DG Blog 21 April 2021

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY… (I’ll bet you’re already singing an Abba song?)

As you know we voted recently to release £750 of district reserves to each club in the district to do with whatever each club wishes. When considering the use to which clubs will put the money, please spare a thought for the previously nominated district charity Yeovil Hospital Breast Cancer Unit (contact Stan Jones) and our own Rotary charity, Foundation, which, following the interruption of fundraising due to the pandemic, is desperately short of funds. 


Our conference film-maker Glen Wayman of Highwayman Films stitched together a significant number of random i-phone videos to create a 2-minute cameo showing the great work that we, as Rotarians, are doing to support the biggest project in the UK in the current year – the vaccination of the whole population against Covid-19. And over 200 Rotarians, friends and family in our district alone going out in all weathers to help. Glen’s wizardry produced a professional film which can be shared on zoom and is a great recruiting tool for volunteers considering joining Rotary. Do consider using Glen’s services – he is extremely good value for money and in his early 20’s is a film-maker just starting out, deserving of our support. I make no apologies for saying this and by the way, we are not personally connected to him in any way other than having discovered his services, and wanting to see a local young man succeed. (And, of course, trying to persuade him to join Rotary!) 


We delivered it – YAY! 

The virtual conference was without a doubt intensive and complicated to organise, with what transpired to be a bigger workload than in a face-to-face environment. A challenge, to say the least. But the virtual world offered us an opportunity to engage with a wide range of non-Rotarians and Rotarians who would not normally attend conference, alongside our stalwarts. So, we took it!

Live chat and evaluation feedback was overwhelmingly positive. And what of our outcomes? Here are the headlines – more detail on request: 

It had a commendable carbon footprint – no-one had to travel, and they could watch in their PJs without judgement (unless decorated with fluffy animal print!). 380 registrations, 98% attended; 16% were non-Rotarians, 7 people were in the ‘Join Rotary’ breakout room, with 13 others providing email addresses to find out more – so a key objective was achieved. 30% said more than 1 person viewed the conference with them – 1 person reported 5 at the screen; 2% were under 18 (potential Rotakids?); 86% said they planned to watch part of the conference again afterwards (on our legacy website https://district1200.co.uk which has additional content of presentations and Rotary showcases – and had 200 users whilst the conference was in full swing); 85% of the Rotarians said they were likely to show a presentation from our website or YouTube channel at a club meeting. As for a future format,  14% would prefer a virtual conference, 27% a blended (face-to-face plus virtual) approach, 25% a one-day event, 14% a weekend, and 20% with no preference.  

Mentoring and support for Simeon has been offered, and we are aware of several promising networking links established. We have also benefited from extensive press coverage leading up to and after the event, keeping Rotary in the public eye. Finally, the cost. Despite the conference being free the total cost came in significantly under budget which I know will please the District Treasurer.

I can’t thank the Taunton Vale conference committee and chair Richard Goring enough for their stalwart support in such difficult circumstances, including having to arrange a conference twice over, and many other Rotarians across the district who stepped up to the plate and became speakers’ friends, amongst other roles, on the day. I won’t name you all individually in case I miss out anyone. But you know who you are, and I am truly grateful to you all for your help and support. And also, credit to Rotarians in district 1150 in Wales, who stood by all day to take over in case we all went down with Covid-19, or Somerset imploded, or all our wi-fi went down.  

‘Made me proud to be a Rotarian.’ ‘It re-invigorated my interest in Rotary.’ ‘As a visitor, it opened my eyes to the reach of Rotary.’ ‘The live Q and As were a bonus – when they take place, rarely, at a traditional conference, it takes ages with a roving mic.’ And from one of our initial committee members: ‘I didn’t think you could or should do it. I was wrong.’ ‘The conference you gave us on Saturday was a real gift, not only because it was a great day, but also because you have taken us forward to a new place where we know a virtual conference is possible and beneficial.’  Just some of the dozens of positive comments we received.   

So please refer to the website and the interesting presentations in the various zones – they can all be shared in club meetings and provide valuable reference content. Within your zoom meetings, the host can visit the website, click on one of the presentations, and share their screen to play it at your meetings. Make sure you select ‘share sound’ bottom left of the share screen tab. Or visit the district’s YouTube channel if you have any problems accessing them on the website. Much of the content of the conference day itself will be there. (Minus Eddie the Eagle I’m afraid – as they say, if you snooze, you lose! If you didn’t join us on the day, you missed a treat.) We have had so many post-conference requests to view Simeon’s presentation that he has now agreed we can share his session within our website, so do log on to it to view it again or share with others.  

Due to issues with breakout rooms over lunch (those pesky internet gremlins weren’t taking a lunchbreak!) and competing presentations, some charities in the friendship zone did not get access to as many visitors as they might. I would encourage clubs to please consider contacting the various charity representatives who gave up their time to be with us in the breakout rooms on the day, to arrange speaker evenings over the coming months. A list is noted below with contact details (widely shared so not breaking GDPR!): 

Stand Against Violence     Dave Urwin     d.urwin@sav-ed.co.uk

Purple Community Fund    Jane Walker    jane@p-c-f.org

Aquabox                             Roger Cassidy cassidy.roger@gmail.com

Bibic                                   Pip Buckley     Philippa.buckley@bibic.org.uk

Young people’s Trust for the Environment  Peter Littlewood  peter.littlewood@ypte.org.uk

Hidden Needs Trust            Rachel Goodfellow  hnt.sen@btinternet.com

Go Create                            Liz Hutchin        liz@gocreate.org.uk

District 1200 Ugandan Water Project  Cate Whitewood  cate5@btopenworld.com

Somerset Wildlife Trust branch Kate Wilson Kate.Wilson@somersetwildlife.org


24th April – save the date! District Final – Young Musician Competition. 

From the comfort of your own home without having to drive anywhere, watch these talented local youngsters perform – then see if you agree with the judges. Better than Britain’s Got Talent! 


Don’t forget to register for this free event which celebrates the work of volunteer organisations, is packed full of content, and has some amazing speakers. For those of you who missed Simeon Moore’s powerful presentation at our own conference, you can catch up with him again as he will be a keynote speaker. (But which district found him first…?!) 


There is a proposal by General Council to create a new board structure, having received the full support of the current year DG group. Imagine running a company where the directors serve for a year then retire at the end of the year with a replacement set of directors? There is no continuity and the incoming directors spend the first few weeks scratching their heads, trying to find out what is going on, and having to deal with proposals brought forward from their predecessors whilst trying to understand the rationale. That’s what we have in Rotary in GB&I! The proposal is for the creation of a leaner board structure where people have a 3-year term and I believe that it makes sense. 

There are no changes proposed to the districts and clubs and so for the average Rotarian there will be no perceived change. I urge you please to support the proposal. Any questions, please feel free to get in touch with me. 


Our successful inter-district collaboration over presentations on a wide range of topics continues. We recently had a very successful 4-district joint seminar on Friday 19th March and it was impressive to see how several young Rotarians formed a passport club, and in conjunction with established clubs, successfully completed several big projects within a short timescale. This underlines that there are now many different ways in which people can engage as Rotarians and that they are not in conflict with each other, but complementary, and do please contact Penny Underwood in the District Secretariat team for more details about passport clubs. She speaks so well about them that I’m sure she could also be persuaded to present, and answer your questions, at one of your club meetings…! 

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