May 2017

Club News

Our Chairman, Gerry Thompson, welcomed all to April’s meeting including our guest, Richard Majewski, who later joined our club. Gerry then handed over to our Almoner, Hugh Roberts, who welcomed back Tony Simpson who is feeling much better and reported that Phil Munson is still in Hospital and that Arthur Trunchion is not well. Please remember to keep Hugh informed of member news – either yourself, partner or another member. Email:, phone: 01737 202243.

There were 41 members present and the charity collection raised £41.01. Reg Baker reported that there are now 48 members but only 43 are active. Lunches: Andrew Kellard needs to know positively each month whether there are any changes to to the previously ticked lists. Please phone on 01737 554055. The Sports Club have increased their charges. The meeting decided to increase our monthly meal cost by £2 to £20, £1 of which to be put towards our 50th Anniversary Year 2018 celebrations. /The April raffle raised £39./

Dennis Evans talked about the history of Coulsdon Probus and held aloft a ‘red book’ which he had used in 2011 to do an ‘Eamon Andrews’ about our first Chairman, Herbert (Bill) Bailey, and mentioning other personalities of the time. See back page for a synopsis. Dennis also mentioned our 600th meeting next year – see Editorial page 3.

Outings and Events

Chatham Dockyard: Wed 17th May, £37, 09:30 Onslow Gdns, Sanderstead. Midsomer Murder Country: Tuesday 20th June. Chiltern Hills – Tour/Meal/Thames Cruise through the Goring Gap – a few places left. Ladies Lunch: 19th October – please diarise. An entertainer has been booked. Contact: Please phone Jim on 01737 555974 or email Quiz: Our annual quiz will be in November – a special fund-raising event inviting other Probuses is being considered – watch this space.

Old Coulsdon Fair: As reported last month, we are having a sabbatical this year.


Today: Gwyneth Fookes B.E.M.: Notable Ladies June 1st: Jim Mulvey: Postcards from Coulsdon July 6th: John Halligan: The Lord Mayor of London August 3rd: Glenda Law: Wildlife of the Seychelles

Andrew Banfield:

Andrew’s career had been in local government ending up as Director responsible for all local environmental services – Refuse Collection and Waste Disposal, Street Cleansing and maintenance, Ground Maintenance, Cemeteries and Crematoria, Highways and street lighting – all the services which produce the largest number of complaints to the council. He had worked for many different councils and had received an OBE for his services. Apart from running a department, supporting councillors and attending many late meetings, Andrew attended English Local Government Association meetings, advised the Department of the Environment, appeared before House of Commons Select Committees and even travelled to Brussels.

One night in early 1997 after a particularly difficult Council Meeting at Southwark, tired of never being at home, Andrew decided it was time to leave local government. He found himself a non–Executive Director job in the NHS – he was 56.

A few days later, an acquaintance, John, phoned. He had been President of the Chartered Institute of Waste Management. I hear you might be available for work he said. He was offered a job working for ‘Suez’ in a business development role for the public sector. In the early 90s the French and other utility companies were attracted to the UK by the possibilities unleashed by CCT or the Compulsory Competitive Tendering of Public Services. The massive French conglomerate Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux dates back to 19th century, and Suez does refer to its involvement with the Suez Canal. They undertake a mixture of services in Waste sector, Environmental Activities, etc. Suez already had contracts with Surrey Waste Disposal and a scattering of contracts of all types in different parts of England.

After a dinner, John, who worked for Suez, took Andrew to see the MD, Pierre, in Esher. After talking for some time they agreed a package and a role despite Pierre having no notes on Andrew and no application form. Andrew was wanted for his expertise and contacts – but when the company remarked on this he initially joked that it was not due to his contacts but because of his birthmark by which he was instantly recognised.

Operating from their Bracknell office, Andrew, with his new Mercedes, was to work on a bid to gain the DSO contract in Lambeth. This was the former Direct Service Organisation run by the Council. Our team delved into all the nooks and crannies. It was bad. We found 35 new ride-on lawnmowers in a shed behind Streatham Ice Rink. We had staff with low morale and loss of any humph. Despite a rigorous tendering process, the French decided it was too expensive and Andrew was told to withdraw. He was very angry and having been with company for about two years he almost resigned – but then a new English MD, Ian, took over from Pierre.

Four years with the French

Andrew and Ian decided to concentrate on the big shire county waste disposal contracts and to use MRFs (Material Recycling Facilities), backed up by EFW plants or Energy from Waste, with the residual waste going to landfill. Off the team went to Paris, their plan was approved and they set up in Maidstone to bid for the Kent contract. Firstly they practiced on the Herts and Beds contract near the River Lea. Andrew’s new idea was to transport the waste by water pulled by a small single-man tug. They invented a special boat – it was a big plastic container, called a ‘lemonade bottle’ by his team. Everyone was impressed except the French and in the end it didn’t go ahead. Back to the Kent contract – another site near water and elaborate plans bringing barges from the Danube to work on the Medway.

But Andrew was approaching his 60th birthday and entitled to his Local government Pension. Andrew and his wife thought enough is enough. He’d had wonderful time, his only regret being that he didn’t finish the Kent contract. After four years with Suez, in 2002 Andrew retired, took his severance and his LG pension, and took up his part time job with the NHS which he had always kept as a reserve. He had enjoyed it, was surprised that he was given such a free rein but convinced that some of his ideas were right. Despite his efforts Suez continues to trade – Andrew’s water transport idea was abandoned.

Editorial – Ian Payne

50th Anniversary Year 2018

Michael Southwell has now joined the Committee to oversee our expenditure. We have fixed the main celebratory dinner for Friday 11th May 2018 (evening) to include entertainment and to which dignitaries will be invited. This will replace the Ladies Lunch in 2018 and the Open Meeting will move from May to August 2nd, our 600th meeting. Work continues on costings and other events. We have received a generous donation towards our 50th from one of our members and together with the Amenity Fund will perhaps be looking at a special outing, possibly with a subsidy to attract more members.

Our speaker, Gwyneth Fookes

Gwyneth, who has spoken to us on several occasions, was awarded the British Empire Medal in the 2017 New Year Honours List. This is in recognition of her services to local history and the environment in north- east Surrey. Gwyneth joined the Bourne Society (local history) in 1970 and has made an unrivalled contribution to awareness and knowledge of local history, contributing to many Bourne Society and other publications. She has worked for many other local societies including the Surrey Wildlife Trust and the Surrey Botanical Society. She has campaigned on environmental issues and staged a considerable number of exhibitions in the East Surrey Museum, Caterham.

Herbert Benjamin Bailey – First Chairman

As a prelude to our 50th Anniversary Year in 2018, here is an extract from Dennis Evans’ 2011 memorial to our first Chairman, Herbert Benjamin Bailey (1968/69), who was the father-in-law of our esteemed member Ian Cullen.

Born in 1900 in Battersea London, one of a family of eleven children, he attended ‘Sir Walter St John’s Endowed Grammar School for Boys’ in Battersea High Street (as did Dennis in the 1950s). He served in the army in World War I, and must have just made the minimum age.

In his civilian career he eventually became a senior local government officer in the education field for the then London County Council. In that capacity he had a responsibility for the evacuation of children, from the likely targets of attacks by the Luftwaffe, to the relative safety of country/sea side. He gave talks to Probus in 1974/75 on his role in this, and also on Comprehensive Schools. In WWII, he served as a commissioned officer in the Royal Navy, based mainly in Malta.

After the war, as many senior government officers did, he joined many social and philanthropic organizations. He was a very active Freemason in Surrey. In fact he co-wrote a book entitled ‘A History of Freemasonry in the Province of Surrey’. He was of course a Rotarian, and that led him to be our very first Chairman, called by friends ‘Bill’ – after the song ‘Won’t you come home Bill Bailey’, sung in music halls in 1902.

The then called ‘Coulsdon ProBus Society’ was founded on 4th April 1968 at the Red Lion Hotel, in Coulsdon. 57 members were present and subscription set at 10/- per annum. Bill was a friend of Harold Blanchard, who founded the very first ProBus Club in Caterham in 1966, and Harold attended our first meeting. Bill gave a talk on his service as an officer in the Royal Navy on 6th June 1968. From 1971 the club met at the ‘Midday Sun’ Chipstead Valley and from 1973 ‘Coulsdon Court’. Membership was then 82.

One of those who sponsored our club in 1968 was Colonel McLelland who gave a talk on ‘The origins and traditions and duties of the Deputy Lieutenancy of the London Borough of Croydon’. One of the first outings of the club was a ‘Mystery Coach Outing’ on 16th April 1969 which cost l0/6d each – it went to Puttenden Manor. Members were fined 6d if they did not wear their name badges on attendance. Lunch cost 9/6d.

It is interesting to cast one’s mind back to the years of Bill’s Chairmanship of 1968/1969 and the founding of Coulsdon Probus. In those years, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated, Enoch Powell made his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech and Richard Nixon became President of the U.S.A.

Herbert (Bill) Bailey passed away in 1976.

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