Sunday 10 June 2018 by matt

Rt Hon Mr Philip Hammond
House of Commons
London  SW1A 0AA

Dear Mr Hammond,


I understand that there is a chance next Tuesday, 12 June, for MPs in the Commons to consider the very sensible and pertinent amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill tabled by the Upper House.

This appears to be one of the few remaining chances for MPs properly to reflect the interests of constituents before sealing their fate.  I assume from your statements prior to June 2016 that you have no particular wish to risk impoverishing the people of Runnymede and Weybridge, removing many of their rights, or compromising their opportunities or well-being, and that you believe they would support such a laudable position.

There are many uncertainties and diverse views on what might happen as the end of the two year Article 50 period passes.  In the interests of prudent preparation, and recalling the petrol supply crisis of September 2000, I shall endeavour to have a good stock of food and fuel available at home before 29 March 2019.

I trust that you will similarly be doing everything possible to minimise the likelihood of disruption to national life as we approach that date, and thereby to safeguard your reputation as a responsible MP.  The simplest and most honest approach would of course be to respond to the electorate’s misguided advice given in June 2016 by explaining plainly and clearly that you do not have a mandate to cut the country’s throat.

Last week’s news that your ministerial department is “the heart of Remain” could be mildly encouraging – however I find no comfort in it when the government has painted itself into a corner, surrounded by hugely dissatisfied campaigners on both sides, all fearful of potential massive disappointment.  This is an inevitable consequence of almost two years of government dishonesty:  in 2016 collectively promising the unattainable;  in 2017 refusing to listen to the electorate;  in 2018 your colleagues squabbling among themselves;  and in 2019 heading to be the cause of such avoidable disruption as has never been seen in my lifetime.

When there is no settled consensus for any new future option the safest and most sensible course is not to leap into a dark chasm.  It is still not too late for the UK to escape this fate, though it probably requires some adults to take charge.

I would be most grateful to hear you more vociferously expressing and following your original judgement that remaining is best, so that I can include this in the stories I shall be telling my new grandson about how his future was determined.

Yours sincerely

Matt Sendorek

“Doing the right thing is not always easy – but it is always right!”


Sunday 15 April 2018 by matt

Rt Hon Mr Philip Hammond
House of Commons
London  SW1A 0AA

Dear Mr Hammond,


National newspapers have for several weeks been featuring horrific stories of British people being hounded out of jobs, homes, and health care, only because they are unable to respond satisfactorily to someone asking “Papers, please!”.

I have added my name to the online petition (, and I see that so far more than 100,000 others have too.  In your own constituency I am one of well over a hundred and fifty who have confirmed that they consider your Government’s behaviour to be shameful.

The policy of causing trouble for individuals who have legitimately and in good faith lived, learned and worked here all their lives since childhood, but whose documentation has since been ruled inadequate, is a disgrace to the most fundamental values of justice which your Government has a responsibility to uphold.  I am unable to fathom any reason why it should fail to correct this at once, and to apologise profusely to those already adversely affected.

I urge you to add your voice to the developing outcry, and to encourage immediate action on the part of your Home Office colleagues - this is surely a case where it is easy to do the right thing, as well as right.

Yours sincerely

Matt Sendorek

“Doing the right thing is not always easy – but it is always right!”


Sunday 4 March 2018 by matt

Rt Hon Mr Philip Hammond
House of Commons

London SW1A 0AA

Dear Sir,


Several politicians of different persuasions, as well as various commentators, have remarked on the emollient tone of the Prime Minister’s speech given at the Mansion House yesterday (Friday 2 March 2018).

I’ve taken the trouble to read the text of the speech and I’m afraid it reminds me only of empty words from an empty vessel.

My reactions to individual phrases are listed separately, because I was astonished by how many jarring ideas had been crammed into one place. I am further taking the trouble to inform you, my Member of Parliament, of them as it is important that you understand the concerns of your constituents.

The great wheeze embodied in this speech is to remain the beneficiary of everything good by creating a smokescreen of extra bureaucracy, to deceive haters of the EU into thinking we have left its orbit. This will not work – not all EU-haters are so easily fooled, and anyway the EU is unlikely to agree. Any attempts to shift blame for the shambles on to the EU are also futile as they will be similarly rumbled.

The only honest way forward for the UK government is to admit that, now it can see how difficult and costly this will be, it has realised that it has no mandate to degrade the UK’s future influence, unity and prosperity by following the finely-balanced advice of referendum voters, who were unfortunately led to express, in good faith, their views on an unachievable binary option. Dishonesty, once apparent, will surely be punished at the ballot box.

Apart from the empty triumph of saying it respected the marginal result of a non-binding referendum, every good thing aspired to in the speech will be attained by remaining in the EU, and I am convinced that, had all the implications been clear before the advisory referendum, the same result would not have followed. Democracy is best served by informed voters.

I trust you will do your utmost to help your government take the path of honesty.

Yours faithfully

Matt Sendorek

Attached: Reactions to the Prime Minister’s speech

“Doing the right thing is not always easy – but it is always right!”


Quotes are from the text published at

1. “we have a responsibility to help find a solution [to a hard border in Ireland]“: May makes small admissions of a teensy-weensy bit of guilt, hoping to deflect attention from the larger offences of negligent time-wasting, obtuse avoidance of reality and failure to engage

2. “Life is going to be different… …less than it is now”: indeed, and much less for many, who have family spread across the EU, or have nurtured ideas of building businesses or working or developing their knowledge or skills in a broader environment

3. “even after we have left the jurisdiction of the ECJ, EU law and the decisions of the ECJ will continue to affect us”: surprise, surprise! – no man is an island

4. “at every stage of these negotiations, I have put the interests of EU citizens and UK nationals at the heart of our approach”: reflecting on the uncertainties and barriers being thrown in the way of EU citizens and EU27-resident UK nationals, the only way I can think of this is as an outright lie

5. “…the approach the EU has taken with its trade agreements in the past - and indeed with its own single market as it has developed”: it is also *our* single market - why is May even contemplating the reinvention of what already exists and embodies the fruit of decades of active UK involvement, “driving much of the policy”?

6. “The UK will need to make a strong commitment that its regulatory standards will remain as high as the EU’s”: already the earlier “reciprocal binding commitments” have been watered down!

7. “Our default is that UK law may not necessarily be identical to EU law, but it should achieve the same outcomes”: what on earth is the point of this? How does this vanity, choosing complexity for complexity’s sake, achieve any useful end?

8. “there will need to be an independent mechanism to oversee these arrangements [if the Parliament of the day decided not to achieve the same outcomes as EU law]“: this is OK because it would not be labelled “ECJ”? Who’s fooling who!

9. “the EU would continue to access the expertise of the UK’s world-leading universities”: true - but only until that expertise leaves the UK

10. “Neither Leave nor Remain voters would want that [we had less control than we do now over our trade in the world]“: after you have “listened carefully” to the “many different voices and views in the debate on what our new relationship with the EU should look like” you evidently still misunderstand, or purposely misrepresent, what I actually want!

11. “Option one is a customs partnership between the UK and the EU. At the border, the UK would mirror the EU’s requirements for imports from the rest of the world”: thereby ensuring that the UK would be permanently tracking EU regulations, training its border staff in their application and effectively acting as agent of a foreign power on our own soil - what price “sovereignty”?!

12. “I fully expect that our standards will remain at least as high as the EU’s”: in the context of a formal negotiation, casually soothing statements like this are utterly empty words

13. “in services we have the opportunity to break new ground with a broader [Free Trade] agreement than ever before” – “our goal should be to establish the ability to access each others’ [sic] markets” in “areas where the UK and EU economies are closely linked”, specifically including “broadcasting, …financial services, …energy, transport, digital, law, science and innovation, and education and culture”: here we go, pointlessly reinventing all over again – instead of standing on the shoulders of giants, May insults their efforts

14. “the UK will not be part of the EU’s Digital Single Market”: by its nature, digital is not hindered by geographical considerations, so this “fast evolving, innovative sector, in which the UK is a world leader” will doubtless take the hint and rapidly migrate to where it can continue to evolve, innovate and lead the world without artificial hindrance

15. “we would want a broader agreement that reflects our unique starting point”: this sounds as if May sees our current EU membership as no more than a cynical ploy to gain a crude advantage in subsequent trade negotiations

16. “This is an optimistic and confident future which can unite us all…”: the politest thing I can say about the peroration is that it is patently wishful thinking, which therefore falls entirely flat

Matt Sendorek
3 March 2018

Deselecting Philip Hammond

Monday 4 September 2017 by matt

Arron Banks
Chairman of Leave.EU
2nd Floor, Lysander House
Catbrain Lane
Bristol BS10 7TQ

Dear Mr Banks,


Thank you for your letter suggesting that I work to deselect Philip Hammond.

I have zero interest in this proposal. Mr Hammond does not generally represent my views and, as I have several times pointed out in letters to him, appears to have caved in to the spurious ‘will of the people’ claim instead of doing his job and continuing to speak out clearly for the interests of his constituents. However, prior to the 2016 referendum, I think he and I would have agreed that leaving the EU would be detrimental to those interests, and since then the only change has been in his reluctance either properly to defend and promote this view or to explain his apparent change of mind.

I therefore have nothing against Mr Hammond continuing to represent the interests of the Conservative party. For me, the solution lies in replacing the present government.

We have somehow managed to put in charge of our country a government including several ignorant bullies who are behaving like spoilt brats, insulting and goading our Irish and continental neighbours while spouting deluded fibs to those who are entitled to expect them to at least try to lead in the national interest. The sovereignty they claim to be pursuing is in fact no more than another chance for them to trash our country, destroying those of our institutions which don’t suit their purposes, without oversight by anyone they cannot control.

Your letter has made me even more determined to support anyone prepared to stand up to these disgraceful bullies and to restore to power those prepared to work for the common good.

Yours sincerely

Matt Sendorek

Copy: Rt Hon Mr Philip Hammond, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA

“Doing the right thing is not always easy – but it is always right!”

Future customs arrangements

Tuesday 15 August 2017 by matt

The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer
HM Treasury
1 Horse Guards Road

The Rt Hon David Davis MP
Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
9 Downing Street

Dear Sirs,


In your joint policy paper “Future customs arrangements” published today, para 61 states: “The Government would particularly welcome views on”… …”whether the Government should consider any additional or alternative proposals and technological solutions”, which appears to indicate that the Government believes that there may be options it has so far been unable to identify.

I respectfully suggest that the Government should consider seriously the option of abandoning its present course, which will inevitably make the UK Government less influential abroad, the UK’s future international relations weaker, and UK citizens poorer. The Chancellor’s view prior to the 2016 Referendum was that “we will be safer, stronger and better off if we remain in the EU” and nothing has since occurred to justify diluting it.

The political difficulties raised by halting Article 50 negotiations now will be minuscule in comparison with the ultimate political and economic fallout of proceeding.

Yours faithfully

Matt Sendorek
British citizen and UK taxpayer

“Doing the right thing is not always easy – but it is always right!”

Holiday? Not really…

Tuesday 14 March 2017 by matt

A holiday is a period of relaxation and possibly hedonism.  For me this is most easily achieved in familiar surroundings where there are few surprises - at home, perhaps - and certainly not by visiting foreign lands for the first time.  Journeying abroad to new places is therefore travelling or making a trip, and rarely occurs without the intent to meet family or friends, or take part in some particular occasion.

It is always good on such trips to learn about the place visited from the point of view of a local, and especially easy if staying with one.  On the most recent trip I’ve undertaken, however, learning about the place was the main intent, though as one of a coachload of others on an organised tour there would be little obvious chance to see it through locals’ eyes.  Below is my rather rambling and purely personal reflection on this trip which, while hardly following a pleasure-seeker’s itinerary, certainly boasted comfortable accommodation, genuine hospitality and sociable companions.

The lands concerned were Israel, Occupied Palestine, and Jordan, and the tour was correctly billed as a pilgrimage - a journey towards the sources of one’s beliefs.

I approached it anticipating two sorts of learning - primarily about events and circumstances in those lands in Biblical times, but also about present events and circumstances in those lands.  The party was fortunate to be accompanied by two experts.  Our clerical guide was a senior Anglican working and frequently travelling in the Middle East, a region about which he is hugely knowledgeable, and in regular contact with many faith leaders there.  Our local guide, a Melchite Catholic born in Jordan, with Israeli citizenship and living in Jerusalem, gave convincing interpretations of contextual detail to aid understanding of cultural references in Bible accounts, as well as filling in background on the complex situation for people today as we travelled through Israeli and Occupied Palestinian territory.  So in spite of not staying in locals’ houses, we were able to gain a little contemporary insight.

Further contemporary insight came from three particular visits in Occupied Palestine - to the Jeel al-Amal Primary school and boys’ home started by a Palestinian Christian family in Bethany, to the hospital run by the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation, and to the Women in Hebron Cooperative.  The visits all followed the universal pattern of a welcome talk by someone from the institution, a brief tour of the facilities, and an opportunity to buy craft products made by or for the benefit of the members.  The school dining hall and dormitories were clean and bright, the hospital was busily but calmly serving its queues of patients, and the Cooperative was staffed by cheerful and hard-working women.  However, we were told that the boys’ home accommodated many from broken homes who would otherwise easily fall into serious trouble with the occupying authorities, the hospital meeting room displayed histories of several cases treated there of apparently wanton injuries caused to youngsters by occupying soldiers, and the lunchtime hospitality of the Cooperative was remarkable given its location in what felt like a recent war zone.  The central souk area of Hebron was almost lifeless - a handful of traders were clinging on, some resignedly, others more desperately.  Our Cooperative contact explained that as soon as an Israeli settler moves into a house, existing residents around it are turfed out to create a cordon sanitaire which the Israeli army then guards, installing observation posts and checkpoints.  The effect mimics a tumour, slowly growing and colonising space previously settled by established communities, whose inevitable fate is eventual strangulation.  Several members of the coach party were visibly shocked at what they saw and heard, and will have taken back to their home countries clear images of the difficulties being created where two communities live separately in ignorance and fear instead of sharing their common humanity.

These difficulties are invariably more concentrated at the boundaries.  I suspect our coach routes were planned to minimise overall travel time, and our crossing points across the separation wall selected accordingly.  The checkpoint delays we encountered were mostly trivial - no worse than stopping to pay a bridge toll.  However at one, where we passed from Israel into Occupied Palestine, the queue in the other direction was hundreds of metres long.  Re-entering Israel, the coach was boarded and our passports and visa cards carefully checked by a girl soldier in a formal, but perfectly friendly, manner.  Out of the window could be seen a car driver, the boot packed with trays of canned soft drinks, having to unload its entire contents.  The two soldiers were, again, friendly enough to make an attempt at helping to repack the driver’s goods, but looked pretty bored.  Bored soldiers are potentially dangerous to anyone within their range.

Other parts of Occupied Palestine felt more relaxed.  Israeli guards at their posts outside the gates and within the precincts of Old Jerusalem idled their time away drinking coffee.  However, in answer to a question from one of our number the local guide was emphatic:  “Action?  If you want to see some action, just throw a stone in their direction!”.  It might have been comparable to Northern Ireland during the Troubles - though I was never there then.

Away from present-day hassles, it seemed that we were never far from a church built on or over a site of Biblical significance.  I don’t think these edifices made much impression either way on whatever faith I may have, but seeing and experiencing the unchanged terrain, geography, climate and relative proximity of places in which familiar stories are set added an enormous context to the bald narratives, and has certainly altered my perspective on them.  Similarly, small descriptive details, such the characterisation of Caesarea Philippi as “the Las Vegas of first century Galilee”, supplied by our local guide provided an interesting slant which has added notable colour to my understanding.

There was undoubtedly a heighted intensity to hearing Biblical accounts of events read out while standing in the places in which they occurred, whether ‘traditionally’ or as a conclusion of documentary historical evidence.  It was also moving to celebrate communion in several significant locations, though for me the Anglican roots of our observances there also highlighted the congruence in my mind between many styles of Christian liturgy and worship and the popular image of hierarchical pre-Christian priesthood.  In my view such liturgies obscure the simpler idea of sharing bread and wine as a way of symbolising adherence to certain important shared beliefs and values.

To help regain a lighter balance during such serious pilgriming, some individual hedonistic relaxation was nevertheless incorporated.  Watching over each other in slightly unfamiliar surroundings, my better half and I took it in turns to swim, first at Tiberias in the cold Sea of Galilee after the thin surface sheen of unknown provenance had been broken up by a strong breeze, and later at Sweimeh in the Dead Sea, where sharp rocks at the edge made suitable footwear as important as swimwear.  Both of these aquatic excursions were enjoyable, possibly more so after rather than during the event.

During time spent in Old Jerusalem and in Petra, both easily justified their reputations as not-to-be-missed.  The streets of Old Jerusalem narrow into alleys, then tunnels, and could in parts almost seem like sewers if they were not kept clean with the aid of miniature buzzing refuse tractors.  Then they open out to a small square and become instead strangely reminiscent of the end of a Cambridge college corridor opening out to a court.  In Petra, it’s a long hike through the Siq, along the colonnaded street, up the steps to Ad Deir monastery and beyond to the two magnificent summit viewpoints over the valley to the west.  One of my few regrets is that I did not take the opportunity to sip tea with the Bedouins there brewing up, but the journey back included camel and horse rides which will have to do - until next time.

Both sites, plus Jerash and Herodion, are historical examples of the tremendous talent for construction which was clearly available in the area two thousand years ago.  The water cisterns and water management systems, tunnels and defensive works, huge theatres and temples, and streets with built-in drainage, all endure as a record of ambitious and successful projects.  No doubt many died during such works, but the evidence of knowledge and skill on the part of designers and engineers is undeniable.  Audacious infrastructure projects, harnessing the knowledge and skills of contemporary designers and engineers, are also taking place in the region today - what a pity so many of them are so ugly in both appearance and intent!

Rising at 3am for the final coach journey, to the airport, seemed fully in keeping with the busy schedule of the previous days.  And another reason why I label this memorable outing, with a good measure of high-living and many excellent chances for learning, as a trip, not merely a holiday.

Article 50 (continued)

Sunday 12 March 2017 by matt

Rt Hon Mr Philip Hammond
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

Dear Mr Hammond,


Thank you for your broad response, dated 27 February, to my letter regarding the need to deny triggering Article 50.

From my perspective the many assurances you have repeated, about the government seeking this, pursuing that, and working to or expecting or wanting the other wonderful outcome to the many serious challenges which triggering Article 50 would precipitate, are more empty promises. They are implausible given our starting point, and not backed up with any hint of a planned approach to achieve delivery.

The non-binding referendum which created this mess was established as a result of one of several cavalier manifesto commitments by your predecessors. You have already, recently, happily ignored another of these, and I therefore urge you to act to limit the massive damage which will otherwise be caused by the fallout of this one.

Since you have not given any reason to have altered your own good judgement prior to the referendum, that the best way to safeguard the UK’s influence, security and prosperity is to remain in the EU, the least I can now ask is that you give your support to the two amendments currently proposed to the EU (notification of withdrawal) bill:

  • to require the approval of both Houses of Parliament before any agreement with the EU on the terms of UK withdrawal can be concluded; and
  • to ensure that EU citizens legally resident in the UK maintain their existing rights.

Adoption of these amendments will help to reinforce the sovereignty of our Parliament, and to establish the UK as a fair and generous friend and neighbour as we enter negotiations which have the potential to impoverish all your constituents and many more.

Yours sincerely

Matt Sendorek

“Doing the right thing is not always easy – but it is always right!”

Article 50

Sunday 29 January 2017 by matt

Rt Hon Mr Philip Hammond
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

Dear Sir,


Every time I sit down to write a reasoned account for you, as my MP, of my view on this important current matter, some new development occurs which bears strongly on my argument, and I have to re-write it. This has gone on too long, so I will therefore now simply state my settled opinion:

You should use your vote in Parliament to deny triggering Article 50.

Prior to the June 2016 referendum you were quoted as saying:

“As an historic sceptic about the EU, I believe that, on balance, the benefits of the single market with the deal we have got and the unique terms of membership now offered to the UK, mean that we will be safer, stronger and better off if we remain in the EU. So to those who care passionately about Britain’s influence in the world, I say that our voice will be louder and more persuasive if the United Kingdom votes to remain on June 23.”

On the Sunday immediately after the referendum, 26 June, on the TV programme Peston on Sunday, you said:

“I believe that it is essential that we protect our access to the Single European Market. Whether we like it or not, our economy over 40 years has become shaped by that access, and to lose that access now would be catastrophic.”

Yet here you are helping to lead the headlong charge towards leaving the EU and the Single European Market! You are teamed up with other people you believe, on balance, are pursuing a catastrophic course to make the UK less safe, weaker and worse off, and make Britain’s voice quieter and less persuasive in the world!

Before the referendum I was equally supportive of remaining in the EU – while also not considering it the perfect institution. I voted to remain in the EU. I still believe the UK will be safer, stronger and better off if we remain in the EU. The only things since then which have changed (Mr Trump’s election, among others) have served to reinforce my view.

You will be well aware that the referendum is not legally binding (see Commons Briefing paper CBP-7591, 17 May 2016), and that its result is not, legally, the will of the people (see quotes from AV Dicey quoted in the High Court judgement, 3 Nov 2016). You will also be familiar with the well-known Burke and Churchill quotes on an MP’s duty to use his good judgement, and the MPs’ Code of Conduct which confirms that “Members have a general duty to act in the interests of the nation as a whole”.

It was of course supremely foolish of Parliament to allow a simple majority to decide a fundamental constitutional issue, but it would be madness now to relinquish the chance to fix this massive error.

I therefore hold you honour-bound to follow what your original faithful and disinterested judgement led you to believe, and to safeguard the United Kingdom and the interests of its public and your constituents by objecting to the bill authorising notification of our intention to withdraw from the EU.

This prominent notice in the corridor of a Primary school in your constituency at which I volunteer is clear on the behaviour expected of its readers and leaders:

“Doing the right thing is not always easy – but it is always right!”.

If you do what you know to be the right thing on this occasion I will vote for you at the next Runnymede parliamentary election. If not, you will suffer the ignominy of having it drawn to your attention ever afterwards that you voted for what you knew perfectly well to be “catastrophic” for our nation’s interests.

Yours faithfully

Matt Sendorek

PJ Harvey in Brixton - 31 Oct 2016

Tuesday 1 November 2016 by matt

In Brixton last night, PJ Harvey let her work speak for itself.  No distracting light show, just warm and cold whites to highlight the black-clad musicians - no diverting chit-chat between numbers, just the names of the band and thanks at the conclusion - no pre-show muzak, just the buzz of anticipation from those gathered and waiting.  All was focused on the songs, the whole band of ten musicians combining forceful percussion, asymmetric rhythms and riffs, and reverberant chords to generate an enveloping atmosphere.  The simple unrelieved blockwork backdrop, raised during the first number, complemented the layers of sound and against all this as a base PJ Harvey delivered her phrases and chants in sharp, direct vocals.

The show presented as a unified whole, from the entire band marching on with drums to the final choreographed bow and exit.  Wearing a crest of black feathers which accentuated her head movements it was easy to see PJ Harvey as a big bird, or a tribal dancer channelling big birdness, as she responded to the music, also often echoing tribal dancing, and imagery of the lyrics.  With dignity and grace she expressed herself sufficiently clearly to be effective for all those in the auditorium close enough or tall enough to see.

PJ Harvey Brixton Oct 2016

The overall experience was indeed an experience, and a powerful one.  The content had been assembled from laments and reflections inspired by visits to places recently or historically ravaged by war, and recorded as part of the albums The Hope Six Demolition Project and Let England Shake, plus a few older favourites.   This sounds inordinately depressing, but was not - it is satisfying to hear an argument well-put, even around depressing events or topics.  Between numbers band members moved quietly to their next instruments while what sounded to me like various avant-garde interludes played out, connecting the numbers and preserving attention.  During the last number the backdrop slid down again to signal the coming end of the show, for the whole of which PJ Harvey was totally in control, setting the mood and maintaining an intense focus on the images she was rendering.  Though not normally my choice to stand throughout, it seemed strangely appropriate that a small extra physical commitment was demanded in return for being in the audience at such a commanding performance.

Summer coding 2016

Wednesday 31 August 2016 by matt

In early June I responded to a @codeclublondon tweet asking for volunteers who were STEM Ambassadors to help with a summer coding camp.

This turned out to be a series of three all-day events called Digital Nurture Coding Club run by TechMaids at the RAF Museum, Hendon, and I took part in all three.  These notes are from my own point of view as a helper, and intended mostly as an aide-memoire of personal STEM activities.

Event One

The first event was on Thursday 28 July 2016.  It was open to children from 11am to 3pm and three separate activities were available:  Makey-makey, controlling LEDS with an Arduino, and mine, controlling devices with Raspberry Pi.  One adult, including me, was running each activity and there were a further two adults available in the room.

About nine children, mostly of Primary age, attended, including two girls.  Event arrangements were kept quite informal and, from my perspective, more like a Raspberry Jam, with free flow of people and demonstration/explanation of kit and coding - in a regular Code Club the aim is that everyone works on a small code-based project.  My robotic arm, driven via Scratch and Python on an original 2012 Raspberry Pi Model B, generated the usual interest, and I was also able to show some simple coding experiments using my new Raspberry Pi 3 with a ProHAT to turn LEDs on and off, and of course build traffic lights.

With just two Raspberry Pis, I wasn’t really geared up to let the children get independently hands-on with actual coding, but I reckon my demos should at least have helped to broaden their outlook.

Event Two

The second, similar, event was held two weeks later, on Thursday 11 August.

A problem with the first event had been that the local wifi service would not comfortably support multiple laptops accessing the internet, and some children had therefore found difficulty in using online Scratch.  I solved this for the second event by installing offline Scratch, which enabled several children to make good progress with Code Club and CoderDojo projects.  Other activities on offer were Makey-makey, and, as ever, my Raspberry Pi-controlled robotic arm.

Before lunch there were seven boys, again mostly of Primary age, attending and three active adults (including me) plus two student helpers, and quite a studious atmosphere.  At lunchtime it seemed a small group visiting the Museum had discovered the event and joined for the afternoon, boosting the number of children to around twenty and creating a much busier and buzzier vibe.

There were also Picoboards available, with drivers installed on four laptops, and I showed one of the children how to make use of it.  However, a planned project to make a drum kit proved unsuitable as the laptop sound volume was not enough to be audible over so much other activity.  At closing time many children were asking to continue a little longer - always a good sign!

Event Three

The third, and last, event for 2016 was a further two weeks later, on Thursday 25 August.

Activities this time included offline Scratch, Makey-makey, interactive web development using Javascript, and in the afternoon also my Raspberry Pi-controlled robotic arm and a SenseHAT programmed via Scratch, although there were only three adults, including me, available to demonstrate and assist.  There were seven children at the start, including four boys who spent the whole morning together each developing their own versions of a Scratch project based on Code Club’s Boat Maze.

After lunch they played each other’s games, and evaluated what they liked and what could be improved.

Two girls joined after lunch and started the Boat Maze activity but didn’t have time to finish it.  Following last time’s sound volume problem, I had brought an amplifier to help boost levels for the Picoboard/laptop combination, but in the event the Raspberry Pi activities, including writing your own scrolling message in Scratch for the SenseHAT, provided enough interest and the Picoboards were not used.


I enjoyed all three sessions in different ways and enjoyed being prompted to try a few new things myself (Picoboard, Scratch on SenseHAT).  The lessons, mostly obvious, I would draw from the experience are:

- it is necessary to be pretty flexible in arranging and assigning activities when the number and likely abilities of children attending are not known in advance

- it is useful to have a starting activity available which can help to gauge the ability of each child

- it is safer not to rely on local wifi if offline options can be provided

- it is good to let children continue as long as they find an activity interesting and are happily engaged

- it can be useful to have some sort of written activity sheets available so that children can try to make progress themselves without needing immediate intervention

- it is always good if the children have something, however small, they have created to enthusiastically show their parents at the end!