The Wonderful World of Glass.
Over the last few years this has proved to be one of the most popular talks Francis has given. From his own personal collection, he brings historic and valuable items of glass, for members to examine for themselves, which illustrate the whole history of glass-making from 3,000 B.C. to the present day. He is an acknowledged expert on the history of glass, and has often been asked to lend pieces and speak about them for various television antiques programmes, for which he is often called in as an authority.
Have you ever wondered where our garden plants come from? Most of them were imported and spread illegally! Hear the fascinating story of how many of our favourite flowers and vegetables came into this country and how they gained popularity. This talk will be of interest to W.Is., Gardening Clubs, and anyone who enjoys visiting gardens, or are interested in the history of their own back garden.
Can You play Jerusalem?
Francis has spoken to many hundreds of the Ladies of the W.I. across the West Country. Most of the meetings have been memorable for the welcome and the hospitality he has received. However . . . sometimes the unexpected happens. Here are some of the funniest moments from the life of a speaker 'on the circuit'. He promises strict anonymity!
Seated One Day at the organ . . .
For over 50 years Francis has been an organist in churches ranging in size from those seating over 2000 people to tiny village churches seating less than three dozen. Weddings, Funerals, special services, all provide hazards for the unsuspecting organist . . and that is before we get on to the subject of clergymen, choirboys, and congregations! This is the real low-down on the view from the organ bench, and may feature a church near you!
A Victorian Head Gardener.
Francis' father started his career in Horticulture as gardener's boy on a large estate just before the First World War. Hear about the fascinating life of the Victorian country estate, which has now entirely vanished. Learn the correct way of mowing a lawn with a horse-drawn mower, how to grow grapes, pineapples, and cucumbers, and why and when William Robinson's butler had to serve his master with a pear on a silver tray. You will also discover why the Ministry of Defence issued thousands of stirrup pumps to the Home Guard in the Second World War.
Don't Put Your Daughter on the Stage!
Francis has conducted or produced over two hundred Amateur Operatic Society productions, and not all the drama happens on-stage! This talk distils the essence of that peculiar hobby of amateur dramatics, and stars a donkey, an orange wig, and a fire siren, among a host of other guest appearances!
The Man Who Re-built Wessex.
As an architect, Benjamin Ferrey (1810 - 1880) has been almost forgotten. Yet in his time he was staggeringly successful, building and restoring over 400 churches, houses, and public buildings in the West Country and beyond. Many buildings in Dorchester are by him, and Wells Cathedral owes much of its present appearance to the work he did there, as does Christchurch Priory and Romsey Abbey. He was also responsible for laying out the original street plans of the new sea-side resort of Bournemouth. Francis is shortly to publish a monograph about this remarkable man, whose buildings are often unacknowledged and under-rated. This lavishly illustrated talk will prove of general interest, but will be of particular interest to local history societies, and those interested in art and design and Victorian history in general.
Things You Miss About Paris.
Is there anyone who does not enjoy a visit to the City of Light? Here is a journey round this most romantic of capitals, showing some lesser known areas and sights. A guide with a difference, illustrated with unusual and historic slides of the city.
New Talks for 2018/2019.
"In the Mood", or Dancing through a World War.
The story of my mother, whose service as an Army Nurse in the Second World War took her from Chorley in Lancashire, to London during the Blitz, the West Country, and then to Dachau in Germany in 1945. Illustrated with excerpts from her diaries of the period 1926 - 1946.
Desert Island Discs.
My personal choice of disks, with the story behind the music, and some surprising and light-hearted tales along the way!
Francis has been active in Flower Clubs for half a century, and is an experienced demonstrator. He offers talks and demonstrations to Garden Clubs and Floral Societies. Please contact him to discuss titles, your specific requirements, and the budget you have for flowers, etc.
Francis asks for his travelling expenses, at a rate of 35 pence a mile, and suggests a Speaker's fee starting at £50, (which also supports his chosen charity) for a meeting with an attendance of 30-40. For larger societies over 50 members, or those outside the normal area, the fee will be from £75. Please make contact to discuss your particular requirements. Small local groups of less than 30 members within a twenty mile radius of Yeovil are invited to make contact, as sometimes the fee can be reduced because of the saving in travel expenses and time.
Francis is happy to speak to groups in Somerset, Dorset, Devon, Wiltshire and Hampshire, and Bristol and South Gloucestershire. Groups further afield are invited to make enquiries to see if a “mini-tour” can be arranged.
Francis is often able to speak at very short notice, particularly at meetings during the day. Please contact him if you have a crisis with a speaker cancelling at the last moment!
See this web-site also for further speakers who may be able to help you:
Lecturer and after-Dinner Speaker,
for W.Is., Rotary & Round Tables, U3As.,
and special interest groups and societies.
"Undoubtedly the best speaker
we have had this year."
"Your talk was so funny,
and we have learnt such
a lot. Please come again."
"My Committee insists that
I book you again next year.
Please say you are available."
“He kept over 600 members at our W.I. County Meeting spell-bound for an hour when he filled in for a speaker who failed to arrive on time. Unhesitatingly recommended!”
"He was wonderful! He held the room beautifully. The bonus/surprise was that he played Jerusalem for us at the end which we all sang with gusto!”
Francis has many years experience as a public speaker, and is always complimented on the fact that he is clearly heard at the back of a large hall, even without a microphone!
Contact me for a talk or lecture for your Club or Society. I am often able to help at short notice, particularly during the day, if your speaker has to cancel at the very last minute!
(See below for the current list of Topics, and suggested Fees. Also, you will find a web-site where other speakers may be able to help you in an emergency.)
Sunnybank, Alvington, Yeovil. BA22 8TH.
tel: 07730 526 166
These are the talks I am offering in 2017 -2018.