Rotary in the Severn Vale

I’m happy to confirm that we are maintaining our regular breakfasts 07.00/07.30 at The Whitminster Inn on first and third Tuesday of each month. Our gatherings are always enjoyable with most having an interesting and often entertaining speaker.

Recent speakers have included Stuart Watts, a local man, from Retro Track & Air Ltd. This family company is one of the county’s gems. Established 35 years ago to service and overhaul classic racing cars, it went on to service and repair special aircraft. Among these are ‘Warbirds’ and WW2 Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Stuart talked us through the company’s journey to now a specialist in re-engineering engine parts from 80 year old designs.

We also had the pleasure of hearing one of our members, Mark Johnson, talk about his life and career from inner city Manchester to leafy Gloucestershire. Having left school at age 16 he pursued a career in aero engineering starting at Hawker Siddeley moving on to British Aerospace and spending time working on nuclear submarines. Restlessness in early retirement led him to start a company designing composite components for major manufacturers before moving on to become semi-retired working as a consultant. An interesting and well received presentation.

Another of our number, David Jewell spoke openly about his life in farming. Following the war David’s parents moved to Arlingham and through hard work were able to start a farm with 7 acres and just 1 cow. Over time, this grew to 240 acres and 120 cows, the farm that David retired from. David spoke emotionally about starting and growing the business including many amusing anecdotes. One of these was the story of acquiring cattle before having the land needed for them (!), and another of the tale of a young bull playing in the hay tossing it around before turning his attentions to David and promptly broke his leg. Good fortune and much help from friends and family, he and his brother Rob, the owner of St Augustines farm, developed successful farming careers in Arlingham.

Along with our breakfasts, we’ve been able to enjoy some good social activities. The long awaited and much enjoyed guided visit of Gloucester Cathedral and also the repeatedly COVID postponed tour of the incinerator at M5 J12. Both included too much for this newsletter. Suffice to say, I can recommend them both as worthy of a visit. The history of the Cathedral and the work of Gloucester Energy was shared by very knowledgeable hosts allowing us to appreciate the combination of history and modern environmental developments and success ‘in our very own back yard’.

As to community projects, we’ve recently spent time at Wick Court, Farms for City Children, on a Himalayan Balsam Pull. The team there are always welcoming and grateful for any tasks undertaken and we look forward to our next visit. We’ve also been able to support young people at Severn Vale School by becoming mentors to them. Helping them make the connection between education and the world of work, helping young people develop attitudes and skills they need to succeed is always rewarding.

Next with community involvement is our support on fund raising walk for Longfield Hospice. This time as marshals and we’re really looking forward to helping this very worthy local cause,

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For information on events and breakfast meetings, please visit or contact

With best wishes from members of Severn Vale Rotary for a warm and sunny Summer 2022