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Rotary News

Tom’s Blog – February 2021

Tom’s Blog – February 2021

In his February 2021 blog, Rotary GB&I President, Tom Griffin, looks back at a month which for him, really showed the power of Rotary as a global organisation.

If I thought I was “living on Zoom” before, nothing prepared me for February! I mentioned in my blog last month that because the International Assembly (the event where Rotary International (RI) trains incoming District Governors) was online this year, RI had recruited a number of experienced past Training Leaders to support the Assembly Training Leaders – the Rotarians who facilitate breakout sessions at the Assembly. I was one of those Support Training Leaders.

To address the issues of time zones for a worldwide audience, RI held each of the breakout sessions three times: once during our night-time for the Far East and Australasia, and twice during our daytime for the rest of the world. There were six separate breakouts, so that meant that between February 1st and 10th, I was supporting at 12 such sessions – each of which involved me being on Zoom from two to two-and-a-half hours. And, of course, there were also the plenary Sessions to watch. That’s a lot of Zooming!

In the event, the Training Leader I was supporting had minor glitches with her IT on a couple of occasions, and I had to step in and take over the sessions briefly – so RI’s decision to have support ready and waiting was a sensible one.

There’s nothing like an event like International Assembly for bringing home to you just what the “International” in Rotary International means.

Obviously, this year’s Assembly wasn’t quite like those of past years, and the District Governor Elects (DGEs) attending missed out on a lot of the fun side of the event, but I think it worked well and showed just how you can connect across the world without leaving your home. I certainly made new friends. And there’s nothing like an event like International Assembly for bringing home to you just what the “International” in Rotary International means. In those 12 breakout sessions alone we had DGEs from 29 countries.

However, back to the day job.

I mentioned in my last blog how I believed that my club’s Santa Sleigh run had brought pleasure to so many young children in the midst of all the troubles of 2020; well, in early February I was invited to attend a meeting at which clubs in one part of Leicestershire made donations to charities of the funds they had raised with their Santa’s Sleigh – and the story of the impact of taking Santa around the town streets was, unsurprisingly, just the same.

I also mentioned last month the proposals agreed by Rotary GB&I Governing Council to reform our governance structure, and in February I spoke to Rotary in Cumbria and Lancashire’s (District 1190) Council meeting and Rotary Central South England, the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands’ (District 1110) team about these plans. I also had the pleasure of attending Stafford Rotary’s 97th charter anniversary.

It was a delight to send greetings to another new, innovative club – the Rotary Club of Internet and Innovation London Peace Envoys – which was chartered on February 7th.  We’re continuing to see new, exciting ways in which people are enjoying the benefits and opportunities of being part of Rotary’s worldwide family. Long may it continue – even if it does have to be on Zoom!

We’re continuing to see new, exciting ways in which people are enjoying the benefits and opportunities of being part of Rotary’s worldwide family.”

Last and by no means least, we celebrated Rotary’s 116th birthday on 23rd February with a Purple4Polio Tea Party – online, of course! The event was hosted by television presenter and author Konnie Huq and Paralympian Anne Wafula Strike and featured stories, a quiz, and songs from Rotary Young Citizen Award winners. A great event, and a reminder of and re-commitment to our ongoing fight to rid the world of polio.