Recent News and Events
The New Year got off to a very busy start for Cirencester U3A members. In
addition to the varied group activities, there has been the 2018 New Year
dinner and weekly Internet Café meetings.
Whales & Dolphins - An Introduction to their world - was the title of
the talk at the January General Meeting. The speaker was Bernard Purrier who
has always had a great interest in Wildlife and Marine mammals with Cetaceans
being a particular favourite. He was able to further this interest in 2005
after taking early retirement and in 2006 became a UK speaker for Whale &
Dolphin Conservation [WDC] an International Charity whose UK office is in
We learnt that Cetaceans - Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises are the largest
group of sea based mammals, highly intelligent and at the top of their food
chain. Bernard's talk explained theories regarding their evolution, their
behaviour linked to their advanced intelligence, the ways in which they have
adapted to their environment and the increasing threats to their habitats and
their ultimate survival. The talk, which was extremely well supported by
members, was interesting, informative and full of fascinating facts.
The intriguing title of 'Not to be used as a hand-bag' was Shelia
Lloyd-Graham's title for her interesting and entertaining talk on October 27th.
Best known locally as "Lady She" for her work on deportment, vintage
fashion and makeovers, Sheila chose a completely different aspect of her life
for this talk. For 40 years she had a career in both Berlin and the UK in
teaching, training and sports management and athletics - including her early
career when she was one of the few female Physical Training Instructors in the
Women's Royal Army Corps. The title of her talk came from this early career
-inside the bag designed to hold the gas mask was a note saying 'Not to be used
as a hand-bag'!
The speaker at the September U3A General Meeting was Bernard Tidmarsh with a
talk entitled 'My Life as a Farrier'. Bernard entertained and educated us with
tales from his family's past and his own experiences of farriery. Coming from a
long line of farriers his 'apprenticeship' began when he was very young. One of
his earliest recollections was, at the age of 2, being perched on a seat at the
front of his father's bike with his feet in stirrups, going to work with him!
At the age of five he had his own pony and joined the Beaufort Pony Club which
gave him a good grounding in horsemanship and by the time he was ten years he
was shoeing his own pony. (He admits to having spent more time helping his
father in the family forge in Crudwell than going to school!)
Bernard left school officially at the age of 15 and then with the support
and encouragement of his family and, very importantly, many members of the
local riding community, both amateurs and professionals such as Cavalry
Officers, Bernard began the journey to establishing himself as a top farrier.
During his career he has successfully adapted to the changing needs of his
clients; competitions, eventing and riding for pleasure are mainly what he
prepares horses for these days. He has established himself as one of the
country's most respected farriers, having shod horses for members of the Royal
Family as well as The Duke of Beaufort. He has attended every Badminton Horse
Trial since 1956 and is the farrier responsible for overseeing farrier services
provided to competitors at this prestigious event.
Mark Wilkins, a highly experienced military and commercial helicopter pilot,
delivered a very interesting talk on the County Air Ambulance Trust at
Cirencester's U3A General Meeting.
Mark's early career was clearly full of incident and he retold several
amusing anecdotes including landing his helicopter so close to a cavalry camp's
latrine that he blew off its covers, while occupied by the Regimental
Commander! Mark is now a fundraiser for the County Air Ambulance Trust. This is
a vital role as the West Midlands have 6 helicopters covering the West
Midlands, each with an annual running cost of £1.5 which has to be found
entirely from voluntary contributions.
Mark also outlined the range of services provided - not just airlifting
patients from inaccessible accident spots, but providing ultra -fast transfers
of organs and patients; such as from an accident in Bristol to a regional
Centre of Excellence elsewhere in the area. He also explained the importance of
having heliports close to the hospital so that vital time in treating patients
is not lost.
The talk was enjoyable, informative and raised our awareness of the
importance of this charity.
The speaker at July's General Meeting was Shaun McCormack and his subject
was the Yeoman of the Guards. As a Yeoman himself since 2001, he has worked for
the Queen at many Royal and State occasions, including the annual Knight of the
Garter, Investiture at Windsor Castle, attending State Openings of Parliament,
and was a guard at the laying in State of the late Queen Mother. He was
therefore able to give his audience a fascinating insight into the oldest
British military corps still in existence.
The Yeoman was created by Henry VII in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth
Field. As a token of this venerability, the Yeomen still wear red and gold
uniforms of Tudor style which today costs about £4,000. Shaun brought his
complete uniform with him and explained what all the decorations signified.
When this was then passed round members were not only able to appreciate the
detailed craftsmanship of the articles but also the sheer weight of the uniform
and imagine wearing it on a hot summer's day! (Shaun also showed us the scarlet
stockings and suspenders which caused great hilarity.)
Richard Cann, a volunteer guide at Gloucester Cathedral, returned to give
his second talk to Cirencester U3A members at their June General meeting.
This time his focus was stained glass in the Medieval Age. Richard, who
describes himself as a stained glass enthusiast rather than an expert, had
spent 3 years photographing and cataloguing the 154 stained glass in Gloucester
Cathedral. He called his talk Heavenly Light. Although his key focus was on
Gloucester Cathedral windows, he also included photographs and information on
medieval stained glass from other parts of the country. He looked at the making
of medieval glass, how a window is described and how it is commissioned as well
as explaining the iconography and symbolism incorporated into a window when
illustrating Bible stories or the lives of saints. In addition he included a
short video on the making of a stained glass window. The talk was fascinating
and we all knew a lot more about stained glass, its meaning and some financial
implications of its upkeep by the time we left.