It was a Rotary family handover in more ways than one at the Exchange Hotel in Cardiff Bay on June 30th.
Rotarians from all over Britain and Ireland came to Wales’ capital city to witness the inauguration of the new President of Rotary in Great Britain & Ireland Donna Wallbank.
And Donna shared the platform with the new national President of Rotaract in these isles, Anamarie Koeve and Southern Wales’ District Governor, Peter Hamilton.
It was also a big day Donna’s Brynmawr Rotary family, with the handovers to the new President of Donna’s home club Brynmawr Rotary, and to the Presidents of the CoedCae and Brynmawr Interact club.
Peter’s home club of Pembrey and Burryport also completed their Presidential handover.
The occasion was marked by a sparkling musical performance from the Hywel Girls’ Choir & Hywel Boy Singers from Llanelli.
Supported by her family and colleagues, including her mother and some of her grandchildren, Donna spoke eloquently about her Rotary journey, which began when she was just 34 and she was “asked” by a member of the Brynmawr Club if she would like to come to a meeting to find out what Rotary was about.
Donna believed her initial perception that Rotary was for “posh” people is one that is still widely shared. She added that the way to dispel these myths was to ask people from all age groups and all walks of life to join.
The Family of Rotary – together have fun, make a difference and show how together we are stronger.”
In the historic setting of the former Coal Exchange – where the first million-pound cheque is said to have been written – it was perhaps fitting that the joint efforts of the two Interact clubs were recognised.
Interactors from CoedCae and Brynmawr raised £725 from a prize draw for End Polio Now, a sum which will be trebled by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Southern Wales Rotary District is to be led by Peter Hamilton.
Born in Caithness in the Scottish Highlands and educated at Wick High School, Peter originally joined Rotary in London.
Married to welsh-born Gill, the couple have relocated to West Wales. He is a Past President of Rotary Pembrey and Burryport and has played key roles in the Southern Wales District, including Public Image Chairman and Assistant Governor.
Afterwards on social media, Donna thanked the Rotary family for their support. Writing on Facebook, she said: “The Family of Rotary – together have fun, make a difference and show how together we are stronger.
“On Sunday I was so proud to be with so many passionate people of action as part of the Family of Rotary Presidents and Chairmen Handovers, at the Exchange Hotel Cardiff.
“There are so many people who had a part to play in its arrangements and they each get a big ‘thank you’ for the support and efforts to make the RotaKids, Interact, Rotary Clubs, Rotaract GBI District and Rotary GBI handover a success.
“The joint celebrations prove that the Rotary family and our friends, by working together, are stronger, do make a difference, as together we help make our communities better for our efforts.”
Words by Maggie Abbett. Images by Mary Adams.