While being interviewed for our Rotary magazine, I had the fun challenge of remembering my own Rotary story as I prepare to create a new chapter for Rotary GB&I.
My journey with Rotary began back in late 1993.
I was working at the Northern Bank in Newtownards, County Down when one of the customers came in and asked me at the counter if I would be interested in joining a new Rotary club which was forming nearby in my hometown of Donaghadee.
I decided to go along and the rest is history as the club chartered in February 1994.
My interest in volunteering links back to my time in cubs, scouts and venture scouts – some of you may remember ‘Bob-a-Job Week’.
I also remember over 45 years ago being present at The New University of Ulster, Coleraine, as a youth representative to meet Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, as a newly invested Queen’s Scout.
One of my favourite moments during my time at Rotary so far is taking 26 young leaders to the European Parliament in Strasbourg for an annual event called Euroscholar.”
Looking back, this time laid the foundation for me to further my keen interest in volunteering and giving something back.
We’re a modest club in size, but extremely active in the local community, notably with our blood pressure testing campaigns as an example.
I’m incredibly proud of everything I do with my club and, as Chair of the Board, I want to create more discussion and interaction between the Board of Rotary GB&I and individual clubs.
One of my favourite moments during my time at Rotary so far is taking 26 young leaders to the European Parliament in Strasbourg for an annual event called Euroscholar.
Within the district we run an annual Youth Leadership programme which, at its peak, had maybe 2000 students coming forward for interviews and we whittled all that down through regional heats, to a strong group of people.
The students are given questions by the EU office to debate, including topics such as the environment and cyber-security, in the arena filled with a panel of European Parliament members and your peers; it’s brilliant for leadership and presentation skills and personal development.
Now, in my new position as Chair of the Board, I’m looking forward to helping create a stronger Rotary and you can hear how we are planning on achieving that in my full interview on the Rotary GB&I website.