List of Probus and U3A Approved Speakers Available In Your Area – Fees vary

  • Wilf Lower (comes highly recommended)
    • Don’t Sneeze At The Microphone” – a hundred years ago, popular entertainment meant a night out at the Music Hall, but then came radio and later, television – and popular entertainment changed forever. For some performers it was the road to fortune… For others, a disaster. This light-hearted romp through entertainment’s journey from stage to television screen will bring the audience many nostalgic and fond memories. The talk is supported by Powerpoint, with audio and video clips.
    • Lost Empires – The Last Days of Music Hall & Variety” – from pubs to palaces, music hall provided popular entertainment for all, surviving both cinema and radio. But television proved too much and it died – although variety struggled on, and the traditions continue. A light-hearted look at the theatres, the performers from Marie Lloyd to Max Miller, Gracie Fields to Ken Dodd; and the very British ‘French Revues’ of the Fifties. All from an unusual and unique perspective that is revealed during the talk.
    • Behind the Scenes of Television’s Golden Years” – Who can forget Morecambe and Wise, the Two Ronnies, Terry and June, Till Death Do Us Part and The Good Life? Dramas like the Forsyte Saga, Pennies From Heaven and When the Boat Comes In; music from Top of the Pops to the Last Night of the Proms; and pageantry of Royal events. These were truly television’s Golden Years, but how these and many other great programmes were made, the situations and characters involved were often astounding and hilarious. Never has ‘you wouldn’t believe it’ been more appropriate!
    • Life Upon the Wicked Stage – ain’t what one supposes” – Starring on television, acclaimed at the National Theatre, or ‘treading the boards’ at a provincial theatre might be envied, but the reality can often be less glamorous! How the famous (and not so famous!) became entertainers and the reality of life behind the make-up is revealed in this fascinating and light-hearted insight into a world where happiness and despair frequently sit uneasily side by side. Did Mrs Worthington get the right advice regarding her daughter?
    • Under the Billowing Sails – The Romance & Reality of Tallships” – For over five thousand years, sailing ships provided the most economic and efficient means of carrying people and cargoes, culminating in the clipper tallships racing across the world’s oceans. But steam power heralded their demise, and by the 1950s they had all but disappeared. Some survived and have led to a revival of the magnificent vessels that embraces their rich maritime heritage. The development of these ships, how their tough crews survived, and the creation of modern day replicas are described, together with their astounding contribution to the English language!
    • Broadly Speaking – The Reality of Holidays Afloat” – For many, a boating holiday on the Norfolk Broads has been their first, and sometimes only link with Britain’s maritime traditions. But few are aware of the background to those holidays, how they begun, and the people who created them. This light-hearted talk reveals all you probably never wanted to know about boating holidays: the inside story of the boat holiday business and the customers – and what each think about each other!
    • Medway Talks – from the Dividing River” – With a longstanding maritime heritage, it’s hardly surprising the River Medway has witnessed some remarkable achievements. Such as salvaging a 100 year old yacht that was the centre of a Royal scandal, or creating Britain’s largest cargo fleet from an old sailing barge. And unique people – the couple dedicated to maintaining a remarkable Dunkirk Little Ship, coastguards operating twenty miles inland, an octogenarian diver, and many more…


  • Peter Jones – gives various talk on the National trust.  Good speaker and reasonable fee at £30.00.
  • David Gann – gives various musical talks such as ‘Musical Memories‘ which are good. Fee has been as low as £10 as it normally just covers the use of the projector from his Probus Club.
  • John Fryer – John is an ex actor and gives a talk on the ‘Humorous Side of being an Actor‘. Amusing talker.
  • John Pearson – Ex M&S employee on the food side.  John is an international cheese judge and his interesting talk is entitled ‘Blessed are the Cheese Makers‘.  Good and interesting speaker.
  • Andrew Warde – gives various illustrated talks on London and may need a projector/screen.
  • Melanie Gibson-Barton – has a variety of talks including ‘Bruges – it’s more than just chocolate’, a colourfully illustrated, wide-ranging talk that provides an insider’s view of the beautiful city of Bruges, in Flanders in north Belgium.
  • Simon Waterfield – gives theatrical monologues on various historical events and dresses up for the part. Talks include;  ‘The Kilted Tommy – a First World War Seaforth Highlander‘, ‘The Agincourt Archer – a Fourteenth Century Archer‘, and ‘The Weymouth Pilgrim – a Pilgrim during the period of the Black Death‘.
  • Jennie Randall – gives a talk entitled ‘Destruction of the Crooked Billet’ destroyed during World War 2 and now the Harvester Pub in Southborough Lane.
  • Dananjaya Silva – gives a talk on ‘Tea‘ regarding the tea industry in Sir Lanka.
  • Helen Allinson – gives various talk on past Kentish Life such as ‘Farewell to Kent‘ regarding emigrants from Kent in the 19th  Century.
  • Michael Gilbert – gives a talk entitled ‘Tonic for the Nation’ regarding the Festival of Britain in 1951.  Good speaker with slides.
  • Anna Astin – gives two talks, one entitled ‘Motorina to Racing Driver’ re early lady racing drivers and ‘Women in Flight’.
  • Ian Bevan – various talks on Victorian era such as ‘Victorian Leisure and Pleasure‘, ‘History of the Crystal Palace‘ and others.
  • Alan Coxon – Ex Chief Superintendent of Police gives a talk on ‘My Time in Parliament’ when he was in charge of security there. Very good speaker and also has a talk on being a Toastmaster.
  • Don Doncaster – gives a talk on ‘The Unknown Warrior‘ with a donation of £30 going to his charity. He also gives a talk on the ‘Commonwealth War Graves’
  • Tony Trinick – gives two very interesting talks on Bee Keeping.
  • Christopher Hare – Christopher was a stage manager who gives two talks, ‘Not a Proper Job‘ a humorous tale relating to his time in theatre land with various stars and the another entitled ‘A-Z of Show Business‘.
  • Joe Mendell – an American who gives 2 talks entitled ‘Houdini‘ and ‘Impressions of Mark Twain‘. May need a screen.
  • Marilyn Bass – gives an interesting talk entitled ‘The Work of the R.N.L.I’. May need a screen.
  • Robert Walker – gives 3 talks on various composers and plays their songs.
  • Bob Ogley – Ex local reporter who gives good talks on ‘The History of Biggin Hill’, ‘The Great Storm‘, and ‘Doodlebugs and Rockets‘.
  • Dr Ann Keif – gives two talks, one entitled ‘The Bevan Boys‘ re the conscripts in the 2nd world war who were sent down the mines instead of going into the army and ‘Women Munition Workers‘.  May need a screen.
  • Colin Perrotton – Magician who gives a magic presentation entitled ‘Magical Moments‘.
  • Philip Lane – Story of Aerial Photography.
  • Brian Biggs – gives a talk entitled ‘Memories of a Thames Tugboat Master‘.
  • Jim Buttress AHRS – gives a talk on ‘Lullingstone World Garden‘. He also gives a talk on ‘Royal Gardens & Parks‘.
  • Barbara Stevens – gives a talk entitled ‘The Downe Dames Calendars
  • John Halligan – Blue Badge Guide of London gives various talks on London. Also does the ‘Mistresses of Charles 11‘.
  • Gilly Halcrow – various talks on ‘Special Operations Executive‘, ‘The Shetland Bus of WW2‘, ‘What Happened to Christopher Robin?‘, ‘The History of Food and Drink and Table Manners‘, ‘Our Christmas Traditions‘, and ‘Shopping Through the Ages in England‘.  Very good speaker.
  • John Beckham – ‘Common Birds of Parks and Gardens
  • Colin Breed (Ex DCI) – ‘Royal Visits to Kent‘ and the ‘Zeebrugge Ferry Disaster
  • Mary Corr – Various talks on Greenwich.


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