Brigadier Bruce Jackman, Chair of the Western branch of the Gurkha Welfare Trust, gave a very lively talk at our supper meeting on 10 September. He started with a brief history of the Gurkha involvement in the British Army with examples of some of the extreme bravery for which the Gurkhas are rightly renowned. The Gurkha Welfare Trust shortly celebrates its 50th anniversary and was set up because, in order to ensure parity with members of the British army, Gurkhas were paid comparable rates with the requirement to serve 15 years before being entitled to an army pension. Unlike their British army counterparts, however, there was no old age pension for them on their return to Nepal leaving many of them virtually destitute with little opportunities for suitable work. The Gurkha Welfare Fund now provides financial aid (including pensions), medical aid via welfare centres, community
This year we have enjoyed a number of Suppers followed by a speaker. In May we were “entertained” by the Freewheelers (Blood Bikes). It is amazing how they carry blood around the city to ensure there is a of blood for urgent “cases”. In June we were visited by Unseen, this is the second year we have chosen then as our Charity of the Year. We were updated on the work and support they are giving trafficked people in addition to suggesting ideas for us to support them not just by raising funds but through actions. Look at the Programme Action posts for what we are doing. Finally in July, before the summer “holidays”, Canon Nicola Stanley, Canon Precentor Bristol Cathedral gave us a stimulating talk. All our speakers are a joy to listen to and we want to know more about their work.
On March 12th Gill Kirk inspired us with her passionate and informative talk about the effects of ‘ Singing for the Brain’, supported by the Alzheimer Society. So many of us these days know friends or family members with memory loss or the onset of Dementia, where the person appears to withdraw into themselves. The idea behind the weekly group singing and movement sessions is that ‘ people can live well with Dementia’ through the power of music, using it as a therapeutic experience. Research at Reading University has shown the impact music and movement can have on the brain and Gill explained that during the sessions she can see real change in people’s self esteem, as favourite songs are sung; this appears to unlock memory and leads individuals to respond and express emotions in a way they have been unable to do beforehand. Gill’s
Nikki started by telling us about the project Shift Old Furniture Around which we know as the SOFA project. They collect good quality furniture and appliances from local households and businesses on a daily basis. The items have to be of good quality as they will be purchased from their retail outlets. The items are brought back to our premises, and in the case of electrical appliances fully refurbished, before being made available at a low a price and then can then be delivered to the new owners. They have other activities such as an electrical workshop, an e-bay shop, a flat pack workshop, a sales area and an office furniture operation. They also work with other local organisations providing work placements and work experience to those who, for a number of reasons, are currently excluded from the job market. They also help those in
Caroline Duckworth, Treasurer of The Society of Merchant Venturers, gave an informative talk that provided insights into the changing focus of the Society. The Society of Merchant Venturers was formally established in 1552 by Royal Charter from Edward VI. For centuries it was synonymous with government in Bristol but now focuses on charitable organisations. Membership is by invitation only and the three critical criteria are (i) to be successful in chosen career, (ii) to be involved in civic society, and (iii) to be congenial. In a secret ballet, at least 75% of members must approve the prospective member. An initial and an annual fee are paid. The first woman member (non-honorary) joined in 2003 and now of 76 members, 7 are women. The current areas of focus are: Education (of 4,000 pupils in 9 schools) Care for the Elderly Social Business Charitable Funding (£7million in
Lindy, has been chair of fundraising for an incredible 30 years forYoung Bristol which provides opportunities for 12,000 young people to help them overcome barriers and achieve their potential. The charity was originally founded as Clubs for young boys aged 8 – 24 in 1928 by prisoners of war returning home with the aim of helping them to become responsible members of Society. Now, it provides youth clubs and opportunities for girls and boys in addition to enabling young people to obtain National Citizen Service Awards. It holds a variety of watersporting opportunities in the city’s docks, an annual 100 mile canoe race on the River Wye and provides high ropes challenges at Kingcott Farm (just across the Suspension Bridge). All of which gives young people opportunities to explore, learn more about themselves and achieve something – perhaps for the first time in their lives.
In the year when Bristol is celebrating the 800th anniversary of the traditions and role of Lord Mayor, it was particularly interesting to be joined at our Club supper by a former Lord Mayor, Clare Campion-Smith, who told us that only 9 women have held the post throughout these years. Although we are aware of the Lord Mayor, I am not sure we realised just what it entails. It sounds exhausting attending 730 events is one year. However, it was a year of fun, challenges and memorable events on occasions very diverse. Clare brought her robe and beautiful hat for us to enjoy. We all realised what a valuable function the Lord Mayor performs.
During the First World War soldiers and their families relied heavily on letters and parcels to raise their morale. Sally showed us the work of a team of textile artists and Cotham School GCSE textile students demonstrating their amazing sewing skills. They replicated some of the parcels and memorabilia showing us the pleasure the contents gave those receiving them. Their work was displayed at an exhibition at Bristol Cathedral and continues to be displayed in local libraries: Fishponds Library BS16 3UHL from 5th-19th Sept. Hillfields Library BS16 4HL from 23rd Sept.-11th Oct. Bishopston Library BS7 8BN from 16th Oct.-27th Nov.
Toby is one of three directors at Clevedon Salerooms. He is a chartered arts and antiques surveyor and has been with the firm for 15 years. Some of us have known Toby for many years and we were not surprised when her demonstrated his expertise and entertained us with a delightful talk about the salerooms and his work. The Salerooms have quarterly specialist sales; antiques, interiors, collectables and jewellery sales; free valuation days and jewellery, watch, silver and gold valuation days. He told us how he got into the antiques business and interesting facts about what sells and what doesn’t. He pointed out that what we may have loved and cherished for many years if it is not popular will not sell at a price we expect and then later the tables will turn and may become much sought after. Thank you Toby for an
Unseen is a Bristol based charity that is working towards a world without slavery by supporting survivors and vulnerable people through specialist services that enable them to recover safely and develop resilient, independent lives. Hannah started by explaining the meaning of trafficking which is the movement of people from one place to another. It is a worldwide issue and is the second biggest illegal trade next to the drug industry. The actual number of people trafficked is unknown as people are afraid to come forward. She showed a film displaying what happens to people when they are trafficked, their feelings and the signs we should look for in the community. She also showed us a clip of “Favour’s Story”. This showed us how she moved from country to country and how she was eventually rescued and saved by Unseen. She asked us to stay aware, get involved