The Probus Club of Basingstoke gets into the right spirit

Bombay Sapphire Distillery – Laverstoke Mill

Twenty-nine members and guests enjoyed a fascinating afternoon at the Bombay Sapphire Distillery at Laverstoke Mill on 19th March. We were conducted round by Maurice who seemed to know everything that there is to know about the site and distilling gin. The site had a long history of papermaking for bank note production, having been owned for many years by the Portal family. Following acquisition by Bombay Sapphire, many of the old buildings have been restored sympathetically, and the company has added the splendid new Botanical Glasshouses designed by the Heatherwick Studios, which stand on the river bank, to show the plants from which the botanical additives for the Bombay Sapphire gin are obtained.

Bombay Sapphire stills

We were shown the stills used to make the gin, and the manufacturing process of vapour infusion was explained to us. We were also given the chance to see and sniff the various botanical additives, which include liquorice, lemon, and various herbs and spices, and to indicate our favourites. On the basis of these choices, we were each given a complimentary cocktail at the end of the tour. Those drivers who opted for a non-alcoholic cocktail were provided with a goody-bag with a miniature bottle of the gin and some tonic water to enjoy at their leisure.

Even for members for whom gin may not be a favourite tipple, it was an enjoyable and informative afternoon!

How to have a healthy, wealthy life in retirement

Roy Wood St James Place Capture
Roy Wood, St James’s Place

Roy Wood, who from humble beginnings in the East End of London, started his working life with Barclays Bank rising to be a business manager. He was invited to join Jacob Rothschild to form a financial advice partnership. This became known as St James’s Place and in the last twenty five years has seen this partnership rise to be one of the leading wealth management companies in the world. In addition Roy spends five days a month in Dubai advising British ex-pats.

Roy highlighted the benefit of compound interest on any savings plan. As an example he started a pension plan for his two daughters investing the family allowance from their birth and reinvesting all the proceeds. He has calculated that provided the monthly investment keeps up with inflation then by the time they each are 55 they will both have a pot of over £500,000. The average UK retiree has a savings pot of only £30,000. Members of the police service, compulsorily save 14% of their salary, retire after thirty years with a pension of 2/3 salary which is index linked.

He went on to explain the basic rules of money advocated by business magnates Warren Buffet and Jacob Rothschild. Keep money in a bank sufficient for 6 to 9 months of expenditure. Any remaining funds should be invested, with the fear of loss managed by following two rules. Firstly, the investment pot should have 20% in each of Equities, Property, Precious Metals and Commodities, Government Gilts & Corporate Bonds and cash in Building Societies and banks. Secondly, it should be invested for a minimum of 6 years as all groups relate to each other. As one rises another reduces.

Roy outlined four big challenges in life that impact directly on finances. They are divorce, inflation, longer life but poor health and inheritance tax.

Wills should be updated and Powers of Attorney (health and wealth) drawn up. Assets should be in joint names, allowing instant access to the surviving spouse. Assets within an Investment Bond are protected both from Inheritance tax and care home costs if you survive for seven years.

Good bye to Chris Barton

Chris Barton
Chris Barton 13th February 1923 – 14th February 2015

Tuesday 3rd March 2015 saw a packed Basingstoke Crematorium say farewell to Chris Barton, the oldest member of the Probus Club of Basingstoke. Joining his widow Jenny and their extended families amongst the mourners were nine members of the Probus Club of Basingstoke with the President, Vice President and other committee members including several past presidents.

Chris had died in his sleep in the early morning following his 92nd birthday where he had been in good form recovering, albeit slowly, from a chest problem that had hospitalised him in December.

We learned of Chris’s birth in South Kensington, the son of a prep school headmaster, and his education at Dauntsey’s school in Wiltshire where he continued to attend their Old Boys’ reunions until recent years. A minor heart murmur that kept him out of physical activities for some school years failed to stop him playing various sports later in life. Sailing and boating became a great interest and was the reason that the RNLI was the chosen charity for any donations.

Forever a practical man, Chris had a variety of jobs. Being an aircraft fitter, working amongst others on Sunderland Flying Boats, eventually brought him to Hampshire. Moving into an engineering specialist firm in Basingstoke he then transferred within the company becoming a diamond polisher on which subject Chris and Jenny gave a presentation to one of our Speaker evenings. After several years he created a car hire business and during the quieter months he became a driving instructor. Having helped several students source a suitable car he established Five Ways Car Sales. When he sold up he became a wood turner that became a busy hobby in his retirement. (the subject of our Members’ Hobbies section of our web site)

Probably because he joined the Probus Club well into his retirement Chris did not aspire to become a committee member but immersed himself thoroughly in our activities and was a regular attendee at lunches, Speaker meetings and on social outings. He really enjoyed our last trip to the RAF Museum where he was seen keenly viewing a Sunderland Flying Boat, perhaps wondering if it had been one that he had worked on.