YEARS OF FUN, FELLOWSHIP AND SERVICE October 2014
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.
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...
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?
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
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
Peter Booth had been negotiating with Missenden Abbey, and here we are
*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?’
meet on Monday evenings here at the Abbey. Woe betide any
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:
*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!
hour Tesco Christmas Collections organised by John Faircloth,
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.
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.
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.
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
*George Tyler’s Message in a
Bottle - a bottle containing medication details, in the fridge beside
lifesaving bottles of Tonic and Gin.
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.
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
*Health and Safety
requirements – every activity needs a Risk Assessment. Should Father
Christmas wear a seatbelt? No, but do not exceed 5 mph…
* 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.
*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
*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
*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
*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.
District Darts organised by Ian Bullock; quizzes; and
Golf, led by Ed Whymark.
We remember John Larder with the annual Larder Golf Trophy.
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 !’.
sorry if I haven’t mentioned a particular moment that you enjoyed, but I
think I have exceeded my five minutes.
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