May saw the start of the new session for East Markham WI and, after the business was completed, members were treated to an awe-inspiring talk by Paul Dyson on Botswana and Climbing Mera Peak in the Himalayas. Paul explained that he had trained as an artist and worked for many years as a graphic designer, painting in his spare time. Eventually he became tired of producing double glazing and other local adverts and after winning a number of competitions and having paintings accepted by organisations he gave up the day job and became a full-time artist. His other passions were wildlife and mountaineering, and these became the focus of his art. He brought along a large selection of his paintings, which were greatly admired.
Paul claimed that he was not a photographer, however the images he showed were of exceptional quality as he took his audience on a ‘wild’ camping trip through Botswana and the surrounding countries in search of wildlife. He explained that this was not a safari holiday, they were camping and walking in the bush or going down rivers in small boats accompanied by a guide, and did not know when, where or what they would see. Animals often wandered through their campsite during the night. His photographs showed lions, tigers, cheetahs, elephants, zebra, giraffe, crocodiles, hippos and many birds, all in their natural wild habitat, some of them in extreme close-up, along with lovely images of family groups of lions and elephants.
The second part of Paul’s talk could not have been more different, going from the heat of Africa to the snows of the Himalayas. Again the photography was superb, fantastic mountain vistas, frightening images of camping on ridges overlooking great drops, and beautiful pictures of the local Nepalese children. The group became acclimatised to the height by making ascents of a few thousand feet and returning to camp, before making the next big climb. Slowly they approached the summit of this 21,000-foot mountain, crossing snowfields and glaciers, but sadly they were beaten by 84 mile an hour winds, and had to abandon their climb only 250 feet from the summit. Although disappointed they realised that it was foolhardy to continue as there was a risk to life, so they descended to base camp, much quicker than they had ascended. Paul’s final images were of Kathmandu, showing the damage caused by the earthquakes, the work being done to repair the damage and how the inhabitants were determined to get on with life.
Paul’s talk is typical of East Markham WI’s varied programme. Their meeting in June was Tim Multroy telling us about ‘The Kinder Transport’, a full report will follow next month.
The group’s 17th July talk is ‘The Story of Lincoln Cathedral’ by Vic Hughes. If you want to be inspired, come along and see what is on offer. New members and visitors are assured of a warm and friendly welcome. Meetings take place on the third Tuesday of the month at 7.15pm in the village hall.