President George asked me to give a  summary of outstanding memories over the last 30 years – so I shall do my best. If you have heard it all before, please bear with me.

 *I must first pay tribute to absent friends, members of the club who have moved away or retired, and those who have been taken from us, many of whom   feature in the stories that follow...

*30 years ago, 1984, was also the year of the Los Angeles Olympics; the introduction of GCSEs; and, someone called Prince Henry was born. Whatever happened to him?

*We start with Amersham Rotary Club, deciding to set up an evening club and  inviting a number of us to a  meeting with Peter Meade and Bill Summers, and being handed over to District Extension Officer Don Sawyer, a local Undertaker of some renown, whose main passion (after embalming and Rotary) was his historic collection of Meccano.

*First meetings of the Interim Rotary Club were held in the back room of the Chequers in Prestwood, then  the Red Lion in Gt Missenden, then we moved to the Windsor Lodge in Little Kingshill. The Windsor Lodge; every meal - carrots. After winter meetings, I could always find my car, no matter how dark the car park.  One evening the proprietor announced  we would have to go. He was pulling the hotel down and building houses.

*Happily, Peter Booth had been negotiating with Missenden Abbey, and here we are today.

*So, who are we, in Gt Missenden Rotary, and what have we been doing for the past 30years - apart from changing our name to ‘...and District?’

*We meet on Monday evenings here at the Abbey. Woe betide any

President who strays beyond 10.00 pm.  But what goes on outside is more important. We do fund raising and community service, and try to enjoy it. So, a few snippets from the past:

Fund Raising 

*The ‘Run Around the Underground’ organised by Alf Marling: a team of his young colleagues travelling to every Underground station in 24 hours, funding  defibrillators for local ambulances.

*Reconstructing the Christmas Float, proposed by President Kathy, redesigned by David Mitchell and towed with such accuracy by John Knight in his giant tractor. Of all our Presidents, Kathy was unique. Elderly Rotarians spluttering into their beer when they heard that our President was not only a woman (dark mutterings about women in Rotary) but also pregnant!

*24 hour Tesco Christmas Collections organised by John Faircloth,

*The Lands End to John O’Groats  sponsored cycle ride led by Gavin.

*Our ventures into show business –'Songs from the Heart' at the     Wycombe Swan; 'Vamp till Ready' in Amersham; Terry and Barbara's Hyde Heath  'Old Time Music Hall' performances, and our own Am Dram efforts in a ‘Celebration of England’ for St George’s Day.

*The Duck Races. 1000 plastic ducks counted out and counted back,.

*Fancy Dress Charity Balls - ‘Shipwreck’.  Come as you were when the ship went down –   John Loarridge as Admiral Nelson; ‘Hollywood’- Marilyn Monroe herself making a surprise appearance. 

*Our  30 years’ contributions to the ‘Rotary Foundation’ currently total over £100,000,  based on 10% of funds raised, plus personal contributions and one-off amounts. Our grand total of funds raised must exceed £250k.

Community Service 

Bulb Planting; A festival of Daffodils every year.  Praise from one Prestwood resident, but he complained about the dandelions we had planted to follow them.

*In Little Missenden, planting crocuses, being asked what we were doing by a busybody, Brian Betts with a straight face: ‘ planting land mines      madam’.

*George Tyler’s Message in a Bottle - a bottle containing medication details, in the fridge beside lifesaving bottles of Tonic and Gin.

*Blood Pressure testing at the Prestwood Steam Rally.

*Introducing the David Mitchell Award, given annually to an individual, recognising high ethical standards and voluntary public service.

Club Service       

Tony Shaw again, inventor of the Virtual Visit to another Club. Meeting a couple of Rotarians in a bar or passing a hotel with a ‘Rotary’ plaque on the wall would be enough to claim a ‘visit to  another club’.

*Health and Safety requirements – every activity needs a Risk Assessment. Should Father Christmas wear a seatbelt? No, but do not exceed 5 mph…

Social Activities

* District Conferences - From Torquay to Scarborough, last year to Jersey and this year ‘Gav the Guv’s own conference in Stratford.

*Barn Dances? With a Hog Roast at John Knight's farm; and in Roger Higgs’ barn at Quarrendon Farm, the ladies were allowed to use the loo in the farmhouse. Us chaps were directed to a wall behind the cowshed.

*Messing about in Boats. Our annual trip to the Henley Royal Regatta organised by Peter Booth . After visiting the Pimms Tent it was always a  surprise to see boats rowing up and down the river for some reason.

*A narrow boat trip along the Grand Union Canal. Being late autumn,  darkness fell quickly, and sitting in rows in the cabin I thought this is like a sightseeing trip along the Bakerloo Line.

  Other expeditions:

*To Amsterdam where Pam Dracott sent us searching for Ted when he disappeared towards the Red Light district along the canals.

*To Munich with John Coates where we were asked to leave the giant Hofbrauhaus beer keller because we couldn't find anywhere to sit and the Germans did not allow us to drink standing up.

*To Dublin with Steve and a historic moment in the Guinness brewery when Penny Waterfield astonished us all by downing her first ever pint of Guinness in one go.

*To Prague, also with Steve, and desperately clinging on as trams rushed at suicidal speed through the city.

*Our guided tour of Bletchley Park, followed by Guru’s memorable tour of the roundabouts of Milton Keynes to find an Indian               restaurant. Also in military vein our visits to the RAF museum at Hendon, and the Battle of Britain underground control room at RAF Uxbridge.

*Guru also took us to the spectacular Hindu Temple in Neasden, and Alan Jones took us to Chepstow for the horses, and Richard Waterfield took us to the House of Commons for dinner with Cheryl Gillam MP – at the height of the Expenses crisis.

*Sporting activities

District Darts organised by Ian Bullock; quizzes; and Golf, led by Ed Whymark. We remember John Larder with the annual Larder Golf Trophy.

*Final memory

A scatter visit to Princes Risborough Rotary years ago, when the      Austin Princess car had a variant called ‘Ambassador’. The speaker that evening was showing slides and talking about his time in Central  Africa: Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. Towards the end of the presentation the landlord interrupted the meeting; a car was blocking the car park. ‘Who’s got a brown Ambassador?’, he called. From the back, without hesitation, came a voice:  ‘Malawi !’.

I’m sorry if I haven’t mentioned a particular moment that you enjoyed, but I think I have exceeded my five minutes.

Thank you.

Mike Rainford





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