All posts by Dick Nathan

History of Camden Town

Members from Rotary Clubs across London gathered at Camden Town Underground Station for a walk through the history of Camden Town on 05 August 2018. Under the leadership of Peter, our guide for the afternoon, we learned about the history of the area, starting with the overflow burial ground for St Martin in the Fields Church (located by Trafalgar Square), and about the Greek influence and the history of the All Saints Greek Orthodox Church in the area.

We learned about the distinguished residents of Camden Town including Charles Dickens who had lived there for a while (as well as many other places), and we were given a brief history of the life of the poet and writer Dylan Thomas, and the life of the painter Walter Sickert – both former residents.  Coming closer to today, we visited the house where Alan Bennett had lived, and which had featured in the film “Lady in the Van”.   Amy Winehouse had been a resident, and the band Madness had also started there.

And with thoughts of madness, we made a quick tour of the Camden Lock Market and strolled along the Regents Canal before ending up at the tube station again.  A really interesting place to visit, despite the crowds, and our thanks go to Kamal for organising the afternoon.

Stratford Gets Its Charter

Joining several other “Stratford” Rotary Clubs, the Rotary Club of Stratford in London, UK received its charter at a BBQ Party on 16 July 2018 from the President of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland, Debbie Hodge.

The BBQ Party was held on a balcony of the Holiday Inn in Stratford East London, and nearly all of the 27 Charter Members received their special ‘Charter Member’ Rotary Pins and a certificate from the District Extension Officer and the Membership Chairman.  The Club is strongly representative of its community, one of the fastest expanding business areas in London.  The event was also honoured by the presence of the Greater London Authority representative Unmesh Desai.  Stratford is a popular town name around the world, and there are Rotary Clubs of Stratford in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Connecticut, Ontario, New Zealand as well as the two in the UK.

We all wish the new Club well, and look forward to their involvement in Rotary in London.

Passing on the baton

On a sweltering afternoon in Central London, all those attending were grateful that the air-conditioning system at the Imperial Hotel was more than able to cope.  Before passing on the collar of office, Mike Hodge talked about the past 12 months and how busy he had been. After thanking everyone for their support, he said his one regret was that so much of what is done by Rotary in the London area is still unknown outside Rotary.

Our new District Governor Mike Wren was then inducted.  He started by recognising the guests present at the event and thanked his predecessor for all he had done.  He described Making a Difference as a memorable year, and knew that Mike Hodge would have another busy year as the spouse of the President of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland.

The new President of Rotary International has called upon Rotarians to “Be the Inspiration” that will make our world a better place, and reminded all those present that even though the 5p piece is our smallest coin, it represented the future by adding Polio and Peace to the 3Ps of the previous Rotary year (People, Projects and Publicity).  He closed by thanking his wife and family for their support, the Events Team that had organised the luncheon, and his Club for turning out in such strong numbers to support him.

The Mysteries of Southwark Revealed

Rotarians from across London assembled at Blackfriars Underground Station for a walk exploring the differences across the River Thames over the ages.  Our guide – Peter – took the party on a 3 hour trail explaining the differences between the North Side and the South Side.  The walk was interspersed with visits to two famous London Pubs close to the South bank of the Thames.

We learned about the differences between the City of London and Southwark in the time of Edward VI, and what this meant for those providing a taxi-service across the Thames in rowing boats, and what the “Watermen” did for income when the river froze!  We learned about the first “Clink” – a jail set next to the Palace of the Bishop of Winchester, the architecture of the City of London, the history of the “Golden Hind” of Sir Francis Drake, and about the burial of William Shakespeare’s brother, Edmund.

A fascinating insight into the history of our city, and an entertaining way to spend an afternoon.  Our thanks go to organiser, Bishai.

 

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’!