READING RETIREMENT CENTRE    (registered charity No. 281830)


(Friends in retirement taking relaxation, exercise and education)

Firtree Newsletter                 November 2021                     Issue 512

Well, we did it!! On the 19th October, we had our first meeting together for nearly two years. We had that meeting in Grange United Reformed Church. We still do not know if we can return to the Chapel, so we expect that the Grange will be our Tuesday morning meeting place for the rest of the year. Importantly we had a well-attended gathering, which enabled us to act within our constitution. For those of us who have been holding things together it was a most gratifying turnout and good to see so many familiar faces back again – and a few new faces too. The meeting began with a minute’s silence to remember those who were no longer with us. We are aware of nine recent members who have died since March 2020.

The main business was to agree the accounts for the last year and we did this. As we have not been able to meet, we have not collected membership fees for either 2020-21 or 2021-22, and we have met all costs from our existing funds. Obviously, we will need start collecting subscriptions fairly soon, but are still considering exactly how and when we will do this. We expressed our thanks to Monica for her willingness to work as our treasurer for another year and for all she has done. We are very blessed to have her skilled and dedicated work. Our next year’s accounts will show that we have received two very generous bequests. We need to give serious thought as to how we make best use of this money.

As we looked at what we have been able to do, the committee members have tried to ensure we made some contact with members. Most of this has been by the use of Zoom for both our Tuesday talks and for our Movement to Music group. This was never going to be entirely satisfactory as so many of our members were unable to access Zoom. More successful has been the recent return of the Garden Circle outings once the relaxation of Covid rules made these visits possible.

The bowls group were able to meet during the summer and it is now possible for them to meet at Rivermead Leisure Complex on Friday mornings for the indoor season. If you are interested, please give me a call. We meet at 10.30 at Rivermead. I am not sure what the cost will be, but probably £4 or £5 a session. Well worth it just for the laugh!

We are still looking for a place where The Songsters can get together again on Wednesdays. The enthusiasm for outings and holidays seems to have waned, but this could simply be the anxiety that Covid has left behind, especially for the older generation. Hopefully, this will change as the weather warms up.

I have, sadly, stepped down as your Chairman but I will still be producing this newsletter. The meeting unanimously agreed to Mark Bowman being Chairman. As I stepped down, I took the opportunity to say how we have worked well as a team.  As I am now well in my eighties, my energy is behind me and it is time for me to be the grouchy old man sitting in the corner, though I hope not to be so. If I am, I will probably express it through the newsletter!

So that is where we are. We will be meeting at Grange Church until the end of 2021. As it is difficult to find speakers, we plan to meet socially every other week with card and board games (no money changing hands).

On 2nd November, I will be leading a talk on Law and Disorder, and 9th November will be another social gathering.

On 16th November, we shall have a talk from Avis Furness about Beel House (Little Chalfont), and 23rd November will again be a time to just meet and relax.

On 30th November, our old friend Bert Randall will be playing his accordion for us.

Gloria is hoping to arrange an outing to Winchester Christmas Market on Monday 22nd November, but she does need to know very soon whether there will be enough to cover the costs of a coach.

We hope to hold ‘Party Pieces’ on the 7th December, but I will need to know if we have enough participants by the 23rd November. We had a very good one last year by Zoom, so hopefully you will rise to the occasion again. Our final meeting of the year will be on the 14th December, when we will be holding our annual Christmas service. I have heard from our good friend Rev. David Jenkins that he will be able to lead us again. We are very grateful to him, as I know how busy he is otherwise.

Warning     Please wear a mask for the time being and until the government gives us a clear indication that it will be safe not to do so. The Church has been laid out to allow for safe distancing. I know we have all been jabbed but we still need to be sensible.

Be sensible and be careful as we come to this time of the year with its changeable weather, infant witches and unexpected bangs – enjoy the fun of it. Before I write the next newsletter, we will have had time to reflect on Remembrance Day. Many of us, of course, are old enough to have childhood memories of it. Janet recalls walking through the bricks and broken glass of the block of flats that had been next door. With the recent horror of Covid we all may have sad memories at this time.

As I said, please keep safe and stay sensible.

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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