This meeting heralded the start of our second year with some new faces and places.
Jean Minter was welcomed into her new role as President and she in turn introduced her new committee to those present being myself as (Immediate Past President), Maureen Girard (Vice President), Barbara Yarrow (Secretary), Patsy Currie (Treasurer) and Ann Salmon (Social Secretary ). Sadly Marie Titchener (Programme Secretary) was unable to attend this first, meeting.
After the usual notices and an excellent lunch – courtesy of Chef Jamie at The Roundabout Hotel – we settled down to the main business of the day to listen to our speaker Mark Perry Nash talking about a subject, close to our female hearts, “The Role of Women in British History”.
Mark proved to be a most engaging speaker who had extensive knowledge of his subject and kept us mentally alert throughout – no noddings off. Indeed when Jean asked for questions, at the end, there were none as we were all still mentally devouring his last few sentences.
It takes a brave man to address a group of retired professional and business ladies with such an explosive Talk Title and we all appreciated Mark’s insight into women’s roles throughout time. As he said, from the beginnings of recorded history, women have influenced events in the history of Britain to an amazing degree. Until recently however history tended to be recorded by men who, perhaps understandably, saw events through male eyes and from a masculine perspective.
An example would be Queen Boudicca who led her famous rebellion against Roman rule in AD61. Less well known was her contemporary, Queen Cartimandua of the warlike Brigantes tribe whose territory lay outside that, as yet occupied by Rome, and who refused to support her sister Queen.
Had she done so the Romans would have been massively outnumbered and on two sides! Roman rule in Britain might well have ended almost before it had begun – due to a woman!
Remember Matilda, daughter of King Henry 1, who died in 1135 with no male heir. Refusing to step demurely aside in favour of her cousin Stephan, as would have been expected in the male dominated Anglo-Norman world, fought instead an 18 year war; which resulted in her son taking the throne in 1154 as the first Platagenet King – a dynasty that would rule England for 400 years – founded by a determined woman who insisted on her birth right.
We can go on to mention Eleanor of Aquitaine married to Henry 11 and reflect on Margaret Beaufort, mother to Henry V11 – without Margaret there would have been no Henry V111, Elizabeth 1 or even Bloody Mary!
We all appreciate our own dedicated Queen Elizabeth 11 and know that Britain has seen one outstanding female Prime Minister - maybe Hilary Clinton will be back soon in The White House. Women will continue to move into ever greater positions of authority and responsibility and the world will certainly be a better place for it. From the courage of Boudicca to the quieter courage of so many women today who must juggle home, family and child care often in conjunction with responsible positions in business and society – whoever coined the phrase, “The Weaker Sex” quite simply didn’t know what he was talking about.
As Mark cheekily said, of his visit to Fryern Ladies’ Probus, he can’t do better than to echo Douglas Fairbanks who said, “So many beautiful women and so little time” and added that we were accomplished, intelligent, well-travelled and wonderful conversationalists – he’s got the women’s vote well tied up!
We look forward to our next meeting on May 7th which will feature Sarah Green on “Dead Men Do Tell Tales”.
Report by Russ Fry. Picture by Simon Green - General Manager of The Roundabout Hotel.