August-September 2019 | Regulars

As Rotary Connects the World – Donna Wallbank – Rotary GBI President

As Rotary Connects the World – Donna Wallbank – Rotary GBI President

After taking office on 1st July, Rotary GBI Donna Wallbank reflects on the importance of connections and this year’s Rotary International theme; ‘Rotary Connects the World.’

It’s been quite a journey since the elections to serve as President for Rotary in Great Britain & Ireland for 2019-2020, but it has gone so quickly.

There’s been none of the ‘are we there yet?’ questions which are normally asked on a long journey. Instead, the travelling has been supersonic. Learning needs have been quickly addressed and homework done to ensure the roadmap is a good one.

Obviously, I can’t afford to miss any connections, be it travel, human or potential leads towards partnership opportunities! None of us can.

Our Rotary journey creates connections. For me, some have been connections I would never have dreamed of. Hopefully, we can all say the same. After all, by experiencing the same connections and creating those same opportunities, then we are truly Rotarians who enjoy what we do, becoming better people.

rotary gbi presidential handover

This year’s Rotary Great Britain and Ireland Handover took place in Cardiff, Wales.

The Rotary family is anyone who proudly wears a pin connected by the rondel, which includes our young Rotary members, who endeavour to do good in our communities and the wider world, using the new Rotaract term, ‘Dogoodery’.

It is about each of us connecting with people who we would not ordinarily be involved with, each striving to make a difference. It’s about staying in touch so that the initial connection becomes a lasting one.

We need to ensure those educational establishment connections are in place, ready for the new academic year, to make a difference to young people.

It’s about trying something new, and not putting your personal prejudice ahead of what might be a perfect connection or an opportunity for future community leaders.

We must recognise that Rotary needs extra hands to do more good, to fundraise and increase awareness of the eradication of polio once and for all. It’s not possible to do this on our own, but with partners pledging help like Bill and Melinda Gates, then we can do more, and we can keep our promise to the parents of the world by telling the polio story.

I get frustrated that nationally, Rotary’s commitment in the community is often overlooked by the media. However, locally we can ensure we shout out loud, using all avenues including social media, as local radio, newspapers and TV do ‘pick up’ the stories we tell and it creates wider publicity.

You can be a changemaker where change is needed.”

It may not be the connection we want initially, but this can lead to a connection which may not have happened otherwise.

As we look ahead, we know internally that our message is ‘Rotary Connects the World’, but Rotary connections are made every day which develop community engagements, at home and internationally.

So let’s not forget that connections also develop young people; those new to the work place, new to our communities and new to business. We can each connect, helping them to become better people so they can assist in projects, as well as connecting to people who can develop their skills and employability.

You are the catalysts of change. You can be a changemaker where change is needed, and that’s why I believe that, this year, we will all be ‘people of action’.


Follow RotaryGBI President Donna Wallbank on Twitter.

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