Friday, 29 March 2013

"Spanker" venue for Assistant Governors' meeting 28th March

During the evening I got together with the Assistant Governors for a meeting at the Spanker public house at nether Heage.  We enjoyed a simple meal and discussed a number of issues regarding the District and Clubs within it.   It was a very relaxed atmosphere, and with no agenda we managed to get through a lot of subjects - nothing mundane - all important.

My thanks to all the Assistant Governors for attending.    All the AG's put in a lot of hours to Rotary every week as an AG, in addition to the roles they each have within their individual Clubs.

Funeral - Rtn Andrew Phillips 28th March 2013

Andrew, a member of the Rotary Club of Bretby, passed away on 15th March 2013 aged just 63 years.   He was the President of the Club during the year 2011 - 2012.   The funeral service, conducted by Revd. Ian Whitehead, was held at Bretby Crematorium, which was packed with people wishing to pay their last respects to Andrew.   The service was very much a celebration of Andrew's life and at his request many mourners wore bright colours.

A sad passing.  Andrew will be greatly missed by his family, his Rotary Club and by many other people.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Meetings, meetings, meetings 27th March

Not the most exciting day in my Rotary calendar - somewhat mundane even.

In the morning I had a meeting with RTn Michael Longdon about the Rotary / Inner Wheel Thanksgiving Service schedluled for 2.30pm on 16th June at All Saints Church, Ripley.    Just planning the order of service and content etc.

6pm saw me at the Novotel, Long Eaton with the other members of the District Leadership Development and Training Team, making final arrangements for the District Assembly being held at The Clifton Campus of Nottingham Trent University on Saturday, 20th April.  Again somewhat mundane but necessary.

Straight after this meeting there followed the District Council meeting.  One item of note from this meeting was the election of Rtn Roger Summers, Rotary Club of Amber Valley as the ict Governor for 2015 - 2016.  Congratulations to him.  

Two very informative presentations were given after the main business part of the meeting.   One was by John Pearce of the RC of Sutton in AShfield regarding a community project they instigated in the town which is reaping substantial rewards.  The second was by Rtn. Keith Jones, RC of Hope Valley regarding Rotary Friendship Exchanges. He was trying to let the District know that these are a valuable part of Rotary and are aopen to all Rotarians to take part.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

District Quiz Final 26th March

The final of the Annual District Quiz was held at the Horsely Lodge Golf Club, home of the Rotary Club of Heanor who incidentally turned out in force to offer support.   A light meal was available before the quiz started for any members who had come straight from work (? ?)

Fifteen teams of four took part in the final with 75 questions to answer.  There was a tactical side to the quiz as well as eachj team was allowed to play two joker round when their scores were doubled.   Choosing the correct time to play the joker without knowing what was coming up later proved to be the sret to success.

The top five teams, in reverse order, were as follows:-

Ripley                                 117 points
Sherwood Forest                 122 points
West Bridgford                   122 points
Newark                               123 points
Bretby                                 124 points

As you can see a close fought contest with Bretby coming out as winners for the third consecutive year.     The evening was very enjoyable and Horsely Lodge provided a most suitable room, with a bar allowing contestants to refresh the parts that needed refreshing during the evening.

A jubilant (!) Bretby Team with trophy
RTn Mike Storr from the RC of Carlton who had organised the event and acted as Quizmaster was fantastic and deserves a round of applause - not easy on a blog.  Many thanks Mike.
Mike Storr in full flow

Warsop, Shirebrook & District Charter 25th March

The Hostess Restaurant at Sookholme was the venue for another Rotary Club Charter celebration tonight.  This time it was the time of Warsop, Shirebrook and District who in fact hold their regular weekly meetings at this venue.   As always - it goes without saying - the quality of the food and the service provided by the Hostess was second to none.  As is the norm at The Hostess there was a choice of all four courses with the choice being made at the tables - no confusion - no problem.  Other venues - please take note.

They seem to have got the message that when over 100 people arrive within ten minutes of each other - all wanting to get a drink - they need more than one person on the bar. They also recognise the importance of everyone being served their meal efficiently and as a result I counted at least twelve waiters and waitresses serving at tables.

President Roger Wright presided over the evening in his normal relaxed style and was an excellent host.  President Elect Andrew Perry, who proposed the toast to Rotary International was pleased when it was over so that his nerves could calm dowm.   (He was so nervous he couldn't eat his main course and waited till he had finished before tackling his sweet.   Needless to say he need not have worried - he was great.)

The evening went extremely well, with the traditional order of proceedings.  As is normal I responded to the toast to Rotary International and proposed the toast to the club.  Following the speeches, entertainment was provided by way of an extremely funny man - one Christopher Gee - a comediaen and impressionist.  I personally thought he was great - no smutty jokes, just good clean fun - well worth a booking in my opinion.

My driver for this evening was Rtn Peter Shepherd and his partner Sheilagh Harnan.  My thanks to them for turning out on a quite attrocious night.    My thanks also to everyone who made the evening such a success.

Funeral of Hon Rtn Len Yates 25th March

Len Yates was a long standing meber of Long Eaton Rotary Club, becoming an Honorary Rotarian later in life.   The Funeral Mass for Len was held at 11.45am in Saint Luke's Parish Church, Derby and was attended by a goodly number of Rotarians as well as other friends and of course his family.

Although I did not know Len personally, from speaking to some of his Rotary colleagues it is clear that he had been a really active Rotarian and somey missed.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Paul Harris Fellows Lunch 24th March

Over 140 Rotarians and guests attended the annual Paul Harris Fellows lunch at The Novotel in Long Eaton on Sunday.  Despite freezing temperatures and heavy snow they managed to make their way to the Novotel for lunch - Thanks to the Highways Department the vast majority of the major roads were clear of snow and very safe.  However my thanks to each and every one who made the effort in such conditions.

The meal at the Novotel was of a very good quality and the standard of service was also very good today.   Many of the Rotarians and guests present took advantage of the 10% Rotary discount in the bar.

The speaker for the event today was Rotarian Peter King from the Rotary Club of Kew Gardens.   Peter is the RIBI Vice President Elect and will become RIBI President in 2014-15.  This was the first time that I had heard Peter make a speech and I have to say that I was quite impressed.    He talked about the challenges facing Rotary in these islands and of the changes that needed to be made.   He did this without preaching and with a sense of humour.    His talk seemed to go down very well with the audience.

District Governor Nominee, Steve Lawes, who will be DG during the same year as Peter is RIBI President gave the vote of thanks.

Peter KIng with DGDave, DGE Peter, DGN Steve and all our wives
Overall a most entertaining and enjoyable lunch - oh and I managed to sell (sorry - donate) £20 worth of pin-on crocuses to unsuspecting Rotarians who turned up not wearing one.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Charter in Grand Surroundings 22nd March

The Town Hall at Burton upon Trent was the venue for the 77th Charter Anniversary celebration of the Rotary Club of Mansfield.  It is a most impressive building and a fine setting for such a celebration.  With snow and very cold temperatures being the prevailing weather all day, Gail and I set off for Mansfield in company with Rtn Ron Giffin from our club.    As we neared Burton the amount of lying snow diminished till in the town there was none.   However it was snowing steadily as we arrived and this continued during the evening so that when we left there was a covering of an inch or so.

We were greeted by President William Saunders, resplendent in his tartan - there seemed to be a Scottish theme running during the evening with several others similarly attired.    President William had arranged for members of the Derby Magic Circle to provide table entertainment during an excellent meal.    After the meal the toasts followed the traditional pattern.    At the conclusion of his talk, President William made a number of presentations to worthy Rotarians.   Arthur Greenhalgh and George Beacock received Sapphire Pins for the PHF awards and Janet Threlfall and Keith Howard received Paul Harris Fellowship - my congratulations to each of them.  William also gave floral gifts to a number of ladies who were top table guests of the club, including Gail.

After the formal part of the evening members of the Derby Magic Circle provided further magical entertainment till the conclusion of the celebrations at 11pm.  It was an excellent evening's celebration of Rotary and with great entertainment Gail and I had a thoroughly great time.

President William, his wife Eileen and my wife Gail

Table magician in full flow
My thanks to Ron for accompanying us and to all members of the Burton Club, particularly President William for organising such a great event.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Celebration for Manfred Dessau - West Bridgford

I had the privilege and honour this evening of being present at a special meeting of the Rotary Club of West Bridgford.  The meeting, attended by almost all the members and many partners was to celebrate the fact that Rtn Manfred had been a member of the club for the last 49 years.   Manfred was attending his last meeting before he and his wife Mirelle move south to the London area to be closer to their family.

After a special three course meal several members spoke about Manfred's involvement and exploits in the club over the years, with a number of photographs being shown that highlighted these exploits.   I was then asked to speak about Manfred which I was delighted to do.   I then presented Manfred with a framed certificate thanking him for his 49 years of service in the District and an RIBI certificate of 45 years service. 

The evening was rounded off when President Elect Denis Jones presented Manfred with a Paul Harris Sapphire pin in recognition of the service he has given to mankind.

Manfred saying a few words

Manfred and Mirelle with their cake celebrating 49 years
Manfred was not aware that I was attending - he thought it was going to be a somewhat low-key affair and by the end of the evening was visibly emotional at what had taken place.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Welcome Home 19th March

Well, the flight arrived more or less on time and after an hour or so of the GSE Team collecting their baggage and going through Customs they strolled into the Arrivals Lounge at Terminal 2 at Manchester.

After four weeks away and about 40 odd Rotary Club visits later the Group Study Exchange Team finally arrived home from Nepal.    Rob Gray and I were there to meet them an - hopefully from their point of view - get the last photos of the visit.

Look out for them appearing at a club near you to give their presentation of the visit.

The first one back - Tom Erskine

Team Leader - David Hood - still smiling

The last "Group Hug"

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

A Great night with Matlock Club 18th March

9.30am on 19th now and just getting ready to drive to Manchester Airport to pick up the GSE Team on their return from Nepal.  Can't wait to hear all about what they have been doing.

Last night I went to the 85th Charter Anniversary celebrations of the Rotary Club of Matlock, held at St. Elphin's House, Audley St. Elphin's Park at Darley Dale (a recent smart venue).   Sheilagh Harnan and Peter Shepherd were accompanying me again this evening.

This was a traditional Charter Dinner with a Rotary Speaker.    That speaker being Nan McCreadie the RIBI President Elect from the Rotary Club of Feltham.

The effort and care put into the preparation of the toasts, this evening, by President Elect Cynthia Machent, Rotarian Dianne Blount, by Richard cater, RC of Bakewell and indeed by the Club President peter Wigglesworth was inspirational. The evening went like clockwork and although it was not in any sense rushed, we finished at 10. 30pm - quite an achievement.

I would like to thank everyone concerned for making this a memorable evening.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Dronfield Club Charter celebrations 15th March 2013

Another night - another Charter.  This evening it was the Charter celebration of the Rotary Club of Dronfield and the venue was The Ringwood hall Hotel at Brimington, near Chesterfield.      With over 100 guests sitting down for the meal, this was a well attended charter.

I was picked up at home by Rtns Sheilagh Harnan and Peter Shepherd.  We arrived at the Ringwood hall Hotel in plenty of time.     President Michael Whetton greeted us and his other guests and in fact was a most charming host throughout the evening.

The meal was of excellent quality and the service was second to none.   Following the meal we went on to the traditional formalities with Rtn Tony Bethell being called upon to say grace and then to call the roll of clubs attending.   The toast to Rotary International was given by President Elect Ian Ward, to which I responded and then proposed the toast to the Club.

After responding to the toast to the club President Michael introduced the after dinner speaker, Mr John Titford who gave a most amusing and informative talk on the Derbyshire dialect.   This included many funny stories and jokes and was well received by the audience.    John is the writer of a book called, "Ay up me duck" well known in these parts.     Interesting to note from his talk was the fact that the local dialect of hereabouts preceded the so called "Queen's English" by many years and was the standard way of talking for many years.

President Michael rounded off the evening by presenting bouquets to me to hand to Gail (She was ill and could not be present) and to his wife Tina.

My thanks to all who were involved in the organisation of the evening and to Peter and Sheilagh for my transport.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Rotary Club of Carlton Charter 14th March 2013

Rtn John Frankland picked me up early this evening for the drive over to Woodborough Hall for the 36th Charter Anniversary Dinner of the Rotary Club of Carlton.    We were greeted by President David Falkner who proved to be an excellent host.   The three course dinner (smoked salmon & crayfish cocktail, pork medallions and scrumptious bread and butter pudding) was delightful, well cooked and efficiently served.     There was a great buzz around the room and the company on the top table was second to none.

There then followed the roll call and a traditional set of toasts.    The guest speaker was Ian Richards, a comedian and a member of the Grand Order of Water Rats, who entertained us really well for the final half hour.  

Many thanks to President David and his team for a great evening and to John Frankland for acting as my driver.   Sorry - no photos as I forgot my camera.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Farewell to Present style LInk Evening. 13th March

This evening was the occasion of the District's 33rd Annual Foundation Link Evening, a significant event in the District calendar.   There seemed to be about 150 persons present for the evening, held at the Civic Centre at Mansfield.

Don Mackenzie acted as the Master of ceremonies for the evening which had been organised by Terry Leivers.

Terry had organised the event to include contributions from as many previous District Foundation Committee chairmen as possible, Don being one of them.

After welcomes and introductory remarks by Terry, and a thought for the day by Val Leivers, we sat down to a tasty and efficiently served two course meal.  Following this David Crowson proposed the toast to Rotary Foundation.   Michael Guest then entertained us with some thoughts from the past, before Hon Rtn Colin Slater (of radio Nottingham fame) took the stage to interview the current team of Ambassadorial Scholars - Courtney Rachal, Mayumi Naguchi, Hiroko Sakate, Pawel Smietanka and Isabelle Affentranger, along with GSE Alumni Matt Mitchell, Sandra Fong a Peace Fellow at Bradford and Rtn Brian Cane another past Rotary Scholar.     The interviews were both entertaining and informative and thanks to all concerned.

AS an addition to the published programme during the evening, IPDG Gordon McGlone presented PDG Val Leivers with a "Rotary Service Above Self" Award.  This is a great honour for Val and the District as it is only awarded to a maximum of 125 Rotarians per year, world wide.    many congratulations Val - you deserve it.

I was then allowed to say a few final comments on the evening and thanked everyone concerned for such a great evening.    I also expressed my hope that with the changes to Foundation we will be able to find a suitable format to showcase Foundation activities in the future.

The final toast was given by Peter Swift.

An excellent Rotary evening.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Kirkby Charter at The Hostess 12th March

The Hostess Restaurant at Sookholme was the venue for the 66th Charter Anniversary celebrations of the Rotary Club of Kirkby in Ashfield.    I was picked up at home by Rtn John Horwood from the RC of Belper and Duffield for the fifty minute drive.    We were met by President Mike Lee and other members of the Kirkby Club. 

With about 90 people present, the Hostess still managed to provide three choices for each of the four courses and those choices were made after we sat down for the meal.    ( It does beg the question that if The Hostess can do it why oh why can't other venues??)      The quality of the fare on offer was very good and the service equalled it.

After the meal we came to the traditional speeches when I was requested to respond to the toast to Rotary International, proposed by Past President Eric Thompson.      With entertainment from Newstead Brass still to come and having a croaky voice again tonight I kept my speech to a minimum.  During this speech I talked about the work done by President Mike Lee over the years, before surprising him with the award of a Paul Harris Fellowship.   Mike seemed almost stunned by this but everyone who knows him thought it was a really well deserved honour.

President Mike receiving his Paul Harris Fellowship
The Newstead Brass performed for about thirty minutes or so with a wide range of music, which all seemed to have been very well received by the audience.     After the entertainment President Mike closed proceedings with the presentation of floral displays to the ladies on the top table, including myself, which I received on behalf of Gail who had to miss the evening with a chest infection.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Heanor Club Charter 11th March 2013

After my visit to Newark for the Children of Courage Awards, it was back to more normal events this evening with a short trip over to Morley Hayes Golf and Conference Centre for the 88th Charter celebrations of the Rotary Club of Heanor.    Rtn David Collard and his lovely wife Pam picked Gail and I up for the journey.

The hospitality of the Heanor club could not be bettered and President John led the proceedings with an air of informal authority.     The meal at Morley Hayes this evening was excellent - the food quality - the service and the atmosphere were all top class.

The District Sergeant at Arms, Owen J Briggs, who responded on behalf of the guests and visitors was on top form and kept the audience amused for several minutes with his wit and humour.     Rtn Caroline Rossin from the Rotary Club of Newark Castle was the guest speaker and she talked about the relationship between the Rainbows and Blue Bell Wood Hospices and Rotary.  She thanked everyone present for their unstinting support for the two hospices and for the families that they each serve.    She also promoted my sponsored walk (3rd - 6th May) and promised a cream tea for everyone who finishes at Rainbows on 6th -  mouth's watering already.

Many thanks to everyone who made the evening so enjoyable and such a success.

Newark's Children of Courage Awards 11th March 2013

The Rotary Club of Newark, together with their daughter club, The Rotary Club of Newark Castle jointly held their second Children of Courage Awards today.    In total five children were given the award, comprising a small silver platter, engraved with details of the cermony and the recipient's name and a framed certificate.

The Mayor of Newark, Councillor Mrs Irene Brown and the Deputy Leader of Newark District Council, Councillor Dennis Jones were guests at the ceremony along with the Editor of The Newark Advertiser, Chris Prime and myself.

Lunch was done in buffet style and was of excellent quality and quantity.  Father Michael O'Donoghue said Grace.

The AWards Ceremeny itself was carried out after lunch when each recipient in turn was introduced by his or her teacher, before receiving their award from me.     As always I found this event very moving - and from looking at the audience as some of the citations were being read out I was not alone.

After the event, the press and many amateur photographers, including me took millians of photos of the youngsters proudly displaying their awards.

What a great day.

Mother's Charter Night - Ripley. 9th March 2013

This evening with the snow blowing around earlier in the day, we set off for Santo's at Higham Farm Hotel, being chauffeured by Rtn. John Lowe and accompanied by his wife Chris keeping an eye on the weather.    In total ten members and guests from Belper and Duffield attended this Charter and indeed later in the evening picked up a prize from the Sergeant at Arms, Rtn Owen J Briggs, for being the only club to have responded to the Charter invitation on paper, by post to Owen J.

The atrmosphere at Santo's was very friendly and there was a great buzz about the place as everyone gathered.   An excellent meal was served and no-one seemed to complain about a slight delay in serving the sweet course - everyone must have been enjoying themselves.

Just a mention of how great it was to see Past Presidents Kevin Doyle and Stuart Rice at the charter enjoying themselves, as they both recover from major illnesses.

Never being one to follow other people, Rtn Owen, acting as Master of Ceremonies did the evening "his" way, causing one or two laughs along the way.   With the usual toasts etc completed fairly quickly we were soon onto the evening's entertainment, which was a folk duet, called, "Doublecross".   Incidentally I must make mention of the toast given to Rotary International by President Elect Paul Rose, who asked us all to imaging being on a sunkissed beach and then went on to give a unique slant on the toast to Rotary International.    (I am not going to tell you what it was - you should have been there !)

Past President Alan - the last picture before the camera battery died.
Many thanks to President Marie and her husband Frank ( and his twin brother Derek) for their hospitality and company during the evening.   Thanks also to Rtn John Lowe for driving on such a bad night.

Long Eaton Charter Celebrations 7th March 2013

The Novotel was the venue for the charter celebrations of the Rotary Club of Long Eaton this evening.   Gail was driving this evening and we arrived at the hotel in plenty of time.    We were met at the door by the President, Graham Pidcock and his charming wife, Iris. 

The evening started with a VIP reception before we were escorted into the function room for the charter dinner.  With a choice of menu the meal was very good  and tasty.

Following the meal we had the traditional set of toasts and speeches, during which I responded to the toast the Rotary International (proposed by President Elect Clive Atkins) and proposed the toast to the Rotary Club of Long Eaton.

Following the formalities entertainment had been provided in the form of Paul Hopkins, a Long Eaton Rotarian and professional entertainer.   Paul sang a wide variety of numbers for us and I have to say was absolutely great.  Thoroughly enjoyed it.   During the music we were also entertained by President Elect Clive doing a fine jive - with a lady I am reliably informed was not his wife !!

Thanks to all at Long Eaton for such an enjoyable evening, particularly, President Graham - and of course to Gail for acting as Driver on this occasion.

President Graham and his wife Iris - enjoying a moment

Pres. Elect Clive doing the jive.

District Executive Meeting 6th March 2013

Returning late in the morning from an overnight stay at Newark, following Newark Castle's Charter, I was unable to attend the funeral service of Rtn. Roget Barrett, a past District Governor.     This was held at St. Mary's Church at Bunny.  PDG Neil Sharman kindly agreed to stand in for me on this occasion.  My grateful thanks to him.

In the evening I chaired the District Executive meeting, held at the Novotel, Long Eaton.     The Executive meeting is where any issues concerning the running of the District are aired before going to the District Council.  During the meeting we held some excellent discussions on the state of health of the clubs in the District as well as looking at various other matters that are coming up in the future.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Children of Courage at Mansfield and Newark Castle Charter 5th March 2013

A busy day today.   Accompanied by Rtns Alan Widdowson and Hilary Surga from my own club  Gail and I set off in the morning for the Children of Courage Awards hosted by the Rotary Club of Mansfield.    They have been running this event for over 20 years now and it is really heartwarming to attend.

With ten young people receiving awards it was time to get out the tissues.   The awards go to young people with either physical or other disabilities, young carers or those who have overcome extreme adversity.  They were each nominatedby their school or a local organisation to which they belong.  It was great to be there to see them receive their awards and to see the looks on their faces (and their parents)

Rtn Stewart Rickersey was responsible for organising the event and did a tremendous job, as did President Paul Bacon who presided over the whole event.

I felt priviliged to be asked to sum up at the end of the presenatations.

Can't wait for next year's event.

From The Civic Centre at Mansfield we travelled over to Newark, where in the evening we attended the Charter celebrations of the Rotary Club of Newark Castle.     President Glen was an absolutely charming host for the evening and it was a really fun and laughter filled evening.  After dinner and the usual toasts enetertainment was provided by Dee Whitehead, a singer untill it was time to leave.

President Glan presented Paul Harris Fellowships to three members of the club, all of who seemed to be amazed that they had received the honour.  My congratulations to all of them.

The weather at Newark was very thick fog so we were very pleased we had booked into a local hotel for the night, rather than driving back to Belper in a bit of a pea souper.

Thanks to all concerned for making the event such an enjoyable experience.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

District Officer Preparation 4th March 2013

Another sign of how quickly the Rotary year rolls on from one to another came this evening with the second session of preparation and training for District Officers for 2013-14.   The District Training Team Chairman, John Barker opened the session introducing Peter Moralee, the DGE who chaired the remainder of the meeting.

I gave a ten minute presentation on "Club Visioning", the process that Clubs can ask for if they wish to improve any or all aspects of their club.    This was followed by DGE Peter outlining his ideas for the year ahead and starting to get his team to gel together.

The next part of the evening was taken up by feedback from the RIBI Assembly which a number of members attended recently.   One particularly important point that was raised by DGE Steve Lawes outlining how all Rotary Clubs are now subject to the Equality Act of 2012, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against any person by virtue of gender, race, ethnicity, religion etc etc.   Clubs would be well advised to make themselves aware of this piece of legislation as quickly as possible.  It is hoped to have a presentation on this subject at a District Council meeting later in this Rotary year.

The final part of the evening was a discussion as to how the District Assembly would be organised.    

Not an exciting evening, but one that is extremely valuable and vital if the District Assembly is to be a success for those Rotarians who attend and for ensuring that District Officers and members of the District Team put across a consistent message throughout the coming Rotary year.

Now looking forward to tomorrow with a visit at lunchtime to Mansfield club's Children of Courage Awards followed by Newark Castle's Charter celebrations in the evening.