Author Archive: Penny

DG Blog 5th August 2019

Volunteer Expo

The RIBI Assembly has changed, instead of being a conference for Rotarians it is now a free outward-looking event open to everyone interested in volunteering.  It will also incorporate the finals of our young competitions. It will take place from 1 to 3 May 2020 at the NEC Birmingham. Further details are available from the website

Youth Competitions

Details of this year’s Youth Competitions have now been released. Details


Last week I reported that Weymouth had managed to recruit seven new members.  I asked Joe Swindell, the President what their secret was.  I attach part of his response as ideas that we could all use.

“Over the past 12 months or so we have also started eating out at various restaurants around town for one of our monthly meetings, rather than always at our base of Pilgrim House.  These evenings have proven to be very popular and Rotarians are encouraged to bring guests along to these social nights. Not only does it get the club seen in public a little more but it’s also a good way to get people interested and introduce the club to them in a very informal, friendly and potentially less ‘overbearing’ manner.

As the club continues to be pro-active around the town – not least with the Fayre in the square – we’ve been using the local media outlets more and more to spread the word and in fact have attracted one new member from the local paper and one from the local radio station in the process!!!

I think basically it is about keeping the club active and in the public eye.  If people see us ‘doing good stuff’ around the town – and enjoying it at the same time – they will be interested in what we are doing and hopefully join us.”

District Team

I am pleased to announce that Penny Underwood has been appointed as District Environment Lead.  She is passionate about finding ways that we can improve sustainability and start to clean up the planet.

We still have a vacancy on the District team for somebody to head up our International projects. If you are interested contact me or Rupert Cox.

Ilminster Golf Day

I was due to play in the Ilminster Charity Golf Day which was unfortunately postpone due to the threat of thunder. Is has been rescheduled for 27 August, tee times bookable with the pro shop at Cricket St. Thomas Golf Club.

Adopt a Path

Somerset County Council are looking for volunteer groups to Adopt a Path. Details from This might be a suitable project for a new satellite club.


Next January will be the last chance to do Polio Drops before India switches to Injectables. If you are interested in going to help visit the Rotary Club of TajMahal Facebook page for more details



RotaKids supporting their local community

RotaKids gives children aged 7-12 the opportunities to have fun and make a difference.

Discover Rotary’s programmes for young people at:


DG Blog 29th July 2019

Youth Videos.

Our new Youth videos which had a great reception at the Youth Showcase have now been loaded onto YouTube and can be accessed as follows RYLA and Breakthrough


This week I visited Taunton Vale, currently the largest club in the District, that meets at the County Cricket Ground.  They have just started a Satellite Breakfast Business Networking club – now there is an idea.

My visit to Wrington Vale coincided with the Presentation Evening for their Young Artist Competition that attracted over eighty entrants. They now meet at Barley Wood which has a superb view from the dining room.


Yeovil Hospital Breast Care Unit

Pauline Bland is putting on a “GinDig” for the Breast Care Unit. The ticket price is £10 with £5 to the charity and the rest for a burger and salad. Tickets from Pauline on  Or from the pub.


Well done to the following clubs on their recruitment of 21 new members

Bathavon 3, Burnham-on-Sea 3, Chelwood Bridge 1, Crewkerne District 1, Dorchester Poundbury 1, Frome 1, Island & Royal Manor of Portland 1, Midsomer Norton & Radstock 1, Taunton Vale 1,Wellington 1, Weymouth 7.

Do not forget to apply for a membership development grant for your club to help with recruitment activities.

District Forum 14 September

Your feedback has been listened to and the format of the next Forum is changing to give precedence to networking and breakout groups.

District Conference 11-13 October

Only ten weeks to go, so if you want a room in the hotel book soon. I do not think it has anything to do with helicopter manufacturing, but the hotel has changed its name to the snappy “Leonardo Royal Grand Harbour Hotel”.



Embracing Rotary’s flexibility for working members

Meet the working members of Frome Town Rotary, who are embracing Rotary’s flexibility to give back to their community.

By embracing Rotary’s flexibility, working members of a new Rotary group in Frome are giving back to their community.

Get involved with Rotary at


Unpacking Social Enterprise

Rotary Social Innovation, a brand new concept of Rotary is promoting social enterprises to build sustainable communities and tackle some of society’s biggest issues.

Check out a brand new concept of Rotary that is promoting social enterprises to build sustainability in our communities.

Read more:

#PeopleOfAction #SocEnt

Introducing Rotary Social Innovation

Rotary Social Innovation 1

Supporting positive change in the community. Getting people together to make a difference. This is Rotary, but not quite as you know it. This is Rotary Social Innovation.


Read more about this new format of Rotary at:

#PeopleOfAction #SocEnt


DG Blog 22nd July 2019


Details of other speakers are being released, these include Bernadette Cleary founder of the Rainbow Trust, Ken Robertshaw talking about his latest adventure and Steve Haseldine talking about the Monte Carlo or Bust rally.  Look out for the new Conference Newsletter. There is still time to book your place – why not bring a group from your club for a fun filled weekend? You can find the registration form at


Classics & Supercars at the Castle – what a fantastic event run by Yeo Vale, Sherborne Castles and Brue Valley.  This has raised over £170,000 for charities in the past and this year looks like being a bumper year.  It was Rotary at its best showing the potential of what can be achieved when Rotarians work together.  There was even a stand for the Yeovil Hospital Breast Care Unit Appeal.

Langport & Somerton ran a refreshment tent at Somerset Steam & Country Show over the weekend with lovely homemade cakes.

On our environmental theme I visited a “Love Food Hate Waste” stand in Crewkerne library. Simon Thompson is a volunteer and would be pleased to have the opportunity to talk to your club, contact him on I picked up a number of leaflets including the “My Pledge Against Preventable Plastic” pictured.



Public Image



The District has now acquired a Gazebo, flags and pop up banners for clubs to use at events.  Please contact Martin Holley to book them.



Youth Competitions

There are new national youth competitions and activities that Clubs may be interested to engage with. Two of note are ‘Young Film maker’ and ‘Young Environmentalist’ – this may link nicely with the Somerset Waste Partnership “Green Ideas” plan. Contact Martin Carter for more details.

Insurance changes

RIBI has negotiated a new insurance contract with a new supplier and there are changes to the cover.  A summary of the changes is currently in preparation and will be sent out to clubs shortly.


I am pleased to announce that the District has put forward Hyppolite Ntigurirwa as a Peace Scholar. Hyppolite is a survivor of the Rwandan genocide and is currently active in promoting peace in his home country.

This year funds for Foundation grants are limited by the reduced District subscriptions made in 2016/17.  Clubs are encouraged to submit applications for District and Global grants asap.


DG Blog 15th July 2019

Frome Town Rotary – a very successful evening. Report from President Karl Waldeck.

On a lovely summers evening on 2 July, Frome Town Rotary hosted it’s first, (but definitely not its last), new members event, in the Cheese and Grain cafe, in the centre of Frome. We had been planning an event for a while, but after bidding for, and being granted, a one-off sum of money (specifically for such innovations), from District we were able to go bigger and better.

Approx 30 people responded to our publicity and came along to enjoy food, drinks, music, and great entertainment in the form of an amazing magician.

We showed a film made by Eve Conway about our club. The event gave us a chance to showcase what we do, and to encourage people to think about joining our innovative, energetic and modern group. Several members of the club attended and spent time with potential new members, resulting in an amazing 16 people leaving their contact details. Of these, after a follow up email from the club secretary, 8 replied, all stating what a great evening it was, and showing further interest, with 5 of them wanting to attend the next event (an evening walk and meal).

All of the new people have had a copy of the planned meetings and events for 2019/20 and will continue to be contacted on a regular basis.

All in all, a very worthwhile and successful evening.

DG’s Note. District grants of up to £500 are available to help clubs with membership initiatives.


Last week I visited the longest establish club in the District, Bath which was chartered on 1 November 1921. I found them in good form with two prospective new members. They are still a lunch club and manage to get through the business in just over the hour.

On Wednesday I played in the Yeovil and Yeo Vale Charity Golf day in aid of the Yeovil Hospital Breast Care Unit – a Project I hope you will all support.


Thursday, Jill and I were guests at the Inner Wheel District 20 Rally when chairman Maureen Netherway welcomed the National Association President Enid Law. As expected, I was a little outnumbered with First Gentleman Mike and Toastmaster Peter the only other men allowed!


The Rotary Club of Garth Charter Night was last Friday when a I joined a contingent from Chelwood Bridge, who had inaugurated the Satellite club, to travel abroad to Wales to be with the club on their special night. Donna Wallbank the RIBI President attended and Mike Hedges presented the new club with a bell.


On Sunday Anne and Paul Arnold hosted a BBQ in their beautiful garden for Chard RC, which raised over £500 for Children’s Hospice South West – what a wonderful way to spend a summers afternoon. And England won the cricket!

Best wishes,


Polio meeting at the House of Commons July 2019

This is a summary of the presentations, discussion and answers to questions asked at the meeting at the House of Commons on Monday 2nd July 2019.


If a person or a community is not immune to polio, the arrival of the virus can cause polio, perhaps paralysis, and even death.

Low immunity occurs if people are not given sufficient oral vaccine or lose the vaccine because of chronic diarrhoea/ill health.
The triple oral polio vaccine contained live viruses – Types 1, 2 and 3 – but attenuated (treated) so that they can no longer cause polio.

Type 2 virus has not been seen in the wild anywhere since 1999 and so no longer exists.
Type 3 virus has not been seen in the wild since 2012 – 7 years ago. We think it has gone too.

So the only wild polio cases nowadays are Type 1, and there have been 37 cases this year – 27 in Pakistan and 10 in Afghanistan.

However it is treated (at present), a live virus can mutate and so cause polio.

The Type 2 virus is notorious for this and so the oral vaccine nowadays only contains Type 1 and 3. (Why include something dangerous if it disappeared from the world 20 years ago?)   Two years ago we did a SWITCH from the triple to the double vaccine and also gave an injectable IPV (but killed virus) as well as the double oral polio vaccine.  The IPV is more expensive, does not travel so well, needs someone who can inject it, and stays in the human body and so does not get into a community and stop transmission. So we need both kinds at present.

When we were getting 1000 cases of polio every day the minimal risk of someone getting polio from our vaccines was, arguably, acceptable.  With just 37 cases in the world that risk was totally unacceptable, hence the SWITCH.

Last year, partly because of the situation in Syria, we had 100+ cases of vaccine-derived polio.  This year we have only had 19 cases of vaccine-derived polio – so far!.  Other factors which produce vaccine-derived polio are poor level of immunisation, poor general health, poor education, and poor health infrastructure – e.g. Sub Saharan Africa.

There are 50 countries where the immunity levels are still low.

Current situation

We are now planning our tactics until 2023.

Until every child has been vaccinated, or the community immunity is almost 100%, we HAVE to continue immunising every child in the world.

That cost for the next 4 years is estimated to be -$942, $899, $859, $784, $704 million respectively – a total of $4.2 billion.
We already have about $1 billion of that so we need to raise another $3.27 billion in total.

Bill Gates will still double whatever we give.

The Pakistan Government has changed this year and some of those previously involved are no longer in post so continuity has not been good.  Pakistan had an epidemic this year when children were hospitalised. The Taliban blamed the polio vaccine. Nothing to do with polio at all!! This has caused cessation of vaccination in some areas (but we have bad publicity in other countries too – USA, UK where we are getting more measles etc.).

There is, inevitably some donor fatigue and some worker fatigue but we are working on that.

The good news – WHO has declared this a Public Health Emergency.

The religious leaders are starting to work together to break down the myths and lies (polio vaccination does NOT cause AIDS or sterility as the Taliban claim).

In the last three years, the TOTAL number of cases in the world is still under 100.

India, which we thought would never win, has now been polio-free for 8 years.  Walk around India and you will not see young children crippled by polio nowadays.

Nigeria which had an outbreak three years ago should be declared polio-free in September.
Only 60,000 children unimmunised instead of 600,000 3 years ago.
No wild virus has been detected for 3 year.

The workers in Pakistan are determined to win even at the risk of their lives.
43 permanent transit sites set up to catch travellers between Afghanistan & Pakistan (NW Frontier region).
A lot of women are now helping in Pakistan – this is more acceptable to Muslim women.

There are major hopes of a new, effective, oral vaccine that will NOT cause polio.

The infrastructure that we have built up (laboratories, transport systems, contacts etc.) is now also being used for Ebola, AIDS etc..
The UK Government (through DFID) is continuing to support us.

The G20 countries also affirmed that they are committed to eradicating polio.

We have now spent $14 billion – we cannot stop now and waste that money.

2.5 billion children have been vaccinated.

We have used 20 million helpers!!

The future

We will win – when, not if……….

  • The money is still coming in.
  • If we can clear India and Nigeria, Pakistan/Afghanistan are less of a challenge, provided – we can get access.
  • There are no more major wars.
  • The religious leaders (VERY important to the people) stay on our side.

Report by Keith Barnard-Jones 

DG Newsletter 8th July 2019


My first visit to a club as DG was to Taunton, President Tony Cox, who meet at the Racecourse for lunch on a Tuesday. As guests they had two young ladies who are going on an exchange trip to Taunton Massachusetts, in the USA, an arrangement that happens on a regular basis.  The speaker was Keith Barnard-Jones who spoke about Rotary Eradication of Malaria in Tanzania (REMIT) and was rewarded with a cheque for the charity of £2,000 and gave an update on Polio (37 cases this year to date). He and Judy then rushed off to the Houses of Parliament to represent the District in an event to secure support for the Polio endgame. Please see separate report.


Then it was off to Yeovil Club’s Handover held at Northover Manor, Ilchester, where Luke Simon of School-in-a-Bag was awarded a Paul Harris and a cheque presentation of £6,000 was made to Fiveways School to help towards their new playground.

Thursday evening I visited Lansdown Golf Club for Bathavon’s Handover when Gerry Rees passed the baton to Stella Tonks and Anthony Birts who will share the role of President.


Humanitarian Service – Environment and Loneliness

On Thursday I had a meeting with Somerset Waste Partnership (SWT) on ways that we can work together to help the environment. They have come up with a list of 8 green ideas that clubs could adopt.   Click here to download document SWP-8 greens ideas. SWT will be coming to speak to us at the District Forum on 14 September.

Youth Showcase

The District Youth Showcase took place on Saturday at Stanchester Academy, Stoke sub Hamdon when we celebrated our Youth activities including RYLA, Breakthrough, Young Chef, Young Musician, Young Photographer, Technology Tournament, Rotakids and Big Pitch. My thanks go to Robbie Heyd-Smith for resurrecting this great event. Indulgent fudge and German biscuits were available to try and buy from the Big Pitch contestants. The event saw the world premiere of two new films commissioned by Wendy Grassby and produced by Ernie McKenna, one on Breakthrough and the other on RYLA. Martin Carter, the new District Youth Lead, told us about Rotakids and the new club that will be inaugurated in September.

Please make a note in your diary for next years Showcase that is provisionally scheduled to take place on 6 June 2020.


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