Up in Derbyshire, local charities gathered as Belper and Duffield Rotary presented them with £700 worth of grants from Gail’s Fund, a fund established by the family of late Rotarian Gail Ashley along with Belper and Duffield Rotary.
Gail Ashley was a valued member of Belper and Duffield Rotary until her passing from ovarian cancer in February 2022 and her family came up with the idea of the fund as a way of honouring her legacy of helping others in need.
The fund provides a grant, currently up to £500, that’s made available each year to benefit local individuals, groups, clubs, or other entities engaged in fundraising projects or initiatives.
David Ashley, Gail’s husband who set up the fund with their daughters Sarah and Nicola, said: “My daughters and I feel this is a positive way of remembering Gail. We advertise the Fund in March and April each year inviting applications from local organisations.
“The only condition is that projects must show ‘Care, Compassion and Generosity of Spirit’ – qualities that were ever present in Gail.”
In a presentation at the Strutts Centre Belper, Dave introduced the six organisations receiving grants which included Derbyshire Carers Association, Derbyshire Toy Library and Amber Valley District Girlguiding.
After giving a short presentation on their group and receiving grant certificates, Belper Duffield and Rotary President, Diane Smiles, said: “I do think it’s great for Rotary and groups that help people to step outside their own little bubble every now and again to hear what others in the locality are doing.”
Further up in Greater Manchester, members of Bury St. Edmunds Abbey Rotary had a weekend to remember hosted by the Rotary Club of Kevelaer, which is situated in Bury St Edmunds’ twin town in Germany.
The Kevelaer Burgermeister (Mayor), Dominik Pichler, warmly welcomed the group at the old town hall and invited them to sign the Gold Book of Kevelaer, which had previously been signed by Mother Theresa, Pope John Paul II, King Charles, and Angela Merkel.
Kevelaer Rotary hosted a party for the Bury St. Edmunds Rotarians where their Club President, Margret Voßeler-Deppe, was presented with a linden wood carving of Martyrdom of St Edmund by Suffolk-based artist Clint Rose.
Bury St. Edmunds Abbey Rotary’s President, Alan Chadwick, said: “It was a real pleasure to be able to travel to our twin town of Kevelaer and meet with our German Rotary colleagues.
“We were given a very warm welcome and the hospitality shown to us was fantastic. The whole trip was enjoyable, with a tour of the town and a chance to cycle in the countryside. I feel the visit has helped to cement the relationships between the two clubs and the towns”.
Over in Shropshire, Borderland Rotary Club have been giving the funds raised from their last annual bonfire to good causes.
Rotarians went out to local organisations such as Oswestry Rugby Club, Oswestry & Border Flower Club and the Mule Community Cycle project to present them with the donations from the event last year.
Borderland Rotarian Jonathan Jones, who has ran the event on behalf of the club and the Oswestry Town Council for around 20 years, said of last year’s bonfire: “It was all a bit of a scramble last year, but with the help of Matt Lee from Manic events, Borderland Rotary members, and Venue staff, we made it happen and I’m just so pleased that we can now help local good causes with much-needed donations.”
Down in Kent, a group of young carers were treated to a fun day out at one of the UK’s best alpaca experiences, Alpaca Annie, organised by the four local Rotary clubs: Folkestone, Folkestone Channel, Hythe and Romney Marsh.
Together with Tina Culver, the local Young Carer Coordinator, Assistant Molly Woolf and Rotarians from all four clubs, the young carers visited Hagueland, Burmash, for a ‘Meet and Greet the Alpacas’ experience followed by a delicious lunch, both provided by the Alpaca Annie staff.
The young carers enjoyed both feeding and stroking the alpacas before being treated to an afternoon of entertainment which included crazy gold, face-painting, a pedal car track and a magic show.
Tina thanked the Rotary clubs for their help arranging the day out and shared that there had been overwhelmingly positive feedback from both the young carers and their families.
Finally, it was a special day for six hardworking volunteers from Sussex as they were presented with ‘Service Recognition Awards’ by Central Sussex Rotary.
The awards scheme was launched in 2023 by Central Sussex Rotary as a way of championing the unrecognised efforts of volunteers across Mid Sussex and beyond.
Paul Allnut, Nathan Curtis and Craig Dutton were all recognised for their founding and running of the Handcross Community Events group, Brian and Linda Dove were recognised for their long-running IT support group in Burgess Hill, and Elizabeth Owen was recognised for her vision and leadership in running the Ringmer Village Library.
James M. Butcher, Central Sussex Rotary President, commented: “We were delighted to receive so many great nominations from across Sussex and hear about the frankly incredible work that volunteers do, day in, day out, for our communities.
“Our six winners are true community champions and have made a real difference to their local areas. We’re so proud of them and their hard work, which stands as an example to us all.
“Well done Paul, Nathan, Craig, Brian, Linda and Elizabeth, you fully deserve the recognition and our thanks.”