Welcome to our Club

Louise Kenward - A Conversation with Annie

Our speaker for January was Louise Kenward, a visual artist based in Bexhill.

Louise spoke of her interest in the life of Bexhill based traveller and artist Annie Brassey.

Annie was married to Hastings MP Thomas Brassey, the son of Thomas Brassey senior, who built many of the world's railways in the 19th century.

The family were wealthy, and travelled the world with their five children aboard their luxury yacht, the Sunbeam.

Annie kept a record of her voyages, which were published in her lifetime.

Many of the artefacts she collected were held in her private museum at her home in Park Lane until her death, when they were passed to museums in Hastings and Bexhill.

Louise took us through the main events of Annie's travels, and explained how she had tried to travel in Annie's footsteps to try to re-experience life in her shoes.

Louise kept a record of her travels, sometimes recording her experiences as letters to send to Annie.

Click here to visit Louise's website, and click here for more information about Louise's journey in Annie's footsteps.

Welcome to our Club

Dr. Sue Turner - The not-so-humble potato

Dr. Turner gave us a most fascinating and informative talk about the origins of the potato in South America.

She explained how the wild potato is poisonous, but was adapted by the indigenous people of South America to form the staple of their diet for hundreds of years.

The coming of the conquistadors led to the export of the potato to Spain, and its spread throughout Europe, where it is now a major contributor to everyone's diet.

Dr. Turner went on to discuss some of the problems that come with potato cultivation, and focused on the reasons for the Great Potato Famine that hit Ireland in the late 1840s.

She identified the importance of both cultural and climatic conditions in the development of blight, and then developed her argument to pose the question about the future of potato cultivation in a period of global warming.

Dr. Turner suggested that there were likely to be two possible consequences for potato growers in the UK. One would be the increased risk of the Colorado Beetle becoming established in the UK. The second problem she identified was that changes in climate might make the country too warm for the successful cultivation of our favourite vegetable.

Following Dr. Turner's talk, we all settled down to enjoy our Christmas lunch, which, of course, featured roast potatoes prominently.

The Christmas lunch was a great success, with over seventy members and friends attending.

Welcome to our Club

Peter Webb - Customs and Excise

Peter took us through the long history of smuggling, especially in this part of the world, and spoke of the Hawkhurst and Goudhurst gangs, which could assemble five hundred men in an hour, without the benefit of the internet or mobile phones.

Peter went on to describe the modern work of the Excise men, and their role in trying to prevent smuggling gangs and human traffikers breaking the law.

Peter was at pains to point out that there was nothing romantic about modern smugglers. Many were unscrupulous men and women who had no regard for the safety of the general public.

He emphasised that it wasn't about the occasional bottle of wine, but the crate of oranges, all injected with cocaine that could kill children if the crate found its way onto a market stall by accident.

Club AGM

As usual, the membership was most grateful for the efforts of the committee over the last year, and thanked them for their work.

Chairman David Walshe agreed to continue in office for a second year and was roundly applauded for his decision.

Gail Pain was confirmed as vice president, with the expectation that she will become president at the end of 2017.

Long serving treasurer Mike Nightingale said that the time had come for him to stand down. He had been treasurer for 17 years, since the club was founded. Chairman David thanked him for all his work over the years.

Colin Saunders was elected to take over the treasurer's role.

Secretary David Walker agreed to continue in office and was confirmed in post.

Speaker Secretary Geoff Croxford agreed to serve another year, and the Chairman paid tribute to his success in arranging a range of good, interesting speakers over the past year.

Committee members Mike Hockley and Peter Whitstone stood down after completing their two year stint in office.

John Burbidge and Tony Pearlman were duly elected as committee members.

Michael Smith - Tom Crean, Artic Explorer

Mike gave us a fascintaing talk about one of the unsung heroes of Antartic exploration.


Mick Smith

Crean was a physically strong and invariably cheerful man, and his intelligence and judgement led to his promotion to become Scott's number two.


Tom Crean

On the last, fatal trip, Crean was sent to manage the food bases for the return journey, rather than join Scott on the final stage to reach the pole. This action saved Crean's life, and his return to the base camp was an adventure of its own. Despite poor health, Crean insisted on being part of a rescue mission to find out what had happened to Scott, and was a member of the party that found the bodies and erected an ice memorial over them.


Scott's Grave

Undaunted by the trauma of his voyages with Scott, Crean signed up with Shackleton for his expedition, as his second in command. He was part of the group that made the epic voyage from Elephant Island to South Georgia, and crossed the unexplored central mountains of the interior to reach the whaling station on the north coast. From there, Crean was involved in the rescue of the other members of the expedition left on Elephant Island.

At the end of these adventures, when most people would be retiring and putting their feet up, Crean rejoined the navy and served from 1916 to the end of the war.


The South Pole Inn

Crean opened a pub, called the South Pole Inn and spoke very little about his adventures to anyone, including his own family, perhaps because the beginnings of Irish nationalism in 1916 exposed anyone with links to the British military to the danger of summary execution. Indeed, Crean's brother, a policeman, was killed by Irish nationalists.

Mike's talk was fascinating and enthralling, holding everyone's attention and showing how apparently ordinary men from simple backgrounds could become players on the world stage and accomplish great things

Click here to visit Mike's website.

Hypo Hounds - Jane Pearman

It was the first presentation Jane has given, though she spoke with such confidence, no one would have realised.


Jane Pearman

Jane gave a brief history of the health problems that her daughter, Sophie, has with Type 1 diabetes, and how they found a puppy, Scooby, who they hoped would be able to alert them when Sophie's sugar levels dropped. Scooby was only eight weeks old when this first happened.

Now fully grown, Scooby has been trained as an Alert dog and has already alerted Sophie's parents to a sudden dip in Sophie's blood sugar levels that meant she was on the edge of dipping into a life threatening diabetic coma.


Sophie and Scoobie

Following Sophie and Scooby's story becoming public knowledge at Crufts, Jane set up Hypo Hounds after overwhelming pleas for help from the parents of other Diabetic Children that had no one to turn to for support and training.

Hypo Hounds now have 6 dogs in training, all residing in Kent and all alerting their owners to diabetic episodes in their children. Even the newest recruit, Rosie, who is 13 weeks old is alerting.

Click here to find out more about Hypo Hounds.

Richard Lustey

Jill Hutchinson

Our speaker on August 4th was retired Tenterden councillor Jill Hutchinson.

Jill described the highlights of thirty years of public service, as a councillor, first in Tonbridge, and subsequently in Ashford.

In Tonbridge, Jill was Mayor from 1987-88

Jill described the way she fell into local government, almost by chance, and found herself elected very shortly after expressing an interest in local politics.

She listed a number of activities that had engaged her during her time in local government. The education of children, especially those with educational disabilities, were especially dear to her.

After a number of years on Tonbridge council, Jill and her husband relocated to Tenterden, and Jill thought she had finished her local authority career. However, she was soon buttonholed by the local conservative party, and served as Ashford Borough Councillor for the Tenterden South ward.

Jill stood down from the council in 2015.

Bob Ogley - The Ghosts of Biggin Hill

Bob proved to be an excellent speaker. He told us about the wartime exploits of individual pilots of the squadron, the operations they flew out of the airfield and the individuals who became known as "The Few".

Here are the pilots of 32 Squadron who were stationed at Biggin Hill for eight years and easily the longest serving. The 32 Squadron diary survives in the Biggin Hill archives.

Bob told us many anecdotes about the pilots, the squadron, and their wartimne adventures.

Click here to find out more about Bob and his books

Annual Dinner

The 17th of June saw many members of Probus, with wives and partners attend the Annual Dinner at Chart Hills Golf Club.

Besides an excellent meal, the guests were kept on their toes by a most demanding quiz compiled by Debbie Greaves, which had everyone scratching their heads from starter to dessert.

President David Walshe welcomed the guests, especially Ginnie Dixon, and entertained everyone with a most amusing speech.

As usual, the event was brilliantly catered by the Chart Hills and thanks go to Mark and his team for all their efforts.

Peter Knott - A Life in Jewellery

Well known local businessman Peter Knott was our speaker at our June meeting. Peter was the founder of the club.

Peter spoke to the club about his lifetime experience in the jewellery trade. He spent his formative years working in jewellers in the London suburbs learning his trade. he gained experience as a clock and watch maker, as well as a gemmologist, and spent some time as a representative of a jewellery firm travelling the south of England

One such trip brought him to White's the Jewellers in Tenterden.

Later, when Peter decided it was time to open his own shop, he remembered Tenterden and his visit to White's. As the previous owner was retiring he took over the shop in 1981, and the rest is history.

Peter has been an active member of the Tenterden community since his arrival in the town.

His very amusing talk was well received by his audience.

If you would like more information about Tenterden Probus,
contact us by e-mail: tenterden.probus@gmail.com.