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The Helmdon Fellowship - Activities



More photos In The Fellowship Photo Gallery

A Sunny Summer Day At The Buxton's - posted 19 July 2013


coffee party at Buxton's

In foreground, left to right, Jan Harrold, Douglas Hadfield,

Trudi Buxton and Joan Hadfield


Coffee mornings require hosts and it is not everyone  who welcomes the prospect of maybe thirty to forty people tramping round their houses in possibly inclement weather, so the Fellowship committee would like to thank the following who have kindly stepped up this Fellowship year, namely Ann Smith, Alan and Eileen Watson, Barbara and Trudi Buxton and Carol and David Brookhouse.

The summer coffee morning at the Buxton’s in a very wet 2012 was a fine enough day, but this year it was held in the middle of a heat wave.   However, nothing daunted, Fellowship members thoroughly enjoyed a sunny morning in a beautiful garden, and £160 was raised for Fellowship funds.   Thank you to all those who helped and attended, making it a very happy occasion.

Visit To The Llama Farm - posted 30 April 2013


The Fellowship at Catanger Llama Farm

Fellowship members at Catanger Llama Farm, Weston.

Celia Terrey holds the baby llama
(click to enlarge)



Catanger Farm, Weston, a 40 acre Llama farm established in 1995 by David and Mary Pryce, was the venue for Fellowship members on Friday 19 April.

Mary met us and gave us an interesting introductory talk.  Llamas are gentle pack animals which on Catanger are mostly used for trekking whilst exploring the beautiful Northamptonshire countryside. Twenty acres of native woodland have been planted with paths and rides threading through them, the rest is pasture and hay fields for the sixty strong herd of llamas and a few donkeys. Although she has visits such as the Fellowship’s, the Pryce’s main business is the llama trekking.

Llamas may live for twenty years and on going outside to meet them in the paddock, we were introduced to Henry, the oldest inhabitant, and several of his chums. Some of our members took great delight in leading them around. 

We all enjoyed our sunny afternoon on Catanger Farm (which was followed by the Fellowship’s customary delicious tea in the Reading Room) and thank our Chairman, Carol Brookhouse, for arranging the visit.


Coffee Morning At Trudie And Barbara Buxton's - posted 05 July 2012

fellowship coffee party

(from left)  Conrad Woolley, Liz Woolley, Joan Morris,

Audrey Forgham, Ann Harman and Geoffrey Robinson



During the autumn and winter the Fellowship has a full programme of meetings in the Reading Room.  During the summer the meetings give way to outings and coffee mornings which keep members in touch with one another.    The June coffee morning pictured, at Trudie and Barbara Buxton’s home, was well attended and  enjoyed by all in rare good weather for the summer of 2012, raising  around £150 for Fellowship funds.







Outing To Exbury Gardens - posted 24 May 2012


Fellowship at Exbury Gardens  

       (from left) Ann Smith, Jenny Saunders,

               Ann Harman, Jack Harman, Julia Osborne

                         and Celia Terrey - resting their feet.
                                      ( photo: John Woodhams)

The Fellowship spent a very enjoyable day at Exbury Gardens in the New Forest area of Hampshire.  The Gardens are a spectacular 200 acre site, world-famous for the Rothschild Collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and rare trees.

Luckily, for early May has been exceptionally dull and rainy, it was a sunny day, and this meant that the azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons were appreciated to the full.  Some Fellowship members and friends chose between exploring by chauffeur-driven buggy or steam railway. For those who preferred to view the natural beauty on foot, there were welcome seats.  All in all, a very successful outing.





Entertainment With David And A Guitar - posted 19 April 2012

entertainment with a guitar

(from left) David Taylor, Liz Woolley, Val Smith and Zena Balch

(photo: Barbara Buxton)



The Helmdon Fellowship was entertained by David Taylor for the final Friday afternoon session of this year’s winter programme.

David took the afternoon off from his job as a Director of Studies and teacher at English Language House in Milton Keynes to sing songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s accompanied by his guitar. He asked for his fee to be donated to Help for Heroes, a cause close to him as his brother is serving in Afghanistan.

The Fellowship’s busy summer programme will include several trips, a Diamond Jubilee and fish-and-chips lunches and a coffee morning. Some of the trips and the coffee morning are open to all, so do come along. If you are retired, we’d be delighted for you to join the Fellowship.

Mugs At The Fellowship - posted  24 January  2012


decorated mugs    Some or the decorated mugs before firing

At the Fellowship January meeting we had a welcome return visit from Irene Inness (ably assisted by Jackie Oliver).

When Irene and Jackie visited last year, Fellowship members decorated pencil pots; this time they had mugs to decorate with dots and squiggles in the style of (and there is emphasis on “in the style of”!) aboriginal art.

Irene has taken the pots home to fire and we shall enjoy getting them back at the next meeting.




Christmas Party - posted 22 December 2011

Father Christmas and Fellowship members

(from left) Jean Brookhouse, Trudie Buxton,

Father Christmas and Olive Holton

(photo: Barbara Buxton)



The Fellowship programme for 2011 ended on a high note on 9 December with over fifty members gathering together in the Reading Room for their Christmas party. 


Entertainment was provided in  rousing style by  ‘Our Flossie’.  This was her third visit, but she did not disappoint, this time featuring songs from the sixties.  We all admired her skill as she again demonstrated the art of deftly changing in and out of costumes and taking on new characters while keeping up humorous patter.  Afterwards all joined in the singing of carols.


The Fellowship committee (Carol Brookhouse, Pauline Payne, Doreen England, Sheila Somerton, Rosemary Gulliver and Barbara Buxton) provided a delicious tea, and Father Christmas (otherwise known as John Coatsworth) made his usual visit with presents for all.

Varied Events During the Year - posted 14 June 2011

Helmdon Fellowship has enjoyed varied events since the start of their 2010-2011 programme.

We held our AGM in October followed by a talk on ‘Doorstep Crime’ by Lyn Coppin from Northants Police.

In November we were enthralled by the art work of Brian Marshall and his talk ‘Puddles of Colour’, so much so that several of our members have joined his art class.

We also went Christmas Shopping to Milton Keynes later on in the month.

‘Our Flossie’ entertained us again at the Christmas Party, she was brilliant, and I have already booked her for this coming year.

For our January meeting we watched the film ‘Tea with Mussolini’.

In February Lesley Underwood did a cookery demonstration on ‘Cooking for One or Two’, her delicious recipes proved to be very popular with everyone. (Men as well!!)  We held a ‘Shrove Tuesday’ lunch, many pancakes were consumed.

Everyone turned their hand to decorating a pot at the “Ceramics Workshop” which Irene Innes held for us in March.

At the last Get-together in April we used our voices for ‘How can I stop singing’ with Natasha Thompson.

During the winter months we have held Coffee mornings at Ann Smith’s and at Alan and Eileen Watson’s – we are very grateful for the use of these venues and to all those who come along and support us.

We have recently taken a trip to Milton Keynes Museum & to Trentham Gardens. We also have a garden party & coffee mornings planned.  So if you are over sixty or retired why not come along and join us. We meet from October until April on the second Friday of the month in the Reading Room at 2-30pm; we have a speaker followed by afternoon tea.

Carol Brookhouse

Chairman, Helmdon Fellowship.

Tel:- 01295 760315 

Potters Hard At Work - posted 19 March 2011


pottery class

(from left to right) Jean Bearman,

Ann Smith, Paddy Elkington and Conrad

Woolley, Jan Harrold in the background.


The Helmdon Fellowship had another creative afternoon on Friday 11th March when Irene Inness gave us a demonstration of how pottery is produced and then showed us how to apply star-glaze to make decorative pen-holders. All 40 members who came had their own pot to paint (it’s all right, we were

v-e-r-y careful not to spill anything). We shall see the results after firing in April.





Christmas Party - posted 28 December 2010


Christmas entertainer
'Our Flossie'


The Fellowship enjoyed a record turnout for the annual Christmas party on 10 December, where we were entertained by 'Our Flossie', who returned to us after the success of last year. She came with a whole new repertoire of songs from the shows, the War years and winning Eurovision contest songs. She deftly changed outfits with each turn, - she makes the costumes herself, -and kept up a patter of humorous commentary whilst singing exceptionally clearly and with perfect pitch. She finished the hour’s programme with Christmas carols for everyone to join in.

We then had tea with sandwiches, cakes, mince-pies and trifle, provided by the committee of Carol Brookhouse, Doreen England, Rosemary Gulliver, Pauline Payne and Sheila Somerton. Crackers added to the festive spirit as did a visit from Father Christmas, who handed out bars of chocolate for everyone and kisses for special guests. Sadly, John Coatsworth missed this visit but mysteriously returned after Father Christmas left. The Reading Room was decked out with decorations and a Christmas tree, the tables were laid with Christmas cloths and candles, and there was a bumper crop of raffle prizes. To add to the jollity, Carol announced that the tea was free this year. Members left with a gift of a notebook and pen. Make a note, Our Flossie will return next year!

Barbara Buxton

Artist At Work At The November Meeting - posted 16 November 2010


artist at work

We all now know how to highlight the trunks

of trees so that they look round !


The Fellowship had a painting lesson at their November meeting.  At the last minute Guide Dogs for the Blind were unable to send a speaker, and a recent newcomer to the village, Brian Marshall, stepped in. 

Whilst telling us about the techniques he employed and the type of paper and paint brushes which were the most useful, he painted a striking watercolour in front of an appreciative audience of over forty members.

Brian is hoping to begin morning art lessons in the Reading Room after Christmas and to judge from the interest he aroused at this meeting, they look as though they will take place.   


Visit To The Elan Valley - posted 26 June 2010

On Wednesday 23rd June 2010 Fellowship members and visitors enjoyed a wonderful day trip to the Elan Valley in Mid-Wales.

We managed to include a coffee stop at a garden centre for a bit of retail therapy on the way, before heading to Rhyader and on to the reservoir. After a stop at the visitor centre for a picnic lunch we boarded the coach for a scenic tour of the lakes.

We travelled back for supper in Evesham, where we encountered lots of excited England football supporters.

The scenery was truly magnificent all day, we covered some 330 miles – it was a long day but a very memorable one.

Carol Brookhouse


Visit to Fir Tree Falconry - posted 8 May 2010


     Carol brookhouse was among those who donned stout gloves



After the highly enjoyable visit of the owls and falcons and their trainer to Helmdon, a large group from the Fellowship were able to return the visit and see the birds at home at Fir Tree Falconry, near Banbury. We were blessed with a sunny day to take in the stunning scenery, see all the birds up close and sit outside to enjoy a ploughman’s lunch.  We all fell in love with a young owl, all fluffy feathers, who seemed to have no fear of visitors and happily wandered amongst us, nibbling everyone’s fingers. Then we were given a flying display, first a falcon that covered miles in a few minutes, and then owls flying spectacularly over our heads, - just! A new young snowy owl was still being trained and we watched Keith patiently enticing it with mice and chicks (glad we’d finished our lunch). Several members also donned stout gloves and got the birds to fly to their hands. We learned more about the remarkable skills of the birds and the work they do clearing sites of pests for the Ministry of Defence. Keith and his wife did a fantastic job in entertaining and educating us, and we all gained even more respect for the birds of prey and their trainer.

Barbara Buxton

Members Get Close And Personal With Birds Of Prey - posted 16 February 2010

Shelia Somerton falls for the charms of Grumpy, the smallest owl.
Shelia Somerton falls for the charms
of Grumpy, the smallest owl.
On Friday 12 February Keith Jones from Fir Tree Falconry gave a fascinating talk on owls, falcons and other birds of prey and brought along 5 splendid birds, - a noisy little owl called Grumpy that everyone wanted to take home, a large handsome hawk, a smaller peregrine falcon, a charming kestrel and an eagle owl with a huge wing-span, and also a tame ferret called Panda.

We learned about the different hunting techniques of the birds (did you know that owls have poor close vision and use sound to hunt, and even have off-set ears to help them hear a mouse 25 feet away and that hawks can fly at 200 miles per hour?).

Doreen England bravely holds the largest owl; an eagle owl.
Doreen England bravely holds the largest
owl; an eagle owl.

Keith emphasised that the birds are not pets but working birds and that they are trained with food reward. In fact, the term ‘fed up’ comes from falconry as birds that are ‘fed up’ are useless as they sit about doing nothing for days, and only those that are hungry enough are useful.

Hunting with birds is an ancient tradition, which lessened in usefulness with the invention of rifles, but it is still immensely popular as a sport with birds costing thousands of pounds.

Keith and his team at Fir Tree Falconry use the birds they train professionally for jobs such as clearing areas of pigeons, as well as visiting schools and giving demonstrations at shows.

It was a privilege to see the birds at such close quarters and several members of the Fellowship took up the offer of holding the birds and getting them to fly to them for food.

It was a most memorable talk and we look forward to a visit to the Falconry in the summer.

Barbara Buxton

Visit To Peterborough Cathedral- posted 25 January 2010

Inside Peterborough Cathedral.

Inside Peterborough Cathedral.

On Friday January 22nd the Fellowship arranged a visit to Peterborough and Fellowship members were joined by WEA members, who had been enthused by the autumn 2009 course on cathedral architecture with lecturer Keith Hasted.

The cathedral did not disappoint. It is known for its imposing Early English Gothic west front; the beautiful hand painted nave ceiling, the stunning fan vaulting in the new building, and the colossal central tower, will remain in the memory.

There was time for lunch and a stroll around Peterborough before the journey home.

                                  See previous Fellowship activities.


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