November 2021

Club News

October meeting: Chairman, Andrew Jurenko, welcomed 16 members and guests Terry Davis (to assist speaker Roger Gourd) and Simon Brew (to trial ‘cashless’ collections). The Chairman announced the sad news that we had lost three past chairmen: Martin Bergs (died 7th September), Reg Baker (died 1st October) and Tony Simpson (died 6th October). A short silence was observed.

Almoner, Andrew Kellard reported absences: David Holmes’ wife is under the weather; Alan Bird hurt his back on the kitchen table; Ian Cullen is in hospital; Gerry Thompson has a hospital appointment; Ray Stemp is in a retirement home in Caterham.

Please notify lunch changes by 10.30am the prior Tuesday to
Please notify Member News to Almoner, Andrew Kellard
Please note: December will be an open meeting – partners and guests invited.
Please email with articles/news for the Newsletter
Speaker today: Revd Hilary Fife: ‘My Mayflower Family Connections’
December (Open Meeting): Malcolm Newman: ‘Christmas Theme’

Anthony Simpson 1929 – 2021
by Vincent Fosdike

One of the attractions of Probus is the richness of life experience that our members bring to our lunch tables. My old friend and colleague Tony Simpson was a first-class example of such a member and like many others built a life and career from a challenging start.

He was born in Belfast but his early life was spent in the village of Stithians in Cornwall in a cottage without running water or even electricity! Many happy days were spent sailing out of Falmouth on his grandfather’s yacht, which perhaps presaged his latter life as a Naval Architect for which he trained with Cammel Laird following his National service in the Royal Engineers (including bomb disposal), where he gained a commission and served in Hong Kong. Despite being awarded a place at university he regretfully could not attend as they had “let it go” to a serviceman and so Tony went straight to work with Cammell Laird where after five years training from an apprenticeship in the yard to a desk in the drawing office he finally achieved his professional qualification the hard way! This led to work in India, Germany and of course the U.K. Though not all with Cammell Laird.

Work was not all water born. Based at Filton Aerodrome in Bristol Tony use his analytical skills to investigate the structural failures of the Comet 4 mid-air breakups which enhanced aero engineering’s awareness of metal fatigue. In doing so he designed a pressure testing tank not previously thought of. He had his own moment of excitement whilst participating in a test flight of the Britannia Airliner he noticed the cabin wall bulkhead rippling under extreme stress in a diving turn and somewhat forcefully advised the pilot to PULL OUT GENTLY!!!  

In a way that was what he himself did when changing career to teach mathematics at Carshalton College where he first met the writer, long before Probus re-united us years later.

On the domestic side Tony was married to Sabina from 1954 until her death in 2012 which left him deeply saddened. However, they had three children, Helen, Grace and Ian who will miss him greatly.

On the sporting side he was a keen oarsman, bowler, tennis and chess player, and Cumberland wrestler in his youth. His cultural interests included debating, poetry, reading, music and participating in the East Coulsdon Residents’ Association. He was a great woodworker and made the trophy and lectern for the Coulsdon Debating Society.

Last but not least he was a prominent member of Coulsdon Probus and great contributor of articles to our newsletter. He joined in the mid-nineties and served as Chairman in 1998.

We too will miss him.

Dash to Marrakesh: Roger Gourd. October Speaker (Assisted by Terry Davis)

A 1952 Austin 7 was Roger’s choice for an unusual trip to Marrakesh in 1998. This was no light-hearted jaunt, but a very strictly timed and regulated Rally for classic cars of all types and ages. Fortunately, a very high-quality film of the event has been kept by Roger and formed the basis of his talk in our October meeting.

The Rally started at Versailles and contained a large number of classic British cars which brought back fond memories for many of us. There were Four and a half litre Bentleys, Sunbeam Talbots, Aston Martins, Austin Healy 3000s and a large number of M.G.s. Of course, there were some European makes including the Swedish 3-cylinder two stroke Saab which was famous in rallies such as the Monte Carlo where it would battle fiercely with our Mini Coopers. There were some German models including at least one Mercedes and a Porsche nicknamed the “clockwork mouse”.

The event was spiced up by the use of timed sections with penalties not only for late arrivals but early ones as well! There were the clearly marked controls with eagle eyed timekeepers which navigators would have very much in mind together with some devious and hidden observation posts to check for breaches of the rules such as “alternative routes”, and the odd burst of speed being used as a banker which could be traded off if needed by slowing down later. The route was through France to Spain by way of the Dordogne and Languedoc areas with some wonderful stops for lunch in elegant Chateaux. This really must have leavened the hard work of driving an open car under pressure through winding and hilly roads with the stopwatch ever in mind. At the ferry to North Africa there was time for one driver to proudly display his collection of speeding tickets, no doubt presented to him with old world Spanish courtesy by the local traffic police. I guess the time saved by excess speed was lost when the formal ceremony of awarding tickets was conducted at the roadside.

Despite the cars being greatly valued by their owners they were by no means cosseted. Running out of road was not uncommon and of course in hilly or mountainous areas the consequences could be fatal. Fortunately, no such incidents occurred on this trip although one sequence shows a car being hauled back up onto the road by two other competitor cars and a group of volunteers on foot. If the attempt had failed and the car gone further down the hillside it could have been a very severe as the driver was still in it judiciously operating the footbrake. 

Roger bears the scars of his hobby. Particularly a “metal shoulder” and a memory of being trapped upside down in a car leaking petrol around him and still being in the middle of the road. This accident was with his close friend and later navigator Terry Davis who assisted with the presentation. Roger’s Marrakesh rally was navigated by another friend, Bryan Purves, in a clearly challenging event in which they finished in 6th out of thirty-five competitors. Very creditable as they suffered a back-axel problem.

Thank you Roger, for your very evocative presentation.

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