Talk – The Work of Amnesty International Dec 2020

At our Rotary Zoom meeting on December 4th Robert Richwood spoke to us about Amnesty International who’s logo is a candle surrounded by barbed wire.

Founded by a UK lawyer, Peter Benenson in 1961, it initially publicised restrictions on freedom of speech throughout the world. AI grew rapidly, initially 15000, and then 200,000 in 1979. Now its membership stands at 7,000,000.

The International Secretariat is based in London and does in depth research and co-ordinates the work of individual national sections – e.g. UK, Chile, Canada, Morocco and South Korea. Their guiding  principles are ; Effective action for the individual victim, Global coverage, Impartiality, Independence and Universality.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights became incorporated into UK law by means of the European Convention on Human Rights in 1951 and has now been incorporated into the Constitution of over 90 countries.

Banbury has an AI group, it was known as Bloxham AI group until 2016. The meetings are now held monthly in Waitrose Supermarket Conference Room (lockdown willing). There are 30 core members and more linked members.

Banbury Amnesty’s 2020 campaigns involve Yilliyasijia Reheman and the Cattle Farmers in Angola. Yilliyasijia Reheman was deported from Egypt in 2017 to the Xinjiang Region of China and has not been heard of since. It is thought that he is detained in a “transformation through education centre” or is in prison. Concerning the Cattle Farmers in Angola, some 65,000 of them in the Gambos region of Angola have had two thirds of their grazing land taken by commercial ranchers which means that their communities are on the brink of starvation as they are now forced to survive on barren and drought ridden land.

Since his presentation to us Robert has sent Peter Wilkins details of Algerian journalist Khaled Drareni who is in jail because of his coverage  of the anti government Hirak protest movement. Peter has circulated the information about Khaled Drareni to the Club and Robert is hoping that some members may write a letter of support to him.

Young Photographer: Getting started – Nov 2020

We hope students and club members are beginning to get ideas about suitable subjects to photograph for the “Wild Nature” competition.

Below are the basic rules followed by some advice and tips some of which will only apply to those using more complex cameras.

Basic Rules

By what date must I submit my entry?

The closing date is  February 20th 2021.

How do I choose what to photograph?

The Theme set for this Competition is Wild Nature.

The choice of what you photograph is entirely yours, but must be based on the Theme. Your interpretation of the Theme is an important part of the Competition..

What do I need to do?

 You should submit a Portfolio of 3 different printed photos, based on the above Theme. Prints can be Colour or Black & White and should be made on photographic inkjet paper, and not larger than A4 size including any optional mount.                

With each print you must supply a brief written note describing why you think the picture fits the title of the Theme. Doing this part is very important.  

What do I have to submit?

You must make sure you have included:

  1. Your 3 photos
  2. Your completed entry form with a parent/guardian signature. You can download a copy of the blank form here.
  3. Your short written explanations for each picture and how it fits with the “Wild Nature Theme.”
  4. Please also make sure you have written on the back of each photo your name and the name of your school or club or if you are not entering through a school or club – your name and address. We suggest you do this with a spirit based felt tipped pen, to prevent the writing showing through on the picture itself.
Where do I send the entries?

Some – but not all – schools and clubs may collect the entries and send them all together.

You may also send them individually.

In either case the address to use is: Rotarian Tim Bryce, 49 Spencer Court, Britannia Road, Banbury. OX16 5EZ

If possible please use a card backed envelope to stop photos getting bent.

Tips on taking a good photograph

These tips are aimed largely at older competitors using cameras with a wide range of settings on them but others may find them of interest.

Composing a good photo

This is a skill that comes with experience and practise but here are a few tips perhaps of what not to do, rather than what to do!

When you see the picture in your viewfinder try and avoid :-

  1. Putting the main subject right in the middle.
  2. Splitting the picture exactly in half with a strong vertical or horizontal line. (for example, a Telegraph Pole or the Horizon, for instance between the land and the sky.)
  3.  Having a tree or pole looking as if it’s growing out of a person’s head!
  4. Water looking as if it is going to flow out of the picture and Buildings looking as if they will fall over, because the camera or phone was not held vertical or horizontal

It is perfectly possible to correct the issues in 4 above, by reframing on the screen before printing or even after making the print by trimming off a certain amount of the edge of the print to square up the image.

Avoid Camera shake

Camera shake, blurring of the image, is caused by movement of the camera at the moment of shutter release. To avoid this very common problem:

  1. Always hold the camera firmly using two hands. A tripod can help in certain circumstances.
  2. Always squeeze the shutter release, rather than press it.  Be gentle, avoiding harsh movements and jabs.
  3. Some cameras have built in antivibration software. If you have it fair enough, but I would say do the above and you don’t need to rely on this technology.
Getting the right exposure

This means making sure the photo isn’t too dark or too light.                                                                                  Most modern cameras have a sophisticated built in automatic exposure system.

The camera automatically measures the strength of the light illuminating the object, decides on the Shutter speed (the length of time light is allowed to fall on the sensor or film) and opens or closes the Aperture (that is the small hole in the centre of the lens that can be made larger or smaller) in order to allow just the right amount of light to fall on the Sensor or Film. Lens apertures are calibrated and marked in F numbers, the smaller the number the larger the aperture, letting in larger amounts of light, the larger the number the smaller the aperture.

The big advantage of a Digital Camera is that immediately after taking your picture, you can view the result on a little screen on the camera. You can see if it is either too dark or too light and make adjustments before taking a second picture, and you can go on doing that until you get it right.

If working with film you don’t know you have got it right until the film is processed.

I order to make exposure adjustment you need to know how your particular camera system operates. Most digital cameras have a small LCD screen showing settings. Somewhere close by they have a control knob that adjusts the exposure in small increments and shows them on the screen. This is where I have to say you now need to read the instructions for your particular camera.

On most cameras, but possible not a Mobile Phone, you can choose to set the sensitivity of your cameras to light, increasing its ability to record images in much darker lighting conditions. The scale used in the photographic industry is shown as ASA or occasionally ISO. It is a universal measure so that all cameras and film manufacturers work to exactly the same standards. 50 ASA is a slow speed, or low sensitivity, 200 average, 400 accepted as high speed but speeds can go much higher.

You may also be able to adjust the brightness afterwards using computer software. Most Mobile/Smart Phones have useful built in software to make simple adjustments like brightness.

The shutter speed

Continuing with the camera set to automatic exposure. On most cameras you will find some alternative settings under the automatic mode, Aperture priority or Shutter speed priority. If you change to Aperture Priority you can fix the aperture setting and the shutter speed only will be used to change the exposure, similarly when Shutter Speed Priority is chosen only the aperture will be changed by the automatic system.

This is a very useful feature. Fast moving objects need a high or fast shutter speed to arrest or freeze movement which would otherwise blur the image.

Also if you want to make a subject stand out from the background, you can use Aperture priority, set your camera to use a large aperture F2.8 to 1.8 which will reduce the depth of focus, then carefully focus on the subject of interest in your picture and the background will not be in sharp focus and become blurred.


Most phones and cameras have a flash option that can be turned on or off. Obviously this is meant for situations where there is insufficient light to take a satisfactory picture. It is a harsh form of lighting and can produce harsh looking images with the problem that the flash cannot illuminate far off parts of the picture at the same level as the foreground, leading to black and sometimes totally black backgrounds.

However what we call “Fill-in” Flash can be very useful, where the subject in the foreground is in relative shade and the background fully lit. Using flash in this situation, lights your subject without having any influence on the well lit background.

Computer photographic software

There are many software programs designed to improve photographs. Many smartphones have this built-in or you may be able to transfer your photos to a computer and use commercial software such as Photoshop or free software like GIMP.

Such software often contains an ‘automatic smart-fix’ option to improve the brightness contrast, colours etc. You can use such software in the competition but it can be quite complicated to get the hang of and so make sure you have a safely stored copy of your image if you decide to give it a try.


There are 3 main ways you might obtain your prints.

  1. Taking your camera, smartphone or memory card to a shop such as Boots or Tesco.
  2. Uploading your chosen photos online to collect the prints from the shop or get them posted to you.
  3. Using a colour printer at home.

The two things you’ll have to decide upon are the size of the print (Maximum A4 210mm x 297mm) and the type of paper (glossy, lustre or matt.)

The type of paper surface is a personal choice. Glossy prints appear sharper and often have more saturated colour, but are slightly more prone to damage and finger prints.

Printing on non-photographic paper will not give the best results.

If you’re using your home printer:

Sometimes the first print is less than perfect. Sometimes a print comes out not quite the right colour or with an overall cast. These faults can be corrected but it is much easier if you work with a Computer programme like Photoshop etc.

Enjoy yourselves and keep learning.

Good luck – We look forward to seeing your work.


A few local photos

Below are a few photos taken by some of our not so youthful members of Banbury Rotary Club. We include them not because they are especially great photos but because – with a few exceptions –  they were obtained at or very close to home.




For full details and to register a school or club to take part visit:

Lockdown Advent Calendar – Dec 2020

Here’s a great idea from the University of Oxford Department of continuing Education: A thinking person’s Festive Lockdown Calendar

It contains thirty-one days of free, fun, interactive, resources, picked for you by the academics and staff at Oxford Continuing Education.
It kicks off with a series of 3 minute Ted Talks to while away those lockdown hours.

To find out what else it contains you’ll need to click as each new day arrives!


Talk: You and Your Hormones – Nov 2020

Prof. John Wass, Professor of Edocrinology at Oxford University and consultant physician at the Churchill Hospital gave a talk entitled “You and Your Hormones.”
He commenced with a quick summary of the the significance of hormones and the medical conditions that can be created in the event of hormone imbalance.

Next he focussed upon the effects of some particular hormones upon the body. These included growth hormone and the way that it’s extraction from human sources had given way to safer biochemically engineered hormone.

He also discussed sex hormones and their use in ameliorating  conditions including sexual dysfunction  and some transgender issues associated with unusual gene sequences.

The importance of the thyroid and its associated hormone thyroxine upon weight, energy, mood etc was described and the surprisingly high prevalence thyroxine imbalance  in women over 60.

The role of insulin in diabetes was more widely known but the fact that losing 10-15 kg often has the effect of controlling type 2 diabetes was a surprise to some.

After a lively and wide ranging Q&A session the speaker was thanked in the normal way for a talk that had commanded full attention despite the vagaries of Zoom!

Talk: Cancer Research UK – Nov 2020

Sue Robertson, Community Legacy Manager and Rachel Shaw, Research Information Manager gave us an update on the work of Cancer Research UK.

Sue told us that, although 1 in 2 of us will be diagnosed with cancer, survival rates have increased. In the 1970s the survival rate was 1 in 4, currently it is 2 in 4 and Cancer Research UK is aiming for 3 in 4 by 2035 through working on prevention, early diagnosis, new treatment and optimisation of treatments.

There are around 200 different types of cancer. C.R.UK is the worlds largest Cancer charity funding the work of 4000 Doctors, Scientist and Researchers.

Four in ten cases of cancer can be prevented by lifestyle changes involving diet, quitting smoking and sun protection.

Early detection of cancers is important and Cancer Research UK fund healthcare facilitators to educate GPs, a cancer nurse helpline and interactive website advice. They are looking at ways to design better and kinder treatments. Sue said that 49% of cancer patients will have surgery and 40% will have radiotherapy.

Cancer Research UK fund a range of drug trials and have been responsible for pioneering 8 out of 10 new cancer drugs. Medicines can now be tailored to the individuals DNA and the charity is developing new Radiotherapy machines that target cancer cells more accurately.

Sue said over £400 million was spent on the charities programmes last year. A third of the funding comes from legacies and Cancer Research UK have a free will-writing service for anyone over 55 and without any obligation.

Sue’s message was one of positivity and hope for the future and that “together we can beat cancer”.

Many members have themselves or had close family and friends affected by cancer, so there were many interesting questions with answers provided by Sue and Rachel.

Christmas Appeal – Dec 2020

Our fundraising efforts have not been immune from the difficulties experienced by most charities in this pandemic year!

Whatever we raise from the Rotary Club of Banbury Christmas Appeal this year will be shared between Katherine House Hospice and other local charities. 

You can easily donate anything from £1 upwards to this by clicking here to visit the donation website.

Rotarians will also be entertaining you with street organ Christmas Carols on Tues 15 Dec outside the old Moss Bros shop, on Sat 19 Dec at the Market Place, Tues 22 Dec in Castle Quay and on Thur 24th Dec, Christmas Eve, at the Market Place.

Rotary Supporting Children in Need Raffle – Nov 2020

Rotary GB&I is supporting BBC Children in Need through the promotion of a prize draw hosted by Raffolux to win a F-Type Jaguar.

The national raffle is now live and open to anyone over the age of 18. The raffle will close at midnight on the 30th November. The draw will be announced, 3rd December 2020

This 2016 Jaguar F-Type in Santorini Black with a supercharged V6 engine could be yours to drive home this Christmas. With just 20,069 miles on the clock, the 340BHP sportscar boasts eight speed auto transmission and adaptive dynamic suspension.

Every ticket sold helps an amazing cause, as 92% of the net proceeds will be donated to BBC Children In Need, who strive to ensure that every child in the UK grows up safe, happy, and able to reach their full potential.

BBC Children in Need’s mission is to help ensure that every child in the UK is safe, happy, secure, and has the opportunities they need to reach their potential. We fund local charities and projects who help remove the barriers that are facing children and young people, so that they can thrive.

Rotary – brightening up Banbury Oct 2020

More crocus corms planted in Banbury

Crocus Planting to highlight the Purple for Polio Campaign

Ignoring the possibility that Friday 13th could be an unlucky day to venture outside, we needn’t have worried – we were lucky!!

The weather was fine and Rotarians Malcolm Dibb, Phil Cavill, Malcolm Douglas and John Bennett teamed up with some Cherwell District Council park rangers to plant this year’s consignment of crocus corms.

Our partnership with CDC and BTC has seen way over 100,000 purple crocus corms planted around the Banbury area in the last seven years, to publicise Rotary International’s on-going mission to eradicate polio worldwide.

The planting this year was on the site of the old Admiral Holland pub, in the bank opposite the shops, so don’t forget to look out for them in early spring time. They should add a welcome splash of colour!

Talk – Carbon Income and Carbon Tax – Nov 2020

Ccl climate dividend cycle english

“Carbon should not flow unpriced into the atmosphere any more than you should be allowed to toss your garbage into the street!”  This was Nigel Deakin’s headline quote as he explained that we are potentially on the cusp of a new, challenging but just and fair plan to tackle one major aspect of climate change.

“Between 1970 and 2019 the use of coal in the UK shrank from 156 million tons to 0.9 million.”  With facts such as this Nigel urged Friday’s lunchtime zoom audience to recognise past success and join the increasing public effort to address the issue in the UK.

It is widely recognised that a tax on carbon is needed for us to reduce carbon emissions to acceptable levels. However, where carbon taxes have been introduced by governments, they have not proved popular with voters, even to the extent that rioting has ensued as in the France (the Yellow Vest protests) and Ecuador, as a result.

Nigel explained that many top scientists and economists across the world are currently promoting the idea of a tax on carbon matched by a dividend that would flow back into the economic cycle of each country participating in the scheme. Carbon would be taxed at source and the money raised paid back as a monthly dividend to all citizens equally. The vast majority of people would receive more from the dividend than they would have to pay through increased fuel prices due to the tax, with the least well-off (lowest carbon users) benefitting the most.

On the introduction of the carbon tax, fuel prices would increase with the knock-on effect of a more rapid transfer to the use of sustainable energy and low carbon sources.

The world is now watching Canada and Switzerland to see how these countries fare as they introduce the scheme so that everyone becomes aware that it is transparently a more just economic system for all.

As Nigel rounded off his talk, audience members  joined in a lively Q&A session highlighting the need to avoid the scheme becoming a party-political football, looking to the strongest economies such as China to take a lead, and clarifying the need for a trade balance across the world with no tariffs between countries participating in the scheme.

This excellent talk concluded with everyone looking forward more positively to the Global Climate Change Conference to be hosted by the UK next year.  Many thanks from us all to our Speaker.

For further insights please visit Citizens Climate Lobby UK. Here’s the link:

Talk – Opera Anywhere – 6th Nov 2020

Opera Anywhere

Mike Woodward told us about the highly impressive creation of Opera Anywhere: an organisation aimed at providing relaxed access to opera and operetta bringing joyous, family-friendly, high-quality live music available to as many people as possible.

Additionally they engage in a significant number of outreach work, community events and educational projects. around the country.

Opera Anywhere’s professional singers and musicians give performances all over the UK. These may take place and are to be found in theatres, concert halls, churches, festivals, museums, galleries or the great outdoors!

Pre-pandemic they were notching-up 65 live performances per year!

After responding to various questions the speaker was thanked in the normal way.