A Big Cat, thought to be a Puma, was sighted in Overton by a local resident while walking his dog. Mervyn Rodenhurst of Church Lane , Overton was convinced he saw a large cat-like animal in the fields below St Mary's House, at about 10.15 on the morning of the 11th June.
It was an ordinary day. One of those days when you hardly expect things to be any different, a day which started quite uneventfully with a walk with the dog. But things turned out differently - in a big way. Shortly after descending the concrete path leading to the Meadows with his dog Amber, Mervyn caught sight of something in the long grass. At first he could not make out what it was. But after quietly re-tracing his steps up the ramp to get a better look, he realised he was looking at a big cat-like animal. He said: "At first it was sitting with its back to me and I just stood there, motionless, watching it for about three or four minutes. Then it turned towards me and I was able to see all its features and get some idea of its size. Even when it crouched down in the long grass, I could still see its ears. This was no ordinary wild animal. This was big, and I mean big."
Mervyn knew what he saw was something like a large wild cat, and on returning home searched the Internet to find an animal resembling that which he had just seen. He logged on to a Natural History site, and within seconds was looking at a picture of the animal he believed he saw in the Meadows - a Puma.
A Puma - also known as a Cougar. Courtesy of National Geographic
Mervyn said: "I had a really good look at the animal, and when I saw the picture of it on the Internet, I just knew that's what I had just seen." A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: "We are getting increasing numbers of sightings across the country and this is causing a degree of concern"
In recent years the south-west of England has seen a rash of alleged sightings of big-cats, which have been well publicised. Most people will have heard media references to the "The Beast of Bodmin Moor"
A leading authority on the bizarre subject of sightings of wild cats, especially in Scotland is the very down-to-earth John Cathcart, of Inverness. Originally a poaching liaison officer with Highland Constabulary, Cathcart was called in by farmers who reported sheep kills and sightings of large felines. He thinks a change in the law led to the release of big cats into the wild.
"With the introduction of the 1976 Dangerous Wild Animals Act all sorts of wild creatures which had until then been kept as pets in the home were required to be caged and licensed with a local authority. The scheme meant that keeping these animals subjected the owner to rigorous scrutiny and the cages would cost thousands of pounds. It's quite likely that owners of big cats like panthers and pumas, who had bought themselves a status symbol for only a few hundred pounds, simply released the animals to avoid the need to build a cage."
This theory is consistent with the timing of sightings across Britain, which began in the late seventies. We are now 25 years on from the 1976 act's introduction and sightings continue: John Cathcart added: "These animals would be doing very well to survive 25 years in the wild. I believe they may be breeding. In 1977 I was told by a witness that he'd seen a puma with two or three cubs. In 1983 I was told of a big-cat's kittens crossing a forest track. Sightings have continued since then."
Whatever turns out to be living in Scotland, and elsewhere, it's unlikely to be dangerous to man, says John Cathcart. "I've gathered hundreds of sightings, and all of them have ended with the creature turning tail and fleeing from the humans. It seems that they avoid man wherever possible." Mervyn confirms this.
A spokesperson for Chester Zoo said: "These sightings normally turn out to be feral cats that have grown extremely large"
Mervyn said: "I know some people disbelieve me, but I know what I saw."
Son joins family firm
Daniel Barber has recently joined the family run Trotting Mare Service Station. Daniel, 35, and married with one son was previously involved in the earth moving industry before joining the firm last Easter. Having completed a number of stringent examinations and practical tests run by the Ministry of Transport, Daniel is now the Manager of the MOT side of the garage business.
Trevor Barber (Quality Control) and Nick Taylor (Workshop Manager) jointly run the workshop assisted by Mark Davies. A great advantage being that if a vehicle fails the MOT it can be repaired on site.
Youth Club donates funds
At the re-launch of the Youth Club on Tuesday 5th June, Vice-chair, Pauline Edwards presented a cheque for £150 towards the cost of the Millennium Window to Kay Lawrenson, Secretary to St Mary's PCC.
Over 25 young people between the ages of 14 and 16 years attended the free barbeque and shared their thoughts upon what they wanted from the Club. The Club has also donated £550 towards the cost of the new Infant swings at the playing fields.
Sue Glover, Secretary to the Youth Club said: "It was always our intention to put money back into the community"
Traditional wedding in Nepal blessed in Overton
A couple who were married in Kathmandu have had their wedding blessed in St Mary's Church, Overton. Toby Guyett, the son of Jon and Jackie Guyett of Overton, who married his Tibetan wife Chhimi Lhamo Lama in Nepal in February, returned to Overton for the Christian Blessing.
He met Chhimi after going to Nepal as an aid worker, later setting up his own school with over 300 children. The couple, both 26, returned to Britain shortly before the massacre of the Royal family by Crown Prince Dipendra.
Photo with a famous Person
This month we feature Sue Walker from School Lane, Overton who, after a 9 hour flight to Orlando, bumped into Linford Christie who was also holidaying in Florida.
She is pictured here with her niece, and Linford Christie's daughter.
I looked for a new hobby, so tried hosting on a Cruise Ship - and it's magic!
By Barrie Cornes
Picture the scene - it is approaching 5pm, the temperature is still around the 80's, the cloudless sky is a brilliant blue and the sea a crystal clear green and you are lying back in your lounger sipping an ice-cold rum punch or gin & tonic on the deck of a cruise-liner preparing to cast off from the quay side and sail away to it's next exotic port of call - most of us can only dream of such a situation. Whilst we take all this in, the ship's orchestra is beginning to play and I have to leave my lounger to take up my duties as a Cruise/Dance Host, a position I have enjoyed over the past 18 months and one which I believe makes me one of the most envied males on board because one of my duties entails dancing with all the unattached ladies on the cruise - it really is a magic hobby.
I am asked many times, not only how I got this great job, but why I do it. I always reply that I do it because I enjoy meeting and chatting to people, music, dancing with a variety of ladies and the opportunity to cruise to almost every country in the world. The chance to fulfil all these interests began as long ago as 1995 which was not one of the best years of my life as I had lost my job, my wife and ended the year by spending two weeks in hospital. It also became a year of contemplation, self-examination and decision and as an Accountant I looked at working abroad as well as on Cruise ships. But without any experience of either, I could not find anything that might have been acceptable to me.
Jayne, my daughter, suggested that I should apply to become a Cruise/ Dance Host as she had spotted that such positions were available on a number of ships. The idea interested me and I wrote out my application. However, before I could send it away I was admitted to hospital and the thought of becoming a Cruise Dance Host was the last thing on my mind. And so it was for the next 4 years.
However, early in 1999 I decided to take a cruise, and while on board I found that on that particular ship they had four Cruise/Dance Hosts. Immediately my interest was rekindled and after making further enquiries I completed the necessary forms, took my dance test with a professional dance teacher (which covered 10 dances) and had a comprehensive interview. The final part of the appointment procedure was to take two cruises as a novice Cruise/Dance Host under supervision, after which my position was confirmed.
Barrie Cornes (right) with some of the other Dance Hosts
This is not a job, we do not work for any Cruise lines, and we are certainly not gigolos or escorts. That would imply a one-to-one pairing with a particular woman.
We pay an agency fee to be a volunteer and as such no salary is earned, although we do receive a free cruise. As volunteers we enjoy dancing with ladies travelling by themselves and we are always striving for the highest standards and ideals to ensure that these ladies have the opportunity to join in all the ship's fun which in turn would help them to make their dreams of cruising a reality. Since those first two cruises I have travelled on a further 6 cruises, including two as a Senior Host with novice hosts under my guidance. This has enabled me to travel to those exotic places that one can only dream about and I will describe some of these visits to you next month.
Ed: I've seen next month's article and we can't wait to go to print. I just know a lot of men in Overton will drool with envy, and in an odd sort of way I wouldn't mind betting there will be a renewed interest in ballroom dancing and ships!!!!