Author Archive: Penny

DG Blog 1st July 2021

 

Today marks the start of the new Rotary Year, which I would like to start by congratulating Rory for leading us through the pandemic in support of communities at home and further afield.

I am looking forward to facing the challenge of leading our District through the challenges of coming out of lockdown.  For those I am yet to meet in person, I am a member of Yeovil Rotary and a local Consultant Paediatrician. My wife, Katalin is an Emergency Medicine Consultant and we have a five year old daughter, Charlotte.

Club members are the most important part of Rotary and we are here to serve you, as a District. If there is anything we can do to support clubs, we shall do our very best to help.

We have a history of which we can be proud. Two of our Clubs are celebrating their centenaries this year, Weston-super-Mare and Bath; a magnificent testimony to the legacy which Rotary is leaving in our local area and beyond.


Looking forward to the year ahead, I would be very grateful if you could consider supporting Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW), or your local children’s hospice, as my chosen charity for the year ahead. I would also be very grateful if you could support ‘The Green Canopy’, a U.K. wide tree planting initiative to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year. Peter Renshaw from Taunton Rotary shall be telling us more about this initiative in the months to come.

Rotary International President, Shekhar Mehta, has emphasised the importance of service in our communities as his theme for the year ahead. I know that this is a theme that resonates with many of us. He has asked that we have ‘Rotary Days of Service’ where clubs join with neighbouring clubs, involving the local community in service. Other key themes at a global level are the Environment (a new Area of Focus in the Rotary Foundation), the education of children (particularly girls) and growing Rotary.

District Governor Nominee (DGN) is leading a programme to reintroduce Rotaract to our District. I am sure we all agree that this will bring new energy and ideas to our organisation and help build Rotary further in our District.

With regard to International projects in our District, congratulations to Guy Parkinson in Frome Selwood for swift action, co-ordinating the District response in support of the COVID related emergency in Nepal. District Rotary Foundation Chair (DRFCC) for Nepal, Ranjeev Shrestha has thanked out District for its rapid response. Yinka Osoba (Yeovil) is leading a project with Global Sight Solutions (formerly the Guildford Eye Project) to equip an Eye Hospital in Nigeria. Dot Cretney (Frome Town) is leading a project for books to be sent to Malawi.

In closing, on behalf of the District, I would like to congratulate Mike Webb (from Mendip Rotary on stepping down as Vice-Chair of The Rotary Foundation), who has been awarded the Rotary ‘Distinguished Service Award’ by Ravi Ravindran, Chair of Trustees of The Rotary Foundation. Well done, Mike for being awarded this most prestigious honour.

I plan to update you through this Blog on a monthly basis. The best of luck for the year ahead to you all.

Warm wishes,

Michael Fernando

District Governor, District 1200

 

DG Blog 29th June 2021

‘And now the end is near…. I did it my way’

Well, as they say, all good things come to an end. Despite it being a most difficult year, I have greatly enjoyed meeting almost all of the clubs and, individually, their presidents, albeit virtually, and hope that I can catch up with many of you at Michael’s conference later this year on the weekend of 16th October I can sympathise with the club presidents in particular having to adapt their approach to their year, and perhaps not having the chance to deliver on the ideas and initiatives they must have had planned for their clubs. However, I have been impressed with how so many clubs have not only continued their meetings and supported each other during this pandemic, but have risen to the challenges and continued vital project work – and found innovative ways of fundraising. Well done to all of you for working through this challenging year. We were all focused on growing Rotary, but this has proved to be a hurdle because of the extreme circumstances.

There have been several highlights for me this year.  

‘Staying Alive’

Firstly, seeing the determination and resilience of clubs and their Rotarians to continue with community service and fundraising despite the difficulties.  I am especially proud of the 200 plus Rotarians and families who volunteered to help out at vaccination centres. Without this infrastructure support from Rotary, I am honestly doubtful that some of the clinics would have run so efficiently. This initiative showcased Rotary at its best, and in many areas, Rotarians are already being asked to be ready for any autumn vaccination roll-out. 

‘Please Release Me…’

District business:

And it was a pleasure to be able to release much needed funds from district reserves and persuade General Council to agree with my proposed amendment to maintain District Grant funding at the previous year level rather than reduce it. I felt very strongly that it was right to do so. 

I must also thank my District team, all drawn from clubs who are prepared to give that extra service supporting District and service to the clubs. I will say this – I know that some in the Clubs are sceptical about – some even hostile to – District’s existence. However, without people stepping up to take on these roles, and without District in some form or other, then we would lose the valuable resources that clubs can tap into.

You probably all know by now that we had an amazing virtual conference, well-attended (thank you to those of you who supported it and spent a day in front of the computer!) and, I’m pleased to say, under budget, yet free to all. There is no doubt that virtual meetings will continue to play a part in the ordinary business of clubs going forward as we strive to make efficiencies, reduce costs and improve our carbon footprint. A special thanks to my club, Taunton Vale, and my stalwart and dedicated conference committee, without whom it would not have taken place, as has been the case with many Districts this year. And let’s not forget that the poor souls on my committee ended up organising TWO conferences! Our original face-to-face event which had to be cancelled, then taking on the challenge of the first virtual conference. I lost count of how many committee meetings we had to have in the end because of our ‘double act’. Though I believe our chairman kept count. Don’t forget to read the article about our conference on the Rotary website and remember that on the conference website, https://district1200.com which remains in situ as a legacy product, there are downloadable resources for you to use in your meetings.

This year we have also created a Membership Task Force, and under the Chairmanship of incoming DG Michael, strengthened our Public Image Team in order to support club efforts to grow Rotary. On that subject, following the introduction of the Global Hub, we have started the creation of a Passport Club. I believe that Passport Clubs are without doubt part of the way forward for Rotary. They are certainly not created as a threat to ‘traditional’ Rotary – rather, they create another conduit by which interested parties can be a Rotarian, but deciding how and when they want to carry out Rotary activities. And in taking this route, new Rotarians will learn about the work which already goes on in the district and be a resource to support existing clubs in projects, if they wish. Well done, Penny Underwood, for driving this forward, and with the help of White Knight Marketing and my wife Julie, all are busily engaged in its structure and the website creation. Watch this space! 

Another innovation of which I am proud is the inter District (3 and 4 District) district meetings which took place this year – long may they continue.

‘Young People are the Future’

On youth, I am pleased to report success in the Young Musician in the Regional (South and South West) Final of RYM. Ellen Steward and Amelie Lloyd (both from Taunton Club) were first and second respectively in the vocalist class, whilst Daisy Hickson (clarinet) of Minehead was third in the instrumental class, so three of the four D1200 candidates were placed and did us proud. Sadly, the National Final has been cancelled this year so that’s the end of the 2021 competition. This must be a disappointment to the participants, but they should all feel proud of their regional achievements, and I firmly believe that this is a key part of Rotary’s role – to encourage young people in projects or contests which acknowledge and develop their skills and confidence. 

‘A Question of Honour’

By the way, I was honoured by my own club last night with a Paul Harris Fellowship – what a way to end a very memorable Rotary year.

 ‘What a wonderful world’ 

I wish my successor Michael (who I am sure will be a wonderful DG), and all of you, all the best for the forthcoming year, and I thank you for your support. So many of you stepped up to the plate when, for example, we made a call-out for help with the virtual conference on the day. It was wonderful to see volunteers from a wide range of clubs offer their time and skills in a situation new to most of us. Again, that epitomises the friendship and willingness of many Rotarians to be involved in so many different ways. 

‘Be my Wife’

Lastly, a very special thanks to my wife Julie, who as a former GSE student has known Rotary longer than I have, whom I met because of Rotary, and who has been a tremendous support in my Rotary journey and especially this last year and in planning and delivering the conference. And, though it’s probably not the done thing for a DG to say, would have made a better DG in my view! 

Best wishes

Rory O’Donnell

PS – those who watched the conference will know that we used songs to introduce the speakers. Michael, for example, just had to have a famous Abba song attributed to him! So, in order to end a different year for a DG in a different way, I’ve used song titles as sub-headings for my final blog. I wonder how many of you spotted that? Or how many of you know the performers?! (Another example of how our virtual world and search engines can come into play!)

Answers: Frank Sinatra; Bee Gees; Engelbert Humperdinck; The Good Ones; Sarah Brightman; David Bowie

District Governor Handover

Join us on Zoom on 30th June 2021 at 7pm for handover event to Michael Fernando

District Handover Night 30th Julne without link-page-001

DG Blog May 2021

DIARY DATE: DISTRICT ASSEMBLY – 22nd MAY

I write this blog following my last District Executive meeting as your District Governor, and the next forum is Assembly – one of the most important events of the year where the incoming team set out their plans for the year ahead. Please join the event and learn how Michael and his team plan to move Rotary forward as we emerge from restrictions.

INDIA and NEPAL

Our hearts go out to the people in these countries who are suffering appallingly from covid and the lack of available hospital beds and oxygen concentrators. I know that funds are constrained but even a little goes a long way when combined with the gifting from all the clubs. Please consider helping.

INNOVATION IN FROME

I had a great opportunity on Saturday to visit the Rotary shop in Frome. What a fantastic venture – and I am aware that other clubs have also taken shops – more recently, Chippenham.

The one in Frome is a collaborative effort by the three Rotary clubs there and on Saturday it was manned by Becky and her team from Frome Town with Dot Cretney presiding over activity. (And Dot and the team have a huge amount of experience to share with other clubs around what works well and what doesn’t.) There was a vibrant atmosphere in the shop which is spacious and airy and made for a pleasant covid-compliant browsing experience. Takings were approx. £600 by lunchtime, and not only is the activity raising significant funds for Rotary, but also promoting public awareness of Rotary in Frome. Anyway, I came away with some antique kitchen scales, a towel rail, board game and brand-new jigsaw, all for a worthy donation of £40. A bargain, Becky and Dot assured me! What a great way to raise funds to support the calls for financial assistance in our communities and internationally.

PASSPORT TO ROTARY

While at the Frome shop, I met with Penny Underwood and we discussed Global Hub and Passport Club. Global Hub is a Rotary club in itself, and my wife Julie and Penny are finding the online version of Rotary to be interesting and worthwhile as an alternative approach to being a ‘traditional’ Rotarian. It can be used to incubate clubs ‘in the making’, just as satellites with traditional clubs, which can either remain a useful ‘arm’ of existing clubs or develop into independent clubs and charter. Flexibility is the way forward – finding models that suit the aspirations of potential Rotarians as well as existing ones. It is a sad fact that several of the people leaving Rotary have only been members for less than three years which shows that we have not got it right yet, but I know that there is great enthusiasm for pursuing more flexible ways of conducting Rotary (whilst respecting the existing formula which suits many more) and I look forward to seeing how this innovation progresses in our district.

DISTRICT VIRTUAL CONFERENCE

Our conference committee wanted to ensure that conference had a legacy and the conference website  (rebranded Rotary Showcase) https://district1200.co.uk  contains, in the various zones, many useful video presentations on the projects that Rotary supports and helpful material in the membership zone on Rotakids, Interact, Rotaract and joining Rotary. There is useful material for a club meeting, whether face-to-face or virtual – many presentations could be used in lieu of a speaker. We hope that in years to come, others will add to this online resource.

My wife Julie was asked to write an article about the issues encountered in holding a virtual conference and it is featured in the online version of the Rotary Magazine – fame for district 1200!! You’ll find the article here:

Don’t let the flame of the Rotary conference fade – Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland (rotarygbi.org)

In my virtual meetings with clubs since the conference, I’ve remarked that ‘it was our first, and hopefully our last’, virtual conference. However, some Rotarians have rightly challenged me on this, and what I should clarify is that hopefully it was our first enforced virtual conference – because the feedback about preferences for the future format is worth noting. 14% would actually prefer a virtual conference; 27% a blended (face-to-face plus virtual) conference; 14% would like a weekend conference; 25% a one-day event. (Other responses included ‘no preference’ and ‘a two-day virtual conference’.)

It was pleasing to note that the Volunteer Expo (previously National Conference), which was a very professional event, deliberately set out to be outward-facing – just as our own conference was. In terms of value for money, I passionately believe that we should be using conference to showcase to non-Rotarians the work that we carry out.              

GRANTS

Through your generosity Stan Jones was able to submit the Yeovil District Hospital Breast Cancer Unit application. That is two Global Grants approved in this year, in our district.

Dorset County Hospital Chemotherapy Department, medical equipment £46,342

Yeovil District Hospital Breast Cancer Unit, Ultra-Sound Scanner £70,310

Once again this is testament to the work of Rotarians across our district – and two very worthy causes.

Rotary Peace Fellowship Applications

Each year, Rotary awards up to 130 fully funded fellowships for dedicated leaders from around the world to study at one of our peace centers.

Through academic training, practice, and global networking opportunities, the Rotary Peace Centers program develops the capacity of peace and development professionals or practitioners to become experienced and effective catalysts for peace. The fellowships cover tuition and fees, room and board, round-trip transportation, and all internship and field-study expenses.

Just two weeks left until the 15 May application submission deadline to promote the fellowship opportunity and recruit candidates. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for candidates. You can find more information and contact details on how to submit applications from our Rotary District, by downloading this information sheet.

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. 

JAB’ – BERRING ABOUT THE HUBS 

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!) 

A VIRTUAL SUCCESS 

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

FACE THE MUSIC! 

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! 

VOLUNTEER EXPO  7th & 8th MAY 

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…?!) 

LEAN ISN’T MEAN: ROTARY ANNUAL BUSINESS MEETING 21ST MAY 

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. 

PASSPORT TO ROTARY 

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…! 

Did you join the Rotary District 1200 Conference on 27th March?

If you have not completed the feedback form, we would be very grateful if you could take a minute and let us have your feedback via this short form https://forms.gle/QraMSwHfsMQn2BJp9

Rotary Logo

Last chance to sign up for our virtual conference

Last chance to sign up for our virtual conference, ‘Caring for our World’, and discover how people in Rotary can make the world of difference.

 


Registration closes midday tomorrow. https://district1200.co.uk

Yesterday, the 22nd March was World Water Day

Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

World Water Day is an annual United Nations observance day held on 22 March that highlights the importance of fresh water. The day is used to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. Also Rotary’s first Area of Focus


Come to the D1200 District Conference on Saturday and find out at the breakout, how the D1200 Ugandan Water Project is progressing and fulfilling the need to provide fresh water for Rural villages.

Caring for our world   http://district1200.co.uk

Breakout Start time 1300.
Cate Whitewood Yeo Vale Rotary

Yesterday was Global Recycling Day

Yesterday was Global Recycling Day: check out Rotary conference https://district1200.co.uk


Be inspired by Damers First School, Young People’s Trust for the Environment & Taunton School Saturday Enrichment Programme: young people a great example of Caring for our World.

 

 

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