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Season 2019-2020

Meeting Reports



On Thursday 13th February our talk was by Patti Gold entitled “My Life in Show Business” and we were particularly pleased to welcome sixteen lady visitors. In a very lively and entertaining talk Patti told us that her first professional appearance was in a Leeds Grand Pantomime when she earning just over £9. She also made frequent appearances at Batley Variety Club with such well-known stars as Frankie Vaughan, Lulu and Gracie Fields who even invited her to her island home in Capri. In July 1980 she married her husband Stuart and in his role as musical director he often accompanied Patti in her appearances. They later appeared with such stars as Freddie Starr, Victor Borge, Les Dawson and Frank Carson. Together they have travelled throughout the world - to Sydney, New York and other such far flung places as Spitzbergen and the Falkland Islands. Patti then concluded by saying that she has been blessed with a wonderful life meeting many interesting people and travelling to numerous fascinating places.


On Thursday 20th February we welcomed Keith Tordoff, owner of the sweet shop in Pateley Bridge, the oldest sweet shop in the world dating from the 16th century. This small shop contains a range of traditional sweets held in glass jars on wooden shelves, including such favourites as pear drops, barley sugar, and liquorice sticks. We heard that sweets originated from medicinal backgrounds and were used originally to treat various ailments and that apothecaries were often situated close to confectioners. Referring to the history of confectionery we learnt that liquorice was introduced to Pontefract in the 14th century although now it it is mainly sourced from Turkey. This fascinated talk ended with a generous offer from Keith to sample some of his products and this offer was gratefully taken up by most of our members.


On Thursday 27th February our speaker was Harry Fairburn on the subject of “Evacuation in World War II” He commenced his talk by speaking of preparations by families for the war which included the building of “Anderson Shelters’”as rudimentary air raid precautions constructed with corrugated iron roofs. He then spoke of the ‘phoney war’ being that period after declaration of war but before commencement of hostilities. We then heard of the distribution of evacuees throughout the country and the procedures for choosing evacuation centres. Some towns and cities such as Harrogate and Coventry were initially regarded as neutral although in the case of Coventry that decision was rapidly reversed after commencement of bombing. Photographs were distributed at the meeting and Harry spoke of the gas masks issued to each child. On reaching distribution centres such as Harrogate children were met by the local welfare officer and allocated different host families.


On Thursday, 5th March our speaker was Geoff Blackman with a talk entitled “Living in Shetland“.

He commenced by giving an introduction to Shetland with the aid of a map which indicated that it is made up of 100 islands that lie110 miles north of mainland Scotland and west of Norway. It is dependent on ferries and air links for transport being considerably disrupted by recent developments regarding the Flybe airline. The islands’ economy has benefit greatly from North Sea oil and there are excellent medical facilities. Shetland is popular with tourists especially ornithologists and has a number of folk festivals. Geoff then showed us views of Shetland’s scenery and typical winter scenes with massive waves crashing on the rugged coastline. Geoff then told us of a particularly rough voyage from Lerwick to Aberdeen that he had experienced. This was a thoroughly enjoyable talk as evidenced by the number of questions from members. It was aided by excellent photographs.


On Thursday 12th, March our speaker was Andy Fox, North Yorkshire Police who, despite projection difficulties, succeeded in providing us with a succinct and detailed talk on the subject of ‘Computer Scams’. As a Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer he receives reports of 130 scams each week and his role also requires him to visit fraud victims. Andy described the various types of fraud included, firstly those related to Amazon or Microsoft, sometimes leading to locking of computers or even unlawful access to bank accounts. He then referred to common frauds relating to telephone calls that claimed to be from HMRC which suggested that action should be taken on unpaid tax bills. Another type of scam referred by Andy was a phone call that claimed, untruthfully, to be from the Police. As he explained, such calls tend to taken at face value and he emphasized the need to check such calls, perhaps by phoning back on a different phone. Lastly he turned to the question of internet security and ransom-ware scams stressing the need to back up data. This was an extremely valuable and practical talk