Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Henley Rotary Club

MEMBERS held their weekly meeting in their permanent new venue, the Red Lion Hotel, on Tuesday

MEMBERS held their weekly meeting in their permanent new venue, the Red Lion Hotel, on Tuesday evening last week.

There was a good attendance to listen to an account of a recent Rotary-sponsored youth leadership outdoor course from 18-year-old Ben Aldous.

Ben, who lives in Emmer Green, attended Highdown School and Sixth Form College, where he took his  A-levels before he goes to the University of East Anglia.

A former member of the Henley Sea Cadets, where he now volunteers as an instructor, he was the club’s sponsored candidate on the week-long course held at the outdoor education centre at Rhos-y-gwaliau, near Lake Bala, North Wales, in July.

There were 27 participants on the course, ranging in age from 18 to 25, and he was the youngest.

Using a PowerPoint presentation, Ben described the various activities they had to undertake for which they were divided into four teams, monkeys, pigs, sheep and cows.

Each member had to take his or her turn as leader and amongs the many activities were gorge walking, putting up a tent blindfolded, raft and coracle building, abseiling, sailing, kayaking and a navigational challenge that included finding their way through abandoned mines.

In conclusion, he thanked the club for the opportunity to take part in the course, commenting that it had given him more self-confidence and enhanced his communication skills.

He was thanked for his talk by Roger Sayer before president John Grout invited New Generation committee chairman Mark Harling to present Ben with the Rotary Youth Leadership Award certificate.

President-elect Lionel Scott updated members with the arrangements for forthcoming visits to the Rebellion Brewery, the Natural History Museum and the Culham Science Centre.

At this week’s lunch meeting, local resident Jim Hurst gave a fascinating account of his career spent mainly in the Hong Kong Police.

After leaving school with  A-levels, having lost his father when he was 16, he realised he had to get a job.

Hankering after something in the Colonial Police, he was advised to apply to the UK police. He joined the Metropolitan Police as a senior cadet and was one of four from 100 potential recruits who were offered a job.

Having completed the constable’s course at Hendon Police College, he served for a time in Richmond and played rugby and cricket for the Met teams.

In 1961, he applied to join the Hong Kong Police. After passing the necessary medical given somewhat cursorily by an Irish rugby-playing doctor, he went out to Hong Kong in January 1962 and spent six months at the police training school.

The system there was based on UK law, slightly adjusted.

At that time there were 8,000 police in Hong Kong, with virtually no firearms crime. By the time of Jim’s retirement as a chief superintendent in 1995, the number of officers had risen to 27,000 and crime had increased considerably.

During his time in Hong Kong he met and married Aileen, a teacher in the army, and their two daughters were born there. The colony, as it was then, was divided into four regions, Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, the New Territories and the Marine sector, covering all the outlying islands.

Jim spent four years as commandant of the police tactical unit at Fanling in the New Territories at a complex which became known as “Hurst Towers”.

The unit personnel were trained in conjunction with the SAS and became known as the “Blue Berets”.

On a topical note, he mentioned that he had had to deal with illegal immigration, from two different locations, some of them Chinese swimming across the river to the New Territories and the rest Vietnamese sailing up the coast.

He was thanked for his talk by Roger Sayer.

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