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Notes on all meetings in 2022

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Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 12th January 2022

The Rotary Club meeting on 12th January was entertained by our former member Bruce McHardy now resident in Tenerife and his talk was on Tenerife itself and the issues raised by being an emigrant before and after Brexit.
Bruce started by giving us the correct pronunciation of the name of the island i.e., with the final ‘e’ being pronounced. He gave us an account of the climate with the south of the island being very dry (only 16 days of rain per year with about 100 mm of rain per year, Fife gets over 700 mm). The north of the island being wetter and more verdant, the extra water is piped to the south of the island. As he spoke it was 22 degrees. Bruce warned us that if you see a cheap travel deal to Tenerife then more than likely it will be based in the wet north.
The natural beaches used by the locals are mostly rocky, sand is imported for the popular tourist beaches. The highest point, Mount Teide, with an elevation of 3,715 m (12,188 ft) above sea level is the highest point in all of Spain, is also the third largest volcano in the world from its base in the bottom of the sea. The name Tenerife comes from the native Guanche language where tener meant snow and ife meant high mountain. The Spanish colonised Tenerife from the 15th century onwards.
Spanish is the official language but the island has its own accent and dialect with many words different from mainland Spanish. Bruce gave us several examples of phrases in Spanish that are similar to English but in Spanish there are major differences as to meaning, one example was ‘exitado’ versus ‘emocionado’.
Living in Tenerife prior to Brexit meant some documentation was required e.g., no criminal record, proof of being financially self-sufficient, medical insurance if below pension age, possessing a Spanish bank account. Post-Brexit means passport is stamped on entry with permission to stay limited to 90 days per year (this can be extended to 180 days) and is strictly enforced. Non-EU residents now must apply annually for a TIE (tarjeta de identidad de estranejeros). For pensioners the health care between the UK and Spain is reciprocated. Officialdom, with lots of form filling, takes longer than here so patience is required.
Bruce finished his talk with his verdict on the local food based on a grain called gofio, this is mixed with milk or honey or stock and is used in chocolate, ice-cream and biscuits. Bruce’s advice was to avoid gofio at all costs.

Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 19th January 2022

The Rotary Club meeting on 19th January welcomed Dr. Elsa Panciroli, whose talk was ’Beasts Before Us: Mammal Origins and Scotland's role in the story’.
Dr Elsa Panciroli is a palaeontologist who studies the evolution and ecology of extinct animals – particularly mammals from the time of dinosaurs. She is a researcher based at the University of Oxford, and associate researcher at the National Museum of Scotland. Her recently published book, Beasts Before Us: The Untold Story of Mammal Origins and Evolution is now available.
For most of us, the story of mammal evolution starts after the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs, but in the last 20 years scientists have uncovered new fossils and used new technologies that have helped drastically rewrite this story. Scotland is a pivotal place in the history of geology, and discoveries among our rocks continue to inform scientific understanding. In this talk, Scottish palaeontologist Dr Panciroli talked about the most ancient ancestors of mammals, and how Scotland's fossils have informed our knowledge of their evolution. This includes the most complete Jurassic mammal fossils in the UK, which she and her team have uncovered during fieldwork on the Isle of Skye.
Elsa showed us a photo of a fossil jaw from 370 million years ago (mya), this from a quarry near Elgin. The creature was a water-living animal but with flippers on the way to becoming legs. She then showed us a drawing of a scene from 320 mya when tetrapod (i.e., 4-limbed) animals had moved on to land. A fossilised example of the trees living from this period can be found at Fossil Grove in Glasgow.
These tetrapods then split into two groups – one leading to the amphibians, who still need to return to water to lay their eggs, the other group developing hard-shelled eggs which allowed them to break the need to lay their eggs in water.
- This second group then split again into the synapsids (mammal-like) and the diapsids (reptile-like), some good examples of fossils of the former can be seen in Elgin Museum. After mass extinctions caused first by massive volcanic eruptions in Siberia and then the Chicxulub meteor impact the small shrew-like mammals had effectively an empty stage in which to expand both in numbers and in the variety of species.

Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 2nd February 2022

The Rotary Club meeting on 2nd February welcomed two speakers: Andrew Johnson from Reforesting Scotland and Donald Jenks of Cupar Scouts. Andrew Johnson talked about the progress with ‘Huts for Well-being’ at Falkland Estate, Donald Jenks gave more information on the Scout World Jamboree.
Andrew informed us that around 17% of the population of Fife, approximately 62,000 people, are carers, both paid and non-paid, both family and non-family. The Reforesting Scotland ‘Hut for Well-being’ will be a retreat for people with serious illnesses and/or for their carers. The stresses of illness or caring duties will be relieved by spending a few days in nature.
Approximately half the funds required for the hut have been raised so far with the majority of the outstanding funds required for the fitting out of the hut. The hut will be made from larch harvested from Falkland Estate. Two people will be able to share the hut which will have a log-burning stove, a compost toilet and easy access for wheelchair users.
Donald informed us of the World Scout Jamboree that is to be held in South Korea in July of this year. 50,000 people in total will attend with 40 attending (4 adults and 36 scouts) from the East of Scotland scouts. Two of the Scouts will be from North East Fife. The cost per person to attend is £3,800. The cost will include payment for the actual camp, travel and insurance and any extra kit required.
The attendees will meet scouts from all over the world as well as experiencing Korean culture. The camp will include opening and closing ceremonies, activities, a culture day, socialising and eating together.
The attendees are those who will benefit most from the experience, who will give back most to scouting and the local community, be team players and who will think big on both global and local issues.

Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 9th February 2022

The Rotary Club meeting on 9th February welcomed Lisa Gilroy, headteacher of Castlehill Primary School who talked about the involvement of the school with the local community. The school has c. 500 pupils in 21 classes with 60 staff including both teachers and janitors.
Lisa has been headteacher at Castlehill for several years with the arrival of a school inspection arriving soon after her appointment. The HM school inspectors agreed with the school’s plans for more community involvement. At the time the school as a whole did not have much community involvement although some individual classes did so.
Prior to the pandemic links with local businesses had been created but with no external visitors allowed during the pandemic these links came to a halt. The curriculum has been developed to develop the children’s awareness of their relationship to Cupar, Scotland and the world. Trips out stopped during the pandemic and some children have not been outside Cupar in the last two years.
The school closed down in March 2020 for most pupils but stayed open for key workers’ and vulnerable children. Technology was used but this caused issues initially with some children not having this option, this was eventually remedied by the time of the second lockdown. The school delivered food, nappies etc. to struggling families during the pandemic. Virtual assemblies have continued to keep everyone including parents connected but nothing can replace the personal face-to-face meetings.

Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 2nd March 2022

The Rotary Club meeting on 2nd March welcomed Professor Ailsa Hall, former director of the Sea Mammal Research Unit at St. Andrews University. Ailsa received an OBE in the most recent New Year’s Honours list.
Ailsa’s talk was primarily on the populations of the two main species of seals, harbour (common) seal and grey seal, that inhabit the shores of Britain and Ireland. The harbour seal population crashed in 1988 and 2002 due to outbreaks of phocine distemper. What was the cause of these outbreaks? The first task was to ascertain the number of seals and where the main populations were. The British Isles host c. 5% of the world population of harbour seals and c. 40% of the world’s grey seals.
Grey seals were monitored by aerial surveys from fixed-wing aircraft in most of Scotland during their birthing season. Grey seal pups have a white coat for the first few weeks of their life and are therefore easily spotted and counted from the air. With only one pup being born to a mother the number of adult females and indirectly the number of adult males can therefore be estimated. In Shetland and the east coast of England the surveys are done from the shoreline. In recent years the increasing population of grey seals is estimated to be around 150,000 with the increase levelling out in the Hebrides but still growing in the North Sea and Orkney. Fieldwork on North Rona and the Isle of May gives an indication of the survival rate of the grey seal pups.
Harbour seal pups have already lost their initial white coat by the time they are born so a different aerial survey approach is taken with photos of their haul-out sites being photographed by an infra-red camera suspended from a helicopter. This aerial survey in Scotland of harbour seals takes five years to complete. Recently harbour seals have been increasing on the mainland west coast of Scotland but decreasing sharply on the east coast, e.g., down from c. 8,000 to c. 1,200 in Orkney and from c. 750 to c. 40 in the Tay. What is the cause of this decline – either pups are not being born or are adult animals dying? The studies have shown that the fertility rate has not declined. The result of the surveys of adult mortality have shown that several possible causes of this excess mortality can be ruled out – e.g., pollutants, marine windfarms, bycatch/deliberate killing. The likely causes to explain the population decline ae competition from gey seals and toxic algal blooms. Evidence of the toxic algal blooms has been found is harbour seal excreta and fish that they would consume. Ailsa highlighted the recent mass mortality event of seabirds along the east coast which is also suspected of being caused by toxic algal blooms.
Ailsa ended her talk with a brief summary of recent work on the Moray Firth bottlenose dolphins. Initial studies showed a decline in the population but further work showed that this population is now more spread out with dolphins now being resident along the east coast of Scotland including the Tay and with some venturing as far south as Whitby on the Yorkshire coast.

Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 16th March 2022

The Rotary Club meeting on 16th March welcomed Moira Henderson of The Ring Farm. Moira spoke to the audience of the recent developments and future plans for their holiday accommodation at The Ring for disabled people and their carers.
Their initial plan for one two-bedroomed cottage transformed into a building with up to 8 separate accommodation units, some of which can be linked together. All units have French doors allowing easy access for people with mobility issues.
The next development was 6 cabins with 2 sets of 2 cabins being optionally able to be connected via a link room. Some of the units have lockable kitchens. Experience with the first development having suffered damage showed a need for robust concrete walls. To allow more ventilation while still securing small children some doors to the outside are stable doors. Some cabins are furnished with profile beds i.e., beds fitted with hoists.
The latest addition is a large play barn. The building company has agreed to charge this at cost-price only. The barn structure has now been built with internal work to be done by May. As well as use by the holidaymakers it is planned that the play-barn will also be used for day visits by special needs schools.

Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 18th May 2022

The Rotary Club meeting on 18th May welcomed back Lee Brown, the estate operations manager at The Ecology Centre in Kinghorn. Lee talked to the club members about the charity Tools for Self-Reliance (TFSR) which the club has supported for several years.
Lee initially showed us a video produced by a partner organisation, Global Concerns Trust. The video showed us examples of people in Malawi who benefited from the reconditioned tools and sewing machines that are sent out. The first example was a mother of five who had had a leg amputated and had been unable to provide for her family. Now, having been trained to use her sewing machine, she runs a small tailoring business.
Disabled people in Malawi are given 6-12 months training in how to use their tools and how to set up and make money from a business that uses their tools. 99% of businesses are successful and the income of the graduate trainees increases by 500%. Without the training and equipment, the disabled people would be forced to continue to rely on relatives and/or beg. The training is done at centres where the disabled people can socialise, previously they can sometimes be isolated in their home communities. The trainees receive 3 follow-up visits in the year following their training and are encouraged to attend skill-sharing workshops.
Tools donated in Scotland are refurbished in TFSR workshops in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, The Ecology Centre, Dundee and Angus College and the Tools for Solidarity workshop in Northern Ireland. The refurbishment done in Scotland is carried out by disabled people, people with mental health issues, retirees and college students. Some of the sewing machines donated can be over 100 years old but are still able to give many future years of service.

Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 15th June 2022

The Rotary Club meeting on 15th June welcomed Claire Macdonald of the RNLI. Claire is 'Fundraising and Partnerships Lead for Scotland' and is recently quoted as saying, "It's clear ...............that demand for our services is continuing to rise, with our lifesavers dropping everything to run to the lifeboat station when the call comes".
Claire gave us a summary of the history of the RNLI. Founded in 1824 it has saved over 143,000 lives. It has 228 lifeboat stations in Britain and Ireland with 46 of these in Scotland. Their purpose is ‘To Save Every One’.
Volunteers comprise 95% of the people in RNLI with 5,600 operational crew, 3,500 shore crew, 180 volunteer lifeguards and c. 23,000 fundraisers plus more volunteers dealing with safety advice, museums, offices and shops. Due to the pandemic the last couple of years have seen increased use of beaches in Britain and Ireland. From 2018-2021 Scotland’s lifeboats saw 4,769 launches with 5,041 people helped and 106 livers saved. In 2021 Scottish lifeboats were launched on average 3 times a day with 23 people helped every day.
Claire showed us two moving videos of incidents with the first resulting in the death of a kayaker and the second the successful rescue of a paddleboarder. They both had mobile phones in waterproof bags but the kayaker’s mobile was not in an easily accessible part of the kayak. If you do carry a mobile at sea it should be in a usable waterproof cover and easily accessible in an emergency. Claire later sent advice as to the correct procedure to follow if you are going to be out at sea when there is a likelihood of being outside the mobile phone signal coverage.
It costs £1,400 per year to train a lifeboat crew member and £256 is the cost of a RNLI lifejacket. The average cost of running a Scottish lifeboat station is £155,000 per year.
The current RNLI station in Anstruther was built in 1865. Their boat has since saved 252 lives. There are 36 volunteer crew and 30 shop and fundraising volunteers. In 2024 they will take delivery of a new more powerful and speedier Shannon-class lifeboat which is too large for the existing lifeboat station. The cost of the new station, which will include an education centre, will be around £100,000 of which £30,000 has been raised so far.

Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 6th July 2022

The Rotary Club meeting on 6th July welcomed Pauline Galloway from Cupar and Howe of Fife Twinning Association (CHFTA). Pauline gave us a brief history of the Association - first mooted in 2004 the agreement with the Argonne region in France was officially signed in 2011. The ‘dating site’ for twinning is run by the Council of European Municipalities and Regions, this site takes details of your area and then you either search for a similar town or area or, as in this case, you are contacted by them. This arrangement is unusual as it is a twinning of two areas rather than two towns or cities.
The area of Argonne lies c. 120 miles eat of Paris in the region famous for champagne. The main town Sainte-Menehould only has one small vineyard however with beer being more popular. With Cupar and the Howe having around 30 villages, c. 18,000 inhabitants, an agricultural college and farming being an important part of the local economy, Argonne was a good fit. Argonne has about 60 villages, c. 13,000 inhabitants, an agricultural college and again farming is an important part of the local economy. The official aims of the twinning are to develop cultural, sporting, social, economic, educational and tourism links. The twinning links are facilitated by groups of citizens not by local government councils.
CHFTA has facilitated exchanges over the years including Griselda Hill from Wemyss Pottery, Cupar Museum, Cupar Choral Society, some farmers, soccer links involving Soccer7s and AMSoccer and educational links with one student playing the bagpipes during his time in France and receiving local approval. Elmwood College has also carried out catering student exchanges. Pauline herself hosted one French student who worked at The Old Course Hotel and The Scores in St. Andrews in addition to Elmwood College.
Covid-19 stopped the physical exchanges but meetings have continued via Zoom. The two areas are now looking at organising exchanges involving agricultural and/or golf students.
Pauline concluded her talk with some highlights of the Argonne area. The battle of Valmy near to Sainte-Menehould in 1792 was the first battle that involved the army of the French Republic. King Louis XVI in his effort to escape from the revolutionaries in Paris got as far as Sainte-Menehould but there he was recognised and taken back to Paris where he was beheaded four months later.
Sainte-Menehould has kayaks and pedalos available for hire on the river Aisne, a gymnasium and large swimming pool, a 13th century church, a network of running trails and both short- and long-distance footpaths and a Go Ape-style adventure park.

Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 3rd August 2022

The Rotary Club meeting on 3rd August welcomed archaeologist Dr. David Saunders. David has undertaken prehistoric archaeological excavations at Blick Mead, a Mesolithic site within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, at Cats Brain, the first Neolithic long barrow to be excavated within the last 70 years and at the Wilsford Henge where the body of a Bronze Age teenager wearing an amber necklace was discovered within the entrance ditch.
He has lectured throughout the UK and has just published a book on animal movement across Britain’s prehistoric landscape, ‘The Cursus Enigma’.
David started his talk with an expertly lit photograph of oryx, horses and red deer paintings from the most famous European prehistoric cave art site, Lascaux. Lascaux was discovered in 1940 by teenagers who were looking for a lost dog. The original cave was closed to public visitors in 1963 because of the damage from the breath of 1,200 visitors per day. The most recent replica of the caves, Lascaux IV, opened in 2016.
The earliest known cave art in Europe was made c. 40,000 years ago in El Castillo cave in Spain. Red ochre was blown from people’s mouths through bird bone tubes on to the cave walls. The first documented evidence of European cave art being re-discovered was a reference in 1575 to the caves at Rouffignac in France. The cave art at Rouffignac begins c. 2km. in from the cave entrance and has 65 representations of animals such as ibex, mammoths and woolly rhinoceroses.
The northern Spanish cave at Altamira was discovered in 1879 but the father of the 9-year-old girl who first spotted the paintings was accused of fraud and they were not considered genuine until 23 years later after further cave art was discovered in France. Two caves, Les Combarelles and Font de Gaume were discovered in 1901. The Pech Merle caves, with their famous spotted horses, were discovered by teenagers in 1922 although the horses themselves were not found until 1949 when a new passage was cleared of rubble.
The last cave discussed by David was Chauvet cave which was discovered in 1994. This is known for its charcoal drawings of stiff-maned prehistoric horses, cave lions and woolly rhinos. David added that some 12 caves in the Basque region that were previously thought not to have cave art have been re-examined with modern technology and all 12 do prove to have prehistoric art.

Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 17th August 2022

The Rotary Club meeting on 17th August welcomed Canadian agricultural journalist Kelly Daynard. Kelly lives in Guelph, Ontario which is a few miles to the west of Toronto. Kelly is executive director of Farm and Food Care Ontario (FFCO).
Kelly’s and her family have been friends of Cupar Rotarian Brian Bayne and his wife Mary since the 1960s when Mary stayed with Kelly’s grandparents and mother on a young farmers’ exchange visit. Kelly’s father was a professor of crop science and an expert on maize. Her parents are still running a 200-acre farm near Guelph.
Kelly’s own career started with being a journalist on a small-town newspaper. She became the farm reporter and then the editor of a farming magazine. She has worked for FFCO since 2004.
Farm and Food Care Ontario is a coalition of farmers, farmers organisations and associated businesses endeavouring to build public trust inf farming and the food industry.
Her role with FFCO has taken her to many countries e.g., to crocodile and avocado farms in Africa. Her most recent trip in the spring of this year was to Denmark which she followed with a visit to Cupar. The current concerns of farmers in Canada are similar to those in the UK, in particular the cost of fertilizer and the resultant increase in the cost of food to consumers.
FFCO is farmer funded and its mission is to provide credible information to consumers and to counteract bad documentaries and misinformed activists. In Canada a survey showed 93% of people know little or nothing about farming practices but 60% wanted to know more. In 1931 1 in 3 people in Canada were farmers, the figure now is 1 in 46. FFCO organises media training for farmers and tours to farms for food influencers with recent tours during the Covid-19 pandemic being able to be done either by drive-throughs or via virtual reality headsets.

Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 7th September 2022

The Rotary Club meeting on 7th September welcomed Donald Campbell-Brown, advisor on safety and engineering risk management, formerly interim Chief Executive Officer of the charity Engineers Without Borders. Donald previously worked for BP for 32 years. Donald lives in Amersham near London, but his parents live in Dairsie.
Donald’s first pair of photos were of a sequence of oil rigs in the North Sea that increased in size as you went from left to right, and of the Aga in his own kitchen, both being examples of places where disasters can occur.
Donald started work in the oil industry in 1988, in the same week as the Piper Alpha disaster. Further examples shown by Donald were the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 which led to extensive pollution and the deaths of 11 people, and the terrorist attack on the XYZ refinery in Algeria in 2013 which left 29 people dead. The oil industry has spent years working on each of these disasters to ensure that they never recur.
Donald then went back to his first photo and pointed out that the oil rigs, as well as getting larger, were also higher above the level of the sea. This was required due to an unforeseen result of extracting the oil. As the oil is extracted in this particular geology the seafloor is compacted and the oil rigs sink down get closer to sea level.
The oil industry also has to cater for environmental risks such as the building of processing plants in environmentally sensitive areas e.g., in Alaska where the wild inhabitants such as polar bears have had their previously pristine territories disturbed by the man-made structures. The oil industry has worked to minimise the disruption caused.
He showed us a matrix combining the likelihood of a bad event occurring and the severity of the consequences should such an event occur. Setting things down in such a matrix highlights the need to cater for the high likelihood and high severity events which would need to be dealt with the highest priority.
His own personal experience was with the Aga where moving a pan of hot water caused a severe burn when the hot water spilled over. In both high-risk industries and our own personal lives we can all take steps to minimise the risk of disasters happening.

Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 5th October 2022

The Rotary Club meeting on 5th October welcomed Sue Long of Stornoway Rotary Club together with her husband Kevin. Sue is area governor for Rotary North of Scotland area 1 which comprises Caithness, Sutherland, Ross and Cromarty, Orkney and the Western Isles.
Sue is a native of Glasgow but lived on Lewis as a youngster. She applied for a job in the civil service and was assigned a job in Southport in Lancashire. It was in Southport where she met and married Kevin. Sue returned to the Western Isles with Kevin a few years ago, her own parents and brother still residing on Lewis. In addition to working for the NHS in Stornoway, Sue runs a croft with Kevin. Sue and Kevin told us about the trials, tribulations and successes of the modern crofting life.
Sue and Kevin after initially living in Stornoway now live on the island of Great Bernera, an island connected by a bridge to mainland Lewis. Their stock includes pigs, sheep and Highland cows together with two Newfoundland dogs.
Kevin informed us about the quite complicated rules about taking on a croft. Initially to become a crofter you need to apply to the Crofting Commission. After 18 months their application was approved and they could start taking on tasks to improve the croft. The first animals bought were the Highland cows with Sue and Kevin having a steep learning curve as to how to treat these large animals. The next animals bought were some valley blacknose sheep, a breed that originated in the Swiss Alps, but one of these died very soon after. Recently they have lost another two lambs from a flock of Shetland sheep that they subsequently bought.
On talking to one of their neighbours Kevin asked why a wall had been built across Bernera. He was told it had been built to restrict some incoming workers to the poorer land. And on asking when the wall was built, he was told it was around the time of Culloden.
During questions Kevin advised that making a good profit solely from a croft is not likely. But the actual crofting life, despite the occasional setback, is wonderful.

Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 19th October 2022

The Rotary Club meeting on 19th October welcomed Fatema Jafari. Fatema is a women’s rights advocate and former councilwoman of Herat Provincial Council in Afghanistan, where she served on a number of committees related to women’s rights. As head of the family support committee for three years, she facilitated the creation of an umbrella group of roughly 80 women’s organizations to help coordinate their efforts.
Fatema is now studying for a master’s degree at the Rotary Peace Centre at Bradford University. The Rotary Peace Centre hosts and supports ten fully funded MA Rotary Peace Fellows from around the world each year. Recent Rotary Fellows have gone on to work for the UNHCR, Red Cross and Dave the Children. Previously she participated in three Loya Jirga Assemblies (consultative councils) for peace and security issues from 2009–2013 and more recently the Peace Loya Jirga in April 2019. She has worked on several advocacy campaigns opposing violence against women and has pressed for greater respect for women’s rights at the national level.
Her family had to leave Afghanistan when the Soviet Union invaded. After a few years being back in Afghanistan the Taleban took over and education for girls was banned. Fatema taught girls at home and became a teacher and midwife when NATO removed the Taleban from power.
Despite facing worries from her own family, she stood for election, and was elected, in 2009 (and again in 2014). In her role in local government, she monitored the local administration for good governance, reviewed the budget and received and acted upon people’s complaints. She became aware during this time of the high level of domestic abuse. She campaigned on radio and TV for improved rights for women and for her minority community group in Herat province.
Because of the security situation she left Afghanistan in 2019 and received a scholarship to study in Bradford in 2021. Her master’s dissertation is entitled ‘The role of political corruption in the failure of gender empowerment in Afghanistan’. After her master’s she is planning to go on to do a PhD.

Meeting held at Pitlessie Village Inn on Wednesday 9th November 2022

The Cupar Rotary Club meeting on 9th November at the Pitlessie Village Inn welcomed Gavin Davey, the Area Director for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund (RAFBF). Gavin is responsible for Scotland, Northern Ireland and North-East England.
  Gavin, who lives in Perthshire, is well-known across the Scottish charitable sector, having led two renowned Scottish charities, the Gannochy Trust and Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance, along with being an experienced charity consultant.
  During his 26-year RAF flying career Gavin flew Wessex, Puma and Chinook helicopters. He has deployed on operations across the world and served as Chief of Staff of the RAF Chinook Force and Joint Helicopter Force in Iraq. Gavin was appointed OBE in 2004 for his contribution to military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The RAFBF was formed in 1919 one year after the RAF itself came into being, the RAF during the last year of the first world war was losing 1,500 planes per month. The RAFBF is a registered charity.
The RAFBF supports not just serving and veteran RAF personnel but also their spouses, widows/widowers and their dependent children. The length of service and the time elapsed since any such service are irrelevant. There are five key areas of support - emotional wellbeing, friendships and connections, family and relationships, independent living and financial assistance.
The emotional wellbeing service deals with issues such as bereavement, low self-esteem and loneliness.
The friendships and connections service runs telephone friendship groups where up to 6 people speak on the phone once a week at a prearranged time. The calls are run by trained volunteers. The family and relationships service allows access to relationship counselling. It also runs activities for children who are living on RAF stations plus workshops for partners who may be affected by the moves involved in an RAF career.
Independent living assists with the adaptations required for housing and gives advice on care costs, care breaks and mobility equipment.
Financial assistance maybe available for day-to-day living costs and unexpected unaffordable one-off costs.
Changes introduced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic were a streamlined application process and the ability to self-refer. Also, the listening and counselling service was broadened by lowering the lower age limit to 13. With respect to the current cost-of-living issues Gavin advised us that requests for help with welfare, day-to-day-living costs and financial assistance have all increased.


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Thanks to Roger Siddle of the Carnforth Rotary Club for his revolving Rotary wheel.