pm next Thursday, 21st November, 2013 at Central Methodist Church.

We will be able to welcome our guest speakers from the Institute of Advanced Motorists their talk being entitled ‘Age Old Debate’.

There will be a collection box at the back of the Hall for donations, if you wish, to The British Heart Foundation in memory of our late Chairman – David Cross.

In addition, there’ll be news of our speakers for the first half of 2014 – from Todmorden to Galapagos, via Venice and India!

 

Talk: Psychology and You

David Groves made a welcome return as a speaker at the October Todmorden U3A general meeting, giving part two of a talk entitled Psychology and You. By way of a subtitle he described the discipline as “the scientific study of mind and behaviour.” He started by giving a brief recap of his first talk, outlining significant landmarks in Western scientific discovery in order to illustrate and emphasise the fact that psychology is a discipline which employs the scientific method to verify its findings.

Each of those attending found a handout on their chair listing the various branches of psychology and also the various applications psychology has in society, along with some of the jobs in which graduate psychologists could apply their learning. The other side of the handout included some of those drawings of illusions where one sees two faces in one sketch, and a couple which one stares at to find there is more to the image than is at first apparent. The mind playing tricks.

David started with first impressions and the “halo effect”. Social psychologists have found that attractiveness can produce what is known as a halo effect. Essentially, we tend to assume that people who are physically attractive are also friendly, intelligent, pleasant, and likeable. First impressions do count but are, of course, mediated by experience when we get to know a person better.

David referred to a number of studies in the areas of ethics and morality and said that psychologists have demonstrated that we are not born with a conscience. Jean Piaget spent many years studying the development of morality in children. David outlined one of Piaget’s observations. Four children were playing a board game together. A six year old was losing and deliberately knocked his game piece off of the board. Another child told the teacher that the rules had been broken. The offender was told to sit in the corner.

The next day the children are again playing the board game. A ten year old child reached to move his game piece, lost his balance and placed his elbow into the middle of the board. All of the pieces bounced around, and flew off of the board. The offender of the previous day complained to the teacher. The teacher asked “Did you do it on purpose, or was it an accident?” The reply came that it was an accident. The teacher responded with agreement. She directed all four children to go back to playing the game. The six year old, upset by the teacher’s solution, protested, “It’s not fair! Yesterday I knocked off one piece and I had to sit in the corner? How come he doesn’t have to? He knocked off all the pieces!” The ten year old interjected, “It’s fair because you did it on purpose!” The younger child just doesn’t understand, and continued to insist it isn’t fair. This example illustrates how the development of a more sophisticated sense of fairness is one that progresses as children get older.

David then turned to research done on the research into the differences between men and women in making moral choices. Lawrence Kohlberg, based on research conducted exclusively on men, concluded that justice is the highest claim of morality. In doing so, David explained, his colleague, Carol Gilligan, saw this as down-grading women’s moral judgements based on exercising care. Gilligan did a study with 24 pregnant women who were considering abortion. These women discussed their choice within a care orientation rather than a framework of justice. Responsibility was interpreted as exercising care; not being selfish meant not causing hurt.

David continued by citing a famous experiment conducted at Princeton University in which a group of theology students was asked to walk across campus to deliver a sermon on the topic of the Good Samaritan. As part of the research, some of the students were told that they were late and needed to hurry. Along the route, the researchers had placed an actor, who was lying on the ground in pain and in need of help. In their haste to give a sermon on compassion, 90% of the “late” students from completely ignored the needs of the suffering person. Some of them literally stepped over him.

David spoke of how twins are studied to learn more about the contributions of inherited factors and the impact of the environment in determining behaviour. Introducing a lighter note, he said how the town of Twinsburg, Ohio, holds a twins convention every year. At the latest one. In 2012, 2096 sets of twins attended, of whom, 864 were identical, of these 81 were over 61 years old.

Towards the end of his talk, David realised he was running out of time but had said nothing about Freud and psychoanalysis. Before taking questions, he made a few quick remarks on the topic. Perhaps the subject of “Psychology and You Part 3”? Suggested subtitle, “Psychoanalysis and its Discontents.”

U3A Chairman, Jean Pearson moved the vote of thanks before Membership Secretary, Anne Foster presented the customary token of appreciation to David.

Chairmans Report October 17 2013

The guest speaker today was David Groves, a retired lecturer in psychology, and it was a joy to welcome him back. 127 people came, and heard among other news that there are two new groups – Going to the pictures and Gardening – and that a new publicity group has been formed.

Good afternoon all U3A Todmorden Members,

It was a delight to welcome 121 members and 6 visitors to our monthly meeting today. There was a special welcome to all our new members – we now have 334 members.

Please let us know if you change your email or home address and also let us know if you no longer wish to receive U3A Todmorden information through the post.

If you ever wish to hand deliver mail to U3A Todmorden we now have a label on our mail box which is situated at Senko House and accessed from Halifax Road, Todmorden.

The new publicity group is now up and running and planning exciting developments for us. Alan McDonald is the Chairman of this new group and he wrote an excellent report on our last meeting which appeared in Todmorden News. Ernie Rogan sent a copy of that report to Chandra and Richard Law and Chandra has sent the report to her home village in Malaysia – our fame is spreading!

Thank you to all our members who again stayed behind today to help put the chairs back in place – it is a real bonus to have your help. Same again next time, please!

 There is a change to our programme on 19th December, 2013. We will not be showing a DVD but we will be having a short talk by Trevor Driver entitled ‘Humourous experiences as a Magistrate’ The remainder of the programme that day remains as planned.

 Our next meeting is on Thursday, 21st November, 2013 when our guest speaker is from the Institute of Motorists the title of the talk being ‘Age Old Debate’. This does sound an interesting topic for us.

 We were also reminded that November is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Gail Allaby gave her groups report and announced two new groups – 1. Going to the pictures and 2. Gardening – and we got lots of names of interested members. She also announced that Geoff Boswell is stepping down as Convenor of the Photography Group mentioning what a great contribution he has made to the Group. Ann Beard will be taking over.

Ernie Rogan outlined plans for more interesting Let’s Go trips next year.

The guest speaker today was David Groves, a retired lecturer in psychology, and it was a joy to welcome him back for his ‘Part 2’, who fascinated us by what he called ‘rambling on’ about psychology. It was extremely interesting and, I think, we all wanted to hear more. Perhaps we should have a ‘Psychology Part 3’ by David. What do you think? Our Secretary, Anne Foster, gave an amusing and sincere vote of thanks.

Hope to see you at our next meeting.

Sincerely – Jean A Pearson – Chairman – U3A Todmorden

NO GHOSTS IN THE TOPIARY

Another day of fine weather greeted 48 u3a Todmorden ‘Let’s Go’ members on their trip to Levens Hall…It’s the finest Elizabethan house in Cumbria

letsgo_levens_hallAnother day of fine weather greeted 48 u3a Todmorden ‘Let’s Go’ members on their trip to Levens Hall in Cumbria. The hall, home of the Bagot family, contains the world famous topiary gardens. Land was given to the original owner, Norman Yeland, for fishing and hunting in 1170. Building started about 1250 and the house was enlarged and improved around 1570 when the wealthy landowning Bellingham family took over.

It’s the finest Elizabethan house in Cumbria, and as well as its oak-panelling, it’s also well-known for the Cordova leather wall coverings and the collection of early furniture and paintings. Sadly, though, none of the u3a members saw any of the three ghosts reputed to haunt the hall.

Members wandered around the fascinating gardens, planted originally in the late 17th century, and were able to watch some of the topiary being carefully trimmed. The group then travelled on to the market town of Kendal.

The next trip will be to Lancaster and the refurbished Midland Hotel in Morecambe, in late November.

 

report by Ernie Rogan / photo by Philip Willis

U3A PRESENTS MEMORIAL PLATE

Jean Pearson, chairman of u3a todmorden presented a silver plate to todmorden high school in memory of John McNair. John was the founder and first chairman of u3a Todmorden.

20 Sept 2013 John McNair plate presentation
Chris Wilcox (Deputy Head), Barbara McNair,Jean Pearson (u3a Chairman), Miriel Bell (Head of Foreign Languages) and Adam Waldman (Head Of World Studies)

Jean Pearson, chairman of u3a todmorden presented a silver plate to todmorden high school in memory of John McNair. John was the founder and first chairman of u3a Todmorden. He was an educationalist, taught modern languages and was a governor at the high school. John was awarded the military medal for gallantry during World War 2.

The plate was handed to the head teacher by Barbara McNair, John’s daughter. The prize will be awarded annually for outstanding achievement in the study of foreign languages. In the photograph are Chris Wilcox (deputy head), Barbara McNair, Jean Pearson (u3a chairman), Miriel Bell (head of foreign languages) and Adam Waldman (head of world studies).

photograph by philip willis | report by ernie rogan

Talk: Coming to Britain

Jean Pearson with Richard & Chandra Law
Jean Pearson with Richard & Chandra Law

The membership of U3A Todmorden continues to grow to amazing levels. On the day of September’s meeting the earlier coffee morning attracted over 100 current members – and potential new recruits – to find out what all the special interest groups do, and share a friendly tale or two. As soon as a new idea like Social History becomes reality, it’s full of members. From art and badminton to philosophy and world affairs, small groups are meeting all over Todmorden with members coming from as far afield as – well, as Hebden Bridge.

Of course it’s partly the quality of the regular monthly speakers that keeps drawing people. September’s meeting at the Central Methodists on the 19th attracted a record 132 people to hear Chandra Law, helped by her husband Richard, talk about ‘Coming to Britain’.

Chandra is from Malaysia. She met Englishman Richard while they were working together in her native country. The detailed record she kept for her family when she first came to England with him provided a witty insight into how our country looks to a new visitor. In Malaysia they have no seasons, only occasional monsoons to interrupt the tropical heat. According to Chandra, ‘Richard says Malaysia is like living in an oven; I say England is like living in a freezer.’

On arriving in Britain and leaving the airport, Chandra told us, the cold literally hurt. She couldn’t walk properly and thought she was turning into a prawn: why did these English people have air-conditioning in the outside world? Why did rows and rows of trees have no leaves on them, was the whole place dying? Or did the English grow their trees upside down, was it their bare roots she was seeing through steamed-up windows?

In the Post Office that February to send her postcards about weird old England home to her family, Chandra tried to give up her place in the queue to an elderly gentleman – as you would in her native country – and was politely refused. It was the gentleman’s wife who explained that the white bullets falling outside weren’t free sago, collectible to make something nicely Malaysian for tea, but hailstones.

 

Among these reminiscences Chandra wove a well-designed account of how to create Malaysian batik (which Richard created beside her while she spoke). Batik-making is compulsory in Malaysian schools from the age of 14, when pupils are thought old enough to handle hot wax, which is what the word ‘batik’ means. An attentive audience of Todmordians transformed ourselves into Malaysian schoolgirls and schoolboys – the girls forever fearing the teacher’s cane on their hands or legs if they made a mistake – as we were taught the process.

Spread white cotton or silk on the floor. Heat wax (paraffin wax mixed with 50% resin in Malaysia) in a pot. Take a tjanting, pronounced ‘chanting’, a tool with a wooden handle that can apply wax. Learn how to carry the tjanting from pot to cloth, fast enough to avoid the wax solidifying, slow enough to avoid dripping, nimbly enough to avoid the ever-feared cane. On cotton the tjanting is a ready-designed block, easy to correct with water; on silk it’s a delicate equivalent to a paint-brush, and one error and the ruthless teacher will tear your silk in half because your work is spoiled.

Boys, it seems, get to work on bamboo, metal and wood. But girls are the batik specialists. Traditionally they create using themed colours. Bold reds and pinks apparently mean mountains; blue, fishing villages; green, paddy fields, black/brown/gold mean rubber plantations; purple means turtle islands; and silver stands for Kuala Lumpur. Get over the border to Ramsbottom Station to see Chandra’s and Richard’s work, from lipstick cases to sarongs (steady, men, it seems we can wear them too).

It was hard to hear new Chairman Jean Pearson’s effusive thanks afterwards amid the throng of people eager to see batik at first hand.

photograph by philip willis | report by alan mcdonald | this also appeared in Todmorden News

JEAN’S TERM OF OFFICE STARTS WITH A GREAT SUCCESS

Jean Pearson, newly elected chairman of u3a Todmorden started her term of office by opening a busy exhibition day at Central Methodist Church.

Coffee Morning 19 Sept 2013Jean Pearson, newly elected chairman of u3a Todmorden, following the untimely death of David Cross, started her term of office by opening a busy exhibition day at Central Methodist Church. Jean said she was delighted by the attendance, not only of members but also the public .

Over 100 people saw displays by 21 of the 23 specialist groups : art appreciation, practical art, crafts, philosophy, social history, let’s go, coffee club, ramblers, world affairs, science, natural history, photography, lunch club, spanish conversation, poetry appreciation, art club, creative writing, quiz and scrabble groups, table tennis and badminton and the concert party. Jean said it was difficult for her to visit all the stands because of the throng of people: but she was not complaining !

16 new members joined, on the day and many groups confirmed that they had also experienced great interest. membership now totals 325, perhaps making u3a Todmorden one of the largest organisations in the Upper Calder Valley. The monthly members meeting followed the event and was attended by 132 members and visitors.

photograph by philip willis | report by ernie rogan

U3A TOD STEAMS AHEAD

In September 2013 the Let’s Go group enjoyed a day with East Lancs Railway. 54 members boarded a steam hauled train from Rawtenstall to Bury.

Let's Go Bury 0913In September 2013 the Let’s Go group enjoyed a day with East Lancs Railway. 54 members boarded a steam hauled train from Rawtenstall to Bury. They were served refreshments by volunteer members of the East Lancs Railway. a guided tour of the Transport Museum followed, with u3a members then dispersing for lunches and a visit to the very busy Bury market, where many kilos of the world famous black puddings were purchased.

On the steam hauled return journey members were treated to an impromptu talk about the running of a volunteer railway and learned about how a steam train produces electricity, the differences between air and vacuum brakes, and how some carriages can only be married up to steam or diesel locomotives.

photograph by philip willis | report by ernie rogan