February was a roller coaster of a month, particularly as 23rd February was Rotary Day when we celebrated Rotary’s Birthday – this year we are 114 years old!
The month began with a Welcome Home Lunch for my colleague Mary Whitehead, who next year will be District Governor for my area of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.
It was a lovely event that is held every year to enable the next Rotary year’s leader to share the message from Rotary International President.
This was followed by a week of administrative meetings.
This business part of the job is the unseen work that keeps the governance of the organisation on track, and this work is supported by the Rotary Support Centre in Alcester, who not only keep such things as finance in order, but also supports clubs and individual Rotarians across Great Britain and Ireland.
The week ended with a fascinating meeting of five regional teams who as a result of meeting with leading Rotarian Brad Howard have engaged on a process of change and development in their respective areas.
We know that the way clubs are organising their programmes and events is changing – so the information and support structures need to change too.
It will be an interesting exercise and we hope to be able to share the learning with other areas.
The Rotary Club of Watford celebrated their 95th birthday with a splendid evening with their twin club from France. The French contingent gave President Tim a very large green ceramic frog – there was a story behind the gift but my French was not good enough to understand it!
It was then down to Bournemouth to share in the Book Launch Lunch – celebrating a Centenary of Service. It was a lovely occasion, and great to hear that they are using the 100 year celebration as a catalyst to reconnect with their community, and are working on a variety of projects with different age groups.
Back in October on World Polio day we planted crocuses at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, Bisham Abbey and Lilleshall. The event at Stoke Mandeville inspired Phil the head groundsman for the three centres to organise cake sales on Friday 22nd February.
I was at Stoke Mandeville with local Rotary members and the purple wigs were given another outing and cakes were bought and money was raised in aid of End Polio Now.
Rotary Day on 23rd February was spent at Wasps Rugby Club – for a Saracens supporter this was a departure from my usual rugby home at Allianz Park.
Big thank you to the Rotary Club for your donation to the @waspscommunity Foundation. This is going towards funding the Wasps Disability Tag Rugby trip to Belfast this Summer. 🏉 pic.twitter.com/XIj41cwjsg
— Wasps Rugby (@WaspsRugby) February 23, 2019
It was a great afternoon sharing with the Wasps Community team and supporting Rotary members who are, in turn, supporting a group of young people with special needs to take part in an international tag rugby tournament in Belfast.
On 24th there were more celebrations in Essex, recognising the commitment local Rotary members have made to the Rotary Foundation, our own and only charity, and End Polio Now.
A delightful event in stunning surroundings on a beautiful sunny day!
From Essex it was down to East Sussex and Eastbourne Rotary Club. Catching up with friends and sharing a vision of Your Future in Rotary rounded off four days of events and celebrations marking Rotary Day.
The last day of February was spent in Leicestershire. We began at the High School to observe the Technology Tournament – a great opportunity for young people to test their design and technology skills.
There were 12 schools taking part and the standards, skill and invention on show were exemplary.
In the evening we swung by Leicester Novus Rotary, who were celebrating 10 years of service in Leicester.
It was good to see them supported by visitors from the surrounding area at their Fill Your Plate for Polio event that raised £1,800 for End Polio Now which will become £5,400 with 2-to-1 matched funding from the Gates Foundation.
The next day we visited a local junior school where Rotary had helped created a peace garden.
We met staff and children and heard how the garden has provided a space of peace within a busy school.
The surprise of the visit was to see my good friend Karter waiting to greet the visiting Rotary members. Karter and I work together at a national level on Chaplaincy for the NHS!
Amongst all this was a few days teaching in Cardiff (part of my role as free church health care chaplaincy lead) where I discovered some links for the work Rotary is doing with dementia and homelessness.
These kinds of connections are all around us if we but just share a little of the work we are doing, if we talk about what we are involved with and have an answer to the question – why do you ware a badge that says Rotary?