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As yet another year draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on our activities of 2015.
We have been meeting at our changed venue of Fishers Mead Community Centre for over a year now, and I think we will all agree that it has proved very successful.  The meeting room is very congenial, with Rosemary’s prompt coffee service, and parking does not seem a problem.

We had the usual good start to the year at The Rest & Be Thankful, when some twenty or more members enjoyed a really superb roast lunch from the carvery together with a good selection of desserts, as well as taking advantage of each others’ company.  We are repeating this again in January, at a reduced price of £15 per person, application form enclosed with this newsletter.  Do join in!
We have had eight talks this year with a great variety of topics, commencing with ‘The Icing on the Cake’ by Paul Haslam, accompanied by his wife Irene.  Paul creates wonderful celebration cakes which are very different to most others.  Using a good Viennese sponge as the base, he then forms a ‘model’ with fondant icing, eg a house or castle, etc.  This is cut to shape and allowed to set.  Each subsequent piece is stuck in position with butter cream and then he paints on his decoration.  He can create a cake for most themes.  He raffled the cake he had demonstrated to us, and the lucky winner was obviously truly delighted.

At the AGM in March there was just one change in the Committee with the resignation of Sandra as Secretary and the subsequent election of Yvonne Moorfoot.There were reports about the various groups in the Branch, namely the Music Group,the Book Group, the Discussion Group and the Wine Group.   The groups are quite full, but if anyone is interested in joining, please contact a committee member.  A second group, or indeed any new groups, are always welcomed and help is obviously available to get these going.
‘Behind the Camera’ was a most interesting talk of how John Walker started out on his career in filming.  We hope to have his follow-up talk later in 2016.
The return of Janet Diamond in May on her beloved subject of the Egyptian Pyramids enthralled us yet again with specifics of how over 3000 years ago the Pharoahs built their burial complexes south-west of Cairo, with more and more chambers before finally adding a roof. It may be that Janet will do a ‘follow on’ talk later in 2016.
‘Feet First’ was an amazing insight into the everyday life of Frank Letch who, despite having no arms, can manage to do most tasks we all take for granted.  He went to university, has a daughter and three sons, and has been Mayor of his home town.  Have you ever seen anyone peeling a potato with their feet, or signing a cheque ?
An explanatory talk by Claire Joselin on ‘The Dogs Trust’, aided by her accompanying rescue Rough Collie, drew one of the largest gatherings, all of whom were not disappointed. Claire’s presentation was first class and members’ keeness to donate there and then is a reminder of how we all love dogs and worry about their mistreatment or those needing new homes.
Our Open Day in August was a new venture, and was well attended.  There was a good general buzz in the Lower Town Hall from members and an ensuing nine new members, and some good ideas were bounced around.                                                             
30th September saw one of our own members, Gerry Lewis, giving a most interesting talk on Meditation and Hypnosis which explained the history and development of these two related practices.  How they began and spread, their decline and re-discovery in 19th and 20th centuries.  The 21st century scientific analysis using sophisticated  brain scanning technology and the medically supported benefits to be derived from meditation.
Steve Lewis gave an in depth talk on 28th October on World War One, the BEF and Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien.  This took the audience back to the early part of WW1 between August and October 1914, and the first engagements of the German army with the outnumbered British Expeditionary Force at Mons and their retreat to La Ferte-sous-Jouarre.  A close look at the role played by Smith-Dorrien, criticised at the time but subsequently identified as having been key to saving the BEF from annihilation.
We are now all looking forward to the talk on ‘The Brooke’ on November 25th – a very well established charity started by Dorothy Brooke following the huge number of unwanted horses and donkeys which had been used and suffered terribly during World War One, both in Europe and the Middle East. Their work has spread to many third world countries, educating and helping owners with the husbandry and care of these very hard working animals.
Finally, we think we have some most intreaguing and interesting talks scheduled for 2016, the first five of which are listed on the speakers page. If anyone has any ideas or requests for future talks, or indeed new subject groups, do contact me (Yvonne Moorfoot on 01398 323529)or any Committee member.  Very finally, if you are intending to join us on 27th January at The Rest & Be Thankful, it would be much appreciated if you could complete and return the appropriate slip together with your cheque as soon as possible.
YGM 14.11.15
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