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Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 22nd November 2017
At the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Cupar on 22nd November, Club President Colin Mackenzie welcomed six visiting Rotarians from the Anstruther Rotary Club who were on a "scatter week".
The speaker for the evening, Rotarian Tim Baker from the Rotary Club of Dundee was introduced by Past President Ian Copland. Tim has responsibility for Youth Service activities offered by his club which include Rotakids, Interact and Rotaract for different age groups. All these clubs were established to enable young people to pursue the ideals of Rotary and it was Rotakids that Tim had been invited to speak on.
Rotakids has been established to provide young people aged 12 aged under with opportunities to participate in active citizenship and improve the quality of life for their school, local and global communities. He explained that his club currently sponsored two Rotakids Clubs, one at St Peter and St Paul R.C. Primary School and the other at Dundee High School. Key to the success of establishing these clubs is to have the commitment and enthusiasm of a member of teaching staff. The Curriculum for Excellence objectives are fully met within the activities offered by Rotakids, building self esteem, developing leadership skills and introducing young people to community service. Regular contact takes place between representatives of the Rotary Club and the board members of the Rotakids Clubs to listen to their plans and report back on achievements. As a feeder school to St John's High School in Dundee, the pupils from St Peter and St Paul who have taken part in Rotakids can progress and continue their activities in the Interact Club at that school.
A short video presentation by the Rotakids Club of St Peter and St Paul's gave a colourful account of the fund raising and fun activities they had undertaken, including a sponsored bridge walk and a coffee morning which raised £1333 for a housing project in India.
Past President Brian Bayne gave the club's vote of thanks.
Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 15th November 2017
On 15th November, President Colin Mackenzie thanked those members of the club who had been involved in making arrangements for the celebration dinner on Friday 10th November at which the 85th anniversary of the club's founding in 1932 was commemorated.
The speaker for the evening was Past President Donald Cameron, who was in reflective mood as he recalled his early life in Dunshalt, where he grew up. He acknowledged that there were differences of view as to how the village's name should be spelt, Dunshalt or Dunshelt and referred to the meaning of the place-name. It has always been a small community, with around 120 households, free of many modern road traffic obstacles, but nevertheless, not in any way straightforward for drivers due to the narrow main street and bridge with a hump back at one end. With only around seven street names, it is easy for delivery services to find their way around. He referred to the existence of an ancient fort or earthworks which may have led to the naming of the area. The River Eden which flows through the village is another feature of note, having at one time had its own harbour, and Donald recalled that a picture of this was held in the village hall. His early education was at Dunshalt Primary School, where the first three years of education were provided before moving on to Auchtermuchty Primary School. Dunshalt School has been closed for a number of years and is now a private residence. It was revealed that on closing, the school furniture was sent to Malawi. When growing up, he noted that the village had a garage and petrol pumps, a joiner, builder, Post Office, general store and blacksmith's where his father worked. he had vivid memories of the busy life of a country "smiddy". A large mushroom farm also provided employment, but has now been superseded by an auction house and small businesses. While Dunshalt has never had a pub or cafe, the village hall has been a constant feature in the social life of the community. Exploits for youngsters included raiding apple trees in the numerous large gardens and he recollected the last steam train pulling out of Auchtermuchty Station, later to be occupied as a base for Rippin Structures. His conclusion was that the village was unlikely to change significantly, because it was surrounded by prime agricultural land. The vote of thanks was given by Past President Ian Copland.
Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 8th November 2017
The weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Cupar on Wednesday 8th November had one of the Club's own members as speaker for the evening, Rotarian the Rev. Jim Campbell. His topic was Education in Malawi. Having originally taught at a school in Falkirk, he compared how education was cherished and valued to a greater extent in many ways in Malawi. Historically, Scotland once led the world in its approach to providing education, giving the example of Robert Burns who had benefited from a great grounding in language and literature from his headmaster, John Murdoch. This was in large part due to John Knox's vision of a school in every parish, a project taken on by Burn's father when he took the family to settle in Alloway. It was also explained that the level of education provided made gatherings in inns and pubs hives on intellectual debate at a time when new ideas were flourishing after the French Revolution.
While the availability of universal education in Scotland may be less valued today, Jim explained that when he visited schools in Malawi, pupils recognised that they were ascending a ladder of opportunity. However, class sizes with an average of 90 pupils per class in primary schools were not uncommon. There is a serious shortage of teachers in Malawi due to primary education being free, and the availability of feeding programmes such as Mary's Meals that draw large numbers of youngsters to school. Another surprising factor that emerged was that there are some pupils who are 20 years of age attending primary school, due to having missed out on education earlier in life when families were devastated by the AIDS pandemic. Secondary education is funded by a fee paying arrangement for each pupil.
Jim has started a small education project of his own in memory of his late mother and father, allowing 20 teenagers to benefit from secondary education. This has been achieved in partnership with an organisation in Northern Ireland that has also provided advice to the local police and fire service in Zomba.The purpose of the aid programme that he is in partnership with is to provide a hand up rather than a hand out, empowering local people in Zomba to be innovative, to use their imagination and creativity. When resident in Selkirk, Jim also experienced the generosity of a gathering to celebrate the Common Riding when £1000 was raised in ten minutes towards development work in Zomba. This fund allowed the purchase of manual sewing machines for use by local women.
Donald Cameron expressed gratitude on behalf of the club to Jim for his presentation.
Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 1st November 2017
The Rotary Club meeting on 1st November heard an update from Past President Dermot Stewart, chairman of the Club's Foundation Committee about further work to be carried out in Nepal to conclude the water project that has been under the watchful eye of Honorary Member Jackie Taylor and the Palpa Trust. A 10 Km extension of a water pipe that will take water from the supply source to the area will now make water accessible to a population of 33,000, rather than the 44 households initially envisaged. Once this is achieved, Jackie will be focusing her attention on schools and education with some financial input from the Rotary Club of Cupar. Dermot reported further on the next stages that required to be progressed to take the Club's activities with Kilmaron School forward.
The speaker for the evening, introduced by Past President Brian Bayne was Irene Lang of Perthshire Heathers. Irene, who was locally educated, worked in a number of roles supporting the agricultural sector before deciding to return to study horticulture at Elmwood College and the Botanic Garden, when her passion for all things concerning gardening took off. It was while searching for employment opportunities after completing her studies hat she saw an advert for a wholesale nursery business, then located in Forgandenny, for sale. Perthshire Heathers had been established for 20 years, but was outgrowing the space available to take the business to the next stage. This was exactly the type of challenge that she was looking for and when she acquired it and took the decision to transfer it to Star Farm where she lives, using an area that was a redundant stable block.
The decision was made to retain the trading name Perthshire Heathers, even though it is now based in Fife. Polytunnels from Forgandenny were transferred and units to propagate the heather plants established. Taking cuttings of the plants is one of the most critical procedures during the year and is very labour intensive. Irene illustrated her talk with a variety of images and heather plants, demonstrating the range of colours and foliage that are available. It is after the potting-on that the plants become saleable items after 6 to 10 months. The bulk of the business comes from garden centres whom she deals on a wholesale basis, although she also has some direct retail customers.
It became obvious during the presentation that there is much more to heather that purple hillsides or white heather buttonholes for weddings. Perthshire Heathers has a stock list of 120 varieties and distributes 85,000 to 90,000 plants per year. Irene stressed the importance of soil testing to establish which plant would be best suited to particular garden situations and emphasised that the plant labels are the best indicators of where to situate plants.
Some individual advice to Rotarians was offered at the conclusion of her talk before the club's vote of thanks was given by Past President Donald Cameron.
Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 25th October 2017
Colin McKenzie, Club President welcomed members to the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Cupar on Wednesday 25th October.
Canon Pat McInally, in his role as Chairman of Cupar Foodbank thanked the club for their recent donation towards the essential work that organisation was undertaking. Past President Donald Cameron reported on a meeting with North Fife Rotary Club and colleagues from other neighbouring clubs who were planning next year's Rotary Cyclofun event. It is being planned to coincide with Tayport Gala which takes place on 11th August 2018. It was agreed that the cycle skills course that had been devised and constructed by Rotarian John Morrow would be made available and potentially offered at other neighbouring galas at Balmullo and Gauldry.
Speaker for the evening was Club Member Euan Barbour who drew upon his knowledge of military activities to present an account of the international forces who used Fife as their operational base during the Second World War. He gave an account of the presence of Polish troops who were billeted in what is now the Old Parish Centre, The Masonic Lodge, Largo House and Falkland. In addition, there was a Free French Navy presence in Fife and the Norwegian Air Force who operated out of Leuchars and Woodhaven. No. 333 ( Norwegian) Squadron RAF was a Royal Air Force Squadron from 1943, located at Woodhaven where they had four Catalina Seaplanes and at RAF Leuchars where they operated Mosquito Aircraft. The Mosquitoes carried out shipping reconnaissance while the Catalinas carried out anti-submarine patrols. The Catalinas also undertook special missions landing personnel and supplies in enemy territory. One of the more daring aspects of their work was to utilise a captured German Aircraft on special missions which went undetected by the opposition but was attacked by the RAF!
Euan's presentation was liberally illustrated by images from the period, showing the aircraft undergoing maintenance while beached at Woodhaven, and also providing comparative photographs from the present day showing how little evidence remains of wartime activity. In 1944, King Haakon VII of Norway inspected the squadron at Woodhaven and a commemorative stone marks the occasion of the visit.
Past President Brian Bayne gave the thanks of the club to Euan for his knowledgeable and well researched talk.
Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 18th October 2017
President Colin MacKenzie opened the meeting of the Rotary Club of Cupar on Wednesday 18 October 2017, welcoming the 23 Rotarians in attendance.
Tickets are still available for the Club’s 85th Charter Dinner on Friday 10 November.
The speaker for the evening was Club member Alastair Andrew and his talk, The Forth Ferries, was a concise and well-researched summary of ferry services crossing the River Forth in the 900 years leading up to the opening of the road bridge in 1964. The earliest ferry services date back to the 11th century and the time of Queen Margaret, the wife of King Malcolm III, when a service was established to transport pilgrims and clergy travelling to and from Edinburgh and St Andrews. A royal connection continued through the years: Alexander I established an Augustinian monastery on Inchcolm when the ferry he was on foundered and he was marooned there during a storm; and Mary Queen of Scots regularly crossed the river by ferry travelling to and from Dumfermline, the then capital, and Edinburgh. An act of Parliament in 1474 set the ferry fares at 1p Scots per person, and 2p Scots for horses - though the ferriers cannily levied addition charges for luggage and cargo.
By 1749 four boats offered a 2 hourly service - but ran continuously on market days – and in 1810 another act of Parliament effectively nationalised the service at a cost of £10,000.
With the advent of steam power the ferries initially took advantage of this technology not by building steam powered ferries, but by hiring a steam launch to tow the existing ferries, and it was 1821 before the first steam powered ferry, the Queen Margaret, came into service. The rights to operate the service passed to the North British Railway in 1867, and although ownership passed to another company in 1919, the railways regained control of the service in 1926. Between 1934 and 1964 four paddle ferries, a design necessitated by the shallow water at the ferry terminals despite the river itself being 150 feet deep, provided a regular service: the double-ended diesel-electric Robert the Bruce and the Queen Margaret came into service in 1934 and each could carry 28 cars and 500 passengers; they were joined by the diesel powered Mary Queen of Scots in 1949, and the Sir William Wallace in 1956. Demand continued to rise and although in their last year in service the ferries carried 896,000 cars, in its first year of operation the Forth Road Bridge was crossed by more than 4 million vehicles.
The short question and answer session following the talk touched on the impracticality on a tunnel under the river, and the economic challenges of operating hovercraft services.
A vote of thanks was delivered by Club member Ron Smith.
The Rotary Club of Cupar meets at Watts, Cupar, at 6pm each Wednesday. Those wishing to know more about the Club and its activities, or wishing to join the Club, should visit the Club’s web-site: http://www.rotary-ribi.org/clubs/homepage.php?ClubID=24
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Thanks to Roger Siddle of the Carnforth Rotary Club for his revolving Rotary wheel.