Speaker Events

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.

Life as a Film Extra Talk – Oct 2018

After a career as an English teacher and latterly as Head of English, Andrew Whiffin turned to a career as a “supportive Actor”, or as the rest of us would call it, an extra in film and TV.

He had trodden the boards in some good Am Drams including the Banbury Cross Players and more recently with professional theatre companies including the Riverside Players.

He explained that he signed on with a number of agencies (not just one) and waited for the offers to come in, which they fairly rapidly did as extras are always in demand.

One  attraction seemed to be the food – usually, a hearty breakfast – before commencing filming.

His appearances in films have included Johnny English Returns in which he had a line to speak (this merits an increased fee!)

He was also a member of parliament in the recent film “The Darkest Hour”, which he described as being extremely moving as the extras sat and listened to some of Churchill’s greatest speeches re-enacted by Gary Oldman.

Andrew regaled us with fascinating stories about how they make rain on set, and how they give the illusion of glass shattering.

In summary, not a career to make a fortune out of but very good fun meeting big stars of the stage and screen, and making some useful pocket money along the way 🙂

Combat Stress Talk – 19 Oct 2019

Dr. Robin Carr MB BS MSc, spoke to Club on Friday 19th October to raise awareness of the Combat Stress organisation.

For almost a century, this charity has helped former servicemen and women deal with trauma-related mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events such as bereavement, significant accident or injury. He described how 1 in 3 veterans will get complex PTSD precipitated by severe trauma and repeated exposure to harrowing environments: they go to places most people have never heard of, and witness the very worst that humans can do to other humans. He explained that these veterans were left deeply troubled by what they had seen, done and not done, and needed help to live in peace.

These people will present late, some as long as 10+ years when their coping strategies finally break down. Many will use avoidance, isolation, or distraction to cope with the repeated flashbacks, the nightmares, and the disturbing physical symptoms. Some turn to alcohol and drug abuse, and sadly some even take their own lives.

Combat Stress is the UK’s leading charity helping veterans on their journey towards finding peace with their mental health issues. Their services are free and available through a nationwide telephone number 0800 1381619. This is a 24 hr service and leads to a triage process that will sign post the individual or their families to the most appropriate service.

Their website (combatstress.org.uk) also has much to offer. Help can also be found through the Veteran’s Gateway (veteransgateway.org.uk) and treatment can also be sought through the NHS.

WarHorse Event – 20th Oct 2018

Ruth Rogers explains the genius puppetry behind War Horse, bringing ‘Joey’ to life!

Saturday 20th October

6.45 for 7.00 pm

Tudor Hall School , Wykham Park, Banbury OX16 9UR


Ruth Rogers is an actress and puppeteer whose notable performances include operating Joey’s Head in War Horse in the West End. Her fascinating talk includes an account of the auditions and rehearsals, a detailed look at how the War Horse puppets work and tips on how to perform as a horse.

Ruth is the Artistic Director of The Canvas in East London, a cafe and arts space that hosts workshops, live arts events and ongoing debates. She is also the founder of the Body Gossip arts and education campaign and produces all of their theatre shows and short films.


Funds raised by the evening will go to support:

  • The Alzheimers Society
  • Katharine House Hospice
  • The Rotary Foundation

Youth Exchange Programme 26 Sep 2014

Lucinda certificate web

Our Speaker on Friday 26th September was Lucinda Bourne Swinton Hunter, who lives in Willington, near Shipston-on-Stour.  She is well known to our Club having been a winner of our own Young Musician competition.

In April 2013 whilst completing her “A” levels in the final year at Tudor Hall School, Lucinda applied to take part in the Rotary District 1090 New Generation Exchange Programme. She gave an enthusiastic “Snap shot” presentation accompanied by pictures of her home life and her travels during the Exchange tour.

On the 3rd January 2014, after much emailing, planning and briefings by Rotarians, she was flying across the Atlantic to Auburn, New York State, America.

Arriving in a temperature of -20ºC and 2 feet of snow she was met at the local Airport by her host from the Rotary Club of Auburn

During the next 2 months in the United States, Lucinda really got to grips with the American culture and way of life. She said how fortunate she was to stay with two lovely families, the Ferros and the Butlers, and attending Auburn Rotary Club every week really made her feel part of the community.

The Ferros, hosting family were also owners the Reva Rollerdrome and that gave Lucinda the opportunity to go rollerskating almost every day, when free time permitted. Fine for the first week or so and by which time she became quite proficient, meaning she could skate backwards!  Then on a fateful evening disaster struck!  She endured a rather nasty fall managing to break the left wrist. In her own words:

“and it wasn’t pretty. I’d like to think I’m fairly “manly” when it comes to pain and I managed to last the first 10 minutes tear free. And then I saw that an apple sized lump was growing out of my wrist. So I now get to spend the next 5-8 weeks with a cast and only one hand!”

Mentioning that she had an interest in a career in the Legal profession she was introduced to Law – American style. She was able to shadow her hosts in the local Drug Court, Family Courts and even had the opportunity to read through cases and sit in on meetings.  Lucinda became very much aware of the problems with drugs and alcohol abuse and was impressed by the way some people managed to turn their lives around by taking advantage of the help given them.

Lucinda also managed time to make some visits, notably to Niagara Aquarium and Niagara Falls. She also went up the Tower of the Town Clock with the timekeeper and was given the opportunity to wind it up.

Like every other Tuesday Lucinda went to the Lunchtime Rotary Club meeting, where they always had a guest speaker. On one particular occasion Lucinda was given the floor to speak.

Her time had arrived and she gave a presentation, showing a multitude of pictures of her home, Stratford-Upon-Avon, the family/dog, classic English things, the Banbury Rotary Club etc. They looked intrigued and she really enjoyed herself.

The last rotary meeting was quite surreal.

“Nobody could quite believe I had spent 7 weeks in America; it felt like a few days! I gave a short “goodbye” speech (and when I say short, I mean my version of short i.e. a good 5-10 minutes!?) and just said some “thank-yous”. I handed over the District 1090 badges (Banbury District) and received a very bright orange banner of the Auburn Rotary. I was also given a number of small gifts for me… A mug with pictures of all the places I had worked, some postcards of the Finger Lakes in different seasons, a beautiful navy scarf with the Rotary symbol on it and a book of Auburn in the last century.

Whilst I was very very grateful for the generosity of the gifts, as I received more and more, I was becoming more and more concerned about the space (or lack thereof) in my suitcase.

A lasting memory is the 100 “Oh My God you’re English” when meeting people for the first time.

I got so much out of the Rotary Exchange.

Many thanks to the wonderful Rotary clubs of New York State and the Rotary Club of Banbury for doing so much to make this exchange happen; I could not be more excited or grateful!

After her presentation Lucinda was presented with Certificate of Achievement and Appreciation.

Following the meeting Lucinda travelled by road to Durham University for “freshers week” before taking up a place where she will be studying for the next three years….

For anyone interested in finding out more about Lucinda’s Exchange see her Blog