August-September 2023 | News

Evolving Rotary

Evolving Rotary

Manchester plays host to the Rotary Action Summit in September attended by Rotarians from across Europe to hear from a variety of top-notch speakers.


A New Dawn

August - September 2023

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Not long now until the Rotary Action Summit in Manchester – the event of the year for Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland – so if you haven’t registered yet, please do. I would like to invite you to come and be part of an exciting experience in vibrant Manchester, the city where the action is, as we ‘Evolve Rotary’!

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Don’t miss this opportunity to network with Rotary leaders, hear from inspirational speakers and join in the Rotary Action Summit’s motivational programme. This event is for everyone! Rotarians, Rotaractors, non-Rotarians, you are all invited.

Manchester is famous for its evolution as the first industrialised city in the world, for being the home to two football giants, Manchester City and Manchester United, and the birthplace of some of the biggest and coolest British bands from Oasis to Take That. So, it’s a great city to hold this event in.

We are delighted to be joined by Stephanie Urchick, who will become the second female President of Rotary in 2024/25, and we have an inspiring lineup of speakers and guests, including the Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councillor Yasmine Dar, who will open the event.

Action Summit

The Action Summit will take place on Saturday, September 16th and Sunday morning, September 17th at the iconic Midland Hotel in the heart of Manchester. A bronze plaque of Rotary’s founder Paul Harris is in the hotel entrance in memory of his visit to Manchester Rotary Club in 1934.

Power of Rotary

The 2023 Rotary Action Summit is taking place in Manchester.

Ahead of the Summit, we have the Power of Rotary Day on Friday, 15th September with themed seminars led by Rotary leaders combining Membership, Public Image, The Rotary Foundation and much more. Among the speakers is Membership guru Tom Gump (more on him later). The objective is to expand our reach and show how we can do this by working together. Come and share
your ideas. We also have The Rotary Foundation Dinner and the Major Donors and Bequest Society Members reception on Friday evening.

Expanding Our Reach

The Action Summit has a truly international flavour as Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland is linking with two other Zones, 17 and 18, so you will get the chance to mingle with Rotarians and Rotaractors from five Nordic countries (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland and Finland), three Baltic countries (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) and Poland. I am co-convening this event with fellow RI Director for these two Zones, Lena Mjerskaug and we would like everyone to enjoy this networking experience.

End Polio Now Walk

We also have the Walk and Talk for Polio on Saturday afternoon when we shall show Manchester that Rotary is in town, or should I say the city, as we publicise Rotary’s top humanitarian goal to eradicate polio globally. Everyone is being invited to wear End Polio Now branded and/or purple clothing and we shall be joined by not one but at least two life-size End Polio Now bears.

The walk will take a circular route, of just over a mile, beginning and ending at the Midland Hotel and passing local landmarks offering opportunities to discuss topics relating to Rotary’s seven areas of focus.

Enhancing Participant Engagement

This is an Action Summit which will have the focal point of the four pillars of Rotary International’s Action Plan to increase our impact, expand our reach, enhance participant engagement and increase our ability to adapt. So, as well as hearing from our guest speakers, be ready to get engaged with “World Café” round table discussions around key themes and get some inspirational insights from Rotarians and clubs giving us the opportunity to learn from each other.


Speaker Line Up

We are delighted to be joined by Rotary leaders and guest speakers from across the humanitarian spectrum

Stephanie Urchick, Rotary International President 2024/25

A Rotarian since 1991, Stephanie has served Rotary as Rotary Foundation Trustee and RI Director and will become the organisation’s second female president in July 2024. Among her many Rotary activities, she has travelled to Vietnam to help build a primary school and to the Dominican Republic to install water filters. She studies several Slavic languages, has mentored new Rotarians in Ukraine, and coordinated a Rotary Foundation grant project in Poland.

Stephanie wants to see 100,000 more Rotary members in 2024-25. She believes that the magic of Rotary happens at the club level, where the people are serving their communities.

“We need to make our club experiences simply irresistible,” she says.

“We want people to feel that there’s value in getting involved in Rotary to create changes in themselves, in their communities, and in the world.”


Larry Lunsford, Rotary Foundation Trustee 2021-25

Larry was first introduced to Rotary during his college years after being a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar in 1982 to Australia. He joined Rotary in 1991 and is a member of Kansas City-Plaza Rotary. Larry is currently a Trustee of The Rotary Foundation.


Pat Merryweather-Arges, Rotary International Vice-President 2023/24

Aidan O’Leary

Pat is a member of Naperville Rotary, and first joined Rotary in 2002. She has been involved in over 20 Rotary Foundation grant projects focused on her vocational and personal passions of health care, and water and sanitation. She will serve as Vice-President to RI President Gordon McInally.


Aidan O’Leary, Director of Polio Eradication at WHO (World Health Organisation)

Aidan has a wealth of emergencies and public health experience. Before becoming Director of Polio Eradication at the WHO, he led UNICEF’s polio eradication efforts in Pakistan and was the head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, organising the UN’s emergency response during crises.

He has paid tribute to Rotary’s role in ridding the world of polio and said: “The message is simple: A poliofree world is within reach. There is an opportunity, and now is the time to stay the course.”


Kids Against Plastic, Amy and Ella Meek

Amy and Ella Meek are the teenage founders of the environmental charity Kids Against Plastic. Since founding their youth-led organisation back in 2016, they have worked hard to inspire kids and adults alike to take action to reduce their use of single-use plastics. Amy and Ella were winners of the first ever Rotary Young Citizen Environmentalist Award in 2022.


Tom Gump, Aide to RI President 2024/25 Stephanie Urchick

Tom is passionate about growing Rotary membership through forming new and innovative, cause-based Rotary, Rotaract and satellite clubs. He founded the first ever Rotary club to serve veterans and co-founded the world’s first Rotary club to end human trafficking.

He helped found the Rotary Club of Network for Empowering Women and The Kaleidoscope Rotaract Club, to serve those with autism and their families. He also helped form the Rotaract eClub for the Environment – the first ever causebased, international, Rotaract eClub focusing on the environment.

Tom is a member of the Rotary Club of Edina Morningside in Minnesota.



Retro Party with Abalicious – Saturday 16th September

Get set for an evening of entertainment with a Retro Party featuring Abalicious, endorsed by TV Critic Garry Bushell as “Britain’s best ABBA tribute!”

Led by star vocalist Carla Winters, a former member of Bjorn Again, delegates can dance the night away to the major hits of the Swedish supergroup. Dress code is funky and fun.

Retro Party also includes a three-course dinner. This exciting entertainment and dinner are included in the registration cost for the Rotary Action Summit.

Grace O’Malley

The Rotary Action Summit will open with a special performance by opera singer and past Rotary Young Citizen Award Winner 2013 Grace O’Malley.

Twenty five year-old Grace from Lancashire is a scholar of Guildhall School of Music and Drama on the Artist Diploma course, as well as a graduate of the Royal College of Music. Grace has raised over £100,000 for charities such as The Royal British Legion and Petal Childhood Cancer Research UK by organising concerts and producing four charity CDs.

Grace was a founding member of The Rotaract Club of London in 2020 and Club President in 2022/23.


How to register

For a registration pack for the Power of Rotary and the Rotary Action Summit visit the event page. This is an event not to be missed!

So, join us and be part of the Action in Manchester in September 2023!


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