Monthly talk

Monthly Meeting: 18 March 2020 - 9.30am
Doors Open 9.30am for refreshments
Venue: Beccles Public Hall
Talk: Toby Capwell from Wallace Collection in London Talking about Armour

It has become a tradition at Beccles U3A for the monthly meeting to be followed by a Guest Speaker. As you will see from the list below, the subjects are very varied.


Monthly Talk February 2020

Chelsea Flower Show – Mu Gurbutt

In February U3A’s own Mu Gurbutt gave an extremely entertaining and informative talk on how she and her friend Jenni, a regional NAFAS demonstrator, entered the Chelsea Flower Show in 2012.

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is held for five days in May in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea . It was first held in 1862 at RHS garden in Kensington before being moved in 1888 to Chiswick. Held at Chelsea since 1912, it is the most famous flower and landscape gardens show in the UK, and possibly in the world. The show is attended by members of the British Royal Family and attracts visitors from all continents. It has always had a strong link with Royalty: the Queen Mother was a great supporter and the Queen attends every year.

It is attended by 157,000 visitors each year (a number limited by the capacity of the 11-acre ground), and all tickets must be purchased in advance. The area of land devoted to show gardens increased steadily between 1970 and 2000 and the show has become an important venue for watching trends. At the moment the trend is not to have so many flowers and there are many metal and ceramic sculptures, water features and built installations.

Current ticket prices are £70 for the 8.30am entry, reducing to £45 for 3.30pm entry and then £39 for 5.30pm entry. From 2005 the show was increased from four days to five, with the first two days only open to RHS members. The show is extensively covered on television by the BBC. On the Saturday most of the plants go on sale.

There are four grades of award presented – gold, silver-gilt, silver and bronze. Judging is based on a points system so everyone, or no-one, could win a gold medal. This means that there is a very collaborative atmosphere as people aren’t actually competing with each other.

There is a separate marquee for the flower arrangement displays. These are individual displays contained in a very limited area based on different themes. In 2012 when Mu and Jenni exhibited the theme was based on the Olympics and their class was “I have a dream’”. They decided to base their display on Martin Luther King’s saying.

Their display comprised a piece of twisted wood from Mu’s garden hedge painted black to represent the struggle, black and white flowers representing apartheid, with red carnations pouring down finishing in a pool at the bottom representing spilt blood. In addition they created a ball and chain using curled up laurel leaves threaded together to look like a chain.

The flowers need to last 3 days. and there is a complete change of arrangements midweek. Their display was arranged overnight on Sunday and had to be finished by 6am Monday morning .The judges expect most of the display to be created on site and so it cannot be prepared in advance.

Mu hadn’t taken part in a flower arranging competition since the age of 14. In addition she had never driven in London before so it was all very daunting. Also it was at a time when Mu had already planned a five week trip to Australia just before the show.

They eventually got all their materials loaded into the car, drove to London and stayed overnight in a nearby pub as all hotel accommodation had already been booked. When they arrived at the show it was a hive of activity with lorries driving around and deliveries taking place which is why high viz jackets were compulsory. There are three and a half miles of electric cable to be laid plus 5 miles of water pipes. They carefully set up their display but when Mu looked around at the other more elaborate exhibits especially from foreign countries she felt very much like a country bumpkin.

This feeling was reinforced on show day when they arrived dressed in jeans and T shirts to find celebrities in designer clothing. However Mu and Jenni had a great time and they needn’t have worried - much to their amazement they had won a Gold Medal. A great achievement for Bungay Flower Club.

Thank you Vicki John for your excellent report, and belated congratulations to My and Jenni for an amazing achievement.

Up and coming talks

Wed 18 March 2020 - Toby Capwell from Wallace Collection in London Talking about Armour

Wed 15 April 2020 - Emma Ratzer from Access Community Trust Working in the community and helping the socially isolated

Wed 20 May 2020 - David Murton Astronomy for Beginners

Wed 17 June 2020 - Sally Dearman Changing from flying fighters to helicopters

Wed 15 July 2020 - Jim Graver The Big Issue

Wed 19 August 2020 - Robert Tilney Antiques Roadshow

Wed 16 September 2020 - Joy Hawkins - Medieval ideas on Contraception and Conception

Wed 21 October 2020 - Wendy Smith - A Linesperson at Wimbledon

Wed 18 November 2020 - Stephen Ashworth - Kitchen Chemistry

Wed 9 December 2020 Christmas programme yet to be finalised

Review Past Monthly Talks