Saturday, 19 June 2021

Henley Probus and Rotary Club reports

MANY members of Henley Probus Club, meeting at Badgemore Golf Club, would have been intrigued by the title of a

MANY members of Henley Probus Club, meeting at Badgemore Golf Club, would have been intrigued by the title of a recent talk and had been looking forward to learning more.

Peter Bazire is 83 but as a teenager he spent a long time in Japanese prison camps in China. His father was a Christian missionary and with his wife was posted to Sichwan. The mission school was 300 miles north of Shanghai.

Peter’s mother was an artist and musician, who created many paintings, some of which he showed members. Her musicianship led to the formation of an orchestra. After the Pearl Harbour attack by the Japanese, occupation of part of China followed.

The Bazire family were taken to Temple Hill camp. Peter wore an armband with the letter “B”, signifying him to be British. The guards were consular officials who wore a uniform. They did a roll call every day, even when the electricity failed and the pipes froze. Clothing was often made from old curtains.

From November 1942 until September 1943, they were held in a camp in Weihsien in the country area which had been an American mission’s territory. That was where boys lived and had lessons. This camp had electrified fences, guard dogs and watch towers. Somebody formed a band and choirs, who organised concerts until 1944. Peter played the trumpet and violin after being freed and still plays today.

He finished by telling many stories about daily life, such as dodging guards, exploring out-of-bounds places and playing tricks on the guards.

Life in internment ended when the American Special Forces arrived. The family came back to England by sea after a very emotional departure.

Henley Men’s Probus meets at Badgemore Golf Club on the second Tuesday of the month at 10.30am. For more information, visit henleyprobus

A DISAPPOINTINGLY small number of members were present at Tuesday’s “twilight” meeting of Henley Rotary Club at Henley Golf Club.

But those who did attend were transfixed by the energy and enthusiasm of the guest speaker, local resident Sarah Weldon.

In a talk entitled “From Neuropsychologist to Ocean Rower”, Sarah explained how she and a friend, Susannah Cass, were planning to join 28 boats — all with female crews — in rowing across the Pacific next summer.

They will row from Monterey Bay in California to Hawaii and then onwards, but on their own, to Cairns in Australia. Sarah spent three years in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia teaching English to government employees as well as children.

She started her own charity, Oceans Project, to provide online education in science, technology and engineering for young people in the most remote corners of the world.

The row will be in aid of her charity with some of the proceeds going to the Thai Children’s Trust. Sarah hopes to visit Thailand on her way home.

Although Susannah has rowed before, Sarah only learnt this year but was taken under the wing of Olympic silver medallist and Leander Club captain Debbie Flood, a patron of Oceans Project. Sarah was thanked on behalf of the club by Lionel Scott.

At last week’s lunch meeting, there was an almost full attendance to hear district governor John Greening, of the Elthorne and Hillingdon Club.

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