Category Archives: Governor’s Blog

DG’s Blog 29 June 2020.

We have reached the end of my three-and-a-half-year journey as DG. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to serve the District.

RI President Mark Maloney’s theme for the year was “Rotary Connects the World” and this has been even more evident now that we all connect via Zoom!

My theme for the year was FUN, Fellowship, Updating Rotary and New Clubs. . The Fellowship has been great and I have been inspired by the works that our clubs do. We have Updated Rotary – who would have thought that almost everyone would be using online tools to meet and carry on the service to the communities. We even achieved a New Club – St John’s Primary Midsomer Norton Rotakids.

One of my aspirations was to educate members about the wider family of Rotary and I think that my weekly blog has gone some way to do this – at least the numbers of subscribers to Circa1200 has increased by 300 and there has been a 12% increase in the number of members with a MyRotary account. I have tried during the year to keep my weekly Blog to one page but I hope you will forgive me for giving a more comprehensive “end of term” report.

The year started with a Midsummer Madness / Handover party that raised £1,000 pounds split between School in a Bag and the YDH Breast Care Unit appeal. The District Conference in Southampton attracted 200 people and, as a side-line, raised £1,300 for Rainbow Trust.
I am proud of the innovative ways that members and clubs have responded to the challenges posed by Coronavirus and pleased that District allocated £10,000 to match fund many of the projects.


At the 1 July the membership totalled 1368, and we have had 100 new members this year. Membership retention is over 90%. Gender distribution is improving, with now over 18% female membership. There has been a 12% increase in members having a MyRotray Account.

We have approved 15 Membership Development grants to assist Clubs with recruitment and some of these are yet to take place. We have one satellite and at least one Rotaract club in course.

We chartered a Rotakids club at St John’s Primary School in Midsomer Norton and were close to starting two Rotaract Clubs when the virus struck.

Sadly, we have lost two clubs this year Avalon and Calne. Both of these failed to find incoming officers and people to run their projects – unfortunately not an uncommon situation.

The pandemic has brought forth a host of volunteers and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to invite them into the Rotary family and to start new forms of Rotary for these people.


I have been amazed at the work the clubs do to support local, national and international communities. In particular, clubs supported the West Indies following Hurricane Dorian, the Bush Fires in Australia and floods here in the UK. David Perkins has provided the following summary:

“District donated $10,000 of its DDF to Polio Plus to help continue the fight to eradicate this terrible disease and made two grants of $2,500 to coronavirus projects in India and in Dominican Republic.

The Foundation team have been working throughout the year to promote Rotary’s only charity.

Over £18,000 of our District Dedicated Fund (DDF) allocation of £24,000 was given in 27 matching grants for various club projects, varying from community and disabled schemes within the District, to clean water and health needs abroad. The Grants Sub Committee has also cultivated a plethora of Global Grants, which need international involvement to draw down matched funding of at least $15,000, ranging from the Dorset Hospital Chemo unit to major clean water and hygiene facilities in Kerala and Kenya.

The PolioPlus campaign continued to fight against the objections of religion and politics in the Khyber Pass area where the last remaining cases of infection were on the increase, and has developed a new Polio vaccine which is expected to do away with the Vaccine Derived strain of the virus. The annual planting of purple crocus corms to raise awareness of the Purple Pinkie campaign was well taken up, although the resulting flowers were a bit insipid. The supplier has promised that the corms provided this years will be more robust.

Then the world went into lockdown! Meetings were cancelled, fund raising events abandoned and everything came to a halt. But The Rotary Foundation went into overdrive! D1200 clubs drew down the remaining DDF to help with local food banks and related schemes. When that was exhausted, District stepped in by allocating surplus funds to COVID19 related grants. The remnants of our Global Grant allocation has also been used in reciprocal arrangements with Districts in India and The Dominican Republic to provide ventilators and basic family hygiene kits respectively. Unlike most districts in RFUK, D1200 has utilised its entire allocation of grant funding in Doing Good, both locally and internationally.

The Rotary Foundation headquarters in Evanston has also risen to the challenge. Although working from home, the staff have pulled out all the stops to help. Applications that usually expect to take months to authorise have been completed in less than 10 days! It is worthy of note that, since April, Foundation has given over $20million in grants to help with the worldwide fight against COVID19. A Disaster Relief Fund set up with a budget of $2 million donated $5 million in only 6 weeks!

Whilst the vaccination programme of the End Polio Now campaign is obviously in abeyance, the resources of the organisation – laboratories for sample testing, contact tracing, vaccine development, etc- are being well used in the Coronavirus battle. Unfortunately the instances of polio cases is on the increase, which proves that it will rapidly re-establish itself if we relinquish the task before it is complete. And we are now well aware that the spread of a virus is only a plane ride away.

The District Foundation Team has been trying to improve the awareness of what The Rotary Foundation is all about and how it operates. In some ways, the lockdown has actually helped as it is easier to give a Foundation talk to a club on Zoom than having to travel across the district. It also saves on travelling expenses and meal costs, which could be donated to TRF or PolioPlus.”

Humanitarian Service.

We started the year with plans to help the environment by hoping to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle as well as trying help fight loneliness and mental health. Our District Project for the year was to support the Yeovil District Hospital Breast Care Unit. Sarah Folland has sent the following report.

“It has certainly been a challenging year in which Connectivity and Humanitarian support has indeed been very meaningful with efforts and support shown locally and across the globe.

At the start of last year Rotary in GBI took steps to commit to tackling poor mental health by signing up to the Concordat for ‘Better mental Health’ with Public health England. The commitment from Rotary clubs has been demonstrated with many of our district clubs supporting local initiatives or starting up ‘drop in’ cafes and local support groups or activities to improve health and reduce isolation. Others have continued to raise awareness of mental health issues through poster campaigns or the dedicated ‘Rotarians 4 Mental Health’ website.

Disaster response and support has this year focused on 2 main areas. Six months ago world attention was focused on the Australian forest and bush Fires that devastated large parts of the country. Since January with the help of much needed rain the fires have been controlled but the recovery and rebuilding efforts will take years. In November last year following consistent and heavy rainfall the District responded to the flood relief efforts in NE. England. The resources and expertise of the EVAG group were mobilised to provide practical help and clubs and again Rotarians have given financial support through the RGBI Disaster and Recovery fund.

We were not expecting the rapid spread of the Covid 19 pandemic through the world and many of our normal activities and events came to a sudden halt in March. Our thoughts are with all those who have been directly affected by the disease and its consequences. However, there could not perhaps be a better example of ‘Rotary in Action’! This has been demonstrated in many different ways. Most of our clubs have kept in close touch with members and Rotarians been a huge support, actively contributing where possible, but also by providing funds and equipment, advice and encouragement to many local and some international projects These include support networks, foodbanks, hospital teams, hospices, PPE providers, also enabling home education and play for isolating families. Support to those colleagues who are isolated and vulnerable including those with health and welfare issues has been very evident. District 1200 allocated £10.000 pounds to match fund individual club projects and it has been moving to see the efforts and support from so many clubs. The pandemic will continue to place pressure on many health and social care providers as well as charities and I am sure our continued support will be needed in the months to come.

Many continue to support the Polio projects. Bears and Bulbs are available as Rotary its efforts to help rid the World of this disease.

RIBI has recently signed up to a 12 month partnership with Carers UK- This gives encouragement for us all to support young and unpaid carers.

Let us not forget too, the efforts made to take action in caring for our environment and Rotarians providing leadership and examples of good practice and we thank Penny Underwood for efforts to encourage this at district level.”


We have some brilliant Youth Projects and we started the year with a Youth Showcase, reviving a pet projects of the late Roger Andrews. The new Rotakids club were the stars of the District Conference. RYLA was again a delight to visit. I was also delighted to visit the Technology tournament held jointly by Crewkerne, Chard and Ilminster.

I send Rory and his team my very best wishes for the new year.

So long and thanks for all the fish (Douglas Adams). Very best wishes.- Dennis

DG’s Blog 22 June 2020

Virtual Convention.

Over 54,000 people registered for the 2020 Virtual Convention which started on Saturday and continues this week with various breakout groups. Further breakout groups will continue into July. To register visit There is also a link to register for Taipei in 2021 at a discounted price.

Brit Valley Tea Party.

Who says that fund raising is difficult in the current circumstances? Yesterday, Lindsey Luxton and Brit Valley proved that it is possible by running a Zoom Blooming Tea Party for Marie Curie. Attendee and the club aimed to get 100 people online to share a cup of tea and piece of cake.

Dissolution of Calne.

It is with sadness that I report the dissolution of Calne Rotary Club. Calne was a daughter club of Chippenham and was formed on 30 September 1980 so would have celebrated 40 years later in this calendar year. Declining membership and age had caught up with the club and it was finding difficulty in finding officers and people to run its projects. I am pleased to say that a majority of the remaining members and the club projects have been welcomed to the Chippenham club which has undertaken to support the projects and the Calne community.


Best wishes – Dennis

DG’s Blog 15 June 2020

Response to Covid-19.

As at 3 June The Rotary Foundation had provided funding of almost $20 million to help with the pandemic. Thirty clubs have now applied for and received our District matched grants of £250 per club. There are still funds available so please apply before the end of the month.

Giving to Foundation by country.

I attach the table of the Top giving countries to Foundation. Please remember to send off your club’s donations as soon as possible to register them for this year to increase the amount of District Designated Funds available to us in 2022-23.

Crocus Corms.

Orders for purple crocus corms to plant in Autumn 2020 are now open! How are you going to use them, with your community, in your district and club? Corms can be ordered via the website
Final deadline for orders is 31st August 2020.

Your Big Day.

Your Big Day offers videos tailored to a specific date in history, drawing on the extensive film and television archives of ITN and Reuters. These videos cost £19.50 and of this £6 will be donated to Polio +. Website is

Rotary GB&I announce 12 month partnership with Carers UK

Last week Rotary GB&I announced a 12 month partnership with Carers UK, the national membership charity for carers.  The announcement was made as part of Carers Week, which shines a light on the challenges faced by the 6.5 million unpaid carers nationwide.  The partnership will see us work together to make life better for unpaid carers by raising awareness and offering support, with Carers UK in turn promoting the difference that Rotary volunteers make in their communities across the country, while also offering training to become Rotary Carers UK Ambassadors.  A programme of activities and selection of resources for Rotary clubs and members is currently being produced.

Are you missing your regular Club meetings?

Ric Canham is setting up a series of Zoom meetings for any members who have not been able to take part in online meetings or would like to meet with members from other clubs. The first of these is at 7pm tonight (Monday). Please contact Ric if you would like to attend.

District Handover.

District Handover will take place via Zoom on 3 July at 7pm look out for the invitation.

Best wishes – Dennis



Most recent statistics show that there has been a total of 789 confirmed cases to date in Somerset, which remains the lowest region in the UK.

The total number of deaths due to Covid-19 in Somerset to date is 181, although there is usually a delay of up to three weeks for the data to be updated.

An update to the ‘R’ rate, which is a ‘modelled’ number, for Somerset is awaited. However, the Public Health England ‘R’ rate for Somerset is currently ‘1’, which is considered acceptable due to the low numbers of people infected with Covid-19 overall.

A permanent testing site has now been established at Taunton racecourse, with a good uptake. Those wishing to be tested are permitted to attend the nearest centre. Pro-active testing in care homes is being carried out, and also for the wider care sector and hospitals.

The epidemic curve for Somerset has recently had a little bit of an upturn, then a reduction.

The upturn was identified in the last 10 days, and despite investigation there appeared to be no logical trend or reason for this. However, a few days ago, the local laboratory in Taunton noticed that there were far more positive testing results being produced (78), which turned out be false positives. After a number of swabs were able to be retrieved and re-tested on a different machine, it was found that of those re-tested 27 of these cases were in fact negative. All those patients affected have been contacted. As a result of this action the number of recorded positive cases has now reduced to expected levels, to just a handful of positive cases.

Outbreak management plan – all local authorities are required to have one in order to accurately track any return of the epidemic, which is considered to be highly likely. The health and social care ‘GOLD’ is in place to rapidly mobilise appropriate teams should this be necessary.

The public message is still to continue social distancing and regular hand washing.

Visiting relatives in care homes – some have already opened up and are allowing relatives to meet in the gardens with social distancing, but at present the decision is entirely up to individual homes.

Track and Trace – although this is in general a nationally led initiative at a local level it continues to develop, and Somerset is already benefiting from it. Updates are received 3-4 times daily.

National infection control funding – receipt of this is dependent on capacity tracking. In Somerset 100% of all 250 care homes have been participating and so far 68% have requested funding and have received it, largely for staffing. The criteria for receiving funds has been strict, for example it is not available for the provision of PPE. 25% of the fund remains available and will be used for smaller local providers, domiciliary care providers, supported living etc.

Only 1 care home currently has a Covid-19 infection.

Vicarage House in Hambridge has gone into liquidation and is now closed. All residents have been re-homed.

NHS – has been providing support for ‘discharge to assess’ into people’s own homes, and also in preventing admissions initially. The ‘intermediate care system’, supporting people in their own homes, through GPs etc. have been working closely with the NHS to ensure appropriate community support.

Hospitals are now able to provide improved advice and support to families to enable the discharge of people into their own homes.

Care Act Easement Powers are in force but in Somerset, the decision has been taken not to use these at present.

Intended to be used to help to open up town centres – a series of schemes is being put in place in conjunction with district councils. The measures are intended to be temporary at present and include lines, signs, cones, plastic barriers etc. to enable social distancing. Work is due to start this week, resulting in some noise disturbance, and will include Yeovil and Chard. It is expected that once up and running some schemes will need tweaking and depending on effectiveness and response some may be considered for permanent installation. There has been considerable discussion with bus companies to consider the impact of any scheme on access to public transport.

This is unlikely to re-open in the near future as social distancing is not felt to be feasible at present.

Some funding has been provided for approx. 50 laptops so far. It is accepted that this needs to have progressed more quickly than has been the case so far.

DG’s Blog 8 June 2020

Rotary magazine.

The June/July edition has two items reflecting our District. There is an article about Michael and Katalin Fernando’s work at Yeovil District Hospital and Mendip get a mention about the Cheddar Vale Community Hub. Read the magazine online at If you would like to publicise what you or your club are doing why not send details to the editor Dave King

Covid Grants.

Well done everyone with the help given to your local communities, there have now been 27 District matched Covid grants approved.

Virtual convention.

Convention Registration is now open, and it is FREE! If you go to the 2020 Rotary Virtual Convention website – you can now register as “Now More Than Ever, Rotary Connects the World” – I already have and it would be wonderful if you and your fellow Rotarians join me and many others.


Rotarians Against Malaria – Rotary Action Group AGM.
Time: Jun 9, 2020 09:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 847 8902 4532
Password: 448869

Prepare for 30 June

This is a friendly reminder to update your club membership and officer information in the Rotary in Great Britain & Ireland database by 1 July 2020. This information will be used to generate your July 2020 club invoice.

Best wishes – Dennis

DG’s Blog 1 June 2020

Foundation /Polio.

This year there have been 61 cases of Wild Polio, 49 in Pakistan and 12 in Afghanistan. A new oral vaccine will be rolled out in July that will hopefully stop the vaccine derived cases.

The are Crocus corms available again this year – £135 for a box of 4,000, please contact David Perkins if you would like to purchase.
Please send off your donations to Foundation ASAP to ensure that we have more District funds in 2022-23.

Covid-19 grants.

So far there have been 25 applications for the District Matching Covid-19 project grants for a maximum of £250 per club/project. Applications forms are available from Chrissie Bailey.


The membership development grants of up to £500 per club are still available and now is an ideal time to try to tap into the local community volunteers. The Cheddar Community Group has nearly 2,000 members – a great pool of potential new members.

Together Talks.

This initiative has taken off and the speakers for June have now been announced. See picture.

District Handover.

The District Handover will this year take place via Zoom on 3 July – look out for more details.


The Big Lunch.

The ‘big lunch’ is happening virtually this year where it will give Rotarians an opportunity to engage with those in their community – by having a chat / drink – over the fence; over the wall; or over a drink – online… Details from


Best wishes – Dennis

DG’s Blog 25 May 2020

Foundation Seminar.

David Perkins our District Foundation Team Lead presented a Foundation Seminar in two sessions last Friday and Saturday via Zoom. It was an excellent presentation explaining how the Foundation works and covering all aspects. David will be pleased to join your club or area meetings to explain our fantastic charity to your members.

David also reminded clubs to pay over their donations as soon as possible to ensure that we have funds available in 2022-23 for District Grants.

Rotary in Great Britain & Ireland Annual Business Meeting.

For the second year the Annual Business Meeting was held online and over 1,500 delegates voted. The results can be found

Membership – how can we tap into the vast pool of new volunteers?

By making the Rotary offering attractive for them, we can attract new members, even in these difficult times. People want to volunteer; just look at the 750,000 people who signed up to support the NHS. Of course, they volunteered to join without paying any fees. Can we tap into these volunteers by showing what Rotary can allow them to contribute to society? This could include:

• Minimum cost – say £10 per month.
• Doing great things that they can contribute to.
• Minimum meetings, unless it is organising projects.
• Enjoying great fellowship, and personal development.

Super Cyclone Amphan.

On 20 May, Super Cyclone Amphan hit some of the poorest areas of India and Bangladesh.
The storm wreaked havoc, with winds of up to 185 km/h along with heavy rain and sea surges. It destroyed houses and crops and cut power supplies to cities and towns.
An estimated 500,000 families could have lost their homes and over 3 million people across the two countries are living in collective centres. More information from

Best wishes – Dennis

DG’s Blog 18 May 2020

District Assembly.

Our success in attracting over 100 attendees was soon dashed when people started to let us know that they were unable to logon due to a 100 attendees limit. This despite having paid for an upgrade to a large meeting add for up to 500 people. The reason is still under investigation. However two separate people reported that they had counted 147 attendees. In the best tradition we soldiered on after restarting the meeting. Over a hundred attendees is still more that we have had for a number of years and compares to only 71 last year.

District Covid-19 Grants.

We broke new ground by using the online voting for the proposed District allocation of £10,000 from general funds to support Covid-19 club projects on a matched basis up to a total of £250 per club. This is in addition to any Foundation grants. The proposal was passed by 97 to 1. Application forms are available from District Secretary Chrissie Bailey.

Assembly slides and recordings.

New ground was also broken by recording the meeting. The recording and all the materials are available on the district website


As part of Rotary Global Rewards, Zoom offer a 20% discount on their system, exclusively for Rotarians. When ordering the licence, simply use the promotional code ZOOMROTARY to apply the discount. The discount is automatically applied to which ever plan you choose – either monthly or annual payments and applies to the first payment only – additional month or yearly payments are charged at full price. Please find tutorials and guidance on using Zoom through a series of video tutorials at Zoom.US.
There is Rotary backdrop available for use as a virtual background in Zoom meetings from


Despite the Assembly having been held, I am still in post until the 30 June and would be pleased to join your online meetings, so please send me an email if you would like me to attend.

Rotary partnership with Carers UK.

Established in 1965, Carers UK has a long heritage of making life better for carers, wherever they may be, through providing advice, information and support, pioneering innovation and the creation of a workplace best practice forum, Employers for Carers (EfC). RotaryGB&I is working on forming a partnership with Carers UK for next Rotary year

Rotary Young Citizens Award 2020.

This year the eight remarkable winners, nominated by Rotary clubs across the country, include a variety of youngsters from ones who overcame their disabilities to make a difference and inspire others, to the 16 year old who has become the heart of her community helping the homeless, and those in need, this year’s Young Citizens are truly incredible. All of this year’s winners are going to be interviewed on Afternoon Live with Simon McCoy on the BBC News Channel between 2:30 and 3pm Monday 18th and Friday 22nd May.

Together talks.

Why not invite some non-Rotarians to join these and hear about what we do? Registration is at The events are recorded so you can always catch up.


Best wishes, Dennis

DG’s Blog 11 May 2020

Rotary “orphans”.

If your club is not meeting online, then why not join an online meeting at another club? You can visit any ‘club’ online, having opportunity to share ideas with others, listen to some great inspirational speakers, be it Rotarians and non-Rotarians.

To join a meeting in our District just ring the club Secretary in the usual way to obtain the logon details. RGBI is planning to have a page in the members area of the Rotary GB&I website, whereby all online meetings dates and times are listed.

Covid-19 Help Line for Dorset.

Silver Line.

The Silver Line is a national charity offering an invaluable service to older people. They have already received over a million calls and recruited more than 3000 volunteer Silver Line Friends to call older people every week or exchange letters, but they do need help. Visit their website at

Together Talks – list of speakers.

This is a free weekly online transmission on a Tuesday evening at 19:05
Book tickets at

RI Telethon.


District Assembly – Reminder.

District Assembly will be held via Zoom on Saturday 16 May from 10am. Log on to hear about Rory’s plans for next year. I have upgraded the licence to 500 attendees so that everyone should be able to join in.

If you would like me to talk you through logging on send me an email or give me a ring on 01935 8232960 before Saturday.

Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 818 466 2099 Password: 226893

Best wishes – Dennis

DG’s Blog 4 May 2020

District Covid-19 grants.

At a District Team Meeting last Friday a proposal was agreed to make available £10,000 from general funds to support club Covid-19 projects on a matched basis up to £250 per project. This will need to be ratified by District at large. The grants will be administered by Sarah Folland, Humanitarian Service lead. Application forms may be obtained from District Secretary, Chrissie Bailey.

RI Telethon.

The Facebook event last Saturday attracted in excess 1,800 participants from around the world. The goal was to raise more than $1 million. Already more than $3.4 million in Rotary Disaster Response Grants have been put into action in the battle against Covid-19.

RGBI Annual Business Meeting.

The online Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland annual business meeting on Sunday was a success with, and I quote, “more than 550 live attendees”. I do not know how many non-live attendees there were! It was recorded and is available from The RGBI website.

Find a speaker for your Zoom meeting.

We have now set up a page on the District Website to help you find speakers for your Zoom meetings. If you would like to offer yourself as a speaker, please let Penny Underwood know.   The page is a members only page which can be found here     


Foundation Donations.

Please submit your club Foundation donations before the end of May to ensure that they will count in this Rotary year and of course come back to the District in 2022-23.

District Assembly – Reminder.

District Assembly will be held via Zoom on Saturday 16 May from 10am. Log on to hear about Rory’s plans for next year. I will be upgrading the licence so that everyone can join
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 818 466 2099 Password: 226893

Best wishes. Dennis

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