All posts by Roger Ward

The UK Hospice Movement And Our Local Blue Bell Wood Hospice — Angie Beasley — 24th July 2017.

Angie Beasley.

Angie Beasley is a Child and Family Co-ordinator at the Blue Bell Wood chil­drens hos­pice, near Sheffield, where she has worked for the past eight years since its open­ing. Prior to that she has worked in other adult hos­pices in the UK.

Angie explained that the word “hos­pice” first began to be used in the mid 1800s in France and referred to the caring of dying patients. It was later taken up by Irish Sisters of Charity when they opened Our Lady’s Hospice in Dublin, Ireland in 1879. However hos­pices did not become more widely known until 1967 when Dame Cicely Saunders foun­ded St Christopher’s House. Having said that St Luke’s Hospice in Sheffield exis­ted many years before that to my know­ledge.

Angie explained that Helen House, based on the out­skirts of Oxford was the first children’s hos­pice, open­ing in November 1982, and now there are 49 through­out the UK.

Blue Bell Wood Hospice came about as the result of the care provided to a ter­min­ally ill boy called Richard Cooper, aged 10. No children’s hos­pice exis­ted in the area at that time and Richard’s par­ents stayed at his bed­side through­out his fre­quent visits to hos­pital, slept in chairs and bought food in from out­side of the hos­pital. Richard spent his final few weeks at home and died on the 13th March 1997, aged 11.

A char­ity was estab­lished in 1998 to help fam­il­ies in South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire who needed care and sup­port out­side of the hos­pital envir­on­ment, and after a lot of fund rais­ing Blue Bell Wood hos­pice for chil­dren and young adults opened its doors on the 19th September 2008.

Originally it was inten­ded that the hos­pice should be built in Doncaster at the exist­ing adult Hospice of St John’s in Doncaster but there was an issue with bats on the site and so, even­tu­ally it was decided that it would be built at Cramafit Road in North Anston, Sheffield.

It is built in six  and a half acres of land and is in the shape of a large horse shoe. There are eight en-suite bed­rooms for the children/ young adults on one leg of the horse shoe and eight en-suite bed­rooms for the fam­il­ies of the chil­dren on the other, plus two com­plete apart­ments for a child/young adult and family on the end of each wing of the build­ing. These are named “Primrose” and Forget-me-not suites. The expres­sion child/young adult is used because the age of the patients can range from just a few hours up to 25 years old.

The Hospice is sur­roun­ded by beau­ti­ful gar­dens includ­ing a Dragonfly Remembrance Garden which was built by Alan Titchmarsh and the team from ITV’s ‘Love Your Garden’. The garden is suit­able for wheel­chairs and has a veget­able patch, a giant chess set, a play­house and a shaded area for hot days.

The hos­pice  believes in gen­er­at­ing love, laughter and some happy memor­ies at  this cru­cial stage of life. It  is cur­rently sup­port­ing around 250 fam­il­ies, both in their own homes and at the hos­pice in North Anston, Sheffield.

Angie and her team provide coun­selling to indi­vidu­als and fam­il­ies for as short or as long as required, with each ses­sion last­ing one hour and both the hos­pice and the coun­selling is abso­lutely free. She also organ­ises dis­cus­sion groups where par­ents can come, dis­cuss and share their feel­ings and emo­tions  that they have exper­i­enced and are exper­i­en­cing, to draw strength from other par­ents in the same situ­ation.

All this comes at a cost which is cur­rently run­ning at over £4 mil­lion  a year to keep the doors open. 10% of this comes from stat­utory gov­ern­ment sources, 1% from the local author­ity and the rest from fund rais­ing.

Angie’s talk can only be described as both emo­tional and riv­et­ing, with many ques­tions being asked both during and after the talk.

This text does not really do justice to her talk but you can learn more about Blue Bell Wood children’s hos­pice by click­ing on the link “Blue Bell Wood”

A Visit to The Sheffield University Diamond Building — 26th April 2017.

Exterior view of the build­ing.

Thanks to Graham Snowdon, our sec­ret­ary, eleven mem­bers enjoyed a very edu­ca­tional visit to the Sheffield University’s latest and most expens­ive build­ing, the Diamond Building. It gets its name from the out­side facade which is dec­or­ated with dia­mond pat­terns. Some people hate it and others love it. At least it makes a state­ment. It is a sci­ence and engin­eer­ing, teach­ing and research facil­ity, with the emphasis on Research.

It has four floors and a base­ment which house:

  • Student-Led learn­ing spaces.
  • 4 com­puter labor­at­or­ies.
  • 9 lec­ture theatres.
  • 3 work rooms.
  • 17 engin­eer­ing labor­at­or­ies.

The whole interior is designed to have an open spa­cious feel about it and max­imum use is made of nat­ural light. The cent­ral sec­tion of the build­ing is open with study pods on stilts to allow the nat­ural light to come down from the ceil­ing.

Each study  pod has two levels, an inner level for quiet study, and an open top study area.

Most of the labor­at­or­ies are around the cent­ral space and on sev­eral floors, whilst the lec­ture theatres are con­fined to the base­ment.

The group look­ing into a lec­ture theatre.

The build­ing is open for stu­dent study 24 hours a day,  7 days a week and it has the capa­city to cater for 4,300 stu­dents.

The visit lasted approx­im­ately 2 to 2.1/2 hours with some mem­bers trying their hand at flying on the flight sim­u­lat­ors.

It was an excel­lent morn­ing for the mem­bers that atten­ded and our grate­ful thanks must go to the uni­ver­sity staff who were so accom­mod­at­ing.










Sheffield University- The Opening Ceremony – Prof. Clyde Binfield – 14th November 2016.


Professor Clyde Binfield.

Professor Clyde Binfield is a Cambridge gradu­ate and taught for many years in the History Department at the Sheffield University. He was intro­duced as a Kentish man by the Chairman but was soon cor­rec­ted by Clyde saying that he was a man from Kent, which, we were informed, is entirely dif­fer­ent.

His talk was an account of the open­ing cere­mony of the Sheffield University on the 12th of July 1905 by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra which can only be described as a very extra­vag­ant affair.

At the begin­ning of his talk he said that he had given it many years earlier, when he was still work­ing at the University and at that time it was accom­pan­ied by copi­ous slides and a video. However since his retire­ment they have gone miss­ing and he gave the talk without any visual aids at all. Did that deter from the present­a­tion? Not at all. We were all riv­eted to our seats from begin­ning to end.

As an intro­duc­tion he read out a Canadian  journalist’s account of the visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales visit in 1909 for the open­ing of the Edgar Allen Library at the University. It was not the steel­works, guns, canons, armour plate or the type foundry that caught the atten­tion, but the blank life­less faces, tooth­less mouths of women, men and chil­dren star­ing up from the streets and down from the win­dows. He described them as zom­bies: class dis­tinc­tion by bone struc­ture.

The descrip­tion of the visit of the King and Queen just four years pre­vi­ous was entirely dif­fer­ent. It was said that Sheffield was made up of a very organ­ised soci­ety. It boas­ted two papers, The Independent and The Sheffield Telegraph, both of which gave won­der­ful accounts. There was also a 48 page pro­gramme avail­able for the visit, most of which was taken up by adverts by vari­ous drapers, tail­ors, mil­liners, health shops, mer­chants, hotels, food halls, drink man­u­fac­tur­ers, funeral dir­ect­ors and depart­ment stores. It was noted that Coles, Banners and the Co-operative stores did not advert­ise because they had a Methodist inclin­a­tion, whilst John Walsh and the Oldham fur­niture store did.

Listening to the descript­ive, flowery lan­guage and unbe­liev­able claims of the advert­ise­ments was highly enter­tain­ing, but one could ima­gine that gull­ible people of the time  would have been easily taken in by them.

The pro­gramme con­tained a group pho­to­graph of six dig­nit­ar­ies, the Duke of Norfolk who was the University’s first Chancellor, Jonas who was the Master Cutler and Lord Mayor, Vice Chancellor, Hicks and Vice Chancellor Elect, Elliot. There was also Alderman Franklin and Alderman Clegg.  Franklin became the second Lord Mayor and Clegg the third.

There were two com­mit­tees to organ­ise the event, the first one con­tained 111 mem­bers and the second just 18 to sort out the final details.

The domed dais in the quad­rangle.

On the day of the open­ing, the 12th of July the King and Queen arrived  at the L.M.S. sta­tion, now known as the Midland Station and were taken by a pro­ces­sion of car­riages to the Town Hall for Luncheon at 1:35 pm. There were two lunch­eons, the Royal lunch­eon con­sist­ing of 50 dig­nit­ar­ies and the non-Royal lunch­eon con­sist­ing of 150 guests. The lunch­eons ended at 2:20 pm and all pro­cessed in car­riages up to Western Bank, to the University’s new quad­rangle in which a domed dais had been built for the occa­sion of the open­ing cere­mony.

At 2:40 pm the Duke of Norfolk as Chancellor received the King in front of 3000 people.

The King said: “I have great pleas­ure in declar­ing these beau­ti­ful build­ings open and in express­ing my fer­vent hope and desire for the long con­tin­ued prosper­ity of The University of Sheffield.”

At 3:10 pm, all moved to Western Park where more than 4000 people enjoyed a ‘ tea party’.

The Battle of the Somme 100 Years On — Anthony Bolton — 4th July 2016.

At the out­break of the first World War Herbert Henry Askwith was not only Prime Minister he was also the Secretary of State for War, which was not accept­able and so the pos­i­tion of Secretary of State for War was taken over by Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener. He inher­ited a greatly under­staffed army because up to that time Britain relied upon its navy and did not see the need for great land forces.

A Recruiting Poster Of Earl Kitchener

On the 7th of August 1914 Kitchener star­ted to recruit a new army called K1, con­sist­ing of 100,000 volun­teers and he adop­ted the policy of those who joined together would serve together. This cre­ated  ‘Pals Battalions’, which con­sisted of 1,000 men.  A. L. Fisher who was Chancellor of the Sheffield University arranged for the University Officer Training Corps to parade in the city centre and recruit en-masse. Sheffield man­aged to form one bat­talion of 1,000 men whilst Barnsley man­aged to form two pals bat­talions. This was prob­ably because the Sheffield bat­talion were referred to as toffs with white cuffs and shiny wrist watches.

The First Parade At Norfolk Barracks.

The first parade was sup­posed to be at Norfolk bar­racks which was only designed for a few hun­dred men and so the parade was moved to the Sheffield United foot­ball ground at Bramhall Lane, much to the dis­gust of the grounds­man, who was not pleased at seeing the ground churned up by sev­eral hun­dred drilling recruits.

The Sheffield Corporation quickly designed and built bar­racks to hold the recruits at Redmires which they occu­pied from the 5th December 1914 to the 15th August 1915. On the 31st July they went to Rippon for rifle train­ing and from the 21st to 22nd of December they bordered HMT Malakoda to go to the Suez Canal as rein­force­ments. On the 16th March 1916 they were trans­ferred to Marseilles in read­i­ness for trench war­fare in the Somme.

The object of the battle of the Somme was to relieve pres­sure on the French who were being attacked at Verdon, East of Paris. The object­ive of the battle was to make the Germans remove troops from Verdon and redeploy them as rein­force­ments along their front line on the Somme.

The battle was com­manded by Field Marshal Sir Douglas Hague and General Henry Rawlinson over a 25 mile front. Field Marshal Hague wanted a heavy pro­longed artil­lery bom­bard­ment fol­lowed by a sur­prise sweep­ing attack to gain as much ground as pos­sible and to punch a hole in the German lines. General Rawlinson how­ever wanted to attack in small bites and con­sol­id­ate his pos­i­tion each time. Field Marshal Hague was in over­all charge and so his plan was imple­men­ted. The German army con­sisted of 3 lines with very deep trenches and bomb proof shel­ters stretch­ing back over sev­eral miles and Field Marshal Hague wanted to take two in one bite.

A week before the start of the battle the bom­bard­ment star­ted and in all 1,738,000 shells were fired. During this period the Germans went down into the rel­at­ive safety of their shel­ters and when the shelling stopped they came up ready to fight using machine guns which mowed the allied troops down. Hunter’s 8th corps 31st divi­sion con­tained the Sheffield Battalion and these occu­pied the most for­ward pos­i­tion in the line.

The Thiepval Memorial

On the 1st of July 1916 the battle com­menced and on the first day of the battle there were 57,000 British cas­u­al­ties and of those 19,200 were killed. The battle lasted 140 days and claimed 419,654 British, 204,253 French and 500,000 German cas­u­al­ties. This enabled the allied front line to move for­ward just 6 miles.


Memorial to Sheffield City bat­talion at Sheffield Memorial Park, Serre.

It is a sober­ing thought to com­pare these fig­ures with the size of the British army today, which is a total of 144,900 troops made up of  89,860 reg­u­lar, 25,010 army reserves and 30,030 reg­u­lar reserves.

If noth­ing else this battle showed the total futil­ity of trench war­fare.



This short extract does not do justice to the very pro­fes­sional present­a­tion by Anthony Bolton.

A Visit To The National Railway Museum At York.

NRM Visit

A party of 49 mem­bers and guests from Stumperlowe Probus Club enjoyed a day at the National Railway Museum in York on Wednesday, 16th March. In front of the iconic Mallard, in the Great Hall of the museum, chair­man Vince Allsopp (left) hands over a cheque for £250 on behalf of the club to Tobias Lumb, Head of Public Programmes at the NRM. Also in the pic­ture (hold­ing the folder) is club sec­ret­ary Graham Snowdon, who was wear­ing two hats as a life member of the Friends of the National Railway Museum.

A selec­tion of pho­to­graphs taken on the day by  Peter jack­son are avail­able for view­ing in the Gallery.

A Maritime Heritage — Graham Snowdon 11th January 2016.

Graham Snowdon is a retired journ­al­ist, our Secretary and an author in our blog team who has def­in­itely raised the bar in the qual­ity of our report­ing. His talk was an account of his paternal grandmother’s family, which he has traced back to Christopher Husband, his four times great grand­father, born in Scarborough about 1734.
A Water Colour Of Scarborough By J.M.W.Turner 1825

We all think of Scarborough as a sea­side resort but that only came about with the advent of the rail­ways. Scarborough was a very active port from medi­eval times and a great deal of ship build­ing took place there. From 1755 to 1807 The Tindall shipyard was the largest pro­du­cer of ves­sels, total­ing 57, ran­ging from 64 tons up to 403 tons.

Graham said that of the Husbands his great great grand­father Christopher Husband, his great great uncle John Husband, his great grand­father Richard Tindall Husband and his great uncles Jack and Art Husband were all master mar­iners.

Frances (Fanny) Tindall, Graham’s great great grand­mother was born in Scarborough in 1787 and she and Christopher Husband mar­ried in Scarborough on 15th December 1817. Christopher and Fanny settled into mar­ried life in a small house on Quay Street behind Ivy House (now Ivy House café). At that time Ivy House was the home of one member of the Tindall family, known as ‘Gentleman’ John, master mar­iner and ship owner.

Christopher and Fanny had three sons, John, Christopher and Richard.Christopher was born in1825 but died in infancy. John and Richard both became master mar­iners. Richard or Captain Richard Tindall Husband, to give him his full title, was the young­est of the three, born in 1827 and was the great grand­father of Graham. Richard mar­ried and had a daugh­ter Frances Annie (1872) and two sons, Jack and Art, who again were master mar­iners. Frances Annie was Graham’s grand­mother and Jack and Art his great uncles. Again Jack became a master mar­iner (Captain Jack Husband) and his brother Art, became a fully qual­i­fied trawler skip­per.

Captain Jack Husband used to sail across to America and it was on one such occa­sion That he was the hero in a dra­matic sea rescue 60 miles of the coast of America. The JohnTwohy with eleven crew on board was in danger of sink­ing in a ter­rible storm. Captain Jack Husband dis­patched a life­boat from his ship, the Kilnsea to go and rescue them but one member of his crew was thrown into the sea and was res­cued with great dif­fi­culty. The life­boat was then smashed to pieces and the crew of the stricken John Twohy had to remain on board through­out the night, to await rescue the fol­low­ing after­noon. Great Uncle Jack who organ­ized the rescue and remained calm under severe pres­sure was recog­nized by President Woodrow Wilson who com­mis­sioned a 14-carat gold pocket watch and chain to be presen­ted to him for his gal­lantry. This watch is now in Maine Maritime Museum.

Captain Jack Husband sur­vived the first World War to sail his ship into Calais in 1919 on gov­ern­ment busi­ness, and accord­ing to ‘The Times’, he was seen to go ashore never to be seen alive again. His body was found float­ing in the harbor ten days later.

Graham’s great great grand­father had a 2nd cousin twice removed called Gregory Husband who was born in the same year as he in 1827 and he also was a master mar­iner. He appar­ently slipped off the gang plank going aboard his ship, whilst it was moored in the Thames one Saturday night in 1869 and drowned.

In all, 6 of Graham’s ancest­ors were master mar­iners and was a fully qual­i­fied trawler skip­per, and quite a few of the Husbands sailed the Tindall ships.

His talk was full of facts and dates and was alto­gether thor­oughly inter­est­ing. I for one was spell­bound.