21 May 2023

The 15th May meeting discussed progress of plans for this year’s charity coastal path walk, which will take place on Sunday 3rd September. More information can be found on this website in the ‘Coastal Walk’ section. Plans were also discussed for a beach clean on the 24th June and intending to cover beaches from Elie to Crail.

Following business, speaker was club member and retired dentist John O’Neil, who took as his topic ‘spiders’ This was a surprise - but did at least answer the question as to what dentists do when they retire! We were led to believe that John has a pet spider called Bob and also keeps a special ‘spider bush’ outside his back door!

We learned much about these creatures including their two main body parts, 8 eyes, 8 legs, 2 stomachs, a brain, a heart and blue blood. It was very interesting to learn something of the huge number of different species - from tiny to terrifyingly large. Interesting too to learn that spiders are often the first to inhabit newly emerged islands - able apparently to travel perhaps 200 miles on the wind and below a length of their silk.

Altogether a lighthearted excursion - although when we heard that spiders inject their victims and paralyse them, there were uncomfortable memories of time spent in dentist’s chairs! Following questions a vote of thanks was proposed by arachnophobe Findlay McLaren.

Royal Mail..
01 May 2023

Business topics at our meeting of 1st May included an update on the Primary School Quiz, with a final competition on the 12th May in Tayport. Also discussed were plans for beach cleans on 17th June.

Speaker for the evening was club member Malcolm MacDonald, who decided on a reprise of his original job talk, when he joined Rotary in 1999.

Malcolm had started out training to be a motor mechanic, but quickly made a change to Royal Mail, in what went on to be a 40-year career from a telegram boy to manager of the Anstruther office.

It was a reminder of just how much has changed - from the telegraph, mail trains, Post Buses, telegram delivery on bikes, mopeds, motor bikes and vans - to today’s digital world.

Malcolm was based for many years in St Andrews and it was fascinating to be reminded of just how the town has changed too, with many old businesses now gone. The railway with lead-sealed post bags no longer an important part of the mail system - and with great expansion of the university.

Mention of ‘Teleprinter’ machines, with 1/4” wide printed strips stuck onto telegram forms and with BSA Bantam delivery motor bikes rekindled old memories for many. And there were spells too as driver of the passenger-carrying Post Buses, around country districts.

And a final phase with the 1990 opening of a new office in Anstruther - and progressing to be manager there.

A journey down memory lane indeed - and a very interesting one too. Following questions a vote of thanks was proposed by John O’Neill.

03 April 2023

Our meeting of 3rd April was primarily the club’s AGM and we were pleased to welcome a representative from Rotary District 1010.

Officers were quickly elected, accounts confirmed and updates provided on progress with the Charity Coastal Path Walk, the Primary Schools Quiz - and the continuing outings for the club’s choir (having today performed for the visually impaired group in St Andrews).

Speaker for the evening was a representative from the Aberlour Trust (www.aberlour.org.uk), who gave an interesting talk and update on the work of the Trust - helping Scotland’s struggling children and families. Established in 1875 as an orphanage, today’s Trust is very different, with a range of services now provided for children in need. Support is very much customised for the individual and for individual families. They work to beat poverty, disadvantage and discrimination. Giving children an equal chance, and the best possible start in life.

Many services are provided in individual ‘houses’ with two or three support staff in each house. It was moving to hear first-hand accounts of the many very difficult situations where help and support is provided - and of the very wide range of support that can be provided.

Following questions Bill Batchelor proposed a vote of thanks

Mixed emotions..
20 March 2023

Our meeting of 20th March came together in a moment of sadness as we reflected on the passing of Andy Matthew, a club member since 1999 and a greatly respected member of our community: teacher, Chief Commissioner for Scouts in Scotland, Church Elder, Rotarian, chorister and JP.

Then, with many memories explored and following business and a meal we were very pleased to welcome Dougie Nicolson as our speaker. Dougie is now retired from a career as a press photographer for The Courier - the D C Thomson newspaper. We were treated to a fabulous collection of (mostly news) photographs, along with intriguing anecdotes of the events of the day.

It was interesting to hear how press photography changed as digital cameras became the norm and 35mm cameras and wet processing was abandoned. But there was also the increased cost of the new technology, with perhaps £15,000 worth of kit needed. Even more interesting was to hear about the sometimes exotic work locations: the chance to walk on the top of the Forth Road Bridge, to fly in fast jets, report on airshows and to see the great and the good in close-up.

We heard too of the reality of unsociable hours and the harrowing aftermath of serious accidents, fires and natural disasters where the human cost is all too clear.

It was an exceptional story and following questions an appreciative vote of thanks was proposed by William Duncan.


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