Thursday, 28 February 2013

Rotary Young Chef Competition

I have just atytended the two finals of the District Young Chef Competition on 26th and 27th February being held at The Charnwood Academy, Kirkby in Ashfield.   There were six finalists on day one and seven on day two.   The competition seems to be growing in size and stature, year on year.

Judging the event we had trained chef Rotarian Simon Beal of the Rotary Club of Church Wilne who is the Area Operations Manager for Marstons Inns and Taverns, Jane Breddy the People Development Manager of Marstons, also a trained chef, Rotarian Tony Rose The Academy Training Officer for Charnwood Training Group and my wife Gail.   (Tony and Simon shared the job one night each.)

The standard of the entrants was excellent.   The winner on day one was Danielle Easton sponsored by the Rotary Club of Bretby and on day two was Conan Brooks sponsored by the Rotary Club of Kirkby in Ashfield.   They each received a trophy, a certificate, a cheque for  £50, a cookery book and the opportunity to represent the District at the Regional Finals at Lincoln on 23rd March.

All the finalists received a certificate and a cookery book.

Can't wait to see how our finalists do in Lincoln. 

Monday, 25 February 2013

Lunch at LOng Eaton 24th February

With Gail acting as my driver today we set off to Cleve Lodge at Long Eaton (home of Long Eaton Rotary Club) for the Cherter celebration of the Rotary Club of Melbourne.   Not entirely sure why they hold their Cherter at this venue, but it must suit them as they have been going there for about four years.

Once again this was a charter with very few formalities, but very friendly and most welcoming.    I was invited to speak for a few minutes, an offer which I gladly accepted of course.    The meal and the surroundings here were excellent and the staff were very attentive.

Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves in this photo
Before the meal I managed to raise about $50 for Polio by suggesting that everyone should wear a crocus.  We then had a good old chat round the table over the meal and I have to say we both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

The next Charter now is not till 5th March at Newark Castle, but on Tuesday and Wednesday this week we have the Young Chef Competition at Kirkby in Ashfield, and the Foundation Grants Seminar on Thursday.

Rotary Day 23rd February

Today being Rotary Day, I joined up with other members of my own club, Belper and Duffield and spent a couple of hours in the local Co-oper Supermarket collecting on behalf of the End Polio Now campaign, giving away the pin-on crocuses, bookmarks and the new Rotary newspaper.     Generally speaking people seemed very inclined to give.

Not sure how much we made by the end of the day, but around £200 would be a reasonable estimate.

In the evening we joined members of the Rotary Club of West Ashfield, their President Peter and members for their annual Charter dinner.  It was held at their usaul venue, The Derbyshire Hotel at South Normanton.  Formalities were at a minimum with just a roll call of clubs, a very short talk by President Peter and a slightly longer one by me.

I trust that the club had done a risk assessment beforehand because during the meal we found my menu card had caught fire on one of the tee light candles.  Was this a message to me about my impending speech I wonder?

The evening was rounded off in fine style by a vocal group, four young ladies by the name of "Another Dimension" who I would heartily recommend.

Thanks to everyone at the club who made Gail and I so welcome and to Rtn. John Horwood of my own club for acting as my driver for the evening.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Letting our hair down at Coal Aston 22nd February

The Village Hall at Coal Aston was the welcoming venue for a "60's Night" arranged jointly by the Rotary Clubs of Dronfield and Drone Valley this evening.   With snow in the air Gail and I set off for the "frozen north" in company with Rtn Eileen Murphy of the Belper and Duffield Club and her husband Sean.  

When we arrived the hall was already pretty throng with people and the numbers swelled more during the next half an hour or so, ending with I would imagine getting on for 100 or more people present.

The band providing entertainment for the evening was a four piece group called "Therapy" - aptly named as three of its members were senior medical staff at Chesterfield hospital.

This was a fancy dress optional event so as often happens lots of the ladies went to the trouble of dressing up and the men (including me) just turned up (with exceptions).  

At the break a hot meal of pie and mushy peas was served.  Great pie wherever it came from.

As always at such events there was a raffle to raise a few bob for the charity accounts of the two clubs.   Fortunately Gail won the first prize to be drawn and had the pick of the prizes.    She then really excelled and picked up a large bottle of whisky !!!

It was a great night in company with many Rotarians from the two clubs and their friends.  We had a great night.
Competitors in the Fancy Dress competition being judged
From the right - Eileen, Gail and Jill Bethel

Gail and Eileen jiving

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

District Team Meeting 20th February

We had the District Team meeting this evening at the Novotel.  This is the opportunity for all Rotarians who have a District Office to get together, fairly informally, to discuss with the other team members what they are doing and seek out ideas and contributions to help them.  The meeting is not recorded or minuted.

About 20 members attended.  The meeting was very useful and constructive and led to some new ideas being put forward.

Off they Go !! 19th February

I set off about 7.30am this morning, drove to Nottingham and collected three members of the outgoing Group Study Exchange Team, Nighat, Tom and  Sarah.   They were all in very good spirit and chatted constantly as I drove them to Manchester Airport for their 2pm flight to Nepal.

PDG Gordon and Lorraine took Team Leader David Hood of the Wirksworth Club and the one remaining team member, Deborah.  We all met up at the airport for the usual photos etc. which I will upload onto the website when I have them.

The Team will be doing a daily blog themselves from Nepal and you will be able to access it in a similar way to mine, from the front page of the District Website.  Do have a look at it and leave them a few comments - just to let them know we are interested in what they are up to.

Meetings at Derby and Belper 18th February

Lunchtime saw me attend the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Derby, in company with a group of the Past District Governors and the District Governor Elect, Peter Moralee.    After enjoying a lovely meal at the Derbyshire Cricket Ground Pavilion and a talk by John England the PDG Group retired to another room to listen to DGE Peter tell us about his visit to San Diego and his ideas for 2013-14.   

The theme for that year is "Engage Rotary - Change Lives" and Peter explained that as well as changing the lives of others, by fully engaging with Rotary activities we can change, for the better, the lives of Rotarians.    PDG Gordon gave the vote of thanks to Peter.

Recipients of Donations

President Elect with children from Pottery School

In the evening I had the opportunity to again visit my own Club, Belper and Duffield, where we had a Presentation Evening, where cheques were presented to various organisations and several representatives spoke about their work.  Unfortunately President Graham was unable to be present as he had a prior engagement, but most fortunately President Elect Hilary stood in for him and did an absolutely excellent job.  The evening was really enjoyable and it was nice not to have a speaking part, just sit back and relax - just like old times.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Time to wind Down? 17th February

A fairly early start today at the Derbyshire Hotel at the junction of the M1 and A38 at South Normanton - the real centre of the District but in Erewash Group.

The occasion was the Presidents Elect Preparation Seminar, when incoming Presidents have the opportunity to get together to discuss their progress, to hear the incoming District Governor and to also hear presentation from some District Officers.

After bacon butties & coffee and an initial introduction by the Chairman of the District Training Team (during which I received a (somewhat less than rapturous) rendition of "Happy Birthday",  I welcomed the delegates to the Seminar and wished them all well for the year ahead.

In some ways this seems to be "the start of the end" for me in my year as the District Governor, but deep down  I am sure that there is still plenty of work for me to do and there are certainly still plenty of charters to attend.  The good thing was that I managed to hand out the 17,000 Rotary newspapers that had been delivered to my house a couple of weeks ago.  

A Charter with a difference - 16th February

For my third Charter evening in three days Gail and I set off with Rotarian Alan Widdowson (driver) and his partner Rtn. Hilary Surga for the Oblensky Hall at Trent College at Long Eaton.   The hall (normally the dining room for the students) had been converted into a 1950's diner for the Charter celebrations of Long Eaton Dawnbreakers.

Never a club to go with the traditions of others, they have created their own by having a fancy dress charter.   This year the theme was the fifties.   Dress code was a choice between formal and fifties.   I chose the safe option whilst Gail went for the fancy dress.    I have to say it was great to see so many Rotarians dressed up to the nines in a wide variety of fifties gear.

President Simon Davey, in his 50's gear, presided over the proceedings.  He also produced the menu folders, table decorations and a plethora of signs and other things.

Unusually for a charter we had onion ring, chicken wings, ribs abd dips for a starter, chicken meat balls and spicy 3 bean chilli for a main and more conventionally apple pie and custard for afters.

Entertainment was supplied by the winners of a recent, "Long Eaton's Got Talent", a band of young lads, called "I Surrender".  The youngest was twelve and the oldest was I belive 16 years.   I swear the bass guitarist was smaller than his guitar, but they made a great 50's and 60's sound - wothy of any Rotary concert and available for bookings through Rtn Paul Rose, Rotary Club of Ripley.   They were supplemented by a disco.

Before the entertainment started I assisted President Simon to present "The Dawnbreaker of the Year" award.  This year it went to Rtn Martin Brinkley, their Hon Sec.    Also to receive an honour during the evening was Vice President Paul Burrows who was presented, much to his surprise with a Paul Harris Fellowship.

Who's that in a matching bow tie.

Just to add to the enjoymernt of the night I also won a prize in the raffle and took home one of the illuminated table decorations (as above)

Many thanks to President Simon and all at Dawnbreakers for a great night out.  Also thanks to Alan and Hilary for taking us.

Retford Charter at the Olde Bell Inn 15th February

Tonight Stuart Limb accompanied by his wife Dorothy drove us to the 76th Charter celebration evening of the Rotary Club of Retford.    We set off in plenty of time and were one of the first few to arrive at the venue.   The Old Bell is a lovely old hotel and the suite where President Paul met his guests had Gail suggesting a weekend there !!!

Dorothy, our driver's wife, an ex-cricketer herself was delighted that the speaker for the evening was that great character, ex Nottinghamshire and England cricketer and a Retford boy himself, Derek Randall.    Derek spoke about his experiences playing cricket, first in his back garden, then for Retford and later for Nottinghamshire and England.   He was excellent entertainment even for non-cricket lovers and in the middle of the football season.

After the excellent meal and before the speaker, I was asked to be part of the presentation of three Paul Harris Fellowships and one Sapphire PHF pin to members of the Retford Club - something that is always a pleasure.

President Paul's wife Elizabeth and Gail receiving bouquets

My thanks to President Paul and Elizabeth for their company and hospitalityand to Stuart and Dorothy for accompanying us.

A Charter at The Proact Stadium - 14th February

The Proact Stadium, home of Chesterfield Town Football Club was the venue for the 32nd Charter Celebration of the Rotary Club of Chesterfield Scarsdale.   The Proact is now the normal home for Scarsdale having moved from The Red Lion at Stonedge a couple of months or so ago.

The Stadium has a fine function room and the food and service provided were excellent. Four courses were served - all excellent.  President Rodger Heathcote was a gracious and welcoming host.  During the evening we discovered that Roger had married his wife Christine at the same church in Chesterfield that Gail and I were married in a few weeks later and that Christine and Gail had been in the same class at Tapton House Grammar School - a long time ago.

The speaker for the evening was a Humberside police sergeant by the name of Alfie Moore.  (He appeared at Mansfield Charter some weeks ago.)  He tells stories about his experiences in the police and is very, very funny - but clean.

All in all a most enjoyable evening.  My thanks to Rodger and Scarsdale for their hospitality and to President Graham Wright (Belper & Duffield) and his wife Liz for driving and accompanying us.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

An Indian meal on an airfield 11th February

Monday, 11th February.   The morning was taken up with a District Training Team meeting at The Derbyshire Hotel at South Normanton.  Rtn John Barker chaired the meeting which was also attended by David Pedlar, Steve Lawes, Mick White, Peter Moralee and myself.   The topics for debate were the forthcoming training session for incoming Presidents, the second District Officers training session and of course the District Assembly.  
We had some lengthy and meaningful debates about a number of related items which will hopefully improve even further the standard of training and familiarisation delivered in the District now.   
I would like to express my thanks to all concerned for the time and effort all these people have expnded and continue to expend on behalf of Rotary.
In the evening I drove over to Nottingham Airfield at Tollerton, a place I had never set foot in before.   My actial destination was an Indian Restaurant situated on the airfield.  After taking a couple of wroing turns I managed to arrive at "Miah's" with plenty of time to spare.   The occasion was the celebration by the Rotary Club of Keyworth and Ruddington of the 35th anniversary of the granting of their charter.
President Grenville Turner chaired the evening which was very informal.   Assistant Governor for Trent Group, Sandra Morrey was present with her husband Chris and it was also nice to see Past District Governor Roy Parsons up and about again after his recent illness, from which he is still recovering and getting back to his old self.
I wondered how a restaurant on a tiny airfield in the middle of nowhere could survive, but as Miah's has been going, very successfully, for a number of years I could only assume it must be the quality of the food, the ambience and the service.    An excellent venue for any club contemplating an evening out with a meal.

Thanks to Grenville and all the club for their hospitality and friendship.  Special thanks to Grenvilles wife, Jackie, who was excellent company throughout the evening.

Sunday lunch in Sherwood Forest 10th February

Keeping a watchful eye on the weather Gail and I travelled to South Forest Leisure Centre at Edwinstow for the lunchtime charter celebrations of the Rotary Club of Sherwood Forest.   We were accompanied by Rtn John Frankland and Julia who were excellent company on the journeys.

We were greeted at the venue by the club president, Tony Crowson and many other members of the club.   Sadly for me, Rtn Mike Herbert was not able to attend having recently suffered a fall at home.    I am sure everyone wishes him well and hopes that he is soon on the mend.

Another absentee on the day was Hon. Rtn. Harry Whitehouse of the Sherwood Forest Club who was celebrating his 89t5h birthday today.   Harry had been a founder member of the club.  Unfortunately his wife Rita was a little poorly and they come not come.   I understand that the birthday cake and a card were delivered to him later on during the day.    Happy birthday Harry.

The meal that was served was of excellent quality and in more than sufficient quantity for everyone.    After the normal speeches entertainment in the form of a vocalist was provided.

Many thanks to President Tony and the Sherwood Forest Club for their generous hospitality and for their company on the day, particularly Tony's wife Brenda who I sat next to.   By the end of the meal we found that we had friends in common (nothing to do with Rotary) we came from the same place and had many more connections.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Newark Charter - 7th February

Gail and  I set off for Newark Charter in plenty of time and arrived at Newark Golf Club at Coddington with time to spare.    We were greeted by President Peter Heard and other members of the Club.  We also met past RIBI President, John Hockin who we knew from past meetings and, for the first time, PDG Barry Philps from Sydney Australia.  Barry is the IPP of the Rotary International Travel and Hosting Fellowship.  Both John and Barry were personal guests invited by Peter.
We had a great three course meal which was followed by the traditional roll call of clubs and toasts.  I responded to John Hockin's toast to Rotary International, in which he reminded us that we are not essentially an organisation created to raise funds for other charities, but a service organisation with our ow charity which we should support.
It was a really enjoyable evening, filled with fun and laughter.  Our thanks go to President Peter and members of the Rotary Club of Newark for their hospitality and friendship.
l to r DG Dave, Pres. Peter, Rtn Barry Philps, Past RIBI Pres. John

Radio Derby 5th February

A few days ago, Marie Adams, the president of the Rotary Club of Ripley was asked if she would do a live interview on Radio Derby about women in Rotary.  Of course she accepted the invitation straight away.   Subsequently she was asked if she could arrange for a male Rotarian to give the male perspective and so she asked me.

Our interview was scheduled for about 12.15 on the Sally Pepper show.   The interview was in a very positive vein and lasted about 15 minutes or so.  Hopefully it will have created a positive impact on listeners, some of whom may well be potential new members.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

RIBI General Council Meeting at Alcester 3rd and 4th February

This was the fourth General Council of this Rotary year and the meeting was spread over two days, starting at 2pm on the Saturday.  Before the start of the meeting all the members of the GC were treated to a lunch - curly sandwiches and soggy samosas - wonderful.

After three and a half hours of debate, interrupted only by the sound of workmen replacing windows in the building it was off the the King's Court Hotel for a meal and an early night.   And just as a bit of bedtime reading 20 pages of paperwork that had not been distributed earlier that everyone needed to read before the morning.  Wonderful.

Monday morning, the second session started at 9am and finished about 1.30pm.   No lunch today I'm afraid.     Set off back home straight after the meeting arriving back just in time for last minute preparation for the evening's District Officer Training for the Rotary year 2013-14, with Peter Moralee in the hot seat.    On arriving back home I discovered that I had taken delivery of 36 large boxes full of Rotary Newspapers for distribution to all the clubs in the District - not much space left in my garage now and another delivery expected on Friday.

At the training Session Peter outlined the theme for next year, "Engage Rotary - Change Lives".  It was clear from what Peter said that over the next Rotary year there is to be a really big push to bring the "End Polio Now" campaign to its close.   On that subject I learnt at RIBI that there had not been a new case of polio anywhere in the world since 19th December 2012 (latest figure from 31st January).  That is really good news.

I looked after everyone involved in "projects" of any sort (Youth, Com & Voc, International, Foundation, Resilience).  The session broke up about 9.45pm and by the time I got home about 11.15pm I was tired out and went straight to bed.   

Visioning Training 2nd February

The District Membership Service Chairman, Noel Harrison, has been working really hard since the start of the year, trying to stem the trickle of losses from clubs in the district.    One initiative that he and I agreed to implement is a system called "Club Visioning".    Essentially if a Club identified that it has some problems then we can arrange for a team of three trained Rotarians to visit the club to help it to identify and overcome these problems and put it on  the road to recovery so to speak.

The system has been used very successfully in different parts of the world, including Australia, Canada and the USA.  

Today was the day that a number of Rotarians from clubs across the District were to receive their training.  Leading the training was the RIBI Membership Chairman, (soon to be RIBI President) Peter Davy, ably assisted by Noel and by Ian Young from Hucknall.    I took part in the training, which I have to say was first class.    The system is extremely simple and it allows the club to make its own decisions as to its future.  No-one from the District tells the club what to do and that is very important.

The session lasted from 10am to 3pm and was well worth the effort.  My thanks to everyone who took part.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Coffee Morning and a Chinese Charter 1st February

Gail and I drove over to Gordon and Lorraine McGlone's house this morning for a "Rock up in Red" coffee morning.  When we arrived there was already quite a number of people enjoying the hospitality.   Everyone had been asked to wear something red as the event was in support of the British Heart Foundation which the colour red signifies.

There was a second session in the afternoon when I am told even more people attended.     I think I am right in saying that Gordon and Lorraine raised over £400 from the day.  Well done to both and thanks to everyone who attended.

In contrast to the "red" theme this morning, the evening's theme was Chinese, with the Rotary Club of Nottingham holding their 95th Charter celebration at Chungs Restaurant in Nottingham.

Rotarian Stuart Limb was kind enough to be my driver for the night - so many thanks to him.     The evening was completely informal - except for the dress code - and thoroughly enjoyable.    Speeches were reduced down to just two, with just the President, Peter Lewis and myself speaking.   It left much more time for socialising and enjoying the fellowship of friends old and new.  I fully recommend the idea to other clubs.

Thanks to President Peter and the Nottingham club for their hospitality on the night.

A Funeral and a Club visit 31st January 2013.

This morning I attended the funeral of Rotarian John Richardson that took place at St. Mary's Church at Likeston.   John died at the age of 65.  I knew John reasonably well from my connections with his Club, The Rotary Club of Ilkeston.   Judging from the number of people packed into the church  (standing room only) he was a much loved and respected member of the community.

I have now attended the funerals of ten Rotarians this Rotary year and am hoping that there will be no more.  

John will be very much missed by his club, where his big personality always shone through.

In the evening I had the pleasurable task of introducing someone to the benefits of Rotary.    Some time ago I received a call from a Rotarian on the Isle of Wight recommending a friend of his in Chesterfield as a prospective member.

Having made suitable arrangements I went over to Chesterfield picked him up and took him to Chesterfield Scarsdale's weekly meeting.  The individual was Alexis Diouf, a local councillor who originated from Senegal.   He was warmly received by the Scardale members and seemed to have really good night.   Let's hope it wasn't a wasted journey and that Alexis joins us very soon.

Derby University - Student Presentations. 31st January

This afternoon I had a visit to Derby University.  I had been asked to sit on a small panel hearing presentations from students about projects that they had been involved in as part of an extra-curicular project - The Derby Award.        Two of the four students had pulled out so we were left with just two.

One of the presentatations was about organising a Murder Mystery Evening to raise funds for a local church and the other was from a student who had organised "OXJAM" - quite a large scale musical event at a number of venues in Derby.

Both presenations were very good and the students benefitted from the feedback they received.