April 2023

Club News

February AGM: Chairman, Roger Gourd, welcomed 24 members. A silence was held for Sir Bernard Ingham who died 24th February. Guest Graham Davis was welcomed.

News of Members: Several members have been in hospital and are now convalescing: Keith Brooham, John Pendleton, Graham Bass, Owen Kelly. Graham Thomson, now using a walking frame, needs a lift from Croydon (nr. Park Lane)?


Denbies wine estate 19th April: contact Terry Ribbens T: 020 8647 1401, E: tribbs42@gmail.com
Bletchley Parkearly June – by coach with guided tour – Terry seeking interest.
Probus Quiz 24th November: contact Ian Payne T: 01737 554449. E: secretary@coulsdonprobus.co.uk
Annual General Meeting 2nd March 2023 Reports from Coulsdon/Purley Chairmen, Secretaries & Treasurers – please ask for copy of the minutes. April 2023 Handbook (Constitution) agreed.
Election: see Handbook p.11 for 2023/24 Committee and Officers.

Chairman’s charity for 2023–24 South East Cancer Help Centre

Charity cheque for Macmillan Cancer Support
Roger Gourd passes chain of office to Tony Farrell

Please notify lunch changes by 10.30am the prior Tuesday for 4th May Open Meeting to chris@moniz.co.uk T: 020 8660 6063. Member News to Welfare Sec., Bill Ainsworth T: 020 8660 0399. 
Please email editor@coulsdonprobus.co.uk with articles/news for the Newsletter.


Today: Jackie Lucas:  ‘LPA Made Simple’.
4th May: Wilf Lower: ‘Last days of music hall and variety’.

Sir Bernard Ingham 1932–2023

Probus input from Owen Kelly

Sir Bernard Ingham, a Probus Club of Purley member for almost five years, was a prominent journalist and former press secretary to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He passed away at the age of 90 on 24th February after a long illness. Sir Bernard was born in Halifax, West Yorkshire. He began his career as a journalist, working for the Yorkshire Post and The Guardian and latterly wrote for the Daily Express and YP.

In 1979, Sir Bernard was appointed as the press secretary to Margaret Thatcher, a position he held for 11 years. He was known for his combative style and his fierce loyalty to the Prime Minister. He was instrumental in shaping the government’s media strategy and was credited with helping to transform Thatcher’s public image. He later authored several books, including a biography of Thatcher and a memoir of his time in Downing Street.

Sir Bernard married Nancy Hoyle, a police officer, in 1956 and they had one son John born in 1958. Nancy died in 2017. Sir Bernard was awarded a knighthood in 1990 for his services to journalism and public relations.

Sir Bernard joined Purley Probus in May 2018. He was a highly popular member. Though partly immobile, he always arrived early to choose his seat for lunch.  He was a great conversationalist, even though a bit hard of hearing.  Others sought to sit around him for the repartee.  Bernard gave a number of speeches to the club, one on Reagan, Gorbachev and Thatcher – all well received. Bernard had been ill for the last few months, but continued to share with us advance copies of his Yorkshire Post and Daily Express columns even from his care home. 

We will always be proud of Sir Bernard.

The Volunteer Spirit

Wanted and Welcome by Vincent Fosdike

Some of us volunteer in charity work or as environmental carers or hospital guides. Probably we don’t think of ourselves as recipients of benefits provided by volunteers. Generally, we are fortunate enough not to use foodbanks or helplines manned by Charity staff. 

However, there are other forms of volunteering which are a form of symbiosis less obvious. By that I mean the givers efforts are not obviously recognisable and yet provide a meaningful way to use spare time as it will not only be unpaid and often responsible work but will cost money at least in travel to and from a venue such as a local Police Station. This may puzzle you.  No doubt you are familiar with the idea of special constables (aka Voluntary Police Constables). You may have even unwittingly drawn upon their services as some “desk sergeants” in reception are actually unpaid! Of course, there is the R.N.L.I who may have helped you if you are a boat owner! All dramatic roles.

But on a less serious note, are the leisure related volunteers who are equally responsible for safety but less obviously. An example of these, are the maintenance, signalling and driving instructors on private railway systems. I have grateful memories of time spent doing my locomotive handling training on a steam engine. To drive a steam train must be at least a daydream of many of us who remain schoolboys at heart and I am probably not the only one amongst us that had a chance to do this.

The experience was only possible because of the huge number of enthusiastic and highly professional volunteers who put us through the mill of learning under pressure of time the intricacies of the work. The first few hours of the course involve

learning a surprisingly detailed and exacting set of procedures in a classroom, far too many to give examples of. However, in the class of twenty the one question we all asked at the end of the first session was “Can you go through it all again”?  

The course was certainly demanding and must have been equally so for the volunteer instructors who had to make sure that the vast number of safety procedures were implemented. Not least that there was nobody standing on the track, perhaps between the engine and the coaches. Why would anyone take on the responsibility? It is not a vital task like that of a lifeboat person is or a first responder. 

Is there something deep in humans that just loves to play so much that taking part in an enterprise that could not sustain itself on a balance sheet? Of course, it does pay for itself in the sense that some of the costs are met from the charges to the “students” although essentially it runs on free labour. It runs on social energy, our desire to live out our dreams even in the service of strangers. The progression from lighting the fires hours before the students arrive to finally becoming a driver/instructor will take about the same time as an open university degree. I am not sure whether the instructors and the students are the same type of personality but they integrate well, the givers and the receivers, perhaps their dreams run on parallel tracks rather than the same lines. For students it is about the exam, for teachers more about passing on an industrial culture. However, it works I am glad that this aspect of our society is thriving. We see similar good will in our own Probus.

Well done the membership!

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