Representatives from the Institute of Advanced Motorists came to speak to members in May, when a meeting was held in Baytree, Holbeach. Roger Hicks gave a very informative introduction to motoring, with many hints and tips tucked into the narrative. A short video followed, which provided discussion regarding various points in the film. Ashley Behan followed with a further talk taking a deeper insight into more advanced driving. This showed just how far ahead we should be looking at what is around us, something perhaps we are not sufficiently aware of. The offer of a free drive with one of the members of the IAM was taken up by many members, with some also booking the advanced test. Interesting questions followed which provoked good discussion.
A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE
At a very busy April meeting Keith Talbot took most of us back to our younger days.
Keith brought along about half his collection of shop display memorabilia. This included some very clever moving, highly detailed and what would now be thought controversial (who would promote smoking in their shop window today?) pieces. He also told us details about each piece and some history of the relevant companies.
Keith’s pride in his collection and passion for his subject was clear for all to see making the talk very interesting. We also had a visit from the local paper (Free Press/Guardian) who took lots of pictures and spoke to members with the intention of doing a feature about the U3A. this should be in the paper on Tuesday the 9th of April. The meeting was an opportunity to thank three retiring group leaders for their many years of hard work and dedication making their groups successful. In recognition they were each given a pot plant although only one was present to receive theirs. Please remember the May meeting will be held in the theatre at Baytree Garden Centre.
Further to the above excellent article, the Spalding Guardian
published the piece shown here. It is great to be recognised by the media for the good work done by the branch.
This article is now on Spalding Today website and is far easier to see and read.
Up Up and Away
Members at the March monthly meeting were treated to a very interesting talk by Oxfordshire historian Mark Davies on the uplifting escapades of James Sadler.
James worked in the family business as a pastry chef in Oxford in the 1700’s but with the enquiring mind of an engineer and inventor he experimented with the idea of balloon flight, when interest right across Europe was at fever pitch.
Before men, and later ladies, took to the skies the balloon “guinea pigs” were sheep a duck and a rooster.
The first manned flight was in France in 1783, undertaken by Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Francois Laurent d’Arlandes, but it was the Italian Vincenzo Lunardi who was the first to take to the air in England in September 1784.
Our British hero, the first Englishman to design, manufacture and fly a balloon, took off from college fields in Oxford in October 1784 – rising to 3,600 ft, travelling the four-mile journey in about 30 minutes.
This was the first of many flights, and Sadler became a celebrity overnight, but shunning the limelight he took a more scientific approach to flight and it was Sadler who created the adjustable fire in the basket which then led on to the discovery of what we now know as hydrogen.
An expensive venture, Sadler would rely on the patronage of the wealthy and would charge the public to view his balloons displayed before each flight.
Despite bumps and bruises, falling out of the basket, and once being dragged along the ground, he lived until the ripe old age of 75. Remembered not only for his aeronautical achievements he also gained the praise of Lord Nelson when he invented a new design of cannon, although with the rush to get Nelson sea bound King of all balloons it is thought the cannon was never actually used.
So little has been written or known about this remarkable man, but this is thought to stem from the fact that he was seen to be a mere pastry chef, looked down upon by his wealthy, educated Oxford neighbours. It has been a welcome introduction to a man who once landed his balloon in Sleaford.
King of all Balloons by Mark Davies
A NOSE FOR TROUBLE
Despite an unpleasant February day there was a large audience at Spalding and District U3A monthly meeting. The guest speaker was Mike Money from the Medical Detection Dogs charity. Even though Mike didn’t bring any dogs he was very informative and knowledgeable leaving us with an understanding of how clever and beneficial these detection and medical alert dogs can be. Most of us have seen programmes and articles about individual dogs being paired with a person where it can detect danger signs across a range of illnesses and prevent an emergency developing. Not only do the dogs become valued family members they can save lives. They also reduce the number of paramedic call outs and hospital admissions allowing the patients to confidently lead full and happy lives. Unknown to most of us they are also used in medical test facilities where they are trained to detect the minute odours associated with many cancers and other diseases.