Giles Christmas party 2017

Once again a choir of girls from the Perins school music department started the Giles Group Christmas party off with some lovely songs, including some that brought the older members up to date! Particularly impressed with one song, one of our members was pleased to believe that it was composed by Verdi, as she liked his music and operas. The actual composer was Birdy, from the New Forest, not Italy! Nevertheless they were all delighted with the singing, and we are delighted that Mr Ashford and the Perins girls took the time to entertain us so well

The interface between generations went fairly well, particularly with the arrival of last year’s music teacher, now Mrs Ashford, with her new baby boy, Jack. The girls were obviously delighted to see her, and to meet Jack, as were the rest of the audience.

The choir made a great opening to the party, which followed on with a quiz, and a reading of some Pam Ayres poems: this on top of the mulled wine and party food meant several ladies needed taking home early, a bit dizzy!

Some photos from the event:

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The Perins girls singing at the Giles party

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Mr + Mrs Ashford plus Jack organising the choir
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Either planning the next song, or talking about babies?

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FareShare food distribution

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The charity ‘FareShare’ is working with the Tesco store in Alresford to ensure that food that is no longer suitable for sale is distributed around the local community. Basically the food has reached its ‘sell-by date’, and is surplus to their requirements. FareShare and Tesco wish to see that this food is not wasted, but distributed to anyone who can make use of it.

Various local community groups have undertaken to distribute the food, according to the FareShare principles: two of the first organisations to sign up in Alresford were the Giles Group and the ADCA, the Alresford & District Community Association. Both operate from the Alresford Community Centre:

Tuesdays: the Giles Group

The Giles Group is arranging to distribute the surplus Tesco food that is available on Tuesday mornings, from their ‘Drop-in’ coffee morning held every week in the Community Centre. This operates from 1030 till 12 noon. Any food remaining is then delivered to the Makins Court Common Room, at around 1230.

Fridays: the ADCA Coffee morning

On Fridays, the food available from Tesco is distributed to those who attend the ADCA coffee morning, also held in the Community Centre. Again, any left over at the end of the morning is delivered to Makins Court for the residents there.

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Some of the surplus food recently made available by Tesco, with the Alresford Society Salver, recently awarded to the Giles Group for 2018. 

Giles award from The Alresford Society

At the AGM of the Alresford Society, in October 2017, Chairman Jan Field announced that the 2018 recipients of the Society’s Silver Salver would be the Giles Group of Alresford. This award is to recognise the work of the Giles Group in helping the disabled and less mobile members of the Alresford Community, and their carers, by organising monthly meetings where suitable topics are presented, and members can also discuss and learn about mobility aids and other services that are available. In addition the Group has a weekly “Drop-in” coffee morning, in the Community Centre on a Tuesday, enabling somewhere for members to meet for a tea or coffee, talk and rest during a shopping trip to Alresford town centre – and also to make further enquiries about equipment or services that might help them. Anyone is welcome at the coffee morning, even if only to find out more about what the Giles Group does!

Tessa Purkiss and Clive Earthy, two of the Giles Committee members, attended the AGM to accept the award, and are photographed below, with the salver. It is planned that this will be on display at the monthly Giles Group meetings throughout the next year. Tessa was one of the founder members of the group, which was formed in Alresford some 23 years ago – which was in the dark ages, before the advent of the Internet as an information source!

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Jan Field assumed that everyone would have heard of the Giles Group’s existence, but felt that not everyone knew about their activities, or what help they can offer to local people. In co-operation with the Alresford Pigs Association, they also provide help with getting mobility aids for those who might need them, like 3 and 4-wheeled walkers, and even mobility scooters. The meetings and coffee mornings also give the opportunity for friendly, occasionally lively discussions, covering the use and sourcing of other mobility aids. A stock of low cost items is usually available, like electric plug “pulls” to safely remove plugs from their sockets, and hi-vis yellow jackets for winter afternoons. The local Age Concern Village Agent, Denise Buxton, also regularly attends Giles meetings and coffee mornings, to make contacts and off any further advice, when needed.

The Alresford Society AGM closed with a talk from Graham Curtis about the history of the Dean School back in the 1950s! Despite the torrential rain that evening, the meeting in the John Pearson Hall was well attended.

Life as a Harbour pilot

The October meeting was delighted to welcome Gareth Rees, who spoke to us about his work as a Pilot for the liners and container carriers arriving and departing from Southampton, down the Solent. The climb up the rope ladder dropped down the side of the ship or tanker attracted most attention, particularly as often this is used when both the ship and the pilot boat are still cruising along!

Following his slide show and presentation, Gareth also demonstrated the life jacket he wears to climb this ladder, which automatically inflates when immersed in water: not something that one pilot’s wife understood, when she decided that it could do with a clean, and put it in the washing machine!

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Gareth’s land office is in the blue building, in the centre of the pic: the two ships to the left (a cruise liner) and right (a car transporter) are typical of where he works – they offer different types of challenge, when he has to climb up the side, out in the Solent – sometimes up a rope ladder! The harbour tugs are the blue boats near the office building.

After the talk, and raffle, various of the Giles Group’s stock of disability aids and fluorescent jackets were offered to Giles Group members, in return for a small donation.

A cruise down the Solent, the 2017 trip

In July 2017 the Alresford Giles Group outing included a trip on the Alison MacGregor launch up and down the Solent, from Hythe Marina. For once it was a beautiful day, so we stopped for a snack in a pub in Dibden Purlieu on the way, and then had a nice evening for a boat trip.

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Basically, the little launch, with 12 passengers, set off down the Solent, really quite dwarfed by other ships coming and going from Southampton.

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The  Alison MacGregor went downstream to look at the yachts moored on the River Itchen, and then returned for a look round the port.  Activity there was high, with the departure of a ship carrying two big turbine blades headed for a wind farm off the north-east coast, and as ever the Hythe ferry darting in between the bigger ships. There was also a very large container ship arriving, and overhead a procession of aeroplanes coming in to Southampton airport.

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The driverless train on the pier out to the ferry mooring point

The little launch soon appeared back at Hythe Marina to deliver everyone back for the minibus.

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As you can see, a lot of the volunteer crew this time were ladies, who did a great  job of looking after everyone. Amongst the passengers you can see Liz Lawrence of the Giles Group, up near the bows on the photo below, and Jeanne Perry, a new member, brought along her relations from Australia, who had only just arrived on a trip over here to celebrate her 90th birthday.

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Back in Hythe Marina

Giles Canal boat trip from Hungerford

After maybe 5 years of trying to arrange a trip on a canal boat, finally the Giles Group members managed it! For the April 2017 monthly outing, on Bank Holiday Monday at Easter, the canal boat and the Minibus schedules coincided, and 17 Giles members travelled by car and Minibus to Hungerford, for a 2 hour sunny afternoon trip along the Kennet and Avon canal.

The boat was the ‘Rose of Hungerford’, a purpose built wide-beamed trip boat sailing from Hungerford Wharf. The Rose has sliding picture windows for warm days, but is fully enclosed. A refreshment bar serves hot and cold drinks, and is also fully licensed! There is also a toilet on board, and apparently there is a lift arrangement to get wheelchairs on board: some power complications meant this was not working, so undaunted out old ladies climbed in using the standard steps, which was quite an achievement for many.

However the cruise towards Newbury was very enjoyable, and peaceful, past many not too disgruntled fishermen, and through two locks. The view from the front was very interesting, and was actually where the Queen had sat for her journey up some bits of the canal to celebrate its re-opening, maybe only around 50 years ago.

Diann threw herself into the spirit of the adventure, and helped with opening the sluices round the locks.  This was OK until a slight hiccup, when the crank handle somehow was fixed on the valve the wrong way round, which took two burly boatmen and a metal lever to get it off.

Nevertheless we all came home safely after a nice cruise and then a Minibus ride…. a selection of pictures from the day are below.DSCN5609

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