District Governors Blog November 2021

It gives me great pleasure to report that two of our clubs celebrated their centenaries, Weston-super-Mare and Bath. Around 300 people joined in the centenary celebrations of Rotary Weston-super-Mare at The Winter Gardens Pavilion on 23 October, joined by local dignitaries including the local Mayor and M.P. A great time was had by all. The celebrations for Bath have been postponed until April, owing to the uncertainty of the situation with Covid-19.

Chard Rotary celebrated the end of its 75th Anniversary year with a dinner, at which Stanley Hopkins and Robert Jackson were both awarded certificates of long service (50 years).

Many Clubs have supported World Polio Day on 24th October, lighting up local buildings in purple. I am delighted to share news that there have only been two cases of wild Polio reported anywhere in the world this year (the last being in January).

As you know, local Children’s Hospices (CHSW and Julia’s House) are my chosen charities for the year, as District Governor. Many of you have been putting on events in support. Many congratulations to Peter Stefanovich and Paul Arnold from Chard Rotary, who have walked between all three CHSW hospices; 156 miles over 12 walking days. Cate Whitewood and other members of Yeo Vale Rotary organised curry night in support of CHSW. Richard and Karen Meek from Chippenham Rotary put on an Italian Dinner in aid of Julia’s House. Many others have put on events in support.

The District Conference took place in Plymouth, face-to-face. Around 200 people took part and heard speakers including Plymouth resident and Royal Marine, Ben McBean, who told of his courage in the face of adversity.  Eddie Farwell, Founder of Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW) talked about how he and his wife had founded it to provide services for local families with children with life limiting illnesses.  We also heard from Graham Cole, former Chairman of AgustaWestland, about providing opportunity, talking about working his way up from the shopfloor to being Chairman. Keynote speaker at the Rotary International Convention in Toronto, Xavier Ramey, gave a challenging talk about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Dr Aubrey Cunnington (Consultant in Paediatric Infectious Diseases, St. Mary’s Hospital, London) talked about global challenges after eradicating Polio. Rotary Foundation Trustee, Aziz Memon had hoped to join us in person, but had to send a video message, owing to the global situation with Covid-19. Other speakers included local Rotarians Dot Cretney and Yinka Osoba. Past District Governor Julia Diment joined us as Rotary International President Shekhar’s representative.

Looking forward to more normal times again, there is still an early bird reduction to register for the Rotary International Convention in Houston, Texas this June. Closer to home, the next District Forum is online on Saturday 4th December at 10.00 A.M.; we would like as many clubs as possible, if not all, to be represented. Here are the joining details:

Topic: District Forum 4th December 2021
Time: Dec 4, 2021 10:00 London

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 825 0969 4823

District Governor’s Blog – September 2021

We are already in the middle of September (almost a quarter of the way through the Rotary year). I continue to be impressed by the outstanding work carried out by Rotary members in our District, serving their local communities, as well as those further afield.


Peter Stefanovic and Paul Arnold (Chard Rotary) have completed 87 miles of their 157 mile trek in support of Children’s Hospice South West. As many of you are aware, I have asked clubs to support their local Children’s Hospice during this Rotary year. Well done to Chard Rotary and the many other clubs supporting their local Children’s Hospice. Members of Chard Rotary have also carried out supporting roles at Britain’s Disable Strongman and Strongwoman Competition, held at Holyrood School, Chard.


Many of you will be aware that Peter Renshaw (Taunton Rotary) has asked that Clubs in our District get behind an initiative ‘The Green Canopy’, which is a U.K. wide tree planting initiative to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year. As District Governor, I am proud to support this initiative and encourage you all to do so too. Further information is available at https://queensgreencanopy.org



On behalf of the District, I would congratulate David Welch for having led the D1200 Emergency Volunteer Action Group (EVAG) since its inception in 2014. It developed from the efforts Rotarians in our District made following the flooding on the Somerset Levels in 2014. EVAG plans, trains and serves on the planning groups of Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire to help in times of emergency. David has now handed over the baton, as Chair of the group, to John Butler, to whom I wish the very best, as Chair of EVAG. EVAG has shown itself, time and time again, to support our local communities in their time of need.


Guy Parkinson in Rotary Frome Selwood has co-ordinated the District response to help with the Covid-19 crisis in Nepal, liaising with Assistant Governor Ranjeev Shrestha from Rotary Dhulikhel in Nepal. Our focus is on providing service, above fundraising; it is still heartening to see that Rotarians in our District raised £9,600 to enable the provision of service in Nepal to help ameliorate the situation surrounding Covid-19.


Well done to our new online District Membership Initiative, ‘Rotary without Borders’, which continues to welcome new faces, the latest being Jules Kew and Steve Sliney. Welcome to you both!


Finally, with a month to go until our District Conference in Plymouth, I urge you to consider joining us. If you have not already registered, please could you do your very best to register this week.

I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend the Rotary International Convention in Toronto 3 years ago. Well over 20,000 people attended and it was literally a lifechanging event. We have been thinking about how to replicate some of this magic by ‘bringing the world to you’ in District 1200. We have persuaded one of the keynote speakers in Toronto to speak in Plymouth. Xavier Ramey was a keynote speaker, along with the Princess Royal, Justin Trudeau, Helen Clarke (former Prime Minister of New Zealand) and Laura Bush (former First Lady of the United States). Xavier has a confirmed plane ticket to speak in person at our Conference in Plymouth (Covid rules still permitting). We have several other world class speakers, including Plymouth local, Ben McBean (Former Royal Marine), Graham Cole (former Chairman, AgustaWestland Helicopters) and Dr Aubrey Cunnington (Children’s Infectious Diseases Expert from St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington).      2021 Conference Programme Edition 13 September 2021

Radio presenter/Comedian/Author Tony Hawks shall also be entertaining us with tales of walking around Ireland in a Fridge. We have entertainment in the form of ‘Horse Racing’ organised by Rotary Brue Valley during the buffet on the Friday night (in support of Children’s Hospice South West and other Rotary supported charities). We have a Black Tie/Formal Dinner Dance on the Saturday evening with live entertainment from ‘Boom Town’.

The Day event cost just shy of £50, including lunch and refreshments. People who want to make a weekend of it have other options. Please see www.hungryplanet.com for further details and a downloadable booking form  Conference booking form (Final) 2021.

DG Blog 1st August 2021

One month into the new Rotary Year, members in our District have been going full steam ahead in fulfilling our promise ‘Service above Self’. Several activities in our District have now been face-to-face, including the ‘Big Breakfast’ at Chelwood Bridge, which raised over £1200 for local causes. District Governor Elect, Ric Canham led a Rotary Community project to keep a footpath open (with mostly volunteers from within the local community), encouraging potential new members of Rotary and fulfilling a local community need at the same time. Rotary in Frome sold donated goods in the Rotary shop and supported the continuation of a local sensory book club.

Congratulations to Poppy McGhee, successfully nominated by Mendip Rotary for a Diana Award, the highest accolade a young person can achieve for social action or humanitarian efforts. Poppy is a 16 year old violinist from Wells, who has raised many thousands of pounds for the Amber Trust (which funds music opportunities for blind and partially sighted children).

Hugh Deed (from Rotary in Frome) has been running a project collecting unwanted mobility aids (not NHS provided) and exporting them to South Africa, where Northcliff Rotary refurbishes and repairs (as necessary) and distributes them to those that need them. Please contact freewheeling@rotaryinfrome.org.uk if you would like to support this.

District Skittles

Roger White (Yeovil Rotary) has very kindly agreed to arrange the District Skittles Competition in the coming year (proceeds in support of Children’s Hospice South West). Roger shall speak about this more at the next District Forum on 25 September, as well as at the District Conference in October.

District Conference

Registrations for the upcoming District Conference at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Plymouth on 15-17th October have been coming along nicely, with more than a hundred guests registered so far.

Three years ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Rotary International Convention in Toronto with over 20,000 fellow Rotarians from all around the world. Outstanding speakers included the Princess Royal, Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister of Canada), Laura Bush (Former First Lady of the United States) and Helen Clarke (former Prime Minister of New Zealand). I wondered whether it may be possible to replicate some of the magic here by ‘Bringing the World to You’. I contacted one of the keynote speakers (who had some of the best feedback), Xavier Ramey, from Chicago, and he has agreed to come to England to visit our District Conference.

Other speakers include the Rotary Lead for Polio Eradication in Pakistan, Aziz Memon (Covid rules permitting). Aziz was taken blindfolded to Taliban controlled areas to try and persuade people to allow their children to be vaccinated. Aziz is coming to England to be at our conference at his own expense. Founder/Chief Executive of Children’s Hospice South West (Eddie Farwell) is also a speaker, as well as Tony Hawkes (Comedian/Author). Local Rotarians Yinka Osoba (Yeovil) and Dot Cretney (Frome Town) shall be talking about projects from our District.

Please take the opportunity to join them and take the opportunity to meet other Rotarians at our District Conference on 15-17 October (Main Event Saturday 16th October).  Click here to download a booking form 

Prices start at £49 per person (including lunch and refreshments) for the day event on the Saturday. Arrangements have also been made for people who want to make a weekend of it, with entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights, including a Black Tie Dinner Dance with a live band on the Saturday.

Please come and join us; see www.hungryplanet.com for further information!

Upcoming posts in the District Team

-3 Assistant Governor Posts (from July next year):

To replace those who have completed their three year term, as well as Stuart Gilbert, who shall be moving into the District Governor Elect Role from July.

-District Governor Nominee (from July next year, who would also be District Governor Nominee Designate from this year)

-District Training Officer

-District Treasurer (from July next year)

The District Team shall be holding information events regarding these roles, but please feel free to contact me (or an existing postholder), if you would like further information.

Warm wishes,



Michael Fernando
District Governor D1200

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