Saturday, 19 June 2021

Henley Rotary Club

OUR luncheon meeting at Henley Golf Club last week was attended by 26 members and their partners.

OUR luncheon meeting at Henley Golf Club last week was attended by 26 members and their partners.

It is always a delight when a member gives a talk and on this occasion Maria Bunina enchanted us with a presentation on St Petersburg, the “Venice of the North”, accompanied by some wonderful pictures.

Maria is originally from Russia so had insider knowledge of this beautiful city. The geographical foundation was decided some 25,000 years ago with the regression of the last ice age but it wasn’t until the early 1700s when, following the Great Northern War, Peter the Great realised the potential of the area.

The Baltic Sea and Neva River teeming with fish provided a plentiful supply of food and the surrounding forest gave easy access to building materials, so from an island fortress a great city developed.

The Tsar was fascinated by Venice and Amsterdam and the use of canals for transportation.

German and Dutch engineers and some 40,000 labourers helped with the construction of what was to become the Imperial capital of Russia. Empress Elizabeth brought culture and peace to the area and had a winter palace built.

Well-educated and professional people were drawn to the area. A summer palace was built with beautiful ornamental water gardens to rival Versailles.

However, history tells of various changes and a dark side and in 1917, following the Revolution, came assassinations. The siege of Leningrad brought unimaginable brutality and suffering.

Since 1997, with the introduction of democracy and reintroduction of the name St Petersburg, this great city has become a must-see tourist attraction and its beauty is there for all to see.

The vote of thanks was given by the president-elect Barry Prior.

At this week’s twilight meeting on Tuesday, Harry Midgley stood in at very short notice to give his second job talk to the club, having regaled members in January about his career in accountancy.

He had put together 55 slides which showed how he had started in Blackpool (which had the busiest railway station in the world in 1911) and then branched out into the commercial world.

He worked for Sir Fred Pontin and moved to Newcastle, Gateshead and Cumbria among other places.

He was thanked for his light-hearted talk by Derek Cragg.

Earlier, community service chairman Will Busher reminded members of tonight’s (Friday) charity bingo night at the town hall.

President Roger Sayer appealed for volunteers to assist with the collection outside Waitrose on Saturday, December 14.

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