DG Blog 18th August 2020


I still find it amazing that with 1.2m members all over the world and 33,000 clubs many people have a vision of Rotary as ‘well-meaning old men in red trousers doing good in the community’! No offence to anyone wearing red trousers! But this was said again to me only last week, so it’s an image we need to dispel, and major on the difference Rotary makes.

A typical example is the Beirut disaster on 4th August. On Thursday evening (13th) I had a zoom meeting hosted by the Rotary Club of Mendip and attended by the President of Rotary International Holger Knaack. What an opportunity platforms such as Zoom has afforded us – the man in charge of 33,000 clubs world-wide, able to connect directly with Somerset, and also with the President of the local Rotary Cosmopolitan club in Beirut, Habib Saba, who had met with the other 27 Rotary club presidents in Beirut that morning and decided on a project of rebuilding two floors of the local hospital, a project that would cost around $800,000.

Following the Monday 10th August Rotary meeting in Taunton, the Taunton Vale Rotary club had pledged £1,000 towards the Lebanon crisis, Wrington Vale had carried out a collection at Sanders Garden Centre and many other clubs had pledged money – a typical Rotary response to a disaster, be it local or international. Many charities advertise for donations, only for us to find that there are massive delays in getting the support to where it is needed and indeed after deduction of costs for administration. But we were able to get the bank details of the Rotary club ‘on the ground’ in Beirut and get the money there immediately and with no deduction for expenses. I am immensely proud of what we do in Rotary in Somerset and this is the kind of example we can promote to others who may wish to join us in the Rotary family.



Just thought I’d share with you a photo of our trip to the International Convention in Hawaii – not! Sadly of course the trip was cancelled due to coronavirus, and I can’t help but feel for those who had put so much work into setting up the event, and the suppliers in Honolulu who were expecting thousands to input to their local economy. Not to mention those of us who were planning to share the international fellowship of Rotary. Anyway, when my granddaughter asked to have her 8th birthday party at our house this week, since children no longer have to socially isolate, guess what theme she requested?

Seeing the youngsters enjoying themselves so much reminded me that young people have endured a great deal in lockdown, and of the sharp contrast for children in poor or abusive families who have had to cope with significant added burdens and trauma. I’ll be writing more about mental health issues in a future blog, about the food bank initiatives which have helped so many in our district, including families with young children, and about the work in the Halcon district of Taunton – my chosen district charity.

However – a couple of photos from ‘Hawaii’, just because they brought a smile to my face. Surely the next best thing to the convention in Honolulu!

Best Wishes

Rory O’Donnell 

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