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MONTHLY MEETINGS 2022
Wednesday 1st June - Platinum Jubilee Celebration
Tonight was a special evening, with the hall decorated with bunting and red, white and blue balloons, which started with a Cranberry Crush mocktail created by our Present, followed by a Royal Quiz, won by The Royal Dorgies team of Audrey, Jean, Sue, Jane, Marie and Barbara. There was also a Crown making competition with many excellent entries which you can see below in the photos; after a vote by the members it was won by Fiona, Carolyn came second, Ruth was third. After all that excitement there was a Jubilee themed tea served by some of the Committee with the added bonus of a Jubilee fruit cake, created by our President which you can see below in the photos. It was a fun evening enjoyed by all.
Wednesday 6th April - The Story of a Street.
Our speaker this evening was David Cummings, who gave a wonderful, illustrated talk entitled The Story of a Street. The street in question was Bridge Street in Chester and what David doesn't know about Chester is not worth knowing. He is a keen photographer who is passionate about Chester's history and architecture. Apart form his own photographs, David showed slides of Louise Rayner illustrations, postcards, paintings, drawings and many museum items to show how Bridge Street has evolved over the centuries. Old illustrations show many of the buildings in a very dilapidated state before our Victorian forebears renovated them with mock Tudor facades, taking their inspiration from Little Moreton Hall.
Until the growth of Liverpool, Bridge Street was the main thoroughfare to and from the bustling Port of Chester, with boats loading and unloading at the bottom of the street. Over the years Bridge Street has been a thriving part of the city with all sorts of businesses including butchers, vets, watchmakers, wine merchants, leather goods, glove makers, fabrics, haberdashers, to name but a few.
David could have talked about Chester all evening and we would have been happy to listen but he ended his talk with a view looking up Bridge Street towards The Cross, with a Pickfords truck turning out of Eastgate Street, towing an aeroplane (without its wings!) en route to Hawarden.
Wednesday 2nd March - "The Corset Unlaced", Gill Roberts
This evening Gill introduced us to the history, construction and art of the corset in a very entertaining talk. Her illustrations were sometimes unexpected and ranged from metal corsets made for Catherine de' Medici (by the court armourer) which had a 13 inch waist, through the leather fetishist versions of the 1990's, to catwalk models wearing Jean Paul Gaultier today. Initially their purpose was to conceal the body shape so that elaborate embroidery could cover the split cane structure such as those Elizabeth I would wear, and they changed through time to employ wooden stiffeners and corded fabric. Men also wore corsets, Beau Brummel starting the trend, as they made expensive military uniforms last much longer, no diets needed! New skeleton styles were created for the memsahibs who travelled to India with the Raj so they could cope better with the heat, although they were still expected to wear at least three undergarments at the same time! When the eyelet was invented in the 1820's it was initially a sewn version but this still enabled lacing to be a feature of the corset; once steel eyelets replaced the sewn ones, lacing began a life of it's own as you can see from the photos below, culminating in the "tightlacing" of the late Victorian era which was damaging to health, constricting organs and leading to fainting. During the First World War there was a demand for metal which led to a change in the structure of corsets and from the 1920's underwear changed into a less controlling and more comfortable blend of material with the new elastics being invented, becoming more like the girdle we might all remember from our youth!
Today corsetry encompasses everything from overwear and underwear to dramatic occasion clothing and Gill had brought many examples of her own creative art to display. The exquisite embroidery defies description and is best seen in the photos below, although that is really no substitute for seeing it in reality when the colours and flashes of gold and silver threads bring the pieces to life.
Wednesday 2nd February - Violinist Philip Chidell
At our first meeting in 2022 we had a truly inspiring recital by a young, accomplished and gifted musician. Between playing his moving and popular programme, he talked engagingly about his years at Chetham's School of Music where he was the youngest pupil when he first went there there at age eight. He talked to us about why he loves the pieces he plays, and his easy manner informed our enjoyment of his programme. He has performed at some varied venues, including the Bridgewater Hall, the Royal Festival Hall, Chester and Manchester Cathedrals, and Windsor Castle. As well as music, Philip is interested in film making and would one day like to have his own orchestra. Our own musician Janet gave the vote of thanks; our evening had been a real pleasure.
Words and Pictures: Fiona
19th January 2022 Extra Zoom Talk - "Super Sniffers"
This evening we had a very interesting talk from Pauline Miller on Medical Detection Dogs, a charity based in Milton Keynes. Dogs have noses which are very many times more sensitive than ours, and dogs' brains have 40% more capacity for analysing smells than we do. It is this ability that can be focused and trained to recognise the smell of illness in humans when dogs analyse our breath and sweat.
There are two different ways in which dogs can aid us. Bio Detection dogs can give early diagnosis of diseases like cancer and malaria in a way which is non-invasive and highly accurate. Work is going on in this area with international clinicians and universities; MIT are hoping to develop smart tech called "E Nose" building on this knowledge. The other area where the dogs' skills are used is in Alert Dogs who live with people with a medical issue where early warning is imperative; someone liable to have seizures, heart issues, diabetes and epilepsy benefit from early warnings which mean they can find somewhere safe in time. This gives them back their independence, confidence and freedom, and also lessens emergency hospitalisation.
There is very little Government funding in this area and Pauline told us MDD needs £2.5 million annually to continue their work. It takes 2 years to train a dog and costs £29,000. One interesting point is that these dogs are 94% accurate when detecting Covid 19!
Dorothy thanked Pauline for her interesting talk and hoped to see us all face to face at our meeting on 2nd February.
Words and Picture: Fiona