A Sad Anniversary

One year ago today – 14 June 2018 – there was an incident that no Rotarian in London will ever forget.  It was a year ago today that the 24 storey Grenfell Tower block of flats caught fire.  Rotary in London will leave the difficult issues to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry under the chairmanship of Sir Martin Moore-Bick, the Westminster’s Coroners Court, and the various local and national bodies involved.

Rotary in London extends its most sincere condolences to the families and friends of the 72 residents who are no longer with us as a result of the fire, and its best wishes to the 221 survivors who escaped from the 129 flats in the tower block.  It must not be overlooked that many of the surrounding residents in the area were also traumatised by the fire.

Rotary in London is working quietly in the background for the benefit of the community.  We do  not have limitless funds with which to achieve progress, but we do have plenty of time and energy that we can expend.  There will be many more anniversaries of this tragedy, and each one can be marked by Rotary Service as a step towards the betterment of all concerned.

Rotary Shelterbox Nobel Nomination

We are pleased to announce that ShelterBox has been nominated for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of their humanitarian efforts in areas of extreme conflict.

As one of Rotary International’s longest established partnerships, this nomination is an example of supporting Rotary’s Area of Focus “Peace and Conflict Resolution”.

ShelterBox announced that it is honoured to learn of this nomination, which is a great acknowledgement that ShelterBox proves much more than material aid – they provide the foundation for recovery and the stability needed for peace – one family at a time.

The nomination reflects the incredible work done by the ShelterBox staff and volunteers around the world, and those who have supported them – especially the many Rotary Clubs and Rotarians around the world.

You can read more about the Nomination here.

Preparations for 2018-2019

Preparations are well underway now for the Rotary Year 2018-2019 which starts on 01 July 2018.

Above we see half of the incoming Rotary Club Presidents for London attending the important training session held at the Rotary in London Headquarters in York Gate on 19 April 2018.  This was an intensive mid-week evening event concentrating on the major issues that Rotary Clubs are dealing with.

Thanks to a little wizardry we were able to hear the World President for Rotary next year talk about the process of inspiring Rotarians to change the world, we heard from a millennial about the value millennials seek from Rotary, we learned about the new Rotary Vision, and were given a lesson on the meaning and value of the Rotary brand.  We also heard from Bill Gates Jnr on the work his foundation is doing with Rotary in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

With discussions and breakout sessions, it was a worthwhile evening enjoyed by all who attended.

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!