Probus School Head Teacher Personal Statement

. .Probus Club of Avoca Beach Inc.

Guest Speakers

Future Meetings & Guest Speakers

Monday 19 March 2018              Annual General Meeting

Monday 16 April 2018                 Peter Little - Radio Station Manager, Coast FM

Monday 21 May 2018                 Lt.Col .Peter Sweeney - “The Bombing of North Australia.”

Monday 18 June 2018                Elaine Norling – Avoca Beach Film Group

Monday 16 July 2018                  Frank Brown - “Fun With Knots & Ropes.”

Monday 20 August 2018             PROBUS Schools Debating Competition

Monday 17 September 2018       Roland Storm - Entertainer

Monday 15 October 2018            TBA

Monday 19 November 2018         TBA

Recent Guest Speakers

Monday 19 February 2018          Narelle Villa - Kincumber Computers - “Fun with Computers.”  

Narelle Villa has lived on the Central Coast for 26 years and has been in Kincumber for the last 6 of those years. She spoke knowlegdeably about computers starting with their history; from the huge machines in 1955 with punch cards to the touch smart, small computers of today. She also mentioned the many and various uses we have for our computers, from information to social connections.  Narelle then warned us about scams and how to avoid them, or where to get help if a victim of them. She told us it was very important to back up our important documents and photos on the cloud as onedrive is more secure than most other methods. A flashdrive is not infallible and could be ruined by a power surge whereas an extra hard drive such as Seagate, is quite good. It is important that we back up often. We should also install security programmes such as Norton, Trend or Mc Afee, etc on our machines. ABG is a free one suitable for android phones whereas Apple products have their own security. She was a very informative speaker and answered some questions.


Monday 15 January 2018            Merv  Rosen - National Maritime Museum - “MV Krait.”  

Merv Rosen trained as an industrial engineer but spent most of his working life in the building and construction industry. He is now an active volunteer and guide at the Maritime Museum and his interests include the ships connected with the museum. He spoke to us about the vessel, Krait, which had a fascinating history starting as a fishing boat. However, its raid on Japanese ships in Singapore during World War II was the most famous. This intelligence operation was performed by some very brave commandos who disguised themselves by staining their bodies and dying their hair. They sailed into the harbour without being stopped by the Japanese and performed a successful operation. Truely a fascinating story.


Monday 20 November        Peter Mace                                      Bush Poetry

Peter Mace first performed on stage in Tamworth, 2005 in a Bush Poetry Competition, which he won. He continued to win the Golden Damper Award three times, was awarded the "Reciter of the Year" at the National Folk Festival and was the 2012 Australian Bush Poetry Champion.  He has entertained numerous people in many different venues including cruises and train journeys. He recited poetry he had written himself and also that of Henry Lawson, Banjo Patterson, John Dengate and others. He accompanied these with amusing anecdotes on the poets. He was a very entertaining and funny speaker. 

Monday 16 October            Wendy Selkirk                                 The Singing Hands Choir  

Wendy was joined by Joy to demonstrate how the "Singing Hands Choir" performs to music and songs. They are part of a bigger group, usually four of them, who use the official Australian sign language to entertain hearing impaired and other audiences The choir was formed 12 years ago to help children to learn how to sign. Since then it has expanded with 62 volunteers working in the group.They wore white gloves to ensure their hands were easy to follow as they placed signs to the songs. They started with "Top of the World" by the Carpenters and followed this with many other songs which were very popular with our members. These included songs by Anne Murray, Cilla Black, Doris Day, the Andrews Sisters, Neil Diamond and more. They were very entertaining and many members were interested in seeing them again in the future.

Monday 18 September       Shen Yun Performing Arts             

Healing Power of Music in Chinese Culture

Christine from the Shen Yun Performing Arts kept us enthralled during her talk which was accompanied with slides and videos. She has a degree in Business Studies and has worked in this field and is now an interpretor. She spoke about the history of music during the last 5000 years in Chinese civilization. Music has always been a part of life in China and was used by the " Great Yellow Emporer" to defeat his enemies in battle by using war drums. Music is very significant as it creates harmony between Heaven and earth and promotes people to be good. All chinese learn how to play a musical instrument. The healing powers of music are also widely practised with the five notes in music corresponding to the five organs of the body. Christine ended her talk by playing some lovely recordings of the music. 


Monday 21 August               Probus School Debating Competition

Students from Kincumber and Erina High Schools participated in the annual Probus debate. They were debating for and against the statement; "Is texting ruining the English Language" with Kincumber speaking for the affirmative and Erina for the negative.

Both teams spoke very well and put forward some very interesting arguments. Erina students said language has always changed over time and that texting was enhancing, not ruining, our language. Kincumber students said that texting was affecting basic grammar and punctuation, thus ruining the eloquence of language. Both teams made very strong points.

The adjudicater, Sue McNeil, said both teams had put forward some very interesting points and she declared Erina the winners. Both teachers gave us information on their respective schools.    

Monday 17 July                    Lt.Col. Peter Sweeney                    The Battle of Fromelles  

Peter is a military historian, a battlefield guide and a military history speaker. He served for 35 years in the Army Reserve and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.  His talk was very interesting as he explained what happened after Gallipoli with the formation of the 5th Division, which took part in the battle. He detailed the plan for the attack on the German trenches and the other battles fought in the area. There was a great loss of life with 5,533 casualties overall. His talk was very informative and very well presented.

Monday 19 June                   Doug Roser                                      Royal Flying Doctor Service  

Doug Roser joined the Air Force when he was sixteen to study engineering at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.  After serving for 23 years, he continued working in aviation related fields. He then became a supporter and volunteer in the Royal Flying Doctor Service. His wife, Karen, is also a volunteer. He gave us a very interesting account of the history and the modern set up of the RFDS. In the early 1900s, hospitals were set up by the Presbyterian church in various towns throughout the outback. These were staffed by only one nurse at first but this proved impractical so a second nurse was stationed at each hospital. However transport was poor and it was realised that aircraft were needed to cover the vast distances. After some difficulty in acquiring the aircraft, the service started in 1928 with its first flight. They had to fly quite low to be able to navigate by sight which proved to be rather a dusty experience for those on board, especially the patient whose stretcher was strapped on the outside of the plane. Nowadays the service not only treats emergencies but also runs various health clinics and supplies medicine chests.  It has 64 aircraft and 1000 staff including doctors from Germany and Britain. Truely a remarkable organisation which supports those in the outback.

Monday 15 May                   Hector McLeod                   An Expat’s View of  China 1985-1989

 Hector McLeod has lived in eight different countries and worked in thirty. He compared China in the 1985 - 1989 time period to what it is like today noting the many changes, especially in transport. Now there are high speed trains and lots of buses. Bicycles are still a very common form of transport which he illustrated using slides. He also noted that most of the Chinese people dress the same using only a few colours. In the colder weather their coats were well padded which made them look fat. The "Western Hotels" have much better facilities and food available than the cheaper local ones.The builders use bamboo scaffolding which is very strong yet quite light. When working near lakes, they use concrete boats to transport the building supplies. In some towns, the rice is spread on the roads to dry with the passing vehicles knocking the grain out. Hector mentioned many other interesting facts from his travels.

Monday 10 April  2017                Ken Grinrod              Gosford Classic Car Museum

Ken Grinrod works at the Gosford Classic Car Museum and gave us a very interesting overview of the museum and its collection. He accompanied his talk with some slides showing some of the cars and bikes. The museum has been open for three years and holds over 400 cars and 65 motorbikes including vintage, classic and modern models. A lot of these have been imported from overseas by Tony Denny who owns the museum. The stock of cars often changes as they are bought and sold on the international market. This creates an income for the museum which is the largest in Australia. The building of stage two will commence soon and will include another showroom and a family restaurant. Ken created a lot of interest among our members who are keen to visit the museum on 27 April.    

Monday 20 February 2017          Tricie Fortier            "Clown Doctors and The Humour Foundation"

Tricia Fortier works hard as a volunteer for various charities to raise money through raffles, bbq's, and by talking to organisations such as ours. As "laughter is the best medicine", the clown doctors play an important role in the healing of the sick, including both children and elderly patients. Most children find hospital a frightening experience and the Clowns help to alleviate their anxiety by making them laugh. The health benefits of humour is the same as exercise and also offers pain relief. The clowns are professional performers who are trained by the Humour Foundation. They do not wear heavy make up but simply don a large nose and "clown" hat to become their characters. Their work with the elderly and dementia patients is also important and has a huge impact on these patients. They are known in these areas as "Elder Clowns" and have forged valuable friendships. It is interesting that a dementia patient can remember the old songs from their youth. Tricia used slides and videos to show the work of the Clown Doctors. 


Monday 16 January 2017           Graham Felton          "Takes on Sandakan"

On the 70th Anniversary of the infamous Sandakan Death Marches in May 2015, Graham Felton walked the memorial trail of these 1945 marches in Borneo to raise money for the Ageing & Alzheimer’s Institute. He spoke about the prisoners of war who were captured in Singapore and Java and sent to Saba in Borneo to build an airfield. In 1945, when it was clear that the Japanese were not going to win the war, these prisoners were forced to march 250 km to Ranau, walking through thick jungle with little food. Very few prisoners survived the march. With the exception of three prisoners who escaped, the survivors were executed one week after the war ended. Graham and his companions on this trek each carried the name and number of one of the original prisoners. Graham’s talk was supported by slides of the different areas through which they passed and of the memorials along the original track.


Monday 21 November 2016       Geoffrey Morgan-Smith     "The Circle of Life"

Geoffrey Morgan-Smith started his career as a Solicitor in New Zealand in 1979. However, between 1980 and 1984 he travelled to Europe, where he worked as a Kontiki tour guide. After returning to the Southern Hemisphere he moved to Australia to practise law, later opening his own legal practice in Wyong Shire.

He described ‘the Circle of Life’, four major phases in a person’s life cycle and the priorities and activities that characterise each phase. His discussion was interesting, informative, entertaining, and lively, as he involved his audience with questions about the various stages of their lives, and what they remembered as highlights of major defining times. As Probus members are generally in the fourth phase of the Circle, he emphasised critical aspects for retirees.

With over 50% of his clients being in this phase, Geoffrey likes to make sure that his clients have correctly planned their estate, and have protected their assets in case of their disability or incapacity. He stressed the importance of having an up to date will as well as Enduring Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship and the value of an Advanced Care Directive.

Monday 17 October 2016     Ambre Hammond     An Unorthodox Life in Music

Today’s Guest Speaker was Ambre  Hammond who gave a very interesting and entertaining presentation describing ‘An Unorthodox Life in Music’.

Born in Cairns, Australia in 1977, Ambre began Piano studies at the age of 3 and gave her first public concert at age 5. In 1989, at the age of 11, Ambre achieved a world record, which she still holds, when she received the Associate and Licentiate Diplomas of Music in the same year.

Ambre has performed both solo and with orchestras throughout Australia, and internationally. She not only performs great classics but shows a flair for jazz & blues by combining talents with James Morrison occasionally, as a guest displaying a fusion of musical styles.

As it is important for Ambre to give back to the community, she created a project called GIRL PIANO TRUCK in which she takes a piano in a truck to remote and third world countries giving free concerts in schools and orphanages.

Last year Ambre received a nomination for Australian of the Year due to her humanitarian work.

Ambre Hammond was a speaker that all the members really enjoyed. She is a delightful person, a very bright, funny, and attractive speaker. She gave us an account of the best and worst of a life of dedication to become what she is today – Concert Pianist – Composer – Public Speaker.

Monday 19 September 2016      Roz Baker       Australian Bush Poet

The President Roy Crump introduced Roz Baker who travelled down from the Great Lakes area to speak to us today.

Roz started her talk by saying that she was often asked “where do you get your ideas and material for your poetry and books?” and said the answer was “from life and things all around us”. She said that it was most important to be very clear in what you were meaning to say and not confuse the reader. Roz explained her accent as a childhood spent living in several different countries, but that she is a ‘fair dinkum Aussie’ at heart.

Roz went on to explain how difficult it was to get her books published, and how they had lain in a drawer for some years before she wrote her first bush poem. It was not until she was introduced by a friend to an international literary agent, who was just moving to the USA and who read and liked her books, that she went back to writing novels. In the intervening years she wrote several bush poems, which are now in a booklet. With encouragement from her agent and friends she set about self-publishing her books. In this she was very successful and has now written and published four books. Her bush poetry is well known, and she has won several awards.

Roy Crump thanked Roz Baker for a very interesting talk. It was apparent that the members enjoyed it very much, and many purchased copies of her books which were for sale.

Monday 15 August 2016             Probus School Debating Competition   

Round 2 of the Probus School Debating Competition was held at our General meeting on Monday 15 August with Central Coast Grammar School challenging Kincumber High School and proposing “That BREXIT is a good decision”. In Round 1, Green Point Christian College defeated Erina High School on the same topic.

The teams presented several interesting and convincing arguments. Central Coast Grammar spoke about national identity and economic benefits to Britain on leaving the European Union. Kincumber High School replied with economic turmoil, evidenced by the Pound being at its lowest value for 30 years, and world-wide trade agreements needing to be re-negotiated.

Adjudicator Sue McNeill presented her thoughts on each team’s arguments, and their presentations, and declared Kincumber High School to be the winners.

Following the debate, both teachers addressed members and spoke about changes in teaching methods, students driving their own learning, training in Community Leadership, and an emphasis on new ideas for the community.

Monday 18 July                            Lt.Col Peter Sweeney     "The Gallipoli Campaign"

Lt. Col. Peter Sweeney spoke on “The Gallipoli Campaign” which lasted from November 1914 until January 1916. He spoke of the strategy for an offensive to push through to the Black Sea and Russia, in the process causing Turkey to surrender. Unfortunately, this was not the outcome, which meant other plans had to be set in motion for a land based offensive, This resulted in many deaths and casualties on both sides and prolonged the fighting for many months, culminating in a victory for the Turks and evacuation of our allied troops.

Monday 20 June                          Warren Henry   "The Ark in Your Pocket" 

Five years ago, when Warren Henry was involved in the film industry making music clips, he discovered that this involves the art of storytelling, particularly with country music. This caused him to consider the challenge of how to get stories out to his children and grandchildren in a medium that could be updated and passed down to future generations.

In this generation the bonds of families are being stretched, and it is important to pass on the stories of our families, which we heard as children, to future generations. He has   discovered a  way to do just this and his book “The Ark in your Pocket” explains his journey into this interesting field of research. 

Monday 16th May.                     Chris King              "There's No Business Like Show Business"

Chris King began his career in Show Business at the young age of 5 years old, when he made his debut at the Kingston Town Hall. He made his first paid appearance as a ten year old. When Chris was 16, he left school and was accepted as an apprentice at the Tasmanian Puppet Theatre. During his 20’s he accepted a role in the TV series “The Young Doctors” which was aired for the next ten years. Chris spoke about the people with whom he worked over that time, and the celebrities that he knew, whom we all recognised.

From acting, Chris went on to operate his own business, teaching others about the art of show business. This year he is celebrating three events: 40 years since he starred in the Young Doctors; 50 Years since his first paid role at age 10; and reaching the milestone of 60 this year.

Recently, Chris has been appointed by the Administrator of the new Central Coast Regional Council to oversee all the theatres on the Central Coast, including the Laycock Theatre at Gosford, which is one of the busiest rural theatres in Australia, with a brief to look at future development and planning for new theatres in the area.

Monday 18th April                     Don Napper            The Story of Cockatoo Island.

Don Napper spoke to us about the history of Cockatoo Island. From its early beginnings as a convict prison, through its later years as a shipbuilding yard, the history of Cockatoo Island was very interesting. He showed many pictures to illustrate his talk and to make it more meaningful to the listeners. The convicts endured a very hard existence due to their living conditions and had a small chance of escape due to the many sharks in the harbour. The rooms in the sandstone buildings had very high windows making it hard to see out, but they did try to overcome the heat by constructing a simple air conditioning system. In later years, the island was used to house women who were given an education. During the early 1900s, the island was used for ship building with a number of dry docks constructed. Don showed pictures of some of the ships which were built there. Nowadays, the island is used more for leisure and has some Aboriginal art works on display.

Monday 21 March 2016                ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

Monday 15 February 2016          Lisa O'Sullivan     "The Cap-Tel Captioned Telephone System"

Lisa O’Sullivan spoke about, and demonstrated “The CapTel Telephone Captioning System”. CapTel is a telephone that prints on a screen everything said by the caller, word for word. The captioning serviced is provided by the Australian Government, free of charge. There are no monthly service fees and no service agreements. The subscriber pays only normal telephone charges and Internet access costs. CapTel works like any other telephone with a free Captioning Service, operated by the National Relay Service in Brisbane that shows everything the caller says on a screen. The listener can listen to the caller and read the captions in the screen display. The screen is a 175 mm high resolution captions window with adjustable font sizes. There is a built-in answering machine that shows captions of voice messages and volume control and tone are adjustable. The machine has a phone book to store 95 names and numbers and three speed dial keys for frequently called numbers. It is caller-ID capable but does not have a ‘hands free’ speaker. The serviced is supported by one-touch access to the CapTel Help Line. The phone is set up for customers and requires Internet access, approximately 1GB per month.

Monday 18 January 2016             Roland Storm

Today's Guest Speaker literally 'rocked up a Storm'! Roland Storm's, many appearances on TV, in clubs and touring 25 countries, have brought him great success in a career lasting over 50 years. He was given his stage name by the late Johnny O’Keefe when he appeared on ‘Six O’clock Rock’ in 1960. Roland’s dynamic presentation, with songs and piano keyboard, held members spellbound as he recounted anecdotes from his entertainment career. Interspersed with familiar songs, and audience participation, he recalled the contributions of well-known artists such as Bill Hayley, Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly to the rock ‘n roll era. He spoke about famous Australian artists including Johnny O’Keefe, Col Joye, Bryan Davies, Lucky Starr, Judy Stone, Little Pattie and many more, and entertained us with their well-known songs. He spoke of his local experiences at Maroubra Memorial Hall and overseas in over 25 countries.

Australias great rock n Roll entertainer from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, is still going strong today. He continues a very busy entertainment schedule, with an upcoming ‘music cruise’ and appearances at ‘Christmas in Winter’ at Aunt Molly’s at Morisset in July.

Monday 16 November 2015          Michael Fahey - 'The Baggy Green'

 Michael Fahey, author of “The Baggy Green - The Pride, Passion & History of Australia's Sporting Icon was born in 1962, educated at St Ignatius College, became an accountant and stockbroker, and has been dealing in sporting artefacts and memorabilia since 1992.

The baggy green is a cricket cap of dark myrtle green colour, which has been worn by Australian Test cricketers since the late nineteenth century. The coat of arms on the baggy green cap comprises the rising sun over a red and gold wreath; a shield bearing a Southern Cross separating images of a golden fleece, a sailing ship, a pick-axe and shovel and a sheaf of wheat; a kangaroo and an emu supporters; and the motto "Australia" on a scroll. It is a pre-federation symbol representing Australian commerce of the time: wool-growing, shipping, mining and agriculture. With the exception of the supporters and the motto, this coat of arms is entirely different to the present and any former national coat of arms, which was introduced post-Federation.

The baggy green cap was originally supplied to the player as part of a kit of equipment, and a new one was routinely issued for each tour, with the year number on it. While respect for the baggy green cap has always been high, it has grown in stature since the 1990s, chiefly due to the efforts of captains Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh. During his captaincy Taylor instituted a pre-match ceremony for the awarding of a cap. This continued under Waugh, who introduced a refinement whereby new players would receive their "baggy green" from a past player of a similar discipline (batsman, spin bowler, etc.). Ponting changed it again, making the presentation himself rather than using a former player. Another tradition instituted by Taylor (but suggested by Steve Waugh, and one that has also continued) is the practice of all players wearing the cap during the first session in the field of a Test match, as a symbol of solidarity.

In the early 1990s an unofficial practice emerged amongst test players to never replace a baggy green cap, most notably by Steve Waugh. Although there is no official rule against a player obtaining a replacement cap from Cricket Australia, this almost never occurs, and the increasingly dilapidated state of an aging baggy green cap is a de facto symbol of seniority amongst the players in the team.

Baggy green caps can in some cases be prized as valuable sporting memorabilia. The cap worn by Sir Donald Bradman during his final season in 1948 sold in 2003 for A$425,000. Other national sporting teams, such as Rugby Union, refer to “capped players”, based on the number of times they have represented their country in a sporting Test.

Monday 19 October 2015             Charles Lindstrom - "The Last of the Windjammers"

Our programmed Guest Speaker was unable to attend today due to injury. However, member Charles Lindstrom kindly accepted an invitation and spoke about ‘The Last of the Windjammers’.

Charles explained that the Åland Islands or Åland is an autonomous region of Finland that consists of nearly three hundred habitable islands, of which about eighty are inhabited; the remainder are merely some 6,000 skerries and desolate rocks. The surface of the islands is generally rocky and the soil thin. The Åland Islands occupy a position of strategic importance, as they command one of the entrances to the port of Stockholm, as well as the approaches to the Gulf of Bothnia, in addition to being situated near the Gulf of Finland. Fasta Åland, the main island, is separated from the coast of Sweden by 38 kilometres of open water and the Åland archipelago is contiguous with the Finnish Sea. It is autonomous, demilitarised and is the only monolingually Swedish-speaking region in Finland.

The main port is Mariehamn which was the base for the last large oceanic commercial sailing ships in the world. The Pommern, formerly the Mneme (1903–1908), is a windjammer, anchored in the western of Mariehamn's two harbours, Västerhamn. She is a four-masted barque that was built in 1903 in Glasgow, Scotland at the J. Reid & Co shipyard. Later she was acquired by Åland shipowner Gustaf Erikson of Mariehamn in the Finnish Åland archipelago, who used her to carry grain from the Spencer Gulf area in Australia to harbours in England or Ireland until World War II. She is now a museum ship belonging to the Åland Maritime Museum and is anchored in western Mariehamn, Åland. The Pommern has the reputation of being a "lucky ship". She survived both world wars unscathed, lost only four crew members at sea on her journeys, and she won the Great Grain Races twice, 1930 and 1937. She is one of the most popular landmarks of Åland, and is visited by thousands of visitors annually.

Charles concluded by showing a film of dramatic pictures of life on a sailing ship rounding Cape Horn.

Monday 21 September 2015          Bob Pankhurst - 'The Light Horse Brigade'

Bob Pankhurst, a member of the 6th Australian Light Horse Regiment, spoke about the history of “The Australian Light Horse Brigade”. Bob spoke about predecessors of the Australian Light Horse, and involvement of the Australian Light Horse in the Boer War and World War I. Light Horsemen brought their civil skills to the defence of the nation. Shooting and riding were skills most young men, especially those in rural areas, learned in their childhood and early teens. Australian horsemen in the Boer and First World wars were initially led by those who had added to their civil skills with part time military training. The Australian Waler horse was the common mount for the light horsemen, as it was strong and hardy, which was needed especially in the harsh desert climate of the Middle East.

Light horse were like mounted infantry in that they usually fought dismounted, using their horses as transport to the battlefield and as a means of swift disengagement when retreating or retiring. The light horse were organised along cavalry, rather than infantry, lines. When dismounting for combat, one man from each section would take the reins of the other three men's horses and lead them out of the firing line where he would remain until called upon.

The Light Horse regiment's first involvement in the fighting during World War I came when troops were sent to Gallipoli without their horses to provide reinforcements for the infantry. During the campaign they were used mainly in a defensive role. After the evacuation of the Gallipoli peninsula in December 1915, the Light Horse regiments that had been deployed were re-constituted in Egypt. The Light Horse was involved in the fighting against Ottoman forces in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign from 1916 to 1918. Units of the Light Horse also served on the Western Front.

Throughout World War II, the various light horse units were converted to motorised infantry, armoured car or armoured regiments, serving mainly in the defence of Australia. As the threat of invasion passed, though, most were disbanded in 1943 or 1944 and their personnel redistributed amongst other units. By 1945, only two units remained.

Bob recommended that members read “Bill the Bastard”, the story of an Australian Light Horse, by Roland Perry. He concluded his presentation by reciting “The Last Parade” by Banjo Paterson.

Monday 17 August 2015                Annual Probus Schools Debating Competition

Richard Collins from Kincumber Probus Club, who is the current organiser of the Probus Schools Debating Competition, outlined the format of the competition and displayed the Lerryn Mutton Shield, the perpetual trophy awarded to the winning school.

In today’s debate Kincumber High School (affirmative) challenged Erina High School (negative) and debated the topic “That Australia should have a new flag”. Several interesting and convincing arguments were presented. Kincumber argued that the current flag was not inclusive of our multicultural society, was easily confused with other national flags, and should represent a vibrant, independent nation. Erina argued that the current flag was chosen democratically following Federation, that Australians had fought wars under this flag, and the cost of changing it would be prohibitive. Kincumber High School were declared convincing winners. Following the debate, the teachers addressed members and both spoke about the value of public education and the importance of students being able to interact with senior members of the community.

President Gai congratulated the students and their teachers on their performance and thanked them, adjudicator Sue McNeill and the Kincumber Probus Club for their presentations.

Monday 20 July 2015                   Geoff Potter, Local Studies Librarian, Gosford City Library

Geoff Potter has conducted extensive research on the loss of the paddle steamer SS Maitland on the Central Coast in 1898. He is the author of 'The Wreck of the Maitland: A Scene to Make the Angels Weep' recently published by Gosford City Council. He introduced the topic by explaining that the wreck of the SS Maitland was the worst single shipping disaster on this stretch of the NSW coast. Researching the incident has been a major local history project sponsored by Gosford City Council.

The Hunter River steamer was an iron paddle steamer, 240 feet long, weighing 880 tonnes with 21 feet paddle wheels on each side. She was built in Glasgow in 1870, arrived in Sydney in June 1871 and was placed in service between Sydney and Morpeth, carrying goods and passengers between Sydney and the Hunter Valley and transit to and from the Northern Tablelands. As business declined following opening of the railway to Gosford in 1887, she was used for weekend excursions on the Hawkesbury River.

On 5 May 1989, the SS Maitland left Sydney with 63 passengers and crew in the face of a tremendous gale and was soon battling through enormous seas which caused considerable damage to her superstructure. Huge seas hit her just inside Sydney Heads, and, when out to sea, she was damaged further, allowing water to sweep throughout. Deck cargo of machinery broke loose and stove holes near the paddle wheels. More water swept aboard, extinguishing the boiler fires and leaving her drifting helplessly until just before dawn. At 5.45 am the SS Maitland was swept on to rocks in what is now known as Maitland Bay, north of Broken Bay. The vessel struck bow first, and then a second, heavier sea struck and swung the ship around until it was wedged on the rocks about 60 yards from the headland. She broke in two between the funnels, her fore section being rolled over and over by the giant waves, drowning the Chief Officer and most of the steerage passengers in the forepart of the ship.

Crewman William Williams tried to swim ashore and secure a line but he was quickly lost. Seaman Anderson made the second attempt but the rope got fouled on rocks and he was washed ashore. A passenger named John Russell and two crew made a third attempt and while he made it to shore, the two crew perished. Survivors crawled down it two at a time, enabling most of the passengers and crew to reach safety through the icy waves. A baby, who was separated from her mother who had made it to shore, was cared for aboard by the captain and boatswain, who called her their mascot. She was later christened Anita Daisy Mascotte Hammond, moved to Canada where she married but visited Australia in 1969. When she died in Canada in 1988, her ashes were returned and scattered at the wreck site.

The survivors were unsure of their location and it was several days before rescuers arrived. In the days that followed hundreds of people travelled over the rugged headland to see the wreckage and loot the cargo and debris which littered the beach up to 1.8m high in places. Many of the 83 kegs of beer washed ashore, along with whisky. The Gosford Times published on May 13, 1898 reported “And it was not long before a sad spectacle was made extremely sadder by the riotous revelry of a drunken mob.”

The book Wreck of the Maitland; A Scene to Make the Angels Weep is available for sale at Gosford City Council libraries for $35.

Monday 15 June 2015                    Hal Moir, NSW Police, Gosford

Our Guest Speaker was Hal Moir, a Volunteer in Policing from Brisbane Water LAC of NSW Police, who spoke about “Crime Prevention for Seniors”.

Our guest speaker gave very pertinent advice on how members could protect themselves in their homes, in cars and in the community generally. He recommended that members engrave electronic and other valuable articles and advised that the Crime prevention Unit would assist with this service. Jewellery and other personal items should be photographed.

Hal gave some examples of his personal experiences during his many years of Volunteering in Policing. To commemorate 100 years of Women in Policing in 2015, there would be a local celebration in Gosford on 28 June and on 12 September, a fete day at Terrigal Health and Leisure Centre.

To support his presentation, members were given a variety of leaflets for reference. To conclude, Hal outlined some operational routines of local police when a call for assistance is received.

Monday 18 May 2015                      Jasmine Hopcraft, Director, 'Home Instead Senior Care'

Our guest speaker, Jasmine Hopcraft, is Director of Home Instead Senior Care, an organisation dedicated to enabling people to live safely in their homes for as long as possible.

Sometimes all that’s needed for a senior to remain in his or her home is a little company or help with daily chores. Others require overnight care or an escort to doctor’s appointments. Home Instead Senior Care provides home care help to seniors with every day activities, such as companionship, personal assistance, meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, errands and shopping, and tasks such as reaching for food items from the top shelf, opening the mail, reading a book, folding laundry, tying shoelaces or scrap booking family history.

Ms Hopcraft explained that during the last 50 years life expectancy had increased by at least 10 years and, as people were generally living longer, it was essential that they be encouraged and assisted to live safely in their own homes, rather than in institutional facilities. The keys to healthy living were attitude, good diet, exercise and socialisation and people should be encouraged to ask for assistance early. As people age, they should use their accumulated funds to enable them to live at home safely and comfortably, and most families would support their elderly relatives in doing this.

Our guest speaker outlined the main danger areas in the home – kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and outdoors – and gave a range of ideas of how to make these areas safer for older people, pointing out that the greatest chance of hospitalisation for over-65s was from a fall.

She described the range of services available to support elderly people, the profile of care-givers, fees and government assistance available, and answered a variety of questions from members.

Monday 20 April 2015                     Dianne, NSW Office of Fair Trading

The NSW Office of Fair Trading is responsible for the administration of 54 pieces of legislation covering business and consumer affairs. Following recent changes to customer services by the NSW Government, Services NSW now handles payment-related business, leaving the Office of Fair Trading staff to focus on dealing with consumer issues and complaints, of which a major area is people who have been the victims of scams and unfair business practices.

A scam is a fraudulent scheme performed by a dishonest individual, group, or company in an attempt obtain money or something else of value. Our guest speaker described a range of common scams to watch out for and outlined how these were delivered to unsuspecting targeted people. Examples given were fraudulent lotteries and competitions; government rebate schemes; bank class action refund schemes; banking, credit card and online scams; dating and romance scams; money transfer requests; computer hacking; flight credits; and false website pages. She gave advice on how to recognise potential scams and how to protect yourself, emphasising that it was imperative to protect your identity from theft.

Dianne provided copies of the publication ‘The Little Black Book of Scams’ (which is available online from the ACCC website) and answered questions from members.

Monday 16 March 2015                   Annual General Meeting

Monday 23 February 2015              Dr Michael Bendon

Dr Bendon is a passionate archaeologist and researcher currently based in Sydney. Over the past 30 years, he has worked on numerous excavations around the Mediterranean, including sites in Israel, Egypt and Portugal, and has also directed a site in Germany.

While participating in the excavation of the harbour city of Phalasarna in western Crete in 2008, Dr Bendon took a lunchtime snorkelling break and became interested in what looked like a World War Two wreck in the entrance to the harbour of the ancient city in only a few metres of water. Enquiries were made around the modern villages of Phalasarna and Platanos where, with the help of a local man who had witnessed the bombing of the first vessel, the location of another of the wrecks was pinpointed. The people of Phalasarna and Platanos were eager to help with the research into a part of their heritage and supplied further information regarding the vessels and the German occupation of the area. Questions to the British, Australian, New Zealand and German Military Authorities drew blanks as it was likely these departments searched only the immediately available official histories so the story became more and more intriguing. Over the years, with the help of many friends and associates in Crete and England, the story of the wrecks has become clearer and the research far wider. The wrecks turned out to be Tank Landing Craft Mk1, which were prototype vessels developed by the British and first deployed in the Eastern Mediterranean in 1941. Despite the crucial support these craft provided in the Mediterranean campaigns, nobody seemed to quite know what became of them. They were The Forgotten Flotilla.

In 2010, through a chance question posted on an internet forum, Dr Bendon came in contact with John Digby Sutton who, seventy years earlier, had been the commander of the very craft that Dr Bendon had started research on, TLC A6. The craft operated under their own power across long distances but at a maximum speed of 6 knots. They were 46 metres long and could transport 6 tanks. As they could carry up to 900 soldiers, they participated in a range of Allied operations of World War Two, including the evacuation of British and ANZAC troops from mainland Greece in 1941.

The scope of the research has widened to encompass all 30 of the TLC Mk1 but there is still much to be discovered about the fate of most of them. Since they were classed as auxiliary vessels, the authorities did not keep an exact track of them. 

Monday 19 January 2015               Lawrie McKinna

Gosford Mayor Lawrie McKinna was a breath of fresh air. With an engaging Scottish brogue, he delighted and entertained us with his early life, having been born in 1961 in Scotland. He emigrated with his parents to Australia in 1963, and then returned to Glasgow as a child where he took to football at the age of 11. Sometimes hilarious cameos from his life as a footballer, his marriage and his family had the whole club membership amused. As a local government politician, Lawrie McKinna was the antithesis of what we imagine politicians to be. His attitude when coaching the Central Coast Mariners from 2005 to 2010 outlined his values in team leadership and the meeting was sorry when Lawrie finished his talk. He came to talk for 20 minutes and stayed to talk for an hour. The general consensus was that he was one of the most entertaining speakers we have had in a long while.   

Monday 17 November 2014               Patrick Haynes

Patrick Haynes, a member of the Probus Club of St Ives Inc. and formerly of the British Antarctic Division, spoke about his experiences while working in the British Antarctic Survey.

Patrick Haynes lived in London and attended Westminster Technical College where he studied Hotel Management and Catering and, during National Service, was attached to the Army Catering Corps. He joined the British Antarctic Survey in 1959 and served as a cook at the British base for two years, following which he backpacked through the Falkland Islands, Uruguay and Argentina to Chile where he worked for three years supervising English students boarding at a secondary college.

In 1964 he applied for a further two year appointment in Antarctica. This involved survey work, requiring knowledge of working dogs and field equipment. He described the hazards of working in blizzard conditions and temperatures of -40oC, of setting up and relocating food drop sites, and living in a tent in these situations. He described travelling 2500 km in 218 days with a dog sledge and provided many anecdotes of supporting survey and geological work in these conditions.

Monday 20 October 2014                  Trevor Booth

Trevor Booth, Branch Manager of the NSW Trustee & Guardian Office, Gosford,  outlined the importance of making a valid will and the consequences of not doing so. He described the essential components of a will and the desirability of providing justification for the directives it contained, in the event that it may be contested. He advised who may contest a will and the ground on which it may be contested. He explained ways of simplifying bequests and the transfer of assets between spouses and partners and the importance of advising family members of your wishes and the location of the original document. Mr Booth described the role of an Executor and the Witness to a Will and the process of probate.

Mr Booth also outlined the desirability for people to appoint a Power of Attorney or an Enduring Power of Attorney and an Enduring Guardian and explained the purpose and differences of these roles. He also recommended that people consider an Advanced Care Directive.

Monday 15 September 2014               Alex Nilsen

Alex Nilsen from Shakespeare Media has travelled extensively and explored ancient civilisations. He is a member of the presentation team for Shen Yun Performing Arts, a performing-arts and entertainment company based in New York that performs classical Chinese dance, ethnic and folk dance, and story-based dance. His presentation covered the essence and loss of traditional Chinese culture and the revival of 5000 years of ancient civilization through Shen Yun performing arts.

Shen Yun’s objective is to revive the essence of 5000 years of Chinese culture that has been nearly destroyed since the Chinese revolution in 1949. Shen Yun promotes itself as "a presentation of traditional Chinese culture as it once was: a study in grace, wisdom, and virtues distilled from five millennia of Chinese civilization." For seven months a year, Shen Yun Performing Arts tours to over 130 cities across Europe, North America, Oceania, and Asia. Shen Yun’s repertoire draws on stories from Chinese history and legends and it creates original productions lasting 2.5 hours and consisting of approximately 20 vignettes featuring classical Chinese dance and ethnic dance, as well as solo musicians and operatic singing.

Monday 18 August 2014            Annual Schools’ Debate

Today, we were the audience as two local high schools challenged each other for the Lerryn Mutton Shield. Green Point Christian College supported the proposition "That the problems arising from technology outweigh the benefits" but were defeated by their opposition, Erina High School, who subsequently defeated Central Coast Grammar School to win the competition.

Monday 21 July 2014                      Angela Allen

Angela Allen, who is visually impaired, is a spokesperson for Guide Dogs Australia and was accompanied by her guide dog Hamish.Angela spoke of her personal circumstances in losing her vision, her experiences with four guide dogs over most of her lifetime, and her decision to emigrate to Australia seven years ago, with Hamish.

Angela outlined the development of guide dog training in Australia from its inception in Perth, establishment of the NSW Branch and its subsequent merger with the ACT branch. The organisation is now breeding its own puppies, with a 65% success rate as trained guide dogs and an aim of achieving 80% success. She explained the process of training a guide dog from birth, fostering with a puppy raising family for 12 months, an intensive 6 month training program with a qualified trainer, followed by intensive training and bonding with its owner, with whom it would work for about 10 years, depending on its health. If a dog is not suitable as a guide dog, it is put into the pet therapy program. She explained that a guide dog in harness was working and should not be distracted; without the harness, the dog was ‘just like any other dog’. Angela outlined how she used a GPS in conjunction with Hamish and how he led her around a supermarket for grocery shopping. She also described other free services provided by Guide Dogs Australia to vision impaired people.

Monday 16 June 2014                    Kenneth Buxton

Kenneth Buxton has been a licensed antiques dealer for over 40 years. He is a valuer for the government and at the Australian War Memorial, and has hoseds a radio show on Sydney radio for the past 20 years.

Ken outlined current trends and valuations of a range of antiques and collectables and the generational changes that were occurring. The family china cabinet, antique furniture, silverware, brass and copper items have declined in appeal, and hence in value, while industrial items, especially kitchen utensils and older household items, have become popular with younger generations. Coins, unless from the 19th Century, are generally worth not much above face value or metallic content, with some exceptions such as the 1930 penny or 1923 halfpenny, or gold sovereigns. Collections, such as coins, stamps and model cars are not kept by today's younger generations but items such as HO train sets, Dinky cars and Matchbox (1st series) have some value.

Ken described a range of collectables presented by club members, outlined their history and gave an estimated value for each item and answered several questions from members.

Monday 19 May 2014                 David Rosenberg

David Rosenberg, the author of Inside Pine Gap: The Spy Who Came In From the Desert, published in 2011, is a graduate in Engineering and Electronics and was employed by the US National Security Agency for 23 years. For 18 years he worked at Pine Gap, the commonly used name for the satellite tracking station approximately 18 kilometres south-west of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory which was established in 1966 and is operated jointly by Australia and the United States. Central Australia was chosen because of its remoteness. Since 1988 it has been officially called the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap; previously, it was known as Joint Defence Space Research Facility.

The facility has over 800 employees and consists of a large computer complex with 14 radomes protecting antennae that communicate with satellites, intercepting electronic signals mostly associated with weapons testing and satellite systems. The location is strategically significant because it controls United States spy satellites as they pass over the one third of the globe which includes China, the Asian parts of Russia and the Middle East. Since the end of the Cold War, the station has mainly been employed with intercepting and recording weapons and communications signals from countries in Asia, such as China and North Korea. The station was active in supporting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq after the September 11 attacks.

Monday 14 April 2014                Luca Boffo

Luca Boffo is the amiable pharmacist known to many Central Coast locals. Luca has been a pharmacist since 1990, and owned a pharmacy at Carlingford from 1998 to 2003 when he opened Mega Save Chemist at Erina Fair.

 Luca explained the importance of maintaining strict control over medications, how essential it is to follow directions when taking them and what to do if you experience side effects. He described the differences between medications prescribed for acute conditions (eg antibiotics) and chronic conditions (eg blood pressure medications) and emphasised the need to take a full course of prescribed medication, or to take on-going medication consistently.

Luca outlined the provisions of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and the safety net provisions for concession holders and non-concession holders. He referred to various health events and programs, such as Diabetes Week, influenza vaccine clinics, the Bowel Scan program and ‘Meds Check’, which are designed to assist and support clients in managing their health care.

Monday 17 February 2014         Kathleen Bresnahan

Kathleen Bresnahan is Assistant State Librarian, Public Library Services, at the State Library of NSW.

Kathleen explained that the State Library of NSW is a large reference and research library, not a lending library, and is the oldest library in Australia, being the first library established in the colony of NSW. She outlined the development of the library from its beginning as the Australian Subscription Library in 1826, its acquisition by the NSW Government in 1869 to become the Sydney Free Public Library, its renaming as the Public Library of NSW in 1895 and as the State Library of NSW in 1975, with the opening of the Mitchell Library in 1910, the Dixon Wing in 1929 and the Macquarie Street Wing in 1988.

The library contains more than five million items, including many historically significant collections, and specialist services, including the legal information service, drug and alcohol information service and family history research service. Access to the reading rooms and galleries is free and electronic resources can be accessed remotely. The library conducts a range or exhibitions, tours and workshops which are available to the public.

Monday 20 January 2014           Fiona Mealing

Our first Guest Speaker for the year was Fiona Mealing who spoke about the effects of kidney problems on her health from birth to adulthood and the changes in her life following a kidney transplant. She spoke about her battle with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and the importance of developing a positive attitude and strong relationships to provide the strength to continue and deal with the situation.

Monday 18 November               Dr Ibtihal Samarayi

Dr Ibtihal Samarayi is an Australian citizen who fled war-torn Iraq for Australia. Since her arrival in Australia she has been working through art to help people understand the life of a refugee.

Dr Samarayi is the youngest of 10 children who grew up in Iraq and witnessed drastic changes in her society following the Iraq-Iran conflict of the 1980s and the first Gulf War in 1990-91.She saw many of her brothers conscripted into the military for a war they did not believe in and one was captured by Iranian forces at the start of the Iraq-Iran war and imprisoned for eight years.

When Dr Samarayi graduated in cinematography at Baghdad University, Iraq had just invaded Kuwait, sparking the first Gulf War. She and her new husband had no prospect of work when war broke out and her husband would have been forced to join the Iraqi army or be executed.

Leaving Iraq, and facing persecution if caught, they trekked through mountains with little food or water. They spent time in extremely poor conditions at a camp on the border of Iran, before moving to another. The Iranian government promised that returning refugees would be welcomed, but she and her husband were sceptical so they fled again, this time to Ankara in Turkey, where they spent three years as illegal immigrants seeking asylum. While her husband worked a number of jobs to pay for food and housing, Dr Samarayi cared for their newborn son.

 After a number of failed attempts, in 1994 the family won the right to travel to Australia as asylum seekers. Their second son was born a few days after arriving in Australia.

Although already an Arts graduate, Dr Samarayi completed a Diploma of Fine Art at Hornsby TAFE, and Master’s and PhD degrees in fine art at the University of Newcastle, researching the use of art as a way of healing for refugees from detention centres, especially children.

Dr Samarayi has documented her experiences in her book Refugee to Resident.

Monday 21 October                  Cathy Williams

Cathy Williams gave a very interesting and informative presentation about Platypus Conservation in the Wyong River and highlighted the need to preserve the species. She explained their life cycle from birth through to maturity and described many challenges facing their survival in Wyong River, dealing with the problems created by humans and other factors affecting their natural environment.

 A serious problem exists from traps used by fishermen to catch yabbies. The traps pose a risk to the platypus because the animal must return to the surface of the river to breathe. Once in the trap they die because there is no exit. Cathy has approached manufacturers and fishing tackle retailers and asked them to place a warning on the traps to draw users’ attention to the problem but without success. She then tried to have the traps banned from use but this was also unsuccessful. So, unfortunately, the problem continues to exist with no apparent answer to the plight of the platypus.

A very impressive display of artefacts was on hand to support her presentation, including a replica of a life size platypus in its den, the entrance of which is usually below the surface of the water.

Monday 16 September             Adam Chandler

Adam Chandler, Chief Radiation Therapist at the Central Coast Cancer Centre at Gosford Hospital, described the creation of the Central Coast Cancer Centre from concept to reality. He described the collaborative involvement of the Commonwealth and State Governments, the Central Coast Community, the medical profession, architects and building contractors to complete construction of the $38.6 million project in one year, with the official opening held in March 2013.

The centre is a multidisciplinary centre enabling patients to have their treatment planned in one visit with increased access to medical oncology, radiation therapy for treatment and palliation, allied health and other support services. The centre uses the latest technology and addresses current requirements and projected increases in demand for health services by the residents of Central Coast and provides appropriate facilities for high quality, responsive and efficient cancer service delivery. Expansion of existing chemotherapy treatment capacity and consulting services is also planned.

Monday 19 August                   Annual Schools Debating Competition

The meeting began with the Annual Schools Debating Competition for the Lerryn Mutton Shield, organised by the Probus Club of Kincumber. Central Coast Grammar School (affirmative) and Erina High School (negative) provided an entertaining debate on the topic “That health care is more important than education”, with the former being declared winners. Subsequently, Central Coast Grammar School were declared winners of the Annual Probus Schools Debating Competition for 2013 and awarded the Lerryn Mutton Shield.

Monday 15 July                        Ray Horsburgh

Ray Horsburgh spoke about the Aged-care Rights Service Inc (TARS), a community legal centre, funded by the Federal and State Governments, which provides non-legal advocacy for the residents of Commonwealth funded hostels and nursing homes and recipients of in-home aged care in NSW, legal advice and advocacy for residents of self-care retirement villages, and legal advice and information to older people in NSW. All calls to TARS are confidential.

Monday 17 June                       Julie Brougham

Julie Brougham spoke about the history of Ash Island, rehabilitation of the Kooragang Island Wetlands and the butterfly species found on Ash Island.

Within 20 years of European arrival in 1797, most valuable timber, such as Red Cedar and Ash had been removed. In 1827 Ash Island was granted to Alexander Walker Scott, a naturalist and entrepreneur, who grew oranges and established market gardens. Scott published several scientific papers including Australian Lepidoptera. His daughters, Harriet and Helena, recorded and painted the diverse flora and fauna that existed on the island at that time. In the 1860’s Ash Island was cleared, drained and subdivided into small farms and a school was built. After the 1955 one-in-200 year flood, the island became State-owned and was leased for grazing. Port and industrial activities began in the south eastern part of the estuary in the late 1800’s and by the 1960’s the islands had been joined to form Kooragang Island. Concerns about pollution led to the north western area of Kooragang Island (including the former Ash Island) being set aside in 1983 as Kooragang Nature Reserve. The Kooragang Wetland Rehabilitation Project was launched in 1993 to rehabilitate and create wildlife habitat in the Hunter Estuary. Helena Scott’s publication Botany of Ash Island is guiding current revegetation.

Julie explained that butterflies are a flagship species that play a significant ecological role and when they start to disappear it’s a sign of a threatened ecosystem. Butterfly numbers are on the decline in the Lower Hunter, except on Ash Island near Hexham where volunteers have planted thousands of trees and shrubs to encourage the butterflies to return. The industrial wasteland that was Ash Island in the 1990s is showing signs of its former reputation as an ecological wonderland. The trees are growing up, vines are sprouting, animals are returning and so are the butterflies. The book An Illustrated Guide to Ash Island Butterflies, written by Julie Brougham and  illustrated by Rosie Heritage, records many species found on Ash Island.

Monday 20 May                           Maria Murray        

Maria Murray from Avoca Beach Podiatry was welcomed and introduced by Jan Heinrichs. Maria outlined her career change from a high school English teacher, retraining to a primary school librarian and then retraining as a mature age student to become a podiatrist due to her loss of hearing. She gave a comprehensive presentation of the scope of podiatry, covering prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of foot and lower limb conditions and how these were related to the whole body anatomy and physiology, using some examples from cases. She gave members examples of exercises that could be performed with minimal effort but which would enhance foot care.

Monday 15 April                          Kellie Brennan

Kellie Brennan recounted the harrowing and emotional journey of securing the release of her brother-in-law, Nigel Brennan, an Australian journalist who, with Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout, was kidnapped and held to ransom for 462 days in Somalia in 2008. She told of their ordeal at being held in dangerous and deteriorating conditions, mostly separated, isolated and in ankle chains and suffering from fever, dysentery and death threats, while the family went from full time employment to working full time negotiating with the kidnappers and raising $1.2 million for the ransom and associated costs over a 15 month period. She told of the help she secured and of the sinister dealings that finally resulted in the release of Nigel and Amanda. Overcome with emotion, she recalled the personal cost of the ordeal to her and the personal lessons she had learnt about herself.

Monday 18 February                 Wendy Keely

Wendy Keely gave a most informative talk on changes to the road rules which were updated in November 2012. In particular, she concentrated on rules relating to roundabouts and the requirements to enter and leave roundabouts in the correct lane and to indicate your intentions when entering and leaving roundabouts. She answered many questions, including those relating to driving tests for seniors, and members left the meeting more knowledgeable about driving practices.

Monday 21 January                  Susan Dean

Susan Dean from the Office of Fair Trading gave an excellent and enlightening presentation on the range of fraudulent emails and scams that were prevalent at the present time. She gave an insight into how to recognise potential fraudulent emails and telephone calls, and how these were generally intended to extract money from those targeted. She described some of the more common scams and gave good advice on what to do in the event members suspected they had been the victim of a scam.

When applying for a new job, you may be competing with tens or hundreds of other applicants in a race for the role.

The HR manager or headteacher recruiting for the job will be scrutinising every detail of your application to make sure they are bringing in the right people for interview.

The application form is the first hurdle you have to get over and sets the first impression of you as a person in the recruiter’s mind.

The personal statement presents the perfect opportunity to show you are an exceptional candidate, understand teaching and know the school you are applying to.

It is not an easy task and is a tricky thing to get right. It requires being concise and clear – it shouldn’t be too long or read like a list.

You should talk about yourself and your professional achievements, while at the same time apply those experiences to the school itself.

We spoke to Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, about what goes into the perfect personal statement. Here's what he said:

What does a great teaching personal statement look like?

"In general, I would say no longer than two sides of A4 – typescript. It needs to be well structured and linked to the specific school. It will need to include a number of key areas, including behavioural management, educational philosophy, subject expertise, pedagogy, personal organisation and skills and enrichment activities that the candidate can bring."

What should it contain?

"I would recommend that candidates include three elements in each of the key areas:

  1. What their beliefs/philosophy/approach is – i.e., the theory
  2. Their experience in that area
  3. How they would use that experience in the school they are applying to and specific to the job they are applying for

The statement should also include something personal in terms of their outside interests to indicate that they live an interesting and well-balanced life."

What are school leaders looking to read in a good personal statement?

"They will want to see something of the person’s character come through. It must not be just a list of achievements or repeat of the CV. It needs to be well-written, error-free and mention the school they are applying for – but not too many times. It should read as if it has been specifically written for the school and job they are applying for. I would be looking for something similar to the approach I have indicated above, covering all of the key areas and indicating that they have a vocation for working with young people. Somehow I would like to see a ‘generosity of spirit’ come through in the statement."

How can a candidate stand out in a personal statement?

"A good personal statement needs to include something of the person themselves. It has to make the reader believe that the candidate has something special without bragging or appearing arrogant – but something a bit above what other candidates may offer. A really good introduction and ending are important, and it's worth spending a great deal of time crafting those sections of the statement. Hook the reader in at the beginning and finish on a high note so that they want to meet the person and explore what has been written."

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