Speaker: Sarah Delves
Topic: The History of Handbags (Bags of Glamour)
Sarah is an amusing and knowledgeable speaker with over 12 years of experience. She admitted to a collection of 200 bags and was passionate on her subject and explained how handbags went hand in hand with fashion and how they reflect social status from early times to the present day. She talked about and displayed a wide range of beautifully designed antique and vintage bags from earliest Victorian times to the 1940/50s. Members were astounded at the value of some designer bags and the huge amount of money raised at auction, especially when they had been previously owned by fashionable women of their time such as Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and members of the aristocracy. Despite battling through exceptionally heavy rain members agreed the evening was most interesting and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Speaker: Pam Williamson
Topic: Christmas Craftwork
To begin the evening Pam told us about her background which gave us an insight into her work and how she became a craft instructor on the cruise liners. Together with her assistant Paul we then began to learn the intricacies of card making using the tea folding method which caused much merriment and confusion as we found out how little we knew. However Pam and Paul were so friendly, patient and helpful that by the end of the session all members had made a beautiful and highly individual Christmas card and had enjoyed a fun, crafty evening. We were all amazed at what can be achieved in one hour of instruction and we thanked Pam and Paul in the usual way with an enthusiastic round of applause.
Speaker: Barry Graham
Topic: The History of Cheese
Barry Graham from the Little Cheese Company gave an excellent talk about the history of cheese particularly those made in Dorset including Dorset Red and Dorset Blue Vinny. He also explained how cheeses are made including continental and other cheeses available in the supermarkets. Our members enjoyed carefully selected artisan cheeses which he offered for our tasting and appreciation which was thoroughly enjoyed together with apple juice and a variety of biscuits. It was an interesting and informative evening- a masterclass in the art of cheese-making.
Speaker: Valerie Dyson
Topic: Dorset and Somerset Ambulance
Valerie informed us that there are 21 Air Ambulances nationally with one of the helicopters owned by the NHS and the remainder supported by charitable donations. The DSAA is a registered charity set up in March 2000 with funding from the AA, no government or lottery funding is provided and it is dependent upon donations and managed by a Board of Trustees. The DSAA is based at Henstridge Airfield on the Dorset/Somerset borders from where they can be at any point in the two counties in less than 20 minutes. Operational costs are over £2 million a year and the approximate cost per mission is £2500 to £3000. Critical Care doctors are employed and paid for by the NHS and work part time for the NHS and part time with the Air Ambulance, the pilots are paid by the charity. The service operates 19 hours a day using two vital resources, helicopter and critical care car and is part of the 999 emergency service. The talk was very interesting and at the end there were a number of questions put to Valerie by our members.
Speaker: Brian Bates
Topic: Annie Keats: Life of a Dorset nurse during the Great War
Brian gave us an insight into the life and work of the staff at the military hospitals during the first World War. There were several in Dorchester and he focused on one nurse who worked there, a VAD, Annie Keats. Her starting pay for the year was £18 rising to £20 when she earned her stripes. She worked at Coliton Hospital for the duration of the war and her duties included general ward duties such as bed making, bandaging, giving out medicines and food and keeping the soldiers occupied as they got very bored. Brian had several photographs of the staff and soldiers who were there at that time. After the war much of the hospital equipment was auctioned off when the hospitals closed and Annie returned to domestic service.
Speaker: Ruth Ransom
Topic: Refreshing Beauty
Ruth gave a talk and demonstration on basic skin care and natural make- up application. One of our ladies,Diane, volunteered to be her model and the demonstration began with basic cleansing,toning and moisturising this was followed by applying a natural make-up look. A lively talk took place during the demonstration with Ruth answering questions put to her by our members about products and applications. The talk was very enjoyable and provided some useful beauty tips. Ruth then stayed on to talk to ladies on an individual basis.
Speaker: Terry Payne
Topic: The Surprising Life (and Times) of Bees
Terry told us about skeps (baskets placed open end down) that had been used to house bees as long ago as the middle ages, and they were originally made of wicker with mud and dung. Today bees are traditionally kept by beekeepers in hives. He gave us a fascinating account of life in a bee hive and the incredibly complex social and working life of the inhabitants. We were told of the relationship between the Queen, the drones and the workers all with essential and finely balanced roles to fulfil. The worker bees are the most numerous members of the hive and it is their job to collect nectar and pollen. The Queen can lay 1,500 eggs in a day and she is mother to up to 60,000 fellow residents. Worker bees and Queen bees have stingers but they use them only when they are threatened because they die once their stinger has been used. It was a very interesting and informative talk which was thoroughly enjoyed by our members.
Speaker: Derek Radley
Topic: Green Island Holiday Trust
Derek gave a very interesting talk about the Trust which provides holidays for the disabled and disadvantaged.The holidays include various activities including bird watching, BBQ's and train, tractor or trailer rides. The Trust also own their own boats adapted so that they can go sailing in Poole Harbour. Derek also showed us photographs that had been taken of the holidaymakers enjoying themselves. Everyone is encouraged to join the activities and on the last day there are arts and crafts available so that the dining room can be decorated in the theme of the evening when they enjoy the final dinner of the holiday.
Speaker: Jocyelyn Jenkins
Topic: Bed and Breakfast- The other Side
Joycelyn gave us a most interesting and amusing account of running a bed and breakfast business. She talked us through some of her experiences that have occurred over the years and feels that she has had more highs than lows. She described some of her more interesting guests, who visit for all sorts of reasons, and she has maintained contact with several of them from all over the world!
Speaker: Wing Commander (Retd) Tony Davies
Topic: Ladies in the Sky (Aviatrixes)
Tony gave us a most interesting and amusing talk on the subject. He explained how originally women could only get involved in flying if they had money, connections and a burning ambition. Their contribution in the early days has been generally understated but they were there in the background giving advice and laying a trail. He talked about Amelia Earhart and Amy Johnson and their enthusiasm and achievements. Members were surprised to learn that it was a woman who performed a dazzling aeronautical display for the Czar of Russia. We were told how women were originally recruited into the WRAF for strictly traditional female roles but in WW2 they became heavily involved in delivering aircraft around the country. He finished by saying how far women have come in this field and also in space travel.
Speaker: Philip Browne
Topic: The unfortunate Captain Pierce and the Wreck of the 'Halsewell' East Indian-man
Members thoroughly enjoyed an illustrated presentation and précis of his book. The talk focused on the fateful day of 6th January 1786 when the 800 tonne ship the Halsewell was shipwrecked on the Dorset coast during a violent gale force storm. To make matters even worse the country was experiencing the coldest winter for years-even the Thames had frozen over. The ship was 4/5 times larger than most vessels of its time and it was exceeding rare for such crafts to come to grief. There were 240 people on board including sailors, soldiers, women and children. The West Country had a bad reputation for plundering wrecks at that time but the villagers of Worth Matravers did their best to help as many people as they could but sadly only 74 were saved and the Captain and his daughters were among those that perished. The tragedy caught the imagination of the public and the enormous response from the whole country was comparable to the outcry and media interest of the loss of the Titanic. Mr Brown's book covers the Captain's life story and offers a fascinating social history of the period.
Speaker: Stella Walker
Topic: Blandford Fashion Museum
Stella is the Costume Manger at the Blandford Fashion Museum and it soon became apparent how lucky we were to have such an experienced and knowledgeable person to enlighten us on some of the changing styles and social conventions during the 1840's to the early 1900's-from the crinoline to the end of the bustle. Members watched as a 'model' was disrobed from top clothes down to crutchless camiknickers whilst Stella described the changing fashion and styles of the day. It was amazing to see and hear just how many layers women endured which must have been very hot and uncomfortable especially the more formal attire. Stella described the various materials used to 'prop-up' skirts, silhouettes, bustles and breasts! These included whale bone, steel and horse-hair. Many clothes and 'fripperies' were hand made. Gradually large department stores offering commercially made clothes and the sewing machine in the 1850's made clothing more accessible. The articles on show were part of the handling collection at the museum so we were allowed to examine them carefully. All agreed that Stella's presentation was most enjoyable and informative and members showed their appreciation with a round of hearty applause.
Speaker: Kathy McNally
Topic: 'Spying the Great Game'
Kathy commenced by conveying a little of her background. A degree in Modern European History led to further studies covering spying, espionage, the Secret Service, I.T. and Coding both in the areas of fiction and reality. Over the years this underpinning knowledge became the basis of her work in noted settings such as the BBC, publishing and education as well as guest speaker appearances at W.I.'s and world cruise ships. Her talk began with the question- Why would anyone take on this dangerous, often poorly paid and unglamorous job? She emphasised that the power of fictional spies was a total invention. She recalled when the idealistic Cambridge graduates spied for the K.G.B. wanting to change the world and the 'old-boys' network protected them although many spies were open to blackmail relating to sex scandals and homosexuality. We discussed the Geneva Convention, the protection of the military uniform and the remarkable bravery of men and women spies during world wars. Coming up to date, members were told of nefarious, devious forms of spying even in our ordinary communities. The techniques Nation states devise to collect and use information, the work of our M.I.5/6 and how their operations are totally secret including surveillance and preventing cyber-attacks Kathy ended her talk by reminding us how the micro-chip changed every thing. Improved technology, industrial espionage, hacking and a naive society enables retrieval of vast amounts of data providing wealth and power to those in the modern spying game.
Speaker: Trisha Lewis
Topic: Keeping Young and Beautiful in the 1950's
Under the title 'Keeping Young and Beautiful in the 1950's' Trisha Lewis gave a most diverting and comical performance keeping us all highly entertained.She displayed undoubted talent in mime and communication and used simple props, books and magazines from the 50's to create an excellent picture of the 'perfect' wife giving relationship advice to her imaginary daughter on how to keep her man happy. Trisha was hilarious and gave rise to many comments from members and much laughter. All agreed she was one of our best speakers to date.
Speaker: Rita Barrington
Topic: The Life and Times of Marie Lloyd
We were treated to a most entertaining talk by Rita on the Life and Times of Marie Lloyd. Rita appeared in full costume and she spoke and sang as if she was Marie. She was born in great poverty in Hoxton East London in 1870 and her birth name was Matilda Wood but she changed to her stage name of Marie Lloyd as her popularity grew. Her desire to entertain lifted her out of her life of poverty and she travelled the world including America, Australia and France to wide acclaim. We learned of her colourful personal life as well as her professional one. She died in 1922 days after collapsing whilst appearing on stage at the Edmonton Empire . We were encouraged to join in the singing to such songs as The Boy I Love is up in the Gallery, My Old Man said Follow the Van and Oh Mr Porter What Shall I Do. A memorable evening!
Speaker: Dr.Ian Dickins
Topic: From Canal Lock to Grid Lock
Dr Dickins gave an extremely interesting, fully illustrated presentation on Britain's' transport development and the amazing changes that have occurred over the past 250 years. Starting with canals, followed by the beginning of railways 150 years ago through to high speed trains, 'Ring Roads' and the coming of the motorways. It was surprising to see the congestion in London and other large cities during Victorian times when cars and buses were at the early stages of development. Trains were very popular with the public at this time enjoying 1st, 2nd. and 3rd. class travel. We were left wondering how such beautiful arches, viaducts and bridges were achieved in these early years and enjoyed the fascinating story of the courage and ingenuity of nineteenth century engineers such as Isambard Brunel. Dr Dickins told of some of the inevitable rail disasters during the period and how this resulted in parliamentary legislation such as the provision of train brakes ! In conclusion, despite all the wonders of science, speed and numerous transport policies he suggested that it seemed almost as difficult to get around now as it was 100 years ago and hence the title of his talk - from Canal to Gridlock !
Speaker: Kay Townsend
Topic: Topic Fairgrounds at War 1939-45
A very lively and informative talk was given to us by Kay Townsend, who had brought along several books that she had written. The talk was interesting and animated and she recounted her personal stories of fairground family and friends. Kay had her projector with her so we were able to see many images of times gone past. She also told of how during the war the showmen were able to collect enough money to purchase a spitfire plane for the R.A.F and they called it 'Fun of the Fair'.
Speaker: Simone Walls-MacDonald
Topic: Acts Fast
Our President gave a presentation on the charity 'Acts Fast'. Simone is co-founder, Trustee and Director of Research and Development. She was one of the prime movers in organising, setting up and meeting an obvious but unrecognised gap in the services provided for non-abusive parents/carers after their child's disclosure of sexual abuse. She described how the service evolved and the important work undertaken in relieving the distress of parents, carers and families of those involved.
Speaker: Abbie Longley
Topic: Keeping safe on the net
Abbie gave an excellent presentation on keeping safe on the net, describing some of the devious and ingenious scams individuals and national gangs use to trick people into giving away personal information. She explained that'Digital Eagles'are an on line programme, easy to download, aimed at keeping families safe with particular modules for the elderly and child protection.
Speaker: Judith Evans
Topic: Knitwits and Decoupage
Judith commenced by talking about the launch of the wool shop and how they gradually introduce crochet and knitting classes for beginners as well as more proficient craftswomen. Members were then given a preview of this years autumn wools and patterns. The range,textures and colours available were quite remarkable especially for babies and children. Judith then introduced a beginner's basic guide to Decoupage. Members had a variety of containers, glue and a good selection of materials to use.By the end of the session and after much fun some excellent items had been produced. After careful deliberation Judith chose Gill's entry as the winner of this months competition.
Speaker: Eloise Flinter
Topic: Deja Vu- Upcycling
Eloise explained that she became involved in recycling vintage items of furniture and other outmoded household items because she believed that with a little ingenuity they could be salvaged,enjoyed and prevent unnecessary waste using landfill sites. She studied various methods of reconditioning and hand painting using environmentally friendly paint giving life and purpose to beautiful household items. Having demonstrated the basic method, our members had a great time trying out their own skills on a variety of picture frames with Eloise on hand to help. Much fun was had by all and Eloise chose the winning entry produced by Sandy.
Speaker: Rachel Raine
Rachel told of how she became interested in working in silver after she assisted her mother who enjoyed making jewellery. Rachel retired early from teaching and gradually got 'hooked' using her mothers tools. Over a period of twenty years her hobby became increasingly important to her and she now teaches others whilst continuing to hone her own skills. It was fascinating to hear the complicated and painstaking methods involved and to see some of the fabulous items she has produced. All of her silver objects are hall-marked. Rachel uses semi-precious stones, all from sustainable sources ethnically mined and from 'fair trade' outlets and is often inspired by nature and natural materials. A really absorbing speaker much enjoyed by all.
Speaker: Toni Haynes
Topic: Bespoke Tailor
Toni talked with great enthusiasm about her love of finely made, beautiful, colourful hand-sewn clothes. As a child her grandmother taught her to sew and from creating dresses for her rag doll she got a real taste for needle work and happily progressed to making her school uniform when still a teenager. She now runs her own tailoring business and offers tuition to schools,groups and individuals. Beautiful examples of her work were on display and included jackets,dresses,bridal wear and accessories all much admired by our members.Toni's presentation was most enjoyable demonstrating her undoubted talent and genuine love of her craft.
Speaker: Martin Fielding
Topic: My Life as a vet
Martin began by speaking of his time at Cambridge University where an enthusiastic lecturer influenced his decision to train as a vet. Having a great sense of humour, he told of the romantic setting in which he met his bride to be-their eyes met during an instruction module, when they were working at the same dissecting bench!They began their careers working together as vets in Whitby and subsequently launched out on their own with practices in Weymouth and Dorchester. During 30 years of caring for a wide range of creatures great and small and dealing with difficult, strange and often sad situations he had still managed to amass a repertoire of anecdotes and hilarious stories about his experiences with animals and their owners! Our members thoroughly enjoyed his presentation which provided interesting and previously unknown information but also much merriment-rarely have our members been so amused and enthusiastically showed their thanks in the usual way.
Speaker: Audrey Holloway
Topic: Family Tree Research
Audrey Holloway gave us an absorbing talk on Family Tree Research and she had on display her own family tree which she had traced back beyond the 17th Century. Her advice was to start by gathering papers,photos and documents and asking relatives for any information that they may have ensuring that all items are labelled. A lot of information( such as birth, marriage and death certificates) is available on line. We all agreed that her passion(or as she called it) her obsession was most inspiring. She has a great sense of humour and her tales from past parish records had us all chuckling.
Speaker: Denise Ryan
Topic: Stunt Co-ordinator and Performer
Denise explained how she was required to do a six years apprenticeship and two years on probation before she was able to join the British actors Stunt Register.She reached the required standard in 1981 and has worked on numerous popular and well known television/film productions. Over twenty years she has had to abseil down buildings, jump from a 17th floor tower block, fall from horses and do deep water escapes. Her most graphic and frightening account was of being set alight and having to escape from a building.
Speaker: Nancy Grace
Topic: Archaeologist with the National Trust.
Nancy was able to give us a real sense of past eras,particularly the social aspect and the methods, artefacts and relics used to authenticate how people lived. We touched on the prehistoric age, the 12th century and up to the 18th century and she explained how experts evaluate pottery,wood carvings and human and animal bones.