September Meeting! (+October too)

The next regular monthly meeting of the Giles Group will be on Monday September 13th, at 2pm in the Alresford Community Centre.

There will be a speaker, probably a young lady called Ellie, from The Environment Centre in Southampton ( They are an independent charity that aims to reduce carbon emissions, encourage sustainability, improve air quality and provide affordable warmth. They are financed by Hampshire County Council, and help local residents in Southampton, Portsmouth and rural Hampshire by providing tailored advice on energy use, heating, and insulation: they also advise on support such as the priority services register, and switching energy tariffs.

Ellie and a colleague will give a brief talk about these topics, and their “Hitting the Cold Spot” Service…. and then answer any specific questions you may have about home heating in general. They are also available on 02380 336172.

Afterwards we will have the normal teas and cakes, plus the raffle.

October Meeting

For our October meeting, on Monday October 11th, Mark Turner, the Chef and Restaurant Manager at Wayfarer Place will give a slide show covering his visit to Machu Picchu, the 15th-century Inca citadel in Peru.

Early morning in wonderful Machu Picchu

Image by Pedro Szekely,

Giles Christmas party

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:

The Perins girls singing at the Giles party


Mr + Mrs Ashford plus Jack organising the choir

Either planning the next song, or talking about babies?

DSC05693       DSC05700


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!

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.

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 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.


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!


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.


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.

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.


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.

The Giles Group AGM 2016

Minutes of the AGM held on 8th February 2016 in the Community Centre


Approx 24 members (apologies received from Olive Gillespie, Ann Bravery, Jean Parr, Peter Middleton)

The meeting was opened by Lin Parker and the 2014 AGM minutes were read out in summary by Nick Denbow. These minutes were proposed for acceptance by Tessa Purkiss, seconded by Audrey Chalk, and voted as approved.

Chairman’s Report:

Lin Parker made the report from the Chair, as last August Brian Purkiss had decided to stand down, and Lin as Deputy Chair took over the responsibility of that position. Lin presented a thankyou card to Brian for his years of service on the committee and as Chairman, but was pleased that he would still be a member of the Giles committee. Another regret was that various members were no longer fit enough to attend, such as Irene Elliott, Nelly Shaw and Gladys Ashe, and others have moved away or passed on, such as Les Holder and others,

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.

giles accounts 2016The income last year (2015/16) was compared to the previous year on the sheet provided: membership fees were much as before, but donations at £179 were well down on last year (£510), which itself was a sharp decline from £1294 the previous year. The Raffles income increased significantly, to £117. All Social Services and HCC or similar funding has disappeared. So total income was £638, (compared to £927 previously).

Cost totals year to year were similar, at £1152 last year, reigned in a bit compared to the £1300 the year before. Clive concluded that with £617 in the Bank, the group financial projection was short of that required for the year: and he suggested that the membership fee should be increased for 2016/17.

In conclusion, Clive proposed that the Annual membership fee should be increased to £15 per member. The potential known Giles Membership list as at February 2016 showed 39 names, so the additional fee would probably bring in an extra £175 in the year, and would be a significant help going forwards. Clive proposed this increase, Nick Denbow seconded it, and the vote was almost unanimous to approve the change.

The Treasurer’s statement and report for 2015/16 was proposed as accepted by Nick Denbow, seconded by Betty Tring, and agreed in a vote by the meeting.

Chairman’s Summary:

Lin Parker said that the speakers and events in the year had been well attended and of interest. She also thanked Diann, Nan and Gina for their constant and varied supply of teas and cakes. A similar good line-up of speakers had been scheduled for the coming year, as listed on the 2016/17 membership card (these were summarised later by Nick when showing the reports on the Giles website).

The Giles committee proposed for 2016 was basically unchanged from the 2015 committee. This new Committee was proposed by Audrey Chalk, seconded by Jean Bax, and accepted by the meeting.

Giles Committee for 2016

Lin Parker (Chair), Brian Purkiss (Deputy Chair), Clive Earthy (Treasurer), Nick Denbow (Secretary), Una Yeates (Publicity), Jeanne Nicholls (Outings), Diann Adam and Nan McNamara (Coffee mornings), Olive Gillespie.

Coming up to Christmas!

As we come up towards the Christmas party at the December meeting, it is worth looking back to review the last two talks, which have been very different. In September we had David Groeger from the Alresford Chiropractic Clinic at the bottom of West Street, who explained some of the history of his profession. There seemed to have been a few family arguments over how to treat bad backs, but not in his family at least! Once David has put your back, neck or leg back into action, he is a great advocate of using the proper style of walking stick, to keep your head held high. Maybe this should be possible around his practice building now that there are no longer any big holes and mounds of tarmac in the pavement there.

In October we had a very different talk, from Aiden Simons of Ropley, who talked about his experiences while helping several children’s schools in Kenya, which he after when he spent some time in the country monitoring various international development projects. Since then Aiden and his wife have been helping find materials and donations to build schools, and even teaching some of the classes, having become firm friends with the leaders of the local Churches. Aiden was about to depart on another trip before Christmas. The stories he told were very moving, making all appreciate living in a society where such things would not be tolerated, particularly in relation to the teaching of deaf or blind or otherwise disabled children. The members had a collection for Aiden to spend in things needed for the children he was going to visit, which amounted to £70.

For our Christmas party on December 14th, we have part of the Perins school choir coming to sing some Carols, and then will organize a Christmas quiz and raffle. One of the raffle prizes is to be a jar of Galaxy Hot Chocolate powder, which they have kindly donated: the second jar we are using for some hot drinks on the day!

Meeting for May: Make a hanging basket

When Clive, our Treasurer, volunteered to do this talk on “How to make a hanging basket” all the Committee thought this would be a very good idea for May, and we assumed he knew how to do it! However, it transpires that Clive has had to call in a few favours, and has pressurized the Chairman of the Alresford Horticultural Society, Steve Morley, to actually do the presentation: Clive has been running around with the shopping list from Steve, and reassures us he has bought all the plants and baskets and everything else needed!

It remains to be seen what he has forgotten….but you can be sure Steve Morley knows what he is doing!

DSCN1487This demonstration was given at the Giles meeting on Monday 11th May, at 2pm in the Community Centre Hall. The objective was to make three hanging baskets: so the cloths were laid out to catch the soil, and some fairly big, already flowering plants were presented to Steve to “do his thing”. Steve explained how it was easy to make a container for a basket from old compost bags, and these are good because they do retain some water. Plants can also be pushed through slots in the sides of the basket.

DSCN1484Steve recommended a list of suitable plants, and also suggested that a slow release fertiliser would be a good idea. The plants are best displayed in a group of three or five, of a similar colour. Steve made three baskets during the presentation, and Clive did his contribution by hanging them on the step-ladder.

At the end of the meeting these three baskets were offered for sale to the audience for £10 each: since there were about eight interested parties, the names were put into a raffle, and the three winners were Nan, Diann and Brian. There was also the normal raffle after tea, to win several prizes on the trolley.

March Talk by ‘Canine Partners’

Beverley from Canine Partners
Beverley from Canine Partners

The Giles Group meeting and talk on Monday 9th March included a presentation by Beverley from ‘Canine Partners’, which explained their work in providing and training dogs to help disabled people, primarily concentrating on people in wheelchairs or with restricted mobility. Beverley used a slide presentation to tell the stories surrounding some of the clients, or “partners” they have created over the last 20 years, which now number 250. The basic cost to provide and train a dog is typically £20,000, which is why fundraising support is needed, and really appreciated.

The dogs were shown to help open doors, fetch the remote control for TVs or phones, even put cards into cash machines, then remove the money and get the card out – something which was reported by a Telegraph reporter when he saw it happen in front of him at the cash machine queue! The dog there had not learned how to enter the PIN number, but no doubt Canine Partners are working on this! The dogs also delight in helping to take socks off, lift legs into the bed, or even can help to put skinny jeans onto the more fashion conscious partner!

Canine Partners were started in West Sussex, near Chichester. They have now spread further afield, with another base in Leicestershire. The website, with plenty of videos explaining some of the stories behind the dogs and people they have match-made, is on More stories and examples are given on this website.

Everyone enjoyed the event and really appreciated the excellent presentation, which really gave a feel for how much the dog partnerships had helped the lives of some disabled people. Beverley also explained that there are many ways that people can help Canine Partners directly, in joining fund raising events, or in acting as weekend foster-parents for the younger dogs, during their training.

After the presentation, during the tea and cakes, Beverley was delighted to accept a donation totalling over £70 from the 26 members of the Alresford Giles Group who were present, which will be used to help the Canine Partners work.

Master Canine Partners Logo(RGB)