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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AGM report 2017

Minutes of the AGM held on 13th February 2017 in the Community Centre

Attendance

Approx 26 members (apologies received from Olive Gillespie, Ann Bravery, Jean Bax, Joan Wimbleton, Joan Mantell)

The meeting was opened by Nick Denbow who read out the 2016 AGM minutes in summary. Copies were also provided at each table. These 2016 minutes were proposed for acceptance by Diana Goulding, seconded by Jeanne Nicholls, and voted as approved.

2016 Report

Nick Denbow as Secretary reviewed the year, which had included some very enjoyable and memorable talks, plus enjoyable events in the garden party and Christmas party. With membership still at around 40, the Group is still active, and not many members have dropped out. The Committee have spent a lot of time on trying to identify new sources of funding, and two new sources have been approached for 2017.

Treasurer’s Report

Clive Earthy made his report as Treasurer, after thanks to Jackie Earthy for typing and printing the accounts, and to Jenny Hayes for checking them. Copies of the report were available at each table.

The income last year (2016/17) compared to the previous year was much increased. This was because the membership subscriptions were increased to £15 per person, giving a total of £562 (cf £340). Donations at £717 included two external grants, one from NATC for £350, and one from the Pigs for £145: but the largest proportion (£222) came from the members themselves in donations for recycled equipment, and purchases of other aids. The Raffles income increased yet again, to £150 (cf £117). All Social Services and HCC or similar funding has disappeared. So total income was £1430, (compared to £638 previously).

Cost totals year to year were up slightly on the previous year, (£1335 cf £1153 last year), where we had committed to some expensive speakers, giving their fees at £175 (cf £98), and a more expensive garden party + Christmas party at £270 total (cf £142): this was what the Pigs donated the £145 to support. Clive did note that a lot of mulled wine was consumed at Christmas. With £713 in the Bank, the group financial projection was reasonable, and better than last year: Clive proposed that the membership fee should remain unchanged.

The Treasurer’s statement and report for 2016/17 was proposed as accepted by Audrey Chalk, seconded by Tessa Purkiss, and agreed in a vote by the meeting.

Chairman’s Summary

Nick Denbow explained that the Chairman, Lin Parker, had resigned in July, and so with Brian Purkiss also stepping down, the Committee had co-opted two new members, Patrick and Angela Hartley, to help with running the Group. This was in accordance with the Giles Constitution – which also requires that three long serving Committee members step down after three years. The three stepping down this year were Nick Denbow, Clive Earthy and Jeanne Nicholls, who all offered themselves for re-election. This was proposed by Una Yeates, and seconded by Wynn Stowell, and the meeting voted to approve this unanimously.

Next it was necessary for the Committee to find a new Chairman and Vice-Chairman: after receiving suggestions and discussing options, the Committee proposed Patrick Hartley as Chairman and Diann Adam as Vice-Chairman. The formal vote was proposed by Nick Denbow and seconded by Clive Earthy, and agreed by the meeting, unanimously.

Thanks were then expressed to Diann, Nan and Gina, as well as Audrey Chalk, for their constant and varied supply of teas and cakes for the meetings, and for the drop-in Tuesdays. Plus a major vote of thanks to Peter Cutler for driving the Minibus. Clive will supply Membership cards for 2017 in return for the new subscriptions, which gives the future schedule of talks.

Members Proposals 

Jeanne Nicholls asked as ever for Member’s suggestions for the Minibus trip destinations: mostly these have concentrated on garden centres, but this next week the destination is Petersfield.

Rosaleen McDonald suggested a possible speaker in Neil Macareth, who had spent some long periods in Nepal with the Gurkhas.

Wynn Stowell expressed her thanks to the Committee for the work they do, on behalf of the Members.

The 2017 accounts are attached below

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The Home Library Service

Nicolette Morgan writes that she is wishing to raise awareness of the Home Library Service, a free service available from all Hampshire libraries including Alresford library.

The Home Library Service is for anyone who finds it difficult to get to their nearest library due to ill health, disability or caring responsibilities. We can usually arrange for one of our local volunteers to visit to exchange library materials on a monthly basis. We appreciate that often the social contact with a volunteer is as important as the library items they choose and deliver. There are no charges to hire audio books, and no overdue charges for late returns. All our volunteers are DBS (CRB) checked and comply with instructions and standards as set out by library staff.

We can deliver a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books in standard and large print formats, specialist books including ones suitable for those living with Dementia, items from our Reminiscence collection, audio books on CD, MP3 CD (a whole book on one disc) and Playaways which are easy to use digital players. We can also offer National Talking newspapers and Magazines which library staff can download onto a memory stick for you to listen to through any device with an MP3 USB connection.

If you know someone who could benefit from this service, please talk to staff at your nearest library, call us on 0300 555 1387, or apply online at http://www.hants.gov.uk/library/servicesforyou/homelibraryservice I am also happy to take direct referrals.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me (nicolette.morgan@hants.gov.uk). I would be happy to deliver a talk to your group on the Home Library Service and what else is available from their local library.

Home-Instead lists local events for the elderly in Alresford…

Steve Gapper established Home-Instead in Alresford with his wife Jan in 2011. Since then they have expanded the business, which provides non-medical home care services to the elderly, first in Alresford, and now to a wider area covering Winchester, Eastleigh and Chandler’s Ford. Their staff has expanded to number more than 70 now, all working on a minimum of an hour for each visit with a client. The services provided are divided into four distinct groups, Companionship, Home-Help, Personal Care and then Specialised services.

Steve based his January presentation to the Giles Group on the positive things the elderly can, and should do, to maintain their health and fitness. He started off by praising such meetings and activities as are provided by the Giles Group, which give opportunities for human interaction and mental stimulation, all very important! In summing up he listed some of the many other useful regular events in Alresford, suitable for the elderly, as follows:

Weekly Events

The Senior Citizens Lunch Club: Thursdays at the Methodist Church Hall: The contacts are Liz Garton on  733125 or Elaine Secluna on 733192

Exercise Class: Tuesdays 1430 to 1530 at Makins Court

Seated Exercise Class: Fridays 1030 to 1200 at St Gregory’s Church Hall

The Giles Group Drop-in and chat: Tuesdays 1030 to 1200 at the Community Centre

Alresford Health Walk: Tuesdays 1330 to 1430, start at the Avenue

Day Care Centre: Tuesday and Thursday, at Chiltern Court – transport can be provided: contact on 735612.

Senior Citizens Hour: Wednesdays 1430 at New Farm Chapel: Contact is Jill Hardiman on 733765.

Monthly Events

Coffee and Chat: 2nd Tuesday 1000 to 1115 in the John Pearson Hall (St John’s)

Afternoon Social Club: 2nd Tuesday 1430 to 1630 in the John Pearson Hall (St John’s)

Alresford Ladies Group: 2nd Thursday each month at John Pearson Hall, 7.30pm: contact is Pearl Page on 734665.

Tea at Two: 1st Friday 1400 to 1530 at St Gregory’s Church Hall

Singing for Fun: 3rd Friday 1400 to 1530 at St Gregory’s Church Hall

St John’s Walking Group: 1st Saturday 0930 to 1230

Whilst some of the above are open to all, and are either supported by a charge or ask for a donation, others, such as the Lunch Club and the Exercise Class, require a space to be available and/or a post-injury reference from the Surgery.

NATT Minibus trips

Separately, some members of the audience asked about the regular shopping trips made by the town Minibus. These are organised by Pam Stevens on 734861, and the standard schedule is:

First Tuesday in the month: 0845 start, for Sainsburys in Alton.

Second Wednesday in the month: 0845 start, for Tesco in Winnall.

Third Wednesday in the month: 1300 start, for Sainsburys in Alton.

Fourth Wednesday in the month: 0900 start, to Central Winchester.

Every Friday, several trips to and from Alresford Community Centre, starting from 0830 throughout the morning.

Second and Fourth Saturdays in the month: 0830 start, on a trip to Petersfield.

All bus trips collect and deliver passengers to outside their homes. There is a standard fare for each trip, charged to cover the vehicle fuel and maintenance: the drivers are all volunteers. More volunteer drivers are needed, if you are available!

Home-Instead can be contacted on 01962 736681, or via www.homeinstead.co.uk/centralhampshire or call in and visit them at Construct House, at the Winchester end of the Avenue.

The 2016 Christmas Party

The Giles Group December meeting is usually our Christmas party. This year we were lucky enough to have some of the Perins schoolgirls singing for us, accompanied by Miss Cotton, their music teacher. The girls did not just sing carols, but added other songs, such as “Thankyou for the Music” from Abba, and some classic Christmas songs.

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The group call themselves Acapella, (if we have spelled it correctly) which seems the right sort of name, as “A Capella” (translated from the Italian this means “in the manner of the chapel”) and is used for music from a group singing without instrumental accompaniment, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. It contrasts with ‘cantata’, which is accompanied singing.

We were really grateful for their visit, particularly to Miss Cotton, who was due to be married the following weekend, presumably timed to be at the end of term!

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The rest of the party went off as usual, with lots of raffle prizes, and plenty to eat, while the guests puzzled over a quiz that was voted the hardest ever. Pauline Tombs seemed to be in particularly good form, and helped her table get the most correct answers, particularly with identifying the various carols.

Many thanks to all those who provided the cakes, biscuits and food for the party, particularly to Jackie Earthy for the Christmas cake – and to Angela Hartley for the table decorations. Plus thanks as ever to Peter Cutler for driving the Minibus every month.

“Modern Patchwork” – a talk by Jane Varrall

The Giles November 2016 meeting was a presentation by Jane Varrall, an Alresford resident, and also the daughter-in-law of one of our Giles members. Jane explained her all-absorbing hobby of painting on silk, and how this has developed up to the present day. Undoubtedly a skilled artist, Jane has written several books relating to her silk painting.

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Starting from the silk scarves, and a beautiful camisole showing a tropical bird and flowers, Jane showed how her painting had progressed through phases with Egyptian and Turkish patterns, and then how adding quilting added a texture. More recently the paintings have involved adding photos – printed onto specially prepared material – and then stitched onto the silk.

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This is an Alresford picture, including favourite walks round Fulling Mill and the Watercress Line at Alresford Station

There were other examples on display, for example in a Jane Austen themed set of pictures, and a collection of portraits of Burmese ladies photographed on a recent holiday – then these photos were built into colourful silk pictures. One young lady was presented in her wedding dress, looking particularly attractive in a flower garden – Jane had painted out her groom, who had been standing by her side at the time!  Since then Jane has moved on to using similar printed material appliqué-ed on to the silk, for example with pictures of tulips.

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Another holiday had been in New Zealand, and this time Jane did allow a man to appear in one of her pictures! Which is not quite fair, as there were several images of Ian Morton, on one extended (long) picture showing the careful restructuring work that created her garden, when the family moved to Alresford.

The meeting was the best attended of the year, with over 35 Giles Group members crammed into the Community Centre: even the Town Minibus was over-subscribed, and had to make two trips! Many thanks to Jane, whose really interesting talk was much appreciated.