Open Day Success
Our Open Day was held on the 1st August at the Spalding Grammar School. Every one of the forty groups were represented and as a result of the considerable time and effort taken by each Leader and their members, was a resounding success.
Providing interesting table top displays – covering everything from Aviation to Wine Tasting, a continuous overhead projection illustrating the work of the photography and art groups, the energetic display of disco dancing from our members, and not forgetting those at the poker, canasta and cribbage tables, there was something for everyone, and on what was a very warm afternoon, welcome refreshments.
Visitors, and members too, commented on the friendly reception they received and the information they gained as they browsed the displays. By the end of the afternoon several visitors had taken up membership, with others intending to take advantage of our “taster” monthly meeting, and enquiries were received from existing members about their joining additional groups.
With thanks to everyone who made it such an enjoyable event.
Sheila Field – Group Co-ordinator
THE JULY MONTHLY MEETING
Balloons, Bleriots and Barnstormers
The Speaker for our July meeting was local author, Alastair Goodrum, who gave an illustrated talk, introducing us to James Sadler and Louis Bleriot, famous for early balloon and aeroplane flight. As public interest grew in this race for advancement in aeronautics, the idea of sponsorship and a means to make money snowballed and resulted in the formation of travelling shows across the country. Advance advertisements would be placed in local papers announcing the sale of tickets, inviting people to watch the launch of balloons, and then later on, aircraft, rising dangerously high in the sky, with passengers bravely hanging on for dear life. Redundant pilots from the first world war, and women too, became the celebrities of the day as they performed trapeze and parachute acrobatics and wing walking. It was surprising to learn that Spalding, Boston and surrounding villages were often host to these dare devil events as photographs showed crowds gathering in still recognisable places around Spalding – what is now the B&Q car park, and out on Cowbit bank. This recreational flying only ceased with the commencement of the 2nd world war. Alastair, a keen photographer, has written aviation history articles and books and we thoroughly enjoyed sharing his enthusiasm for the subject.
The June monthly meeting
The June meeting was very busy as it was also the first opportunity for members to renew their membership.
After formalities had taken place we took our seats for a very funny, interesting and informative talk by Chrissy Kirk from Homefield Alpacas. The story began in 2007 when Chrissy set out with the intention of buying three alpacas to keep the grass in her paddock short and came back with seven. From that point she found herself on a very quick and steep learning curve. When faced with an animal that will spit and kick in all directions with any of its feet she soon learnt to detect the likely actions of each individual alpaca and take quick evasive action. The next challenge came when Chrissy decided to start breeding them to increase her herd. The first time consisted of three first timers Chrissy, a male and a female alpaca (what could possibly go wrong) and having penned the female she bought the male along and he soon showed interest and started to make his noises to prime the female, It was at this stage that Chrissy didn’t open the gate to the pen quick enough and found herself pinned to the wall by an amorous male, fortunately by turning his head to show him his intended mate he realized his mistake and nature took its course. Alpacas carry their young for eleven months and they now have a herd of about thirty animals. We then learnt about the general care of alpacas including the shearing which is carried out by travelling Australians and the fact that they live outside all year. This fleece gives protection against the elements but when processed results in a very soft yarn, of varying colours. Originating mostly from South America, they cannot now be imported as there are now sufficient numbers (25-30 thousand) in the UK. Homefield Alpacas organises popular walks with alpacas and welcome visitors by appointment, You can find out a lot more from their website (www.homefieldalpacas.co.uk)
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.