Honouring Rotary’s Outstanding Champions of Change
Honouring Rotary’s Outstanding Champions of Change

If there is a problem, there is a solution. That has been the mindset of Rotary members for 112 years.

Today, the ingenuity, dedication and sheer tenacity of Rotary is tested to the limit, with more conflict, disasters and increasing hardship, all of which offer greater opportunities to serve and this is where Rotary members step up to the plate.

Now in it’s fourth year, the Champions of Change Awards are all about celebrating the humanitarian service of Rotary members, both at home and abroad.

Rotary is delighted to share the inspiring stories from this year’s winners of the 2017 Awards, which will take place at a ceremony at the House of Lords of 26th April, hosted by Baroness Harris of Richmond and presented by Lord William Hague.

In a new addition for 2017, Rotary is also honouring members of the public with Community Champion Awards. These members of the public will have led and inspired others and have been nominated by their local Rotary club.

International category winners

Richard Brind – Rotary Club of Dorchester Casterbridge

Richard has planned, organised and implemented several projects to bring water to small communities in Nepal. Thanks to Richard’s work, new water supplies, free from harmful contamination, have been added to five rural communities in the country. With taps spread across the communities, no house is more than 50 metres from a tap, a drastic improvement from the long walks through harsh terrain that villagers previously had to undertake.

David Britten – Rotary Club of South Cotswolds

David set up Our Street Our Children (OSOC) with his wife Jackie in 2012, to reduce the dangers and increase opportunities for street children in Nepal by providing food, shelter, clothing and improved education. There are two main strands to the work in Nepal.

Firstly, The Homework Club, in which 30 children participate before and after school in a safe environment. Secondly, OSOC recruits outreach workers who can provide everything from basic food and clothing, to drug and alcohol abuse counselling, all with the intention of brightening their future opportunities.

Robbie Middleton – Rotary Club of Portlethen & District

Robbie’s service has led to the provision of education to over 300 children in Southern Uganda over a period of around 20 years. In addition to improving the prospects of these children immeasurably by upgrading local education to A level standard, the Amazing Love School project has also provided life-changing facilities such as a hygienic girls dormitory and toilet block.

Ian Parker – Rotary Club of Roborough, Plymouth

Ian has worked for over 10 years with Literacy in a Box, a Rotary club derived project set up to give the children of Zambia hope through education. Although the work of Literacy in a Box is ongoing, there are often individual projects the trust supports, such as at the Manaca Community School.

Ian visited the school in 2013 to find it was nothing more than a converted chicken shed, but over the next two years, working with other partner organisations who refurbished the school, Ian helped supply 20 literacy boxes full of education equipment and £3000 worth of textbooks for 400 pupils so they had access to a functional and secure learning environment.

Irene Russell – Rotary Club of Warrington

After seeing a hugely successful meal pack take place at the Rotary Convention in Brazil, Irene spearheaded the project to bring a similar activity to the UK. Working with charity Rise Against Hunger (formerly Stop Hunger Now), Irene, led efforts to raise £25,000 from 28 different Rotary clubs to make the meal pack a reality.

In August 2016 over 500 volunteers, aged six to 92, packed over 100,000 meals, which are now feeding children in the poverty-stricken area of Nairobi, Kenya. Irene, pictured above at the even in August, also hosted a meal packing at the Rotary Conference in Manchester, where 16,000 meals were packed to be distributed to Zimbabwe.

Patricia Vytialingam Hoggarth – Rotary Club of Workington

In the aftermath of super typhoon Haiyan hitting the Philippines in November 2013, Patricia initiated a fund-raising campaign which initially raised £5,000 with a street collection, but, under her leadership, was eventually turned into £44,000 enabling the financing of 80 motorised fiberglass fishing boats to help replenish the lost fleet on the island of Kinatarcan.

David Wallwork – Rotary Club of Ramsey

David became aware of the dire conditions in Sierra Leone on a trip there in 2005. It became his aim to provide high quality, free education for the Temne tribe in a rural area of the country, where residents speak their own language and are unable to read or write.

What followed in 2008 was what the locals called ‘The David School’. Since then, the project has seen the opening of a refurbished primary school and newly built secondary school and living accommodation for staff. The site teaches around 360 pupils during the day and offers adult education programmes in the evenings.

Domestic category winners

Janet Cooke – Rotary Club of Peterborough Ortons

Janet has worked tirelessly to make Peterborough a leading city when it comes to improving the lives of those suffering from dementia. She helped to form the Peterborough Dementia Action Alliance, achieve £1.5 million worth of funding for a Dementia Resource Centre and started up Peterborough’s very own Rotary Memory Café.

Martin Kettrick – Rotary Club of Blythe Bridge & District

Martin has worked tirelessly for the last 34 years to improve the way that disabled people are treated. A former Royal Marine, Martin was left wheelchair bound at the age of 23 following a serious accident whilst on a training exercise.

Martin campaigned to change the law to give servicemen and women proper compensation. Martin now spends time working with limbless veterans to support them with their rehabilitation and reintegration into society, as well as mentoring and inspiring young people.

Geri Parlby – Rotary Club of Tavistock

Geri has been at the forefront of projects supporting people with dementia and their carers and has very much been the catalyst in Tavistock becoming the first Dementia-Friendly Community.

She has united the community to set up Memory Cafés and been involved with the building of Sensory Gardens, resulting in the awareness and understanding of dementia locally increasing significantly.

Geri is also a founding member and Chairman of REPoD (Rotarians Easing Problems of Dementia).

Graham Thompson – Rotary Club of Keswick

Graham was President of Keswick Rotary Club when devastating floods hit the north of England in December 2015. His swift action and local knowledge enabled help to be provided immediately to those in need and also assisted in facilitating longer term restoration funds to the community.

Graham’s experience with previous floods helped him liaise with local councils and galvanise Rotary clubs across Great Britain and Ireland who donated almost £250,000 to the recovery fund.

In addition to the Champions of Change Awards, a Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland Presidential Award will also be given.

Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland Presidential Award

George Mercer, Rotary Club of Cardiff

George was instrumental in bringing about the introduction of Satellite Clubs to Rotary across the world. Satellite Clubs are attached to a sponsoring Rotary Club and give people the chance to get involved in their community, but with added flexibility, allowing them to become members whilst balancing their work or family commitments. Since their introduction following the 2013 Council on Legislation, they have proved an extremely popular and successful tool.

Read the inspiring stories of the 2017 Community Champions. You can follow the awards live on Twitter on 26th April and get involved by using #RotaryCofC.

Published: Wednesday 12th April 2017

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