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Issue No. 76 [Back Issues]
28th December 2005

This Week - [Christmas Lunch at the Ryefield Centre - That Was 2005 - Ross Soldier in Pakistan]
[Boxing Day Rugby - More Folk 'n' Jazz at the Hope]
[Ross Majorettes - Topical Photography - Letters]
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Christmas Lunch at the Ryefield Centre

Elderly guests at the Ryefield Centre enjoyed lunch on Christmas Day to the sound of Bagpipes. The event was arranged by the Ross Lions Club and Ryefield Centre volunteers, including Chef, Richard from the Jolly Roger's Pantry in Brookend Street. The meal was a traditional turkey or pork lunch with all the trimmings.

Collected by minibus or by individual volunteers, the guests came from all over Ross. Around sixty meals were served with six being delivered to people who for various reasons could not leave their homes. On arrival the guests were offered drinks to relax them, getting them into the party mood.

Members of the Lions club and friends chatted to guests, making them feel at ease and the volunteers also acted as waiters, serving the main course, Christmas pudding, coffee and mince pies. Wine glasses were topped up during the meal and ex-Lion and founder member of the Ross Lions Club, Ray Thomas and his keyboard provided background music.

The atmosphere was wonderful. At the end of the feast Santa arrived to distribute gifts to the guests. Mayor, Gordon Lucas made an appearance with his wife Margaret. Gordon is a member of the Ross Lions club and the couple stayed for some time to talk to the guests. In his speech he thanked Ray Thomas for providing the music. He also noted what a wonderful sight so many of the towns elderly folk enjoying themselves, and so many volunteers giving up their time on Christmas Day to ensure guests could celebrate this special day was.

Thanks must go to all who helped out on the day, including Dennis Humble of the Ryefield Centre, his wife and children, all Ross Lions Club members who attended with their wives, volunteer drivers, all who helped to prepare the meal, those who waited on guests and the Scots Piper, Alan Harrison, whose music really stirred the guests.

Ref: DSC_4940

Ref: DSC_4944

Christmas Meals-on-Wheels. Ref: DSC_4921

Ref: DSC_4957

That was 2005!

In just a few days I will find myself photographing people climbing lamp posts and generally gathered together enjoying themselves at the Market House to see 2005 out and 2006 in. One of my favourite social occasions of the year.

Over all, 2005 has been a good year! It did have its moments of sadness in June when mum died and I know of many others who have undergone a similar experience. Friends and family dying is one of those things which increases proportionately with one's own age. This Christmas has actually not been too good on a personal level. It was the first without Mum, and Dad was rushed into Oldchurch Hospital, Romford (the place where mum died) during the early hours of 23rd December, remaining there for the Christmas period.

On Christmas Eve however, having got my Christmas shopping out of the way in half an hour max., beginning at 3:00 pm and feeling in a particularly Ebenezer Scrooge state of mind as I was home alone, I went to the Hope & Anchor, a place I usually enjoy visiting very much. Unfortunately however, there was this DJ there playing what can only very loosely be described as 'music' and it absolutely did my head in (personal taste and another sure sign of age). Luckily, some 'Ghosts of Christmas Past' showed up in the form of Rob and Dave Nicholls - two people my age amid a sea of youth and I somehow managed to get very drunk. The rest is a blur. Thanks for the lift home, James!

That's three times this year I have drunk beer and I'm not going to feel guilty about making tonight, Wednesday, a fourth. I shall be visiting the Vine Tree, where there's going to be some live music and Tina and I are meeting up with friends Paul and Ali Randell on our first night out together this Christmas. That's going to be a long walk home afterwards! Especially as I will probably have to keep Tina on the straight and narrow. The good, old fashioned 'pavement pizza' is one of Tina's specialities. Do you happen to be going as well, James?

I have been trying to think back over the year and decide which have been my favourites out of all the events I have photographed. Choosing favourites is a little tricky as there were so many good ones. Carnival Day was great, as was Rock-on-Wye but I think there were two events which really stood out for me personally. Paradoxically, one of them occurred on Christmas Day and was the 'Christmas Dinner for the Elderly'. This stood out above all others as being the happiest and most friendly bunch of people I have seen together in one room this year. The volunteers came across as being absolutely genuine and not in it just for Brownie Points. Those who went for their Christmas meal were just fantastic and were really enjoying themselves. Money collected by Ross Lions throughout the year at events such as the firework display really does go to good causes and it certainly made a lot of people, who might otherwise have been very lonely, very happy this Christmas Day!

What was also very apparent to me on this day was just how absolutely genuine the Mayor and Mayoress, Gordon and Margaret Lucas were when they said what a wonderful morning they had spent, visiting the various retirement homes in Ross. Margaret was not just smiling when she said it - she was smiling with her eyes and there is a big difference!

The other event I really enjoyed photographing this year was 'Class of '64' at Monmouth. I enjoyed this one out of a purely selfish sense of nostalgia, remembering my school days in Barking, Essex. The band were made up of members of the Hollies, Kinks and Tremeloes and provided a great night of entertainment, which included songs such as 'Lola, Silence is Golden and Call Me Number One' for an audience of thousands from Monmouth, Ross-on-Wye and many other locations. Brian Pool and the Tremeloes were older than I but went to my school, so they were very popular and I still keep in touch sporadically with Graham Scott, one of the original members of the band. Graham recently wrote to me after seeing the page on Wyenot News and, although it is more a personal letter than a 'letter to the editor', I have published his email to show that people do actually come across and read this weekly news magazine and discover the town of Ross-on-Wye as a result.

Here's wishing you all a Happy and Prosperous 2006!

Mayor and Mayoress, Gordon and Margaret Lucas with Ross Lions Founder Member, Ray Thomas on Christmas Day. Ref: DSC_4962

'Class of '64' Performing at Monmouth in August 2005. Ref: DSC_7076

Ross Soldier Helps Earthquake Victims in Pakistan

Sapper Graeme Parkes of Ross-on-Wye has been spending Christmas this year helping to build winter shelters which will be used as clinics and classrooms in the earthquake stricken province of Kashmir, Pakistan.

Graeme, aged 25 is based in the town of Bagh and is serving with 59 Independent Commando Squadron Royal Engineers, based in Chivenor, North Devon. Their mission is to build shelters in isolated mountain villages before the harsh winter sets in.

Graeme joined the Royal Engineers in 2003 and is working with Army Commando engineers who are trained to live and work in arduous winter and mountain conditions. The troops are spending three to four days at a time in the isolated construction sites in tents that are designed for the Arctic.

The men and materials are being transported up narrow mountain tracks with the use of multi terrain vehicles which are usually used for arctic Norway. However, some villages are so inaccessible that the engineers have been taken by helicopter or gone on foot.

Graeme said that he is very proud of the job that everybody is doing there and said, "Even with being away from our families at Christmas, it puts it all into perspective when you see the suffering of the local people."

For further information about the operation and the Royal Engineers, click on

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