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Valley Friends January Report

From Joan Steel

Heather welcomed us with Good Wishes for the New Year followed by a poem and the announcements. We always have a Games Evening in January instead of inviting a speaker who may be delayed in bad weather.  A Beetle Drive arranged by Heather caused much fun, and changing of places gave us a chance chat to everyone.  The winner received a box of chocolates and the meeting ended with refreshments.

On February 3rd we have an Open Meeting.  The subject of the talk by Tony Eaton is “Failed To Return, Amy Johnson and Leslie Howard”.  Everyone Welcome.

Valley Friends December Report

From Joan Steel

At our Christmas Meeting we were treated to “Entertainment by the Aca-Holics Barbershop Quartet”.

Our meeting was opened by Heather who read a Christmas poem, then introduced the very talented semi- professional entertainers who are all members of the Ladies’ Association of British Barbershop Singers. Three of the ladies live in Marlow and one lives in Surrey. They had chosen six songs for us, a mixture of old and new, some for us to join in the chorus. They were of course four part songs, with soprano, contralto, baritone and base voices all beautifully blended. We were asked to name the titles of the songs and later to identify who was singing which of the four parts. Among the songs were “Moon River”, “Dream”, “Wonderful You, “Mama Mia”, and the programme ended with “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”. The Quartet were warmly thanked for a most enjoyable evening.

HAGA Programme 2017

From Joanna Hughes

Jan – Fri 27th 8.00pm
Talk: The Basics of Garden Design by Caroline Tait

Feb – Fri 24th 8.00pm
Talk: A Walk on the Wild Side by Brian Clews

Mar – Fri 31st 8.00pm
Talk: Wildlife Gardening by Chris Ward

Apr – Fri 28th 8.00pm
Talk: My Experiences of the National Garden Scheme by Brian Fisher

May – Sat 6th
Visit: Ramster Garden and Tearoom

May – Fri 26th 8.00pm
Talk: Trees of The National Memorial Arboretum by Roger Hailwood

Jun – 23rd to 26th
Short Break in Suffolk and Essex

Jul – Wed 12th
Visit: Pettifers and Canons Ashby

Jul – Fri 28th 8.00pm
Talk: City of London Gardens by Sally Botwright

Sep – Sat 9th
Visit: Hatfield House

Sep – Fri 29th 8.00pm
Talk: Hearing Dogs for the Deaf

Oct – Fri 27th 8.00pm
Talk: Animal Architecture by John Tyler

Nov – Fri 24th 8.00pm
AGM followed by refreshments

Nov – TBA 2.00pm
Hughenden Valley Christmas Bazaar

Valley Friends November: Forty Years Catching Smugglers

From Joan Steel

On Friday 5th November, Malcolm Nelson gave a very interesting and humorous talk about his career as one of Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise Officers.  He described it as 40 years of excitement, comedy, tragedy, and unusual happenings, while meeting and working with amazing people.  On retirement, Malcolm said he felt a great sense of achievement.  He is now enjoying lecturing to holidaymakers on cruise liners.

Malcolm outlined what makes a good Customs Officer.  It is mainly experience gained on the job, but initially training programmes have to be attended.  Malcolm joined the trainees at the Waterguard Training Centre in Southend.  He learned that Customs Officers have to have inquiring minds, they have to cope with a range of communication techniques, and that catching smugglers is a quite scientific operation.  The trainees are warned never to trust anyone in a suit, but also never to under estimate them.  After training, Malcolm was issued with his Commission.  He worked in a team led by an Alpha 1 Officer who had a balance sheet and sat at a desk.  Drug smugglers often work in teams, and amazingly 80% of all drugs entering Britain come via Heathrow, the reason being that the turnaround time there can be  as low as 30 minutes, and “time is money”.  Detection information teams look at passenger lists and track those who are travelling from countries where drugs are more commonplace, eg Bolivia, Islamabad, Mombasa, the Caribbean etc.  The officers ask some passengers where they bought their tickets, and find out what are the present trends in drugs.  They look at luggage and get tarmac officers to feel for double skins on cases where things can be hidden.   The smell of drugs can be disguised, but 30-35%o of sniffer dogs on the team will find them; the dog can also sniff money and swallowed drugs.

Women who travel alone can be suspect, as often their only reason to travel is to smuggle. This type of passenger will always lie when detected.  The experienced smuggler will always act calmly and sometimes is too calm which raises suspicion.  Some drugs are carried under wigs, and amazingly some wigs are sewn to the scalp which are very difficult to detect.  Finding out is what experience tells you, then look at trends and profiles.  Some businessmen may be carrying many clothes in their luggage but look shabby, which arouses suspicion and ‘expats’ look like out of date holidaymakers – they just don’t know what they should look like, so again something is not quite right.  Malcolm told us many other Interesting stories and ways that smugglers disguise what they are carrying, like the lady carrying a very heavy case which was full of stitched up bananas.  Malcolm has written a book about his experiences, copies of which were on sale for £10.  Malcolm was thanked and applauded for a very interesting evening.

On December 2nd we have an evening of entertainment by the Aca-Holics Barbershop Quartet.

With Best Wishes to you all for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Christmas Bazaar & Craft Fayre With Tombola – Saturday 26th November

santaFrom Clare Atkinson

The Christmas Bazaar and Craft Fayre is on the afternoon of Saturday 26th November at 2.00pm in the large Village Hall. The event will feature a Craft area for stalls selling stationery, jewellery and gifts and there will also be hot food, as well as the normal drinks and refreshments. The Residents’ Association is again organising two tombolas, one for adults and one for children.
We need plenty of donations of bottles, unwanted new gifts, toiletries, tins or chocolates (please check the ‘best before’ date), toys, games, jigsaws, books and sweets, suitable for adults or children.

Please give generously to ensure fun for all. You may forward items through your Road Rep if they leave you a flyer or you may bring items to the Village Hall on the morning of Saturday 26th from 9.30am to 11.30am. If you have a large amount to donate and cannot make other arrangements, please email this address: or phone Clare Atkinson on 01494 564792.

If you are interested in taking a stall at the Craft Fayre please phone Diana Gibbons on 01494 563257.

Thank you for your generosity and we look forward to seeing you at the Christmas Bazaar when Santa Claus will also be in attendance!

Valley Friends: AGM & 50th Anniversary Report

From Joan Steel

Our AGM and 50th Anniversary was on 7th October.  Jill welcomed everyone to the meeting, and following the general notices gave the Leaders Report, in which she recalled highlights of our busy and interesting year, sharing enjoyable evening meetings and occasions including Carnival Day.  We made masks and entered the parade as masked Venetian ladies with a gondola cleverly made by Doreen and helpers. Doreen gave the treasurers report, saying that the annual membership fee would remain at £30, and visitors at £3 per evening.  We are to still support the South Bucks Hospice and the HW Multiple Sclerosis Society as well as the charities of some speakers.  Members of the committee gave their reports and Jill thanked them for their loyalty and hard work.  Jill asked everyone to encourage friends and neighbours to join us and outlined our varied future programme. On our behalf, Heather presented Jill with a book of poems and a beautiful bouquet as special tokens of our gratitude to Jill for her 26 years of outstanding leadership, loyalty and friendship during fifty years.  This year was tinged with sadness at the recent death of our oldest member Marjory Jenkins who was aged 95; also of Mervyn Wallen the husband of Margaret, one of our founding members.  Margaret is now at Avondale care home in Aylesbury.

All the committee members were willing to serve and were voted in for another year.  A really beautiful bouquet was given to Joan in recognition of her being founder member.  A Tribute to Jill was read on behalf of us all to salute our fantastic leader, who is again willing to continue her good work for another year.

Having completed the AGM, we commenced our 50th year golden celebrations with a delicious dinner served handsomely on tables decorated in gold to match the other decor in the hall.  Jill had prepared an interesting Quiz for us that tested our memories of the correct dates of  VF talks or occasions in the past.  We all had a gift of gold-wrapped chocolates, and throughout the evening a quartet of brass instrument players, all ladies, played suitable music which brought back pleasant memories.  Finally we sang Happy Birthday and cut the pretty cake.  It was a really happy and memorable occasion, and we give  thanks all round to everyone who made it possible.

Membership subscriptions are due at the next meeting on November 4th.  The speaker will be Malcolm Nelson talking on “40 Years of Catching Smugglers”.  All welcome.