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August-September 2018 | Features

Be the Inspiration

Be the Inspiration

New President of Rotary in Great Britain & Ireland, Debbie Hodge, looks ahead on her year ahead at the helm.

To all those Rotarians reading this I want to say ‘thank you’. Thank you for making the choice to be a Rotarian – because Rotary is more than a lunchtime meeting in the diary or the once a month quiz night. Rotary is a way of being that changes lives, including our own.

A Rotarian, when asked where he went every Tuesday lunchtime, said: “I go to meet with friends and we change the world.”

That’s what Rotarians, ‘people of action’ do; we change the world, sometimes one person at a time, sometimes a whole community, and sometimes a whole country.

Just how does this happen? It happens because we do good in the world – that’s our calling card.

Rotary connects all the peoples of the world, just as the sea connects all countries.

The ebb and flow of the tides remind us that while the sea is a constant presence, it is also a change agent – the shoreline is never the same two days running.

Rotary is forever changing, yet it is an organisation which has been built on enduring principles which enable Rotarians around the globe to connect for the good of the whole world.

The first principle is vocation – we bring our vocation, our business and professional skills, knowledge and personal talents into Rotary for the service of others.

The second is our Rotary values – honesty, fairness, truth, trust, integrity, fellowship and service. These we take out from Rotary into the communities where we work, live and make connections.

These principles make us unique in the world of membership and service organisations as exemplified in our vision statement: ‘Together we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities and in ourselves.’

So what will be our lasting change, our legacy this Rotary year – will we see the last case of polio?

It is perfectly possible, but the last case doesn’t mean we have done the job; we need three full years of zero cases before we can have the purple party to end all parties!

To keep up the momentum watch out for the opportunities and updates, from bulb planting to teddy bear picnics.

An individual can only achieve so much, but a team working together with a shared passion can change the world.”

In my working life as a nurse, I have seen enough to know that conflict can lead to violence with sometimes catastrophic results, but it was my experience of the Number 30 bus destroyed by a bomb on July 7th,  2005 that taught me the true meaning of Rotary’s Object ‘Peace and Goodwill around the world’.

This was reinforced by Sakuji Tanaka’s Presidential theme for 2012/13, the year I was District Governor, Peace through Service, symbolised by a peace crane, and built on a quest for peace after the devastation of Hiroshima.

The bus was destroyed and people killed and injured in Woburn Place, outside the British Medical Association (BMA) offices and less than 50 yards from my office in Tavistock Square.

I spent the day supporting the injured at the BMA and then supporting those staff members from the BMA who had been working to save lives and helping people make sense of a senseless situation.

On that bus were peoples of all faiths, people from many nations, caught up in a wider conflict that sets individuals, communities and nations against each other.

I hope that over this Rotary year we can build a legacy of peace through creating a series of hubs that will enable young people and Rotarians to learn non-violent ways of resolving conflict.

Rotary’s enduring legacy marking 100 years since the end of the First World War.

Yet everything we do should and does bring peace. If we are providing clean safe water, it will enable children to get an education instead of being permanent water carriers.

If we provide effective health care strategies, we are building resilience in the community. If we provide education programmes that enable people to read, they will be less likely to be exploited.

Supporting Peace Scholars, working with Foundation Scholars, sharing our values in RotaKids, Interact and Rotaract, every action is an action which brings peace to individuals, to communities and to nations.

It is perhaps in our own communities that we can have the greatest impact, for in all our communities there are examples of individuals being cruelly exploited – we call it Modern Slavery.

Sharing in the work of the University of Nottingham Rights Lab will help Rotarians to make a difference in their local community by enabling that community to become a slave-free community.

This will be a major part of the Rotary Showcase 2019.

Is all this possible? Yes it is! Because Rotary enables individuals to come together, develop friendships that are the building blocks for taking action.

An individual can only achieve so much, but a team working together with a shared passion can change the world.

That team is Rotary – so Rotarians, Be the Inspiration that enables transformation of ourselves, our communities and the world, build that lasting change based on friendship and service.

Be People of Action

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