University Challenge Arrives At Sutton Coldfield Circle

Vice President Peter Westbrook ( standing) congratulates the winning team

Sutton Coldfield Circle at its March meeting held on Monday 13th March at its usual venue Moor Hall Hotel, Sutton Coldfield organised a  University Challenge type quiz compiled by Vice President Peter Westbrook. Four teams were faced with a range of 35 questions of the standard associated with the television programme. Questions, some of which were multi-choice, posed to the teams ranged from the real name of the novelist George Elliot to the UK’s smallest bird.

All participants certainly had to give much thought to the answers. However the event was very entertaining and certainly had all concerned being tested on their knowledge on a wide range of subjects.

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An Evening of Invention and Design – Story of the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter dynamism

Pictured on the left of Jonathan is Joe O’Meara chair for the evening with both holding an example of electroplating and a copy of the book.

Sutton Coldfield Circle at its February meeting held on Monday 13th February at Moor Hall Hotel , Sutton Coldfield were pleased to welcome Professor Jonathan Berg who gave a presentation on his latest book about Birmingham – Invention and Design –Elkington of Birmingham. Jonathan is no stranger in writing books about Birmingham illustrated with his own photographs. He has published five editions of his book – Positively Birmingham exploring the modern city in texts and images.

He captivated brothers and guests with his presentation after dinner of his latest book in which describes the history of Elkington of Birmingham with the company’s invention of electroplating and electrotyping techniques which could be applied to a range of items from candle sticks to cutlery. Examples of which Jonathan illustrated with his talk. Many copies of his book were purchased on the night the proceeds of which will go the ‘ Sifa Fireside’ charity based in Birmingham which enables inclusion, engagement and equal access to services for those individuals who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

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The Championship comes to Sutton Coldfield Circle

Football was the main focus of Sutton Coldfield’s January meeting held at Moor Hall Hotel on Monday 9th January when they welcomed John Eustace Head Coach of Championship side Birmingham City F.C . John was introduced by Vice President Peter Westbook who outlined his playing career at Coventry City, Stoke City, Watford and Derby County and his managerial career at Kidderminster Harriers , Queens Park Rangers and now at Birmingham City. John then took part in a question and answer session from brothers and guests on subjects ranging from – The challenges of a managerial position , relationship with players supporters club, talking to the media preparing for games , financial aspect of the club and the transfer market. The evening was most informative into the insight of the game and was particularly welcomed by all blues fans in the room. John Eustace personally introduced himself to all those present finding out there were rival supporters from Aston Villa, Southampton and Stoke City.

If you are a local catholic gentleman and would like to find out more about meeting and socialising with other catholics please complete  the contact form below. We look forward to hearing from you.

John Eustace, Birmingham City Football Manager

On Monday the 9th January, John Eustace will be talking to us about his career, his coaching philosophy and the challenges he faces in management. It will no doubt draw out his personal qualities and resilience in managing a major football club.

You will be most welcome. Monday, 9th of January, at 7.30 at Moor Hall Hotel. Cost £26 includes a 3- course meal. If interested go to or phone Peter Westbrook on 07710811249.

Quality not Quantity at Christmas Party and a Surprise Gift

Sutton Coldfield Circle held its Christmas Party after its meeting on 12th December. Although attendance was down on pre covid occasions some 35 members wives and guests enjoyed a festive occasion . Fred Kettell ably led the assembled in a range of popular carols. At the circle meeting President Mark McGrail Presented Mike Gaffney with a £50-00 celebration gift voucher on behalf of the circle to mark the occasion of the award of his 50 year Membership Scroll at the November Circle meeting.

If you are a local catholic gentleman and would like to find out more about meeting and socialising with other catholics please complete and forward the contact form below. We look forward to hearing from you.

A Double Special Celebration At Sutton Coldfield Circle

Sutton Coldfield ‘s November Circle Meeting held on Monday 14th November at Moor Hall Hotel , Sutton Coldfield was double special celebration with two 50 year membership scrolls being presented by the Catenian Association Great Britain National President Roger Lillie accompanied by his wife Margret. The recipients being Michael Gaffney , a member of Sutton Coldfield Circle and Peter Dickens a member of Streetly Circle .

The meeting and dinner which followed was an outstanding success with over 110 attending including members , wives and guests from some 14 circles in Province No6 which covers most of the wider West Midlands . National President Roger gave a brief resume of both Mike and Peter’s achievements which included the various offices they had held within their respective circles and the contribution they had given to the Catenian Association over the years.

If you are a local catholic gentleman and would like to find out more about meeting and socialising with other catholics please complete and forward the contact form on the Get In Touch section of our website. We look forward to hearing from you.

A New Member For Sutton Coldfield Circle

Sutton Coldfield Circle welcomed Michael O’ Shea into the Circle and the Association at its October meeting . Michael is a parishioner of Holy Trinity Sutton Coldfield and is semi retired. For the last twenty five years Michael was in the retail business and for the last five years as a part time hobby he has been passionate about dressing men and women to enhance their looks and show their true potential and describes himself as an Image Architect – You can have most things in life if dress for it. So in the future look out for members and their wives in their new images !!!!

Michael O’Shea  being  welcomed into the circle by  President Mark McGrail on the right.

If you are a local catholic gentleman and would like to find out more about meeting and socialising with other catholics please complete and forward the contact form on the Get In Touch section of our website. We look forward to hearing from you.

Winners and Losers Raise £810 For Charity

Placing bets on the races was more than brisk at Sutton Coldfield Catenian’s race night held at Moor Hall Hotel on Monday 11th October . Circle members and guests had the choice of placing bets on eight races all of which had been sponsored by circle members. The event was organised by circle member Steve Broom assisted by his family with video recorded races together with commentaries. There were also prizes and rosettes for the owners of all the horses which were again sponsored. There was much excitement as punters encouraged their chosen horses. Some did better than others.

Punters getting ready to place their bets !!!

An excellent night was enjoyed by all, with £810 being raised for Circle President Mark Mc Grail’s charity Lisieux House a local-based charity which supports adults with a learning disability and adults on the autism spectrum to live happy, enriched lives, full of opportunity and choice.

The Amazing Interview with a Sutton Coldfield Catholic Priest.

Approximately 50 Sutton Coldfield Catenians and guests enjoyed a memorable night on June the 13th,  being the occasion of the circle’s June meeting, listening to Father Michael Ho Huu Nghia  Parish Priest of Holy Trinity, Sutton Coldfield, being interviewed by Past President Peter Westbrook. The theme of the interview was the surprises he has experienced and who would he invite to dinner and why. 

One of Father Michael’s most significant experiences was as a ‘boat person’ fleeing Vietnam. Along with 76 other people, they endured 17 days at sea. Towards the end of that period, a lady gave birth to a child in front of everyone in the boat. Father Michael prayed for rescue and vowed that if they were rescued he would ‘try to be good man all his life’.   Right on cue, a British ship rescued them the following day. For the first time, he experienced British tea and perhaps more importantly the compassion the crew showed them. This surprised him as he had seen very little of it before! Indeed one of the things he loves about the British is the amount of compassion shown to other people; another great surprise. 

Past President Peter Westbrook interviewing Father Michael

Whilst most of his boat comrades opted for settlement in the USA, Canada, or Australia, Father Michael was determined to go to the UK as he had been rescued by a British ship. He was temporarily settled at Eccleshall in Staffordshire (which ironically is Celtic for Church place) where he was surprised to hear a fellow inmate state that he had left one hell to go to another, owing to the weather. However, he was surprised when this fellow inmate stayed and became an eminent surgeon in Manchester. It was whilst at Eccleshall,  a local catholic priest Father Sandy Brown came to see them all and offered comfort and any treats. Father Michael asked for a bible, not only for his Christian faith but also to help him learn English. 20 years later, Father Michael received an immense surprise when listening to Father Brown recount the story of him giving a bible to some poor Vietnamese refugee in Eccleshall, and this resulted in that person learning more about Christianity resulting in him becoming a priest. The astonished congregation then heard Father Michael say afterward that he was that poor Vietnamese refugee!    

Father Michael’s brother, was another boat person who left Vietnam and became interned in Indonesia. However, after a certain period, the authorities were determined to send such interns back to Vietnam. Father Michael was desperate to help his brother but didn’t know how, until someone suggested he write to the British Prime Minister John Major. Father Michael was surprised to not only receive a reply but also that his brother would be released and sent to the UK. 

Father Michael, studied in Rome for the priesthood and was surprised to meet Pope John Paul the second on a number of occasions and recounted how the Pope addressed him and remembered him. He was there when the Pope was shot and subsequently forgave the perpetrator. A great inspiration for the young aspiring priest. 

Catenians and guests listening to Father Michael’s amazing journey.

On being asked who he would invite to dinner, Father Michael equivocated but when pressed said it would be Archbishop Bernard Langley of Birmingham, Daniel Hurd, Father Gwilym Lloyd of St Anne’s  Streetly (a longstanding friend). When reminded that this was still short a list he desperately added two more Peter and Sandra Westbrook. When asked about what the meal would be, he recounted Archbishop Bernard’s visit to Holy Trinity when he clearly enjoyed Fish and Chips from ‘Be my Chip’ in Sutton Coldfield.   

The interview lasted an hour but could have lasted many more, as it was clearly apparent that many more anecdotes and stories were still to be explored. The audience was captivated by Father Michaels’ humility, experiences, and of course his humor. It was an excellent evening. 

What have trees done for us?

This was the question posed to us by Jane Finlay, President of the British Landscape Association. This simple question strikes at the heart of our complacent and generally uncaring attitude towards trees. We take them for granted and cut them down without thinking. Yet as children, we loved them, climbing their up their trunks and branches, building tree houses and playing hide and seek. As we have got older, we forgot how much pleasure they gave us and have treated them as some utility to be exploited. The older we got the less wise and more uncaring we became. This sad state of affairs is having strong consequences which cannot ignore.

It is now time to re-acquaint ourselves with what trees do for us. They:

  • Remove harmful gases
  • Remove airborne particulates
  • Improve weather patterns
  • Cool urban areas
  • Stabilise the soil and prevent erosion
  • Reduce and prevent water pollution
  • Reduce the risk of flooding by up to 20%
  • Reduce noise pollution
  • Sequesters carbon
  • Improves out health, for example we are less likely to use anti-depressants if we have trees nearby
  • Are a source of medicines
  • Provide food for a wide variety of wildlife. Indeed the common Oak supports 2300 species
  • Re-javanite our towns, making them more attractive and encourage people to visit and companies to invest in them

Jane urged us to think more about the importance of trees and help them to thrive, if only for our own sakes. More practically, she offered us all a tree to plant. Most of us did so.

A wonderful, thought provoking talk that has spurred many of us into a far more pro-active approach to support one of our planets greatest asset; our trees.

Please take a look at Jane Findlay’s slides for her presentation.

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