READING RETIREMENT CENTRE    (registered charity No. 281830)


(Friends in retirement taking relaxation, exercise and education)

Midsummer edition             Firtree Newsletter                            Issue 497

Welcome again, and welcome to Reading as the shops open unless you are still being sheltered. Have you been on a demonstration or a rave or down to the sea side? No! Neither have I and I am getting a little fed up with not being able to do so because I am old. I might have gone on the demonstrations as the right of all human beings to be treated justly has always been high on my list.

My thinking was greatly influenced by being in the Scouts where every person was welcome and treated equally. I can see a logic in not having slave owners being remembered but Baden Powell left a wonderful legacy behind and the fact that he lived in a time when there was injustice between those in power and the rest is no reason to try to destroy his memorial. There is a real danger that the extremists will destroy their own ambition by stupidity. Intolerance is much more dangerous and is itself a form of discrimination.


I have always been sad that Firtree does not seem to attract people of different race apart from a few. The church I attend has some twenty different nationalities and we rejoice in the rich variety of experience.

But Reading is open again and the rush is on. We are asked to visit safely, to observe social distancing and to respect the new pedestrian one-way system. The bus service now requires you to wear a face covering, this of course is to prevent you passing on your germs. The things that protect you are the social distancing, the washing of your hands and generally being sensible. There is a new volunteer group in town that is designed to help anyone who might be struggling so move at your own speed and be as normal as possible.

What about Firtree? Well we are still in limbo. Using the Chapel is dependent not only on the constraints of social distancing, but on permission from the Church authorities being granted. That, and whether deep cleaning is going to be needed every time we meet, will be part of the criteria for meeting again, but there is the possibility that we can meet through the gardening group at one of the garden centres. The question here would be safe transport but if we can sort that out, we may arrange that. Also, this time challenges us to think of innovative ways that we might meet such as a ramble. Over to you for some bright ideas.

If you are one of those who get a copy of this newsletter by pigeon post please let us know whether you have an email so that it will be easier to keep you in contact.

We are now all on a contact list so don’t be surprised to get a call to see how you are and if we can help in any way. It is wonderful the way in which so many people have volunteered to help. I only hope that this caring side of the nation continues after the pandemic.

The opposite of that has been sadly obvious with the piles of rubbish left behind by those who invaded the beaches and the rave with no regard for social distancing.

I was saddened to hear how so many more people were in need of the food bank. Wasn’t it good though how a 22 year old footballer shamed the government in to providing school dinners during the holiday?  Did they really think that children did not need food in the holidays!

Sadly, I have heard just this week of two of our previous members who did a great deal for Firtree when they were active, both of them now in long term care. Bob Court who was membership secretary for many years died this morning (17/6), after a long illness. I am sure we will all wish Beryl well. His funeral will be in Bere Regis where his wife is buried. The other death is that of Pat Wickens. Pat retired to Shilling Court at the same time as David Wyard. She too has been in care for some time but in her time with us she organised several of our holidays. I have been in contact with her family to say she was well remembered. Also, today we have heard of the death of Dame Vera Lynn; anyone of my age will remember the great  affection she was held in by so many during the war.

Although we have not been able to hold our AGM, some of our changes have been made as Olive had said she wanted to step down from her welfare role. Step down is not quite the word as she has agreed to replace Bridget as President. Our thanks are very sincere, not only to Olive for all she has done but also to Bridget for serving as President for four years. Val Beckingham has agreed to do the welfare job and I know she has already been busy. Our thanks also to Christine Cook for her time as a committee member. Mark and I are acting as co-Chairmen so Firtree is still alive and well, just having a bit of isolation like everyone else. Monica remains Treasurer and Karen as Secretary and Liz as Membership Secretary.

Just one more bit of news as Janet and I celebrate our diamond wedding next week (25), ‘and it don’t seem a day too much’. In this era of not marrying and too many break-ups it is good to know that there are more couples celebrating Golden and Diamond weddings than ever before. I know how blessed we are to still have each other. The cake will come later.

Age is just a number. It is totally irrelevant unless you happen to be a bottle of wine. (Joan Collins)

If you want to know more about  Firtree, contact

Colin Ferguson ( – 0118 9482557,

Mark Bowman – 0118 9677130  or Liz Prior on 0118 942 2958

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