Notes on Last 6 Club MeetingsGo... Back (2022)... Last Six Meetings (most recent first)... Forward (2023)
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.
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.
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 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 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 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.
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Thanks to Roger Siddle of the Carnforth Rotary Club for his revolving Rotary wheel.