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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 The Brixham Ace Website

The Torbay Poetry Festival 17 started on Thursday 19th October 2017 at ACE with William Oxley and readings by Brenda Hutchings and Roy Cameron.

Brenda read: My mum’s wartime reminiscences of silk stockings, Glen Miller and her fight pilot who never came back.

Her father, a war time sailor, escaped the horrors by making kites and flying them from his ship.

About 2 boys who went to play in the rough waves and one didn’t come back!

Superstition. Don’t change the bed sheets on a Friday.

Not guilty and Beans means fines.

Big hand bags

Salmon fishing on the river Dart

Roy read: Day and Night dreams

A pint of Guinness in Birmingham railway station

Devonian limericks

Ladies behind the bar

The dread of Poetry Themes

Our Graham Young, of ACE, recited a poem without notes

ACE members have enjoyed these privileged recitals, from such excellent poets, since 2002.
We love the various styles and subjects and we are praised for being such a good audience.

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Chris previously spoke to the ACE group about his own skydiving and Base-jumping adventures.

This was a follow-up talk about the trauma he experienced after his wife Ruth had a skydiving accident on their holiday in Spain.

On the day of her accident, Ruth was an experienced skydiver and they were jumping together, with Chris leading.

When he landed and looked up he expected to see Ruth landing, but instead, he saw a crowd of people gathering around someone, on the ground, a short distance away. He rushed over and saw it was Ruth. She was unconscious and not breathing, but she had a pulse. Chris, with help, organised for her to be supported as she was rolled from her side onto her back, where he could start helping her to breath.

An ambulance arrived, but the Spanish paramedics could not speak any English and no one was able to translate for him. They gave him her wedding ring in a surgical glove. What did that mean? She was in serious danger.

Ruth was airlifted to a hospital, one and a half hours drive away, where she gained consciousness and started breathing for herself.

Chris followed and spoke to Ruth, but she had lost all her memory and she kept repeating the same question over and over.

He couldn’t stay with her like that and the doctors couldn’t explain her condition to him, so he had to return to his hotel room alone, frightened, depressed and unclear above Ruth’s future.
All he could do was pray.

He described this trauma with great skill and emotion. Ruth was flown home and he returned their hire car and flew home himself.
Ruth has now recovered, after a long period of rehabilitation, and returned to work. She continued skydiving for a short time, but she decided to give it up as it was clearly making Chris very anxious.

Chris is an excellent speaker. He spoke without notes and full of feeling and companion that brought tears to our eyes.

Tagged in: Skydiving accidents
Hits: 62

Pauline started her career at Paignton Zoo (PZ) selling tickets for teddy bears in the summer season of 1978.

In 1983, the Zoo employed their first marketing manager and Pauline became key to its promotion and development. She liaised with hotels, holiday camps, and annual shows and she set up a discount ticket scheme. She organised Easter Egg Hunts from 1991 and Christmas events from 1995 until her retirement in 2002.

In 1997, the first Zoo Keeper’s documentary was filmed and she assisted the film crew. These documentaries were very popular when screened in 1998 and 1999.

In 1999, the Heads of Departments all went to the USA for a week and the director, Peter Stevens, and Pauline took it in turns to run the Zoo. “Me in charge of a Zoo!

”Pauline said, “I had a wonderful time. I learned a lot and I met many wonderful people including most of the producers of the documentaries of animal programmes like David Attenborough and Chris Packham”.

The attached photographs are The Paignton Zoo’s first carnival float, The Zoo keepers’ TV series and Devika, a hand reared, Asiatic lion cub.

Pauline spent a long time preparing to perfect her talk. She included a lot of information, many fascinating pictures and lots of humour. We enjoyed listening and watching and so did Pauline as she conquered her nerves.

Hits: 156

Posted by on in The Thursday Ace Group

In early September, Simon Akeroyl, Head Gardener at Colleton Fishacre and Green Way and Ali Marshal, Head Gardener at Torre Abby judged the ACE garden.

We felt really privileged to be judged by such experts.

They looked at aspects of our large garden that presently has leeks, cauliflowers, Runner Beans and French Beans, tomatoes, roses, summer flowers, Holly Hocks, lavender, grapes, apple and pear trees and numerous pot plants.

We enjoyed their company and the gardening tips that they shared.

We will have to await the Presentation Evening, on 19 September, to see if we have been successful.

Hits: 162

Sky Divers jump from a high-altitude aeroplane, where they first free fall before ejecting their parachute. There appears to be ample time to complete each manoeuvre and it looks very enjoyable and safe.

BASE jumping, however, is performed from relatively low points like cliff tops or antennae towers. Time is short and it too looks exciting but there is no time for any error, as the records show.

Chris emphasised that the parachutes must be packed precisely so they eject correctly. Each side of the BASE parachute must be packed identically so the parachute ejects without any sideways deviation, which could cause the diver to veer into the cliff wall or to land badly.

Chris spoke of jumping from the edge of a Norwegian Fjord at 3050 feet and the cliff top at Beachy Head at 270 feet. The jumps lasted between 10 and 2½ seconds.

His talk was outstanding with gripping precision and pictures. He realises both sports are dangerous, but they have a unique exhilaration.

I have attached photographs of Chris talking to us, Chris with his parachute and 2 internet examples of BASE jumping from an antennae tower and a ravine in Idaho. 


Hits: 158

Posted by on in The Brixham Ace Website

We had a beautiful, sunny morning for our annual BBQ with very little wind. It was so warm that we struggled for space in the shade. We shared the day with members of our local Cheshire Home and Theresa Chapman, the mother of the late Robin Chapman. We fondly remember Robin as a drummer and a lover of wrestling. 

Maggi, as always bought and cooked the BBQ food and Charlie, Chrissy’s partner, sliced the onions. Our priceless volunteers brought in pasta and rice dishes with bowls of vegetables and fruit salad.

After this delicious lunch, the ACE chair, Robert Boyd had the bitter/sweet task of saying a huge thank you and sad farewell to Sam Watson as she takes up a new teaching post closer to home. Sam has been the tutor for the Write Way group for 13 years. Robert, members of the class and volunteers thanked her for her enthusiastic teaching, which encouraged so much hilarity and class participation. She always had an encouraging smile and wonderful arm ology that brought life and energy to her creative writing and poetry classes.

The class discussed the written work of many authors and wrote their own pieces during the lesson that they read out. They were tasked with weekly homework. They jointly wrote plays that they performed in theatrical costumes. ACE members loved these plays and their readings and we wished we had had a Sam Watson to teach us.

Class members presented Sam with her leaving presents and they all said how much they had enjoyed Sam’s classes and how she had guided them to become creative writers; changing their lives.
Many tears of joy were shed that day.

Hits: 179

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




Hits: 450

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.

Hits: 548


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. 

Hits: 543

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.


Hits: 530

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.

Hits: 544

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. 

Hits: 532

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.

Hits: 607

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.

Hits: 513

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.


Hits: 582

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.

Hits: 843

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.

Hits: 635

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. 

Hits: 515

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.

Hits: 584