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Rob Boyd - The Brixham Ace Blog

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Rob Boyd

Rob Boyd

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Posted by on in Guest Speakers at Ace

Janet is a volunteer and trustee of ACE and she and Bruce celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a holiday to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is a Central, Latin America country, with a population of 4.5 million, situated between Nicaragua and Panama. The capital is San Jose, the main language is Spanish and the main currencies are the Colon and the American Dollar.

It has a tropical climate being 8 degrees north of the equator. 25% of the country is protected national parks and recreational hunting is banned. Ecotourism is now worth more than coffee and banana production. By 2021 they plan to be carbon neutral.

Janet illustrated her talk numerous pictures of jungle views, some of the 14 volcanoes, curious ecolodges and wildlife species of every type imaginable.

The attached examples are a  toucan, a spider monkey and a hummingbird




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Posted by on in Guest Speakers at Ace


Robbie is a former Captain in the British Army Education Corp and a War Historian.

The Battery was first established, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in 1586, in anticipation of a possible landing site by the Spanish Armada of 1588.

It was then prepared for use during the following: 

The American War of Independence when France was an ally of the American Colonists

The Napoleonic wars when Napoleon threatened to invade

The Crimean War when the Russian Fleet was expected to travel to the Mediterranean and the Black Sea

Coast Guard training between 1870 – 1890

World War II after the evacuation from Dunkirk

On the 1st June 1940, when a German invasion was considered very likely, Winston Churchill ordered 116 batteries to be built, on the coast, from Scotland to Milford Haven.

The Brixham battery was ready and manned, on 21September 1940, by 362 Battery Royal Artillery until the success of the Battle of Britain, when Hitler cancelled operation ‘Sea Lion’, the German code name for the invasion of Britain and ordered the invasion of Russia.

378 Battery Home Guard then took charge under the command of Captain Hock. He was a German Jew who fled, with his family to Britain in 1935, to escape the persecution of the Nazis. On the declaration of war, the Hock family were interned and interrogated. The authorities discovered that Mr Hock had been a German Artillery Officer during WWI and his knowledge, skills and loathing of the Nazis could be well used to defend Britain.

The battery was equipped with a 4.7’’ gun, which had been built on licence during the WWI for the Japanese navy and then bought back in 1922, plus 2 search lights, a Swedish made Bofus anti-aircraft gun and rocket launchers. The 4.7” gun was only ever fired in practice as no surface vessels ever entered Torbay, but the searchlights and the Bofus gun were frequently used against 50 hit and run raids by German aeroplanes. These raids caused bomb damage to Brixham and vessels in the harbour, The Palace Hotel in Torquay, which was being used as an RAF hospital, killing 20 patients and 4 nurses and a church at St Marychurch one Sunday afternoon killing 20 children and 2 teachers. The batteries at Brixham and Corbyn Headshot down 2 Me 109’s and 3 Fokker Wulf 190’s. A creditable performance against such fast aircraft.

Brixham battery is a scheduled heritage site and it houses a museum in the former plotting room during the Artillery Regiment and a training room for the Home Guard.

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Liz Long, from Paignton, spoke to us on how she and others founded and continue to support Lisa’s school in Northern Kenya. The development of the school can be found on their website with numerous pictures.

Liz first showed us excellent pictures of elephants, lions, leopards and other wildlife in Samburu National Park in Northern Kenya, before moving on to the local town of Archer’s Post. It is situated in a very arid, dusty area where goat herding is a prime source of income.

Liz learnt that Government supported education starts at 6 years of age and there was a need for earlier schooling between 3 and 6 years.

She started fund raising with friends for such a school and they channelled the funds through Brian Freeman who runs a local Game Reserve.

The pictures of the school with the happy young children in their uniforms and their parents in their bright robes and beads is a real beacon of hope in a desperately poor community.

Liz and friends have funded the building of the school and toilets and now fund the staff wages, the books and pencils, uniforms, food to nourish the pupils and a computer plus health care, that’s included two operations of a hernia and a brain tumour. Liz confessed to many sleepless nights worrying about what they had started and letting down the hopes of the children and their parents.

We made a small contribution to this inspiring project and I’m sure you too will be moved by following the above website link. 

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Posted by on in Guest Speakers at Ace

The Torbay Poetry Festival opened with Sue and John Miles reading a selection of their poems to ACE members.

We were first taken back to the hippy era of Bob Dillon, with calls for peace and flowers in their hair.

The changing days of Autumn, flowers growing on waste land, the beauty of drifting clouds and Grandad’s garden.

Writing a poet entitled Barge. At first it seemed daunting until John realised how many words in French contained this ending.

The dreaded hospital visitor, who spreads dome and gloom instead of light relief and joy as one battles the route to recovery.

The frustrated hurry of trying to find the end of the large, modern toilet roll, whist conscious of the queue building outside the Ladies.

Reminisces from childhood and the embarrassment of having to read aloud female parts in an all boy’s school.

War time memories of being an engineer in a Motor Torpedo Boat; below the water line, with no view of where they were going and seconds to get out if hit.

The meaning of Brexit.

Kisses, Morris Minors, dog owners cleaning their side of the street, domestic chores and men trying to change the duvet cover.

We had a very entertaining morning with Grahame, from the Write Way class, making significant contributions. We do enjoy these annual visits from such varied and entertaining poets, who provide us with Festival poetry that we would, otherwise, not be able to access.


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Torbay is sheltered from the prevailing South Westerly winds, but open to easterly winds. It was therefore, generally, a safe-haven for the Western Squadron.

Napoleon Bonaparte was a brilliant general with many successful victories, across Europe, to his name.

Britain, however, had a small army in contrast, but a large very successful Royal Navy commanded by Admiral Nelson.

The British navy blockaded the French ports to starve France of trade and to preventthe French navy from building its fleet and developing its skills.

The British navy used Torbay and primarily the small fishing village of Brixham, as a victualing station for water, beef and vegetables. 20-25 ships were often anchored in the bay, with a combined crew of 25,000, but they were not allowed ashore. The officers however, brought their families, to live in Torquay. Torbay benefitted greatly during the Napoleonic wars. Whilst European countries were continually at war and unsafe to visit, Britain’s wealthy classes found Torquay especially, very suitable, and they built their palatial houses, on the cool hillsides, to enjoy their lengthy stays.

Napoleon was defeated at the battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815 and he tried to flee to America, but all the ports were blocked. On the 15 July1815 he surrendered toCaptain Maitland on HMS Bellerophon, known as Billy Ruffian, off La Rochelle.

He arrived in Torbay, in secrecy, on 24 July 1815 intending to ask for asylum. He behaved as the perfect gentleman and was very amical to all he met.

He exclaimed, on arrival,” What a beautiful country”.

Letters were quickly sent to the Admiralty.

The secret was soon broken, when a bottle, containing a message, was thrown from the ship and picked up by schoolboy John Smart. The local boats, gave up fishing, and conveyed sight seers close to the ship, where Napoleon bowed and removed his hat.

People were showing signs of feeling sorry for him and the Admiralty were afraid he would meet and charm the King and achieve his desire - an English gentleman.‘The Tyrant of Europe’ was moved to Plymouth from 26 July until 4 August, where hewas transferred to HMS Northumberland for exile to Saint Helena, a small isolated island, in the Atlantic Ocean off Africa. He arrived on 15 October and later died in 1821.

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Posted by on in In Loving Memory of

17.01.1935 – 2015

Bob was a keen volunteer at ACE for 17 years. He was a great help to all the members and he created our logo. He served as a Military Policeman in Germany at the time of the Berlin Wall and then he trained as a draughtsman. When he retired he helped at the Brixham museum recording the military artefacts excavated at the Berry Head forts. He was a very keen fisherman and cared for his dogs.

He leaves a loving family.

He will be missed by us all.

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In Loving Memory of  Wilson Melville Vaughan Furr
4 August 1926 – 26 September 2015
Wilson will be missed by his many friends at ACE, where he was a keen volunteer for 22 years. He was always very helpful to the members. He worked closely with his wife June organising sales to raise funds. The picture shows him winning at our Easter raffle this year.
He was a military man, a keen water polo player and swimmer.
He leaves a loving family. 

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Posted by on in In Loving Memory of

In Loving Memory of Denise Morris

25th July 1958 - 18th April 2013

Denise's winning smile whilst on her computer Denise was a very welcoming, popular and hard working member of ACE.Denise celebrating with her sister Debbie on her Oscar night

Alongside her mother Irene she was a very creative member of the Pottery Class.

She was also very proactive in the computer classes when learning Powerpoint techniques and when she helped to teach beginners master their first introductions to computer skills.

She introduced a 'change collection jar' in order to raise valuable funds.

She was a cheerful ACE member during outings. She is especially remebered for her singing on the steam train from Buckfastleigh.

Denise is greatly missed. She is fondly remebered by Lorna's poem:

A Lost Friend

A welcoming smile and an open heart

A mischievous broad grin that lit up your face

And the room you were in

Your achievements in life were quietly substantial

You were the supportive friend we will all miss.

We were so proud of you Denise

And we had the pleasure to share your life

And admire your bravery and determination

Farewell Denise

I hope we will meet again

And once more see that extraordinary smile

And feel its warmth.

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Posted by on in In Loving Memory of

In Loving Memory of Robin Jackson Chapman

Robin on his beloved drums

4th July 1968 - 23rd July 2012

Robin’s funeral was held at Stockman’s Service Chapel, Brixham on 3rd August 2012 with his family and many friends.

It opened with Robin’s favourite music from American Wrestling and a poem that ends:

“Do not think of me as gone

I am with you in each new dawn

So do not stay here to morn and cry

For now I’m free

And I’m on high”.

Robin and his mother Theresa were founder members of ACE in October 1989.

Robin loved life. He was always cheerful and positive. He loved to talk about his favourite subject, American Wrestling, with all its drama of colourful characters and their bone crunching antics.

He loved taking part in ACE activities: Sports Mobility, with Jon, where he liked skittles, darts and winning; Music, with Mick, where he loved playing his drums and surprising his mother with his singing.

We are all sad at the passing of another ACE member, but we rejoice in our fond memories of Robin. He will be missed.

We thank Theresa for all her hard work, cheerful enthusiasm and loving care.

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Posted by on in In Loving Memory of

In Loving Memory of Nicholas Miles

17 November 1956 - 24 August 2012

Nick was a popular member of ACE for many years. He loved the social atmosphere and he especially enjoyed talking and joking with fellow members and Christie. He was always cheerful despite being confined by his illness.

I best remember him in the pottery class and his participation in Kay’s summer holiday project when we worked together to build a replica of Johnny Depp. Nick excelled at sewing Johnny’s elegant clothes and plaiting his long black hair. Johnny Depp then graced the ACE garden during a lovely warm, mild summer.Nick with Chrissy and Chris

Nick is survived by his wife Shirley and daughters Donna and Ella.

Nick died on the day of their 27th Wedding Anniversary.

We will miss you Nick.


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Posted by on in In Loving Memory of

In Loving Memory of Peter Parker

Peter first became involved with ACE when he and his wife Sue drove our members in their taxis.

Sadly Peter’s health deteriorated and they gave up their business and they both became members of ACE.

Peter loved being a member of the Thursday Group and participating in discussions with the visiting speakers. He enjoyed debates with the local Councillors when they joined ACE to update us on local politics.

Peter will be missed for his forth right views by his many friends at ACE.

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Posted by on in In Loving Memory of

In Loving Memory oTrevor doing a solo on the drumsTrevor Matthews

Trevor was 51 years old when he passed away peacefully during Easter 2012.

He lived at the Chimes Residential Home in Paignton with fellow ACE members Margaret, Paul and Alan.

Trevor loved coming to ACE, where he took part in the Thursday Group, Sports Mobility and Music.

Trevor was a friendly person, a good team member and he enjoyed the company of others.Trevor preparing for Christmas with the ACE band

He had a good rhythm on the drums and loved dancing and singing especially at Christmas festivities.

He was very competitive especially when playing skittles. He liked being on the winning side and receiving the applause.

He enjoyed group outings like the visit to Seal Hayne at Newton Abbot.

Trevor will be sadly missed.

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Posted by on in In Loving Memory of

In Loving Alan Dazley: 'Always a keen creative ACE member'.Memory of Alan Dazley

Alan has been a member of ACE for over a decade. He was always the person that greeted you on arrival with hand outstretched; often our visiting speaker took him for the organiser because of his smart appearance and well mannered ways. We noticed that Alan’s priority was his ‘cuppa’; no sooner was he in the door than he was heading for the drinks machine.

He was a quiet member of ACE always sitting with his close friends Paul and Margaret. He was keen to have a go at new crafts such as textiles, painting glass, mosaics and pottery. He helped create last years TRAIL recycled sculpture of a rock pool made from an old billiards table and he made some mosaic fish for the Rising Tides project. These pieces were on show throughout the summer where thousands of people saw them on Teignmouth sea front; something that made him very proud.

Alan tried several classes from gardening to sport mobility which he really enjoyed, especially being on the winning team! He was also a dab hand at volley ball, demonstrating eye and hand co-ordination, which many others find difficult.

Over the years the ACE trustees have arranged many trips and events for members – to Newquay Zoo, BBQ’s in the garden and a visit to Dartington where as usual Alan was the smartest, appropriately dressed like a country gentleman and with ready smile.

We shall remember him as quiet, polite and well mannered, a man who got a lot out of ACE.  The trustees would like to thank his family for supporting ACE today. Alan was a key member and this is a charity that is run by and for people with disabilities enabling them to lead a happy and normal social life as they enjoy learning. 

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Posted by on in In Loving Memory of

Carol Downer with friends Rose, Jenny and Doris - indoor gardeningIn Loving Memory of Carol Downer

5th February 1944 to 5th January 2011

Carol was a very keen member of ACE. She enjoyed meeting her many friends at the Thursday Group, with a chat over a cup of tea or coffee before listening and joining in with the visiting speaker.

After lunch she took part in the ‘The Write Way’ Creative Writing class. Sam, the tutor, said of Carol when writing to her family,” I just wanted to let you know how sorry I am to hear the news about Carol - I remember her very well from when she was part of our group. She was a lively character and always had something to say! She and I always had a giggle together about various things.

I found her to be a very well-read and knowledgeable member of the group and was very sorry when she no longer came to class.

My dad died very suddenly several years ago, when I was three months pregnant. Carol was very warm-hearted and sincere in her condolences, which I will never forget. She also talked very warmly about my baby (as then unborn). Ned was born in April and unfortunately, when I returned from maternity leave Carol had left the group so I was unable to bombard her with the obligatory photos!

She excelled in the gardening class with her enthusiasm and extensive knowledge of all aspects.

Carol will be missed.

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Posted by on in In Loving Memory of


Rene, 'A badge of happiness'.In Loving Memory of Irene May Trow, known to us all as ‘Rene’.

29 May 1924 to 20 October 2010

Rene, mother to Denise and Deborah, were all regular members of ACE, where they especially enjoyed the interesting variety of visiting speakers in the Thursday Group and being creative in pottery and art and craft classes.

The ‘girls’ with other family members loved going shopping together, without necessarily buying very much. It was being together as a family that really mattered.

Rene will be reunited with her beloved Dennis. They married at the end of the war after his service in the Royal Navy and they opened a builder’s merchants together.

Rene is missed by us all.

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Posted by on in In Loving Memory of

Chris, 'Cooking up a mystery'.In Loving Memory of

Christopher Hall

19 January 1957 – 17 October 2010

Chris, the loving husband of Anita and his two sons, was a keen member of ACE, where he loved to express himself in art and craft classes, gardening and Summer Activities.

Anita and Chris were very happy together; both caring for the other. But sadly a reoccurring stroke took him away far too early.

They loved sharing each other’s company; shopping, walking their terriers on the beach and attending music festivals.

Chris, a former biker, dreamed of owning a Harley Davidson motor cycle and he departed this earth in a coffin decorated with pictures of ‘Harleys’ carried by Anita and other bikers.

Anita’s parting words at Chris’s funeral were,” Go get yourself on that Harley you always wanted and ride on forever babe”.

Chris is missed by us all.

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Posted by on in In Loving Memory of

Charlotte and carer Christine making a lavender bagCharlotte Parkinson: 11th April 1981 – 28th April 2010

Anyone who knew Charlotte would notice how sensitive she was to others in her company.  She had a great awareness and perception of what was going on around her, despite her dual sensory impairment.  Charlotte had a great love of literature, having read many books and poetry.  She joined our Writing Class at ACE a few years ago.  Not only was she a very popular member of the Class, but a most productive participant too, having  written some very powerful and moving poetry, along with other items, provoking interesting comments from the rest of the group.  (You can find examples of Charlotte’s work below this article).

Charlotte had a wonderful sense of humour, which seems to run in the family.  I remember her ‘party piece’ was reciting the well known monologue made famous by Stanley Holloway, of the story of ‘Albert and The Lion’, done in a very authentic North Country accent, much to everyone’s amusement.

Whenever I think of Charlotte I see calmness and serenity.  I never once remember her getting anxious or agitated over anything.  In fact, Sam our Writing Tutor, once said to me during Charlotte’s long absence from the Class due to her dialysis programme, “I miss her calming influence on the group.”

Thank you Charlotte for all the love you gave us.  Thank you for just being.  Rest in Peace.

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Posted by on in In Loving Memory of

Biddy Biddy Shillitoe/Clark

Brixham Adult & Community Learning is mourning the passing of Biddy Shillitoe/Clarke who was a student at Brixham for over a decade. Her talents in the arts were shared with many people who were drawn to her because of her ‘vivacity for life’. Biddy was almost 89, but young in spirit and described by Linden Lynn, a fellow student, as ‘offering love, encouragement and colour to the world.’ She died after a short illness having recently received her award as an outstanding student at the South Devon College awards ceremony. She was nominated for her artistic talents by Jenny Harriman who encouraged her to exhibit her work last year as an inspiration to others.

Biddy first discovered the pleasure of working in clay when she was living and working in Northern Rhodesia and the Belgian Congo for 18 years. She was a physiotherapist who brought up her four children to explore the world they lived in. Her primary enjoyment of pottery began by making figures from anthill clay with the children, which the sun dried.

When she returned to England she enrolled for an evening class at a primary school in South London and there discovered the wonders of firing and glazing clay.  She continued to work as a physiotherapist in Devon. In 1973 she decided to link her medical knowledge to her interest in art and was accepted as a mature student at St Albans College of Art where she gained a diploma in Art Therapy.

This gave her access to the ceramic studio enabling her to express her ideas in clay. Later Biddy worked with the residents of Moorfield Psychiatric Hospital and with children at Mayfield School.

Aged 87 Biddy said “Due to my work as a physiotherapist the human body has always been an inspiration as have relationships in my life. These are reflected in the pieces I make for my own enjoyment. ‘Open Studios’ at Brixham College in September 2008 was the first opportunity for me to have a public exhibition and I was thrilled to show my work to others. I hope the public agreed with my grand-daughter who said with surprise in her voice ‘Gran has got a sense of humour’”.

Biddy took part with a show that has been likened to the work of Beryl Cook in 3D, with lots of quizzical and naughty creations!

Everyone who knew her will have delighted in her company and her sheer love of life - indomitable until the end.

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Posted by on in In Loving Memory of

Anna Teresa Howlett - 21st July 1954 – 22nd August 2008

Anna Teresa Howlett

Anna lived in shared accommodation for disabled adults at Dragon’s Tail, Douglas Avenue, Brixham, where her apartment complex overlooks St Mary’s bay. She often remarked on how fascinating it was to look out across the bay at the English Channel and watch the ever changing moods of weather, sea and sky. She liked tending her small garden outside her apartment and feeding the birds on her balcony.

She was a regular user of the learning activities offered by the ACE charity at Brixham College and could often be seen travelling to class on her electric wheelchair. She enjoyed the varied topics of the Thursday Group, dressing up for theme days, the textile class and gardening.

Anna was a valued member of ACE and she is greatly missed.

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Posted by on in In Loving Memory of

Brian Motley (aged 74) passed peacefully away on Tuesday 29th April 2008 after a short illness in hospital.

Brian was a familiar figure around Brixham for the past two decades. He lived at St Kilda’s and attended Adult Education classes at Brixham College and was a member of ACE (Access to Community Education). He would be seen each day tapping his way down town with a ‘hand rolled cigarette’ in his mouth. He would stop to chat to anyone he knew and for many years he helped on the tripper boats at the harbour.

Brian was a real character who excelled in the ACE pottery class making whimsical birds which he sold to supplement his pocket money. Brian MotleyHe would persuade people to buy them to provide more tobacco. Principal Chris Turner bought one of his swans for £10 and many commented that his work was good enough to be exhibited in high class art galleries. Indeed Brian along with all ACE members had his pottery mask and pots recently on show at the ACE 20th Century Art exhibition at Brixham College last term.

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