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Notes on all meetings in 2014

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Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 8th January 2014

President Willie Nicoll was pleased to welcome forty-three members and nine guests to the first meeting of 2014. The evening's speaker was Rotarian George Bett, who illustrated his talk on the Northwest Passage with pictures taken on an expedition cruise he had taken with his wife.
Their journey started with a flight to Berlin, connecting with a charter flight to Greenland where they boarded the ship after an orientation tour on Greenland. The Northwest Passage had been sought for centuries by explorers as a possible trade route between the Atlantic and the Pacific, but it wasn't until 1906 that a through route was discovered by Roald Amundsen, at the end of a three-year expedition. Unfortunately, Arctic pack-ice made the Passage unsuitable for routine shipping, but since 2009 shrinkage of the Arctic has opened the route.
One of the more famous Northwest Passage projects was the ill-fated Franklin Expedition of 1845. Several rescue missions were mounted, but no survivors were found, although various items and papers were found, including the graves of three of the men. The remains of these men have been analysed, and found to contain very high levels of lead - these raised the possibility of lead-poisoning as a cause of the failure of the expedition, perhaps arising from lead used in soldering their canned food. Scurvy, botulism, exposure and starvation are other likely candidates.
Fortunately, George survived the journey to tell the tale, safely reaching the final destination of Nome in Alaska. The discovery of gold in 1898 led to the rapid expansion of this small Inuit settlement, with a peak population of 20,000 which rapidly dwindled to 2,000 by 1910, and has now settled at around 4,000.
Rotarian Eric Young proposed the club's vote of thanks.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 15th January 2014

Jim Houston - Click for larger image
District Governor Jim Houston

Thirty-six members and three guests were welcomed by President Willie Nicoll, with an especial welcome for District Governor Jim Houston, and his wife Liz.
Past President Canon Pat McInally reported that the club's latest water project in Uganda had literally come on-stream on Christmas Eve, with the completion of a 10,000 litre water tank.
Jim Houston, now half-way through his term as District Governor, spoke of his visits to clubs throughout District 1010 so far. He owned up to not being very well organised at first in that he didn't arrange to stay overnight and visit several clubs in the same area in one trip. Referring back to his career in sales, he told us to "sell the sizzle, not the sausage" in promoting Rotary to the public, emphasising the exciting community projects we're involved in at home and abroad and not spending so much time describing the more mundane organisational matters. "We're for communities" is the slogan he wanted us to carry with us. He stressed the efficiency of Rotary fund-raising - 98% of the money received by the Rotary Foundation is distributed with only 2% taken up by admin. costs - and the world-wide scope of some of the projects such as Polio Eradication.
Rotarian Euan Barbour thanked Jim on the club's behalf.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 22nd January 2014

The club's Annual Burns Supper was held on the 22nd January at Watts Restaurant, Cupar, with President Willie Nicoll in the chair.
Rotarian John Hendry gave the Selkirk Grace and Brian Bayne addressed the haggis, which had been piped in by guest piper Ian Wotherspoon and delivered by Pat Mitchell in the role of Poosie Nancy. Peter McKinnon thanked Joe on behalf of the club.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 29th January 2014

Cupar Rotary Club's meeting on Wednesday 29th January was a business meeting under the chairmanship of club president Willie Nicoll.
As well as hearing progress reports from the club's various committees the meeting gave the members to look back at the last few months and forward to the next few.
Organisations supported in the last few months have included the following: Alzheimer Scotland, Kilmaron School, Macmillan Cancer Support, Cupar Arts Festival, Cupar Soccer Sevens, St. Andrews First Aid, Tayside Coats for Kids, Cupar Squadron Air Training Corps, and Cupar Amateur Musical Society.
In addition the club is supporting a project in Uganda, this being the provision of a water pump and basic water distribution system from an existing borehole.
Events coming up in the next few months are the club choir singing and being sung to at Kilmaron school, games nights at old folks homes, a fashion show in April, a golf day and whisky tasting, both in May, and a trip out escorting elderly folks in June.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 5th February 2014

Our meeting at Watts Restaurant on the 5th Feb 2014 was chaired by President Willie Nicoll, who welcomed thirty-six members and one guest, including Honorary Member Jackie Taylor.
Jackie was delighted to report that the club's donation of £2000 will enable our fourth water project in Nepal to go ahead. This will give drinkable running water to the village of Kolang by constructing a catchment tank and the necessary pipework. The villagers themselves have been contributing ten rupees per household per month for the last twenty-seven years to fund the project, and will supply much of the unskilled labour for it.
Last Friday's concert of Burns Songs presented by members at Kilmaron School was enthusiastically received by the children.
After dinner, Rotarian Roy Marsden started his talk with a picture of the Tower of Babel, and described his horror on arriving for his first term at Warwick University when he realised that he (a Mancunian) was quite unable to understand a word his neighbour (from Gateshead) was saying. He eventually got to grips with this apparently foreign language, and became interested in the way language develops and changes over the years. He took us on a whistle-stop tour of the major language groups in Europe, pointing out similarities which suggest common origins, and which fit in with known migration patterns.
Margaret Beetlestone proposed the vote of thanks.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 12th February 2014

Karen McBeath - Click for larger image
Karen McBeath, from Enable Scotland

President Willie Nicoll was in the chair for the meeting, and welcome 37 Rotarians and one guest - the speaker for the evening, Karen McBeath.
Secretary Donald Cameron reported that Fishers Services had donated £1200 to the club's Charity Account, raised by staff who spotted and avoided unnecessary expenses.
Past President Bruce Rollo reported on the club's recent clearance work at Tarvit Ponds - next month's project will be to plant 105 young trees around the ponds.
The club will be holding a charity Whisky-Tasting event at the Age Concern Centre in Provost Wynd at 7pm on Friday 21st March.
After dinner, Karen McBeath spoke about Enable Scotland, which celebrates its sixtieth birthday this year. The charity campaigns for a better life for children and adults with learning difficulties, and although huge changes have taken place since its foundation in 1954 - especially in the move away from institutional care toward the community - there are still about 3000 affected babies born every year in Scotland. Much of the charity's work is aimed at encouraging independent living, but there are still those who need a lot of family support; there are currently 13,500 with elderly full-time carers.
Jennifer Martin proposed the Vote of Thanks.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 19th February 2014

Jill Cameron and Paul Connolly - Click for larger image
Jill Cameron (Ruff Diamonds) and Paul Connolly (German Shepherd Rescue)

President Willie Nicoll welcomed thirty-eight members, honorary member Ronnie Law, and two guests (Jill Cameron and Paul Connolly) to the meeting.
The twenty-seven members who had visited the Mills Observatory on Monday were disappointed by thick cloud cover - a further trip is planned.
Eight teams were entered for the first round of the Primary School Quiz on Tuesday, which was won by the team from Dairsie Primary School.
Paul Connolly spoke after dinner on his lifetime involvement with dogs and their training. He had joined the Police Force aiming to be a dog handler and trainer, but it was many years before he achieved this ambition. Two weeks into operational work, full of confidence in himself and his dog after thirteen weeks of one-to-one training, he was sent to disturbance in a 14-storey block of flats involving a very aggressive man with a Samurai sword. Arriving at the ground floor, he called the lift and his dog cowered and ran away, leaving his master to deal with the situation on his own. After he subdued the swordsman, he returned to the ground and found his dog on the roof of his car! A short period of lift training followed.
After a lively question and answer session, Paul received a cheque for £500 for German Shepherd Rescue presented by Jill Cameron, lead singer of Ruff Diamonds - her band had performed at a Rotary fund-raiser last year, and the proceeds were split with Mary's Meals.
Jim Campbell offered the Club's Vote of Thanks.

Joint Meeting with the Inner Wheel and Howe of Fife Clubs at Fairways Restaurant on Wednesday 26th Feb 2014

The club enjoyed good food, good company and good entertainment at the Fairways Restaurant as guests of the Inner Wheel Club of Cupar.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 5th March 2014

Thirty-eight members attended the meeting on the 5th of March, with President Willie Nicoll in the Chair, and Past-President Sandy Mitchell as after-dinner speaker. Sandy's topic was Rotary Fellowships, and particularly the International Golfing Fellowship of Rotary. These fellowships are groups of Rotarians from all over the world who share a common interest - for example, in sport, hobbies or their own vocations - and which arrange conferences, get-togethers and competitions.
The late Gavin Reekie senior, also a Past-President of this club, was the District Governor Nominee for District 101 in 1963, and attended the Rotary World Assembly in Lake Place, New York State. He was seated next to incoming Rotary World President Carl Miller, and suggested creating a Golf Fellowship - this was duly planned at a meeting at Gleneagles Hotel later that year, and the first international competition took place the following year at St Andrews, the winner receiving the Carl Miller trophy which had been specially made by A & C Cairncross of Perth.
Sandy illustrated his talk with a series of pictures taken at various competitions he's attended - he may not have met all 875 current members, but he may well have visited their 65 countries!
John Morrow thanked Sandy on behalf of the club.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 12th March 2014

Honorary Member Lesley McAndrew joined thirty-four members at the meeting, with President Wille Nicoll in the chair.
Past President Canon Pat McInally reported on his recent visit to Munteme in Uganda. This isolated rural community had no running water for the school until we supported the drilling of a bore-hole and the installation of a pump 45 metres below the surface, which will keep a 7000 litre storage tank topped up all year round. The children no longer have to walk 400 metres to the nearest water supply every day, queuing up with 20 litre jerry cans before carrying water back to the school.
Vice-President Pat Mitchell spoke after dinner, comparing three different musical interpretations of the Romeo and Juliet story - those of Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Leonard Bernstein. She played recorded extracts from the Prologue, the Love Scene, the Fight and the Epilogue of all three, and demonstrated her counting skills by coming in on time with the cymbals in Tchaikovsky's Overture after 133 bars!
Ian Donaldson thanked Pat on behalf of the club.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 26th March 2014

Ronald Sandford - Click for larger image
Commodore Ronald Sandford CBE RN (Retd)

President Willie Nicoll welcomed thirty-six members and guest speaker Commodore Ronald Sandford CBE to the meeting at Watts Restaurant on the 26th March.
ntroducing his guest, John Morrow outlined his career from entry to Britannia Royal Naval College as Midshipman in 1960 up to his retirement in 2005 as Naval Regional Officer Scotland and Northern Ireland. Commodore Sandford fleshed out the outline with a series of stories from this distinguished career. As a Midshipman he had been allowed to spend six months in Paris for French language study, qualified as a French interpreter, and was involved in a joint exercise on a French ship. This drill involved a floating flag being thrown over the side to represent a man overboard, the task being to turn the ship around and bring it to a stop beside the flag to allow it to be picked up. The French team made a poor job of this, and handed over to the Royal Naval officers who performed a text-book "rescue". Afterwards he overheard one of the French officers say "That's why they beat us at Trafalgar!".
After several promotions, he was serving on HMS Antrim as Executive Officer when it was sent to recapture South Georgia during the Falklands conflict. Operation Paraquet (known to those involved as Operation Paraquat) was to have been a joint SAS/SBS attack on the Argentines but the two Wessex helicopters bringing them in crash-landed on the Fortuna glacier in bad weather. When the weather cleared a couple of days later, they were rescued by the Antrim's Wessex helicopter, which three days later was deployed to drop depth charges on the Argentine submarine Santa Fe. The disabled submarine limped into Grytviken harbour and a land assault secured the surrender of its crew and the garrison at Grytviken. The other Argentine garrison, at Leith Harbour, surrendered the following day, with no loss of life on either side during the relief operation.
Later in the conflict, Antrim was supporting a landing at San Carlos Water in the Falkland Islands when a bomb became lodged in the flight deck but didn't explode. Ironically, they found that this faulty product had "Made in Birmingham" stamped on its casing. Arguing that there wasn't any point in removing the fuse if the bomb hadn't exploded in the impact, they cut a hole in the flight deck, raised it using shear-legs and a pulley, then dropped it over the side before moving off at full speed!
He was appointed OBE for service in the Falklands and then spent two years with responsibility for procurement and testing of advanced torpedoes, where he learned a lot about the business practices of the defence industry, holding one company to a fixed-price contract for remedial work when a set of torpedo trials failed - they would much rather have had their usual cost-plus version!
Promotion to Captain followed, he was appointed CBE in 1994, and a number of senior appointments culminated in his return to Scotland as Regional Officer in 1997.
After answering a number of questions, he was thanked on behalf of the club by Past President Graham Findlay.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 2nd April 2014

Alan Blair - Click for larger image
Alan Blair - "Renewable Energy without all the Hot Air"

Thirty-nine members were present at the meeting on the 2nd of April, with President Willie Nicoll in the chair. After dinner, Past President Bill Nicoll introduced his guest speaker, Alan Blair. A graduate of Durham University in Mechanical Engineering, he was most recently Head of Project Development at Scottish and Southern Electricity, and is now an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Dundee. Alan introduced his subject at Dundee University as "Renewable Energy without all the Hot Air", his role being to cut through and make sense of the huge literature on the subject. There are abundant well-written and informative articles around, but many are biassed and misleading, and a few are simply wrong! The driver for the interest in renewable energy is the rising level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, which was around 300 parts per million (ppm) in the 1950s, is now just below 400 ppm, and is going up at an increasing rate. Putting together all the studies of this rise, it is now 95% certain that this rise is due to human activity, and it is reaching the stage where the natural cycle of carbon between the atmosphere, the environment and living organisms is being disrupted.
Although the concentration of CO2 seems small when expressed as parts per million, it is undoubtedly responsible for an increase in the temperature of the Earth through the greenhouse effect, which is affecting weather systems too, making them more extreme.
In countries with developed economies, about 40% of the CO2 emitted arises from the generation of electricity, hence the interest in wind turbines, hydro-electric stations and solar power, as well as in conserving energy by watching consumption and insulating our homes, but the fact remains that renewable energy is much more expensive than using fossil fuels. Not only are they costly, they're also less predictable, and could only ever be relied on for a maximum of 20% of the nation's energy supply.
It is important to recognise that national league tables for CO2 emissions may be misleading - for example, although China has a big carbon footprint as a country, and is opening new coal-fired power stations at a rate of one per week, the carbon emissions per citizen are much lower than in the US or the UK. Also, because Chinese factories are producing many of the manufactured products we use, we're effectively exporting some of our CO2 emissions to China as we import their goods.
Unfortunately, recent governments have failed to grasp the nettle of forward planning for the UK's energy supplies, and although nuclear power does not release CO2, unnecessary public anxiety has crippled planning for the replacement of existing nuclear generation.
Past President Graham FIndlay thanked Alan on behalf of the club.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 9th April 2014

Jill Geyer - Click for larger image
Euroscola Student Jill Geyer

President Willie Nicoll welcomed 32 Rotarians and guest speaker Jill Geyer to the meeting.
Last Saturday the club had collaborated with the Howe of Fife Club in a "Your Blood Pressure Matters" day at Tesco's in Cupar on behalf of Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland. 134 members of the public had had their blood pressures checked, and of them 30 were referred on for further checking.
After dinner, Rotarian Alastair Andrews introduced Jill Geyer, to describe her experiences at a Euroscola event in Strasbourg, representing Bell Baxter High School as one of 26 Scottish students selected by Rotary Clubs for sponsorship. The idea is to mix with students from other countries, to polish language skills, and to attend the European Parliament. They took MEPs' seats, debated current European issues, and met in committee to put together reports which were presented and voted on in plenary sessions. Students had to address the sessions in a foreign language, with simultaneous translation available on headphones.
Of course, there was a lot of fun to be had too, and Jill had made a lot of new friends during her stay. In between sight-seeing trips, the Scottish contingent had conducted a survey ("Une Sondage"), in which they approached people in the street and checked on their views of the Scots.
Although it was daunting to arrive in a group of 26 from different schools, Jill felt that this worked better than having large numbers of students who already knew one another - certainly the Scottish group did well, with four of the six committees chosen for the final debate being from Scotland.
Jill concluded by answering a few questions and thanking the club for sending her to Strasbourg, and she was thanked for her articulate and enthusiastic presentation by Rotarian Doreen Gray.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 23rd April 2014

The Club's Annual General Meeting was opened by President Willie Nicoll, who welcomed thirty-one members and two guests - Quaich Society Members James Saxon and Calum Lithgow had come to present a cheque for £2600 raised at whisky-tasting events for the Club's Water Fund, and this was topped up with £250 raised by Past President Vince Fusaro in his shop.
Reports were received from committees, and donations to East Fife Sports Council, Seasons of Ceres, Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland - Fife Region and British Wireless for the Blind were approved.
Office-bearers and Council members for the next Rotary year were confirmed.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 30th April 2014

President Willie Nicoll welcomed thirty-three members to the meeting, and congratulated Hilda Scott for the success of last week's Fashion Show. Held in the Corn Exchange, it raised £2800 for her nominated charities, Alzheimer's Scotland and Mary's Meals.
Rotarian Jon Richmond spoke after dinner about the security of passwords and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) used for internet access and electronic banking. Because most people find these hard to remember, they often use the names of their children or their pets, or significant dates in their lives such as a wedding anniversary or child's birthday - all information which a resourceful criminal can get hold of easily, along with such supposedly secure items as their mothers' maiden names or first school.
Rotarian James Johnston thanked Jon on behalf of the (suitably chastened!) members.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 7th May 2014

President Willie Nicoll was in the chair for the meeting, with twenty-eight members and one guest. Brian Bayne reported that sales of the bird-tables designed and built by Ronnie Law had been so good that he was close to his target of purchasing a Shelterbox.
Past-President Rennie Ritchie spoke after dinner of his thirty-year professional involvement with motor-cycles - at first in training police colleagues, and then through a series of add-on responsibilities (the fate of all enthusiasts!) to supervising training standards, compiling training manuals, communicating with the media, training trainers and so on.
That said, he had thoroughly enjoyed himself, especially in being able to visit beautiful areas of Scotland on two wheels and getting paid for doing so! Rennie illustrated his talk with views of fantastic scenery (and the occasional motor-cycle!), and unveiled some of his plans for two-wheeled travel throughout Europe.
The vote of thanks was proposed by Euan Barbour.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 14th May 2014

29 members attended the Cupar Rotary Club's meeting on Wednesday 14th May under the chairmanship of Peter McKinnon, the club's President-Elect. The speaker for the evening was Alasdair MacKenzie, a teacher at Kilmaron School in Cupar.
Alasdair told the club of Kilmaron Schoo's exchange programme with schools in Malawi, which involves teachers from Malawi experiencing schools here in Scotland and Scottish teachers visiting Malawi. The programme is sponsored by the British Council (i.e. the British Council pay for flights to and from Malawi). Scots are particularly respected in Malawi as Malawi was where David Livingstone performed a lot of his missionary work.
Kilmaron school was matched with a girls secondary school in Malawi which initially was thought not to be a particularly good choice. But Kilmaron hit on the subject of music and dance, especially Scottish country dancing, being one area where the exchange could prosper. Alasdair showed the club some videos of the enthusiastic and cheerful dancing by the girls' school in Malawi. Alasdair learned some of their tribal dances and brought back some of their costumes to Scotland. The pupils at Kilmaron school did their own version of some of the African dances but maybe without quite matching the African girls' expertise at swinging their hips. The last video Alasdair showed was of a group of Malawian girls performing a Scottish country dance.
Alasdair told the club that class sizes in Malawi are around 100-120 and classes have no desks nor chairs with the children just sitting on the floor. Many of the children attend school in order to receive a good meal.
Rotarian Bill Low proposed the club's vote of thanks.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 21st May 2014

Thirty-three members were present, with President Willie Nicoll in the chair. After dinner, Hilda Scott introduced guest speaker Ann Little representing Alzheimer Scotland (Fife Branch). There are 86,000 diagnosed dementia sufferers in Scotland, and it's estimated that as many again might not have been detected. Ann was previously a Charge Nurse and then a Care Home manager whose own mother suffered from dementia, and despite recent progress in attitudes towards mental health, she found that the stigma is still there - she noticed a sudden drop in the number of visits by her parents' many friends when the diagnosis became known. As well as working to change attitudes in the public, Alzheimer Scotland is also supporting training of nurses in dementia - not part of their routine training - and encouraging members of the public to spot friends, neighbours and relatives in the early stages of dementia, when simple support as well as professional involvement can make such a difference.
Learning that you are losing skills you once took for granted is a devastating blow to your self-confidence, but friendly support can stop you from withdrawing from favourite activities. Ann gave the example of a retired professional photographer who was finding his sophisticated camera was too much for him, but who was gently encouraged back into taking pictures again.
Receiving a cheque for £1450 - part of the proceeds from last month's Fashion Show - Ann thank the club for its donation, and made it clear that the money raised would be used for the benefit of dementia patients in Fife.
Rotarian Peter Haselhurst thanked Ann on behalf of the club.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 28th May 2014

President Willie Nicoll welcomed 32 members, including Honorary Member Ronnie Law, who has been making and selling bird tables and has now raised enough to buy a ShelterBox.
After dinner, Rotarian Maurice Shepherd spoke about Cryptography, especially the Enigma Code which was used by Germany during the Second World War. Enigma was a coding machine, based on a design originally invented by German engineer Arthur Scherbius during the First World War and eventually granted a US patent in 1928.
Early codes worked by simple substitution - each letter is looked up in the left column of a table and replaced by another letter from the right. Decoding works by reversing the process - reading the letters in the encoded message in the right column and finding the original in the left. Enigma automated this process using toothed wheels with cross-wired electrical contacts, but made this more complicated by wiring several wheels in series. Using a 26 character keyboard and a selection of 4 differently-wired rotors connected to 26 lights labelled A to Z the machine could be set up in 400 million million million million different ways.
The version used by the Wehrmacht in the Second World War increased the possible combinations by adding a patchboard before the rotors, and by having the rotors move on after each letter had been encoded. The code-book for each day would specify which rotors would be used, the order in which they were to be placed, the initial rotor setting and the patchboard connection. The received message would be decoded using a machine with the same starting settings.
The code-breakers at Bletchley Park faced a daunting task, but they did have a1939 Enigma machine obtained from the Polish secret service and captured key tables and hardware from U boats. Mathematician Alan Turing had defined the principles of a digital electronic computers, and set to the task of designing a machine to automate the process of decoding incoming messages. He designed a series of "bombes" which mimicked the encoding of the Enigma machine and searched messages for "Cribs" - short phrases which tended to be used repeatedly such as "Nothing to report" or "Heil Hitler". Because of the way the machine is set up, a letter can't appear as itself in the encoded message, and the Bombes could be used to search for possible cribs using this feature.
It became possible to decode incoming messages in hours, and have a meaningful effect on the progress of the war - estimated to have been shortened by two years by code-breaking activities.
Past President Dereck Thomson proposed the vote of thanks.
The Speaker at the Club's meeting on 10th June will be Past President Ron Smith.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 4th June 2014

The Meeting was opened by President Willie Nicoll, with twenty-nine members and one guest. President-Elect Peter McKinnon was invited to take the chair to introduce his team for the next Rotary year, which starts on the 1st of July, and outlined the programme for the year. Stephen Chorley congratulated the club for the full programme of social and fundraising events.
Past President Pat McInally reported on a successful Old Peoples' Day Out to Kellie Castle.
Speaker Responsibility for the Club's meeting on 18th of June will be taken by Peter Southcott.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 11th June 2014

President Willie Nicoll welcomed thirty-two members and two guests to the meeting on the 11th June, including incoming Assistant Governor Malcolm Horner.
Past President Bruce Rollo reported on a successful Kids Out day - more than a hundred children from Cupar, Leven and St Andrews had been entertained and fed at Cairnie earlier in the day.
After dinner, Past President Ron Smith spoke about his involvement in the management of wild deer. Under Scots Law, wild deer are regarded as Res Nullius - when alive they belong to nobody, and no-one has specific responsibility for them, but landowners have traditionally had the right to kill deer on their land and own the carcasses once the animals are dead. As there are now no wild predators on deer, their numbers can rise to the extent that their welfare suffers through overcrowding and even starvation. They may also be forced closer to human activities, and cause road accidents and damage to crops.
The Deer Commission for Scotland was set up in 1996 to provide a coordinated approach, and this organisation was merged with Scottish National Heritage in 2010. Because of the importance of the deer population to Scotland, there has been extensive political involvement and this has caused difficulties for those dealing with deer management on the ground, with wide variation in the estimates of numbers and concentrations of deer, and plans for culling.
Eric Young thanked Ron on behalf of the club.
President Willie Nicoll will hand over the chair to incoming President Peter McKinnon at the meeting on 25th June.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 18th June 2014

Colin Mackenzie, Elizabeth Findlay, Finlay Foulkes, Ewan Goodwin, Conan Sweeney and Connor Harcus - Click for larger image
Rotarian Colin Mackenzie, Balmullo Primary School Teacher Elizabeth Findlay, and pupils Finlay Foulkes, Ewan Goodwin, Conan Sweeney and Connor Harcus

30 members attended the Cupar Rotary Club's meeting on Wednesday 18th June under the chairmanship of Willie Nicoll, the club's current President. The speakers for the evening were 4 pupils from Balmullo Primary School along with their teacher Elizabeth Findlay.
Balmullo Primary School had realised that their school garden had deteriorated after a period of neglect, with patches of nettles, a pond disappearing from sight under the undergrowth and mounds of dumped grass and earth.
The 4 boys - Finlay Foulkes, Ewan Goodwin, Conan Sweeney and Connor Harcus - had been the first to respond when volunteers were requested to help shift the grass and mud. A call for assistance went out and the "supermen" of Cupar Rotary club responded. The combined team armed with shovels and wheelbarrows completely filled a rubbish skip provided by a local company.
The boys showed the club a powerpoint presentation showing before and after pictures of the gardens. The landscaped gardens, with an area gravelled by the local quarry firm, is now a delightful place to have lunch, weather permitting, as the area has been provided with picnic tables.
Rotarian John Hendry proposed the club's vote of thanks.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 25th June 2014

Peter McKinnon and Willie Nicoll - Click for larger image
Incoming President Peter McKinnon and his predecessor, Willie Nicoll

31 members attended the Cupar Rotary Club's meeting on Wednesday 25th June under the chairmanship of Willie Nicoll, the club's current President. The meeting was Willie's last meeting as President and the meeting was the handover to the incoming President Peter McKinnon.
The last official act of outgoing President Willie was to present Canon Pat McInally with a Rotary Paul Harris Fellowship, this award being for outstanding service in the Rotary cause. But Willie also reminded the club of Pat's sterling work in the local community having been a driving force in the rejuvenation of Age Concern and the setting up of Caring for Cupar and Cupar Food Bank. Paul Harris founded the Rotary movement in Chicago in 1905.
Willie told us of one of Pat's trips to Lourdes where he was pushing a wheelchair in a torchlight procession. Unfortunately the lady occupant of the wheelchair had used too much hairspray, Pat's torch strayed too close to the lady's head and as a result set her hair alight. Luckily the flames were quickly smothered. The lady exclaimed "Pat, I came to Lourdes to be cured not cremated".
Next week's speaker will be Irene Martin who will talk of the work of the Citizens Advice Bureau in Cupar and St. Andrews.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 2nd July 2014

President Peter McKinnon was in the chair for the first meeting of the new Rotary year on the 2nd of July.
After dinner, Past President Dermot Stewart spoke about a recent trip to Vietnam and showed a series of images of the country and its people. During the European colonial era, Vietnam was part of French Indochina, but the defeat of France in the 2nd World War broke this link, and the communist army of Ho Chi Minh began the process of separation of the communist North of the country from its southern neighbour. The American War (as the Vietnamese refer to it) began as part of the cold war against communism, and was eventually to lead to the loss of over 58,000 American and up to 3 million Vietnamese lives. Active involvement by the USA ceased in 1973, and the war came to an end in 1975 with the North Vietnamese capture of Saigon, followed by reunification of North and South Vietnam the next year.
Despite this history, the people don't seem to have any great animosity towards the USA, feeling more threatened by their huge neighbour to the North - China.
Dermot had the impression of a lively and dynamic culture, supporting many faiths - many local gods are still worshipped, there are several Buddhist sects, and small numbers of Christians and Muslims - and the open markets and street food were highlights of the tour. It seems that women do most of the work, with the men left free to chat, the three main topics being Road Works, Police Corruption and Manchester United!
Past President Grant McLeish thanked Dermot on behalf of the club.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 9th July 2014

Irene Martin - Click for larger image
Irene Martin, from Citizens Advice and Rights Fife

Twenty eight members were joined by guest speaker Irene Martin with President Peter McKinnon in the chair. Past President Brian Bayne reported on the recent death of Grant Balfour, whose father had been a founder member of the club, and who had been a member for 28 years, with a year as President in 1972.
Dereck Thomson introduced Irene Martin, Bureau Coordinator at Citizens Advice and Rights Fife, who gave a brief history of the organisation which in its present form dates back to 1997, when Fife Council amalgamated several separate advice agencies into one. A small permanent staff is supported by volunteers who cover the vast range of financial, social medical and environmental issues brought in by members of the public. The organisation aims to provide an impartial, confidential, independent and accessible service to members of the public, and on occasions has to challenge Fife Council itself on behalf of its clients. Ten volunteers are accredited to given financial advice - mainly helping people with debt and the problems that follow - and seven are involved with tribunal work.
Citizens Advice Scotland currently has four hot topics, and is looking for feedback on Food Banks, Sanctions imposed by the DWP if, for example, applicants are unable to make job applications online, the "Bedroom Tax" (not now an issue in Fife, where the additional cost is covered by the council) and Delays in Benefits. Different areas of Fife have different problems - drug abuse and its consequences are a big issue in Levenmouth, but not so much in North East Fife, where the large numbers of seasonal workers supporting tourism and golf present problems in the St Andrews area and foreign farm workers in the Howe.
Always on the look-out for new volunteers, Citizens Advice has a Training Officer who brings new recruits - many with professional skills of their own - up to speed.
Bill McSeveney proposed the vote of thanks.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 16th July 2014

Twenty-nine members were welcomed to the meeting by Immediate-Past-President Willie Nicoll, standing in for Peter McKinnon.
Assistant Secretary Roy Marsden spoke after dinner about the club's new website, which is constructed using a template available to all Rotary Clubs in the UK, and provides a common interface for Rotarians and members of the public. He has been giving informal tutorials to members, and gave answers to several Frequently Asked Questions which had arisen.
John Morrow congratulated Roy on behalf of the club for his work in setting up the site and supporting members in using it.
The Club's annual Coffee Morning will be held at the Corn Exchange in Cupar at 09:45 on Saturday 2nd August.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 23rd July 2014

Alistair Ewan - Click for larger image
Alistair Ewan, Managing Director of East of Scotland Growers

29 members attended the Cupar Rotary Club's meeting on Wednesday 23rd July under the chairmanship of past president Dermot Stewart.
The speaker for the evening was Alistair Ewan. Alistair comes from a farming family based near Crieff. He ran his own farm in the borders but over the last 25 years as Managing Director he has grown a co-operative, East of Scotland Growers (ESG), into the market leader in the supply of broccoli and cauliflower to the British food retail industry.
ESG now has 19 members mainly based in Fife and Tayside but also in the Borders, the east of Scotland having the ideal conditions for these brassicas. With the Scottish farmers able to supply these crops from June to November ESG works with suppliers in the Murcia region of Spain to allow year-round availability. The company deals with most of the major supermarkets in Britain and additionally Carrefour in France.
ESG does research and development into new varieties (e.g. to produce a sweeter variety of broccoli that will appeal more to children), performs quality control and trials new sowing and harvesting machines. ESG also has its own computer-based weather forecasting to predict the optimum harvesting days. The freezing operation is in Lincolnshire and an hour's delay in getting the crops to the freezer means one day less shelf-life. The weather forecasting can also be used to predict where and when pests will be more of a problem.
Jennifer Martin proposed the vote of thanks for a fascinating presentation.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 30th July 2014

Bert Oliver - Click for larger image
Bert Oliver, who spoke about the Eyemouth Disaster of 1881

President-Elect Pat Mitchell made history when she took the chair in President Peter McKinnon's absence - it's the first time a lady has been in this position since the first female members joined the club in 2004.
After dinner Euan introduced his guest to the thirty-two members - Bert Oliver spoke about the Eyemouth Disaster, the result of a hurricane-force wind which swept across the North Sea on the 14th October 1881 and struck the Berwickshire coast.
Several fishing villages were affected, but the worst was Eyemouth, which lost 129 men and boys out of a total population of seven or eight hundred, along with twenty-six fishing boats. Many of the boats were capsized by the storm, and those that tried to get back into Eyemouth Harbour were dashed on the Hurkar Rocks with their families looking on in dismay from the cliffs. One boat, the Ariel Gazelle, stayed out in deep water until the storm abated, and got home safely a couple of days later. Another, the White Star, eventually limped into Tynemouth.
Despite the loss of so many men - some families lost four generations in one boat - none of the bereaved families starved, thanks to the determination of the survivors and a public relief fund.
Bert's family lost seventeen members in the disaster, and its story has been part of his life. Despite this enormous setback, the village of Eyemouth is still thriving as a fishing village today.
Sandy Mitchell thanked Bert on behalf of the club.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 6th August 2014

Alix Brewster - Click for larger image
Alix Brewster - Projects Abroad trip to Ghana

President Peter McKinnon chaired the meeting, welcoming thirty-two members and guest speaker Alix Brewster, who was introduced after dinner by her uncle, Past President Brian Bayne.
When she was 16, Alix applied successfully to the Cameron Travel Scholarship Trust for a vocational trip to Ghana, which was organised by Projects Abroad, and consisted of a two-week placement at the Aboom Primary and Special Needs School in Cape Coast, and a further two weeks at a rural village in the Akuaphem Hills. Her hosts in Cape Coast lived as an extended family in a single house; she had expected crowded conditions, but she hadn't expected to be offered gizzards for dinner! Fortunately, there was always plenty of rice, and she managed to find a source of British-made chocolate biscuits and didn't go hungry. Two weeks later, after a six hour bus journey to the hills, she suffered another culture shock when she found her accommodation was a mud-hut. As she settled to sleep on the first night, she found there was an army of ants marching up her wall!
Along with the rest of the party, she was made very welcome, and they enjoyed the tasks they were set, including painting the buildings and some teaching. She was struck by the pupils' desire to learn, and their teachers' ability to get the most out of primitive classrooms and improvised materials. A less pleasant memory was of a young boy who was punished for stealing a few oranges by being stretched out over a table and beaten with a cane. Her shock at seeing this brutality was mixed with shame when she recalled that it's not so long ago that corporal punishment was common here in Britain.
President-Elect Pat Mitchell congratulated Alix on the vivid and enthusiastic way she presented her experiences in Ghana, and thanked her on behalf of the club.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 13th August 2014

President Peter McKinnon chaired the meeting, welcoming thirty-one members and guest speaker Helen Kidd.
Helen is a volunteer speaker for the Mary's Meals charity, which provides one simple meal a day for school-children in impoverished countries like Malawi, enabling them to get the education they need to raise themselves from poverty.
The raw materials for the food are bought locally, which provides support for the local economy, and volunteers in the community do the cooking - in this way 920,000 children are now being fed every day in 17 countries, at an average cost of £12.20 per child per year.
Following Helen's talk, Past President Willie Nicoll thanked her on behalf of the club, and presented her with a cheque for £4,000, which will be used to construct a kitchen in a village school in Malawi.
The speaker on the 3rd of September will be Past President Ian Copland, who will speak of Cupar-born Alexander Berry, who studied medicine at St Andrews University, but went on to become Australia's first millionaire.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 20th August 2014

President Peter McKinnon chaired the meeting, welcoming thirty-three members.
Rotarian Jim Campbell entertained us after the meeting, taking as his theme the loss of unique local features in town centres, shops, characters and stories - the result of modern communications. His selection of Scottish stories, mixed with Scottish whistle tunes, made it clear just how much we have to lose.
Past President Bill Nicoll thanked Jim on behalf of all present.

Wednesday 27th August 2014 - No Meeting - Scatter Week

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 3rd September 2014

President Peter McKinnon chaired the meeting, welcoming thirty-four members. Past President Ian Copland spoke after the meeting about one of Cupar's unsung heroes - Alexander Berry - who was born at Hilltarvit Mains Farm in 1781, and is now better-known in Australia than in his home-town!
Educated at the old Grammar School on Castle Hill, he went on to St Andrews University and then to Edinburgh University to study medicine. Once qualified, he returned to Cupar and worked with Dr George Govan, picking up an extensive knowledge of pharmacology, but he was keen to go to sea and enrolled as ship's surgeon with the East India Company. Tiring of this, he went on to charter his own ships to move goods around the world, eventually settling in New South Wales, where he applied for 10,000 acres of land in return for supervising 100 convicts for a period of ten years.
This was the start of a successful business empire, which led to his becoming Australia's first millionaire - he left an estate of 1.25 million pounds when he died at the age of 92 in 1873 - and the town of Berry in New South Wales was named after him.
Rotarian John Morrow thanked Ian on behalf of the Club.
The meeting of the Club on 17th September will be open to the public. The speaker will be Glenys Marra, of Bowel Cancer UK, who will talk about the charity. The meeting starts at 6:30 pm at Watts Restaurant, and will be followed by a buffet meal.
No charge will be made for the meal, but any members of the public who wish to attend are asked to email the Club's Secretary Donald Cameron (secretary@rotarycupar.org) so that he can let the restaurant know how many to expect.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 17th September 2014

Glenys Marra - Click for larger image
Glenys Marra - Volunteer Speaker on Bowel Cancer

In a break from the usual format, the meeting was open to the public, and after President Peter McKinnon's opening remarks moved straight on to the speaker - Glenys Marra, who is a volunteer speaker for Bowel Cancer UK.
A Fifer, Glenys moved to Dundee in 1968 as a maths teacher, and eventually retired in 2007. Thinking she now had time to get fit, she found she was unexpectedly tired, and on further investigation was found to have Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure and chest problems. Unfortunately, treatment for these didn't make her feel much better, and it wasn't until she received a bowel cancer screening kit in the post that she was found to have numerous polyps and two tumours in her large bowel.
Bowel cancer often produces no symptoms, but tends to cause traces of blood in the stool, which can be detected by a simple chemical test. In 2000 a pilot scheme was set up in Fife, Tayside and Grampian. A stool sample kit was sent to all patients aged between 50 and 69 registered with a GP in these areas, and returned to the laboratory in Dundee. Any patients with positive results were investigated and treated promptly, and the pilot was so successful that it was rolled out to the whole of Scotland and the 50-74 age-group in 2007.
The earlier a bowel cancer is treated, the better the outcome, which is usually expressed in terms of the numbers of patients who survive five years from the date of the treatment. Stage one (when the tumour is on the inner surface of the bowel) has a 95% 5 year survival rate, Stage two has 77%, Stage three 43% and Stage four (when the tumour has penetrated through the bowel wall) 7%.
Although sending off the specimens is straightforward and the results of early treatment are so good, only 50% of men in the target age-group return their kits, and some may be reluctant to seek help even when they have warning symptoms such as rectal bleeding, change in bowel habit, unexplained weight loss, extreme tiredness, or an abdominal lump or pain. The risk of bowel cancer can be reduced by cutting down on red meat and processed foods, avoiding smoking and high alcohol intake, and eating more whole grains, pulses and fruit. Physical activity is also helpful in reducing the risk.
Glenys was full of praise for the screening service and the investigation and treatment that followed. She was thanked on behalf of the club by Rotarian Michael Hendry for the clarity of her presentation on what has for too long been a taboo topic.
Discussion continued during the buffet supper which followed.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 24th September 2014

President Peter McKinnon welcomed thirty Rotarians to dinner, which was followed by Past President Graham Findlay's talk on a topical subject - The Ryder Cup.
Graham's story started with Donald Matheson, the general manager of the Caledonian Railway Company, who was on holiday in Strathearn in 1910 and saw the potential for a large country house hotel. It took until 1913 for Gleneagles Ltd to be formed, but the construction of the hotel and golf courses was interrupted by the First World War. The first golf course was completed in 1919, but the hotel wasn't finally opened until 1924.
Further courses and development of other features has gone on ever since, but the connection of Gleneagles with the Ryder Cup started in 1921 when a team from the USA was beaten 9-3 by a British team. A return match in the USA in 1927 was the first formal Ryder cup match, and as the US players gained in strength over the years the British team was forced to widen its net to become Great Britain and Ireland in 1973 and Europe in 1979. This still didn't do the trick, and it wasn't until 1985 that the Cup left the USA - for the first time in 28 years.
Graham closed with the hope that Bernard Gallacher's nephew Stephen would follow his uncle's lead (he captained the winning away match in 1995), and play a big part in a win for Europe.
David Nimmo congratulated Graham on the extensive research he had done on the subject [only a small fraction of which is reported here], and proposed the Vote of Thanks.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 8th October 2014

Ben Guthrie - Click for larger image
Ben Guthrie - reporting back on RYLA experience

Thirty-one Rotarians were welcomed to the meeting by President Peter McKinnon, with two guest - Nigerian priest Father Samuel (the guest of Canon Pat McInally), and Ben Guthrie, the guest speaker.
Introduced by Rotarian Alistair Andrew, Ben was reporting back on his experiences at Nethybridge on the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA). Proposed by his school (Bell Baxter) and sponsored by the Rotary Club of Cupar, Ben had spent a week with 60 other RYLA nominees on a selection of team activities, including kayaking, hill-walking, climbing, mountain-biking, raft building, team challenges and gorge walking. Each day started with an address by a speaker who was a civic leader in his field, aimed at encouraging team-work and leadership skills in those attending.
Ben's enthusiasm for the experience was very obvious in the way he presented his report, and he was thanked for coming to speak to the club by President Elect Pat Mitchell.
The speaker on the 22nd October will be Rotarian Peter Haselhurst, who will be talking about the John Muir Trust.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 15th October 2014

Graham Pirie and Mhari Paton - Click for larger image
Graham Pirie and Mhari Paton - past RYLA student

President Peter McKinnon welcomed six guests to the meeting, along with thirty-five members.
In a serendipitous follow-on from last week's talk from a recent RYLA student, Past-President Graham Pirie introduced the evening's speaker, Mhari Paton. They had fallen into conversation during a chance meeting while walking their dogs, and it turned out that Mhari had been a RYLA student fourteen years ago. Taking "Life After RYLA" as her theme, Mhari told us about her nomination at Bell Baxter for the Rotary Youth Leadership Award, and her surprise at being chosen. She described herself as always being confident and talkative at school, but felt she never excelled. She was taken out of her comfort zone at RYLA, with the double challenge of the activities and of fitting in with people she didn't know, but when she burst into tears on arriving home it was because she hadn't wanted to leave!
She had coped well with the whole RYLA experience, and has kept up with many of her contemporaries over the years. Now a high school teacher, she worked in the catering industry when she left school, ending up as assistant manager at the Links Trust. Still not sure she had found her niche, she took up a friend's suggestion that she should take up a one-year Home Economics teaching course, and her placements at Kirkton High School convinced her that teaching was where she wanted to be.
Her experience at RYLA showed her that pupils who say "Ah cannae dae that Miss" when faced with a new challenge just need a little push and a little encouragement to find they can do it, after all.
Past President Dermot Stewart thanked Mhari on the club's behalf.
The speaker on the 29th October will be Michael Hendry, and his topic will be "Are We Rational About Risk?"

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 22nd October 2014

President Peter McKinnon welcomed three guests to the meeting, along with thirty-four members.
"The John Muir Trust" was Rotarian Peter Haselhurst's title for his after-dinner talk. The trust is named after a Scot, who was born in Dunbar in 1838, the third of eight children, and who emigrated to the USA with the rest of the family when he was eleven, settling on a farm in Wisconsin. Muir was an early advocate of the preservation of wilderness areas in the USA, and in 1890 was influential in the passage of the National Park Bill through Congress. The Sierra Club, an association of mountain lovers, was set up in 1892 with Muir as its first president, and he remained in post until his death 22 years later.
The Trust was set up in 1983, and has its headquarters in Pitlochry. It is a UK conservation charity, which owns and looks after some of the UK's finest landscapes, including Ben Nevis, Schiehallion, Sandwood Bay, Quinag, part of the Cuillin on Skye and 3,000 acres of the Knoydart Peninsula. It protects wild land for its own sake, while working with the people who live there, and seeks to defend wild land when it is threatened. Sensitive to the conflict between preservation and access, the trust set about repairing the footpath on the side of Schiehallion when it took possession in 1998. The path had become very muddy, and in places was 90 feet wide, forming a scar on the hillside. Over a period of five years a realigned path was constructed using local materials, and the scar is now gradually blending in with its surroundings.
Quoting Winston Churchill, who had been described as a pillar of the church by saying "not a pillar of the church, but a buttress, supporting it from the outside", Peter confessed that he hadn't done much physical work as a member of the trust, but was happy to support it financially and by promoting its activities.
Past President Rennie Ritchie proposed the Vote of Thanks.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 29th October 2014

President-Elect Pat Mitchell took the chair in the absence of President Peter McKinnon, and welcomed thirty-one members and two guests to the meeting.
The "President's Head" golf trophy was won in a recent competition by Grant McLeish, and the monthly Whisky Draw was won by John Morrow.
Vice President Michael Hendry spoke after the meal, posing the question "Are We Rational About Risk?".
Although we believe that we make everyday decisions on a logical basis, psychological researchers have shown that there are two distinct mechanisms at work - the right half of the brain is involved in the emotional "gut reaction" to a situation, and the left in a slower and more rational process. In order to be quick enough to save us from a dangerous situation - seeing the shape of a poisonous snake or a predator, for example - the gut reaction has to use rules-of-thumb to streamline the process, and may get it wrong. Experiments with individuals who have had the connections between the two halves of their brains cut to control severe epilepsy have shown that the immediate gut reaction has a big influence on our decisions, and the left brain is often drawn in by the right to give the appearance of being entirely logical.
Using the example of the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 to illustrate this, Michael pointed out that when Americans decided to drive instead of taking a plane over the twelve months after 9/11, the number of road deaths increased by nearly 1600, three times the number who had died in the hijacked planes. Even if terrorists had been destroying one US flight every week for a year, a regular flyer taking one flight a month would have only 1 chance in 350,000 of dying in one of these planes.
Our tendency to fall in with other members of our tribes, to underestimate the dangers of domestic risks (like driving to work) while overplaying the more exotic (such as nuclear energy and asteroids) and many other factors have been well researched by psychologists, and they will often lead us away from a rational decision. These same mechanisms have also left us vulnerable to salesmen, politicians and con-artists over the centuries.
Concluding his talk, Michael replied "Probably not" to the question posed in his title, and wished everyone a safe journey home - by whatever mode of transport!
Past President Bruce Rollo proposed the Vote of Thanks.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 5th November 2014

President Peter McKinnon welcomed thirty-two members to the meeting with one of his signature agricultural anecdotes.
Although arrangements for a speaker had fallen through at the last minute, members took the opportunity to continue conversations started over dinner.
The speaker on the 19th November will be Dr Martin Hepworth, who will speak about Laurel and Hardy.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 12th November 2014

Thirty-two members were welcomed to the meeting by President Peter McKinnon, and were entertained after dinner by Rotarian Roy Marsden, who posed the question 'Who Was Shakespeare?'.
Roy first encountered Shakespeare's plays at school, studying MacBeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Twelfth Night, and was able to visit Stratford-upon-Avon while he was a student to see productions of Comedy of Errors and Romeo and Juliet.
The oldest surviving child of John and Mary Shakespeare, William was born to staunchly Catholic parents in the 6th year of Queen Elizabeth I's reign, in 1564. The religious turmoil of King Henry VIII's reign had been followed by the five year-reign of the Catholic Queen Mary - who had about 300 executed purely because of their Protestant faith. Elizabeth's reign switched the emphasis in a Protestant direction, but she was more tolerant - only 50 were executed prior to 1570, when she was excommunicated and declared illegitimate by the Pope, who had declared that Catholics need no longer be loyal to her. The politics and religion of the time obviously had an influence on writers, and Shakespeare frequently used twins, siblings, impostors and mistaken identity as themes in his plays. He was no doubt familiar with the story of Perkin Warbeck, who claimed to have been the younger son of Edward IV and therefore the rightful heir to the English throne. He made his case well enough for James IV of Scotland to base an invasion of England on it in 1496, but this attack failed only four miles over the border and James eventually shipped him off to Ireland.
London's population grew to 200,000 by the 1590s, and this burgeoning and prosperous population needed entertainment, which Shakespeare and his contemporaries Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe aimed to provide. Because of censorship in the City of London, the original Globe Theatre was built South of the river, and could hold an audience of 2,500.
Shakespeare's plays fell out of favour after his death in 1616, but there was renewed interest in the 19th century, and disputes arose about the authorship of the plays. Shakespeare's parents were both illiterate, and his schooling was interrupted by a change in his father's fortunes. It was argued that only a well-read and well-travelled man could have written the plays, and Sir Francis Bacon and the 17th Earl of Oxford were suggested as possible authors. In the 1890s an American physician, Dr Orville Ward Owen, built a "cipher wheel", which he used to support the currently popular theory that Bacon had written Shakespeare's plays as a means of transmitting hidden messages.
Roy ended by confessing that he couldn't provide an answer to his own question, and was thanked on behalf of the club by George Bett.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 19th November 2014

Martin Hepworth - Click for larger image
Martin Hepworth

Thirty members, three honorary members, five members from adjacent clubs and spouses and partners of several members were welcomed to the meeting by President Peter McKinnon. Guest speaker Dr Martin Hepworth spoke about his long-term membership of the Blockheads Tent of Edinburgh, which is a chapter of the Sons of the Desert - the fan club of Laurel and Hardy. The Tent meets on a monthly basis, and shows a selection from the 105 Laurel and Hardy films.
Norvell Hardy was born in Georgia in 1892, but adopted his father's first name - Oliver - some time before 1910, and was employed that year in a cinema. He was the projectionist, ticket taker, janitor and manager of the cinema, and even did some singing between films. He was soon running six cinemas, and in 1913 he joined the Lubin Motion Picture Company in Florida. Between 1913 and 1926 he made 212 films.
Stan Laurel was born Arthur Stanley Jefferson in 1890 in Ulverston, Cumbria. He was largely brought up by his grandparents because his parents were involved in theatre and were always on the move. The family moved to Glasgow in 1905 to be close to the Metropole Theatre, and Stan made his stage debut at the nearby Britannia Panopticon shortly before his sixteenth birthday. He was later employed by theatrical impresario Fred Karno as a supporting actor and understudy to Charlie Chaplin, and when Karno's troupe toured the USA he decided not to return to England. Stan signed up with Hal Roach in 1926, as did Olly, one as a writer and director and the other as an actor, and they realised that they worked well together, making 75 films during this time.
The essence of Laurel and Hardy's films was visual humour, largely derived from the Music Hall acts they had grown up with, and they made the transition from silent films to talkies by incorporating dialogue without letting it take over. Not so easy was the change from fifteen minute films to feature length, and from jokes which could be recycled through the music halls to new material for each production. Following a falling out with Hal Roach, they signed up with Fox, and ended up making a number of B features, and Stan became ill while they were making their last film together in 1949. This flopped, but they noticed that their films were now being shown on television (without royalties being paid to them!) and decided to make TV shows. Olly eventually died following a series of strokes in 1956 and Stan in 1965.
Martin illustrated his talk with a series of excerpts from their films, and was thanked by Past President Vince Fusaro on behalf of the club.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 26th November 2014

President Peter McKinnon took the chair for the club's Special General Meeting, with thirty-two members and one guest present.
The club's officers and other council members gave progress reports on planned activities of the club, and officers for the 2015-2016 session were chosen as follows:
President: Pat Mitchell
President-Elect: Michael Hendry
Junior Vice-President: Bruce McHardy
Secretary: Roy Marsden
Assistant Secretary: Maurice Shepherd
Treasurer: Willie Nicoll
The speaker on the 10th December will be Rotarian Colin Mackenzie, who will be giving a vocational talk.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 3rd December 2014

President Peter McKinnon welcomed three guests and thirty-three members to the meeting, and had the pleasure of inducting Ian Rutherford as a new member of the club. Introduced by Rotarian Alastair Andrew, Ian had worked at the paper mill in Guardbridge for 25 years but moved South when it closed, returning to Ceres once he had retired.
Rotarian Colin Mackenzie reported that £155.78 had been collected by the Wishing Well at the Scottish Deer Centre.
James Johnston introduced after-dinner speakers Layla Elmisurati and Margareta Fagan, both from Fife Women's Aid. This charity now has 35 years of experience in supporting women, children and young people who have suffered from domestic abuse of one sort or another. Although the best-known aspect of this is physical abuse, sexual, mental and emotional abuse all take their toll on mothers and families, where gender inequality allows a man with a need for power and control to take charge. Police Scotland estimates that about 20% of the operational time of its officers is taken up in dealing with this problem, with more than 58,000 offences reported in 2013-2014.
Women's Aid Fife receives approximately 75% of its funding from Fife Council, the remainder coming from charitable donations, and it offers a variety of services ranging from refuge accommodation for mothers and families, through outreach work supporting families within their own homes, on to follow-on work once a crisis has been dealt with, and also to general training and awareness-raising in the community at large.
After a lively question-and-answer session, Peter Haselhurst proposed the vote of thanks.

Evening Meeting held at Watts Restaurant on Wednesday 10th December 2014

President Peter McKinnon opened the meeting by congratulating the thirty-six members present on turning out in such foul weather!
After dinner, Rotarian Colin Mackenzie took us on a whistle-stop tour of his first 70 years, starting with his birth at Fernbrae Nursing Home in February 1944. Brought up on an Angus farm, which had no electricity and didn't have a tractor until 1947, Colin hadn't realised how isolated his existence was until he went to school and met other children outside the family - although there was no shortage of cousins, as his father came from a family of ten and his mother of six. The move up from primary school to Forfar Academy opened his horizons still further, but he still felt he was an outsider because he couldn't stay on for extracurricular activities after school hours. In any case, he'd always enjoyed the full days of work on the farm during the school holidays, and when he left school at fifteen he felt he was on holiday all the time!
He soaked up skills and knowledge of farming, and added to this by attending evening classes at Forfar up to Stage 1 City & Guilds level. The opening of the Tay Bridge in 1966 allowed him to travel to Elmwood to study in more depth, and a Potato Inspector's qualification allowed him to travel to a variety of different farms throughout Scotland, picking up how they worked - this put him in a good position when his uncle eventually handed over his share of the family farm to him. He invested money and effort in the farm and did well, with a bumper year in 1976. After that, farming became more difficult with crippling interest rates on loans, and in 1985 he decided to sell up. Shortly after completing the sale in 1987 he spotted an ad for a Farm Guide Instructor at Elmwood College and was successful in his application. His early experiences as an instructor in the Rover Scouts, in Civil Defence Rescue and later in the Young Farmers stood him in good stead, and he eventually became qualified as a teacher. Looking back when he retired in 2005 he had enjoyed his time at Elmwood, despite increasing bureaucracy and the lack of funding for teaching materials. He'd met numerous fascinating and enthusiastic colleagues over the years both in farming and in teaching.
Past President Ron Smith proposed the vote of thanks.
The speaker at the first meeting in 2015, on the 7th of January, will be Honorary Member Jackie Taylor, who will bring us up to date on the our Water Projects in Nepal.

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