Eastbourne Ashridge Circle
Founded 1947

Meetings in 2011-12


Please use the links below to view our previous meeting programmes.

26th September 2011

An Evening with Dame Jenni Murray

Jenni Murray was born in Barnsley in 1950, only four years after Woman's Hour first came on air. She studied French and Drama at the University of Hull and began her broadcasting career in local radio in Bristol. She presented South Today on television for a number of years before taking the plunge in the metropolitan shark pool. She presented Newsnight on BBC2 and Today on Radio 4 before inheriting the Woman's Hour chair from Sue MacGregor in 1987. In the Queen's Birthday Honours 2011 she was made a DBE for services to radio broadcasting.

17th October 2011

The Eye of the Tiger

Pollyanna Pickering

We welcome back Pollyanna, who, some will remember, spoke to us nearly five years ago about Giant Pandas and Sleeping Dragons. Pollyanna's latest talk about India, tells the story of her travels into the foothills of the Himalayas to paint Bengal Tigers. In order to see and sketch her subjects first hand she was bounced, jolted, cut, bruised, scratched, stung and bitten – and even charged by a wild tiger!

31st October 2011

A Step Out of Time

Sir Timothy Ackroyd

A Step Out of Time is full of wonderful reminiscences of childhood meetings with Winston Churchill, Princess Alice and Monty of Alamein interspersed with witty reflections on encounters with Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif and Joyce Carey. But Sir Timothy's talk runs far deeper than an amusing evening of cleverly mimicked voices from the past. This British actor and director invites his audience to take time out to contemplate some of life's thornier questions concerning the true nature of friendship, family, death and dreams.

14th November 2011

Desperate Journeys

Freddie Knoller

Freddie Knoller tells his life story – one of persecution, flight and the death camps of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. Waving farewell to his parents at seventeen (who he was never to see again), he went on to survive the horrors of a bombing and escaped to Paris where he spent two years living on commissions from German soldiers. But that was only the beginning of an extraordinary story which ended with his liberation from Bergen-Belsen on 15 April 1945. Freddie's talk is a lively, honest, moving and frank account of an episode in time that should never be forgotten. But it is also a story told through the eyes of an adventurous young lad, who drew on his resourcefulness, luck, friendships and constant optimism to carry him through an extraordinary time in history.

5th December 2011

Royalty – Weddings & Jubilees

Alastair Bruce

Alastair Bruce of Crionaich, OBE, a descendant of Robert the Bruce, is the National Event Commentator for Sky News and the BBC. He is a documentary maker with 'Days of Majesty', 'Nicholas and Alexandra' and 'Victoria and Albert' to his name. He is a Member of the Queen's Body Guard for Scotland. After the year of Prince William's wedding the Queen's Diamond Jubilee is next. This talk will look at significant Royal Weddings and recent Jubilees to see their influence on Britain's story.

19th December 2011

The Silver Screen

Robert Powell & Friends

For this year's Christmas talk we welcome Robert Powell to perform Silver Screen, an affectionate and nostalgic romp through the first hundred or so years of cinema. Starting with the Lumiere Brothers in Paris in 1895 and ending with 'BOND 22' at Pinewood Studios in 2008, we meet on our way Charlie Chaplin, Mae West, Mickey Mouse, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Groucho Marx and many, many others – the journey sweetened with musical interludes from Scott Joplin, George Gershwin through to John Barry's 'James Bond' theme. Robert is joined by Clive Conway (flute), Christine Croshaw (piano) and Gabrielle Drake. Miss Drake has played many leading roles on stage and television including Mrs Erlynne in Oscar Wilde's 'Lady Windemere's Fan' and Lady Asharton in 'The Inspector Lynley' series.

16th January 2012

Glyndebourne – Past, Present & Future

David Pickard

Glyndebourne's founders, John Christie and his wife Audrey Mildmay, opened the first Festival in 1934 and presented a handful of performances of Mozart's 'Le Nozze di Figaro' and 'Cosi fan Tutte'. Since then the organisation has developed into one of the most respected opera houses in the world, renowned for the quality of its performances and reputation for discovering a new generation of international artists. David Pickard was appointed General Director of Glyndebourne in 2001. He has an impressive CV that includes spells with the Royal Opera House and managing the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. His talk will cover the early history of Glyndebourne, the guiding principles behind the company today, and the challenges it faces for the future.

6th February 2012

The Magic of the East

David Battie

David Battie, from the Antiques Road Show, will give a talk about ceramics, bronzes and ivory carving.

20th February 2012

Scott – Hero or Loser?

Geoff Somers MBE

On January 17 1912, on the day he reached the South Pole, Captain Robert Falcon Scott recorded his impressions in his diary. 'Great God', he wrote, 'this is an awful place'. Today Scott remains a courageous yet tragic figure from the 'heroic age of Antarctic exploration'. In the so-called 'Race to the South Pole' he was famously beaten to the South Pole by the Norwegian Roald Amundsen. Utterly dejected, he and his companions died whilst struggling to return to their base. Geoff Somers, one of the world's most accomplished Polar travellers puts into perspective the huge undertakings of these early expeditions. No telephones, radios, aeroplanes or any hope of rescue should things go wrong…

5th March 2012


Keith Offord

Birds of prey (raptors) are one of the most fascinating and varied groups, ranging from the diminutive Pygmy Falcon to giants such as the Martial Eagle. They are also dramatic, unpredictable and exciting and have evolved an astonishing range of special features designed to help them survive. Keith Offord has spent many years studying and working with birds of prey on the Welsh uplands. He has also travelled throughout the world and has photographed many other examples which will feature in the talk.

26th March 2012

Titanic & Her Sisters – The Loved, The Damned and The Forgotten

Ken Vard

The Titanic was a ship which will live throughout history for all the wrong reasons. She was one of a trio of liners intended to be the biggest and best on the oceans of the world, now only remembered as the loved, the damned and the forgotten. The Titanic sailed quietly without fuss from Southampton at the start of her maiden voyage on 10 April 1912. She called first at Cherbourg for continental passengers and then Queenstown in Southern Ireland to pick up the remainder. She sailed out of that Irish bay shortly after noon on Thursday 12th April, and was never seen again. We welcome back Ken Vard, who presents this talk as a 100th memorial of the sinking of the Titanic which foundered on the night of 14th April 1912.

2nd April 2012

An Audience with Ann Widdecombe

It's nearly seven years since Ann came to speak to us at the Eastbourne Ashridge Circle, and what a lot has happened since that time. The former Shadow Home Secretary reveals what life is really like as an MP, a judge, and now a TV celebrity. This unmissable evening has a definite 'something of the night' about it!

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