The Rotary year is now in full swing and this year I’m delighted to be bringing you a monthly online blog, as well as my bi-monthly contribution to Rotary magazine, which will Be the Inspiration.
First of all my thanks to all who came to the Presidential Handover down on the farm – your support was much appreciated! And a big thank you to my own club, the Rotary Club of Ware for organising such a relaxed and fun evening.
I don’t think the chain of office will be spending too much time out of its box!
As Handover took place a week later than usual, I had undertaken three engagements before July 7th.
The first was on July 1st when Mike and I visited Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens for Music in the Gardens, an amazing event organised by the Rotary clubs in and around Sheffield and Rotherham.
The organisation was excellent, the music – Music from the Shows – was a real treat. It was a warm evening and in the company of local dignitaries we met a number of local Rotary members, the public and heard first-hand about Aquabox, a Rotary-supported box charity which provides disaster relief right around the world.
A wonderful fireworks display completed a great evening. It was Rotary members working together to have fun and share stories of the work Rotary is engaged with.
From Sheffield we travelled to Wrexham for a local Rotary Council Meeting. The assembled members were reminded of the 5Ps – People, Projects, Publicity, Polio and Peace, which are very much my focus for the year, and once again they were encouraged to rise to the challenge to build membership, End Polio Now and forever, and Be The Inspiration!
It was fantastic to have the opportunity to speak with members and to hear about the amazing project to clean up the River Seven – from source to coast – one to be shared across Great Britain and Ireland as it has the potential to make an impact on the local environments and create awareness and education around plastics and pollution.
Perhaps I need to add another ‘P’ – Planet!
Then it was off to Llangollen for the International Musical Eisteddfod.
We watched the Stellenbosch Choir, who were they were part of the international concert at which the Rotary International Peace Awards were announced.
The International winner was Dr Arian, a specialist in trauma who through an app and an international network of doctors supports trauma care in areas of conflict. It was great to see Dr Arian on the red sofa on BBC Breakfast as well!
Lunch with the Rotary Club of Llangollen was a delight, and we enjoyed food and fellowship and heard some inspirational words by Terry Waite.
Things have quietened down a bit, in week two, a couple of admin meetings, then a visit to Reigate to meet Rotary members in the area.
Again, I remined them about the 5Ps – and in particular the need to share our stories – if folk don’t know of the amazing work we do how can they get engaged?
There was then a question and answer session – with no prior sight of the questions! In essence the good folk of Rotary in the South are concerned about the Rotary Global Grants and how do we work with Inner Wheel – our approaches to who can join are different, but we can work very well locally.
I was accosted by one Rotary member who was concerned that I was not wearing my chain of office? We agreed to differ on this particular point!
In Stratford (London!) overlooking the Olympic park I found the fruits of Rotary 2, in the shape of the newly charted Rotary Club of Stratford.
Rotary 2 has been our membership development plan over the last 12 months, which has generated over 250 flexible, innovative and project-driven opportunities to join Rotary around Great Britain and Ireland.
It was a great evening inducting 22 new members, and I had the pleasure of presenting President Hananshu Jain with the Charter. From chat to charter in just over 6 months – it can be done!
There has been some time for ‘service’ in amongst all of this.
It was great to spend a couple of afternoons promoting the work of WheelPower, our partners who are transforming lives through sport, at Waterloo Station.
We had Paralympian and 10 time British Champion table tennis player Jack Hunter-Spivey taking on communiters as they passed through the station, along with wheelchair fencing and Baroness Grey-Thompson even popped by on her way to the House of Lords!
It was great to have support of members from Rotary in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire working with WheelPower, where the Rotary District has a special relationship.
The last week of the month saw the Governing Council attend the first webinar of the year.
At this meeting the work plan was agreed for the year which includes our commitment to ensure Rotary 2 initiatives deliver on membership and that we work together to take the organisation forward.
I joined the meeting from Starbucks in Witney as I am on holiday with all the family – enjoying the sunshine, eating outdoors and paddling in the river at Burton on the Water – fun with grandchildren aged two and three, and 9 and 12!