August-September 2018 | Articles

Holding out for a hero

Holding out for a hero

It is one of the showpieces of the Rotary calendar, an opportunity to shine the spotlight on sometimes reluctant heroes, who go the extra mile in their communities. Meet this year’s Rotary Champions of Change.

Cardiff City Hall was the host for a glittering evening to mark the 2018 Rotary Champions of Change Awards.

A dozen Rotarians from Great Britain & Ireland were recognised for their work to improve the lives of others in their own communities and abroad.

Seven non-Rotarians were also honoured through the Community Champion Awards, recognising their outstanding humanitarian work.

The awards were hosted by HM Lord-Lieutenant of South Glamorgan Morfudd Meredith.

In April’s issue of Rotary magazine, we featured the five winners of the domestic award.

Here we focus on the international, community and presidential awards.


Presidential Awards

Andrew Errington

Andrew has introduced new membership approaches to his club in Saughall, near Chester and his Rotary region.

The programme of ‘Modernisation, Innovation and Showcasing’ was developed a year ago.

Most efforts to galvanise organic membership growth had hit a brick wall, but by using a series of roadshows and questionnaires, Andrew established that an old-fashioned image, a reluctance to change and with no idea how to interface with prospective members, were the core issues.

He showed clubs how to overcome these problems with presentations and a 10-point plan to hold a Showcase evening.

The results were astonishing with the first event producing nine new members.


Brendan O’Shea

After a career in the Irish Navy and the European Commission, Brendan joined Rotary and was determined to increase the Rotary membership in Mallow, Co. Cork.

Through engaging with colleagues who were members of other community organisations, membership grew by over 40% in a 16 month period with over 60% of the Chamber of Commerce now members.

Thirteen members have now joined Rotary.

The success has been replicated through nine clubs in the area with 16 others in the pipeline.

This led to Ireland’s first Peace Advocacy training for seven schools, 32 pupils and teachers and 13 Rotarians.


Community Champions

Sean Bailey

Sean was seriously injured playing football and feared he may never walk again.

However, Sean defied the odds, though he will never run or play football again and still has difficulty with his movement and communication.

Sean formed a football club for those with cerebral palsy or an inherited brain injury.

Their philosophy is that engagement in sport is a great healer.

They now provide footballing opportunities for over 100 players.

Many arrive with walking aids, but with great perseverance many have been able to regain their ability to walk once more.

It is a life-changing event.


Afolasade Bright

Councillor Sade, as she is fondly known, delivers projects focusing on the elderly in the Barking and Dagenham, and neighbouring boroughs.

As Mayor of Hackney in 2006 she raised a substantial amount of money for Age UK and was made Honorary President.

She continues to fund-raise and has set up the Pennu Charity which promotes good health and well-being among the elderly, and has also established a Memory Café and Recreational Centre.

Sade is leading a group of older people to devise projects to challenge stigma and isolation, while running community events for the elderly.


Paul Brooks

Former traffic officer Paul from Clayton-le-Wood, Lancashire, has turned a small group of bikers into North West Blood Bikes — the largest Blood Bike group in the world.

Paul and his wife have spent the last five years fund-raising, managing this charity and liaising with the five local NHS Trusts from South Lancashire to South Cumbria.

As Chairman and Trustee, Paul now heads a team of 300 riders who answer over 1,000 calls every month for the NHS.


Howard Craven

After spending nearly 20 years in and out of jail, Howard has been supporting and mentoring former prisoners.

He is also able to offer acupuncture to relieve stress for past and present prisoners.

For the past two years, Howard has been helping with Rotary in his region’s ‘You Can Change’ programme which helps prisoners realise how change and successful integration into the community is possible.

They are defined not by their past, but by the decisions they take on the course, and the way they live the rest of their lives.


Pauline Craven

Pauline first visited Yugoslavia as a volunteer during the Balkan War in 1993 distributing aid to refugees.

Two years later she set up a rehabilitation centre for children who were sick from the Chernobyl disaster.

In 2000, Pauline met Alan Hilliar on one of the convoys and three years later they formed their own registered charity – The Felsted Aid for Deprived Children.

Since then, they have devoted their lives to raising funds, collecting supplies and distributing them, not only to the centre in Chernihiv, but to orphanages and hospitals in the Ukraine, sometimes with the help of Rotarian volunteer drivers.


Roberta Lovick

For the past 20 years, Roberta has been devoted to improving end of life care.

In Norfolk, she established a palliative care charity supporting patients and carers, and thanks to partnership working with health trusts and voluntary organisations, a £1.5 million palliative care centre was opened by the Princess Royal in 2013 at the James Paget Hospital in Great Yarmouth.

Since its opening, the Louise Hamilton Centre (named after Roberta’s daughter) has seen 27,000 people pass through benefitting from over 20 therapies and support services.

Nationally, Roberta is regarded as a champion for palliative care, serving on a number of national bodies.


Molly Rennie

Molly is Chair of the West Dorset and Weymouth and Portland Domestic Abuse Forum.

Along with the Women’s Action Network Dorset, Molly runs the ‘Reclaim The Night’ event in Dorchester, which encourages women to highlight the danger they feel when out alone at night.

Molly’s achievements in raising the profile of the campaign against domestic abuse has been inspirational by ensuring that a refuge in Dorset became a reality, with the funds to run it.

Molly has become active educating young people who have witnessed domestic abuse.


Champions of Change


Cormac Doyle

Mike Harvey

Sarah Newcombe

Daniel O’Reilly

Tom Yendell


Read the full bios of this years Home Champions of Change here



Tony Clayson

Peter Croan

Patsy Dodd

Bob Parfitt

Alison Stedman

Alan Wolstencroft

Norman Yates


Read the full bios of this years International Champions of Change here


Community Champions

Sean Bailey

Afolasade Bright

Paul Brooks

Howard Craven

Pauline Craven

Roberta Lovick

Molly Rennie


Read the full bios of this years Community Champions here



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