As we were approaching Armistice Day, it was appropriate that our November meeting had a military flavour.
Our first speaker, Rod Morris, who served for 28 years in the Royal Navy, reminded us how millions of families throughout the UK suffered the loss of close family members in the Great War of 1914 to 1918, apart from those living in "Thankful Villages".
In the l930s, Arthur Mee, a writer and journalist, when researching King's England, a guide to the counties of England, noticed that there were some villages which had no war memorial.
He was the first one to coin the phrase Thankful Village, describing communities in which a certain number of men went to war and the same number came back. We hear how Arthur Mee could only identify 24 villages, but more recent research has identified 41 parishes throughout England and Wales from which soldiers returned.
Sadly, there were no settlements in Scotland or Northern Ireland that did not lose a member of their community in the First World War.
Fourteen of the English and Welsh villages are considered Doubly Thankful as they also lost no service personnel during the Second World War. Somerset has the highest number of Thankful Villages – nine.
John Shaw, our second speaker arrived with a very sturdy looking bicycle, and we heard how he took up cycling to help him get fit again after a very serious illness. As he was pedalling away round the countryside, he hit on the idea of raising money for Help for Heroes. Mr Shaw has two daughters in the armed forces and he has already raised more than £100,000 for the cause. The money is used to help the physical and mental rehabilitation of ex-service personnel, helping them rebuild their lives.
Our next meeting will be our annual meeting and that will be followed by a light-hearted Charity Shop Fashion Parade (a sign of the times?). We are also looking forward to a trip to Cardiff and our Christmas party (with entertainment and a fine supper).