Fellowship Events

Welcome to the new Team – July 2020

The ‘Rotary Year’ runs from 1st July to 30th June and so the meeting this week was the handover – albeit a Zoom affair.

Good luck to our new team who have the challenge of steering the club through a period when much of the work we would normally be engaged in is ‘on-hold’ pending improvements in the Covid-19 Pandemic situation.

The club, which is  is always studiously supportive of members facing health or other issues, quickly moved to Zoom meetings early on in the pandemic.
As we enter our 13th week of (the now reduced for most ) lockdown we know many members will have appreciated that extra link beyond their household that Rotary has afforded them though this period.

For more about the Principles of Rotary visit this page.



Speaker Event – The A12 – Jun 2020

Nigel Randall kindly agreed to speak at a Rotary Zoom Meeting last month and chose a subject close to his heart – an aircraft! It was a famous and special one to interest us all!
Most of those attending had little or no knowledge of this plane, which is not surprising as it was developed and manufactured by the Lockheed Corporation, in the USA, in the early 1960s.
The A12 was developed as a follow- on aircraft to replace the U2, (the existing major reconnaissance plane at the time) to overfly the Soviet Union that was being closely monitored in view of the Cold War.
The new plane was designated A-12 because it was the twelfth internal design for the code-named project ‘Archangel’. In 1959 the Lockheed design was chosen by the C.I.A over its competitors because of its higher specifications and projected lower costs. The aircraft was manufactured from 1962/64 and flew from 1963/68.
The plane began flying missions in 1967 and its final flight was in May 1968.
Nigel supported his presentation with several slides highlighting images and performance details of the very impressive plane in use, After development and production, the first A-12 was transferred to the Groom Lake test facility and in April 1962 it was flown unofficially and unannounced by a Lockheed test pilot. Five days later the first official flight took place and subsequently supersonic the A-12 reached speeds of Mach 1.1 at 12,000 feet.
The first loss was seen in 1963 when a test aircraft crashed but the pilot parachuted to safety. The reaction to the crash illustrated the secrecy and importance of the project. The CIA issued an inaccurate report of the name and model of the plane and two farmers who assisted the pilot were advised that the plane was carrying nuclear weapons to discourage any tampering with the wreck. In addition, a law enforcement officer and a passing family were paid $25k dollar each to keep quiet. Three more losses due to technical problems were seen but each time the pilots ejected safely. The first human fatality was experienced in 1967. The pilot escaped the crash but regrettably he could not separate himself from the ejection seat and died on impact.
The introduction of space satellites meant that the original purpose of the plane was no longer relevant with the superpowers monitoring the activity of each other from space. The planes were used however in the Cuba crisis, in relation to North Korea and the Vietnam war. In 1968 three missions were flown over North Korea following the capture of the U.S.S. Pueblo to monitor the subsequent activity of the North Koreans and the potential for a further attack on the U.S.
Even before the A-12 became operational, its intended purpose of reconnaissance flights over the Soviet Union became unlikely and unnecessary, as the Soviets improved their radar considerably leaving the A-12 more vulnerable. In any event President Kennedy confirmed publicly that the U.S would stop these flights.
Our thanks to Nigel for making the effort to become the first Friday Rotarian lunchtime speaker at a Zoom meeting. He still has the interesting slides that alongside the Internet offer further interesting facts and performance details regarding the A-12.

Club Speaker – Banbury Cross Players – June 2020


Our speaker last month was Rotarian John Bennett who ran through the history of The Banbury Cross Players first 50 years.

The society was formed on 25th January 1945, before the end of World War II. Their first production on 20th April 1945 was “Hay Fever” and took place in the Great Hall at Bloxham School, there being no other venue available at the time. Because of petrol rationing the audience had to travel by bus, train, bicycle or walk. They decided it was worthwhile carrying on because they played to 400 people over 2 nights.

Over the years their other “theatres” have been Banbury Town Hall, Christchurch Hall, The Church House, College Theatre and their current home, The Mill.

John recalled various successes, failures and heart stopping moments that had happened in their productions up to their 50th celebrations in 1995. He also pointed out that, if it was not for

The BCP committee on their 70th birthday Covid 19, they would have been celebrating their 75th anniversary this month by presenting a festival of one act plays featuring other drama groups from far and wide.

Community Fridge Talk – May 2020

Yasmin Kaduji joined club members at the Friday Lunchtime Zoom Meeting last month to give a short talk about the Banbury Community Fridge. She explained that it is situated at the Mosque on Merton Street in Grimsbury.

It began when members of the Mosque community contacted Tesco to discuss how they could help address the issue of food waste from supermarkets. A partnership with Tesco began and Banbury Community Fridge was born. Since then links have been established with the Food Bank and the CAB. A Hygiene bank was also set up through a link with the Post Office.

Once the Pandemic resulted in lockdown the Community Fridge had to close. As people were no longer able to collect food, the organisers began creating food parcels and delivering these to people in need. At the height of the pandemic they were delivering 400 parcels a week. Once government food parcels were issued, the Fridge volunteers linked with the kitchen staff at Tudor Hall to support local Food Banks.

The work of the Community Fridge, alongside a number of other voluntary groups, to support our local community was recognised by a letter from the Queen and celebrated through reports in local media. To discover more about the Fridge visit their Facebook Page.

Yasmin’s enthusiasm for the cause shone through her talk. What struck me as rather lovely was Yasmin’s Facebook post in response to the recognition by the Queen: “Wow” Wasn’t expecting that!”

Speaker Report by Fred Riches

Medical Detection Dogs Talk – April 2019

Fraser Liversage spoke to the club about “Medical Detection Dogs” and he brought his two dogs with him.
It was an incredibly interesting presentation and a taster for a longer talk he will be giving us on a Fifth Friday evening meeting in August in the next Rotary Year.
You can learn more about these dogs here.

Walking the beat to Nirvana Talk -15 Feb 2019

Mervyn Edwards was a fascinating speaker and gave us an insight into how he moved from being a bus driver in Banbury to a firearms office charged with protecting Margaret Thatcher!

Mervyn was born and bred in Banbury and joined the Thames Valley Police after being a bus driver for Midland Red. In his talk he gave us a summary of his book “Walking the beat to Nirvana” starting with his first posting with TVP which took him away from Banbury and spending 15 years in three different ranks as a specialist firearms officer.

His book details his experiences which include protecting Margaret Thatcher when she returned to Chequers after the Brighton hotel bombing in 1984.

Hegave us a fascinating account of his career ending up with him being responsible for developing the UK’s tactics for dealing with Chemical, Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) terrorist threats, ending his career as a Chief Superintendent. He was also earlier in his career responsible for the policing of the Newbury Bypass protests.


Recruiting Gurkhas Talk – 18th Jan 2019

Rotarian Rupert Kipping took us through a series of photos taken  in Nepal. These included remote villages hanging on the edge of mountains with houses perched on ridges. and a a sick lady being transported in a basket on the back of a Nepalese man with the help of a forehead : a local ambulance!
Gurkha pensioners took on as many as sixteen youths as potential Gurkha recruits and trained them up.

Rupert’s general medical duties included carrying out a grading physical and mental fitness: a classification system that meant potential recruits needed to achieve 100%, if they  were not to be rejected as so many wanted to become Gurkhas.



Gur Aasra Trust Talk – 18th Jan 2019

On Friday 18th January Rtn. Surinder Dhesi gave a talk about the Gur Aasra Trust in Mohali, India.

The Trust was set up when four Sikh women were arrested and imprisoned after the 1984 Sikh massacre in Punjab, India and they made a pact with each other. They promised whoever would survive should look after all of their children and two ladies survived and the other two did not. The main objective of the Trust is to shape the lives of destitute children and give them a good education and enable them with skills to be self-reliant.

The children when they grow up still come back to the Trust to visit as they consider it as their family.

The Trust also looks after older people who have no other relatives and spouses and their children who are victims of drug abuse partners.

The Trust instils Sikh values of sharing, respecting people of different faiths and equality of women and that by believing in oneself  anything can be achieved. It has helped children reach their goals with many  becoming doctors  and engineers.

Sierra Leone Update – Dec 2018

This a a project run by a Banbury Rotarian and supported by the Banbury Rotary Club and other important sponsors including: Oxford United FC, The Westminster Foundation and Books & Ink Banbury.

We have built a library & laboratory block for the secondary students and a library for the juniors at Liverpool School.

We have also equipped both libraries with furniture and are just completing the purchase of all the textbooks covering all the subjects studied.We have also installed mains electricity into 9 classrooms at the school and to key areas of the compound.

We have also sent literally thousands of pounds worth of school uniform & equipment, sports kit and knitted items to the 5 communities that I support.

This has only been possible with your support.

On behalf of the Communities in Freetown thank you and Best Wishes for the Festive Season & 2019 Rtn. Alan Wolstencroft

Royal Footman Talk – 30th Nov 2018

Speakers, Ian Scott-Hunter and his wife Rachael related how the family moved from North Wales to London forty-seven years ago in order to access regular treatment at Great Ormond Street for their daughter, Alexandra, who was severely brain damaged as a result of a haemorrhage when three days old.
Looking for employment, Ian responded to an advertisement for Royal Staff and was offered a job as a trainee footman at Buckingham Palace. Clearly he took to the role and is still working for Princess Alexandra to this day.
He described his role as a footman with accounts and anecdotes about royal events from state occasions to visits to the Royal Yacht and the Royal Ascot races. We enjoyed an illustrated journey through the many royal castles and palaces and intriguing and amusing stories with the odd (and totally discrete) peep into life in the Royal family.
Ian’s talk was followed by Rachael who described the problems in caring for their profoundly disabled daughter as a result of the council’s closure of her support centre in Kidlington. Not to be defeated the couple have been drawn up plans for a £2.5m centre Alexandra House of Joy after an un-named landowner gifted the couple just under an acre of land – worth approximately £1m.
They won official charity status from the Charity Commission and have since raised almost £20,000 through friends, family and public donations.