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Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 3rd February 2021
The Cupar Rotary Club meeting on 3rd February took as its theme, "Listening to Cupar". Guests Bill Pagan, Cupar Development Trust, Euan McLeod, Sunshine Kitchen and Matthew Struthers, and the speakers for the evening were welcomed by Club President Bill McSeveney. He explained that the motivation of what was to be the first in a series of such meetings was to allow local organisations to share their thoughts with the Rotary Club and each other as to how they were serving their own membership and the wider community. It was also an opportunity to explain the challenges they had been facing during the Covid-19 pandemic and their aspirations for the future. Donald Jenks District Commissioner North East Fife Scouts was the opening speaker. He explained that the the Scouting movement was seeking to impart skills for life so that young people were prepared to be the best they can be as they progress through to adulthood. Character skills, leadership and practical skills and being aware of the country codes were all important in the work with young people. Overcoming barriers such as leader recruitment, finding supporters and dealing with loss of income were particular challenges. Member retention was an issue as in person meetings were not possible at present. Some activities have moved online. Sharing of premises in the near future might not be possible and this was an issue to be worked through. Donald mentioned some well known names who were ambassadors for scouting, having been scouts in their younger lives, such as Tim Peake and Bear Grylls.
Fife Folk Museum were represented by Sheila Kelly and Margaret Cruickshank, Joint Chairpersons. The importance of volunteers was emphasised, as with out them the museum could not function. Commitment was vital to ensure that the museum was open at advertised times. The pandemic has inhibited activity but the museum did open for a short period during the autumn of 2020. Storage was a major issue, with the existing space within the museum under pressure. An offsite arrangement had particular challenges and decisions need to made as to what can be retained. Donations, while welcome, sometimes have to be deferred due to lack of storage space. External communications and publicity were seen as the lifeblood of small museums such as Fife Folk Museums and they were fortunate in having some volunteers who were well versed in dealing with such matters.
Cupar YMCA/YWCA was represented by their General Secretary Norma Graham. Their response to the challenge of Covid-19 required them to move activities online, to keep a link to the community during the first period of lock down. Online family learning roadshows were among the activities and telephone contact with more isolated members. Alongside social work a play scheme was established for vulnerable families during the summer. Links with the Food bank were vital during the closure period . Reconnecting with groups such as the Playgroup and After School Club required a great deal of planning and new procedures to keep everyone safe. During October school holidays, lunch boxes were provided for some families by cooperating with Fife Council. The Winter Coats appeal saw 200 coats donated and this will continue. A devolvement plan to deliver services is part of the conversation looking forward, with Youth Work online. In person contact and fundraising are suspended for the time being, but no income being derived because the premises cannot be let for meetings. The discussion and debate following the presentations highlighted that there were common issues that each organisation was facing up to as well as problems that were specific to each of them. It was agreed that collaboration and partnership working were vital in the future planning by the many local organisations. It was pointed out that one "benefit" from the present situation is that it is easier to get people together for a meeting on Zoom than when organisations all have their own agendas and meeting arrangements.
Bill McSeveney concluded the meeting with thanks to the participants for sharing their experiences and looked forward to the next "Listening to Cupar" meeting that was planned.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 17th February 2021
Members of Cupar Rotary Club attended a regular Zoom meeting on Wednesday 17th February, with two guests joining the company. Club President Bill McSeveney introduced the speaker for the evening, Andrew Johnson, former trustee at St Andrews Preservation Trust Museum and now a volunteer and Trustee at Fife Folk Museum. He had been invited to give a presentation about masons' marks, a subject in which he has more than a passing interest.
Visitors cannot fail to be impressed when they visit our medieval towns, and they may be fascinated when they come across strange marks on the stonework. The masons who were responsible for these marks undertook a long apprenticeship but it equipped them for a trade that allowed them to travel and seek work around the country. These marks are cut into the visible surfaces of dressed stones built into ancient structures. These very personal identification marks appear in many old buildings and show which mason cut which stones, either on-site or elsewhere. While there may be speculation as to their purpose, they would have been a means of identifying the mason responsible and showing work for which payment was due. The marks commonly found in Scotland are formed by straight lines and angles, sometimes forming a combination of initials. The marks have the potential to identify the work of individual masons and this has been possible in some cases by comparing surviving written records. Their tools were also given the individual mason's mark.
Andrew gave some examples of the rates of pay for the work of stonemason for work undertaken at St Andrews in the early 16th century. In some cases, those of lower skills may have been paid in measures of wheat, barley, oats, peas, beans or meal. His research into the stone used and its origins showed that the main freestone quarries that building materials were sourced from were Knockhill, Nydie, Edenside and Kincaple. It was also clear from the discovery of masons' marks scattered around St Andrews that there had been significant "borrowing" of stone form the ruins of St Andrews Cathedral following its demise. He referred to the Masons Marks project web site that was building an important record for posterity.
Andrew highlighted examples of historic properties in Fife such as Falkland palace, Dunfermline Abbey, St Drostan's Markinch, and Balmerino Abbey where the marks may be seen. The best places to discover the marks are in locations that will not have suffered the ravages of weather. At the conclusion, he answered a series of questions form his audience.
The next club meeting by Zoom will have as its principal speaker Henry Chamberlain, a humanitarian security adviser who has been involved in peacekeeping in areas of conflict such as Georgia, Darfur, Somalia and Pakistan.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 3rd March 2021
Bill McSeveney the Club President welcomed an attendance of 30 to the Rotary Club's Zoom meeting on 3rd March. They included 7 visitors, including one Rotarian from Australia who had risen at 5.00 a.m. to join the meeting. The invited speaker, Henry Chamberlain, invited by Past President Roy Marsden joined the meeting from his home in Wells on the Sea in Norfolk. Henry who had seen service in the Royal Marines, currently operates a coastal exploration company that offers sailing trips through the waterways of the North Norfolk Coast.
After leaving the forces, his skills in survival led him to work for international and non-governmental organisations in challenging environments. His humanitarian activities between 2002 and 2020 were about building relationships between conflicted citizens and ensuring safe delivery of services by the World Food Programme. The areas that he found himself operating in included the Nuba Mountains, Chechnya, Darfur, South Sudan Mogadishu and Afghanistan. He provided the audience with first hand accounts of his work in building trust so that he could help, influence and shape the security environment so that humanitarian aid could be delivered. The images that he shared were from some of the most picturesque corners of the world, whether it was the mountains in Chechnya, or desert landscapes of Sudan. He found out very quickly how it was important to adapt to local environments. In Darfur, rather than announce arrival of his presence by helicopter, he found greater acceptance when field trips were made by camel. His time in Chechnya had been at a particularly critical and dangerous time, as he was part of the first United Nations Mission there, with orders and permission for action having to be sought directly from U.N headquarters in New York.
Satellite phone became an essential part of equipment, particularly when negotiating with the Sudanese Liberation Army. Henry recalled one incident in South Sudan when the movement of food by barge on the Sobat River for refugees was disrupted by rebel action and the World Food Programme had to resort to air delivery. Negotiations with the White Army who were the main cause of the problem were persuaded to allow operations to resume. Mogadishu became another hot spot in 2011 when food distribution became extremely difficult, with famine and chaos due to the activities of Al Shabab. It was very unsafe due to rival militias and he was glad to be posted to Kabul and latterly Rome, the headquarters of the World Food Programme.
Henry had developed a professional process that he had promoted as a model that should be adopted in the field. It required acceptance by the local population, mapping of who was who on the ground, establishing key contacts, making regular visits and above all recognising that success is personality driven. He was very proud to be associated with the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the World Food programme in 2020, for its efforts to combat hunger and prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict. Henry 's talk generated a variety of questions and comment and he was thanked for his outstanding presentation.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 17th March 2021
The happy coincidence of dates on 17th March meant that Cupar Rotary's meeting by Zoom took on a special flavour as St Patrick's day was celebrated. Club President Bill McSeveney welcomed members and guests to an Irish themed evening, opening with a whisky tasting of one Irish whiskey and one Scotch whisky, led by Past President Vince Fusaro. Members wore green and a number sported their Irish rugby supporters hats. The evening was interspersed with a selection of modern Irish music recordings. Dermot Stewart conducted an Irish Quiz, testing the participants knowledge of Ireland.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 24th March 2021
The Rotary Club meeting by Zoom on Wednesday 24th March saw the second of the Club's planned series of "Listening to Cupar" sessions. In addition to a number of guests, Club President Bill McSeveney welcomed three locally based organisations who were given the opportunity to share their experiences in dealing with the challenges posed during the pandemic and their role as community based organisations.
Helen Glass of Include Me,(SCIO), providers of Citizen Advocacy across North East Fife explained that her role was to recruit and train volunteers who provide support to vulnerable adults. A vulnerable adult is defined as someone who is aged 16 to 65 who is affected by criteria such as learning or physical disability, mental health or chronic health issues, early onset dementia or other well defined characteristics. The volunteers help with decision making in matters such as personal care and medical treatment, giving a lot of time in their unpaid roles, often giving support with no limit of time. Covid-19 has been a significant challenge, but thanks to external funding some 90% of those being supported now have access to digital technology. The organisation continues to work remotely for the time being but continues to accept referrals and recruit volunteers. She was in awe of the resourceful and resilient attitude of the volunteers, despite the impact that the pandemic was having on all our lives.
John Stevenson, Captain of Cupar Golf Club gave an upbeat account of how the oldest 9-hole golf club in the world, founded 1855, had been adapting to the changing situation. The opportunity to enjoy a sport in a socially distanced way had been an opportunity to welcome people back to the game. The Club had also adopted a new management approach, introducing a franchise arrangement for the catering provided by the clubhouse. The introduction of a booking system on the club website had resulted in an increase in visitors when it had been possible to travel. The ambition was to increase the number of lady and junior members to the unique challenges of the course with the positive outlook that had been adopted.
The Sunshine Kitchen represented by Euan McLeod is a catering and kitchen project for young adults with additional support needs. The Sunshine Kitchen started when a meaningful activity was being sought for young people in the community, with an emphasis on family involvement. Locally-sourced food with good links to local farms and a focus on sustainability are key drivers for the group. Collaborative activities with other charities have been helpful, for example winning a contract to supply soup for a kitchen in Ceres. Outside catering was a regular feature pre-Covid, but current limitations mean that access to a professional kitchen is not possible. The Sunshine Kitchen's biggest achievement providing for an outside group was at the last East Fife Sports Council Awards, when 200 people were catered for. Some virtual cooking sessions have occurred and future plans include obtaining access to a professional kitchen, to equip that kitchen, and finding land for a polytunnel to grow food. The supportive working environment allows the young people to plan, prepare, market and sell their produce, including jam, spiced chutney, chocolate brownies and baked goods, often to be found at the local farmers' markets.
Rotary members learned more about some of the practical issues relating to the three organisations during an informative question and answer session.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 14th April 2021
Rotary Club President Bill McSeveney welcomed 24 members and guests to the third in the series of "Listening to Cupar" meetings by Zoom. These meetings provide an opportunity for local groups and organisations to share their aims.
The first speaker was James Johnston, Treasurer of Cupar Highland Games. He emphasised that the games were a family friendly event and the organisation was entirely in the hands of a committee of seven volunteers. On a good year when weather is kind, the games are the largest cultural and sporting event in the town, drawing thousands of spectators to Duffus Park. These include many overseas visitors, making the event something of a showcase for the town. The games are affiliated to the Scottish Highland Games Association. The Games Chieftain is chosen by the organising committee, selecting someone who has worked hard for the community or with an outstanding achievement in the area of sport. These individuals make a point of returning to the games each year to become the face of the games and welcoming visitors and having photographs taken with overseas groups.
The budget requires £10,000 to run the games, depending upon the input of sponsors, vendors to be present and pay for their stances and admission receipts. There is a strong physical element and setting up the venue is labour intensive, so there is now a dependence on help from the rugby club and local youth groups. Over the years, in addition to the traditional programme, innovations have been made to attract a new generation by involving schools and putting junior events on the programme.
Mario Panetta was invited to speak on behalf of The Lighthouse, a Christian Bookshop and Cafe located in the heart of the town on the Bonnygate. The need for a meeting place was identified in the 1980s, evolving from the bookstalls operated by the Baptist Church and others. A Trust was formed in 1987, the building was acquired and a manager appointed. Along with volunteers, Jane Crockett who recently retired built up a a venue where people could congregate, enjoy good food and find friendship if they were lonely. The arrival of the pandemic made trading conditions difficult, but the period of closure allowed time for the Trust to reflect and make plans for the future. A grant from the Adapt and Thrive Programme is allowing plans to expand the cafe area to take place. Domestic skills training will be introduced and volunteers will be continue to be involved. As a welcoming venue, the cafe will offer a listening ear and counselling when necessary. The bookshop will mainly operate online. It is expected that there will be greater involvement by local clergy.
The final speaker was Margaret Robertson from Cupar Arts. The first Arts Festival in Cupar took place in 2008, aiming to bring arts events to the town, operating at various venues in the town centre. The aim is to bring arts events that engage, inspire and challenge, bringing prominent names from the art world who exhibit alongside local talent. Through successive years, Cupar has become established as a stimulating place for arts events. The belief is that the arts are essential for a vibrant community life and bringing people together. The ambition is to establish a permanent arts space in the town in collaboration with other community groups. The organising committee numbers seven people and the most recent Arts Festival located all indoors events at Cupar Corn Exchange. Margaret was enthusiastic as to how this had demonstrated the viability of a town centre arts hub. The Arts Trail tat was set up in 2019 allowed local artists to showcase their work in local shops and at an outdoor event in the Haugh Park. She anticipated that future events staged by Cupar Arts will utilise the Corn Exchange.
The next "Listening to Cupar" meeting will take place on the 5th May, featuring Cupar Youth Cafe and Graeme Bain, of Lodge Coupar o' Fife no 19.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 21st April 2021
The Rotary meeting by Zoom on Wednesday 21st April had a good attendance of 27 including guests. The speaker was Dr Helen Taylor who is Conservation Programme Manager for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, the wildlife charity that owns Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park. The RZSS is involved in 23 conservation projects around the world. She has responsibility for managing the conservation breeding programme for pine hoverflies and was involved in managing the reintroduced population of beavers in Knapdale Forest.
The Scottish Beavers Project between 2009 and 2014 brought eleven beavers from Norway following permission for use of the land that they were to be located in. This population was reinforced by releasing 21 beavers between 2017 and 2019. Monitoring the beaver population has revealed that there is a steady growing population now spreading into the waterways of the Knapdale area. This is having positive effects on the biodiversity of the area. She also commented on the unauthorised release of beavers in the Tayside area from about 2006. This population is growing from an estimated 150 in 2012 to 430 in 2014, creating conflict where they have made inroads in prime agricultural land. The Tayside beavers are a different genetic stock, originating from Bavaria.
Helen explained how the monitoring of the Knapdale beavers was carried out, following signs of timber use and dam building, with camera traps picking up visual evidence. Helen shared a number of videos from the camera traps that showed young beavers around their natural habitat. The current project that Helen is engaged with is the restoration of the Pine Hoverfly. This critically endangered species is restricted to one small area of the Cairngorms. Insects have a prime role in pollination, breakdown of waste and as part of the food chain for a variety of wildlife. The researchers, with the help of staff at Highland Wildlife Park have created a base where they have been raising this species through its three life stages in jam jars filled with pine sawdust mulch that mimics the environment they rely upon in the wild. The work of the partners in the programme is creating more habitat where they can breed and flourish. The audience's enthusiasm showed in the variety of questions posed at the close of the presentation. Those attending showed their appreciation for a first class presentation by an enthusiastic scientist on top of her subject and a wonderful communicator.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 5th May 2021
Club President Bill McSeveney welcomed 33 attendees at the Zoom meeting held on Wednesday 5th May, providing members and guest with the opportunity to hear from local organisations in the fourth of the series "Listening to Cupar".
The presentations were made by Cupar Curling Club, Lodge 19, the Masonic Lodge and Cupar Youth Cafe. Chris Webb and Peter Manson spoke with some pride at belonging to a club that had been in existence since 1775, making it one of the twelve oldest clubs in the world. They are already looking forward to celebrating their 250th anniversary in 2025. Chris Webb, current President of the Curling Club introduced Peter Manson, the Curling Club's Senior Skip and Club Archivist who took the audience through the basics of taking part in curling and the venues where they play, Kinross and Perth. Cupar Club are in the Cupar Province and during the curling season this league is played between all 12 clubs in the Province. Chris outlined the challenges facing the Club, particularly having played practically no matches since March 2020. The Ice Rinks are secure due to financial assistance, but longer term viability needs to be secured. The age profile of many clubs is not helping, and the challenge was put out to non-curlers to give curling a try. New members are vital to the long term future of the sport. He hoped that when the 250th Anniversary came along, it would be a vital and active club looking forward with optimism.
Graeme Bain, Right Worshipful Master, Lodge Coupar o' Fife No.19 also made the point that the Masonic lodge had a significant pedigree, being officially recognised as being founded in 1758, although it was thought that they had been in existence since 1658. Freemasonry had long roots in Cupar, making it one of the longest established in Scotland. The building that is the masonic lodge is over 200 years old, and responsibility for its upkeep rests with the lodge. It was extended in the 1980s to provide a modern area for functions and is open to other local organisations for use. Internally the property has been made more welcoming and it is also home to another Lodge, St Regulus and the Order of the Eastern Star. Graeme explained the philosophy of Masonry, the induction of new members and the charitable work carried out in the community by the members. They try to maintain associations with other lodges nationally and internationally. Freemasonry was the largest donor to Prostate Scotland and now they are raising funds for Motor Neurone Disease.
Gemma Frail of Cupar Youth Cafe spoke about her role and the work undertaken by the Cafe. Located in the cottage at the rear of the Corn Exchange, the Cafe comes under the umbrella of the Cupar YMCA/YWCA organisation. The Youth Cafe is a venue focused on delivering an extensive programme for young people between the ages of 11 and 25. The catchment area served is Cupar Town area and Bell Baxter High School catchment. The Cafe had taken part in a global event in London with representatives from the young people who attend. The programme normally provides 800 hours of youth work, an employability programme, personal development, school holiday sessions and activities. In addition there are young leader programmes, with a new wellbeing ambassador programme, upskilling youth leaders so that they can provide support when required. In the building their are opportunities for music and coding. Cooking and eating together gives a sense of community among the young people. There is an LGBQT+ group, helping youngsters with with identity issues. The period of Lockdown had created particular challenges for youth work, keeping up the connections had to move online. Sessions were conducted digitally on a system that some of the young people moderated and supported. 20 -25 hours a week of service was provided. Free lunches for youngsters who were recipients of free school meals during school holidays was one aspect of the service offered recently. Members took the opportunity to question the speakers and encouraged conversations and ideas that had emerged to be taken further.
The most important part of the club's business conducted after the speakers was to welcome a new member into the club, Matthew Struthers, a local accountant.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 19th May 2021
The Rotary Club continues its meetings online with a range of enthusiastic speakers who educate and inform with a variety of topics.
On 19th May, Club President Bill McSeveney introduced Fiona Watson, published historian and television presenter who spoke about the "Rocky Road to the Declaration of Arbroath". She examined the respective strengths and weaknesses of King Robert the Bruce and King Edward 1 and later King Edward 11 over the period between 1314 and 1321. The timeline of events laid out by Fiona commenced with the victory of the Scots over the English at Bannockburn. As her speciality is medieval Scotland, Dr Watson was well placed to discuss how and why the Declaration came about, assessing the role it played in the struggle for independence waged under the leadership of Bruce.
She attributed the importance of luck to Bruce, a key attribute of a successful leader. He also built a close knit group of supporters around him, including his brother Edward. While he was seen as a usurper, he had the upper hand in military terms. Bruce had opened a second front in Ireland by 1315, but had military failures with the siege of Carlisle. The election of a new Pope, John XXII in 1316 led to lengthy peace talks, but in 1317 Bruce's right to be named as King was being challenged, with the loss of information and vital letters between Scotland and Avignon. Dr Watson emphasised that the Declaration of Arbroath was sent in the name of the Scottish Barons, not the King himself, but that at the same time Bruce may have used it in order to ensure or gauge the degree of support for his kingship among the Scottish nobility. The Declaration was asking the pope to recognise Scotland's independence and acknowledge the Bruce as the country's lawful king.
The document can also be seen as redefining the relationship between the king and the political community. While the 700th anniversary commemorations were curtailed, the document and its contents continue to fascinate due to its language and sentiments.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 2nd June 2021
The Rotary Club of Cupar was fortunate to have secured a speaker from the David Nott Foundation for its speaker at the Zoom meeting which took place on Wednesday, 2nd June. Club President Bill McSeveney introduced Jonathan Barden, MBE, Operations Director for the Foundation which trains doctors through delivering specialist training that surgeons need to save lives in areas of conflict and catastrophe. Prior to joining the David Nott Foundation, Jonathan had experience of 29 years of humanitarian aid work in areas of conflict and natural disaster such as Afghanistan, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Haiti, working with the DFID UK Emergency Team.
Dealing with medical trauma in the area that have succumbed to conflict or natural disaster requires special people, with the capacity to cope in austere environments and with the back up of training to deal with trauma injuries. The Foundation provides training in the UK led by David Nott, and had also, pre-pandemic, delivered training in Yemen, Mosul, Chile, Syria, Libya and Kenya, amongst the 37 countries that they have delivered. The Foundation also provides grants for training to surgeons and midwives.
A fascinating training aid that gave students a realistic approach to dealing with surgery is "Heston", a life-sized replica human crafted from silicone, with skin, bones and organs that feel and look authentic. This level of accuracy provides surgeons with a realistic experience of what they might expect to deal with in conflict situations. In common with many other organisations, the David Nott Foundation has adapted to the pandemic and travel restrictions by continuing its mission to provide training by live-streaming and communicating with students remotely. Jonathan recounted some of his experiences in dealing with the logistics of moving personnel and equipment around the world for humanitarian purposes, requiring ingenuity and determination.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 9th June 2021
The Rotary Club meeting on 9th June was a further opportunity for local organisations to share their experiences with Rotary Club Members in the "Listening to Cupar" series.
Club President Bill McSeveney welcomed representatives from Bell Baxter High School, Castle Furniture Project and the Howe of Fife Rugby Club. Karen Brown, Chair of the Bell Baxter Parent Council along with Brian Harris, Depute Rector explained that the current school role is 1,470 pupils drawing upon 14 feeder primary schools in the surrounding area. The experience of the ongoing pandemic had led to a review of the use of the large outdoor space in the school grounds which could be adapted and developed to give pupils a safe environment and opportunities for outdoor teaching. The school vision emphasises curiosity, togetherness and excellence. Partnership working is key to recovery and the school wants to be a positive influence in the community. The Global Goals Group which is active within the school has been working with the Parent Council and would also like to involve the local community. It was emphasised that the utilisation of space was important for well being and mental health, socialising and teaching. The ambition was to create an outdoor mural with the help of Cupar Youth Cafe, improve the recycling measures and expand the planting areas. The planting areas would be used as a sensory garden, growing wildflowers, fruit trees and vegetables. It would also be necessary to expand the seating provision outdoors and create better shelter for some activities.
Sylvia Ingram representing the Castle Furniture Project explained how her organisation had adapted and diversified during the pandemic. Prior to March 2020, their main activities had involved collecting donated furniture and domestic appliances for use by clients who could not access mainstream sources of these items. Their befriending service and work with those dealing with mental health issues required to be refocused. One surprising aspect of lockdown was that a whole new group of volunteers emerged, so they had people who could deliver food, groceries and prescriptions as a service to the community. Elderly people were supported through phone contact, as there was a great deal of loneliness. A major lesson learned during the pandemic was that new partnerships allowed the Project to consider why they were doing what they did and shone a light on the plight of vulnerable elderly people. She believed that Castle Furniture is now a stronger organisation, ready to apply the lessons learned.
Gordon Douglas from Howe of Fife Rugby Club explained how the club had faced many challenges during the pandemic. These included member retention, loss of income and lack of opportunity for players to train. Members were kept in touch through email, social media and online events. Keeping players engaged was difficult, as rugby, being a close contact sport, is one of the last to return. The club had to cut non-essential spending, make numerous grant applications and rely on the Scottish Rugby Union for some support. Happily, training has now resumed, youth rugby has started and touch rugby for seniors. There is hope for a normal season from September and there is a plan to renew contacts with schools. The use of hospitality space has yet to be resolved and government guidelines make this a problem. The Rotary members attending suggested actions which were helpful in that members from the various groups might cooperate on some aspects of their activities and solve problems for each other.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 7th July 2021
The Rotary Club meeting on 7th July was a further opportunity for local organisations to share their experiences with Rotary Club Members in the "Listening to Cupar" series. Club President Bill McSeveney welcomed representatives from Cupar Swimming Club, Auchermuchty Common and Cupar Gala. Gina Logan, the coaching coordinator, spoke about the Swimming Club which has been in existence for 40 years and has around 140 members. Gina was left to do the talk because the president was away wild swimming in the Hebrides and the secretary was swimming in the outdoor pool at Pittenweem. The club has 10 groups for various ages, both competitive and social and the older swimmers get around 8 hours per week in the pool. There is also a MaD group on Friday evenings for Mums and Dads. During the pandemic, all children’s groups have been met by a Covid officer who ensures the children spend the least amount of time possible in the changing rooms. Competitive swimmers take part in various galas including the Scottish Schools’ Championships. The club is a member of the Duffus Park Sports Hub. Cupar Foodbank is supported by the club with the most recent donation being 200 toothbrushes. Clare Reaney spoke to us about Auchtermuchty Common. The common was given as grazing land to the people of Auchtermuchty in 1517 by King James V. It is currently managed by The Macduff Trust. The common comprises 12 hectares of land that has never been ploughed and has, at the last count, 135 species of wild plants. It is an excellent place to spot butterflies. The various paddocks are grazed by a team of 2 ponies and 7 sheep which are placed in the right place at the right time to keep down invasive shrubs such as gorse and broom. Some of the deeds of houses in Auchtermuchty still mention that the householder has the right to fly hawks, cut turf and graze their animals on the common. The common is to be found to the north of Auchtermuchty on the Newburgh road. Our own Isla Lumsden spoke about Cupar Gala. Isla remembers as a child the Children’s Gala being more business-oriented with the floats being mostly from local firms. After problems in the last few year the Children’s Gala has morphed first to the Summer Fayre and now to simply Cupar Gala. The nominations for Gala King and Queen are adjudicated by an outside judge. The main fundraiser is the annual Duck Race along the river Eden that normally takes place in May, with the Gala itself being on a Saturday in early June. The main bodies that organise the current Gala are Kilmaron School (where Isla is head teacher), Castlehill Primary School and Cupar Rotary. Lots of organisation is needed to ensure the day goes smoothly with stalls for local societies and food vendors to be allocated places on the field etc. Entertainment in the past has been provided by the local baton twirling team plus a professional circus act. The organising team would welcome more helpers.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 14th July 2021
The Rotary Club meeting on 14th July welcomed Dr. Alex Ball of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), this organisation being the owner of Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park. Alex’s talk was on the RZSS WildGenes project, an attempt to bridge the gap between the recent remarkable advances in genetics and wildlife conservation in the field.
Alex has a background in molecular ecology and bird conservation. His previous work has focused on fertility in birds and the use of genetic tools to tackle questions concerning relatedness. Alex’s work base is in a laboratory at Edinburgh Zoo, this is where the detailed genetics work is carried out, the team in total comprising 11 members of staff. This lab is the only such zoo-based facility in the UK. They work with DNA, a strand of which would fit 1,000 times into a human hair. Dimensions of the work include helping to identify illegal wildlife trade (e.g., identifying what species is to be found in powders used in Chinese traditional medicine), ecology (e.g., identifying what rare species have been eating), management of captive breeding programs, monitoring of wildlife in the field and assisting translocations and reintroductions.
Alex went into more detail on work involving four species: the Asian elephant in Cambodia, tigers in Nepal, the northern rockhopper penguin of the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean, and the Scottish wildcat.
The ivory trade in Cambodia was previously illegal for Asian elephant ivory but legal for African elephant ivory, the DNA analysis could show which elephant species any impounded ivory came from. The trade has recently been made illegal for both species. One surprise of the work was that some of the ivory was found to be from extinct woolly mammoth tusks, this must be being traded from mammoths dug up in the frozen ground of Siberia. In this project Cambodian scientists are also being trained in the DNA work.
The work in Nepal is looking at reducing tiger-human conflicts. Nepal has been so successful in increasing tiger numbers their tigers are now expanding their range outside the national parks and increasingly attacking livestock. Again working with local researchers, the team examine tiger scats to ascertain what is being eaten by the tigers.
The northern rockhopper penguin has two populations, one around the Tristan Da Cunha archipelago and the second 7,00 km. away around Amsterdam and St. Paul islands in the Indian Ocean. The research is trying to find out if and how the two populations interact.
Alex finished his talk with an update on the efforts to increase the population of pure Scottish wildcats. RZSS has found that captive wildcats in British collections, having been descended from cats caught in the wild in the 1950s and 1960s are purer than the current population in the wild which has more evidence of hybridisation with domestic cats. Using these captive wildcat populations and some translocations of wildcats from Europe RZSS plan to start releasing wildcats into suitable areas in Scotland in the next few years.
In the last normal year, 2019, the WildGenes lab worked on 17 bird, 17 mammal, 1 reptile, 10 amphibian and 5 invertebrate species.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 21st July 2021
The Rotary Club meeting on 21st July welcomed Ian Smith, a former member of Cupar Round Table. Ian moved to Livingston and helped to reform Livingston Round Table. Ian’s sister-on-law had developed Multiple Sclerosis and she had researched treatments, one of which was AHSCT (autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation), this treatment was available in two centres of excellence, Mexico or Moscow but was very expensive - around £40,000. The efficacy of this treatment is 95%.
Ian, having left his employment with Vodafone around this time, researched Soapbox Races as a means of raising funds, in particular consulting Great Dunmow (Essex) Round Table about their experience of running such a race. Great Dunmow on running their second Soapbox Race attracted a crowd of 26,000 people. The carts taking part in a Soapbox Race do not have an engine and rely on gravity alone.
Starting in April 2019 with a target date of August 2019 Ian set about organising a Livingston Soapbox Race. A suitable site was found in Livingston, Howden Park, a sloping road runs through the park with fences on either side. A comprehensive checklist of items to be dealt with was supplied from with West Lothian Council e.g., safety, emergency procedures, crowd control/stewarding, list of contacts etc. A website was created, and adverts were placed on Radio Forth. An entry form running to 18 pages for teams of four was prepared, one of the team of four had to act as a marshal on the day. Local businesses were approached to be sponsors of the event. Advertising hoards had to be designed and printed. Portaloos had to be sourced, as was a P.A. System. With the slope of the road not being too great Ian had to design a 6m. high metal-framed starting ramp and get someone to build it. The actual track had to be designed and built, the track included a jump, a water jump, a slow slalom and a quick slalom.
On the day Ian and his team (there were 80 volunteers) had to organise the area with a marshalling area for the teams plus a children’s play area and space for an ice-cream van and a burger van. Tickets had to be printed and emergency services involved. The event drew a crowd of 5,500, attracted 36 teams and raised £27,500 with the profit being £16,500.
Ian’s sister-in-law duly went to Moscow for her MS treatment and Ian’s last photo was of her celebrating her 50th birthday. After Ian completed his talk, the Cupar Rotary members had a short discussion as to whether Cupar could hold a similar event and if so, where could we hold such an event.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 4th August 2021
The Rotary Club meeting on 4th August welcomed ex-RAF Flight Lieutenant Roy Macintyre with 'Tales from his Logbook'.
Originally from Stirling, Roy served in the RAF for 36 years, and has been described as one of their greatest ever fighter pilots, clocking up 4565 hours in the Tornado alone over 23 years, with many hours spent in other planes besides. He served in both Gulf Wars, and in the Falklands.
The first entry Roy highlighted was his first solo flight back in a Jet Provost back in 1984. His only fault came at the end of the flight when, with adrenaline flowing, he forgot to switch the landing lights off. From there he went to serve in Phantoms at Leuchars with his task to shadow any Soviet, latterly Russian, planes that approached UK air space. Roy showed us photos of Soviet/Russian Tupolev bombers and maritime reconnaissance planes. Sometimes the Russian crew would give a friendly gesture to the RAF pilots, sometimes not – the latter probably when there was a political officer on board.
During the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 Roy was tasked to defend Saudi airspace as it was not known initially if Saddam Hussein would carry on through Kuwait to invade Saudi Arabia. Following the actual war Roy was part of the RAF team that enforced the no-fly zone over the southern part of Iraq.
On to 2003 and the 2nd Gulf War. Roy flew his plane to bomb specific targets in Baghdad, the flights were at night and the pilots used infra-red goggles. Initially the flights were an attempt to force the Iraqi to launch their planes, but the Iraq air force did not respond either burying their planes under sand or moving them to Iran. Roy was surprised after seeing the destruction that they caused in Baghdad overnight to be followed the day after by TV reporters reporting from the streets of Baghdad – with modern precision bombing only the specific targets were hit.
Roy went fill circle in 2009 becoming an instructor and felt more nervous when his first pupil went solo than when he had done this himself for the first time in 1984.
Roy finished his talk with romance and the tale of how he met his wife, a fellow RAF officer, and how he proposed to her in a jet when based in Cyprus. Their wedding on Valentine’s Day in February 1989 was featured in Trevor McDonald’s ‘and finally…’ slot on ITV’s News at Ten.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 11th August 2021
The Rotary Club meeting on 11th August welcomed teacher, naturalist and author Jack Nisbet from Spokane in Washington State to give a talk on the 19th century Scottish botanist David Douglas.
Jack started off with a picture of an engraving of Scone Palace, David Douglas being born in sight of the palace around 1800. Douglas, the son of a stonemason, did not enjoy school and became a garden apprentice at Scone Palace at the age of 12, moving on to Glasgow Botanic Gardens in his early 20s. W.J. Hooker was the Garden Director and took Douglas out with him to collect plants from the Scottish hills. Hooker had connections with The Horticultural Society (later to become the Royal Horticultural Society) in London and, with the Royal Navy looking for new overseas supplies of timber for their ships, Douglas was sent off to NE of the USA in 1823. He collected plants, particularly fruit trees from an area from New York across to Detroit, growing them on in a plot in New York city and then sending them back to London.
His next trip in 1824 was to what is now the NW of the USA, at the time the border between the US and Canada was undefined with the only white inhabitants in the area being Hudson’s Bay Company fur traders, most of them Scots. The climate there is similar to Britain and any new plant species found would likely be able to be grown in the UK.
The tribes on the lower Columbia River and the fur traders had developed a common language, Chinook jargon, and Douglas soon picked up this language. Many of the fur traders had married local women and Douglas mixed more with the female native Americans learning how the local plants were used for food and for making fishing nets. Douglas had a knack of keeping plants alive ready for their long trip back to Europe, or on finding plants in flower repeatedly revisiting these plants until he was able to collect viable seed.
He returned to England in 1828 and wrote several papers on the plants he had found. But he felt unappreciated and was not well paid by The Horticultural Society. He welcomed the chance to go on another expedition to the NW of the USA and Hawaii. On this occasion as well as plant hunting, he was also performing an official survey having been trained in surveying techniques while back in England. This expedition is not as well documented as he lost his journals during a canoeing journey. Douglas died in an accident in Hawaii in 1834.
Among the plants returned by Douglas to the UK are Douglas-fir, salal, salmonberry, camassia, bitterroot, elkhorn, flowering currant, nobel fir and Brown’s peony, this peony being one of the ancestors of modern garden peonies.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 18th August 2021
The Rotary Club meeting on 18th August welcomed Lee Brown, Lee is the tool shed officer at the Ecology Centre in Kinghorn. The Ecology Centre is an inclusive, community-led charity. They give people direct experience of working with the environment at their site, while learning about it, in a relaxed and friendly way. Lee’s aim for the evening was to provide information on Men’s Sheds.
The Men’s Shed Association was first started in Australia in the 1980s. They started in Scotland in 2013 with the first Men’s Shed in Scotland being at the Kinghorn Ecology Centre. Despite the name Men’s Sheds are now open to both men and women. Research has shown that the healthcare imbalance of attendees improves especially with regard to diabetes, prostate cancer and in particular mental health. All Men’s Sheds are created and registered as charities. Being an official charity in Scotland means getting certified by the regulator OSCR, therefore business plans, goals and desired outcome documents are necessary on start-up. There is no generic model as to what activities are undertaken.
The Kinghorn Shed is run by a committee of around 5 or 6 volunteers. The Kinghorn Shed is formed of three shipping containers welded together with cut-out communicating doors. Each Men’s Shed will be different, Lee gave an example of the shed in Stanley who were provided an unused building by Scottish Hydro at a yearly rent of £1. However, most sheds need to fund insurance (e.g., building, public and product liability insurance) and running costs in addition to any rent. If woodworking is undertaken health and safety requirements mean that PPE must be provided, dust extraction is needed and also a fire certificate has to be obtained. With subscriptions for an individual usually in the range of £20 to £30 normal commercial building rental is not a realistic option. The Kinghorn shed refurbishes unwanted tools, including sewing machines, that are sent to Africa and in addition the members do gardening both outdoors and in a polytunnel.
The cost of a shipping container is c. £6,000. When you add in the costs of insulation, fitting electricity etc. the cost for getting three shipping containers up and running would be around £20,000. Lee gave details of awards available from the National Lottery that have assisted the Kinghorn Shed.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 1st September 2021
The Rotary Club meeting on 1st September welcomed Fiona Miles of the Global Sight Solutions charity and Guildford Chantries Rotary Club.
The project was founded in 1998 by Rotarian Sam Das MBE, an eye surgeon and ophthalmic consultant at Guildford's Royal Surrey Hospital. Working with Rotary partners in India, Africa and most recently in Lebanon and Bangladesh, the project works to establish eye hospitals that serve many of the 50 million avoidably blind people worldwide who cannot afford to have their sight restored.
The main causes of these eye problems are poor diet, genetic issues, low or non-existent education and poor living standards or working conditions.
Global Sight Solutions installs top class eye hospitals in physical buildings with the hospital being financially self-sustainable. The business model for every eye hospital is to be self-funded by charging those who can afford the various treatments, poor patients are treated free. There is no queue-jumping for the richer patients. Each hospital is run by its own local trust.
The main treatments are for cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment and diabetic retinopathy. Besides the eye hospitals, the charity provides training for eye surgeons, microscopes and laser equipment, hospital transport and mobile eye screening camps.
Alloa Rotary Club is currently raising funds to surgically equip a new eye hospital capable of treating thousands of people every year and named ‘The Rotary District 1010 Eye Hospital’ (district 1010 is the Rotary district for the north of Scotland). The host sponsor club will most likely be the Rotary Club of Ranchi, Jharkhand, India.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 15th September 2021
The Rotary Club meeting on 15th September welcomed Lynne Marshall of the Rotary Great Britain and Ireland Disaster Recovery Trust (DRT). Lynne is a member of Audley, Staffordshire, Rotary Club. She has been a trustee of the DRT for seven years.
The DRT was formed in 2007 to provide a secure channel for funds raised by Rotary clubs in Britain and Ireland when providing support to areas of the world suffering in the aftermath of natural disasters.
Previous campaigns include flooding in the UK in 2015/16, the Nepal earthquake in 2015, hurricane Maria in Dominica in 2017, the worst floods in a century in Kerala, India in 2018 and cyclone Idai in Mozambique in 2019. A large part of the funds raised for the 2015/16 UK floods were raised by a fashion show organised by supermodel Naomi Campbell, this helped to rebuild the Kendal Scouts HQ and the Kendal Deaf Centre. In Nepal badly damaged schools were rebuilt or repaired. In Dominica the funds paid to restore IT learning tools. In Kerala new clean water plants were constructed. In Mozambique a community centre serving one of the poorest communities was rebuilt. Ongoing projects include restoration work for the floods in the UK in November and December 2019 and the damage caused by storm Ciara and storm Dennis in February 2020, hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas in 2019 and the bushfires in Australia in the southern summer of 2019/20, these bushfires burning an area larger than Ireland. The most recent disaster to be responded to is the damage caused by the severe flooding in Germany earlier this year.
The DRT does not provide the emergency support required in the immediate aftermath of natural disasters but concentrates more on the restoration, rebuilding and repair work that follows on.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 6th October 2021
The Rotary Club meeting on 6th October welcomed Clifton Bain. Clifton began his career in nature conservation with the RSPB in 1984, having graduated from the University of Aberdeen with an Honours Degree in Zoology. His work gave him the opportunity to study birds and their habitats across the UK and to engage in high level campaigning on climate change and biodiversity. Over the last 10 years he has worked with the IUCN UK Peatland Programme on environmental policy and advocacy to promote the conservation of peatlands. He is the author of The Ancient Pinewoods of Scotland, The Rainforests of Britain and Ireland and, the soon to be published, The Peatlands of Britain and Ireland.
Clifton’s talk to the Rotary meeting concerned the ancient pinewoods and peatlands. The 38 ancient pinewoods of Scotland are the last Scots Pine remnants of the original post-ice age reforesting of Britain. The Scottish subspecies of Scot Pine is adapted to surviving on well-drained poor soils and has been outcompeted in the richer soils of southern Scotland and England. These pinewoods support many species including red squirrel, pine marten, crested tit, capercaillie and the endemic Scottish crossbill. In 1957 Professor Steven and Jock Carlisle of Aberdeen University published a study of the ancient pine forests. 30 years later Clifton was asked to review the status of these woods. Clifton’s survey was depressing with only c. 12,000 hectares remaining with some of the smaller woods covering less than 100 hectares. In recent centuries sheep farming and deer estates had not allowed the forests to recover following human damage inflicted over thousands of years. Fencing does allow some recovery but fences can fall down or be covered by drifting snow, the only real way to allow the forests to recover is by reducing the pressure from sheep and deer grazing. 25 years later still friends told Clifton they had heard of the larger woods such as Abernethy Forest, Glen Affric and the Black Wood of Rannoch but had no knowledge of the smaller woods. From this came the idea to produce a guide to the Ancient Pinewoods of Scotland with details of their history and where to find them.
Peatlands were and remain still largely misunderstood e.g., dangerous and smelly? Unloved and unappreciated they have many benefits to us: they hold more carbon than all the trees in the UK, they hold water back in time of heavy rainfall reducing the risk of flooding and they purify water meaning water companies need to do less chemical processing of drinking water. In the recent past peatlands have been drained for agriculture and tree-planting and also damaged by extraction for garden compost. The damage can be reversed by blocking up the drains. removing the trees and by gardeners buying peat-free composts. Our peatlands are composed mostly of plants such as sphagnum moss, such a bog having less solid matter than cow’s milk. Peat bogs form in layers with one metre taking 1,000 years to accumulate. There are three types of peatland: blanket bogs, raised bogs (such as Bankhead Moss near Peat Inn) and fens (e.g. the Tayside reed beds). Only 20% of the UKs peatlands are in a near natural state.
Clifton’s talk had highlighted that damage caused to the environment by ourselves over the last few centuries can be reversed.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 13th October 2021
The Rotary Club meeting on 13th October welcomed Eugene Adam. Eugene, who works at Stratheden Hospital, provided information about the forthcoming Fife Nativity play which is to be performed at Hill of Tarvit over the last weekend prior to Christmas i.e., Friday 17th December to Sunday 19th December (and possibly Monday 20th December). The play will remind people of the true meaning of Christmas.
The performance will be outdoors if weather permits with the option of performing indoors in a weather-proof large marquee if conditions prove to be too inclement.
Any support for Fife Nativity would be welcomed particularly in the following areas: staging (e.g., artists to paint backdrops), horses (for the kings to ride on), costumes, actors (especially recent mothers and babies to play Mary and baby Jesus) and car park stewarding. Assistance with costs would also be appreciated as professional standard lighting and sound systems are required along with the fees to go to the National Trust for Scotland.
The Rotary meeting concluded with discussions regarding preparations for Santa’s visits on his Sleigh to Cupar and the surrounding villages.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 20th October 2021
The Rotary Club meeting on 20th October welcomed Louise Hughes of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS). Louise is the Field Project Officer for the Saving Wildcats Project at the RZSS.
The wildcat has been in Britain since the end of the last Ice Age but in recent centuries the persecution meant by the time of the first World War the only population remaining was in the North of Scotland.
The main threat in recent years especially since the 1980s has been hybridisation with domestic cats and now pure wildcats are so few and far between that a viable population no longer exists.
In 2021-23 the project will conduct field surveys in the release areas which have been agreed with the landowners. This will include threat mitigation i.e., predator control agreements, and engagement with local communities. Talks are being held in the release areas to inform the local population of the project and to encourage pet cat owners to have their pets neutered. Also studied will be the impact on other protected species such as the capercaillie. Alongside this will be captive conservation breeding with trial releases of 20 radio-collared wildcats to follow in 2023-25. If the trial releases are successful another 40 wildcats will be released in 2024-25.
Field work conducted so far has included estimating prey (rabbits, voles, mice) populations and the placing of camera traps in the proposed release areas.
A captive breeding centre has been built at the Highland Wildlife Park. Any resultant wildcat kittens will be transferred to pre-release enclosures where human contact will be kept to a minimum. The project has several partners both from Scotland and internationally. One of the international partners is the Junta de Andalucia which has run a successful project on the Iberian lynx over the last few years. The Iberian lynx has now recovered to a population of over 1,000 from a low of around 100 in the early 2000s.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 3rd November 2021
he Rotary Club meeting on 3rd November welcomed Mike Benson and Fran Houston from the Scottish Crannog Centre, Mike being the director of the centre and Fran the curator.
The originators of the crannog centre Nick Dixon and Barrie Andrian retired in 2018 and handed the reins over to Mike. Their reconstruction of a 2,500-year-old crannog had been in existence for 25 years when it burned down on Friday 11th June this year. The centre’s museum and cafe reopened on the following Thursday with an evening show from circus-performers taking place on the Monday of the following week.
There were already plans to move to a new site, Dalberg on the north side of Loch Tay, this disaster has brought those plans forward. The new site, eventually to cost c. £12 m, will feature three new reconstructions of ancient crannogs. One problem of the existing site was the lack of room for expansion meaning finds from the real crannogs could only be held in storage and not be on display to the public, with more space at the new site this will no longer a problem. Finds from the underwater exploration of the Loch Tay crannogs have included a wooden butter dish, textiles, a wooden whistle and a bridge for the strings of a lyre musical instrument.
The staff at the centre were augmented in 2020 with five new apprentices who are learning new skills such as interpretation/presentations to large audiences, marketing and digital skills. The new site is planned to open in July or August 2022.
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 10th November 2021
The Rotary Club meeting on 10th November welcomed Kenneth McElroy from the Caithness Broch Project. Kenneth’s current role is as Education and Volunteer Officer at Kilmartin Museum in Argyll. He has taken part in digs on Orkney including the Ness of Brodgar dig and on a Roman-era site in Kosovo. He graduated as a mature student of archaeology at Glasgow University this year.
A native of Thurso, Kenneth together with Ian Maclean, a fellow digger at a dig at the Yarrows broch, founded the project in 2013. In 2015 the project won a pitching competition with 80% of the vote promising to install interpretation panels at the remains at some of the existing brochs. In 2017 a 10,000-piece Lego broch display was created that was used in presentations to local schools. Also in 2017 and again in 2018 three archaeological digs took place at brochs and prehistoric roundhouses in Caithness.
Recent work has included the consolidation of, and removal of the dangerous giant hogweed plant at Achvarasdal broch. Then similar work at Ousdale broch near Helmsdale which included the creation of a carpark and a kilometre long footpath to the broch.
Brochs are unique to Scotland with the majority in the north of Scotland, Caithness itself having around 200 with c. 150 in Orkney and 100 in Shetland. They developed gradually from Bronze Age and Iron Age roundhouses with most brochs being bult between c. 200 B.C. and 100 A.D. Although most brochs follow a similar plan no two are identical.
The project wants to promote the archaeological landscape of Caithness with three main aims. Firstly, to undertake experimental archaeology, i.e., finding out what works and does not work in the building of a reconstruction of a complete broch. A site for the first new broch to be built in nearly 2,000 years is in the process of being identified. Secondly, to encourage traditional skills such as dry stone dykeing, joinery, thatching and weaving. Thirdly, to increase employment and tourism. The current major employer, Dounreay nuclear power station, employing 1 in 5 of the of the working population, is planned to close by 2036. Over 50% of visitors to Orkney give archaeology/history as a reason for their visit. Can new and/or restored sites in Caithness attract more of the visitors who currently carry on past Caithness to Orkney?
Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 8th December 2021
The Rotary Club meeting on 8th December was entertained by our own president Bill McSeveney who gave us a talk on the group of painters known as the Scottish Colourists. The four colourists – Leslie Hunter, Samuel Peploe, John Duncan Fergusson and Francis Cadell were all born in the 1870s or 1880s and all to reasonably prosperous families. They all knew each other but each had their independent style of painting. All were influenced by their predecessors, the Glasgow Boys, and to a large extent by the French post-impressionist school of painters. All at some stage in their lives lived in Paris and/or parts of France. Bill showed us around 30 examples of their work or their influencers e.g., comparing works of the Colourists with paintings of around the same time by Cezanne. He also showed how the fashionable interest of the time in oriental ceramics also featured in some of their paintings. Closer to home were two paintings by Leslie Hunter of fishing boats at Lower Largo and one possible and one definite painting of Ceres. Bill finished his talk by remarking that paintings by the Colourists were until recently relatively cheap to buy. That this is no longer the case was shown by newspaper reports on Saturday 11th December informing us that five paintings by Peploe had been sold on the Thursday preceding in Glasgow for over £1 million and one of those, a still life titled Roses and Fruit, for £735,000. At the club’s recent business meeting held on 17th November the club members agreed to make donations to two groups who had recently spoken to the club namely The Crannog Centre and The Caithness Brochs Project. More locally donations were made to Cupar Amateur Musical Society and three of our care homes. A donation to Fife Festival of Music for 2023 was also agreed (the Festival for 2022 having been cancelled).
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Thanks to Roger Siddle of the Carnforth Rotary Club for his revolving Rotary wheel.