Kent Branch Newsletter February 2013
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Branch Meetings Southern
You are cordially invited to attend either or both of the following Southern Branch Meetings
Friday 22nd March 2013 – HMS Belfast, The Queens Walk, London, SE1 2JH.
Please let me, Jim Barling, know as soon as possible if you are attending this meeting. We do need to let HMS Belfast know how many will be attending.
Wednesday 17th July – The Guildhall, High Street, Guildford.
Please send your contribution, preferably as an attachment by e-mail to:
Mr J. Barling,
Kent, CT4 6PL
This publication has been generously sponsored by Success Tours
To obtain a competitive and personal quotation for your group, please contact a
member of the Success team on 01225 764205 or email us at
Letter from the Chairman
As some of you may know, the GTOA became a Company Limited by Guarantee last year. We were forced into this action because we had started to trade above the VAT threshold, and so that we could recover the VAT, we became a Limited Company. This, combined with falling numbers of GTO’s and increasing numbers of Associates, has prompted the setting up of a Working Group to examine the governance and structure of the National Committee. This Working Group will hopefully submit its recommendations to the April meeting of the National Committee. It is then likely that an Extraordinary General Meeting will be held, possibly in September, at which the proposals will be put to the Members. Postal voting will be in force, and it is very important that you exercise that vote if you are unable to attend on the day.
It is also important that you encourage any GTO who you come into contact with to join the GTOA. Personal contact is the best way to recruit. To aid you in this, I sent out some flyers to each of you. If you need more, please contact me. It might also be an idea to act as “mentor” to them by bringing them to a meeting before they join so that they can see what we are about, and then again after they join. It can be so helpful to have someone you know to “hold your hand” when entering a meeting cold.
Jim Barling Chairman
National AGM Winchester.
I suppose that it is inevitable that at some time during the course of our winters, snow will fall, but it was a shame that it chose to come the night before the start of the AGM. Jenny & I were sufficiently concerned about the weather and took a decision to travel down to Winchester late on Thursday evening. But not everyone was in a position to do that, and sadly quite a number of people were affected. Some managed to get there by lunchtime on Saturday, but others were not able to travel at all. So numbers were somewhat depleted which was a shame. It caused the AGM committee a bit of a headache as table plans for each night had to be re-arranged. It was disappointing that the entertainment for Friday evening, although local, did not make it either.
The ‘any questions and answer’ session on Friday afternoon was well supported and a number of interesting facts came to light, one of which was on the subject of First Aid and as GTO’s should we be taking First Aid training? We have had training but the general consensus was that we should learn sufficient to save life and cope with emergencies such as CPR, choking, bleeding and the recovery position. Leave the rest to the professionals.
The Trade Fair on Saturday morning was, as always, lively. It was nice to meet up with the Associates & Intermediates again, and many had interesting new offers for us, but particularly interesting were the local attractions that joined us. Winchester is a beautiful old city with its Cathedral & historic buildings and how appropriate that the Cathedral is holding a Flower Festival this year. That is already booked for our group.
Saturday evening, like Friday, over dinner was another opportunity to meet members that we may not have met before and of course Sunday morning went as planned with our various branch meetings and the AGM. We all had one eye on the weather though, as the snow had started to fall again.
I am not quite sure how many of these AGM weekends we have attended, but we do know that we would not miss one now. Next year’s AGM is in Swindon, and is already in the diary, and we urge any of you who have never taken the plunge, to do so. With the friends you make, the networking opportunities, and the information gained about being a good GTO, it is worth every penny. Congratulations to the AGM committee for yet another great weekend.
Jim Barling 1834K
Southern and Kent AGM 4th – 7th October 2013
It was anticipated that our next annual general meeting would be held in The Sherbourne Hotel, Sherbourne in Dorset. However, on visiting the hotel, it was agreed that it was not suitable for our needs. We had also heard, and this has since been confirmed, that the site of the hotel has been sold to Tesco’s subject to planning permission.
We have now been able to book for our AGM weekend at The George Albert Hotel at Evershot, near Dorchester. We have not been able to visit this hotel yet, but at this point in time we do not anticipate any problems as it is a fairly new hotel.
Southern Group Tours have arranged for us a comprehensive itinerary of familiarisation visits to Poole Pottery, a visit to Swanage, and a ride on the Swanage Steam Railway to Corfe. There will be time in Corfe for those wishing to visit the ruins of the castle if they so wish, and for others to partake of a cream tea before returning to the hotel.
Day 2 has visits to The Fleet Air Arm Museum, Sherborne Castle & free time in Sherborne. During the afternoon we will have a scenic drive through Cerne Abbas to Thomas Hardy’s Cottage. Both days will be accompanied by a Blue Badge Guide.
Full details and booking forms will follow later in the year but mark the dates in your diary now.
Send articles to me for inclusion in the Newsletter. It becomes very difficult to produce it if we have so few articles to put in. Don’t be shy, put pen to paper (though preferably on an e-mail) and let everybody share your experiences, good or bad. My contact details are on the last page.
If anyone is interested in compiling and editing the Newsletter, I would be eternally grateful.
‘NOT TOO FAR FROM HOME …………….’
Members may be interested to hear of this trip which went down well with a number of our group last summer.
Conscious that some of our long-term supporters were becoming wary of trips which were ‘too far from home’, or started out ‘too early’, returned ‘home too late’ or had ‘too much walking’ we looked for a easy going day out that would satisfy the needs of these people.
With the kind co-operation of Lesley Maxim, group organiser at the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway and the staff at Rare Breeds Centre at Woodchurch we built a day which visited three places in Kent, which together formed a circular tour when we were never ‘too far from home’.
The coach picked up a number of folk from Staplehurst first, then Cranbrook and Hawkhurst before making our way through Tenterden (they were fascinated to see the street set up on market day) and out to Woodchurch to the Rare Breeds Centre who very kindly opened their café a little earlier than usual so we could go straight in for coffee on arrival. We then spent a further very enjoyable hour with our people able to choose just how far they walked as there is a small animal enclosure very close to the café which was, to everyone’s delight and amusement, by then occupied by numerous chattering toddlers feeding the rabbits and guinea pigs with goodies supplied by the staff. Nearby were the birds of prey, assorted sheep, goats, pigs and horses and not too far off was the butterfly house. The coach dropped us off close to the restaurant and returned there for us to limit necessary walking and we were soon on our way to the unique landscape of Dungeness where we had reserved the majority of tables in the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway Café right beside their Dungeness Station and in the shadow of the old lighthouse.
Arriving soon after 12.30 folk were able to watch the departure of one of the trains before taking their seats in the café for our pre-booked fish and chip lunch with tea or coffee. Very good fish and chips they were, too, not cooked until we were seated, and just the right sized portions. We had planned, with Lesley, that if anyone wanted to take a train ride they could take the 2.40 train as far as New Romney Station.
Others would board the coach after waving them off and we would meet up with them again there at 3.10 p.m. A quick check as the coach approached Dungeness to see if anyone was keen to do this saw quite a number of hands in the air, so I agreed to go around the café during lunch and confirm definite numbers, then pop into the Station office to pre-pay at group rate for those choosing to take the ride. (Fares to be collected on the coach later.) Amazingly, by then, 40 of the 51 on board were up for it, including my mother in law, aged 92, who was pushed to the train in her wheelchair and met again on the platform as they pulled into New Romney Station.
A short walk to the coach in the adjoining car park and we continued our ‘round tour’ by picking up the road to Ashford. One short hop on the motorway brought us off at Junction 9 where we pulled into the car park of Dobbies Garden Centre, THE place for a cream tea, especially when the scones are 2 for 1 and the cream is that generously piled inside!! Eyes popped out of heads at the sight of them.
With time to spare to wander through the delights of the book and greeting card sections, the deli and the butchery, toys and gifts plus, of course, the plants and flowers everyone rejoined the coach marvelling at all they had packed into the day.
We continued the ‘round tour’ by taking the motorway back towards Maidstone to enable the coach to first drop of folk at Staplehurst, then Cranbrook and finally Hawkhurst.
The day did work out very well indeed. Nearly everyone who came seemed to have an extra-sincere word of thanks as they left the coach. Many had not been to Dungeness for donkey’s years, and both the Rare Breeds and the Garden Centre proved a rare treat for many.
We have our thinking caps on to put together another ‘not too far from home ……’ for this year.
Warners – Bembridge Coastal Resort
At the National AGM in 2012, we were presented with an opportunity to book for our group to go to the Isle of Wight in January 2013. We were uncertain whether there would be sufficient interest to take a 5 day holiday at this time of year, but we need not have worried. It was an exceptional price and 42 bookings came in very quickly.
This was our first experience at a Warner’s Hotel and we were not disappointed. The accommodation was superb, food excellent and plentiful, and the nightly entertainment was most enjoyable all supported by a superb team of staff that were both friendly and helpful.
Despite the snowy conditions on the day of our departure, the journey was uneventful and we arrived in Portsmouth in time for lunch and a chance to browse the stores at Gun Warf Quays.
At the AGM on the preceding two days to our departure, Jenny had been seated next to Jane from The Spinnaker Tower. On our arrival at Gun Warf Quays, Jane met our coach and had arranged tickets at a very special group rate for those in our party who wished to
go up the tower. She even brought along a pack lunch for our driver. During our stay, two excursions had been organised for us. On the round Island tour, we visited the Island Pearl, The Needles, and Newport, and an unscheduled stop at the very quaint little thatched Church of St. Agnes in Freshwater Bay. Our second day out took us to Godshill, a charming village of thatched cottages & delightful church and also to Arreton Craft Village. Sadly at the beginning of the year, the powers that be decided that coaches were no longer welcome at Arreton Barnes, so our driver dropped us a few yards along the road and returned for us later. Having visited there before, Jenny led our group in through the village, so that we could access the craft village by the ‘back door’. The crafts people seemed delighted to see us and The Dairyman’s Daughter, the local pub, was glad of our lunch trade.
Warner’s always have a very good array of activities to participate in, so even if you are not going out, there is no need ever to get bored.
I must thank Stuart Parker from Interchoice Holidays for arranging all this for us. We all had a superb time and are looking forward to next January for a 5 day break at Cricket St Thomas.
Jenny Barling 1835S
Kent Branch Meetings
26th April at Blue Town Heritage Centre, 69, High Street Blue Town Sheerness ME12 1RW at 1100
A presentation will be given by the Centre’s Director and by a representative of the National Garden Scheme about the possibilities of visiting the many gardens in the scheme that are situated in Kent, Sussex and Surrey.
If there is sufficient interest, we will organise transport for a guided tour of the Island after the meeting. The Island has a long history. Nelsons body was landed here at the (then) Naval Dockyard, pickled in a barrel of rum. It was also the place of birth of British aviation and the scene of early flying experiments of the A V Roe (AVRO) Company. But I’m sure we will learn much more on the tour.
28th June at Kent Life Museum, Lock Lane, Sandling, Maidstone ME14 3AU at 1100
This is an open air museum of rural life in Kent. Set in 28 acres on the East bank of the River Medway near to Allington lock. Amongst it’s many attractions are the Vintage Village containing rescued rural buildings, beautifully restored and depicting the lifestyles of Kent’s rural past, Kentish Gardens – enjoy the spectacular smells and colours of the Garden of England and the Farmyard where you can see some of the traditional farmyard animals in their historic settings.
Please complete the enclosed leaflet and return to me,
Jim Barling, Roma,Valley Road, Barham, Canterbury, Kent CT4 6PL
or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org