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Recent News and Events

January 2018

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 Chippenham.

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.

October 2017

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'!

September 2017

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.

August 2017

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.

July 2017

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.)

June 2017

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.

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