Newsletter 2020


Newsletter 2020

2019 was an extremely successful year for the Society. Almost all the Meetings were well-attended, our match results were the best for nearly a decade and our web-site, brilliantly managed by Steve Baxendale, goes from strength to strength; a distinguished member of the R&A told us that it set the standard for others to emulate.

Our longest link with the past has sadly been broken.  Prue Riddiford, the daughter of our first secretary, Cecil Hayward, and the first winner of the Ladies Cup in 1952 has died at the age of 94.  Prue was a formidable lady golfer, winning the Sussex Ladies Championship no less than 12 times and winning the England Ladies Seniors.  Her memory will endure as she donated a trophy to be awarded at the Summer Meeting to the best round by a serving lady golfer. 

I thank the 95 members who responded to the Centenary questionnaire.  Not surprisingly, our flagship event at Moor Park on 9th June 2021 is likely to be oversubscribed so the committee will consider what form of ballot will be most equitable.  A Centenary Meeting will also be held at Coxmoor on 11th August 2021 and this too should be popular.  The Centenary Fund now stands at £4570.  135 members played in various events this year, each contributing £10 towards the fund.  Research continues into a venue in the London area for a third Meeting in October 2021, in case this is needed.  Your committee will also consider purchasing appropriate Centenary memorabilia, such as golf balls, pitch repairers, ball markers, card holders and golf towels.  We also intend to commission polo shirts with a special logo, though these will require payment with orders in advance.  The 2021 Newsletter and the web-site will provide more details and the 2021 handbook will contain entry forms for all the Meetings.    

The 2019 AGM marked the retirement from the committee of Walter Hughes.  Walter has keenly supported the Society as a player for 44 years and as a brilliant committee member for 21 years.  His committee colleagues can vouch for Walter’s insightful contributions; his prompt, succinct advice on a range of issues has greatly contributed to keeping the Society on an even keel.  Members at the AGM agreed with acclaim to the committee’s proposal to offer Walter Honorary Membership of the Society.  He is only the 8th Honorary Member since 1945.   

Our scratch golfers turned up trumps again with another amazing performance to win the Brent Knoll Bowl at Burnham & Berrow, prevailing on the 19th hole in the final.  In our matches we came second best (as usual) to West Hill, Henley, North Hants, the RAF, away at Sonning, and also to the Seniors, but these losses were far offset by stunning wins against the AERO GS, Sonning at Woodhall Spa, Hunstanton, RNGS, Royal Cinque Ports, AOGS, Rye, Huntercombe and Moor Park.  In 2020 we have a fresh fixture – at the prestigious Brokenhurst Manor, our President’s course in the New Forest, organised by Phil Sperring.  

An exception to the good attendance at the Meetings was the Autumn Meeting at North Hants.  Lovely course though this is, the committee decided that the time had come to move the Autumn Meeting further north where it would be more convenient for our Midland members.  Wellingborough Golf Club in Northamptonshire is the new venue.  It provides a fair test of golf and we can retain existing arrangements for 12 holes of Greensomes after lunch. 

The weather for our Spring Meeting was not auspicious.  31 golfers gave their waterproof clothing a comprehensive check-out on an extremely damp day at Luffenham Heath.  The course was in good condition considering the weather, but scoring was tough.  Richie Matthews with 32 points was just beaten into 2nd place by new member Liam Pucill who had a good day.  However, with a magnificent 37 points, including 20 on the testing back 9 was Steve Baxendale who was the deserving winner of the impressive Elizabeth Singer Trophy.  After a good lunch 12 brave pairs set off in gradually improving conditions.  After another fast start with 21 points on the front 9, Jay Corn & Jay Hellawell could not sustain their form and came 3rd with 33 points.  In 2nd place with 34 points were Liam & Richie.  The winners of the Egerton Johnson Cup for the Foursomes with a very steady 36 points were Ken McCann & Mick Roche.  The catering at Luffenham Heath was much enjoyed and we were looked after very well.

Each year I run out of superlatives to describe the Scottish Tour.  It was again very successful.  39 golfers included 4 new tourists – Terry Betts, Mel Clegg, Peter Norriss and Jenny Smale.  We were fortunate to be accommodated in the Officers’ Mess at Kinloss and to experience 5 days of perfect weather.  Castle Stuart was an impressive curtain-raiser.  Two players from RAF Lossiemouth headed the field with Ben Spoor winning with an excellent 38 points, playing off 2, Mark Spence came 2nd with 37 and Robby Boyce 3rd with 35.  Nairn Dunbar was the scene for the best scoring of the week with Tony Bhullar leading with a superb 43, and Keith Williams beating Jerry Davies on countback for 2nd place with 42.  On another beautiful day at Moray, the wind increased and firm fairways made scoring tougher.  Graham Hughes won with 36, beating Tony Doveston on countback, with Mark Rumble beating Richard Masefield to 3rd place with 35.  Elgin was in immaculate condition, to the undisguised relief of the Club Captain, Marian Evans!  Richard Masefield beat Nigel Martin on countback to win with 36, and the steady Graham Hughes came 3rd with 35.  The last day at Forres was a triumph for Mel Clegg, winning with 38 points.  6 players had 36 points.  Adding up the 4 days scores produced a clear winner of the guest prize – Graham Hughes.  3rd overall with a fine 138 points was Tony Bhullar.  2nd was new tourist Mel Clegg with 139 points – a creditable performance on her first tour.  The worthy winner of the Scottish Cup and Sandy Aitken’s Quaich with 142 points from 4 steady rounds was Richard Masefield.  39 Engr Regt looked after us extremely well.  The Ramnee Hotel was the scene of an outstanding Presentation Dinner, with many happy tourists sharing a host of memories.  With regret we shall forego the Castle Stuart experience in 2020; the need for up-front payment coupled with the inevitable uncertainty about our accommodation makes a large financial commitment in January too stressful for your Secretary to contemplate.

Almost 10 pairs took part in the Thames Valley Meeting at Studley Wood on a lovely day.  We welcomed Jon Corlett and Alex Jones to their first RAFGS event.  The course was in excellent condition.  Steve Hopkins and his guest, Steve Lesiakowski played the 9 holes of Greensomes beautifully to be 2 points ahead of Jon Corlett and Jay Hellawell, with Phil Sperring and his guest, Arthur Bryant, next with 19 points.  18 holes of Betterball produced some great scores.  Ken McCann and Ian Wood led the way with a tremendous 43 points including 24 on the more challenging back 9.  Rick Lipscomb and Dennis Virgo were also in the frame with 41 points.  After adding the scores over 27 holes, in 3rd place were the 2 Steves with 59 points, 2nd were Ken and Ian with 59.  The magnificent mahogany Mosquitoes donated by Johnny Johnson, in superb carriage cases crafted by Bill Evans, went to Jon Corlett and Jay Hellawell with a commendable 61 points.  This is a good course for our only pairs event and it is excellent value for money. 

Newark Golf Club pulled out all the stops again for our Summer Meeting.  We had a maximum field of 56 players in the morning singles and 48 for the Foursomes.  The weather was perfect, the course was in great condition and the catering was spot-on – all the requirements for another very successful day.  We welcomed Trev Grant and Keith Whitfield to their first RAFGS event.  6 ladies competed for the Ladies Cup.  Naomi Bedford was just pipped by Alex Mournian who scored 37 points and also collected the Prue Riddiford Bowl, with Jacqui Francis 2nd.  The Denys Field Scratch Cup produced good scores.  Chris Emmott was 3rd with 30, Mark Cooke was 2nd, with 32 and the delighted winner with an excellent 34 points was Jeff Purdy.  In the competition for the Handicap Cup, 3 players scored 39 points.  Ian Wood had a brilliant front 9 and so came 3rd, just behind Robbie James.  Jeff Purdy’s better back 9 enabled him to have a clean sweep.  The Foursomes competition for the Sassoon Cups also produced a 3-way tie on 37 points.  Neil Flather & Ian Robinson came 3rd behindJacqui Francis & Liz Moses, with Peter & Naomi Bedford winning with the best back 9.

46 golfers successfully dodged most of the showers on a mainly fine day for the Championship Meeting at Frilford Heath where we played the Red & Green courses.  The slow pace of the greens on the Red course caught several players out, but not our more able golfers.  Dave Marshall won the Challenge Cup with 2 solid rounds totalling a gross 144, beating Steve Yorke, who had more birdies but fewer pars, by one shot.  3rd, playing off 6 was Mick Roche, who kept a firm grip on the Veterans Scratch Cup, beating David Backhouse by 12 shots with Stu Butler 3rd.  Mick also collected the Vets’ Handicap Cup beating Tom Hanlon and Jimmy Wilson.  Tom’s total of 141, including an excellent net 66 on the Green, won him the India Trophy ahead of David Walton.  The Open Handicap Cup was very competitive.  Steve Yorke and Tom Hanlon scored 141 to come 3rd behind Mick Roche who had a very good 138, 3 under par.  But the winner was the in-form Jon Corlett who scored a superb net 65 on the Green and a steady 71 on the Red to win by 2 shots.

40 golfers, the largest field for many years, had a great day at Fulford where the course was in superb condition.  The scores were good too.  Liam Pucill beat Alex Mournian on countback with 38 points to come 2nd, with Martin Old the clear winner of the Halifax Trophy with an excellent 40 points.  Martin also won the Veteran’s Plate with Tony Doveston runner up.  The Greensomes competition was closely contested with no less than 5 pairs on 36 points.  One better were last year’s runners-up John Pearce and Alan Roberts, but the winners of the Cheshire Plates were the local duo of Barry Hughes and Mike Rudd with a very good 39 points.  Fulford’s catering was again first class.

A cloudless, warm day greeted the golfers at North Hants, where the course was in great condition.  For the first time this year scoring was less than impressive.  Phil Gough pipped Dave Marshall on countback with 33 points to come 2nd in the morning Stableford.  The surprised winner of the Swinton Cup was Lyndon Wall with just 34, though a guest, Patrick McIlroy, had the best round with 36.  The 12 holes of Greensomes saw improved scores.  Roger Palin & Roger Carr were 3rd with 24, behind new member, Andrew Curtis, playing with Lyndon, who scored 26.  The Grant Govan Cups went to previous winners, Jerry Davies & Rick Lipscomb who scored 27.  The best score of 28 points was by guests, Patrick McIlroy & Siôn Lewis.  The Meeting moves to Wellingborough, Northants in 2020.

36 golfers enjoyed a superb day at Sandy Lodge where we played for the Roses Trophy in the Winter Meeting.  The previous night had seen torrential downpours but the course played amazingly well and everyone stayed dry throughout.  Prizes awarded for nearest the pins on 4 of the Par 3s were presented to Ray Bull, Robby Boyce, Joe Bains & Lyndon Wall.  But the shot of the day on the Par 3 18th was by Ray Bull who holed his tee shot for a Hole-in-One!  The Stableford scoring was tight with 4 players tied on 36 points.  2nd was Ray Bull, 3rd Farrukh Bajwa, 4th Gordon Varley and 5th Andrew Curtis.  The winner with an excellent 37 points on his first visit to Sandy Lodge was Robin Old.  The club looked after us extremely well and the catering was perfect.  Hon Sec Roger Carr gave an end-of term report and Vice-President Sir Roger Palin presented the prizes. This was a perfect end to an excellent season for the RAFGS.

At the end of 2019, the Society had 370 Full Members and 28 Affiliated/Lady Members.  Please do your best to recruit new members.  We need them to sustain our Fixture List.

With sadness the deaths of the following members are recorded:

P.R. Fewkes; Air Cdre J. Miller CBE DFC AFC; Wg Cdr N.A.D. Nugent; Mrs Prue Riddiford (née Hayward); Sqn Ldr R.C.W. Stokes; D. Wheelhouse.

Players in RAFGS events are expected to have appropriate insurance provision.  For an annual subscription of just £10, the RAF Golf Association provides £5,000,000 world-wide insurance cover as a player or spectator.  It also awards £100 to those fortunate enough to register a Hole-in-One in a recognised club or society event, as Ray Bull can testify.  It is simple to register with the RAFGA.

I encourage members playing in Meetings or matches to transfer funds electronically.  Just e-mail me your intentions and your handicap.  I guarantee to refund if there is a late drama.

The Society’s AGM will be at Newark on Thursday 9th July. 

Our Chairman, Malcolm Middlemist, and I wish you a successful, happy and healthy 2020.

Roger Carr                                                                                                                  January 2020


West Hill Golf Club

12 members were fortunate to be selected by David Saady to play in the first match of the season at the lovely West Hill Golf Club.  This was the venue for the first RAF success in the Inter-Services Competition in 1931 and there is a good chance that our matches against the club started then.  This fixture has certainly been played since 1957 and we are always looked after superbly.  The course was in great condition.  Although the greens had recently been tined they were deceptively swift.  Q Dixon & Tim Bishop led the way winning on the 15th with a betterball gross score of 2 under par.  Rick Lipscomb & Phil Hopkins also played well to win.  The hard luck story belonged to Jago Jones-Rogers & Dennis Virgo who lost giving a shot on the difficult 18th – the only time in the match when they were behind to formidable opponents!  So West Hill won 4-2 and retained the Jim Webster Salver.

Team:  Tim Bishop Roger Carr Nigel DowdallQ Dixon Mike Harding Phil HopkinsRich Jones Jago Jones-Rogers Rick LipscombRod Powell Si Stevens Dennis Virgo

Brent Knoll Bowl at Burnham & Berrow

Yet again it was a nail-biter at Burnham & Berrow.  Our 3 pairs of scratch golfers played superbly to record convincing wins against Old Marlburians, then Old Epsomians and in the semi-final against Old Cranleighans.  In the final they were up against a tough side from Sherborne.  With a win and a defeat for the first 2 pairs it was up to Steve Yorke & John Blanks who managed to lose the 18th having been 1 up on the tee.  So it was down the 19th.  After a super drive by John and a great wedge by Steve, John rolled in a 12-footer for a birdie and the win.  Special thanks to Alan Mathers for standing in at short notice. 

Team:Dave Marshall (C) Mark OliverChris Audin Alan MathersSteve Yorke John Blanks

Henley Golf Club

This was the 46th year in which we have played Henley Golf Club for the Danesfield Trophy. The day started well in our quest to regain the trophy – the weather was fine and Team Captain, Basil Evans, had selected a strong side in the hope that this year, his last as Match Manager, would halt a run of 9 successive defeats. However, Henley had also picked a strong team including 3 Cat 1 golfers including their Captain and they knew their course rather better than we did. After 6 holes the home side were narrowly ahead, but most of our pairs played the next 3 holes well so at half time we were level. The heavens then opened and the Henley chaps coped better in the wet conditions. For Basil, a past Captain of Henley and past committee member of the RAFGS, who had organised our side and coordinated the event so well with Henley over the last 9 years it was a frustrating day. But Henley are super hosts and the excellent post match dinner was very convivial. The end result was a 1-5 defeat. Maybe next year with Jethro Tull at the helm!

Team:  Basil Evans (C) Nigel Dowdall Sean DohertyMichael Harding Reg Horne John IngamellsLee Lawrence Rick Lipscomb Mike PeakerBob Pearson Rod Powell Si Stevens

AERO Golf Society at West Byfleet

It was another case of déjà vu at West Byfleet against the AERO GS, who were fielding Roger Palin, Robbie James & Nigel Dowdall – all RAFGS members.  The morning was very close but we just managed to retain the Keith-Davies Cup by winning the 4BBB 31/2 -21/2.  After a good lunch, the AERO pulled up their socks and just beat us by the same score to retain the Piercey-John Quaich, though they did pay for the wine!  Well done Phil Sperring for being in 2 winning pairs.  It was a very sociable occasion, as ever.

Team:  Mike Harding (C) Stephen Anderton Geoff BartlettPeter Bedford  Terry Brady Roger Carr  Jerry Davies Rich Jones Jago Jones-Rogers  Rick Lipscomb Phil Sperring Si Stevens Dennis Virgo

Sonning Golf Club at Woodhall Spa

In beautiful weather we played Sonning at Woodhall Spa where they had brought a team of accomplished golfers.  However, on the magnificent Hotchkin course we recorded an outstanding 5-1 lead for the 2nd year running.  This time we shared the spoils on the Bracken and so recorded a superb victory by 8–4.  Non-playing Captain Malcolm Middlemist was thrilled.  Richard Masefield and John Pearce played well to be in 2 winning pairs, but it was a good team effort with every player being in one winning pair.  The splendid Petwood Hotel, complete with its RAF memorabilia, was again the scene of much banter.

Team:David Backhouse Peter Bedford Peter BridghamRobby Boyce Roger Carr Tim EvansJay Hellawell Richard Masefield Robin OldJohn Pearce Terry Smith David Walton

Hunstanton Golf Club

The course at Hunstanton is a real challenge of links golf which favours the home team.  So our recent record has been modest.  However, this year’s team managed an historic win.  For the first time each side fielded a female member in the form of Mel Clegg for RAFGS and the current Lady Captain for Hunstanton.  Our hosts, as always, were competitive and generous in defeat.  After being halved at lunch, the final result was Hunstanton 5 RAFGS 7.

Team:  John Pearce (C) Peter Bridgham Mel CleggJerry Davies Nigel Dowdall Tim EvansFitz Fitzgerald-Lombard Richard Masefield Graham PearsonIan Robinson Mick Roche Forbes Smith

Royal Navy Golf Society

Mark Hudson thanked his team for their sterling efforts in what was a great day at the delightful West Sussex course, culminating in the return of the trophy to its rightful owners after an 8-4 victory.  The response to his initial call to arms was unusually strong this year and it was great to have a full team in place in early May.  The catering by the club at lunchtime and by Mrs Hudson at the Half Way House was excellent! 

Team:  Mark Hudson (C) Graham Bassi John Blockey Roger CarrNigel Dowdall John Griffiths Phil HopkinsBrian Hunt Trevor Norman Rod PowellNeil Roberts Si Stevens Pete Tholen

Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club

The match against Royal Cinque Ports took place on a warm and thankfully dry June day with the course in excellent condition, despite heavy overnight rain.  The elite (?) team of RAFGS players, with 3 currently serving members, proved too strong for the local team, who struggled to cope with the slower pace of the greens – thanks to the greens staff, who had applied a sand dressing that morning.  So it was a rare win for the RAF by 4 ½ to 1 ½.  As always, the match was played in an excellent spirit and the members were generous hosts.  After lunch 7 RAF and 1 RCP member took the opportunity offered by the club to enjoy the experience of a second round on this famous links course.

Team:  Nigel Dowdall (C) Peter Bedford Bill BeltonRoger Carr Q Dixon Paul MardonJason Parr Rod Powell Neil RobertsSi Stevens Dennis Virgo

Army Officers Golf Society at Walton Heath

On a glorious day we took on the old foe at the lovely Walton Heath and welcomed Ian Robinson & Geoff Thorburn to our squad.  The score after 6 pairs of Foursomes on the New course was 3-3, thanks not least to Ian Robinson & Si Stevens who were 5 under par gross after 10 holes, leaving their opponents who were only 2 over gross somewhat shell-shocked.  3 birdies in the first 4 holes set the tone.  After the customary superb lunch we then shaded the Army 4-2 on the Old course with all the matches close.  Ian, Si & Trevor Norman were each in 2 winning pairs.  It was an outstanding day and good to continue on our winning streak.

Team:  Roger Carr (C) Peter Bedford Kevin HindsonPhil Hopkins Sam Macleod Trevor NormanRod Powell Neil Roberts Ian RobinsonSi Stevens Geoff Thorburn Ollie Whyatt

Royal Air Force at Gog Magog

This year we played the RAF at Gog Magog with a slightly wider range of handicaps.  The Scratch guys took on the RAF’s front line and the higher handicappers took or gave shots.  After the morning 4-balls we were only slightly adrift, but in the 12 singles matches after lunch the RAF’s strength in depth showed and by winning 11-7 they retained the Beamish Trophy which their President, AVM Steve Shell, presented to last year’s RAF Captain, Andy Moss.  We return to Gog Magog in 2020 with Ian Robinson as our Team Manager.

Team:  Graham Bassi Mark Cooke Q DixonBudgie Dove Neil Flather Andy HuskinsonPaul Mardon Al Mathers Baz McKeeIan Robinson Mick Roche Mal Wray (C)

North Hants Golf Club

Some things in life are very predictable.  The North Hants course was in great condition after hosting the English Amateur Championship.  Lunch was excellent and our opponents were perfect hosts.  However, yet again many of them played much better than their handicaps would have suggested.  Most of our players played pretty well but they certainly brought out the best in their opponents.  We relied on Reg Horne and Paul Carroll, in his first RAFGS match, to get a half.  Then after a last minute change of personnel we were grateful for our guest, Noel Parker-Ashley, to produce a fine win with Rich Jones.  As I say every year, perhaps next year!  Much to Team Manager Les Parker’s chagrin, the result was a defeat by 1½ to 4 ½.  We thank Les for his best endeavours and hope that Mark Foreman will have better luck!

Team:  Roger Carr Paul Carroll Nigel DowdallReg Horne Kevin Huish Brian HuntRich Jones David Lewendon Sir Roger PalinNoel Parker-Ashley (G) Si Stevens Dennis Virgo

Rye Golf Club

Rye was a busy place with a large cocktail party so just 8 very fortunate golfers represented the society on a lovely autumnal day.  Rye virgins were Paul Carroll, Trevor Norman & Jethro Tull and very well they played, winning both their matches, as did Rod Powell.  The excellent lunch went down even better as we were 3-1 up and we managed to cling on in the afternoon to win the match 5-3.  The course was again in superb condition and Rye hosted us very generously.

Team:  Jim McKenzie (C) Roger Carr Paul CarrollNigel Dowdall Fitz Fitzgerald-Lombard  Trevor Norman John Pearce  Rod Powell Jethro Tull

Huntercombe Golf Club

On a beautiful day we were treated to magnificent greens at Huntercombe.  Our Captain was delighted with our morning performance which saw us take a healthy 4-2 lead.  After a good lunch we held our nerve and halved the afternoon matches to win 7 – 5.  Our opponents were again great company so the day was just about perfect.  This was the 51st consecutive year in which this event has been played with the scores now RAFGS Won 22, Drawn 7 and Lost 22. 

Team:  Ken Hinkley-Smith (C) Roger Carr John EvansKevin Hindson Rod Powell Terry SmithGeoff Thorburn Jethro Tull Dennis VirgoAlan Wagner Ollie Whyatt Jimmy Wilson

Moor Park Golf Club

Battle of Britain Sunday, England beat Australia in the final Test, Europe win the Solheim Cup, and the RAFGS beat Moor Park for only the 3rd time in the last 26 years.  A 4-2 victory in perfect weather, a very warm welcome from Moor Park whose Captain was well aware of the Club’s historic linkages to the RAF (75th anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem, the plans for which made in the Clubhouse), a spirited fly-by by a Spitfire from the BBMF to add to the excitement, and an excellent dinner in the Arnhem room in the Clubhouse to round it all off.  What a great day!

Team:Mike Peaker (C) Tim Bishop Roger Carr Doug CooperAndrew Curtis John Ingamells Rick LipscombRod Powell Mick Roche Terry Smith  Phil Sperring Dennis Virgo Ian Wood

Graham Butler Scratch Foursomes

It was another tough day at Ferndown for our Scratch team.  Play was suspended very early in the morning round due to flooded greens after torrential rain, but after a lengthy delay they set off.  Though none of our players admitted to being at their best they managed to finish in 6th place, our best result for quite a while and not far off 2nd place.  

Team:Dave Marshall (C)John BlanksAlan MathersChris Audin

Sonning Golf Club

It is always a competitive fixture against Sonning players on their own course, keen to reverse the result at Woodhall Spa.  Despite fielding a strong team, we were up against some of Sonning’s in-form golfers.  In good weather, good company and on a course which played well we finished the first day some distance behind.  An excellent dinner gave us heart but the following morning showed a similar trend so Sonning deservedly retained the Clyne Cup by the convincing margin of 8½ to 3½.  As non-playing Captain Malcolm Middlemist said, there were no losers.

Team:  David Backhouse Peter Bedford Robby BoycePeter Bridgham Roger Carr Tim EvansJay Hellawell Rick Lipscomb Roy Logan Richard Masefield Terry Smith Jimmy Wilson

Seniors Golf Society at Woking

With an appalling weather forecast an early decision was made to abandon the afternoon round.  Despite some very wet fairways the greens were excellent and the course played rather better than expected.  Two of the matches were lost on the 18th green, so the result was a very close match, but the Seniors just edged it 3-2. As ever, the Woking lunch was excellent and the match was played in the best of spirits!

Team:  Peter Bedford (C) Geoff Bartlett John BlockeyJerry Davies Nigel Dowdall Jago Jones-RogersSir Roger Palin Rod PowellNeil Roberts Dennis Virgo
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