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March 2019

The Arran School Reunion Lancaster Speakers Club Tall Tale Competition



The Arran School Reunion by James Douglas


SLSC Tall Tale Competition


I had no interest in school reunions until about twenty years ago. My school was Ardrossan Academy in North Ayrshire. It’s a ferry port for Arran, and some school pupils came from the island, and that’s where the event was to be held. Arran is magical, one of my favourite places. I’d booked into the appointed hotel the day before, and the next morning, a beautiful day in September, I went for a walk. I found myself on a path that led to the highest point on Arran, Goat Fell, and feeling pretty good I sallied forth.

Two and half hours later I was on the top. I am marvelling at the magnificent view.

I soon realised that a bank of mist was approaching from the west. On the way up I had seen a few walkers, but now I was on my own. I decided to get down quickly. The first part of the descent is steep and hard work.

My legs were soon wobbly.




I was getting tired and cold. As the mist rolled over the top of the summit and down towards me, it was very threatening, and the sun had gone. I soon realised I had made a bad mistake. All the classic mistakes. No proper clothing, no food, no compass, no stick, no mobile phone of course and I hadn’t told anyone where I was going.

The lower part of the descent is across a thick heather strewn soggy moor, and the path is not clearly defined. Soon I was engulfed by the mist, totally lost. I didn’t have a clue where to go.

Have you ever felt a tremor of panic and a heavy stomach-churning feeling you get with it?

Well, I have!




I stumbled on cursing at my stupidity and stopping at times to listen for any clue as to which way I should go. But there was nothing.

Suddenly in the swirling mist, there was the figure of a man, a well-equipped walker. About my age, medium height, long tanned face, piercing blue eyes and a pronounced scar on the side of his head, a walking stick in his hand. I couldn’t believe my eyes, “Hello Jimmy; you need some help“ he said.

In Scotland Jimmy is a form of address when you don’t know someone’s name. But, by the way, he said it, he knew me. “How do you know my name,” I asked.

There was a slight grin, and he said: “I’m Robert McLaren.” He was one of my close friends at school and came from Arran.

All I could say was “I’m very glad to see you”.




I stepped forward to shake his hand, but he turned, saying “Follow me”, and strode off. I was breathless keeping up, but after about half a mile we came across a well-used path where he stopped. “Follow that path, and you’ll come to the main road, turn left and you’ll soon be at the hotel. I’m going this way, and off he went. “Will you be there tonight I shouted as he disappeared.

“I will. I’m always about,“ and he laughed.

There were about 60 people at the Reunion.

I kept looking around for Robert to thank him and to buy him a large drink.

But could not see him in the crowded room.

I asked around. Others were asking about him too. He had always been a regular at these events. In fact, he had never left Arran, having a good job with the Forestry Commission.

After dinner, there was just one speaker.

The Chairman called for a minute’s silence.

“Let’s remember absent friends, those that cannot make it tonight but in particular, I ask you to think of Robert McLaren. As some of you know, six months ago, while walking on Goat Fell, he slipped and cracked his head. Robert died instantly. What a tragedy for such an experienced walker.”

I felt a shudder run down my back, as I remembered his laugh.

James Douglas
South Lancaster Speakers Club





South Lancaster Speakers Club meets 7.30pm most 2nd & 4th Wednesdays from September to May at Galgate Methodist Hall, Chapel Lane, Galgate, Lancashire. LA2 0PN.

Minutes of Committee Meeting 11 March 2019



The Lancaster Canal near the South Lancaster Speakers Club meeting place


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  11th March 2019

In attendance:- Diana Douglas, James Douglas, Louise Jackson, David Knox and Sue Solloway.

1. Venue

   The suitability of the current meeting venue was discussed and apart from the noise from the heating unit the venue was more than adequate.

It was agreed that we continue to meet at Forton Methodist Church Schoolroom.

2. Membership

   There is currently a core of regular attendees but for the Club to become financially and administratively viable more members were required. (see item 3)

3. Publicity

        * Social Media – Club site is in its infancy and it is too early to assess its impact. To be reviewed in three months. It was agreed that the site had to be ‘current’ and it was further agreed that DD, JD, LJ DK, MR and SS take turns to submit articles of their own choice to be included on the site.

         * Village Magazines - It was agreed to continue advertising the meeting dates in the Garstang and Dolphinholme magazines.

         * Posters/Leaflets – It was agreed that posters/leaflets should be placed in Lancaster University Library, and Sports Hall,  Lancaster Library, Garstang Tourist Information Centre, Cabus Village Hall, Spa store, Galgate, YMCA and Cropston Road Chip Shop and any other appropriate sites mentioned.

  1. Training

    It was agreed that the structuring of meetings had to be looked at. It was felt that Evaluations of Speeches and Topics, particularly for the newer members is very important. It was agreed that we would have two prepared Speeches, Evaluations and the Topics Session would be used to ‘fill in’ the time available. It was also agreed that it was extremely important that all members present should be given the opportunity to speak at every meeting. Discussions took place as to other areas where training could be given.


Poppy Seeds for Armistice Remberance Day War Heroes

Planting poppy seeds on the verge of the A6 near the meeting place of the South Lancaster Speakers Club


  1. Chartering

        Following a discussion, it was agreed that we would not be Chartering at the present time.

  1. Frequency of Meetings

        It was agreed that we continue to meet on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month and that the term be from September to May.

It was suggested that during the recess we have a social function and Wednesday 3rd July was proposed as a possible date and that the proposition would be put to members at a future meeting.

  1. Club Finances

      *  It was reported that at the date of this meeting the Club had £319.50 in the Bank and £65 in cash. Financial commitments included £16.79 Domain Name and £20.00 Domain Mapping (three months fees + one month’s notice?)

    * It was stated that the Club should appoint an Examiner to check the Club’s Accounts. It was agreed that Diana Douglas would approach a suitable person in order to perform this function which will be formalised at the Annual General Meeting.

As a possible financial consequence to the Club Diana Douglas brought to the attention of the meeting that despite being told to the contrary SLSC may not be covered under the umbrella of the ASC for any accidents etc. Diana suggested that she should write to the National Treasurer, Malcolm McKechnie, for clarification - Agreed.

  1. Fees

       Discussions took place regarding the merits and demerits of Members paying their Subscriptions annually and paying for their refreshments on the night, which is the case with Chartered Clubs or continue with the current practice of paying £5 on the night,  including tea/coffee.

It was agreed that until the Club ‘Charters’ or current circumstances change we continue with our current practice of paying subscriptions of £5 on the night. This recommendation be submitted to the AGM for approval.

  1. Club Officers

It was explained that it was the responsibility of this group to put forward to the AGM names of people who are prepared to fill the Club Officer positions. Members will be given the opportunity of putting alternative names forward should they wish. (See SLSC Club Rules Section 3.6)

The following names were put forward for the positions listed below

President – David Knox

Vice President – Louise Jackson

Treasurer – David Knox

Education Director – James Douglas

Secretary – Sue Solloway

Media Secretary – Not to be filled

Social Secretary – Not to be filled

  1. Club Rules

          A copy of the proposed Club Rules for South Lancaster Speakers Club based on ASC Guidelines was considered. Following detailed discussions, some alterations and additions made including an appropriate Data Protection Policy. It was agreed that the revised document be recommended to the Membership for their approval.

  1. Date of Annual General Meeting

             It was agreed that the Annual General Meeting should take place on Wednesday 22nd May 2019.

  1. Any Other Business



                    The Meeting ended at 3.45

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South Lancaster Speakers Club meets 7.30pm most 2nd & 4th Wednesdays from September to May at Galgate Methodist Hall, Chapel Lane, Galgate, Lancashire. LA2 0PN.

Highfurlong_Blackpool_Special_School_StaffSouth Lancaster Speakers Club Offer Education In Public Speaking

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Public speaking can mean everything from presenting sales numbers at a company board meeting to pitching a story idea to the editorial team of a publication.

Fortunately for those who don’t take naturally to public speaking, there are many consultants, organizations, and blogs that offer useful advice for improving your skills at public speaking, presentation design, speechwriting, and general verbal communication.

You will find Speakers Clubs all over Britain. Each one contributes to the proficiency of its members.

So come and join a local Speakers Club and learn to speak confidently and effectively in front of people in a fun and friendly environment:


The sites listed here are among the best in this field, and total beginners to practiced professionals will benefit by checking out these sites.

The sites are split into several categories that emphasize speaking, writing, and overall presentation


Your local club delivers education and training in public speaking.

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South Lancaster Speakers Club meets 7.30pm most 2nd & 4th Wednesdays from September to May at Galgate Methodist Hall, Chapel Lane, Galgate, Lancashire. LA2 0PN.

SLSC Training Session The Word Water



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Training Session Meeting 13 March

The Education Director, Diana Douglas, organised a stimulating event.

Members were given the word “WATER” by Education Director, Diana Douglas and were given ten minutes to construct a three to four minute speech which they were asked to present later in the evening.

Mini Speeches

John Entwistle

John asked the rhetorical question ‘where does water come from’ and then explained how rain came about, air temperature clouds etc. In moderate climates the precipitation falls as rain, in colder regions it falls as snow. That the UK was a very special place, wetter on the west coast than the east coast. Visitors to this country have been heard to comment how green the fields are due to water/rain.

Sue Solloway

Water or H2O, made up with two molecules of hydrogen and one molecule of oxygen, is the lifeblood of our planet and that life can only exist where water is present, few planets have water, as far as we know! In this country we take water for granted, other parts of the world are less fortunate. Financial help could be given to these countries through donations to charitable organisations.




David Knox

‘Water, water everywhere …..and all the boards did shrink’ a quotation from the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner’ water is essential to life, in this country we take water for granted. When there is a hosepipe ban we get very annoyed. Other parts of the world less fortunate, Africa for example where the lack of water can result in crop failure drought and famine. Reference was made to Band Aid which drew attention to the problem. Mention was made to the adverts on TV for Water Aid asking for donations of £2

As well as drinking water he occasionally liked a Whisky which in Gaelic means ‘water of life.’

Eddy Jackson

Eddy talked about the River Wyre, that the word means ‘Winding River, where it rises the source of which can be seen from Morecambe Bay and its journey through the countryside.


Wyre, Celtic, for a winding river

Here is a story showing all the stages of a rivers development.

Looking east from Fleetwood on Morecambe Bay towards the Bowland Fells in the east, you can view where the Wyre starts.


River Wyre Lancashire - The Water Cycle from Eddy Jackson on Vimeo.


The River Wyre, the winding river, flows through the villages of Scorton, Garstang, and Great Eccelstone before flowing in the estuary at Fleetwood.

The river is twenty-eight miles in length.

In the age of the Anthropocene, it is prone to flooding.

Water Cycle Geography Videos


James Douglas

Hydrogen and Oxygen, the two elements that make up water on their own are unstable, but together completely different. Water can be used to fight fires, as a coolant. James found it amazing that when rivers freeze over fish can continue to survive. One of the greatest pleasures in life, lying in a nice hot bath, gathering your thoughts and perhaps putting the world to rights.

Louise Jackson

‘Put the kettle on’ how many times do you hear that? Especially at times of Disaster or Celebration. How at the wedding of Prince Charles to Princess Dianna their was a spike in electricity required, probably people boiling kettles of water for cups of tea. Water can be used for all sorts of things, ice cubes, washing dishes and clothes etc. You can also find water in wrong places, leaks/floods from washing machines, burst pipes causing all sorts of problems.

Mark Rogers

Trouble with going last most of what can be said about the subject has been said! There can’t be life without water. Mark said that the likely cause of pollution in local rivers and reservoirs came from the seepage of cow manure and some industries peeking into the water courses. Mark briefly talked about aircraft design and planes that could land on water and concluded his mini speech by stating that some adults find it difficult to swim in water but babies and young children find it less so.




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South Lancaster Speakers Club meets 7.30pm most 2nd & 4th Wednesdays from September to May at Galgate Methodist Hall, Chapel Lane, Galgate, Lancashire. LA2 0PN.

The work of the Education Director of a new ASC Club


Speakers Clubs Developing Confidence In Public Speaking


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The Association of Speakers Clubs (ASC) is all about education. Helping people to develop and improve their communication skills. Helping members gain in confidence. By way of that, evaluation forms a huge part of the programme.

The essential aspect of the programme is that members leave a meeting feeling that it has been an enjoyable event and that they have learnt something from the evening. It must have been slightly challenging yet not caused unreasonable angst. There should be some teaching each session but that is not easy when the majority of attendees are new to the Association and new to the whole concept.

Members should be told about the ASC Guide and it should be pointed out that working their way through the Guide’s assignments can be very rewarding.



Improving Communication Skills


The Club programme needs to be varied and stimulating. Tasks must be assigned for each meeting and these need to be allocated with care. When assigning meeting-tasks, attention has to be given to the depth of experience of each member. It is essential to remember that all of us, whether new or experienced members are on a learning curve. Thus encouragement and support should be offered all the time.

As for evaluating, we need to learn how to improve but the evaluation must be sensitive. Evaluation is an aspect of the Club programme which has to be introduced gently for new members. The basic rule of ASC evaluation is to start with praise. Forget about re-telling the speech. The audience has heard it so there is never any need to repeat it. The rule is to point out the good points and give one or two examples of aspects of the speech which worked well. Aspects such as variety in the voice, reasonably good eye contact with the audience, appropriate gestures, a bit of humour (if appropriate), alliteration, vocabulary and more. Picking out good points boosts the speaker’s confidence. That is so important! Then mention one or two areas which could be improved upon to make the delivery that much better. The whole audience benefits from hearing a good evaluation and no one takes offence if (and only if) it is presented in a sensitive way.

Being part of the ASC is life-changing. Leadership and chairmanship are two aspects learnt. Then there are the friendships formed too. However, is not learning to deliver a speech well, be it short or long, impromptu or prepared, the best benefit of ASC membership? It is so confidence-boosting!

      Diana MP Douglas  March 2018



Communications is an essential life skill


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South Lancaster Speakers Club meets 7.30pm most 2nd & 4th Wednesdays from September to May at Galgate Methodist Hall, Chapel Lane, Galgate, Lancashire. LA2 0PN.