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Probus Club of Torquay, UK

Provides an opportunity for retired and semi-retired people to keep active mentally and physically as well as enjoying social interaction with fellow members. The club was formed in 1970 and we are a club of some forty men and welcome enquiries from professional and business men interested in joining us. At each meeting we have a guest speaker. This is a popular part of club activities as speakers are chosen to speak on a variety of subjects and members usually find them interesting, entertaining and informative.

Reports on previous speakers

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Talk given by BBC producer Andrew Cooper

At their recent meeting, Torquay Probus Club were privileged to have had as a guest speaker, the distinguished and well known BBC Producer Andrew Cooper. Before he retired, Andrew, who is a Devon man and a biologist by training, had spent a major part of his long career as the BBC's producer and presenter of their Natural History Division at Bristol.

Andrew, whose work has carried to many places in the world, gave a most interesting talk which ranged from a film making assignment by helicopter around the remote Bishops Rock Lighthouse to bird life in Siberia. He told of his filming in Africa with an account of the seasonal grazing mass migration of the wilderbeest (gnu) and zebra. On their necessary river crossing, awaiting them were the predators, the crocodiles! On his experiences in U.K., he related his frequent f visits to Slimbridge, the wetlands and wild fowl reserve in Gloucestershire. It was there that he made many films in collaboration with the late founder, the eminent ornithologist Sir Peter Scott. Andrew also related his connection with the much regarded BBC. T.V. programme, Springwatch.

On another topic, he gave a detailed account of the careful preparation that the BBC's production team in Bristol do before any filming assignment goes ahead in the U.K or overseas. First a hazard assessment is made, and any necessary precautions taken and special training given. Following this, all cameras, film stock and ancillary equipment are thoroughly checked and prepared for the conditions that may be encountered on the assignment ahead. At the end of his talk, Andrew was warmly thanked by the Probus chairman, Johan Johannson and many interesting questions were asked and answered.

Club members enjoyed a talk given by Peter Gibbs.

At their recent meeting Torbay Probus Club members enjoyed a most engrossing talk given by Peter Gibbs. He had the honour of being the youngest of twenty trumpeters at Queen Elizabeths Coronation in Westminster Abbey in June 1953. Peter was specially selected for reason of his exceptional musical talent when he was student at Kneller Hall Military Academy.

Peter told that his early introduction to music as a young Devon boy came about through his parents who played in the local Salvation Army Band. He was encouraged to join the junior section of the band where he had the opportunity to try more than one or two brass band instruments before making a preference and liking for the trumpet. Later, as a young teenager aged fourteen, he enlisted in the Army as a boy soldier in the Third Dragoon Guards. His musical talents were soon recognized and he was accepted for regimental band training. Again his abilities shone through and he transferred to Kneller Hall for advanced instrumental training to become a fully experienced bandsman.

Peter related he had a successful and enjoyable Army career both in U.K. and Germany and that occasionally, he was asked to sit in and play as a trumpeter in one of the U.K.s Symphony Orchestras. Rounding off his talk, Peter played a short recorded orchestral piece from Hubert Parrys I was Glad, in which he had played a short solo trumpet piece. Also on display to Club members were a small number of trumpets from his personal collection.

The Club recently welcomed David Skillen.

He chose as his subject Gettysburg and the American Civil War 1861-65. Club members were given as an introduction, a summary of events that lead to the conflict between the Union States of the North, who opposed slavery and the Southern Confederacy States who were adamantly opposed to any change. It came to a head, when an army division of Southern troops were successful in taking Fort Sumter in 1861. Following on from that event, both the North and South started to fully mobilise their armies and engaged in full combat. Many battles waged back and forth over several states with a heavy loss of lives on both sides. Over the duration of the war and many campaigns, senior command positions were frequently changed. The war finally ended in 1865 with General Robert T. Lee of the Confederacy defeated by the Union forces under General Grant.

Gettysburg, was where the most significant battle of the Civil war was fought in July 1863. The speaker described in some detail aspects of the campaign and tactics employed by both the Confederacy and opposing Union troops. Both sides suffered heavy casualties and eventually, the Confederate side were defeated. It was at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on 19 November1863 at the dedication of a cemetery to the war dead, that Abraham Lincoln President of the U.S. made his famous "Gettysburg Address" which proclaimed the lines

To accompany his talk David, screened two old photographs of Abraham Lincoln actually taken at Gettysburg, together with recent views of several of the well preserved battle field sites of the US Civil War, that he had visited.


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