November Family Finances Group – ad hoc Zoom Session


After the unfortunate difficulties we faced at the virtual FFG meeting last Thursday, the good news is that David Bott will now make his presentation at an ad hoc FFG meeting commencing at 10.00am on Wednesday 25 November. The details of the invitation to the meeting are as follows:

Topic: Probus 83 FFG meeting – David Bott – thoughts on investing
Time: Nov 25, 2020 from 09:45 AM for a 10.00 AM London Start

All Probus ’83 and FFG members welcome as usual. Link details are as per Mike’s email this morning (Tuesday 24th Nov).

November Family Finances Group Virtual Meeting


John Coleman writes:

Dear all,

Despite the continued efforts of Covid-19 and the Government to curtail our activities, I’m pleased to let you know that the Family Finances Group is carrying on with its virtual meetings at 10.00am next Thursday, 19 November. The invitation to this Zoom meeting, including the log-in details, will be sent to you on Tuesday 17 November. Since our last meeting with Joe Davies of Investec in October, the uncertainty regarding the next President of the USA has been removed, there is a glimmer of hope on the Covid-19 vaccine front and, perhaps, by the time of our meeting next week, we may have a clearer understanding of the direction of the Brexit negotiations. (But don’t hold your breath!)

At our meeting next week, our own David Bott will talk about his investment journey and describe various options for investing savings with and without the assistance of an IFA (Independent Investment Advisor). As some of us have either moved on from IFA’s already, or are perhaps at least thinking about it, this will be a good opportunity to hear the personal experience and views of someone who has “been there and done that” – without hearing the potentially biased views of someone who may be trying to sell a product or service.

After David’s talk (and subsequent discussion), if time permits, I will talk about “Passwords” and demonstrate various simple strategies that can be used to create and strengthen them.

As this will be the last FFG Meeting of this “unprecedented” year, please make a note of it in your diary and, hopefully, you will be able to join us next week.

On behalf of the FFG Steering Group, keep safe and sane,


Probus ’83 November Zoom Meeting

Twenty plus Probus ’83 members participated in a Zoom session on the morning of Thursday 5th November. After chat amongst ourselves and some bits of business we settled to listen to a talk by David Skillen (speaking to us from sunny Belper). David is no stranger, having previously given us a much enjoyed lunchtime talk on Zeppelins in happier days before the dreaded covid-19. This time we were definitely not disappointed.

David’s subject this time was: Five Years in 50 mins. A synopsis of the American Civil War.

Tensions arose between the (mainly) northern states, led by the Republican President Abraham Lincoln from 1860, which wished to abolish slavery and seven southern states with slave dependent cotton based economies. We were led through: the building tensions, the flash points which ignited hostilities in 1861, major personalities and military commanders, major engagements and incidents and overall strategies, tactics, weaponry used and final Confederate surrender in 1865.

David, having travelled extensively around the (now beautifully preserved and presented) Civil War sites illustrated each with his own pictures and explanations, informed by having actually walked the ground (and waded through at least one river). We were even treated to etiquette tips: “Virginia” not “Merrimack” and why, on arrival in Atlanta, one should never whistle “Marching through Georgia”.

The American Civil War was described as the “first modern war”. Advances in weaponry greatly increased the casualty numbers. In particular the old smooth bore musket was highly inaccurate – hard to hit the side of a building at 70 yards. But the new rifles could hit an individual at 200 yards range. That made the old infantry, shoulders abreast, advance exceedingly dangerous. Cannon deployed against advancing infantry, instead of firing solid balls, could now use canister – catering baked bean size cases filled with shot, acting as enormous shotguns, with devastating effect. Both sides used steam powered armoured warships in action for the first time and trenches were dug for protection. A Count Zeppelin, while acting as an official observer for the Union army, made his first balloon ascent, which gave him ideas…

The outcome was never a foregone conclusion. Initially the Confederate south got the better of it, but both sides steadily learnt. The 1864 Presidential Election nearly returned a “peace” candidate, which might have resulted in America ending up as two separate countries, but a timely Union victory elected Lincoln and enabled a final Union victory. Lincoln wished to treat the defeated Confederate south gently but his assassination in April 1865 gave power to Union “hawks” whose harsh measures left a long lasting legacy of bitterness.

Finally, David fielded a series of questions from a highly appreciative audience. For those interested in learning more about the American Civil War warmly he recommended the YouTube films by Prof Gary Gallagher.

Probus 83 meeting with external speaker talk – 5th November

A note from our Club Secretary:

Dear fellow Probus members.

In the absence of an AGM next month we have decided to have a talk by David Skillen who gave us the talk on Zeppelins last year. This meeting we have chosen the topic of:  “Five Years in 50 mins. A synopsis of the American Civil War.

You may perhaps consider it topical given the state across the pond a couple of days after their election. We will have to wait and see on that one of course. I do hope that many members will wish to engage with this talk on Zoom.

The talk is timed for 10:30 and it would be nice if members would join early for an informal club catch up and social beforehand. I have a Zoom license so there is no 40 minute time limit.

In the absence of an AGM if anyone has any questions that they would like to raise with our committee please email me and Barry and we will circulate and respond.

I look forward to seeing you there.

All the best


Meeting link details sent to membership by email.

October Family Finances Group Virtual Meeting

John Coleman will send meeting link details by email to Probus ’83 and FFG members, all of whom are welcome to participate. John writes:

Dear All,
After the unexpected cancellation of the virtual FFG meeting in September, we had hoped that our meeting in October would be at Weybourne House.  But subsequent events have precluded this, so the FFG meeting next week will be a virtual meeting hosted by Joe Davies of Investec using the Zoom platform. 
Joe’s presentation, which is entitled “The Investment Outlook and Strategy”, will commence at 10.00am on Thursday 15 October and a link to the meeting will be sent out on Tuesday 13 October.  Given the present poor state of the market and expected further volatility connected with the Brexit negotiations, the American Presidential election, rising unemployment and the uncertain effect of winter on the path of Covid-19, it will be interesting to hear Investec’s views. I just hope that Joe’s crystal ball is a lot clearer than mine!
So please take the opportunity to hear an expert’s view of the investment scene by making a note in your diary to join us for the meeting at 10.00am on 15 October.
On behalf of the FFG Steering Group,
PS:  To whet your appetite for next week’s meeting, the following articles might be of interest to some of you:

Probus ‘83 is still in business!

As a result of the covid-19 pandemic our last luncheon at Weybourne House was on March 5th 2020. There were hopes that some form of an appropriately “social distanced” lunch might have been possible this month (1st October) but the continuation, indeed resurgence, of the pandemic, and safety concerns of our own, dictated otherwise.

But we are still up and running, albeit in a virtual form, thanks to the wonders of Zoom. Details of these virtual meetings, held first Thursday of the month, are sent to members via email. We have explored possible ways forward for our club but have also enjoyed an excellent talk by Steve Palmer and hope to repeat that with further talks from club internal speakers and perhaps external speakers, given sufficient interest.

Steve, our Vice-Chairman and erstwhile bold aviator, took us from his joining the RAF straight from school through to his experiences as a BOAC Boeing 707 Fleet Manager. After flying training he was judged to be an especially bold aviator and was accordingly assigned to a De Havilland Venom squadron, these being the RAF’s then current fighter-bomber type. But, after three years’ service, the politicians decided that the RAF had far too many pilots, landing Steve in BOAC, initially as a radio/navigation officer on Douglas DC7Cs but then as a pilot on jet-prop Britannias and then Boeing 707s. Navigation in his early BOAC days was often by star sightings before gyro based inertial navigation simplified the process. We were treated to insights on the work of an airline pilot and some intriguing background to Royal flights in those early long haul jet days.

It may be some months before “normal service” is resumed but we are determined to keep the club active. In particular our Family Finances Group is holding virtual sessions via Zoom, for which see separate posts.

Keep safe!

A Message from our Chairman

As is the case with all social clubs like ours our normal activities are suspended during the Covid pandemic until further notice.

However members are able to stay in touch via the ever popular Zoom meetings held monthly , hosted by our Club Secretary.

In the meantime we are investigating the ability to have scaled down meetings at Weybourne House , in line with Government guidelines until such times as normality prevails again.

Any non member wishing to join us once we resume may still do so during this period by filling in an application form in readiness for that happy day.

Stay safe.

Virtual Family Finances Group Meeting

Dear fellow Probus 83 members. Happily the FFG is still running, albeit on line. This is the invite from John for any of our members to join the virtual meeting this Thursday (May 21st) morning.

Gentlemen, it seems a very long time since we had our last FFG meeting on “Arranging suitable care” back in February when the world was a saner and safer place. Our next FFG meeting was scheduled for Thursday, 21 May, when John Devine of Charles Stanley was due to speak to us. Fortunately, John has volunteered to give us a “virtual presentation” via the internet instead of the usual face-to-face meeting. So if you wish to hear the views of Charles Stanley following the turbulence and uncertainty in the stock market caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, collapse in the price of crude oil and ongoing clashes between the USA and China, then be ready to join a virtual Meeting at 10.00am on Thursday 21 May.

Would those interested in joining please email John Coleman to let him know so that he has an idea of likely numbers.

Details are given on Mike’s email, sent to all members on Monday (18th) evening.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Regrettably, but in line with the recent Government recommendations, it has been necessary to cancel at least the forthcoming Probus Meetings for April and May.

We will advise when the next meeting is to be held when we are clear to do so. We look forward to seeing you then. In the meantime, stay safe.


We welcomed back Paul Whittle for this month’s talk ROCK STEADY THE GIBRALTAR STORY and what an interesting story it turned out to be. Paul a regular visitor left no stoned unturned to deliver the Rocks History especially the last 300 years which covered the British involvement. For those who have not visited Gibraltar before the first thing you notice is the British feel about the place, Red Pillar Boxes British style Policeman and of course Fish and Chips.!! Pauls’s tour took to us all the main points of interest, with the aid of many photos, and commentary you almost thought you were there. He covered the 30 miles of tunnels, with its interesting gun emplacements, the cable car trip, Botanical Gardens, and the Rock itself together with legendry Apes. A very interesting morning which was enjoyed by all.

One of the hairier inhabitants…

And the famous Rock itself.

Fred J Knopp Speaker Secretary