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Margaret Barnes

In the second of the articles about people in the Northern district, we are featuring someone who actually does not sail model yachts or any boats at all.  I think its fair to say that in any ideal world every model yacht club would have a Margaret Barnes.  Sadly, Margaret’s husband Alec has only recently died, so this is not only an article about Margaret but also a tribute to her late husband.  Without further ado, and in her own words I introduce you to Margaret and her association with model boat sailing:

 “My late husband, Alec, from being a teenager was involved in sailing model boats, first being a member of Bury Model Boat Club. 

 On getting married and going to live in Lake District he bought a sailing dingy, sailing on Windermere most days of the week.  On a few occasions taking me with him but I was never a good companion, could not get my head or hands around when I had to duck, change sides etc and ended up with more bruises than anyone could imagine.  It didn’t help that I was also afraid of water not being a swimmer and suffered from sea sickness even on the Lake.

 On returning to Bradford to live he once again became more interested in modelling, mainly steam so we went to almost all model boat exhibitions and steam rallies within 150 miles radius.   At one of these shows we met up with some members of the former Leeds & Bradford Model Boat Club, sailing at Larkfield Tarn and became members.  It was not long before I was volunteered to become “tea lady” etc.  At that time the club did not have any running water which did not help, so I decided that social fund raising needed to be started to raise funds for the installation of water, septic tank for toilet facilities.  Committee at that time felt there was no way this would happen, but it did.

 Unfortunately, although too long a tale to tell, as one can imagine, arguments began with a result that the club was divided and ended up with Alec, myself and approximately another six members transferring Leeds & Bradford Model Boat Club to sail at Yeadon Tarn in 2006. 

 We did not have a clubhouse but the gardener’s shelter in complete disrepair and fire damaged was due to be demolished by the Council.  We fought this and made good the shelter, which is now our clubhouse, small but cosy.   We were in a minus situation financially in 2006 but my fund raising abilities being what they are has led us to be in a nice position in 2018.  Members say that I could sell ice cream to Eskimos!!!

Alec did on many occasions try and get me to be a skipper.  My co-ordination of starboard and port just does not justify me being on the water.   I have always taken an interest in him building the models and accompanied him on his many trips in researching the ones he built, as 95% of them are still around. 

After building the “Waverley” he wanted to build the sister ship “Balmoral”.   So we booked on a day excursion leaving Whitehaven to Douglas Isle of Man – with a trip on a steam train on arrival.  Ten minutes at sea all I wanted was to get off or die – sea sickness.  Not much sympathy from Alec when I kept asking when we would get there – saying I can see IOM – me replying that you could see IOM from Whitehaven.  Needless to say the steam train trip did not happen, we visited a chemist shop, got some tablets and laid down on a lot of pebbles for the day plucking up enough courage to get back on board in the evening and of course I would not let him build a model of the Balmoral. 

Even though I suffer sea sickness at the slightest swell of the sea, I eventually agreed to go on a cruise holiday and enjoyed every minute of it – done 20 trips to date.  Just start taking pills day before travel and each day on board whether the sea calm or not in preparation.  

 His model making continued even on holiday, taking lots of photos of tug boats, pilot boats and me standing around whilst he drew sketches.  

I love being a member of the Boat Club, supporting skippers, arranging outings, annual dinners, social functions and becoming an expert in bacon butties.   On big competition days when lunch was being provided, Alec would make a big meat and potato pie for which he became quite famous.  Standard joke within the family that I am no good at cooking – he was a Chef by trade so I have never had to cook.  However, for the past two years health wise prevented him from being able to do this so I had to think of something that I could do, which seems to have gone down well, changing the lunch menu to either Steak and Kidney Pie or Coq-au-vin.  Not hard to create these dishes but seems to be quite acceptable.

 Still don’t know about marrying up servo’s and transmitters but I do know how much they cost and how to order them, along with many other items required to create a model.  Alec had absolutely no idea how to use computer so between us made a perfect pair, especially now that most things are done online.   The same went when programming his many transmitters that needed a more electronic mind instead of using 27mg !!”

 Editor:  I can testify to the excellence of Margaret’s bacon butties and Coq-au vin.  Having just sailed in an open at Yeadon Tarn and sampled the food (including seconds – or was it thirds?) I returned home so full of the delicious food that I drove home with a happy contented stomach and a smile on my face.   Lucky Leeds and Bradford MBC, I am envious of you. 

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