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A wonderful Report of the Autumn Meeting from Hawksworth Branch Secretary, Ann Dawson



Pauline, Carol and I arrived at Queen Margaret’s School at 10.20am approaching the impressive school building along a wide open driveway which was very well signposted for the Yorkshire Countrywomen’s Association meeting. To our left were large sports fields and to our right horses contentedly grazing in their paddocks, as the school has its own riding school. The sun was shining and the sky blue as we drew near to the impressive school building, which is set in 75 acres of beautiful parkland and was built in 1758 as a private country house prior to becoming a school.

We parked the car and followed the YCA signs to the Chapman Theatre where our new secretaries from Central Office, Rebecca Hogarth-Hall and Angela Kay were checking tickets and welcoming members to the building. Many members had already arrived and were looking at the array of stalls with items for sale, buying raffle tickets and enjoying a cup of coffee while they chatted with friends old and new in the theatre foyer prior to the start of the meeting.

At 11am we were all seated in the theatre where County Chairman Anita Taylor welcomed everyone. Anita said that following the problems at the Yorkshire Day visit to Temple Newsam contact had been made with both Temple Newsam and the marquee company. Their response had been disappointing as they failed to admit there had been any problems on the day. Contact was then made with Leeds City Council and they too have said they do not feel the complaints warrant any action. Because of this Central Committee have been forced to take the decision to put it down to experience and they will be more careful to avoid similar problems in the future.

Anita then introduced the Bad Apple Theatre Group who were to perform a play entitled The Frozen Roman. The cast consisted of just three actors who performed in many guises throughout. The theme of the play was very topical, focusing on the fictional village of Tissery Hill where a big developer was wanting to build hundreds of new homes. The main characters were demonstrating against the loss of their old pub The Last House. The script was very amusing and involved the three actors changing into many innovative outfits, while the songs were catchy and well performed. Anita Taylor gave a vote of thanks following the performance and the loud applause showed how much the audience had enjoyed the show.

At 12.15 Vicky Cumberland took to the stage to present the YCA Magazine awards. The poetry award went to Sue Birch of Nun Monkton branch. The prize for the best prose went to Margaret Jones of Sherburn in Elmet branch for her article ‘HMS Remembered’ in the Spring 2019 issue. Vicky Cumberland presented herself an award on behalf of Escrick Branch for the photographic category. Jean Sowley of Thorne branch won the Branch News category.

The lunch break followed the presentations when members were able to take a stroll in the gardens before returning to the theatre for our afternoon speakers.

First on was Mr Kevin Hutchinson of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance who was presented with a cheque for £15,500.00 being the total to date raised by all the YCA branches throughout the year. We were advised that this is not the overall total as there are still funds to be received and some events still to take place. Kevin Hutchinson then gave a short presentation about the Yorkshire Air Ambulance similar in content to the talks given countywide to our members. He also ran a stall of YAA products and Christmas cards for sale during the day in the foyer.

The second speaker of the afternoon was Mr Dickie Arbiter, Former Press Secretary to HM The Queen with a talk entitled ‘The Palace and The Press’. Mr Arbiter now speaks about his working life at various venues and on cruise ships and was able to talk for an hour without hardly taking a breath! The recent news surrounding the Duke and Duchess of Sussex was covered at length together with the late Princess Diana for whom Mr Arbiter also acted as Press Secretary. No members of the Royal Family were off bounds though and Mr Arbiter was an amusing and articulate speaker keeping his audience enthralled to the end when he allowed questions from the members.

A vote of thanks was given by Vicky Cumberland.

Anita Taylor then returned to the stage and informed members that our retired secretaries Gill Falkingham and Joan Dunwell, who were present at the meeting, had agreed to become Honorary Life Members of the YCA which everyone agreed was very fitting.

Anita confirmed the YCA would not be having a stall at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate this Christmas but will be attending other events in the run up to Christmas including the Magna Christmas Fayre on 23rd and 24th November at the Magna Science Adventure Centre, Templeborough, Rotherham, Rogerthorpe Christmas Fayre at Rogerthorpe Manor Hotel, Pontefract on 1st and 2nd December and the Wetherby Dickensian Festival on 8th December.

Anita Taylor thanked everyone for coming and hoped she would be seeing everyone again at the Christmas Carol Service at St Michael le Belfry Church in York on Friday 6th December. Business concluded Anita then asked Mr Arbiter to assist with the drawing of the raffle to end the meeting.

Dickie Arbiter and YCA Chairman Anita Taylor at the YCA Autumn Meeting

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