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Cheadle Rotary Club

By Cheadle Post and Times  |  Posted: March 17, 2014

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AFTER reading books about climbing mountains over 2,000 feet in Great Britain, Jeff Kent envisaged the idea of doing something similar in Staffordshire.

His criteria for the project was that the peaks were natural hills, were 1,000 feet above sea level and had a definite summit.

After lengthy research, he discovered to his surprise that 65 hills met this criteria and they were all in North Staffordshire.

In 2011 he spent a lot of time in planning to ascend these peaks and catalogue information about them.

He found that one of the biggest obstacles was the fact that 38 of these hills were situated on private land with either sparse or no public footpaths.

So obtaining permission was a tedious and onerous task. However in April 2012 he set himself the task of completing the project before the end of the year, aided by his partner Sue Bell, who took a photograph of him on each summit.

Because of other commitments and the notorious wet weather of 2012, he only just achieved his target, climbing the last peak on New Year's Eve.

Jeff entertained the club with many humorous stories about his epic feat and has now published a book, entitled Staffordshire's 1,000 foot Peaks, which is now recognised as a valuable reference book on North Staffordshire hills.

Brian Stoddard proposed a warm Vote of Thanks to Jeff on his outstanding achievement. On February 27, Cheadle Rotary Club met at Heath House Farm, Forsbrook, when President Paul Keates welcomed 30 members and Guests.

Sports Secretary Phil Lomas reported on the recent Inter Club Darts Match with Blythe Bridge Rotary Club, which ended with a victory for the Blythe Bridge Club.

Paul then introduced Past President Mike Collis, who had recently returned from a six-week Atlantic and Amazon cruise.

Mike chose to concentrate on the Amazon part of the excursion which included sailing 1,000 miles up the river to Manaus.

As a river the Amazon can only be described as awesome. The Nile is the world's longest river, but the Amazon is by far the greatest.

The river mouth is 50 miles wide and a one second outflow into the Atlantic would supply the city of New York with fresh water for nine years.

The first stop was at Santaren which was formerly the world's largest exporter of rubber.

Unfortunately for Brazil, some rubber trees were sent as a gift to Kew Gardens and subsequently sent to the Far East of the British Empire where they were heavily cultivated and eventually supplied the bulk of the rubber market. At Manaus, the ship tied up for 2 days, although the river is still navigable for large ships for a further 1000 miles to the city of Quito. A trip in a dug-out canoe was organised and many small villages were viewed where all the houses are built of wood and on stilts, most having a generator to supply electricity and some having satellite dishes. The natives were mainly self-sufficient obtaining most of their food from the river and the forest. As there are no roads, everything is transported by the river or by air. A floating petrol station was seen which was supplying the generators. Modern civilisation is available in Manaus which has a fabulous opera house and a football stadium still under construction. The last stop on the return journey down the Amazon was at Macapa which is built on the Equator. Here it is possible to stand with one foot in the Southern Hemisphere and one in the Northern. After a visit to the infamous Devils Island in French Guiana, it was back across the Atlantic with more stops en route. On the last night of sailing, a tragic accident occurred when the ship encountered a Force 11 storm on entering the English Channel, a freak wave shattered four windows at one end of the restaurant and the debris killed a man and severely injured two others. The Captain announced that the injured had to be removed by helicopter and he was obliged to turn the ship for this operation to be successful. All passengers were ordered to sit on the floor, which lasted for 3 hours until they were escorted back to their cabins by the crew. After answering many questions, President Paul concluded the meeting by thanking Mike for his fascinating presentation and wishing members a safe journey home.

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