ROTARY YEAR 2015-16
JIM MILLAR FLIES IN!
At the last meeting of the Howe of Fife Rotary Year 2015-16 at the Pitlessie Village Inn, member John Ewan introduced as speaker Jim Millar, of Glenrothes Probus Club. The topic of Jim's presentation was Fife's Airfields, about which, as a former electrical aircraft fitter, Jim was well qualified to speak.
Jim first set the subject in context by detailing all the Scottish aviators since 1912, starting with Captain Bertram Dickson (1873 - 1913) and ending with 'The Flying Scotsman', James Molisson (1905 - 1959), who was married for six years to the famous English aviatrix Amy Johnson. Aided by a map of Fife, Jim then listed the Fife airfields in use in WW1 (Leuchars, Crail, Donibristle, RAF Turnhouse) and WW2 (Balado, Dunino, Woodhaven, Errol, Strathvithie and RAF Grangemouth), adding descriptions of some of the aircraft used in the past. Finally, Jim recommended a visit to the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune.
Howe Rotarian Cathy Adamson proposed a hearty vote of thanks for Jim's very comprehensive and enthusiastic presentation.
Photo (Monique Sanders): on the left, Rotarian David Jack asks a question of Jim Millar (on the right).
Our Club Assembly took place a week early this year, and Andre Hawryliw has now assumed the presidency from Roger Guy. They are shown here in relaxed mode posing on the wall of the car park at the Village Inn, Pitlessie.
District Assistant Governor Malcom Horner was in attendance and expressed satisfaction at the programme outlined for the coming year.
Outgoing President Roger Guy awarded the Club Quaich (donated by Cathy Adamson) to Sandy Davis, for service above and beyond the call of duty. It is thanks to Sandy that the club's governance and paperwork is beyond reproach.
For Past President of Cupar Rotary Club, Derek Thomson, it was a case of 'service above self' as he stepped into the breach at last week's meeting of the Rotary Club of the Howe of Fife.
Filling the presentation slot, Derek gave a light-hearted talk on his sporting heroes, which he divided into three parts: taking part, spectating and a list of personal favourites.
Among the latter, were Australian tennis player, Rod Laver; racing driver Jim Clark from Kilmany, Fife; and football player and manager, Jock Stein.
HABITATION AND AGRICULTURE.
Duncan Pickard gave yet another thought-provoking presentation. His topic? The impact of urban housing on farming and rural communities in Scotland.
Duncan originally presented this paper at the European Habitat Conference of Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in Prague in March of this year.
Duncan started by stating that 50% - and rising - of the world's population lives in cities, with all the problems that brings.
In the 1960s building rectangular concrete blocks was considered the fastest, cheapest option of providing affordable housing - until a psychiatrist posed the crucial question: what about the people who live there? Cities need to be people-friendly, with a means of eliminating cars and increasing provision for walking. Copenhagen, Duncan asserted, was one of the better examples of a people-friendly capital.
The need for more housing in rural areas has the effect of artificially raising farming land prices, according to Duncan, who quoted as much as £10,000 per acre. Someone with enough money can buy a farm to gain possession of the house on it; the rest of the land is then sold off to neighbouring farmers. Small farms then become less viable, not because of their size, but because of the inflated value of the land.
As farms become bigger, they tend to be worked by contractors, rather than a permanent workforce of farm labourers. Farmworkers' houses are no longer lived in by families, with a knock-on effect that local schools and amenities become underused.
Did Duncan have a solution to speculators exploiting farmland? One method he suggested was for the government to discourage land-banking by imposing a penalty on underutilised land.
A lively debate followed, only ended when Paul Northway called on members to thank Duncan for presenting such a fascinating topic.
3 May 2016
Our speaker on this occasion was our own Ian Cowie. Ian spoke in some detail about aspects of his long career in Fife police. A particular highlight of this was his involvement as Commander in the incident in Kirkcaldy of an attempted political assasination. As a result of the actions of an alert postman, Ian's team, with assistance in London, were able to have the culprit apprehended at Heathrow and returned for trial in Scotland.
26 April 2016
Following contact with the Rotary Club of Morialta, South Australia, we managed a quick group image and greeting during a sunny pause between rain showers. James Storrar shared this image, and a few others, with the Rotary Club of Morialta in a fraternal exchange.
This evening we were fortunate to have - at very short notice - Margaret Watson as our speaker. She gave us an update on Mary's Meals and the fundraising that she and her husband Walter Watson have achieved through the running of their Birchwood Tearoom and Gallery, just outside St. Andrews.
5 April 2016
At short notice, President Roger delivered a comprehensive and interesting account of his life from his birth in Cornwall through the span of his naval career. Eager to leave school as early as possible, Roger told how effort and dedicated study made up for lack of academic schooling, enabling him to rise through the ranks and eventually becoming a senior officer in the submarine service. A Cold War "Russian Watcher" patrolling into the Barents Sea and elsewhere, he declared he enjoyed every minute of his naval career.
29 March 2016
Our speaker on this occasion was our own Amanda Fleet who gave us a detailed update on Chimwemwe and the progress to date. Using some of her images, Amanda outlined the development of the project from the initial chance conversation on an aeroplane journey some years ago through to the progress on the building now under way. Not yet complete, and allowing for the vagaries of the situation, it is hoped to roof the building by the end of this year!
20 March 2016
The Cantamus Singers, with whom the Club has links, presented a musical evening on Sunday 20 March at Letham Village Hall. The event was arranged and managed by Ian Cowie assisted by Joyce Cowie who provided the refreshments. The audience enjoyed a variety of music from show numbers, Country & Western, to a walk down memory lane. Proceeds of the evening will help swell the Club Charities' fund.
15 March 2016
Treasurer Charles Dickinson gave a talk about a very strange aspect of Liverpool's history. Early in the 19th Century, Liverpool expanded inland despite the uneven-ness of the land away from the river, which featured chasms in the sandstone escarpment and quarry workings. In 1805 Joseph Williamson, a successful tobacco merchant, purchased an area of undeveloped land at Edge Hill and set about improving it for housing. He did this in a most unusual way by roofing over chasms and other undulations to create a vast network of subteranean tunnels, covered over with stone and earth. This took thirty years. Extending Mason Street, he built large houses with extensive gardens over the network of tunnels. Over time the tunnels became rubbish dumps even down to 50 feet below ground! In early 20th Century, renewed interest led to the tunnels being explored, with work continuing today to reclaim this most unusual feature of Liverpool's history.
8 March 2016
We had an interesting account by John Kerr, seen here with Sandy Green, of his time as as a volunteer on a voyage round the Norwegian coast in a fourmasted traditional sailing ship, specially adapted for use by disabled people. The voyage he described involved a mix of able-bodied and disabled crew, supported by a core of professional sailors. With images captured on the voyage, John explained how the voyage progressed round the coastline, his practical involvement with his fellow crew members, and the various tasks undertaken, as well as the adaptations to enable the disabled members to participate as fully as possible in the demanding and challenging tasks involved in such voyages.
23 February 2016
Our guest speaker was Donald Mackenzie seen with James Storrer. Donald works in Human Resources for international company Michelin at their Dundee operation. He gave a detailed and interesting outline of tyre manufacturing technology, the management philosophy of the plant and its competitive links to 69 similar plants worldwide. Interestingly, at Dundee there is a plant-wide operational partnership in which management and union – Unison – work together to maintain their worldwide competitiveness. The Dundee plant is a 24/7 operation that brings some £45 million into the local economy plus continuing job and training opportunities including for young people into employement.
16 February 2016
Roddy Greig drew upon his professional skills as a genealogist to provide us with a fascinating insight into aspects of an earlier member of his family history. Until he began his researches, Roddy had never heard of Teresa Billington-Greig who turned out to have been a very active campaigner for the Suffragettes including here in North East Fife. After enjoying an active involvement in politics for some years, including working with Keir Hardy, she eventually left the political scene and lived out of the spotlight.
9 February 2016
John Bonington provided an interesting and wide ranging talk about drawing and the various ways in which it has been used from ancient times through to the 20th century. John provided a huge range of images including some amusing cartoon drawings to underline the themes of his talk.
26 January 2016
David Wilson of Balmullo,World Champion Farrier was our guest speaker and he providing insights into his fifty year plus career as a blacksmith and farrier. Born into a family history of blacksmithing and farrier work he demonstrated his early enthusiam for the craft by nailing horse shoes to the floor of his fathers smithy! The Wilson dynasty of smiths and farriers began in Kilmany in 1813 at a time when horses and smithing were essential in the unmechanised world of agriculture and everyday commerce in Scotland. The working horses then were different too, being of the traditional garrion type – small hardy beasts- bred and used in Scotland for centuries before the introduction of the now famed Clydesdale. While still an apprentice, David began entering smithing competitions, winning a stream of trophies, culminating in his achievement of World Champion Farrier at the Calgary Stampede, Canada in 1985. Through his work David has travelled the world as competitor, tutor and judge of this traditional craft, a craft he is still helping to keep alive. Recent speaker local author Andrew Arbuckle has collaborated with David in capturing highlights and scenes from his life in a recent book “Sparks from the Smiddy”.
12 January 2016
Our guest speaker this week was Joe Middlemiss. Joe spoke movingly about the Ethiopia Medical Project “Buccama Clinic” with which she is involved. The project is a small scale charity project that has a massive impact on those it helps. Large numbers of women in rural Ethiopia suffer from long-term post-natal complications from womb prolapses. As well as being a serious health issue, it has huge social consequences for the individuals affected. Joe explained how she and her partner Maureen Burnett came across the project on visits to Ethiopia and how they now help raise funds and supplies to assist it's continuing work of repairing the health and lives of these women. As Joe succinctly put it “We need pounds and pants!” Money and undergarments to help the patients treatment, recovery and return to normal family and economic life. The “Ethiopia Medical Project” urgently needs donations and more information about how to support it can be found at their online site at https://emponline.wordpress.com/about
5 January 2016
This week our speaker was Murdo Fraser, President of Howe of Fife Rugby Club and Trustee of the Duffus Park Project. He spoke about the work being done to create a fit-for-purpose, twenty-first century community sporting and recreational facility to meet the identified needs of current park users as well as the wider community. The stand itself is nearing completion, and the overall project will include changing facilities for 8 teams concurrently, including facilities for women and girls, which are at present not provided. A café is also to be built which will cater not only for customers on match days, but also for the general public throughout the week. The complex includes a gymnasium and function room capable of supporting a wide range of community activities.
22 December 2015
Club members partook of a delicious christmastide meal at the Village Inn on 22 December. Click on the 'Christmas Party' tab if you wish to see how much we enjoyed ourselves.
8 December 2015
We were privileged to hear about Dreamflight, and it's successes in taking children with a serious illness or disability -without their parents - on the holiday of a lifetime to Orlando, Florida. Volunteer Katrina Marshall – a palliative community care nurse at The Sick Childrens Hopsital, Edinburgh, and nursing colleague David Smith – gave a presentation about the work of the charity. Like all the volunteers, including BA staff, give up part of their own holidays and spare time to help. Each child has one-to-one support plus doctors on hand throughout. On arrival in Florida the group are given a special welcome with a police outrider escort, further help from American volunteers like firefighters, police, nurses, etc. A packed week of Disneyworld, SeaWorld, NASA and other activity aims to help the youngsters forget their illness, be themselves, grow in confidence and make new lasting friendships. All this costs over £3.500 per child so a lot of money is needed and Katrina, David and the other volunteers in the East Scotland area spend a lot of time on fundraising.
3 November 2015
On this evening we welcomed guest speaker Jane Leggat, Assistant Director (Cultural Heritage) of New Zealand Tourist Research Institute. Jane began by acknowledging her debt to Rotary having been a Foundation Scholar in the early 1970's through the Rotary Club of Ingatestone, Essex, visiting America. In the nineties she and her husband moved to New Zealand where she helped develop the tourist industry. At that time NZ tourism focussed on its amazing variety of scenery, - mountains, deserts, fiords and beaches. More recently NZ has been the backdrop to The Lord of the Rings films. That Environmental Heritage has been extended into Cultural and Historical dimensions recognising Maori heritage and its built environment.
18 August 2015
Sandy Rennie is a well-known member of the Strathmiglo community having been in business there for many years. Sandy shared with us his experience of the developments and changes in retailing and the grocery business during his long working career. In the 1950's the town had a range of retail outlets covering food, clothing, baking, hardware, butcher, and many others. Sandy outlined the major changes he had seen as he developed the family grocery busines into several outlets and ultimately absorbtion into the larger David Sands empire. From restricted hours but wide choice of retailers, Strathmiglo - like so many other small towns - has moved to almost unrestricted hours but fewer retailers. The fiercely competitive world of food retailing has changed beyond all recognition from the "wait and be served" your "messages" style of the immediate post war era to todays large self-service supermarkets and online shopping.
9 August 2015
Charles Rennie Mackintosh is one of Scotland's best known architect designers but the period of his later life spent in the English coastal village of Walberswick is unknown to most people. Interest in this period of Mackintosh's life and his surroundings in Walberswick is a shared interest between Monique Sanders and Cathy Adamson. Monique gave us an interesting account of the place and his life there, a period after he had become disillusioned with architecture and his treatment by his fellow practitioners. Drawing on their explorations on the ground of Walberswick and its environs, Monique and Cathy illuminated aspects of Mackintosh's life and work as a water colourist there, before his move to France.
11 August 2015
Once again a wonderful afternoon was enjoyed by club members at Pitlair for Charles and Chris Dickinsons "Play & Plonk" annual event. Divided into Reds and Greens, it all came down to the last moves in a game of Connect 4 between Monique and Amanda, with the latter winning at the last counter. James and Jeanette Storrar won the title 'Champion welly whanger' for the lassies and the lads. Unsurprisingly perhaps: as farming folk, it's an item of footwear with which they will be very familiar! Thank Chris and Charles for their wonderful hospitality.
4 August 2015
Our guest speaker this week was Stewart McNeish of the Aberfeldy Club. Stewart gave as an outline of how he has managed to develop and establish the Highland Perthshire Marathon - now and accepted annual feature of the Scottish athletics calendar. After two years' hard work and careful planning, the event eventually came together. It is now about to take place for the fourth time. Thanks to Stewart's organisational skills and drive - one man, one driver!- the Highland Perthshire Marathon not only raises copious funds for its four chosen charities, but also gives a huge boost to the local economy, by attracting folk into the area 'fae all the airts'.
28 July 2015
Alfred Hitchcock was one of the most famous British-born film directors of the 20th century and Cathy Adamson has been a lifelong enthusiast for his films, ever since seeing her first Hitchcock film as a young girl in the Turiff Picture House. Cathy shared her knowledge about his films, describing the development of the modern suspense thriller as a cinematic genre. Cathy illustrated her talk with images and details from the range of Hitchcock's films. When she saw “Psycho” for the first time, she said what startled her most was not the murder scene, but the sight of an American shower, until then an unknown item of plumbing in the majority of Scotland! She explained how Hitchcock developed his films from original ideas and sources, such as the Thirty Nine Steps by John Buchan, adapting plots and locations to create more drama and suspense.
21 July 2015
This week, our own Dr. Andre Hawryliw gave an interesting talk on memory, computer memory, specifically the now ubiquitous portable memory devices commonly called 'sticks' or 'keys'. During his career, Andre has been involved in the fundamental research into development of the silicon chips that are the basis of such devices. Andre explained exactly how such devices work both at the atomic and sub-atomic levels, involving the manufacture of incredibly tiny devices, measured in fractions of the thickness of a human hair. Andre managed to explain - in layman's terms - the aspects of quantum physics involved!
14 July 2015
Our own Roddy Greig gave us an interesting talk on his researches into the Victorian era Scottish painter Charles Lees, R.S.A. From Cupar, Lees trained in Edinburgh, London and Rome, including study under Sir Henry Raeburn. Lees best known work, "The Golfers" presents an array of figures and Roddy - utilising his skills as a genealogist - traced descendants of a number of those portrayed for a montage recreation whilst at Strathclyde University. "The Golfers" was acquired for the national collections for the sum of £2 million. Roddy's interest in Lees may lead to publication of a monograph on the painter. Roddy is also working on preserving other works by Lees.
5 July 2015
Club members gathered for our annual BBQ at Gorno Grove courtesy of Dianne Mathew. Blessed by pleasant weather for the afternoon, good food and wonderful fellowship the event was greatly enjoyed by all.
7 July 2015
Our guest speaker this week was Ms. Fiona Finlay of Cupar Foodbank. The Club has already donated funds towards the Food Bank and Fiona gave an outline of the work they have done since being established in 2014. Affiliated to the Trussel Trust, and linked to Churches Action on Poverty, over 1000 people have been assisted to date. Reasons for people needing help vary on their circumstances. Assistance is usually in the form of a three day food parcel. Fiona indicated that they expect demand for their help to continue in the future and she thanked the Club for their assistance.