Entertainment & Sport

Social and Sporting Events Galore

The club 'Sunday Walk & Lunch' events provide a source of income from within the club with which we can support a local charity.  

Theatre, concert and other visits are arranged several times a year and are always very enjoyable.

Sporting activities are enjoyed by club members, particularly on the 'greens' of Golf & Bowls plus engagement in the various sporting activities with other Clubs in the District.  

Robotic surgery arm demonstration

The photograph shows one of the large white figures in the atrium of Broomfield Hosptial. As our Club contributed towards the £1.5 Million cost of the new robotic surgery arm, we were invited to the hospital for a private demonstration.

A large white stylised human figure in a large space in a buildingSeven of us assembled in the atrium in the early evening of Wednesday, 1 May 2019, after the hospital’s routine work had ended for the day. We were met by Charlotte Jeffcoate of the Mid Essex Hospitals Trust, who took us up to Level 3, where the operating theatres are situated. Before we entered the area we all had to don protective coats.

In the operating theatre we were met by a consultant surgeon and one of the senior nurses. The surgeon told us about the equipment and its use and answered our questions. He obviously had a very thorough knowledge of his subject.

The equipment is manufactured in the USA. The description “Robotic surgery arm” may sum up images of a piece of equipment working automatically under the control of software. It might be more accurate to describe it as a remotely-controlled surgery arm. It was originally developed for use in war areas, so surgeons could perform operations on the wounded without entering the danger zone themselves. It has since been adapted for civilian use. The longest distance over which it has been used is that between New York and Singapore. That does impose a slight risk, however, as the length of the connection means there is a very small delay between something happening in the operating theatre and it being displayed on the surgeon’s screen. At Broomfield the surgeon and patient are both in the same operating theatre and the distance between them is about three metres.

The description “Robotic surgery arm” is also inaccurate in that up to four arms can be used at the same time, as well as a camera. For the purpose of the demonstration it was fitted with two arms used for training, both ending in pincers, and a camera. The equipment is used for keyhole surgery. One of the advantages compared with traditional keyhole surgery is that the surgeon can manipulate the camera instead of relying on someone else to do so. Another is that the equipment removes any slight tremor the surgeon may have!

The equipment gives the surgeon very fine control. The robotic surgery arm is placed above the operating table and the surgeon sits at a control console. This contains a display showing the view from the camera. Orders are not transmitted from the control console to the surgery arm unless the surgeon has his or her eyes against the eyepieces.

Once in position, the surgeon places her or his hands in two controls on the console to manipulate the arms. By pressing on a foot pedal the surgeon can move the camera instead.

We all took turns at using the equipment to pick up and move small pieces of plastic. This showed us that the control console can be used by those who wear glasses. It takes many years to train as a surgeon but the robotic surgery arm seemed fairly simple to use. The hospital’s previous robotic surgery arm has been transfered to the medical school at Anglia Ruskin University to help train future generations of surgeons.

We are grateful to the staff at Broomfield Hospital for arranging the event, demonstrating the equipment and answering our questions about it. The robotic surgery arm is one of just 27 in the country. The hospital is still £300,000 short of its £1.5 Million funding target, so if you would like to contribute to the cost go to their Robotics Surgery Appeal website.

Trip on a Thames sailing barge

Looking over the bow of a sailing barge towards houses on a quaysideOn the afternoon of Friday, 28 September 2018, twenty-five members and spouses met on the quayside at Maldon for a trip on a Thames sailing barge run by Topsail Charters. The days when the barges were used for ferrying goods are long gone but it is still quite usual to see some moored at Maldon or sailing on the Blackwater Estuary. Topsail’s byline is “Helping the past sail into the future.” To get to our boat we had to clamber across a couple of others.

On board we had a delicious afternoon tea comprising cake and “giant” scones with clotted cream and jam. The views from the barge were excellent. We sailed to Osea Island and back. We passed other sailing barges who were making good use of the weather. The sun shone for most of the time, but when it went behind the clouds we could feel a stiff breeze. The water was fairly calm, so no one felt queasy (or if they did they didn’t say anything about it).

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Our special thanks to Graham Furnival, who took over from Alan Scott to run the event when Alan fell ill after making all the initial arrangements. Our thanks to Alan, too.

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