Speaker meeting 16th March 2015 and visit by Rtn John Barrett to R.C of Gibraltar

The members of the Rotary Club of Church Wilne we treated to a talk and presentation by its own member Ken Austin at the Royal Oak in Ockbrook on Monday 16th March.

Ken's talk was "From Sunrise to Sunset in Normandy" and the journey he and his wife Ann started 16 years ago in restoring a barn in France.

In the spring of 1999, after looking for a property in Brittany, they found a rundown barn which was in need of major reconstruction and a typical Normandy building. This property was in Survie, Orne which is very rural and is renowned for both its ciders and cheeses.

Part of the barn was 300/400 years old and the other was about 200 years old.   The members were given a pictorial presentation of the building, which is not listed but in an area of outstanding beauty.   Upon arrival they found a 1969 Citroen DS19, a 1971 Peugeot Camper Van and VW Golf in the hedge and they gave them away to a neighbour. The plot is in 1 ΒΌ acres and also within the grounds were the remains of an outbuilding.

Typical initial views included the earth ground floor, oak joists which were a mixture of various timbers and no internal walls

In the summer of 2,000 a new slate roof along with 5 velux windows were installed.   Then followed the installation of two stair cases which were locally handmade, the inside damp proof membrane, the foundation in the Spring of 2002 of the garage and workshop, installation of the septic tank, completion of the plumbing and electrics, cutting out for the installation of windows, internal oak walls built up and two big back to back open fires completed with the construction of a chimney stack.   For three years they lived onsite in a caravan before moving into the barn which was still far from complete.

Latterly the restoration has moved outside with a new drive, a very large pond dug out by a JCB, lots of trees, shrubs and open grass areas which Ken now cuts with a second-hand sit on motor mower. Every boys dream! There is an abundance of wild life including geese, rabbits, ducklings, deer, wild boar and badges.

They were given lots of help and advice from the town's mayor, neighbours and tradesmen.

They were welcomed from day one into the community and enjoy an active social life when at their home in France and it's a wonderful place for their grandchildren to visit.

The final photograph was the beautiful Sunset over Normandy.

The Club's vote of thanks was given by Nigel Roberts who congratulated Ken on turning a 400 year old building into such a fantastic building today and said his attention to detail is unbelievable.

Photograph: President Geoff Smith (left) thanks Ken Austin for his talk to his fellow members.

Ray Terry

For the Rotary Club of Church Wilne

For more information on Rotary and our speaker evenings, please contact Rotarian John Astell at: rccw1220@gmail.com

John Barrett at Rotary Presidents Changeover Gala Dinner 2014 - Rotary Club of Gibraltar

It was a black and white theme in July last year Jane Hart was the incoming President and the theme 'black and white'

John Barrett at a recent Rotary Meeting in Gibraltar. February 2015

Madam President of Gibraltar, Jane Hart is central to this photograph.
Standing beside her by the Flags is Commodore Ian McGhie who in Gibraltar is in overall command of the defences for the MOD.
He gave a superb, enlightening overview of the strategic importance of Gibraltar and the intricacies of its relationship with Spain.

2nd March 2015


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