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The main activity of the Exeter Forum is its weekly programme of talks. These take place at the Mint on Fore Street, Exeter every Wednesday. As can be seen from the forthcoming programme set out below, the subjects covered are wide ranging. Speakers are invariably stimulating and entertaining. Non-members are welcome to attend these talks subject to a modest charge of £3.
View the forthcoming programme of talks below:
January 1st No Meeting
January 8th Chris Wiseman RAF Exeter 1940-1945
From a very early age Chris had a keen interest in aviation, cycling regularly out to spot aircraft at Exeter Airport. Hiding in the old pillboxes led to an interest in the history of the airport. Although he had been an air cadet, Chris was unable to join the RAF due to slight colour blindness.
However, working as an Emergency Call Handler with the Devon Ambulance Service led to his being the first Flight Controller for the Devon Air Ambulance Trust when it launched in 1992.
Chris will share with us his extensive research into the history of Exeter Airport and in particular the wartime activities, sacrifices and victories of the service personnel who served at R.A.F. Exeter during 1940 - 1945.
January 15th Donna Kehoe What does the Bank of England do and what is its view of the Economy?
Donna has worked for the Bank of England in a number of rôles for thirty years. She will be retiring from her present job of Agent for the South West at the end of January and we are delighted she can fit us in before she leaves.
Donna will provide an overview of the Bank and the recent topics they have been discussing. This will be followed by a review of their forecast for the economy and will be an update to the talk she gave last February.
January 22nd Dr David Oates Siberia and its Railway
(Please note that this replaces the talk "The Life of a Mendicant Musician" previously advertised to be given by Dr. Peter King on 22nd January but who unfortunately is unable to give the talk on that day but hopes to be able to give the talk on a later date).
David's talk recounts a journey by special train from Brest in Belarus to Vladivostok in the far east. On the way we will see the scenery, the people and the trains and hear about the history of the Trans-Siberian Railway. We stop off to visit some of the many fascinating groups of people who for various reasons ended up living in the remoteness of Siberia.
January 29th Annual Seasonal Lunch
February 5th David Pugsley Was Jane Austen's Aunt a Shoplifter/
In one of the earliest cases about shoplifting in high society, Jane Austen's wealthy aunt was accused of theft in Bath in August 1799 and tried at Taunton Assizes in March 1800. Was she guilty of theft or were the shopkeepers guilty of perjury? This talk will present the evidence and ask the audience for their verdict. There will be some references to characters or events in Jane Austen's novels.
David Pugsley was born in Tiverton. He was a European civil servant in Strasbourg for 3 years and taught law for 40 years in the universities of Southampton, Johannesburg, Bari and Exeter. Since 1993 he has been the Hon Archivist of the Western Circuit. He has a special interest in causes célèbres in the West Country in the 19th century.
For further reading:
- “Was Aunt Jane a Shoplifter?” Fundamina, vol. 24 (2018) 45-62.
- Aunt Jane’s trial, Jane Austen Centre, 29 September 2017.
- Number 1 Bath Street, Jane Austen Centre, 2 September 2019.
February 12th Dan Eatherley Invasive Aliens: The Plants and Animals from Over There that are Over Here
Today’s countryside is filled with squirrels and sycamores, ladybirds and pheasants, even Canada and Egyptian geese aren’t out of place. The British Isles have been colonised by a succession of animals, plants, fungi and other organisms that apparently belong elsewhere. Indeed, it’s often hard to sort out the native from foreign. Some species, like the Asian hornet, cause problems; others like snowdrops and daffodils, are cherished. Non-native organisms, invasive or otherwise, from rabbits to rhododendrons, mink to muntjac, hold up a mirror to our own species. The pace of invasion is now higher than ever before, but non-natives, problematic or peaceful, aren’t a modern phenomenon: they’ve been with us from the outset. From the earliest settlement of our islands and first experiments with farming, through the Roman and medieval times, to the age of exploration by Europeans and the current period of globalised free-for-all, the story of invasive species is the story of our own past, present and future.
Dan is a British naturalist, writer and environmental consultant. He has made wildlife documentaries for the BBC with Sir David Attenborough; written on natural history and science for outlets such as Scientific American, New Scientist, BBC Wildlife, the Guardian and the New York Post; and conducted many technical and market research projects on environmental sustainability issues for the UK government, the European Commission and the UN Environment Programme. Dan spoke to us last year about Bushmaster: Raymond Ditmars and the Hunt for the World’s Largest Viper.
February 19th Brian Banks Meet the Antecessors - The Story of Human Evolution
Brian is the 2019 Pearson’s Teaching Awards FE Lecturer of the Year, and has built a reputation for giving engaging, enlightening and thoroughly entertaining scientific talks.
We are part of a living history 4.2 billion years in the making, and most of our ancestors were thought to be lost in time. Yet our most recent relatives scratched messages in the bark of the tree of life, and science is finally beginning to decode their stories, splashing light and colour onto the shadows of the past.
February 26th Professor Tim Lenton Climate Tipping Points
Tim Lenton is Director of the Global Systems Institute and Chair in Climate Change and Earth System Science at the University of Exeter. His research focuses on understanding the behaviour of the Earth as a whole system, especially through the development and use of Earth system models. He is particularly interested in how life has reshaped the planet in the past, and what lessons we can draw from this as we proceed to reshape the planet now – as described in his books ‘Revolutions that made the Earth’ (with Andrew Watson) and ‘Earth System Science: A Very Short Introduction’. Tim’s work identifying climate tipping points won the Times Higher Education Award for Research Project of the Year 2008. He has also received a Philip Leverhulme Prize 2004, European Geosciences Union Outstanding Young Scientist Award 2006, Geological Society of London William Smith Fund 2008, and Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award 2013.
March 4th Keith Badman Narrow Gauge Rails in North Wales
Keith has been a member of the Forum since 2009 and served as chairman from 2016 to 2018. A practical man, his interests range from the minutiae of gramophone needles to massive steam railway locomotives.
In 2019 The Forum holiday in Snowdonia spent a surprising amount of time riding on railways. The history of the preservation and resurrection of these railways makes an interesting story which dates back nearly 200 years and which influenced railways as far away as Switzerland, North America and Tasmania. Keith will illustrate this largely with photographs taken by Members on the holiday.
March 11th Major Nigel Bovey The War between the Skeleton Army and the Salvation Army
Born in Poltimore House, Major Nigel Bovey has been a Salvation Army officer for 40 years. For 15 years, he and his wife, Margaret, served as church pastors in Northern Ireland and England. For 24 years, Nigel worked as a journalist on The Salvation Army's weekly newspaper, The War Cry. He was editor for 18 years.
A songwriter and author, Nigel has had a number of choral works and seven books published, including one on the subject of his talk Blood on the Flag.
Based on his extensive research in writing Blood on the Flag, Nigel will describe the fight for survival faced by early-day members of The Salvation Army against the notorious Skeleton Army. He will also reveal where the Skeleton Army started and how it spread through the UK in the late 1880s. Signed copies of his book Blood on the Flag will be available, priced £8.
March 18th Marilyn Bishop Fighting the Black Dog - Sir Winston Churchill
March 25th Harry Barton The Devon Wildlife Trust
April 1st Prof. Sir Denis Pereira Gray Seeing the same doctor - does it make a difference?
& Dr Kate Sidaway-Lee
April 8th No Meeting
April 15th No Meeting
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