Talk 1st February 2017:
Introduced by President Ian McLaren, Alister Walker of JRS Photo Hardware Ltd.spoke of the many advances in photographic techniques which have occurred since the days of the Box Brownie cameras of the 1930s. Despite recent stories in the Press claiming a revival of celluloid film, there was no truth in the rumour that pictures taken on such film are clearer in detail than those “shot” using the modern digital cameras. Today’s devices combine many more features than ever before such as video and wi-fi capability and auto focusing and flash, effectively doing away with the need to spend time setting up the camera before taking a photograph. A variety of cameras was on display enabling Alister to demonstrate these technological advances.
Alister also summarised the many services which his firm provides. In particular their ability to arrange for old or damaged photographs to be restored and the production of caricature pictures, besides their more frequent tasks such as the taking of passport and wedding photographs and the like.
After Alister answered questions from the members present, a vote of thanks was proposed by Donald McDonald.
Talk 4th January 2017:
Steve Mannion , formerly Assistant Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police and later Area Commander Scotland, British Transport Police, gave an interesting, often amusing and sometimes harrowing account of his experiences during his career as a Police officer in Glasgow. Having completed his National Service with the Scots Guards, Steve joined the City of Glasgow Police, the oldest in the World having been formed in 1800, and after 12 weeks training was allocated to A Division in the City Centre based in the Gallowgate, an area containing 37 pubs. In his first week he helped to quell a big fight which resulted in an appearance in the High Court, although later he came to realise that giving evidence in the lower Courts was more challenging.
Steve paid tribute to the work of Percy Sillitoe, the “ Hammer of the Glasgow Gangs” who introduced the black and white checked band around the cap, the “Doctor Who” Police boxes, fingerprinting and other forms of forensic technology, and women within the CID to help deal with cases of child abuse.
During his time with the Glasgow Police, Steve experienced many major incidents including policing football matches, Orange parades and officiating at Royal visits.
Steve vividly recalled the Ibrox disaster in January 1971 when 66 people lost their lives and another 145 were seriously injured on passageway 13 at the stadium. Also the Lockerbie air disaster on 21st December, 1988 when he was involved in a support capacity with officers from several Police forces.
At the conclusion of his talk, Steve answered questions from the floor before a vote of thanks was proposed by Richard Webb.
Talk 30th November 2016
President Ian McLaren introduced James England, founder of Blue Sky Experiences, an organisation specialising in corporate events based at Methven. Having inherited the family farm, and on questioning the viability of continuing with the livestock side of the business, Ian and his wife Susie began to diversify their business activities by constructing a low-ropes course and puzzle zones and offering team building courses for corporate clients. This successful venture led to rapid expansion of the business over the years with farm buildings being converted into teaching and conference facilities for many kinds of events including weddings.
Further expansion of the business continued apace with the establishment of contacts and the issuing of licences throughout the U.K., and improvements to the team building packages through the use of psychometric profiling with the use of the Insight Discovery profiling tool, and “gamification” i.e. projects and games using high-tech tablet computers and other such devices.
Event packages can now be offered anywhere in the U.K. and even throughout Europe and Scandinavia which can be tailored to suit the requirements of the client, with 790 events having been organised over the past year. The future is looking good for Blue Sky Experiences.
After James had answered questions from the members, a vote of thanks was proposed by Graham Cox.
Talk 19th October 2017:
President Ian McLaren introduced Ronnie Myles, Managing Director, and Gordon Smith, Sales Marketing Director of the Bells Food Group, an 85 year old third generation family company based in Shotts, famous for its Scotch pies and other bakery products. Founded in 1931 by Donald Bell, the Company grew to involve further family members in the 1930s and 40s. It really expanded following the introduction of puff pastry in 1950. In 1975, the company purchased the Kirriemuir Gingerbread Company, and in 1993 moved into the purpose-built factory it occupies today.
The company which employs 205 staff and is continuing to expand, is now the fifth largest Brand in Scotland surpassing Tunnocks and Mackies. It manufactures 60 tons of pastry products each week, doubling its turnover during the Christmas and New Year period. If lined up side by side, the Scotch pies produced annually would stretch from Shotts to Palma in Majorca.
The Company is especially proud of its workforce, comprising 170 British and 32 Polish workers, as well as a worker from Burundi and another from Thailand. Workers are encouraged to train in matters such as health and safety, and labour relations are of a high standard with the average length of service being 14 years and an absentee ratio of only 0.7 per cent.
As well as its own branded products, the Company manufactures goods for 200 independent butchers as well as many large supermarkets, for which it requires to maintain BRC accreditation necessitating the highest standards of hygiene and cleanliness. Improved packaging is ongoing at present with a view to raising the profile of the Brand along with product development involving the sampling of potential new products by panels of tasters.
After Ronnie and Gordon had responded to many questions put to them by members, a vote of thanks was proposed by Wasil Siddiqui.
Talk 5th October 2016:
Ken Neil of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, who for the past 8 years has been engaged in the Save the Red Squirrels Project, gave his final talk on the subject following his recent retirement. Red squirrels, or Sciutus Vulgaris ( common squirrel), are the only native species in Scotland, grey squirrels having been introduced into the UK by the Victorians. The main purpose of the Project is twofold; firstly to try to prevent grey squirrels, which because of their size and strength can outmuscle the reds in competition for food and other resources, from encroaching into the Highlands, i.e. north of the Highland Fault Line (apart from a localised number in Aberdeen) and secondly to promote the growth of the red squirrel population South of that line.
It may have surprised many people to learn that the two species can and do exist side by side, even to the extent of sharing their drays on occasion, though not “ nursery drays” as built by the females to house their kittens.
The principal diet of the red squirrel consists of pine cone seeds, hazelnuts, berries, mushrooms and other fungi, and tree flowers. The position of their convex eyes, giving a focused wide field of vision, coupled with their extraordinary agility and speed, enable them to escape the attention of predators such as raptors and pine martens, although the latter appear to threaten grey squirrels more than the reds.
Indeed the main threats to the reds now appear to be deforestation and the spread of built-up areas, roadkill and squirrel pox, a virus first detected in 2005 which affects their skin and generally proves fatal. Thankfully the development of vaccines may now help control the spread of this disease.
Measures being taken to achieve the aims and objectives of the Project include the identification of those areas in which there is a proliferation of grey squirrels and the trapping and culling of grey squirrels within those areas. This is being shown to be markedly successful.
The vote of thanks was proposed by Donald McDonald.
Talk 7th September 2017:
Sally Lindsay, who joined the charity “Mercy Ships” after visiting their ship docked at Dundee, gave members an insight into their work undertaken in Africa and Madagascar.
In Sierra Leone, where there averaged one doctor per 20,000 people, the charity’s ship, which was formerly a Danish ferry and had been purchased and equipped with 4 wards and 6 operating theatres with financial help from Ann Gloag, docked for a period of 10 months at the capital Freetown, a city of extreme poverty and a population of 2 million. Some months beforehand a team from the charity had identified, listed and prioritised those in need of treatment, set up onshore treatment centres, and recruited 100 day workers including healthcare assistants and cleaners to join the rest of the crew comprising a total of 450 people of 35 different nationalities.
During its stay in Freetown, the medical staff on board the ship, which was guarded by a squad of Gurkhas at all times, dealt with a wide variety of issues including cancers, cataracts, cleft palates,burns and many other severe conditions such as fistulas and flesh-eating bacterial infections.Spiritual as well as physical needs were also addressed and there was always singing and dancing on board at one time or another.Nobody’s religion was asked about.But there was more to the charity’s work than on the ship. Land based eye and dental clinics were set up, training was given to local professionals, arts and crafts work was undertaken in orphanages and prisons, and there was also an agricultural programme.
At the conclusion of her talk, Sally answered questions from members before a vote of thanks was proposed by Vice-President Duncan Naysmith.
Talk 25th May 2016:
Joe Doogan of Babcocks delivered a most interesting talk on the construction of the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier which is currently undergoing the final stages of construction at the Rosyth Naval dockyard.
Beginning with a general overview of the facilities at Rosyth, Joe then went on to outline the preparatory work that had to be carried out in order for the yard to be able to accommodate the carrier during the construction period including the purchase from China and the installation of the giant Goliath crane which now spans the dry dock areas. Joe went on to describe the various component parts of the carrier which were constructed at other yards in the UK as well as at Rosyth itself, and also Sweden which contributed the giant screw propellers.
It was sad to note that after completion of the two aircraft carriers, the Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales, this type of work was due to cease at Rosyth, with the giant crane and other equipment specially obtained to deal with the project having to be sold off and the proceeds returned to the Government, though it was encouraging to hear that the yard were going to be busy with the decommissioning of several redundant nuclear submarines and that negotiations were in hand with a view to diversification into other engineering work for the future.
After Joe had fielded a number of questions from members, Ian Steven, himself a former merchant seaman with experience in working on large container ships, proposed a vote of thanks.
Talk 30th March 2017:
Willie Coupar, himself a former soldier with the Highland Light Infantry, gave an absorbing and detailed talk on how allied forces, at the third attempt, finally took Gaza from the Turks in November 1917. The first offensive failed when the allied forces, attacking from the South, snatched failure from the jaws of success by retreating from a winning position on the pretext that their horses needed water and their troops were exhausted. The second battle a few months later was also unsuccessful in that, whilst the allies had received reinforcements, the Turks were also greatly strengthened, and the frontal attacks of the allied forces were dogged with tanks getting bogged down in the sand, and advances being met with counter attacks resulting in many casualties.
The third, and eventually successful campaign, saw Sir Edmund Allenby moving his headquarters from Cairo to take control of the allied forces. The strategy involved mounted troops advancing on the wells of Beersheba in the East and thence to the North and West of Gaza whilst in the West a series of actions were put in place as a diversionary tactic. These comprised a preliminary bombardment of Gaza, the threat of amphibious assault and the bizarre exploits of Colonel Meinertzhagen who let a haversack containing false British battle plans fall into enemy hands. Although the mounted troops were held up for a while, provoking Wavell to complain to Allenby that the cavalry were not fast enough, and to get a “rocket” from “the Bull” in return, the campaign was ultimately successful and Gaza was eventually taken.
Many lessons were learned from the campaign, including the need to select and maintain ones aims, to maintain morale, to exploit initiatives, to concentrate forces at vital points, to economise on effort by leaving troops in position when not needed, to utilise lit fires, night marches and deception to increase security, to be flexible and to switch flanks when needed, to have good channels of communication, and to have good supporting resources such as water supplies, railways etc.
Willie’s talk was greatly appreciated by all, and a vote of thanks was proposed by David Moffat.
Talk: 13th May 2015:
Vice- President Ian McLaren introduced Joe Richards, one-time hospital pharmacist, who addressed members on the subject of “Potions and Poisons”. The room was transformed into an impromptu laboratory as Joe demonstrated how pills, tablets, inhalants and suppositories were manufactured in days gone by. In a colourful experiment, Joe showed how, with the assistance of a little potassium, water can be turned into fire, and how early inhalants were produced from ammonia and hydrochloric acid.
With the assistance of volunteers, some more willing than others, the various methods used to administer medicines were explored. Thankfully the line was drawn at colonic irrigation, however. Surprising to note that Sir Christopher Wren was a pioneer of the administration of medicine by injection.
Advances in medical treatment were amply illustrated and universally welcomed, though the jury is still out as to whether many of the popular remedies used nowadays, such as acupuncture and herbal concoctions, will prove as effective as the more traditional ones.
The interest generated by Joe’s talk was evidenced by the range of questions and observations fielded by Joe at its conclusion.
How things have changed!
The vote of thanks was given by Bill Gray.
Talk 4th October 2017:
John Marshall, who was brought up on a farm near Dunning, and worked with the Potato Marketing Board and later with the Crop Research Institute before retiring in 2015 and becoming involved with the Royal Highland Educational Trust , gave a talk on “ the History of the Potato.”
Potatoes originated in Peru where many different species were grown and were brought back to Europe in the 16th century by the likes of Sir Walter Raleigh who had gone there in search of gold. Antoine-Augustine Parmentier then raised awareness throughout Europe of the nutritional properties of the potato which became a very popular food. In Scotland potatoes first appeared during the 18th century when, after Culloden, people on the West coast, who had been burning seaweed to get potassium started growing potatoes in” lazy beds” using the seaweed as a fertiliser.
In 1845 there was a potato blight, especially in Ireland where over a million people died from starvation as a result.
After the Irish potato famine, William Paterson of Dundee started cross-breeding potatoes investing £9000 of his own money and produced a variety called Victoria which became extremely popular in Britain. Then Archibald Findlay of Auchtermuchty used Victoria to cross-breed with other types of potato and he was successful in producing many different types of seedlings. This gave rise to a boom in the popularity of potatoes with other new varieties such as British Queen and Majestic. Seventy per cent of today’s potatoes including Maris Piper are derived from his products.
Nowadays potatoes are grown all over the World, even in Saudi Arabia where pivot irrigation is used to combat the intense heat. In China potatoes are grown on a vast scale and are used to make noodles.
In 2015 Morrice Innes from Newmachar exhibited 150 different varieties of potato at the Chelsea Flower show, obtaining widespread media coverage and winning Gold medals in the process.
Talk 15th November 2017:
Dr Nicola Cowmeadow, Local History Officer at Culture Perth and Kinross, gave a talk on managing and promoting the various collections held at the A K Bell Library. These include the Mackintosh collection of rare books; collections of photographic plates of picturesque Perthshire; the Atholl collection of bagpipe music; and a collection by Dr Mary Noble incorporating material by Charles Mackintosh of Inver who encouraged Beatrix Potter in her studies of nature and which contain a collection of plates drawn by her.
It was noted that next year, it is planned to hold a festival of the works of the often overlooked local poet William Soutar who, despite suffering from severe arthritis and spondylitis during his later years wrote a great deal of often humorous works during that period.
Many exhibitions and projects are organised by the Trust, most recently a memorialisation of the First World War and an exhibition of Perthshire’s Rural Past.
Many people are unaware of the extensive records held at the Library. These include collections of post cards and other photographic images of the area, a sound archive, Parish records and boundary maps, Local and Trade Directories, and newspaper collections dating back to 1809. These include the Perthshire Advertiser, the Perthshire Courier, the People’s Journal and other less well known and rarer ones such as The Alickmore Trumpet which appeared in 1891.
People interested in tracing their ancestry can use the facilities at the Library to search through the various records held both nationally and locally, and can receive assistance, free of charge, to help them do so.
A vote of thanks was proposed by John Blair.
The speaker at the next meeting on 29th November will be Ian Ferguson on “the History of the GA”.
Talk 29th November 2017:
Ian Ferguson spoke on the history of “the GA” and the insurance industry in general. Insurance as we know it today began in London after the Great Fire of 1666, under Dr Nicolas Barbon, a pioneer of fire insurance and then by a company called “Hand in Hand”.Ship owners met in coffee houses, and one of these owned by Edward Lloyd, became Lloyds of London which dealt in marine insurance. Insurance companies then became established throughout the country during the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1885 the “GA” was formed by a group of Perth businessmen who recognised the need for farmers, mill owners and other employers to insure themselves against claims of up to 3 years wages by employees injured as a result of accidents sustained at work. The first office
of the company, then known as the General Accident and Employers Liability Assurance Association, was at 44 Tay Street. In 1887 Sir Francis Norie-Miller was appointed Company Secretary, and under his energetic leadership the Company was listed on the Stock Exchange and expanded into motor insurance, moving into new purpose built offices in the High Street. They took a stand at the Motor Show in 1903, the only Insurance Company to do so, and began to open offices abroad including France and the USA. In the 1950’s and 60’s the Company, by then insurers to the Royal Family, introduced computerisation using IBM’s early machines, bought over a number of other companies, and moved into their new offices at Pitheavlis, selling the High Street building to the Council for £1.5 million.
Under the leadership of Bob Scott, the Company became more efficient and competitive, merging with Commercial Union, and later with Norwich Union. Now known as Aviva, the company has retained its Perth office supporting over 1200 jobs.
A vote of thanks was proposed by Stewart Macleod.
Talk 24th January 2018
President Duncan Naysmith introduced Dr Samira Bell, Consultant Nephrologist and Irene Russell, Renal Recipient and Live Donor Co-ordination, Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, who gave an overview of organ donation and transplantation in Tayside.
It was noted that whilst there has been a dramatic increase in renal dialysis, the symptoms of which include fatigue due to the length of time taken to undergo the treatment, the frequency thereof and the travelling involved, coupled with other side effects such as shortness of breath, muscle cramps, loss of concentration, and the need to observe a very strict diet, every effort was being made to offer transplantation instead, thereby greatly improving the quality of life and the life expectancy for the patient as well as making savings in expenditure for the NHS.
All this has necessitated a need to increase the number of donors, hence the calls for the introduction of the controversial opt-out scheme , whereby people would be required to specifically state whether they do not wish to donate after their death rather than the other way round. Donation would not occur, however, in the event of family members being opposed to the procedure.
Efforts were also being made to encourage people to talk to family members on the subject of organ donation, and to explain the benefits thereof to members of religions which, until now, may have felt unable or unwilling to support the concept.
After Dr Bell and Irene had answered many questions from Club members,
a vote of thanks was proposed by Bill Gray.
Talk 7th March 2018:
Alan Imrie’s mission was to decorate a tea towel with images of “Thistles among the Roses”; Scots men and women who went on to make their name in London. These included James Braidwood, who was Edinburgh’s first “Master of Fire Engines” and who was asked to come to London in 1833 where he founded the modern fire service; Lady Frances Balfour, a leading figure in the fight for votes for women who used her many influential connections to great effect; and the London Scottish Regiment, which, as the London Scottish Rifle Volunteers ,was founded by Lt. Col. Lord Elcho in 1859, and whose members later fought at both Ypres and the Somme sustaining heavy losses.
Mention was also made of other famous people who, at one time or another joined the Regiment, such as the actors Basil Rathbone, Ronald Coleman and Claude Rains, Sir Alexander Fleming, Victor Sylvester and Kenneth Grahame, author of “The Wind in the Willows”.
Tribute was paid to another little-known Scotsman, Alexander Cumming, who invented the S-Bend for toilet seats. At the conclusion of his interesting, and often humorous talk, when it was universally agreed that his tea towel was a great success, Alan answered questions from Club members.
A vote of thanks was proposed by Duncan Naysmith.
Talk 4th April 2018:
Tess Monteith and her daughter took us on a journey along the “Silk Road” from Suzhou in China to Venice,by bicycle, raising £5000 for the Scottish Air Ambulance in the process. Taking her sketch book with her, Tess emulated the Victorian travelling artists of bygone days, and took time to paint pictures of some of the outstanding landscapes and architecture encountered along the way. Her journey necessitated over 100 overnight stops, and everywhere she was met with scores of interested locals, all wanting to be photographed with their foreign visitors. Despite having to cope with many different languages, essential communications proved possible for the most part. Extremes of weather had to be dealt with too, the pleasant conditions in China during the early part of the journey contrasting sharply with the cold windy weather of the Gobi Desert and the wintry Kyrgyz border. Later, there was also a contrast between the “police state” of Uzbekistan, where an encounter with an unfriendly wolf left its mark necessitating medical treatment, to the oil rich state of Azerbaijan with its countryside in parts resembling that of the UK. Highlights of the trip included the friendliness of the people they met along the way, dromedaries sleeping on the road, egrets visiting water holes in the desert and the highly decorated Mogao caves at Dunhuang. There was much relief when journey’s end came into view as by then the brakes on Tess’s bike had ceased to function.
A vote of thanks was proposed by Alastair McCormick.
Talk 2nd May 2018:
Sarah Milford of Milford Vintage Engineering Ltd. gave a talk on the restoration and maintenance of classic cars and other vehicles. Having commenced in 1992, the business in Kirkmichael has grown to become one of Scotland’s leading car restorers. Sarah, who in her own words was “ born dipped in oil” and her husband Ian, the company’s Managing Director, and their team carry out a wide range of work from full restoration to regular routine servicing, breakdown assistance and rally and event preparation and support. Vehicles which have been handled by the company include their own 1947 Morris Z van, a 1902 Arrol-Johnston, which was once requested for use by H.M.The Queen Mother, and a 1950 Jowett Javelin. Customers have their vehicles restored for a variety of reasons, often sentimental, but sometimes for use on special occasions such as weddings, or simply because the vehicles are rare or of high financial value. Vehicles have even been reconstructed from a collection of bits and pieces. On one occasion a car, purchased on EBay for £23k was found to be in such bad condition internally that its restoration cost £140k. “Caviat Emptor”.
At the conclusion of a most informative talk, a vote of thanks was proposed by Ian Steven.
Talk 5th September 2018
John Carvell, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, was the speaker at Perth Probus Club’s first meeting after the Summer recess. John, a former pupil of Perth Academy and student at Queen’s College, Dundee was President of the University Sports Union when Dundee became a University on its own and in 1968 participated in an expedition to the Scoresby fjord in East Greenland, completing a survey of the Gannochy Glacier.
After graduating in 1970, he became House Officer to John Blair, a surgeon and current member of Perth Probus Club, later working as a demonstrator in anatomy at Dundee University. Having done his surgical training under Sir Peter Morris at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford, John went to the “fledgling” Southampton University where he taught the first batch of medical students.
He then gained a scholarship to work at L’Institut Calot, Berck-Plage in France, where Perthes Disease was first identified, and where great advances have been made in the treatment of scoliosis, polio and tuberculosis.
In 1983, along with others, he sent a letter to the British Medical Journal drawing attention to the rise in serious rugby football injuries, which was at first treated with scepticism, but later led to changes in the rules governing scrummaging and tackling and training of coaches and referees.
John’s consultancy in Salisbury began in that year, since when he has been involved in tackling aspects of safety at racecourses as well as arranging meetings and lectures on advances in the field of medicine and participating in “Art in Health”, a programme aimed at promoting the health and wellbeing of people with mental and physical conditions, and making hospital environments more pleasurable for patients and staff.
Talk 3rd October 2018
Morag Watson, Chief Executive of the Perth and Kinross Countryside Trust, spoke about the work of the Trust in working with local communities to conserve, protect and improve the environment, natural resources and facilities of the local countryside.
In partnership with The Gannochy Trust, Perth and Kinross Council and Tayside Enterprise, the Trust founded “Perthshire Big Tree County” and, in conjunction with Edinburgh Botanic Gardens, has regenerated over 900 rare trees such as Serbian conifers. Many such trees, planted by landowners like the Dukes of Atholl , had been lost or damaged through neglect after the First World War.
They have also created and upgraded many pathways including The Cateran Trail, over which the “Cateran Yomp” attracting 1000 participants takes place each year, the Loch Leven Heritage Trail and recently the cross-town pathway at Auchterarder. A “River Tay Way” is now being proposed. Other such projects include signposting and upgrading footpaths to ensure compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act. This involves the replacement of stiles with spring handled gates, track widening and gradient reduction.
Through the medium of the local Press and the production and distribution of leaflets, the Trust strives to direct people to places of particular interest, where for example, at certain times of the year, bluebells or snowdrops may be seen, or where and when salmon leaps can be witnessed.
The Trust’s value to the local economy is considerable, as its staff, consisting of only four full-time workers and a part-time officer, funded to the tune of £100k per annum from The Gannochy Trust, £30k from Perth and Kinross Council, and £60k raised by themselves, have contributed £4.25m to the local economy.
Talk 17th October 2018
Stewart Macleod, formerly a Director of Morrison Construction, gave a talk on the construction of the Kylesku Bridge which has since been described as one of the most aesthetically beautiful bridges in the world and has won many awards including a Saltire Society Award and a Concrete Society Award. Though apparently simple in its design, the bridge was remarkably complex in its construction with some of its reinforced concrete having eight times more steel/rebar than normal. The structure, which took two years to build and which was opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 2nd August 1984 crosses Loch a’Chairn Bhain saving motorists travelling to Scourie and the extreme North West of the mainland the need to take a 100 mile detour via Lairg. The bridge now forms part of the North Coast 500 tourist route. The remote location made it difficult to transport the necessary materials to the site and weather conditions during the construction period could be horrendous at times with 100 mph winds. Despite this, construction of the bridge was completed ahead of time and there were no reportable accidents. The tender price was £2.75m but at today’s costs would be around £16.5m. The on-site Chief Engineer who managed the very complex construction design was Michael Martin who recently retired as Project Director of the Queensferry Crossing.
At the conclusion of his talk, Stewart answered questions from members before a vote of thanks was proposed by Duncan Naysmith.
Talk 28th November 2018
Dr Cesar Rodriguez, Associate Medical Director (Older People), NHS Tayside, spoke about the various types and symptoms of dementia, the four most common being Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia and lewy body dementia. A symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is forgetfulness, although this can be simply part of the ageing process, and before Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed, there must be other factors such as difficulties of movement, carrying out everyday tasks and ability to deal with common problems.
Scotland is in the forefront of treatment for dementia, the aim being to diagnose the condition at an early stage, so that measures can be put in place to arrest the progression of the condition. With this in mind, a one-year programme of post-diagnosis support has been set up as it is acknowledged that whilst there will be cases where patients must undergo a spell in hospital, the environment can be toxic for them, and accordingly nowadays the aim is to look after them at home.
Efforts are being made in Tayside to integrate health and social care services to ensure that older people living at home can get ongoing help tailored to their own particular needs, and this will involve empowering people caring for patients on a daily basis to administer treatment
which up till now they have been unable to do.
At the conclusion of his talk, Dr Rodriguez answered questions from members, and a vote of thanks was proposed by Robin Mitchell.
Talk 23rd January 2019
President Murray Scott welcomed Andy Middlemiss who gave a detailed account of the tasks with which people were faced following the end of the First World War in which 147,000 Scots died.
The initial euphoria at the end of the hostilities was soon overtaken by frustration at the lack of employment available to the troops returning home, and the stress on the part of their families at having to cater for them.
Churchill commented that two pressing issues were the demobilisation of troops and getting German POW’s home. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission established hundreds of cemeteries in which those who were killed were interred. Many memorials were erected including the cenotaph in London which was unveiled by the King on 11th November 1920. The tomb of the “Unknown Warrior” was established in Westminster Abbey. “Dead man’s pennies” were minted and sent to their families.
Stately homes and public buildings used as hospitals returned to their former use, and members of the armed forces were rehabilitated. Field Marshal Haig, wishing to give something back to the people after the war, established the poppy factories, the income from the sale of the poppies giving support and assistance to current and former servicemen and women. Munitions factories were converted for other uses, and womens football which had attracted huge interest during the war, was banned, and is only now making a resurgence. The suffragette movement eventually gave the vote to women, although between 1917 and 1928 only the over-30s enjoyed the privilege. In 1918 there was the Spanish Flu epidemic and food rationing was introduced. And during the 1930s there was the “Great Depression”, and unemployment rocketed.
For many people, the First World War changed the perception of war altogether, leading them to vow never to volunteer again.
A vote of thanks was proposed by Bernard Doris.
Talk 6th February 2019
Ian Riches Commander Ian Riches gave a detailed account of the rescue of seven Russian submariners from
their small submarine, the Priz, in the Pacific Ocean off the east coast of Russia in August 2005.
The submarine, which had been on a secret mission, had become trapped 625 feet down, when it
had got caught in fishing nets and pulled against a buoyancy chamber. Ian, who was working in
Bristol at the time, learned about the incident, not from his colleagues, but from the news on Radio
2. Quickly, he summoned a Nimrod aircraft, which was on patrol to divert to Filton airfield and to
take him to Prestwick where a C17 was taking on supplies and equipment bound for Newcastle.
This was now to be flown 4,500 miles to Petropavlovsk with the rescue vessel, an unmanned
remote-controlled submersible named “Scorpio” on board.
With the help of an American crew, “Scorpio” was unloaded, and taken on board a rusty old Russian
ship and conveyed to the scene of the incident.
There, after experiencing some problems of communication with the Russians and the crew on
board the stricken vessel, the submarine was eventually freed from its entanglement, and rose to
the surface some 72 hours after becoming trapped. Another 3 hours and those on board would not
For his part in the rescue mission, which was initiated by Ian and his team from the UK but which
ended as an international effort, Ian was presented with the Order for Maritime Services by
Talk 20th February 2019
Marjorie Clark showed how the shop fronts of Perth have changed over the years. In the early days, shops consisted of small wooden stalls or booths erected in the streets or vennels often named after the trades carried on there, for example the Fleshers and Meal Vennels, and the Skinnergate.
Then, in the 18th century, more permanent shops were developed with small bowed windows, for example A S Deuchars and Barlass’s Ironmongers. In the late 19th century, there was a boom in shopping with the introduction of plate glass and the abolition of the window tax. Shop windows became bigger and the frames and surrounds were often very ornate with the use of wrought iron and tiles. Shops were now benefitting from the introduction of natural light through domed ceilings, such as in McEwens, and glass tiling below the windows letting light into the basements.
Then came the Edwardians, with their Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts styles featuring higher windows and tiled entrances. To entice customers into shops, “bell” entrances were constructed with showcase windows extending into the doorways of shops.
The inter- war period saw the introduction of Art Deco design, with the use of materials like crome and polished granite.
In the 1950s and 60s many shops were demolished and replaced by soulless buildings. However, some proprietors have taken the trouble to preserve outstanding features, such as Chester’s Coffee Shop in which there still exists the illustrated wall tiles from when the shop was McKendrick’s the butchers.
At the conclusion of Marjorie’s talk, a vote of thanks was proposed by Duncan Naysmith.
20th March 2019 Gavin Johnston
29th May 2019:
Introduced by President Ninian Reid, Liz Wilson, an unpaid volunteer working for the Charity “Playlist for Life” spoke about the origins of the Charity and it’s work in the community.
Founded in 2013 by Sally Magnusson, the well known radio and television broadcaster, the Charity, which was piloted in Dunfermline, aims to raise awareness of the power of music as a tool in the treatment of dementia. So successful has this method of treatment become that it is now recommended by the Care Commission for use where dementia sufferers are looked after and cared for. “Playlist for Life” now aims to set up community networks to help extend its services throughout the country.
It has been discovered that by encouraging dementia sufferers to set up and tune in to “playlists”or easily accessible collections of their favourite pieces of music, memories associated with particular tunes can be revived which in turn can unlock lines of communication which have been lost. This can help dementia sufferers, who might have become silent and unresponsive, reconnect with their families and carers potentially reducing the need for treatment with drugs, and eliminating the side effects relating thereto.
While dementia cannot be reversed, the use of such playlists can greatly improve the quality of life of sufferers, and also people with Parkinson’s disease and stroke patients, and can assist those involved in the care and treatment of such people, whilst at the same time saving the NHS costs pertaining to the use of drugs which may no longer be required.
A vote of thanks was proposed by Bill Gray.
26th June 2019:
President Ninian Reid introduced Stuart McFarlane, the well known broadcaster and rugby commentator who he had first met as a budding radio reporter in 1994 aged 17. A pupil at Duns High School at the time, Stuart, who liked to listen to radio programmes, particularly sport, had already featured on his local radio in a schools project on “Oceans”,and had read a news bulletin from the Royal Highland Show. Stuart teamed up with Ninian in a programme on BBC Scotland in the Borders from Bonchester Bridge about the potential closure of local Post Offices, and an interview with Anthony Curtis, a local antiques dealer at Glenmayne House. Thereafter Stuart became a familiar voice on Borders Radio, covering football and rugby at both local and national level. His most celebrated commentary was on the England versus Scotland rugby match at Twickenham in March when Scotland fought back from 31-nil to draw 38-38. Besides undertaking charity work for the Jim Clark Trust, his employers in Edinburgh allow Stuart to continue with his broadcasting activities at weekends, and we look forward to hearing his familiar voice on sports programmes during the years to come.
2nd October 2019:
The Reverend Graham Crawford, Minister of Kinnoull Parish Church, gave a talk on Model Trains.
A member of Perth Model Railways Club, Graham outlined the decisions needing to be taken when creating a model railway layout. Firstly, what scale to adopt, there being several to choose from,”O” “OO”, and “N” gauge to name only a few. Secondly, whether to base your layout on a theme, for example an actual moment in time at an actual location.
Having decided to use the most popular “OO” gauge, Graham decided to base his layout on Dunbar Station, a place familiar to him from his younger days. This afforded him the chance of creating a wide variety of locomotives and rolling stock as well as an interesting track and signal layout and buildings of architectural significance.
An admirer of the works of Sir Nigel Gresley, who designed the famous A4 Pacific locomotives, including “Mallard”, holder of the world speed record for a steam engine of 126 mph, and also many different coaches and wagons, and the unique corridor tender enabling crews to change during a non-stop run from London to Edinburgh. Graham displayed examples of the various models he has made, and a rare model of “The Coronation”, a luxurious train with its “Beaver Tail” observation car at the rear, which ran for a short time from Kings Cross to Edinburgh, passing through Dunbar on the way.
At the conclusion of Graham’s interesting and informative talk, a vote of thanks was proposed by Marty Meyers.
16th October 2019:
President Ninian Reid introduced Paul Adair, Collection Officer at Perth Museum, a keen photographer, who gave a detailed and informative talk on “Magnus Jackson and the Dupplin Carvings.”
Having chosen to write a thesis on “The Lost Country Houses of Perthshire”, he was handed a crate containing a collection of 166 glass plate negatives by Magnus Jackson of photographs of the family of the owners of Dupplin Estate and what looked like carvings, and a newspaper dated 1909.
Jackson, who had a wide variety of interests and was a Town Councillor in Perth, was a professional photographer with a studio in Marshall Place, later in Princes Street, and was particularly well known for his photographs of trees. He used the Victorian technique known as wet collodion.
Having researched the subject further, it transpired that the substantial carvings, which were installed in the chapel at Dupplin Castle, had originally been brought from the Monastery of St Alban in Switzerland to be installed in the “new” Westminster Cathedral, but were found to be unsuitable and ended up at Dupplin.
A slideshow of a selection of negatives produced by Magnus Jackson, and his son of the same name who succeeded him in the family business, were displayed at the conclusion of his talk.
A vote of thanks was proposed by Alastair McCormick.
27th November 2019:
Rhona Campbell of Action on Hearing Loss (trading name of the Royal National Institute for Deaf People) spoke about the challenges facing the 945,000 people in Scotland (1 in 5) who have various degrees of loss of hearing.
Causes can be many and varied ranging from simply the ageing process to exposure to loud noise, both instantaneous and repetitive; head injury; illness, genetics and others. People experiencing hearing difficulties should first try putting drops in their ears to soften and remove excessive wax, and if this proves unsuccessful consult their GP, who will refer them to Audiology to decide if any hearing aids are required.
Many types of aids are available nowadays, either through the NHS or privately.
Care should be taken by people with extreme deafness when using a hearing aid for the first time as it can be quite traumatic to suddenly hear unaccustomed sounds.
Deafness being a “hidden disability”, others may find it difficult to communicate with deaf people.
If seen using sign language, deaf people can sometimes seem to be aggressive to one another as the language involves the expressive use of arms and hands. Also, deaf people gain a lot of understanding from lip reading and facial expressions, hence the desirability or those communicating with them to face the person being spoken to.
Action on Hearing Loss can assist people in their use of hearing aids by, for example, ensuring that tubes and batteries are changed regularly (batteries usually last 4 to 7 days).
Many gadgets now exist to help people with hearing difficulties including devices to help with watching TV, answering the door or the telephone, and reacting to smoke and other alarms.
Disability Cards can now be purchased which entitles people who are hard of hearing to a discount of 30 % on train fares.
After Rhona had answered numerous questions from members, a vote of thanks was proposed by Hans Lindebo.
8th January 2020:Jim Mackintosh, the well-known Perthshire poet, spoke about the contribution made by the Blairgowrie born poet and folklorist Hamish Henderson to Scottish culture, both locally and internationally.
Born in Blairgowrie on 11th November 1919 to a Queen Alexandra Nurse, he spent his early years in a cottage at Spittal of Glenshee with no running water, and then in Blairgowrie where he mixed with travellers, learning folk songs and poetry. His mother travelled to England in search of work, taking Hamish with her, and when she died, he was looked after in a boys hostel near London.
A brilliant student, Hamish passed the entrance exams for Dulwich College, eventually studying modern languages at Cambridge University.
In 1939, before the outbreak of war, he was asked to take correspondence from the Church to Germany, smuggling Jewish youngsters out of the country at the same time. He joined the Intelligence Corps, ending up in North Africa with the 51st Highland Division. His ability to speak many languages, and his empathy with the working man, led him to talk to German and other prisoners of war, and later in Rome his knowledge of Italian helped him draft the document for the surrender of the Italian army.
In the early 1950’s, as Archivist to the School of Scottish Studies at Edinburgh University along with the poet Sorley MacLean, he met Maurice Fleming, a young journalist, who persuaded him to return to Blairgowrie where he recorded the songs, stories and poetry of travellers and farm workers.
In 1951 he set up the Edinburgh People’s Festival in opposition to the International Festival, ending with a ceilidh. This lasted for 3 years before being taken over by Richard Demarco who created “the Fringe”
He joined the Labour Party in 1977, was awarded an OBE, but turned it down and saw the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament, but was not invited to its opening. Latterly an alcoholic, he died, following a stroke, in 2002 leaving his German wife and two daughters.
His life was celebrated on the centenary of his birth, his ashes having been scattered on Ben Gulabin at the Spittal of Glenshee, and the “Hamish Matters” Festival will be held again this year.
A vote of thanks was proposed by Richard Webb.
22nd January 2020:
Ben Doris spoke of his managerial experiences at Woolworths stores up and down the country. A farmer’s son, Ben was appointed trainee manager of Woolworths in Dundee in 1953 where, like all the company’s stores, there was a resident cat on the payroll to control vermin. At Ayr, however, the problem was rats as the store backed onto the river, so a mongoose was given the job, until it caused havoc by escaping into the cinema next door.
Ben then moved to the store in Aberdeen where the girls had a habit of hiding coins in their shoes before going home, and checks were instigated to deal with the matter.
In the late 1950s, a store was opened in Kirkwall, and to mark the occasion, tins of coffee were sold at cut price, causing a local “worthy” to say “they canna be full.”
Ben was then sent to the store in Stornaway where an extension was being built. There was a delay in unloading equipment from a ship, and extra staff had to be brought in to work during the night so as to avoid having to work on a Sunday.
Later, when working at an Edinburgh store, Ben was asked to facilitate the taking of a photograph of the frontage of the store. This had to be done early on a Sunday morning, and on entering the premises, it was discovered that the safe had been prepared for being “blown”. Could this have been the work of Johnny Ramensky, the well-known safecracker?
The Paisley store was a highly profitable one, and in the 1970s, many people were promoting their records there, none more so than “Ally’s Tartan Army” which was released on the Klub label in 1978. Ben researched the man behind the label and ordered 1000 records for sale in the store. All in all, the record, sung by Andy Cameron, went on to sell 360,000 copies.
At the end of his talk, Ben answered questions from members, whereupon a vote of thanks was proposed by Marty Meyers.