June 19, 2017 TPC-ADMIN

A CELEBRATION lunch was held in the Bedford Hotel, Tavistock, to mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of the town’s Probus Club.

The occasion was held in the hotel’s Gallery 26 restaurant and attended by the Mayor of Tavistock and the president of Tavistock Rotary.

The Rev Michael Lapage said grace, and two founder members, Malcolm Gore and David Kettle, proposed ’The Loyal Toast’ and ’The Trafalgar Day toast’.

Tavistock mayor Cllr Harry Smith praised Tavistock Probus Club for its long record of enriching the life of Tavistock and in response, the chairman Tony Dunk said that the club is a happy and joyful group, a sentiment echoed by all members present.

Tony Everett brought greetings from Tavistock Rotary and wished the Probus Club well.

Anyone interested in Probus can contact the secretary on 01822 615669.

To view the actual article in the Tavistock Times Gazette, follow this link.

June 8, 2017 TPC-ADMIN

We are lucky to live in the stunningly beautiful national park of Dartmoor, but with that dramatic landscape comes danger, be it mist, heavy rain, bogs, severe injury or simply losing one’s way. Dartmoor Rescue is ready to come to our aid, day or night throughout the year.

James Metcalf FRCS is a badged member of the Dartmoor Search and Rescue team skilled in swift water rescue and a member of the “Hasty” team – they carry out searches on foot at high-speed! James gave members a very interesting account of all the services which Dartmoor Rescue can and do offer. This includes: finding people who are lost or injured, administering first aid, getting people to a place of safety, providing safety cover for large events such as Ten Tors and giving talks on mountain safety. The training of team members is demanding and usually lasts 6 to 12 months. Most important are navigation skills, first aid, local knowledge, use of communications equipment, off-road driving and assistance of helicopters. They also work closely with the police.

Dartmoor Rescue is a vital local service and is a charity, relying on the generosity of the local population to cover its operational costs. Members are volunteers and can be called out to help at any time, day or night. The teams are supplemented by some very important members – the search dogs. Dartmoor Rescue has used the services of two spaniels, an Aberdeen pinscher, and two collies. They would love to have a St Bernard.

Peter Brinsden gave the Vote of Thanks saying how much we are grateful to volunteers like James who give up their time and safety to go out and rescue people. In July, we hold our Club Lunch in the Bedford Hotel. Tavistock Probus Club is always pleased to welcome new members.

If you would like more information or a complimentary invitation to one of our talks, please have a word with our secretary on 01822 615669.

May 8, 2017 TPC-ADMIN

Our talk this month was given by Ted Sherrell who, for 40 years, was a Tavistock Councillor, 30 years a Justice of the Peace and, for very many years, a journalist at the Tavistock Times and Gazette. Ted entertained members with reminiscences of his working life as a journalist.

The Tavistock Gazette was founded in 1857 followed by The Tavistock Times in 1920 and throughout their early years, the two newspapers ran as separate titles. Ted joined the staff of the Times in 1959 as a sub-reporter. In those days, the newspaper was printed on site. Both newspapers were crucial to Tavistock as a source of local news, events and the activities of the town’s organisations. In 1977, the owner and editor of the Tavistock Gazette invited Ted to switch sides and join his newspaper.

The Times was owned by The Mirror Group and was used as a training ground for novice journalists. Ted surprised members by saying that one of those novices was Alastair Campbell and that he worked in Tavistock in the 1980s before returning to The Mirror in London.

In 1987, Ted helped set up the Tavistock Clarion but this venture was not the success he had hoped for and in 1991 Ted returned to the Times where he is, to this day, writing his own very popular column.

Ray Hurle gave the vote of thanks describing Ted as a wonderful character both in his talks and his many books. Tavistock Probus Club is always pleased to welcome new members. 

If you would like more information or a complimentary invitation to one of our Tavistock Probus Club talks, please have a word with our secretary on 01822 615669.

March 8, 2017 TPC-ADMIN


Winter Mist bowls Peter Lane Tavistock Probus Club

The fascinating subject of our March talk was “Sources of inspiration in Studio Ceramics” which was given by Peter Lane, Chairman of the Tavistock Probus Club.  With 60 years’ experience in the design and making of exquisitely attractive ceramics, Peter has explored the qualities of light, luminosity, and colour using landscape, nature and sunlight as his predominant themes. For 30 years, Peter played a significant role in art education both in the UK and around the world and was awarded a senior fellowship at the University of East Anglia in 1984.

Peter’s designs emphasised his love of trees and landscapes, particularly in the Lake District and the Derbyshire Downs. This he combined with the carving of pottery and the colouring of the surface using natural elements such as copper, cobalt, and manganese. Techniques of overlaying colours to produce fractured light effects were described using both slides and the many examples of his pottery on display. Some of the techniques were surprisingly simple, using such items as strips of cornflake packets and masking tape. Random repeated shapes represented examples of nature such as fungi and swans.

The vote of thanks was given by David Denton who described Peter’s talk as widely enthusiastic and expertly presented. In April, we hold our AGM preceded by lunch in the Bedford Hotel. Tavistock Probus Club is always pleased to welcome new members. If you would like more information or a complimentary invitation to one of our talks, please have a word with our secretary on 01822 615669.

If you would like more information or a complimentary invitation to one of our Tavistock Probus Club talks, please have a word with our secretary on 01822 615669.

Here are some more images of Peter Lane’s Studio Ceramics:

Fractured Light bowls Peter Lane Tavistock Probus Club

Wax carving blue bowls Peter Lane Tavistock Probus Club

Round Sky Peter Lane Tavistock Probus Club

February 25, 2017 TPC-ADMIN

New Zealand was the subject of February’s Probus Club talk in The Bedford Hotel. Lou Fletcher gave members a colourful description of the North Island from its creation, 85 million years ago. Today, New Zealand is an island full of amazing and sometimes dangerous features with its hot lakes, volcanic disturbances, ancient trees but, above all, wonderful scenery.

The island was first sighted by a Dutch seafarer, Abel Tasman, in 1642 and was named Nieuw Zeeland after the western province of Zeeland in the Netherlands. Tasman met stiff resistance from the Maoris and never went ashore. Captain James Cook sighted the island on 6 October 1769 and landed there two days later.

The island’s Kauri tree

The island’s Kauri tree is one of the world’s oldest species and grows to a height of 160 feet. Early visiting sailors found the trunk of this tree ideal for ships masts and settlers used the wood for building. The trees are now protected by preservation orders. Lou showed members an ornate chopping board made from wood which was 40,000 years old.

Lou’s presentation included photos of the geothermic hot pools which are a favourite tourist attraction. They were originally used by the Maoris, not only for therapeutic benefits but also for washing and dying clothes and cooking meat and fish.

The vote of thanks was ably delivered by John Wall. Our March talk is on pottery design. Tavistock Probus Club is always pleased to welcome new members.

If you would like more information, please have a word with our secretary on 01822 615669.

January 8, 2017 TPC-ADMIN

Smuggling is part of Devon’s romantic and intriguing history. In this month’s talk, Robert Hesketh described the bravery and recklessness of the smugglers – often ordinary people trying to escape a life of poverty.

Britain was at war with France. To pay for that war, excise duty was raised on all manner of goods and none more so than alcohol and tobacco. Avoiding this duty was very profitable indeed. Fishermen risked their lives on the high seas and landlubbers risked capital punishment for dealing in smuggled goods. On a dark night, fishing smacks would become smugglers’ vessels and would easily outrun the naval patrols with their speed and the fishermen’s intimate knowledge of the coast. The Devon beach of Beer Head was a typical good landing place and the Beer Quarry Caves provided adequate storage for smuggled brandy barrels and casks of tobacco. Further inland, the church bell towers offered further safe storage. A man could earn more in one night of smuggling than he would in a month at his normal hard work.

Robert told many amusing smugglers’ tales. In one, the preventive men visited a certain Bob Elliot of Brixham only to be told that he had died that evening. The coastguards met the funeral procession, noting not only an exceptionally large and heavy coffin but also the “ghost” of Bob walking behind it. They fled in terror. Other stories told of housewives using their washing lines as signals and of revenue officers profiting from aiding the smugglers.

David Wixon proposed the vote of thanks congratulating Robert on his fantastic presentation. The subject of our next talk in February is “New Zealand North Island”. Tavistock Probus Club is always pleased to welcome new members. 

If you would like to join the Tavistock Probus Club, please have a word with our secretary on 01822 615669.

November 8, 2016 TPC-ADMIN


Blue police boxes, the sound of police whistles shrieking in the night, Dixon of Dock Green – memories of long gone policing practices were brought to life again in our November talk by Tony and Gillian Parker, both retired senior police officers. These were the days before mobile phones and brightly painted police cars; when the policeman* walked his beat and was part of the community. (*Gillian reminded everyone that recruitment of women to the police was a rare event and until 1973 women were not allowed to work after 10pm!)

Blue Police Boxes or the ‘tardis’

Further reminders of days of yore were that Bobbies on their beat used police boxes to check in every hour to let the sergeant know they were safe and that they not having a quiet drink in the local pub.

Short of running to the nearest “tardis” the only way of calling for backup in an emergency was to blow your police whistle and hope. Personal protection took the form of a helmet (for male officers) and a wooden truncheon now replaced by taser guns, bullet proof vests, and smartphones.

A career that began at the age of 16

Tony joined the police service as a police cadet at the young age of 16 during which he worked at a monastery and attended a post-mortem! With a varied career, in training, press and public relations, pharmacy inspections and narcotics investigation – including working in Chicago, Tony was seconded to and ended his career as Head of Performance Management for National Police Training.

Gillian and Tony Parker in their former policing careers.
Gillian and Tony Parker in their former policing careers.

Gillian joined Leicestershire Constabulary in 1980 and specialised in child protection, domestic violence, and youth offending. In 1991 she helped review police arrangements in Jamaica before moving to Suffolk and subsequently to Bedfordshire on promotion to Chief Constable. Gillian was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in 2003.

Demonstrations of policing methodology

Members were shown how policing methodology has changed dramatically over the years with developments in forensic and behavioural science, DNA testing and offender profiling. Police communications have also benefited from advances in technology providing instant access to a variety of databases.

Lou Fletcher thanked Tony and Gillian for their most interesting and informative talk. In December, the Tavistock Probus Club members will enjoy an excellent Christmas lunch at Tavistock Golf Club.

Tavistock Probus Club is always pleased to welcome new members. If you would like to join us, please have a word with our secretary on 01822 615669.

September 8, 2016 TPC-ADMIN

Life in the Royal Navy is often very challenging, even in peacetime. Our talk this month was given by Rodney Browne who, after two tours to Antarctic waters in HMS Endurance, commanded his own survey ship, HMS Herald, for two winter tours to the Falkland Islands and Antarctica shortly after the Falklands war.

The Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands are mountainous, extremely cold and windy and yet teaming with wildlife. Rodney’s photographs showed just how dramatic the landscape is, with pictures of icebergs, rugged cliffs, and snow-covered hills together with close-up photos of sea lions, penguins, hawks and, of course, sheep.

The Antarctic is 95% ice covered and temperatures as low as -88°C have been recorded. When surveying in winter, safety is paramount. The weather can change dramatically in a very short space of time and the environment is harsh and unpredictable. The wildlife, if a little unsociable, is perfectly adapted to this environment. Seals, however, have foul smelling breath and the pungent odour of a penguin rookery can be smelt 3 miles away.

Mountains, Ice, and perilous conditions

Our talk included stories of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s attempted expedition to the South Pole, sledding 1740 miles in perilous conditions, before years later being trapped in ice on board the Endurance and sailing to South Georgia before climbing a 9,000ft mountain ridge to seek the help of a whaling station.

Ray Hurle thanked Rodney for giving members a fascinating insight into the life of a naval officer and demonstrating how flexible and innovative one must be when commanding a vessel. The subject for our October meeting is “Help for Heroes”.

Tavistock Probus Club is pleased to welcome new members. If you would like to join us, please have a word with our secretary on 01822 615669.

August 8, 2016 TPC-ADMIN
Ten Tors
Torquay Girls Grammar School B Team, the first all-female team to finish the 2015 Ten Tors Challenge. Photo: Corporal Daniel Wiepen
approach the finish line to rapturous applause from friends, family and Ten Tors fans. The Torquay Girls Grammar School girls teams were the first two all female teams to finish the event in 2015.
The Ten Tors Challenge is one of the biggest outdoors adventure events for young people in Britain today.
2,400 youngsters aged between 14 and 19 will take part in Ten Tors, trekking unaided over 35, 45 or 55 miles of some of the toughest terrain and highest peaks in Southern England, relying on their navigational skills and carrying all their food, water, bedding, tents and other essentials as they go.
A further 300 youngsters with physical or educational needs take part in the Jubilee Challenge and complete routes of up to 15 miles.
Ten Tors is also a vital high-level military exercise – called Exercise ARIES TOR – designed to test interoperability between the Armed Forces and Devon and Cornwall Police, The British Red Cross and Dartmoor Search and Rescue Group.
MoD release authorised handout images.
All images remain Crown Copyright.
Photo credit to read – Corporal Daniel Wiepen
Daniel Wiepen – 07880 052437
Richard Watt – 07836 515306
Shane Wilkinson – 07901 590723

Over the past 55 years, the Ten Tors expedition has provided a uniquely demanding challenge to many thousands of young people. They are required to hike over Dartmoor for up to three days, without adult support and solely responsible for their own well-being. Their safety, however, remains the primary concern of the team organising the event together with the Dartmoor National Park Authority, the emergency services, and various volunteer groups.

Simon Bell discusses his love for Dartmoor

Our talk this month told the history of the Ten Tors expedition and was given by Simon Dell, who is currently the Director and Coordinator of Moorland Guides. Simon has, for many years, had a special interest in the Dartmoor Rescue Group and in 1997 was awarded the MBE for services to the community as well as mountain rescue.

The Ten Tors Challenge started life in 1959 as a military exercise by the Junior Leaders Regiment, based at Denbury Camp. The exercise was a great success with those taking part enjoying the challenges of navigation, bivouacking and field cooking. The officers in charge, among them Colonel Gregory, felt that such an expedition could greatly benefit the youth of the day and should not be confined to Junior Leaders.

The first Ten Tors Challenge

The first public Ten Tors expedition took place on 15th September 1960 starting at Haytor, with teams of 10 walking 55 miles over the moors to Hexworthy. Teams of girls were included the following year. In 1996, heavy snow initiated a mass evacuation and two years later a heat wave created a major risk of dehydration. The expedition now starts and ends at Okehampton Camp.

David Rippon thanked Simon for his most interesting talk which showed an astounding knowledge of Dartmoor. The subject for our September meeting is “The Falkland Islands and Antarctica”.

Tavistock Probus Club is pleased to welcome new members. If you would like to join us, please have a word with our secretary on 01822 615669.

June 4, 2016 TPC-ADMIN

China is one of the world’s fastest growing major economies with a population of 1.4 billion and covering an area 73 times the size of England. In this month’s talk, Peter Brinsden gave members an illuminating description of life in China and how this has changed over the past 100 years.

Tell us a bit about yourself Peter

Peter was born in Peking in 1940. His great great grandfather moved to China in 1856 as an American Presbyterian missionary. His great grandfather Robert supervised the building of a university in Hangchow (now Hangzhou) in 1912. Peter’s father was taught Chinese by the tutor to the last Emporer of China (Puyi) and Peter, himself, has travelled and lectured extensively throughout China, including visits to Xi’an which was the start of the famous Silk Road and is now famous for its terracotta warriors. Peter had the honour of giving a lecture in The Great Hall of the People and has four Honorary Professorships at Universities in China.

Life in China

Life in China has changed dramatically over the last 100 years. Horse drawn carts have been replaced by bullet trains and shanty towns by modern skyscrapers. The Chinese people are generally very happy people – Peter’s presentation was notably full of smiling faces. China now contains one of the largest Christian communities in the world, possibly numbering over 100 million.

Members were also given an insight into modern China: the modern hospitals and the flourishing traditional medicine markets; the shopping malls and the many massive infrastructure projects. The Three Gorges Dam is an imposing example, towering to a height of 600ft.

Peter Lane, our Vice Chairman, thanked Peter for his most interesting talk. In July, the Tavistock Probus Club will hold its Club Lunch at the Bedford Hotel.

Tavistock Probus Club is pleased to welcome new members. If you are interested in joining, please have a word with our secretary on 01822 615669.