Author Archive: Penny

DG’s Blog 10 February 2020

Volunteer Expo 1-3 May NEC Birmingham.

Volunteer Expo is the new, national event to harness the power of volunteering. Kicking off in May 2020, Volunteer Expo will connect, educate and inspire volunteers, organisations and charities to change lives and take action in their communities. For visitors who are keen to volunteer, or already do so, there will be the opportunity to network with peers, develop your personal skills and turn your passion for change into action. Watch the 2 minute video at
Entry to the three-day Volunteer Expo is completely free and tickets are available now.
The first draft programme in now online see


Skittles Marathon.

Yeovil are running a skittles marathon on 15 May in aid of Children’s Hospice South West. See more details at

Rotary Peace Scholarships.

The 2021 Rotary Peace Fellowship application is now available, and your help is needed in finding the next cohort of global peace and development leaders. See the request for applications at

Mercy Ships.

Photo: Mercy Ships; Aerial photos of the Africa Mercy sailing into Tenerife in July 2013

The Mercy Ships $1 million Global Grant target has been reached. Mary Whitehead, DG 1260 has written “I am thrilled to be able to let you know that the Mercy Ships $1 million Global Grant target has been reached! The Inspiration in 2018-19 and Connections made across the world in 2019-20 have led to the opening of Opportunities for the new ship and those who will receive treatment in 2020-21 and beyond. Our thanks to every District, Club and individual who made this possible.”


This last week I enjoyed visits to Wellington and Brue Valley, two very different clubs. Wellington was chartered in 1954 and Brue Valley in 2010 both performing valuable work for their communities. Wellington has a live ferret racing event coming up and Brue Valley will be celebrating 10 years of service on 28 November.

Best wishes

Skittles Marathon in aid of Children’s Hospice South West

90 Minute Race to Score the Most!

Friday 15th May 2020


To find our more contact the Rotary Club of Yeovil.

DG’s Blog 3 February 2020

District Young Chef.

Well done to Jane Gibbs for organising the District final of the Young Chef competition at Maiden Beech Academy, Crewkerne on Saturday. Six contestants cooked for four available places in the Regional final to be held in Waterlooville on 28 March. A big thank you to the judges, Carol Chalmers, Christopher Harrison and Kevin Smokcum. The contestants from Dorchester Casterbridge, Frome, Devizes and Yeovil will represent our District in the Regional final.

Rotary International Vice President Elect.

Congratulations to Johrita Solari who was officially announced as Rotary International Vice President Elect.


Environment – reusable cups.

One of the initiatives discussed this year was the use of reusable cups and we did encourage delegates to bring their own at the last Forum. Paula Winchcombe, President of Devizes has suggested organising the supply of these to include the Rotary Logo to be sold to members and the public at large. If you would like to be involved with this initiative, please contact her.

Update on Hurricane Dorian.

A Donor Conference in Bahamas was hosted by The Government of the Bahamas and the UNDP was a success. Some information that came from the conference is as follows:
• 1.7 million metric tons of debris need to be dealt with
• 29,472 persons were affected
• Of the $3.4 billion in damages, 87% was in Abaco and 13% in Grand Bahama and 91%
affected the private sector while 9% in the public sector
• The country lost 18% of the GDP due to Hurricane Dorian
• Still 70 confirmed dead but hundreds still missing
• Priority list of projects is drafted and should be released soon
• They have spent $4.5 million on dome houses to get residents a temporary place to
stay. Still months from being finished.
• They need $26 million for the schools
• Estimated pledges to be between $1.5 and $2.0 billion

Best wishes


BATH HALF MARATHON – Rotary stewarding opportunity

BATH HALF MARATHON – Sunday 15th March 2020

The organisers of the Annual Bath Half Marathon have again asked for help with stewarding the event. Rotary has provided around 30 stewards to help guide the runners around the course, and have donated £30 to The Rotary Foundation for each one. The donations have been credited to the clubs of the volunteers, and has been credited to their foundation account.

Please contact the District Rotary Foundation team leader, David Perkins with details of your name, club email address and mobile phone number if you would like to take part in this prestigious ever and raise some much needed funds for Foundation.’

David Perkins


DG’s Blog 27 January 2020

Logo and theme 2020-21.

Incoming Rotary International President, Holger Knaack, has revealed the 2020-21 presidential theme, Rotary Opens Opportunities, at the Rotary International Assembly in San Diego, California.

“Rotary isn’t just a club for people to join, but rather “an invitation to endless opportunities,” said Holger, who becomes president on July 1st. He emphasised that Rotary creates pathways for members to improve their lives and the lives of those they help through service projects.

The 2020-21 Presidential Theme is available to download from the website.


I’m delighted to let you know that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation just announced the extension of our fundraising partnership. The Gates Foundation will continue matching donations to Rotary’s PolioPlus program 2-1, up to $50 million every year. So please identify how much of your club’s donations to Rotary Foundation is for Polio.


Minehead club had a very interesting speaker last week talking about Exmoor Young Voices and how they are trying to halt the exodus of young people from Exmoor by working with agencies to provide affordable housing.

A great evening at Midsomer Norton and Radstock Burns Night. Dot Cretney’s responses on behalf of the Lassies was very entertaining.

Peace Appreciation Seminar.

A Peace Appreciation Seminar is to be held at the Rotary GBI Support Centre in Alcester on 22nd February 2020. The objectives include ascertaining what Peace work is being done across clubs and districts, outlining other options and discussing how we can move forward with wider promotion of and engagement by grass root Rotarians with Peace Centres and the Promoting Peace Area of Focus.

RGBI will reimburse costs as per their standard guidelines for one delegate per district. Additional delegates are welcome subject to space being available. Please let me know if you would like to go as the District Representative.

Mental Health.

RGBI is keen to collect information on the wonderful array of projects that clubs undertake to support wellbeing and mental health. Please can secretaries pass information to RGBI and copy in our Sarah Folland our Humanitarian lead.

Celebrate Volunteering.

The High Sheriff of Somerset has asked me to let you know about and event at Wells Cathedral on 9 February, details attached.


Best wishes.

DG’s Blog 20 January 2020

Australian Bush Fires.

The Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland Disaster Recovery Trust has launched an appeal to raise funds following the devastating bushfires in Australia.

The Trust collates donations and makes grants to Rotary projects working to rebuild communities affected by natural disaster in the medium to long-term. As such, the Trust’s Bushfire Appeal is a non-emergency appeal. See those wishing to donate to immediately support the ongoing efforts, a separate online appeal has been created by Rotary in Australia. Rotary Australia World Community Service (RAWCS) has a fund supporting bushfire recovery through which you can donate from outside Australia. Put into your browser and follow the blue “Donate Now” button. The picture of the baby koala in the arms of his mother rescued from the fire was shared on Facebook by Arthur Manser from St. Peters Adelaide.

Wrington Vale Casino Evening.

Nearly three hundred people turned up for the Wrington Vale Casino Evening in a marquee at Thatchers Cider on Saturday night. This event has raised over £30,000 in total over the last few years. The main beneficiary this year was Weston Hospicecare who were presented with a cheque for £4,000 on the evening with more to come. Not only were there eight gaming tables but a four-course meal with an exhibition of dancing between the courses.


Dates for your diary:

1 February – Young Chef District Final – Maiden Beech Academy, Crewkerne
8 February – District Officer Training – Shrubbery Ilminster
22 February -President Elect Training-The Shrubbery Ilminster
23 February- Rotary Day
15 March – Young Musician District Final – The Kings of Wessex School Cheddar
21 March – District Forum- Stanchester Academy – Stoke sub Hamdon
21 March – Regional Youth Speaks Final – Exmouth Community College
29 March – Regional Young Musician Final – Queens College Junior School Taunton
1-3 May – RGBI Volunteer Expo- NEC Birmingham
16 May – District Assembly- Bath & West Showground
6 June – Youth Showcase – Stanchester Academy – Stoke sub Hamdon
6-10 June – RI Convention – Honolulu
3 July – District Handover – Taunton School
4 July – District Conference – Taunton School

Best wishes

The 2020 Rotary Club of Exmoor Challenge

14 January, 2020
To the Secretary, Rotary Clubs in Districts 1175 and 1200

The 2020 Rotary Club of Exmoor Challenge

Supporting the Children’s Hospice South West
Sunday 19th April 2020

I am writing to invite your club members to take part in the 2020 Exmoor Challenge between Districts 1175 and 1200. This year the walks take place in the Quantock Hills.

Rotarians, their families, and friends from Rotary Districts 1175 and 1200 earn points for their District by completing either of two walks. The shield is currently held by District 1200 and has been for a while.

The routes will be starting from Crowcombe Village Hall TA4 4AQ from 0800 and passing through some of the most beautiful scenery in Somerset.
Walkers over 18 pay an entry fee of £7. Walker’s under18 enter free, but an adult must accompany them. Dogs are welcome, owners must keep them under control. PROPER WALKING SHOES/BOOTS ARE ADVISED.

Would you please include this letter in your club bulletin and put the event in your club diary and also please publicise the event as widely as possible to increase the amount raised for the causes.

More details will be available during February with the routes, information and sponsorship forms available from the Exmoor Rotary web site. Meanwhile please register by e mail at –

Yours in Rotary, Paul Kingdom – Rotary Club of Exmoor

DG’s Blog 13 January 2020

Photos from the Wells Reindeer Run.


Doncaster floods update.

“What has been going on in South Yorkshire shows how Rotary has come together to help those communities affected”
Secretary, Adrian Hattrell, said: “The three Doncaster clubs have engaged Stuart Smith to co-ordinate the work on a full-time basis. He was recommended to us by David Welch of Rotary District 1200 (Somerset, North Dorset & West Wiltshire), where he performed a similar role following the floods on the Somerset Levels in 2014. Stuart has proved invaluable.” Read the full article

Polio – a Wake-up Call?.

Keith Barnard-Jones has written on update on where the project is following the 140 cases of wild polio cases in 2019. See the article


Getting on for sixty people from a number of different clubs, including Axminster from District 1175, came together for Brit Valley’s post-Christmas lunch at the Ridgeway Inn on the 5 January. President Lindsey presided and led the fun and games.

Over thirty people met with DGNN Ric Canham and Axbridge District Satellite club for their celebration dinner at Banwell Castle. This included members of local clubs, DGN Michael Fernando, Jill and myself. A fun evening. Peter Castell, President of Weston-Super-Mare, is planning a sponsored cycle ride to an exotic location, look out for more details.

Best wishes


Polio – a Wake-up Call?

A Message from Keith B-J to Rotary Members in District 1200

I am sure that most of you will be aware that we now have polio epidemics in a number of countries. Fortunately the 140 wild polio cases are still confined to Afghanistan and Pakistan – partly because of the ping-pong effect of people moving backwards and forward through the Khyber Pass region between the two countries, and partly because of non-cooperation and anti-propaganda issued by the local tribal and religious leaders.

However, we also had 250 cases of vaccine-derived polio in a variety of countries because of the oral vaccine we used – nearly all type 2 virus. The oral vaccine that we have been using for years contained three live (but attenuated so that they are no longer virulent) viruses – Types 1, 2 and 3. The wild Type 2 virus has not been seen in the wild since 1999 and that is why we did the “Switch” a few years ago, changing to the bivalent vaccine – Types 1 and 3 only. However we are now reaping the results of that triple vaccine.

I met Bill Gates five years ago and his comment was “This is not about money – there is plenty available. It all depends on the political will of the leaders of the countries or communities concerned”. Wise words indeed, particularly when religious leaders tell parents that the polio vaccine causes AIDS or sterility – both guaranteed to frighten parents.

We have been saying, for over 30 years, that we are not safe until the last child has been vaccinated. When a country has roughly 85-90% coverage, the so-called herd immunity usually stops transfer of the virus. However, when immunisation level fall lower than that figure, there is an increasing risk, not only of developing polio from the wild virus, but also that the virus in the live vaccine can mutate and so cause vaccine-derived polio-. Sadly, because a number of third world countries have less than optimum immunisation levels, we now have polio epidemics in countries that have not had polio for many years. Also vaccine derived polio tends to appear in those whose general health is not as good, and who are less well nourished – again usually in the third world.

But there is perhaps a bonus because whereas we were not always believed in the past, parents and countries are now realising that, if they do fail to immunise, then they will have problems and as education improves, Mums want their children covered against polio, and other diseases. I am living in hope that it will swing back in our favour this year if people have got the message. After all, we never thought we would eradicate polio from India but the Indians were told what a disgrace it would be if they were the last country in the world with polio and they have now been clear for six years. If India can do it with its massive population and geographical challenges, then other countries can do so as well. Bill Gates was right – it is a political problem and it just needs cooperation from the top down to the grass roots level and we will rid the world of polio.

If I can help by coming to your club to talk about this, or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to let me know.


DG’s Blog 6 January 2020

Lyme Lunge.

Another great day with lots of people taking the plunge, including Lyme President John Berry, dressed as a lobster and District Governor Nominee Michael Fernando. It is too early to tell how much this raised this year, but numbers appeared to be up. Well done everyone.

District Forum.

Please note there is no District Forum on the 11 January, this meeting was brought forward to November 30 to facilitate the District Elections and some clubs have not reflected the change in their calendars. The next District Forum is on 21 March at Stanchester Academy, Stoke sub Hamdon.

President Elect Training Seminar / Secretaries Training Seminar.

Please note that the date has been changed to 22 February at the Shrubbery Hotel, Ilminster.

District Support Team.

I am pleased to announce that Sarah Folland of Wellington District has taken on the role of Humanitarian Service Team lead. Please include her in with all your International and Community project communications.


Well done to everyone on the recruitment of new members. The DMS currently shows that we have recruited 66 new active members but disappointingly we have lost 38 giving us a current District total of 1396. This is due in part to the demise of Avalon which closed with effect from 31 December. I know that some members have transferred to other clubs.   We tend to lose members at the end of December and the end of June. If we are going to ensure that our District survives then we do need to start new clubs with younger members, this is why we have been focusing on starting new satellite clubs and District has earmarked £25,000 of reserves to help clubs with recruitment events. Please write to Ric Canham if you would like to apply for one of these grants. Let us make sure that the fantastic work that the clubs do continues.
Best wishes

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