Extras – February 2021

Arts Society

LATEST LOCKDOWN. Are you wondering how to fill your day during the restrictions of another lockdown? Why not join one of our Zoom lectures. We are the Basingstoke branch of The Arts Society and we have moved our programme of monthly lectures on to Zoom during lockdown. We enjoy stimulating talks from Arts Society registered lecturers on a wide range of topics. We are inviting anyone who is interested to join us at these lectures which are live on Wednesdays at 10.45 am. Lectures last for one hour and there is an opportunity to put
questions to the lecturer at the end.

At Christmas we watched video clips from a Royal Ballet production of The Nutcracker whilst a member of their orchestra treated us to a unique glimpse of how things worked backstage.

On February 17th we will be learning about Fakes and Forgeries: The Art of Deception from a former specialist police detective. Or if you prefer to learn about a topic in more detail we have a Study Day on February 24th from Peter Medhurst entitled Paintings inspired by Music and Music inspired by Painting who will discuss and analyse a range of magnificent paintings as well as giving us a live recital.

Lectures cost £5 and Study Days cost £15 for non-members

For more information on these and future lectures and to register for either of these events visit; theartssocietybasingstoke.org.uk

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Probus Club Report

Operation Prince’ November 1985 


Probus Club member, Chris Perkins MVO, a retired RAF Squadron Leader gave an insight into a humanitarian mission in South America in November 1985. As aircrew on an RAF Odiham Puma helicopter squadron, we were used to being caught on the hop during those uncertain days of the 1980s! It all started on a November Friday evening 35 years ago at a supper evening with the ‘Boss’. A short telephone call turned the evening upside down for four of us with an early departure to Bogata in Columbia the following morning. The British Government had been requested to provide search and rescue plus humanitarian aid in the wake of a volcanic eruption. The information was sketchy and our task was to augment helicopters crews flying down from a squadron detachment in the Central American country of Belize. Flying kit gathered we eventually reached the Station Medical Centre. A standby doctor had been called in to administer a plethora of jabs against ‘horrible afflictions’. This he did at one go and very reluctantly, as alcohol had been ‘imbibed’ during the evening!

Nevado del Ruiz

At Heathrow early the next morning we met with civilian SAR specialists to grasp a fuller appreciation of the unravelling situation on the other side of the world. An 18,000ft high volcano, the Navado del Riuz, had erupted three nights previously, melting the ice cap and sending down a wave of mud and boulders to engulf the town of Armero.

There followed an 18 hour flight via Miami to Bogota arriving late at night. An attack by the M19 guerrilla movement on City’s Palace of Justice had resulted in the enforcement of rigid military control and there was evidence of tanks and armed patrols on the streets. It was quite reminiscent of being back in Northern Ireland! Overnight accommodation was provided by the Defence Attache and an RAF Hercules transport deposited us at the Palenquero Columbian Air Force base the following day.

Our helicopters travelling down from Belize had been refused diplomatic transit clearance by the Nicaraguan Sandinista regime and would not arrive for another 36 hours. That said, within two hours of arrival the helicopters were ready for first sorties. Arriving over Armero, we were stunned with what we saw. A town the size of Hook had all but disappeared under a covering of mud. 23,000 people had been killed or missing, swept away in the mud flow. Human and animal remains were abundant and smaller helicopters were darting about with rescue parties collecting those alive, moving them to aid posts. We made our first approach into one of these for offload, using the rising smoke from a burning mound as a signal giving the wind direction. I don’t think that I will ever forget the smell on opening the door on finals to land. With temperatures in the upper 30 degrees, typhoid had broken out and before effective fumigation, the Columbian Army were initially burning corpses using petrol.

The ever-present dust and layers of volcanic ash covered everything and made approaches to the confined landing sites in mountain villages extremely hazardous. ‘Ample muscle’ was essential to aid the offload of supplies and prevent ‘unwanted passengers’ climbing on board to escape the area. On one particular heavily loaded sortie ‘a man from the BBC’ was enlisted to give a hand. With camera and mike capturing both picture and sound, he unwittingly recorded an ‘interesting arrival’ at the 7500 ft Villahermosa football pitch in 40 degree temperatures. This was shortly aired embarrassingly, with ‘no bleeps’, back home.

Amero trying to free Omayra Sanchez

During the ten days of operations shuttling supplies and personnel into the Armero area we were part of an international relief operation that included the United States Air Force together with French and Columbian Armies. Working from dawn to dusk 76,000lbs of supplies were transported by our two helicopters. During our journey back to Belize via Panama we too were held up by the Sandanista regime in Nicaragua resulting in an overnight stop in Costa Rica. We had covered some 1500 miles with a total flight time of 11 hours and 15 minutes to Belize Airport Camp.

Amero rescue

Detachment business carried on as normal supporting the British Army and Belize Defence Force in a deterrent role against possible invasion from Guatemala. The flying logbook always proves to be invaluable against fast-fading memories, often recording places and incidents. I see that there’s a note on an entry for the 23rd December. It involved a re-supply sortie to a remote army post on the Guatemala border. During the flight back to base we ‘clandestinely’ paused on a pine covered ridge to source Christmas trees in aid of ‘seasonal festivities’. Operating over the jungles and pine covered ridges of Belize in all weathers was an incredible experience and the subject, maybe, of further record before permanently forgotten.

See www.probusbasingstoke.club

Rotary Roundup

Rotary Roundup – February 2021



Our Rotary President usually takes on their role of leading the club in June each year, but in these altered times it was decided last June, when we all thought life would be different by Christmas, to roll this forward to January. So now after being our President for 18 months Alf McCarthy has handed over the role to our new President Gareth Lewis. The club wishes him well for his Presidency.

And so we review our year

All our social activities have been cancelled. Our formal events such as Charter Night, Presidents Night and Charity evening didn’t happen. Most of our fundraising has come to an abrupt end but prudently we did have some funds tucked away that we could put to good use.

So did we achieve anything worth mentioning?

We helped Mencap sell some of their produce – which raised much needed money for them. More importantly we helped Mencap fund the replacement of their dying van without which they would not be able to function.

We also helped Besom replace their van. Besom in Basingstoke helps people make a difference. It provides a bridge between those who want to give time, money, things or skills and those who are in need. It ensures what is given is used effectively. The service it provides is free. For example someone may be refurbishing a room and have good quality furniture to donate to Besom who then give it someone who has been homeless and is moving to an empty new home. Effective recycling!

We purchased equipment for Helping Hands for the Blind allowing them to continue running the community radio station from volunteers homes. An essential lifeline in normal times but this year many more people have learned about, and benefitted from, the work of this great local charity.

We supported the Spotlight food bank both financially and with drivers in the longer term to help deliver food parcels. Rotarians also helped Inspero deliver their food parcels.

We have again supported Age Concern with their social therapy groups.

We continue to support Lend with Care, a microfinance charity which enables people in the UK to make small loans to entrepreneurs from poor communities around the world. This charity changes lives by lifting people out of poverty by financing loans for them to start their own businesses.

Against all the odds we managed to set up a pop-up restaurant to provide Christmas lunch for the clients and volunteers of the Camrose Centre who do wonderful work caring for the homeless in the borough.

As Rotarians, the icing on the cake at the end of 2020 was that, at very short notice, we, along with the other Rotary Clubs in North Hampshire were asked to help the local GP practices with setting up the site and marshalling patients for the vaccination programme. It’s our hope for the future.

Rotary Foundation is one of the largest charities in the world. During the year we received three grants totalling £5,000 from Foundation towards our projects, including –

We are raising funds to finance the provision of equipment for Basingstoke Hospital to treat a debilitating heart condition called Atrial Fibrillation, which whilst a little known condition, affects large numbers of the population.
The equipment will cost approx. £60,000 in total, towards which we have to date raised £18,000. Our Rotary target is £30,000 with the balance being funded by a matched grant.

You’ll find more information on our website:  www.rcbd.org.uk
Still a chance to donate – go to: https://www.gofundme.com/f/a-healthier-hampshire-in-a-heartbeat

So how did we do in 2020? Think we made the best of a difficult year! We were delighted to welcome Laura and David as two new members of our club this year. If you like the sound of what we do & would like to share in the fun read the notes below.

Basingstoke Deane Rotary is a group of 35men & women from a wide variety of backgrounds. All live locally in the borough but some commute to work outside Basingstoke. Most joined Rotary to help others less fortunate, and they find Basingstoke Deane Rotary adds another extremely enjoyable dimension to their lives.

If you would like to find out more about how we enjoy ourselves, just tune in to www.rcbd.org.uk  to see what we have coming up, or contact Helen or Paul to find out more . We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Facebook: @RotaryBasingstokeDeane                          
Twitter: @RBstokeDeane

Basingstoke Voluntary Action – Members Update

Member’s Update – 8th January 2021

Upcoming Events for You…
Save the Dates!
We are developing sessions for the next couple of months and would welcome any suggestions. Upcoming events include a Virtual Volunteering Fair, a Cyber Security for Charities and a session based around social media.

Support for Wellbeing Activities…
Help Us Help You!
We are on a mission to find out what local wellbeing activities are currently available so that we can direct residents to support that can really help with whatever issue they are struggling with at the moment.

B&D Community Lottery Update…
Have You Signed Up Yet?!
So far, the lottery has been effective in helping the local community. 975 tickets are being sold across 52 causes with 449 players playing every week. In last week’s draw alone, there were 15 winners. You can also benefit by signing up just like our other causes!

Advertising Your Trustee Positions…
Do You Need Trustees?
Do you need your Trustee positions filled? We are currently experiencing a number of volunteers coming through who are interested in becoming Trustees of local groups. Get in touch to get these positions advertised now.

Charity Fundraising Webinars…
Expert Views To Help You!
Register for charity fundraising webinars now. Hosted by the Directory of Social Change, these webinars provide you with expert views into the opportunities and challenges in the current fundraising environment.

Basingstoke Voluntary Action
The Orchard, White Hart Lane, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 4AF
www.bvaction.org.uk | contact@bvaction.org.uk

Old Basing u3a



On Into 2021 We Go!

Basingstoke’s U3A is busy planning for the year ahead, even though at the time of writing (in lockdown), we’re reduced to keeping in touch remotely again. Our table tennis group just managed a last game together before Christmas.

Feb-2021-U3a-Table-Tennis-Linda-WainWe’re continuing to use Zoom, e-mail and other on-line software – to play bridge for example. So we still have a wide range of groups and activities on offer. The committee is making sure that members without on-line access are kept in touch too, with a monthly newsletter delivery and a distanced ‘hallo’ on the doorstep where we possibly can.

Needless to say, for now our discussion and learning groups are finding it the easiest to carry on, with well over 30 activities for our members to enjoy. Our ‘emailers’ include a weekly quiz group, classical studies, cooking for men, and our circle dancers, with video links, are continuing to practise their steps at home too! ‘Zoomers’ are getting together for art appreciation, biography, the environment, patchwork, and needles and pins – again to name but a few. Our cyclists are still cycling in pairs, socially distanced, following our group leaders planned routes. No doubt more treasure hunts will be linked to the routes with end of week zoom meetings and perhaps a fun quiz. The walking group leaders are sharing suggested routes for members to try in pairs. We are continuing with our monthly webinars with talks, which offer an alternative to our normal get togethers face to face to enjoy visiting speakers.

Our Music and Words Group members have been busy

Unable to get together, this group has been sharing updates on the local and London concert halls providing TV and internet access to recorded concert performances, including the Proms. Some members have produced much enjoyed presentations on their chosen music, with a link to the relevant YouTube recording. These have included a lockdown quiz, a Christmas programme of music, carols and poetry, and “Africa’s Unknown Classical Music Heritage”. This contributor is famous in the group for researching and introducing members to relatively unfamiliar pieces of music – which helps to broaden everyone’s experience of different music cultures and composers.
Presentations coming up include The Moon, From Russia with Love, A Walk round Brighton Hill, Baroque, and Composers’ Travels.

And so Has Our Creative Writing Group

The former librarian at Chineham, started this group last September. Members now zoom twice a month to discuss their writing and work on various schemes together – which included Halloween and Christmas projects. The focus of the group is writing for fun, and includes all levels of ability, from those who occasionally write the odd short piece, to those who take it quite seriously.

Some have submitted work to the Bramley and Basingstoke writing competitions. One member writes mostly poetry, another has self-published three novels on Amazon, with another ready for launch.

As always, there are further details on our activities at https://www.basingstokeu3a.org/ and those of you who aren’t on on-line, just give us a ring on 07787 520281 to speak to a member of the committee. Membership is £15 from now until the end August, with unlimited access to all our activities, so do give us a try. We’re on Facebook now too, find us at https://www.facebook.com/Basingstokeu3a and let us know if there are activities you‘re interested in.

Do join our U3A if you’re interested in any of our groups; you’ll be made very welcome.

Old Basing Village Nursery School

The children and team at OBVNS would like to wish our local community a healthy and happy new year! It has been wonderful to welcome the children back after the break and to hear all about their Christmas holidays. The autumn term was as close to ‘normal’ as it could have been for our staff and little ones; it was truly wonderful to see our nursery school back to operating at capacity and lovely to welcome our new families into our fold.

Feb-2021-Tree-Decorated-Victoria-GraysonThe Old Basing Village Hall Committee brought some Christmas cheer into the hall in the form of a new Christmas tree which the children enjoyed decorating. We also put out Christmas loose parts (baubles, tinsel and other decorations) out in the home corner for the children to play with – many relishing in the opportunity to get their hands on decorating (and un-decorating!!!) the tree.

Feb-2021-PostBox-Victoria-GraysonWe were able to host our nursery Christmas lunch during the last week of term where we surprised the children with decorated tables and crackers; we also treated our parents to a virtual Christmas performance via our online learning platform. Christmas jumper day provided a day of fun and festivities as well as a walk to the postbox to post our letters to Father Christmas! It felt good to be able to maintain a few traditions despite so many current Covid restrictions.

Feb-2021-Decorated-Tree-Victoria-GraysonThe nursery school children joined the Friends of Old Basing Schools in creating a winter window scene with our art teacher, Sarah. This display formed part of a window trail around the local area. We were chuffed to find that our tree festival entry, ‘Our Faithful Friends,’ which was decked with photographs of our children’s soft toys and comforters came second place in the competition at St. Mary’s Church.

It is times like these in which we realise that it is the little things that matter. As a small business, we have looked for ways to support other businesses like ours but to also give our team a boost during what has been an immensely challenging time. In light of this we have recently invested in wellbeing massages from Claire at Total Sports Recovery as a treat for our team and have also arranged twice weekly coffee van visits.

Rosario’s On the Go are now visiting the Village Hall (between 9am and 9.30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays) with fresh coffee and cakes. We’ve really enjoyed meeting local people going about their daily walks and dropping by for a latte and would encourage anyone out for a stroll to pop by. 

We are aware that there are many members of our community who may be feeling a little isolated at this time of year and wanted to welcome any letters or messages for our children – perhaps you have some stories of Old Basing from your childhood that you would like to share – or perhaps you attended Old Basing Pre-School yourself. In return, we will write back with drawings and updates on what we have been doing. Letters can be sent to the village hall itself or, alternatively to 24 Inkpen Gardens, RG24 8YQ. Of course, you are also welcome to email us at oldbasingvillagenurseryschool@gmail.com. Please be sure to include a return address.

We have places available for a September 2021 start and are registered to take children from their first birthday. If you would like to enquire about a place please email us or call Vicky or Andy Grayson on 07557642510.

Happy New Year!


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