Club Chronicle

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Our Presidents

12 September 2019: District Governor Pauline Dean

We had three guests at today’s meeting: District Governor Pauline Dean, her husband Past District Governor Terry Dean and Assistant Governor and District Governor Elect Keith Brownlie. Our member Past District Governor Stan Keller was also present, prompting President Francis to ask what the collective noun for District Governors is.

A blonde woman wearing glasses That’s a question we didn’t resolve. Instead Pauline talked about some of the forthcoming highlights of her year in office, including the District Conference at Wyboston next month. The event is now fully booked, as one might expect, but the District is maintaining a waiting list.

She also mentioned other Rotary highlights. Thanks to Rotary’s very successful campaign to eliminate polio, nearly all the world’s countries are now officially polio-free and Nigeria should be officially clear of the disease soon, as no new cases have been reported there for two years. The only countries where polio is occurring at the present time are Afghanistan and Pakistan.

RIP Ray Shaw

We regret to announce the death, on 7 September 2019 after a long illness, of our Honorary Member Ray Shaw.

Ray should have been our President in 2015-16. Unfortunately shortly before he took office ill-health forced him to defer by two years.

However, not long after taking up the office of 1st Vice President for a second time in 2016, increasing health problems meant that he was unable even to attend Club meetings and he therefore withdrew completely. In view of his service to the Club we made him an Honorary Member, partly in the hope that he would eventually be able to return. That was not to be.

We extend our sympathies to Carol and the other members of Ray’s family. His funeral will take place at the Chelmsford Crematorium on Monday, 30 September, at 12:30 pm.

Visit to Chelmsford CCTV Control Centre

Group of people on a paved streetOn Wednesday, 28 August 2019, a group if us gathered in the city centre (see photograph) to visit the CCTV Control Centre. We were met by the manager, who told us he had found himself in charge of the Council’s CCTV operations because Brian Collings, one of our Past Presidents and Honorary Members and then Borough Engineer, knew he was responsible for the introduction of new sewers, which involved the use of remote-control CCTV cameras to inspect the drains. At least he therefore had some experience of CCTV!

CCTV was first thought advisable after the High Street was pedestrianised. When traffic stopped running down the High Street the area ceased to be “self-policing” so measures to increase security became advisable. At first there was just one camera but the system was gradually expanded. The Council had to build all the early cameras, housings and control systems itself. All the screens in the Control Centre were 21" CRT screens, like the old TVs, so it became very warm.

The Control Centre now uses flat screens like those in modern TVs and monitors well over 300 cameras in the city and some of the nearby towns. It is manned 24 hours a day, normally with two operators monitoring the screens and with an extra operator at busy periods over the weekends. It costs £360,000 a year to run.

Modern CCTV cameras give high-resolution images and the operators can zoom in to see greater detail. We saw this happening when one operator spotted a group using cameras fitted with long lenses and zoomed in to read the organisation name displayed on their T shirts.

Each operator has two screens immediately in front of him, each displaying the scenes from four cameras, and can also see the main bank of screens. The operators are able to switch between cameras and control the cameras with joysticks.

We asked whether the work ever got boring but we were told there is always something happening somewhere. Having so many screens to watch is not a problem because something happening on a screen will draw an operator’s attention.

The Control Centre has radio contact with the police and with local businesses and pubs that subscribe to the city’s TownLink and PubWatch.

The surveillance is intended to increase public safety. It is not only a matter of preventing crime or taking rapid action when it is spotted. The system can also be used to summon help if someone is taken ill in the street or there is an accident. Potential suicides have also been spotted and action taken to get someone to them as soon as possible.

Individual cameras can be programmed with a “dead area” which, in order to protect privacy, is not transmitted to the Control Centre. We were shown the output from one camera in the High Street that might incidentally enable the operator to look into the windows of private flats. Whenever the camera is turned in that direction the view of the flats is blanked out. The flats continue to be blanked out as the operator zooms in and out.

Not all the cameras overlook the streets. There are some in the Council offices, in the new Riverside Leisure Centre, in pedestrian underpasses, in parks and monitoring the top of the multi-storey car park.

We left the Control Centre with a much better understanding of the way the CCTV cameras are used to look after us - and in the knowledge that the operators were capable of checking our movements to make sure we did leave the vicinity!

Visit to ARU School of Medicine

On the evening of Thursday, 27 June 2019, we joined other Rotarians at Anglia Ruskin University for a tour of the new School of Medicine. The tour was conducted by Tony StringerPeople sitting round a coffee table drinking wine of the Rotary Club of Chelmsford Rivermead and was followed by a buffet and an entertaining audio-visual presentation entitled Beyond the Call.

Beyond the Call was a collection of anecdotes, brief history, letters, poems, diaries and bulletins presented in words and pictures. It included the extraordinary story of the Voluntary Aid Detachment (“VAD”), largely naive shire girls and vicars’ daughters who had never done a day’s work and couldn’t even boil an egg. A jolly jape to dress up and become a volunteer nurse became a surreal world of mud, blood, lice and mustard gas, a million miles away from the Edwardian drawing-room charades they left behind.

The presentation was followed by a collection on behalf of the Nursing Memorial Appeal. The appeal has two purposes. The first is to maintain the permanent memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum. This is in the form of a globe held up by two hands. The seas contain the names of nurses who lost their lives in service during both world wars and conflicts since. There is no complete record of nursing lives lost and names are still being discovered and added.

The second purpose is to provide grants and bursaries to fund training and research for students in humanitarian and conflict nursing to enable nurses to provide vital life-saving support in extreme situations both at home and overseas.

We thank the Rotary Club of Chelmsford Phoenix for organising the event.

Strawberry tea

Five people sitting round a garden tableThe final social event of President Anne’s year was a strawberry tea on Saturday, 22 June 2019, in aid of Porridge and Pens. The weather was warm and sunny and we were able to sit out in the garden. Club members were joined by John and Anthea Tilsley from the Rotary Club of Chelmsford Mildmay and Cindy Smalldridge and Jemma and Steve Williams from the Rotary Satellite Club of Chelmsford City. We raised £162.50 including gift aid and President Anne will be presenting a cheque to Jemma at the next satellite club meeting (which may have passed by the time you read this).

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