Romaro (Romney Marsh Rotary) here again to bring you up to date on the activities of our club for what has been another busy month. To start with we were very pleased to welcome a presentation from Emma Manwaring who spoke on behalf of the Witness Support Service provided under the umbrella of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB). She was keen to point out that the service is free to use and is funded by central government so they do not need to raise funds but they are currently looking to increase the number of volunteer helpers they need to support the full time professional team. Volunteers are not paid but they do receive expenses, their function is to provide practical help and emotional support to both prosecution and defence witnesses so as to enable them to give a confident presentation in court. They do not get involved in the evidence and do not take sides but they will help to prepare the witnesses, many of whom may be young (the youngest we were told was just three years old) or vulnerable in some way. They will usually meet their clients at the court ahead of the trial date to explain the layout of the room, the people involved, what they do and where they sit and the procedure that they will follow on the day. They will also explain that they may have to wait a long time before they are called and advise on practical issues such as arranging childcare, time off from jobs and making sure they have plenty of change for the car park and a good book! Emma explained that full training is given and that anybody can become a volunteer, no legal knowledge is necessary, all they ask is for a caring attitude and good communication skills. If you are interested in learning a bit more about the role, you can contact Emma on 07584 489294 or visit the CAB website https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ and entering ‘Witness Support’ into their search box.
The main social event of the month (if not the year) was a visit by 16 Rotarians and their wives / partners (you have to be so careful these days!) from the Rotary Club in Gelsenkirchen in the North RhineWestphalia District of Germany. The fun started with a dinner held at ‘The Ship’ in New Romney on Friday evening at which old friendships were renewed and a few new ones created followed by a full day of entertainment on the Saturday when 19 members and guests from our own club joined the party for a trip to The Historic Dockyard in Chatham. Setting off by coach and enjoying a snack on the way, we were greeted with a short familiarisation tour followed by a tour of the rope making sheds under redoubtable direction of Rose, a colourful lady guide who explained, a little too quickly and in a broad East End accent that ‘challenged’ some of our German guests, that ropes had been made on the site since 1618 but that the present facility was built in the 1780s. It is ¼ mile from one end to the other and is still used to produce ropes of all types up to 720ft (220m) long. In the glory days of sail, ropes were an absolutely essential part of the construction process. Nelson’s flagship,
HMS Victory (built at Chatham whatever you may have been told by those equally nice people in Portsmouth) needed over 31 miles of rope to haul up sails, climb rigging, drop anchors, secure those loose cannons and even for mundane things like bucket handles. Apparently there used to be five major roperies in the country and each identified their products by inserting a different coloured strand within the twist – Chatham rope was and still is identified by a yellow strand – so that in case of a rope fraying or failing, the source of manufacture could be identified, an early form of quality control it seems.
Following a fish & chip lunch we were let loose to look around HMS Gannet built in 1878 and the first dual power warship using both sail and steam and fitted with one of those newfangled screw propellers,
HMS Cavalier (1944) a CA Class destroyer which saw action with the Arctic convoys during the war but is now a memorial used on occasion for film and television productions and HMS Ocelot, a submarine and the last warship to have been built at Chatham for the Royal Navy. Commissioned in 1962, she was deployed in various parts of the world but information regarding the exact nature of what she was involved in remains classified. The visit was rounded off with a tour of the areas of the dockyard used in the making of the TV series ‘Call the midwife’, interesting but by that time the cold wind was getting to all of us and we were happy to pick up our souvenirs from the shop and head back to the coach and home.
After a very quick turnaround, we were all off to St. Mary’s Bay for a barn dance and a delicious chilli supper followed by a variety of ‘naughty but nice’ desserts. The callers, John & Karen Sweeney, did a great job in getting everybody on their feet and in an atmosphere of hilarious chaos as our German friends got their heads round do-si-dos, stripping the willow, grand chains and the like, a great time was had by all. Huge thanks are due to Suru and Hasmi Patel from the club for their hard work in putting the whole weekend together.
What’s coming up?
Forthcoming activities and events include..
Regular club meeting and dinner every Thursday at Littlestone Warren Golf Club; 7.00 pm