Category Archives: Governor’s Blog

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 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

Purple Community Fund    Jane Walker

Aquabox                             Roger Cassidy

Bibic                                   Pip Buckley

Young people’s Trust for the Environment  Peter Littlewood

Hidden Needs Trust            Rachel Goodfellow

Go Create                            Liz Hutchin

District 1200 Ugandan Water Project  Cate Whitewood

Somerset Wildlife Trust branch Kate Wilson


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…! 

DG Blog 16th March 2021

At the weekend I hosted my penultimate District Forum as DG (and the next one will be Michael Fernando’s Assembly)  strange to think that my year is coming to an end without being able to meet any of you face-to-face, but then we’ve all had that problem and I feel for your club presidents, too, in the same boat.   I was delighted with the virtual attendance, though, with over 100 people who managed to get on – a couple having to wait for some space, for which I apologise. If anyone tried to attend and couldn’t get in, we do have it recorded and can send that to you. The licence is capped at 100, and I think it will need to be increased for future meetings as I suspect on-line meetings may continue into the future, out of necessity or indeed choice.

Useful information

A few key points arising – Penny Underwood gave a very useful and positive overview of the Rotary Global Hub.
Ric Canham highlighted the useful resources there are in My Rotary, when you are considering how to attract new members….

Vicki Davies of Bathavon raised the issue of joint presidents not being recognised by RIGB&I and the difficulties around, eg, recording entries of both post-holders on the club website, and President Tom Griffin advised that this was because a joint role is not recognised by RI. I have to say I agree wholeheartedly with Vickie – that this is such a mixed message, and that RI should acknowledge this as a positive step forward and modernise their thinking on it. Until I come to the end of my DG tenure I will lobby RIGB&I to address this with RI, and Michael Fernando, the next DG, has committed to do the same.

Suggestions around promoting the Rotary message included from Frome and Wellington clubs who have already/are going to host a pop-up shop jointly in their respective town, to showcase Rotary. Surely a useful idea especially with so many empty shops nowadays, and as lockdown eases.

A Rotarian identified that his local leisure centre had a poly-pocket inside every locker door, and gained agreement to put in them a leaflet about Rotary and the opportunity for people to continue to volunteer in their communities.  A stimmy for the clubs (a new pandemic-coined word I have learned!).  And he also advised attendees that there is no planned increase in subscriptions this year and that a proposal to reduce grants to District was withdrawn. (which I confess I’m delighted to have successfully contributed to).

Michael Fernando invited vice-presidents and presidents elect to join his Whatsapp group in future, as it was highlighted this can help incoming post-holders discuss common issues.

COUNTDOWN to conference

As I write this, it is UNDER 2 weeks to the day until the District Conference. We’re on countdown and we have passed 300 registrations! I hope you’ve picked up on some of the marketing which is actively being pushed out, including several facebook and twitter posts.   Again a reminder – please let us know if you see or hear any of the press coverage.   Or if you have personal contacts in any of the media channels local to you, please feel free to send them the press release provided below. You can also use the photos on your own websites/facebook pages as they are royalty-free, having been taken by us during filming.    We are tracking the analytics of website visits and after each facebook post or press release there has been a spike in interest.

(And by the way, for admin reasons we are now promoting a cut-off point for registrations for the conference by lunchtime on Thursday 25th.)

Teenage gang culture

As you know, we’ve already done some filming with Eddie the Eagle, and last Sunday we also did filming (covid and film-industry compliant of course with relevant permissions) with Simeon Moore up in Birmingham. He gave us a totally candid account of his life of serious crime, but is now passionate about mentoring young people including through his rap music and youtube channel. I’m sure you will have some interesting questions to ask him at the live Q and A on March 27th.

Once again, do encourage non-Rotarians to join in, as well as your colleagues in your club, and after the event there will be material released on the conference website for you to view at your leisure (though not Simeon’s or Eddie’s sessions), and to use as tools to help recruitment, or for interest at your own Rotary meetings.


Press Release:

An Olympian and a T Rex? A pairing to help attract more volunteers to join Rotary.

An Olympic ski jumper and a dinosaur will be among the highlights of a push to attract more members to Rotary.

Click here to download the full Press Release


District Governor’s Blog

Rotary Day

On 23rd February 1905, Rotary International was founded by Chicago-based lawyer, Paul Harris. This year, ‘Rotary Day’ will celebrate 116 years of our incredible organisation! 
During that time, Rotary has united people in a common purpose – making connections and making a difference.

That ethos is happening right now in District 1200 in a variety of ways. Despite the ongoing challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have found ways to stay connected and serve our communities when they need us most.

In particular I am most grateful for the wonderful support for the vaccination project given by volunteers helping at vaccination hubs. I do realise that many of us have been unable to help because they themselves are at risk but nevertheless it looks like approx 200 Rotarians and partners have been volunteering in the District and while still awaiting a response from some of my fellow DGs I have counted at least one thousand from just a few Districts.

Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland President, Tom Griffin, has recorded a special Rotary Day message, which I encourage you to watch here –

Days such as Rotary Day are a wonderful opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to all the members in our District for your continued dedication and commitment to Rotary. Our impact truly does start with you.

I hope that those hosting events or activities today have a great time. Rotary Day is also a great opportunity to promote what you’re doing in the community. There are a number of resources available for clubs – social media posts, graphics and a press release template can be downloaded here –

Conference 27th March

Registrations are coming in mainly from Rotarians so please remember to spread the word among your non – Rotarian friends and colleagues. Watch out for the social media on District Facebook and Circa 1200 and if you have not already registered please remember to do so. I promise you a fun and interesting day.

Rory O’Donnell


Then think again – meet our Tyrannosaurus!


Blood and gore will delight (some!) adults and budding palaeontologists alike. (Phew – do you know how many times it took to type that correctly?)

Caring for our World

Up to 2000 extinctions still occur annually: let’s look at the causation of the loss of animals who will sadly never roam our world again.
(Though we may feel grateful we’re not face-to-face with flesh-eating dinosaurs.)

Film-maker Paul Wooding brings you his totally unique T REX AUTOPSY. Do you have the stomach for it?

Join our Rotary District 1200 Virtual Conference on Sat March 27th. Free of charge but booking essential.

Caring for our World: 2020 District 1200 Rotary Conference


Caring for our World – book now

NASA’s Perseverance lands on Mars lake – sources of water explored.

Africa: 0

But Rotary helps many countries score in sourcing water.

Funding/practical help eg WASH water/sanitation/hygiene/Shelterbox/Aquabox/Water Survival Box/Shelterbox/Busoga Trust in Uganda.

Check into Project & Friendship Zones, District 1200 Virtual Conference, March 27.


Rotarians – you’re a knowledgeable group of people – but did you know that the world’s best coffee should be eaten with a spoon?

No, we didn’t believe Rory’s excuse either! But you might learn the truth about coffee from ‘Mr Miles’ in the Entertainment Zone of our District 1200 Virtual Conference.

And you could WIN​ a luxury Mr Miles Tea Rooms hamper – just for attending virtually. (Ts & Cs apply)

Mr Miles Tea and Coffee – Tea & Coffee, Shop, Taunton, Somerset, Devon, Avon – Mr Miles Tea Rooms, Tea and Coffee

Mr Miles is a hark back to traditional english tearooms, when time was taken to enjoy a good cup of tea. Mr Miles is a Taunton based Coffee Shop.


Join our Rotary District 1200 Virtual Conference, Sat March 27th. Free of charge, but booking essential.     Register now!

“Don’t be the product of your environment – let your environment be the product of you.”

Think drug crime isn’t going on under your nose? Well, it’s not just in city centres…


Meet Simeon Moore, the ex-gun-carrying, drug-dealing gang member who turned around his life and now dedicates his time to trying to prevent young people following in his previous footsteps.

Through his music, poetry and YouTube channel DatsTV he is on a mission to steer others away from what he sees as glamorised violence in our media and arts.

“Don’t be the product of your environment – let your environment be the product of you.” Simeon Moore

What inspired Simeon to leave behind his old life? What has he had to overcome? What’s his plan for the future?

Lessons to be learned – and a must-see for young people, parents, teachers, any youth worker, and Rotarians alike.

You must have some burning questions for this young man – you have a unique opportunity to ask him, live, on Saturday March 27th.

Rotary District 1200 Virtual Conference – 100% free-of-charge to attend.

Caring for our World: 2020 District 1200 Rotary Conference

Booking essential. Please do share this post and invite others, including non-Rotarians, to attend.





Rotary is still a well-kept secret for too many people, so I’m hoping that you will take up the challenge of spreading the word about our outward-facing conference – a one-day event on Saturday March 27th.

Showcasing Rotary in Action and featuring many of our projects, it’s a great opportunity to encourage our non-Rotarian friends and contacts to see what we do – and, hopefully, grow our membership.


OK – maybe email and social media is ‘old-hat’ nowadays, the nearest I have to the newest tech gadget is zoom, and I’m still a novice on social media platforms!

But every week leading up to conference we will be sending out promotional snippets which will feature on CIRCA 1200 and District FACEBOOK pages and TWITTER – WHICH YOU CAN SHARE.


We’re busy collating and filming contributions to our conference, ready to shout ‘Action!’ on March 27th, with a blend of pre-recorded and live presentations. One thing’s for sure: we don’t want this to remain under-cover!

PLEASE do your bit as a Rotary ambassador: please share the posts, as outlined above, with your own social media network (and/or email your social and work-related contacts) and make this one-off FREE virtual conference your opportunity to grow your membership.


Good luck in your mission


Code name: District Governor

This message will not self-destruct in 5 seconds.

With apologies to anyone who has never watched Mission Impossible!


DG Blog 19th January 2021

There are several calls to action in this blog – do please take the time to consider how you might be able to help with some of these initiatives:

  • Marshalling at vaccination hubs
  • Encouraging local schools and individuals to take part in youth competitions
  • Assisting with recycling of laptops
  • Joining in the next 4-district meeting
  • And don’t forget your questions for our key (virtual) conference speakers!


Photo by Brue Valley Rotary

I am delighted at the response from clubs and Rotarians offering help and taking part and thanks also go to David Welch and his team for their role in co-ordinating the effort. I was at the coal face myself on Saturday at the hub in Taunton and have booked further slots including tomorrow when we are threatened with a deluge of rain! You feel the buzz of knowing that you are making a contribution and in the company of so many volunteers greeting the apprehensive elderly as they arrive for their vaccinations. However, I have to say that much of the excitement was in the car park with kerbs being mounted, and rubber bollards scattered or run over! I have definitely decided to leave my car elsewhere.

Please remember to wear your Rotary tabards so that the public can recognise us in action and also (without videoing individual patients) take and send me video footage for a collage that I hope to present at conference. If a member of the public does happen to be in the shot, we can blur out faces and car registrations.


It was a massive disappointment that our outward-facing conference could not go ahead last July, nor can it physically happen this coming April. Instead it will be virtual, but the great news is that it will be 100% free for everyone! It will showcase what we do in our communities and internationally and we hope will be an invaluable tool to help you grow membership by inviting non-Rotarians to join in on the conference date, but also after the event as a legacy product referencing the work that we do. The date is still to be announced as we’re trying to navigate avoiding key dates such as the Six Nations and Rotary training, whilst allowing us the greatest window of opportunity for filming our key speakers – hampered of course by current restrictions!

“Eddy the Eagle”

A Q and A opportunity – please send in to me by 31st January ( your questions for Eddie the Eagle, the famous Olympic ski-jumper and featured in the film of the same name: ‘Eddie the Eagle’.


Simon Moore



Also for Simeon Moore, an ex-gang member who has turned his life around and devotes his time to persuading young people not to be lured into these criminal activities, and who is now studying for a degree in business management – see the conference website to learn more about him.


Despite the restrictions caused by the pandemic, we have received many entries for Young Writer, Photographer and Musician competitions and so we should not assume that the competitions are not taking place. Quite the contrary as we also have our first entry in the District for Young Environmentalist and one school has enquired via RGBI as to how they can submit their entries as they hadn’t heard from their local club! Obviously schools and young people are very competent in using technology and many competitions are easily operated this way. Our Youth Chair has a National District Leads meeting on 22nd January so there will be an update following the meeting. Some good news for a change!


There are many children distance learning with no or inadequate equipment. Several individuals have already started to support their local communities in this and I have been asked if Rotary can help with different tasks and also publicising the work even further. Do please let me know if you are already involved in such a scheme or know of individuals in your area who could do with some help, and let’s see where we can try and give some practical help.

Specific things – finding old equipment, collecting and distributing to schools, using IT skills to wipe them clean, publicising and even taking phone calls in respect of the schemes.


We had a very successful 4-District joint seminar on Friday with over 100 attendees learning how to create flyers and post them on Facebook and Instagram. The great news is that we had a step-by-step guide which was recorded, so please find the link to the You Tube Video

The next joint seminar is on Thursday 18th February, entitled A Glimpse into the Future presented by Nicki Scott, Rotary International Director 2021 – 2023, and will provide a valuable insight into the plans for the development of Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland.


DG Blog 30 Nov 2020

What a year! We now approach the Christmas period with severe restrictions on activities. Our District Secretary, Chrissie, has kindly updated us on Santa Sleigh but there is no doubt that important fundraising opportunities are compromised. However, I am heartened by the amount of community support that has been provided by Rotary volunteers over the last few months. Christmas is a time for celebration and the decision to make the major proportion of the December 12th forum a celebration affords an opportunity for us all to relax and have fun.

It’s an opportunity for us all to raise a glass and toast the enduring friendship focus of Rotary, and I am relying on those thespians and performers amongst you to volunteer to perform (a few minutes only – we won’t sit in judgement!) to make this a truly enjoyable forum, and it may even end with a Christmas carol or two. 


District has been doing all it can to support clubs during the pandemic, including the allocation of £10,000 before July, and again since July to distribute funds to clubs to match-fund club support for community projects. I am delighted to report that, of the latest release, club grants totalling £9,750 have been made. We do not rest there though, and at District Exec last Friday we decided to critically review our reserves again to ensure we pass back to clubs any funds deemed in excess of our requirements going forward – more news of that early next year.

Lastly, I want to talk about conference. Unfortunately, for obvious reasons, we have had to cancel the postponed physical conference set for April next year, and instead we are moving forward with a virtual conference. This is likely to take place earlier in 2021, and speakers such as Eddie the Eagle have already confirmed interest in participating. It will use the existing conference web platform in order to save on costs which otherwise would have been wasted, and I assure you that it will be as professional an event as we can muster in these strange times! We will be using a young filmmaker and composer and, as intended with the original conference, it will be outward-facing to attract new members and – best of all – 100% free to attend! We will also have a legacy, in that most presentations will be free to view post-conference – a real showcase of what Rotary does in this district and internationally! So just giving you a heads-up: it will be easy to invite your friends and family to take part in the conference; you will be able to pick ‘n’ mix which sessions you attend – and believe me, there will be a great selection; and it won’t cost you a penny! 

In the meantime, however, I wish you all a very merry Christmas. Please continue to stay safe and let’s look forward to the light at the end of the tunnel in 2021.



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