Rotary Meets Commonwealth

Rotarians from across London were at City Hall by Tower Bridge on Sunday 15 April 2018 in support of the London Challenge organised by the National Citizen Service (NCS).

The day revolved around the London Challenge – a go and find this in London and send back a photo from your phone – and a Debating and Discussion session exposing some of the differences between the different Commonwealth Countries represented.

The turn out for the event from the members of the Commonwealth Youth Forum was not quite as strong as hoped, but Rotary in London more than fulfilled its quota.  It was also a chance to meet the Chief Executive of NCS, Michael Lynas, Chief Executive of Bite the Ballot Michael Sani, and Tim Hitchens, Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Summit Unit.  Judith Diment, Rotary International’s Representative to the Commonwealth was also there.

All told, it tested the Rotarians’ knowledge of where, when, and how, in Central London, but everyone found it a most enjoyable day.

District Assembly Dinner is Inspirational

Many Rotarians gathered in Central London on 26 March 2018 for an inspirational evening led by our incoming District Governor Mike Wren.

The evening started with a substantial meal after Grace, which was led by incoming District Governor Nominee Francis Uwaechi (right,) and had been organised by the District Events Committee at the Imperial Hotel in Russell Square.

Although the next Rotary Year begins on 1st July 2018, there is much that is new and needs to be communicated to the Rotary Clubs in London before that date.  We had an inspirational speech from the incoming President of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland, Debbie Hodge, who is incidentally married to our current District Governor Michael Hodge! (below, left and right)

    

The whole event was drawn together and summarised magically by the incoming District Governor Mike Wren (below) who comes from the Rotary Club of Redbridge.  We now know how to be inspirational in our Clubs, in our Communities and throughout the world, and cannot wait to get started.

 

Recognition for Foundation Chairman

Our District Foundation Chairman is moving away from London towards the end of the Rotary Year, and the District Governor along with the Governor Elect, Governor Nominee and Immediate Past District Governor decided that the District needed to make a presentation that acknowledged the significant contribution that the Foundation Chairman has made over many years in a variety of positions in our District.

To great acclaim at a dinner in Central London, Tom Hunt (left in the photo above) received a triple ruby Paul Harris Fellowship pin – an extremely high recognition for the work that he had done over many years.  Tom will be sorely missed once he moves away, and we all wish him a very happy time once he moves back ‘up north’!

Seeing the Trees and the Forest

Members of several Rotary Clubs in North London got together near Sandridge in Hertfordshire on 8 March 2018 to help out with a project to plant a new forest on what had been agricultural land.  They were there to plant broad leaf deciduous trees – mainly oak and cherry.

Trees play an enormously important part in our environment, and the President of Rotary International, Ian H S Riseley has called on all Rotarians around the world to plant at least one tree each before 30 June 2018.

As can be seen below, many hundreds of trees were planted on the day – one of several when working parties for all sorts of voluntary organisations help out.  The day was very windy, and there was both sun and rain, but all the Rotarians present had a good time.  Thanks go to the volunteers of Heartwood Forest, for the hot tea and coffee served to the planters.

Essex Couple Win National Rotary Award

Pauline Craven and Alan Hilliar of Felsted Aid for Deprived Children have won a National Rotary Community Champion Award.  The award recognises their work providing aid to a treatment centre in Ukraine coping with 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation consequences of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl in 1986.

The couple met in 2000 when both were part of a convoy taking aid to the Revival Centre in Chernihiv, the nearest city to Chernobyl, and in 2003 they formed their own Registered Charity – “Felsted Aid for Deprived Children”.

Since then, the couple have been organising and participating in the three or four convoys a year taking toiletries, clothing, shoes and cleaning materials to Ukraine.

The Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland Community Champion Award is a highly prestigious award, and all the Rotarians in London are agreed that Pauline and Alan are very worthy recipients.

Youth Makes Music Concert

Many Rotarians from London attended the Rotary “Youth Makes Music” Concert at the Royal Festival Hall on 22 February 2018.  The programme included a wide range of music from choirs, to a string quartet, to a concert band, to a jazz orchestra, to carnatic music, to a steel band, to a full symphony orchestra, to a rock band and even a solo rock guitarist.

 

Under the compere for the evening, the BBC’s Ellie Crisell, the audience were introduced to each of the acts.  All of the artists were schoolchildren or students studying in schools or colleges within the Rotary in London District.

All agreed that the performers produced music of a very high standard, and the event was a wonderful window on the young musical talent in London.

Scholars Christmas Dinner

The Rotary Foundation Scholars currently studying in London were invited to a traditional Fish and Chip Supper at our District Headquarters in York Gate on Friday 08 December 2017.  This event has been taking place each year for many years now and is another opportunity for the Scholars to meet up once again with their Counsellors.

The Fish and Chips were enjoyed by all those present at the event,  and it also gave Scholars Coordinator Grahame a chance to invite the scholars to the coming events over the Christmas season.

The scholars then ‘took over’ offering insights into how Christmas and the New Year are celebrated in their own countries.  There are so many differences around the world, and more than a few surprises too!

Some of the scholars depart for destinations overseas in the coming week, some will be staying in London over the holiday.  The Rotarians wish all the scholars a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Rotary Foundation Appreciation

More than 100 Rotarians sat down to the Rotary Foundation Appreciation Dinner in Central London on 15 November 2017.  Amongst the guests of honour at the dinner were Mike Webb – Main Board Trustee, John Dunkley – Foundation Chairman for Great Britain and Ireland, Debbie Hodge – President Elect for Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland, Steve Munns – Endowments and Major Gifts Coordinator. In addition our District Governor and District Governor Elect, along with many Past District Governors were present.

Many awards and certificates for achievements were handed out on the evening.  However, the Surya Varsani Trophy this year was presented by Mike Webb to both The City and Shoreditch Club (above left) and the Enfield Chase Club (above right) for their per capita achievement in donations.  That two clubs should achieve the same highest per capita donation is a first for us!

All told the event was a great success, and tribute goes to District Foundation Chairman Tom Hunt and his team for organising this most enjoyable evening.

Preparing for 2018-2019

A group of incoming Club Presidents met at our District Headquarters in central London on Saturday 18 November 2017, to start the process of preparing for the Rotary Year 2018‑2019.

Rotary in London’s training programmes are the envy of many, both within and outside Rotary, and this event set the Agenda for the coming months for those starting a year as Club President in July 2018.  There is much to know for a Club President, and there are skills to be developed.  The meeting covered many aspects of Rotary that have changed in the last year.  Unusually, with Rotary’s main computer system being upgraded in the USA on the day, there were problems accessing the live systems.  However, carefully planned videos, specially made for the day, allowed system features to be studied despite the upgrade.

A similar event will be held on Sunday 26 November 2017 for those that were not able to attend the event shown here.  With luck, they will even be able to use the new faster systems for their event.  Initial feedback on this event was very positive!

 

Rotarians and Remembrance

On a very cold but bright and sunny 12 November 2017, a substantial group of Rotarians assembled in Whitehall for the Remembrance Sunday event that takes place in London each year.  With the Elizabeth Clock Tower’s refurbishment work suspended so that Big Ben could chime the hour, this is always a sombre occasion when Rotarians remember the fallen in all actions since the Great War of 1914-1918.

After the short Service of Remembrance led by the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, Dean of the Chapel Royal, there was the long wait whilst the estimated 9,000 ex-servicemen, auxilliaries and service organsisations marched past the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

Pictured here, the group of Rotarians braved the cold and remembered those who had made the ultimate sacrifice.