Monday 29th January 2018
 Mid Sussex Scouts –                                                              The original Kitchen


                                                              Holly Watson and Leanne Penfold

We were delighted to welcome Holly Watson and Leanne Penfold as our speakers to give an account of the 2017 trip to Mubende in Uganda. Holly is a Deputy District Commissioner and Leanne is a Team Leader.

For 18 months a group of 33 scouts aged 14 to 21 years and 9 leaders fundraised for the three and a half week trip in August 2017. The project was to help build a kitchen for a school of 200 children aged from two to thirteen years. The anticipated cost of the build was £7,500. As it turned out the amount raised was £11,000. A magnificent effort.

In addition, each person had to raise £2,200 to cover travel costs and expenses during the three and a half weeks.

There were tears in the eyes of many of the group when they arrived at the school and saw the extremely poor conditions endured by the children and the teachers Teaching in Uganda is one of the most poorly paid professions.

The school caters for more than 200 children and its only kitchen was a half-built shack made with eight poles and sheet iron on top, all open to the elements as shown in the picture (above). There were no preparation surfaces and one cook spent all day there, cooking the children’s one meal of the day. This was to be replaced with a brick-built building with a corrugated roof.

All of the children wear school uniform and some can walk as much as four hours from home to the school. If their school uniform is dirty they are sent home again!

Local builders had already dug a deep bore hole to provide clean water before the group arrived so the school now has considerably enhanced facilities. Plans are already in hand to return to Mubende to put a roof on a new classroom which has been built to roof height before money ran out. Fundraising for the £2,500 needed is under way.

The trip was not ‘all work and no play’, however. The building project was for 10 days leaving time for the team to enjoy a safari, white water rafting, chimp trekking and other activities.

Holly and Leanne were warmly thanked for their visit and for the entertaining and informative talk.

UPDATE 29th January 2018
In it’s short 3 year history, local charity Know Dementia, has managed to open a large number of Drop In cafes in East and West Sussex for those affected by Dementia.  Their approach to facing up to Dementia is encouraging Dementia sufferers and their family and friends to remain part of their community.  The charity has big plans for the future, one of which is to build a specialised Dementia centre in Sussex.  The Rotary Club of the Sussex Vale has been supporting the charity by fundraising and attending the opening of new Cafes.
Photo Below shows:  Rotary President Peter Wills presenting another cheque to Know Dementia Trustee, Alex Morrison-Cowan at their offices in Henfield.
Alex Morrison-Cowan Know Dementia Monday 8th January 2018

We were delighted to welcome Alex back to give us an update on the current and future activities. (See also bottom of this page – entry dated 6/3/17)

Know Dementia was registered with the Charities Commission in 2013 to tackle the issues facing dementia sufferers and carers trying to cope with daily life. They initiated the ‘Golden Ticket’ project in East Sussex which aims to bring together specialist services to handle the situation when someone has just been diagnosed with dementia

Know Dementia provides facilities to encourage sufferers and carers to get out in a sympathetic environment. They provide drop-in centres, choirs and cafes to create an environment where they can all join in. The first café started in 2013 and there are now seven in East Sussex and a similar number in West Sussex. The recent new one in Haywards Heath is about to be joined by a second.

800,000 people in the UK are affected by dementia. Recent investigations by the NHS suggest that sufferers who are involved in the services like those provided by Know Dementia experience a 25% reduction in the need for medication. Clearly this is beneficial not only to the sufferer but also to the NHS.

A recent initiative is the involvement of Sussex GPs which gives incentives for GPs to be trained to recognise early onset of dementia and refer patients to the relevant help. The Brighton and Sussex Medical School and the University of Surrey in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society are providing training funded by Health Education Kent, Surrey and Sussex

Know Dementia has grown from 2 employees to 7, currently, and are looking to recruit a new Chief Exec by 1st May together with 2 Area Co-ordinators, one for East Sussex and one for West Sussex.

An exciting new ambition is the possibility of building specialised care homes which will reduce care cost while engaging residents in varied activities to stimulate and vary their lives. How often is the general perception of residents sitting aimlessly all day with nothing to occupy them. Also, with the weekly cost of residency being around £1,500 it is amazing that cruise ships can offer full board, laundry, etc for less than £1.000. A study is about to be undertaken of a project in USA ( ) which revolutionises the design and administration of care homes to determine if their approach would be applicable to the UK.

Alex was warmly thanked for his talk and was promised continued support from the club. He agreed to return later in the year to provide a progress report.


6th November Paul Dixon Chiropodist/Podiatrist

How well do you know your feet?

Our speaker on Monday was Paul Dixon the resident Podiatrist at Hassocks Age Concern. Paul gave us a new aspect on footcare with a very illuminating talk on the ways in which our feet can affect our wellbeing. With 26 bones, the foot is one of the most complicated parts of the body.

Paul emphasised the need to monitor our feet throughout our life to check for irregularities and potential problems. This is especially important for people with diabetes (type 1 or 2) as poor blood circulation will potentially affect the feet as these are furthest from the heart.

Paul fielded several questions and was warmly thanked for his talk.



Dr David Bloomfield MBBS MRCP FRCR – 21st August 2017

The Rotary Club of the Sussex Vale received an interesting talk from the Head of Oncology at the Brighton & Sussex University Hospital, Dr David Bloomfield MBBS MRCP FRCR.

Encouraging a range of questions from the audience, Dr Bloomfield, was able to make the subject of Cancer both interesting and informative. His talk ensured that members and guests came away with a far greater knowledge of how Cancer is diagnosed and treated in Sussex.

Several questions were related to ‘why does cancer occur?’

Age is a big factor with people over 70 being 100 times more likely to have cancer than those aged 20. Each cell in the body reproduces itself many times exactly but occasionally errors creep in. There are more than 200 recognised types of cancer with lung cancer ( predominantly caused by smoking ) being the most common. Breast and prostate cancer are both widely found. Currently 1 in 3 people will get get cancer and this is rapidly nearing 1 in 2.

How close are we to stopping cancer?

The simple answer is ‘we won’t’ – but we will reduce the impact of many cancers by earlier diagnosis and more effective treatments. Breast cancer deaths are reducing even though diagnosed cases are going up. Proton therapy for childhood cancers is improving with more units coming on stream in the UK.

What is the effect of research?

Many targeted research projects are in hand including two major projects by the Sussex Cancer Fund. Research seeks to improve early diagnosis and maximise new developments in tackling cancer in it’s early stages.

Costs are rising steadily and there is a relentless increase in demand. There are not enough staff to cope with the load and staff levels would need to double by 2022 to keep pace. This will not happen. There will be a ‘Brexit impact’. 25% of oncologists ar from abroad, especially the EU. Training courses are still attracting students but there are not enough courses to fulfil future needs.

Dr Bloomfield was also able to promote the work of the Sussex Cancer Fund, of which he is the Deputy Chair, and encouraged Rotary to continue their support of this local charity.


26th June 2017 Sir Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird K3 A talk by Karl Foulkes-Halbard   –


A great evening for ‘petrolheads’. The owner of the legendary Bluebird K3, Karl Foulkes-Halbard, has spent 22 years on the restoration project at Filching Manor Motor Museum in Polegate, East Sussex. We were very fortunate to welcome Karl and Roy Bills as our guests and to hear Karl’s captivating account of the life of the record-breaking powerboat.

In 1935, Sir Malcolm Campbell broke the land speed record at over 300mph in a car powered by a Rolls Royce R-type aero engine and determined that he would recover the water speed record from the US. He commissioned Fred Cooper to design a hydroplane, the Bluebird K3, and Saunders Roe built the 23ft long craft in the Isle of Wight. It was largely made of mahogany, ply-wood with aluminium panels covering some of the structure.

Sir Malcolm took the Rolls Royce engine from the car and had it built into the powerboat.

In 1937 the first trials took place on Loch Lomond. However, the waters were too choppy for the very high speeds (over 124mph) that were required to recapture the record so Bluebird K3 was taken to Lake Maggiore, Switzerland. Several problems were identified during the high speed trials and various modifications had to be made locally.

In September the modified powerboat recorded 126mph on it’s first run. The record had been broken. The following day it was broken again with a run of 129mph. In 1938 Sir Malcolm decided to go back with Bluebird K3 with a redesigned tail and a modified exhaust system. The record was broken again with a run of 130.9mph, the first time a speed greater than 130mph had ever been recorded.

The mechanicals of K3 were then removed to be used in the yet-to-be-built Bluebird K4 and the hull was sold. In the 50’s Lord Bolton acquired the rotting hull and carried out some limited restoration, including recovering the original engine. In 1974 it was sold to First Leisure (Thorpe Park) and used as a display.

In 1988, Karl’s father bought it and moved it to the museum in Polegate. In 1990 Karl decided to embark on the ambitious restoration project to return Bluebird K3 to its original glory.

After a remarkable restoration project the 130mph craft, driven into the history books by Sir Malcolm Campbell, has been faithfully rebuilt. It took two decades of painstaking work by Karl and a team of volunteers in their spare time in a converted chicken shed before the iconic Bluebird K3 powerboat that smashed the world speed record in 1937 was ready to take to the water again. This time it was powered by a 27 litre Merlin engine as the original would have been far too costly to restore and to run.

On 20th Sept 2011 flotation tests were carried out on Bewl Reservoir followed by tests on all of the mechanicals. By March 2012 it was ready for power runs but a drought had depleted the water in the reservoir. Finally, on 26th June the first power runs took place starting with slow runs and culminating in a run at an average speed of 39mph. The reservoir was too small to attempt any higher speeds.

Karl is hoping to take it back to Lake Maggiore ‘for the hell of it’. He is also hoping to run it on Bewl Reservoir in September to mark the 70th anniversary of Sir Malcolm’s record-breaking run in Bluebird K3. In the meantime it is proudly on display at the museum together with the original Rolls Royce aero engine.

A remarkable conclusion to a remarkable restoration project.


15th May 2017               Mark Wignall – Head Teacher, Downlands Community School

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We were delighted to welcome Mark Wignall as our guest and to receive an update about the activities and aims of Downlands Community School. This visit followed on from a meeting with Mark a few weeks ago to discuss ways in which we could increase our involvement.

Sussex Vale has had contact with Downlands over the years through the Rotary Young Chef, Rotary Youth Speaks and the Rotary Technology Tournament. Further involvement in these and Young Writer, Young Musician and Young Photographer were discussed.

Mark gave an impassioned account of the current status of the school and his hopes and aspirations for the future. Downlands is blessed with it’s location bordering open fields and overlooking the downs. It was built in 1960 and has grown steadily to the current size incorporating a leisure centre run by Freedom Leisure.

The school has 1200 pupils at present and the latest Ofsted report places it among the best schools in the country. Expansion is currently under way due to the increased house building in the area and a new teaching block is under construction. This is due to open in September 2017 and while building work carries on all efforts are being made to minimise the impact of the noise.

A new dance studio is also being built and Mark is keen to expand the offerings in IT, music, creative arts and sport. The dedication and enthusiasm that he portrays suggests that these ambitions will certainly be achieved.

The main focus continues to be to ensure that all pupils have the opportunity to attain the highest possible standards in line with the school’s ‘mission statement’. Support workers are used to help realise this. The leadership team constantly works towards identifying the essential leadership ethos and producing a ‘vision for Downlands’.

Mark concluded that it is an exciting time for Downlands with lots of change taking place to the benefit of all concerned.

During questions Mark confirmed that he is keen for pupils to take part in the various Rotary youth initiatives but that relevant teaching staff are not always available. There are certainly opportunities for Sussex Vale to be involved with the school.



8th May 2017                                       Rotary Global Scholar

Yoshi Saito          SAM_0889  SAM_0896



David Lowe from the Rotary Club of Storrington introduced Yoshi, a Rotary Global Scholar sponsored by Rotary District 2620, Japan. Yoshi is 29 years old and is studying for a Masters degree at the Institute of Development Studies in Governance and Development at Sussex University.


This covers:

How to stop conflict

How to stop corruption

How to rebuild the state

How to achieve stable government system in South Sudan


Two weeks after his arrival in Brighton he went down with malaria contracted while he was in Ethiopia.

Yoshi comes from a rural town, Shizuoka, near Tokyo and has a Batchelors degree in International Relations from the Kobi University. After three years working for a general trading and investment company in Tokyo he went to the refugee camps in Gambella, Ethiopia home to some 200,000 refugees from the fighting in South Sudan.

After Sudan split into two states in 2011 rebel factions have been fighting the government in South Sudan allegedly with the support of North Sudan. Refugees have fled over the border into Ethiopia and are housed in six camps in Gambella. Due to cultural and religious differences with the local population they are virtual prisoners in the camps.

Yoshi has been working in the Gambella camps under the auspices of the UN as a Project Manager with his team focusing on water and sanitation. When he graduates, he wants to go back to South Sudan to continue his work with refugees and to try to improve their conditions.

Yoshi comes across as a very modest and likeable young man who is dedicating his life to the help of others. He is a great advertisement for the Rotary Global Scholar scheme.



27th March 2017                        Walking Around Britain

 Colin Snook Author and Fundraiser

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 Colin delivered a very energetic talk focusing on highlights of his mammoth walk around Britain in 2008. His talk was peppered with facts, figures and many humorous anecdotes about the places he saw and the people he met on his journey. Most of his overnight stops were in people’s homes, either planned or unplanned, and the hospitality he received was overwhelming.

His talk was packed with favourite memories and extracts from his book, ‘Oh, Get on With It’ and it was clear that he could have gone on for hours. Indeed, this was Colin’s second visit as his first talk was so well received.

Colin, who retired as officer in charge at Bognor fire station and now lives in Shoreham, was inspired by meeting the tragic young woman to undertake a monumental 
347-day, 4,000-mile walk around the coastline of Britain to raise money for the charity CLIMB, Children Living with Inherited Metabolic Disorders.

Colin commented that there are at least 715 types of these dreadful illnesses, the most widely known one being Cystic Fibrosis. They all affect young people in different ways with many never reaching the age of 20.

His epic journey at the age of 72 raised £30,000; and he boosted the fundraising still further with the proceeds of his book describing his great adventure.

Colin was warmly thanked for his lively and entertaining talk.




6th March 2017              Know Dementia

Speakers – Alex Morrison-Cowan and Gail Murray


Alex started by outlining what dementia is. Dementia can affect people of any age although the majority of sufferers are elderly. It is caused by brain cells dying so that connections between brain cells are fractured and links become jumbled and mixed up.

Currently 128 types of dementia have been identified. Alzheimer’s is the most common with 60% of all dementia cases. There is no cure although two drugs are available which will slow it down.

Dementia is very difficult to diagnose as memory loss can be caused by a large number of diseases or temporary conditions. 820,000 people (1 in 14) have dementia. This is expected to rise to one million by 2020 and two million by 2030. Finding a way to cope in the community is urgent and essential.

Alex went on to outline the aims and characteristics of his charity, Know Dementia. Experience of trying to cope with the red tape and unhelpful contacts while his father-in-law suffered with dementia convinced Alex that a different approach to conventional NHS/hospice services was required. Know Dementia was set up six years ago.

Dementia sufferers too easily become socially isolated without help. Their carers also become socially isolated and the downward spiral has no end without some form of intervention.

Know Dementia provides facilities to encourage sufferers and carers to get out in a sympathetic environment. They provide drop-in centres, choirs and cafes to create an environment where they can all join in. They are currently involved in a ‘Golden Ticket’ project in East Sussex which aims to bring together specialist services to handle the situation when someone has just been diagnosed with dementia.

They have plans to expand dementia friendly training and corporate partnerships so as to increase the resource of facilities to care for dementia sufferers in the community.

The Charity ‘Know Dementia’ are based in Henfield, and Gail Murray can be contacted on 01273 494300