Eastbourne Ashridge Circle
Founded 1947

Meetings in 2015-16


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

21st September 2015

Using Honey Bees As A Natural Deterrent For Crop-Raiding Elephants

Dr Lucy King

Dr Lucy King was brought up in Somalia, Lesotho and Kenya but her family originates from Eastbourne. She has been researching the use of honey bees as a natural deterrent for crop-raiding elephants since 2006 through her novel invention of a “beehive fence” which helps to protect small rural farms in Africa. Her DPhil thesis, through Oxford University and in partnership with Save the Elephants and Disney's Animal Kingdom, was awarded the UNEP/CMS Thesis Award 2011 from the United Nations Environment Program. Her research also won her The Future for Nature Award and The St Andrews Prize for the Environment. She joined IUCN's African Elephant Specialist Group in 2013 and is presently based in Nairobi leading the Human-Elephant Co-Existence program for Save the Elephants. We are delighted that Lucy is returning to open our new season.

26th October 2015

The Power of Music

An Evening With Neil Brand

Neil Brand returns to Eastbourne where in the 1980s he was part of the team that opened and ran the Tivoli Performing Arts Centre and co-wrote and mounted the musicals Easy Money and House of Dreams at the Devonshire Park Theatre. The Tivoli was where he first accompanied silent films for the Eastbourne Film Society. He is now renowned for his work with early film (including orchestral scores with the BBC Symphony Orchestra), his radio dramas including musical adaptations with the BBCSO of Wind in the Willows, A Christmas Carol and the acclaimed 'Stan' (starring Tom Courtenay which was Sony-nominated) and his highly popular appearances on Radio 4's Film Programme and BBC4 TV with Sound of Cinema and Sound of Song. Neil will talk about music, film and drama, stories of his own experience and insights gleaned from over thirty-five years creative work in the arts.

2nd November 2015

The Codebreakers, Bletchley Park and the Battle of the Atlantic

Dr Mark Baldwin

One of WW2's most fascinating stories is that of the Enigma ciphers, which the Germans believed unbreakable. Nevertheless, at Bletchley Park the Allies used mathematical and linguistic skills to break these ciphers and thus read several million German messages, providing reliable intelligence. To exemplify the importance of codebreaking in winning the war, Dr Baldwin uses the Battle of the Atlantic, a fierce conflict lasting nearly six years and costing over 60,000 lives. The event will end with a hands-on demonstration of a WW2 Enigma machine, allowing members of the audience to operate this iconic device themselves. Having delivered over 500 presentations, Dr Baldwin is one of Britain's most experienced speakers on the Enigma machine and codebreaking in WW2. He has travelled widely throughout Britain addressing a variety of audiences – professional, educational, commercial and the general public.

16th November 2015

The Prince of Wales and His Principles

Ian Skelly

Ian has been a voice on Radio 3, the BBCs national radio station for classical, world and jazz music, for nearly 20 years. He presents all the main programmes on the station, from Breakfast and its afternoon sequences to Radio 3 Live in Concert, the station's nightly live relay from the main London concert venues and around the UK. He has known HRH The Prince of Wales for over a decade, helping the Prince to articulate the detail of his philosophy and explain how it works in practice across a wide range of disciplines. In an entertaining evening of surprising and funny stories of his time with the Prince, Ian presents a fast moving, visually stunning slide and film show to explain how the Prince has put his principles into practice across a vast range of activities, from farming to urban planning and from engineering to art and design.

14th December 2015

My Life In Music and Music In My Life

Iain Sutherland

During his 40 year association with the BBC, Iain was Principal Conductor of the BBC Radio Orchestra in London, the BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra and of the award winning BBC Radio2 programme, “Friday Night is Music Night” with the BBC Concert Orchestra. He was also Principal Conductor of the City of Glasgow Philharmonic Orchestra and has been Guest Conductor for Orchestras all over the world. He has also made recordings featuring many of his own compositions. Iain was Musical Director for a series of BBC radio recordings of classic musicals: “Guys and Dolls”, “Finian’s Rainbow”, “My Fair Lady”, “The Music Man”, “Kiss Me Kate”, “Sweet Charity” and Stephen Sondheim’s legendary “Follies”. In addition to all this he was Musical Director in cabaret with the legends that are Marlene Dietrich and Shirley Bassey. With such a musical background Iain has a wealth of stories to tell, complemented with recordings of some of his favourite music.

11th January 2016

Meet Mr. Pepys

Michael Harris

Michael is a world travelled writer and lecturer who has enjoyed a life-long interest in the theatre and, in particular, the works of Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde. When selected as one of only six persons - from an application list of over 600 - to be a member of the Laurence Olivier Awards Panel, he saw 108 theatrical productions in 14 months. He has, over many years, presented numerous talks within the theatre genre and related subjects both on board cruise ships and before land based organisations. At age 70, Samuel Pepys invites you, the audience, so he may recount a little about his life. Michael's presentation covers Pepys' days within government as well as his sexual liaisons, marital and family problems and incarceration in The Tower of London. Extracts from his diary featuring The Plague of London and The Great Fire of London add to this exciting account.

25th January 2016

Fakes and Forgeries

Malcolm Kenwood

Malcolm is a former specialist police detective investigating art and antique crime. Upon his retirement he directed lectures to educate Law Enforcement Officers to combat art crime, in partnership with the Metropolitan Police Art and Antique Unit at New Scotland Yard in London. In addition he was the Recoveries Director for the Art Loss Register who operate an international commercial database of stolen cultural property. The question of fake decorative art has been in vogue for hundreds of years. However, increasingly sophisticated methods are being used by criminals to generate vast profits. Malcolm's talk reveals actual case studies, demonstrating the lengths forgers will go to in passing off works as legitimate. Skilled forgers capable of imitating well known artists have provided the ability to dupe many at the highest level within the art market. Experts have estimated that a high percentage of all works within the art market are fake. These scams ultimately inflict considerable damage on collectors and the trade.

15th February 2016

The Story of Eastbourne's Five Bandstands

Owen Boydell MA, MBA

Owen Boydell tells the story of Eastbourne’s 5 bandstands from Victorian times to date with musical excerpts. These elegant structures on Grand (2) and Royal Parades, Pier and Redoubt have a history of entertainment from the early German bands, Orchestral concerts, the Military brass band era, the entertainment catering for music and revue up to today’s tribute concerts. From Titanic’s Wesley Woodward to Uncle Bertie’s children’s performances he reveals much about Eastbourne’s development as a resort and how we were and are still entertained. Owen, Eastbourne born and bred, is a former JP, Civic Society/Heritage Centre and Victorian Festival Chairman.

7th March 2016

“The Speaker’s Wife”

Quentin Letts

Quentin Letts is theatre critic and political sketchwriter for the Daily Mail. He has watched Parliament on and off since the last days of Margaret Thatcher, throughout the New Labour years and during the Cameron era. Quentin, whose latest book is the debut novel 'The Speaker's Wife', is a deputy church warden in his Herefordshire village and is married to a church organist. They have three children. Quentin will be talking about his new novel, 'The Speaker's Wife'. When the Speaker of the House of Commons dies at the Palace of Westminster, will atheist plotters succeed in getting their man the job? The Church of England is under pressure to sell hundreds of its churches. The Speaker's chaplain may be able to save the day but first he must gain a grip on his drinking and rediscover the fire in his faith. Letts combines political satire with bucolic nostalgia for a rural England of Prayer Book Anglicanism. 'The Speaker's Wife” is both teasing and touching. Its author will tell us why he wrote it and, perhaps, how close his fiction sits with the people he watches every week at Westminster.

21st March 2016

A Conspiracy History of The World

Andy Thomas

Do people believe in conspiracy theories and what is the evidence to support them? Andy Thomas explores an intriguing alternative history of humankind, as seen through the eyes of those who question the establishment version of events. Andy Thomas is a leading researcher into unexplained mysteries and author of many books, including the acclaimed ‘The Truth Agenda’ and ‘Conspiracies: The Facts - The Theories - The Evidence’. Andy writes and lectures widely and has made numerous radio and TV appearances. He makes a welcome return to the Ashridge Circle following his very successful talk on the mystery of Crop Circles.

18th April 2016

History of Eastbourne's East End

Alan Wenham

This fully illustrated talk will show a historical side of Eastbourne very different from the splendour of the high-class Victorian and Edwardian resort. Riots! Starvation! Factories!! - 'Don't go east of the Pier, my dear'. This presentation coincides with the planned launch of the new East of the Pier history trail. Alan Wenham was born in Eastbourne and attended the Grammar School. When he retired from his post as a local authority chief executive he returned here to live. He describes himself as a local history enthusiast, rather than an expert, who likes to share the town's wonderful story with anyone who will listen.

25th April 2016

An Audience With John Humphrys

John Humphrys is one of Britain’s best known and most controversial broadcasters. He has been a journalist for more than half a century. He was BBC TV’s youngest foreign correspondent and has anchored most frontline news and current affairs programmes on both television and radio. He has long been best known as one of the leading presenters on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. He has won just about all the national broadcasting awards including the “Oscar of Oscars”: the Sony Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement. The citation read: “He has truly changed the face of radio and the nature of the radio interview for an entire generation.” Apart from his broadcasting work John writes books and newspaper columns and has set up his own charity: the Kitchen Table Charities Trust. He also presents that rare programme: a serious television quiz show, Mastermind.

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