Tag: Liverpool

Speaker Meeting – John Stoddern

Liverpool Anglican Cathedral

Liverpool Anglican Cathedral

This is our second Autumn Speaker meeting, where John Stoddern will give an interesting talk on the Anglican Cathedral of Liverpool. John is a Guide for the Anglican Cathedral which is one of two Cathedrals in the city.They are located either end of the aptly named Hope Street and are vastly different in architecture but both majestic and beautiful. The Anglican  Cathedral is of the Anglican Diocese of Liverpool, built on St James’s Mount and is the seat of the Bishop of Liverpool. For more information visit this website Anglican Cathedral Liverpool 

If you are not a member but would like to attend any of our events or are interested in joining our Association, please complete the Contact Form

The Codebreakers and London’s Great Gardens

Windsor Castle by Michael Rofe

The Bill Hotel, Gerrards CrossOrganised by Airedale Tours Ltd. The Bull Hotel, Gerrards Cross is set in landscaped gardens in a conservation area of Buckinghamshire, a perfect destination for our 5 day break.

The programme of events will include:

  • Bletchley Park
  • Windsor Castle
  • RHS Wisley
  • National Trust Waddeson Manor
  • Windsor Great Park
  • The Savill Garden

Full details and application forms for our holiday, Codebreakers and London’s Great Gardens, are available in our Autumn 2021 magazine. Please contact holiday organiser Michael Rofe (details in magazine) for availability of rooms.

If you are not a member but would like to attend this holiday, any other of our events or are interested in joining our Association, please complete the Contact Form. Your enquiry will then be forwarded to the relevant organiser.

Windsor Castle, the long walk



SoFA Holiday to Scotland

Scotland Group Photo

After a two year delay due to the Covid pandemic and much reorganisation on Michael’s part, our SoFA holiday to Scotland went ahead on Sunday 24 April. We stopped for coffee at the Tebay Hotel and then at Moffatt Mill for lunch before arriving at the Angus Hotel in Blairgowrie in the late afternoon.

House of Dun
House of Dun

On Monday morning we visited the National Trust of Scotland’s House of Dun. This early 18th century Georgian masterpiece was designed by the Scottish architect, William Adam. After splitting into three groups we were shown around the house by guides in 19th century costumes. The guides ’interviewed’ us as prospective employees which gave an interesting slant to the tour. The plasterwork in the saloon is incredible and took Dutch plasterer Joseph Enzer four years to complete. The house also contains many fine examples of needlework by Lady Augusta Fitzclarence, a daughter of King William IV, which must have taken many hours of her time.

Glamis Castle SoFA Holiday to Scotland
Glamis Castle

In the afternoon we moved to Glamis Castle, reputedly the finest in Scotland. Many of us only knew it from Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ so were surprised to learn it was the childhood home of the Queen Mother and birthplace of Princess Margaret. Our guide was very informative and explained how the original castle has been much extended and updated. There are extensive gardens and grounds at Glamis Castle that flourish and change throughout the open season. We were lucky to see and enjoy the beautiful spring bulbs during our visit.

Balmoral Castle - SoFA Holiday to Scotland
Balmoral Castle

We drove to Royal Deeside on Tuesday to visit Balmoral Castle. We were all keen to look around Balmoral, the Scottish holiday home to the Royal Family and were given audio guides to listen to as we walked around the grounds. The history of the castle was explained and how the estate is managed. It was too early in the year for there to be much growing in the gardens although all the fruit and vegetables are grown for the summer vacation of the Royal Family. Only the ballroom in the interior was open to the public where there was a lovely display of exhibits from our Royal Family. After our visit we were given the opportunity to walk up to Crathie Kirk, a small church best known for being the regular place of worship of the Royal Family and where Princess Anne married Commander Timothy Lawrence. We spent some of the afternoon a short drive away in Ballater a pleasant little town which is a centre for hikers.

RRS Discovery - SoFA Holiday to Scotland
RRS Discovery

On Wednesday morning we travelled to Dundee to visit Discovery Point and the new V&A Museum. Discovery point is home to the RRS Discovery the ship Captain Scott travelled on to the Antarctic. We spent time exploring the ship which is displayed in a purpose built dock and looking around an excellent exhibition in the Discovery centre charting the course of Antarctic exploration. The modern V&A museum next door contained many interesting exhibits including the Scottish Design Galleries featuring the architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Scotland Group Photo - SoFA holiday to Scotland
Group photo at Scone Palace

Our final visit in the afternoon was to Scone Palace, famous for the ‘Stone of Scone’ an oblong block of red sandstone that has been used for centuries in the coronation of the monarchs of Scotland. The Palace is a Category A listed building near the village of Scone and the city of Perth.

Reluctantly on Thursday morning we left Blairgowrie to head home. We had coffee and scones at South Queensferry in a cafe under the Forth rail bridge which was an imposing sight. We then continued south to the Shap Wells Hotel where we enjoyed a delicious three course lunch. Early evening saw us all safely back in Southport having enjoyed a great holiday in Scotland.

The SoFA holiday to Scotland was planned by Michael Rofe, his wife Jean and Airedale Travel. We would like to thank Michael, Jean, Airedale Travel and of course Carl our brilliant driver for such an excellent holiday. One of the highlights was being able to travel again with friends old and new following the restrictions of the past two years.

Forth Bridge - SoFA Holiday to Scotland
Forth rail bridge

If you are not a member but would like to attend any of our events, a SoFA holiday or are interested in joining our Association, please complete SoFA’s Contact Form.

Article supplied by Richard Hughes. Photographs by Michael Rofe.

SoFA 50th Anniversary celebration

John and Marion

SoFA members celebrated the Association’s 50th Anniversary in April.  The Bliss Hotel, Southport was the venue chosen for the Covid-delayed event originally planned for 2021.  Over 60 members and National Trust guests enjoyed a delightful lunch.  The panoramic views across the gardens, sea and marine lake in the dining area together with bright sunshine added to the warm and friendly atmosphere of the occasion.

Carol and John + magician

During the meal, the diners enjoyed the added experience of ‘table magic’ with the skills of the magician Pete Turner who moved around the tables providing a fascinating display of magic tricks despite the close-up, determined scrutiny of his audience!

SoFA’s vice-chair Edwina Alcock reflected on the development of the group, some significant office holders and activities.  National Trust funding records cover only the last 35 years of the Association’s history but the funding total is in excess of £60,000.

50th Anniversary meal SoFA

To mark SoFA’s 50th Anniversary, the Association made its largest ever single donation to The National Trust as reported in the Southport Champion Newspaper. Edwina, who liaises with Formby National Trust on behalf of SoFA presented a cheque for £5000 to Vicky Blane, the portfolio manager and Paul Semple, the site co-ordinator. The donation will kick start funding for the important restoration work to be done at Wicks Lake on the Trust site.

Chair, Frank Hyland circulated a letter of congratulations and thanks from Hilary McGrady, the National Trust Director General. Eleanor Underhill, Director of Operations and a guest at the luncheon, thanked members for the special donation and the support given to the wider National Trust. 

Jean and Ian 50th Anniversary

A vaccine-driven strategy is now allowing the group to return to a normal programme of activities in 2022.  Members can look forward to organised outings, holidays and talks as we begin the next 50 years of SoFA’s history.

If you are not a member but would like to attend any of our events or are interested in joining our Association, please complete our Contact Form.

Article provided by Frank Hyland.
Photographs by Michael Rofe.



On 12 April the SoFA AGM was held at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Southport. This was the first SoFA AGM since 2019, with the 2020 and 2021 AGMs having to be postponed due to Covid.

There was a good turnout from Members. The voting was unanimous for the election of the SoFA Officers and Committee. Thanks was given to Norma, who had stood down from the Committee after over 20years. She was thanked her for her loyal service to SoFA and was presented with a bunch of flowers.

Frank, SoFA’s Chair, reminded the members that our outings are restarting in June and there is an outing each month until the end of September. Full details of the outings are listed in SoFA’s Spring 2022 magazine and will be advertised on this website.

Following the AGM we were pleased to introduce Chris Hunter, Lead Ranger at Formby National Trust provided those present with an update regarding what goes on at the site on a daily basis. They now have a new ‘Tuesday Group’ who will carry out controlled tree management.

Chris reported that there are currently around 200 red squirrels within their Formby boundary. This survey was carried out by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust. Chris asked that anyone who sees either a red or grey squirrel in their garden that they report the sighting on the Lancashire Wildlife Trust website.

Between April and August a survey of the Natterjack toads is going to be carried out, unfortunately, the breeding season in 2020 and 2021 were unsuccessful.

Chris also thanked the SoFA group for their generous donation which will kick-start funding for the important restoration work to be done at Wicks Lake on the Trust site.

If you are interested in joining SoFA please contact us using our Contact Form.