Thursday, 23 May 2013

District Executive Meeting 23rd May

Tonight we held the last District Executive meeting of the Rotary year at The Novotel, Long Eaton.  As well as the executive team for this year we also welcomed the 2013/14 team many of who were the same, but with just one or two changes.

Various matters were raised and discussed and they will go forward for inclusion on the agenda for the District Council Meeting on 13th June.

West Bridgford supporting Diveable 22nd May

The weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of West Bridgford tonight had been allocated by President George as a special evening.   I accepted his invitation to attend and in fact acted as chauffeur to the main speaker for the evening, Miles Hilton-Barber.    Miles is a blind adventurer who devotes his life to raising awareness of blindness.

His philosophy in life is that the only thing stopping anyone from doing anything is the boundaries they set for themselves.  Miles gave a most inspirational speech highlighting how he wasted the first thirty years of his life thinking that because he was blind he could not do the things he might like to do.   It was only when he realised that being blind should not stop you experiencing the things that you want to experience that his life opened up for him.

Since that time he has climbed mountains, he has run marathons in the heat of the desert, he has walked across the Antarctic, he has set numerous world records for flying various types of aeroplane including flying a microlight plane from England to Australia.

I have heard Miles speak on a couple of previous occasions and this event matched my expectations and exceeded them.

The evening was organised to raise awareness of  the charity Diveable, which is run by West Bridgford Rotarian Darren Brookes.  Darren was presented with cheques from the club and from the Round Table (sadly representing the monies it had left when the club closed down recently).    Diveable gives facilities to people with disabilities to experience Scuba Diving.      In accepting the donations Darren spoke about a young woman who suffers badly with rheumatism, but when she is under water and the weight of her body is taken away - the pain goes away as well.

Miles also accepted an invitation from Darren to become a Patron of the charity.

I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and wish Miles and Diveable every success for the future.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Early morning visit to Sherwood Sunrisers 21st may 2013.

I wanted to make a further visit to Sherwood Sunrisers Club before the end of my term as the District Governor, particularly to say a public thank you to their President, Kevin Brown.    Kevin managed to walk all the four days of the Hospice to Hospice Walk, 70 miles in total, despite having an injury to his knee, from which he is still suffering.  The fact that I had a business appointment in Nottingham at 9am made this the ideal day.

I arrived at the venue just in time for the 7am start and was immediately shown where the coffee pot was.   Just what the doctor ordered.     It was great to meet up with some old friends (old in the sense that I have known them a long time!) again and see what the club was up to.   Judging by the amount of activities discussed in the next hour and a half it seems they are a very busy club.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and will do my best to keep in touch when my year as DG ends in 40 days time.

A visit to my own club 20th May

Monday 20th May saw me and Gail both able to attend a meeting of our own club, Belper and Duffield.   In the absence of the President and the President Elect, the Immediate Past President, martin Drake chaired the evening. 

The atmosphere in the room was its usual jovial self, with lots of friendly banter.   It was our normal meeting and Noel Harrison, the District Membership officer was the speaker for the evening.   His talk reminded us that we do need to keep regenerating ourselves as a club if Rotary is to survive and flourish.    He explained to the club the various options now available to us to enhance our membership and grow the club.

Although I was well aware of all that Noel had to say, I found his talk interesting and a useful new members to be regularly introduced to the club.   As the Membership officer for 2013/14 I hope to make best use of the information Noel put before us.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Bakewell's Charter celebrations at Hassop Hall.

In the spendour of Hassop Hall, the Rotray Club of Bakewell held their 36th Charter celebrations.  Unfortunately the weather was quite cold so the opportunity for canapes on the lawns did not arise.    Graham Wright and his wife Elizabeth acted as our chauffeur  this evening and we arrived in plenty of time.

On arrival we were greeted by President Richard Carter who was an absolutely splendid host, looking after our every need.   His wife Sue was equally gracious and Gail and I thoroughly enjoyed the company of the top table guests throughout the evening.   As he opened the meeting President Richard explained that all the cloth napkins had been folded into the shape of an origami crane to remind everyone present of the theme for this year, "Peace through Service".

The speaker for the evening was a solicitor called Dave Daycock, who was witty and gritty, relating many funny stories, mainly about his time in charge of the legal department at Cardiff local authority.  Dave has written a book of his exploits, entitled, "Gone for a Burton."

At the end of the evening Richard presented Gail and Sue with beautiful bouquets before closing proceedings just before 11pm.

It was also great this evening to have a strong contingent from my own club in attendance.  As well as Graham and Elizabeth there was also Rtn David Henson and his wife, also Elizabeth, Rtn Paul Taylor and his wife Hazel.   (Paul has arranged all my transport to Charters and official Club visits throughout my year as DG for which I am really grateful.)

Many thanks to President Richard and to all at Bakewell for a memorable Charter.

Napkin folded into shape as an origami crane

President Richard

Assistant Governor John Shipman explaining all the mundane details to IPDG Gordon !!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Friendship Exchange Team from Canada 12th May

The District has been hosting a Friendship Exchange Team from Canada for the last week or so.  They have been staying with members of Drone Valley / Hope Valley and Retford.    This evening they were having a barbecue at the home of Jane and Keith Jones.    Unfortunately the weather was pretty English with very cold temperatures and rain.   However, that did not stop the barbecue from taking place and in true English style, wrapped up against the elements it went ahead.

Gail and I joined them for the evening and enjoyed the friendship of the whole group.   It was interesting to hear how the Canadians, who normally withstand -40 degree temperatures in their winters were really feeling the cold.

At the end of the evening banners and gifts were presented.   I presented a District 1220 banner for handing on to The District Governor, Kevin Hilgers.  I received a banner and small gift in return.

Big Breakfast with Dawnbreakers 11th May

Long Eaton Dawnbreakers had organised their Big Breakfast this morning at The Methodist Chapel, Dale Abbey and I took the family along to join in.    With Gail and I we had our two daughters Sarah and Nicola, Nicola's husband Chris and their two daughters Maddie and Francesca,   Unfortunately Sarah's husband was working so couldn't join us.

The Big Breakfast is a great idea, bringing everyone together in a very informal manner and enjoying a home cooked meal.    We had all the trimmings, with croissants, toast and jam and of course a full English.

I understand the club served meals to about 130 people - Lets do it again next year.

Chef's at work

Family enjoying breakfast

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Castle Donington Charter Celebrations 9th May

With a conflict between two commitments tonight I decided to choose the Rotary Club of Castle Donington over the District Team Meeting.    (My thanks to DGE Peter for chairing that one for me.)

With two Presidents, Sukh Atwal and Patrick Parkes, it was a busy top table at The Novotel and I was sitting next to the Speaker, Mr Graham Keale, a showbiz journalist.   We had some fascinating chats during the course of the evening.

After a tasty meal of Sea Bass, there was a traditional Roll Call of Clubs present followed by the normal toasts.   During his speech President Sukh bestowed upon Rtn Chris Elston a Paul Harris Fellowship, an honour that seemed to go down very well with the club members present.  Congratulations to Chris on this achievement.

Graham then spoke about some of the stars of show business that he has interviewed over the last 39 years.  Co-incidentally he started work as a journalist the same year that Castle Donington received its Charter, 1974.   His talk was humorous and interesting, filled with snippets about well known household names.

During his speech President Patrick presented Gail with a bouquet of flowers.

Thanks to Patrick and Sukh for making the evening so enjoyable.   Just a few charters left during this year now.

President Sukh Speaking

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Bulwell & Basford Charter 8th May

Gail and I spent a delightful evening in the company of the President of The Rotary Club of Bulwell and Basford, David Smith, his wife Ruth, the speaker Tim Reddish and his wife, Val.   This was B & B's 51st Charter anniversary and was what may be described as a traditional charter.

With about 75 Rotarians and guests present at Woodborough Hall, the evening went very well.    The meal of Roast Spring Lamb was truly delicious and well presented.

After the meal, roll call and break it was on to the business of the evening.    I responded to the toast to RI and proposed the toast to the Rotary Club of Bulwell and Basford.   Following this I was asked to present Paul Harris Fellowships to two truly deserving club members, Arthur Pask with 35 years Rotary service and Keith Bentley the present club Treasurer.

The main speaker was Tim Reddish, a local man who grew up in Nottingham.  He is the Chairman of the British Paralympic Association.  Tim became blind as a young man but decided that this would not stop him from doing whatever he wanted to do. He recalled receiving a grant from the Rotary Club of Bulwell and Basford towards the cost of his sporting activities.   He went on to excel at Swimming and has won medals, including gold at several Paralympics.  His speech was entertaining and inspiring - a pleasure to listen to.

Arthur andKeith with their PHF certificates

Back to normality 6th May

Spent the day counting sponsorship money, answering hundreds of emails and generally trying (unsuccessfully) to catch up with myself.

In the evening, having managed to put on the lightest pair of shoes I could find, I went off to Ilkeston to present the award for the winning Rotary Club in the fiercely fought battle for the Ten Pin Bowling trophy.  The two teams battling it out were John Carr, Douglas Gilks, Len Milner, Peter Ball and Vic Trigwell of Bretby Rotary Club and Ashley Maddock, Jack Gray, Stuart Whitehead, Kevin Rostance and Neil South of Hucknall Rotary Club.

After a clean, but closely fought contest Hucknall came out winners on the night.   I think their youthfulness and boundless energy may well have been the deciding factor.

Well Done to both teams for reaching the finals.

The winning Team receiving the trophy

The final leg Monday 6th May

It was an early start this morning with the alarm clock set for some unearthly hour.   Gail and I  were due at Cafge Zing at 8am, but before going there we wanted to call round at my daughter Nicola's house to see the four lads who had volunteered to ride the 100 miles plus, from Belper, to Bluebell Wood to Rainbows - all in support of the same cause.  The plan was that they should arrive at Rainbows about the same time as the walkers.

They were due to leave at 7.30am so we arrived in time for that.   They all gathered and the usual photos were taken before we wished them well and set off for Long Eaton ourselves, picking up Owen and Carey on the way.   We were a few minutes late arriving for breakfast at Cafe Zing (which the owner had opened specially for us) and it was already almost full of Rotarians and other supporters from RC of Long Eaton Dawnbreakers.  

We each ordered and ate a "full English" - apart from Owen who ordered a full English but ate the "whopper" version accidentally ordered by Andy.    Cafe Zing and Dawnbreakers both did us really proud.   Simon Davey, President of Dawnbreakers also presented us with a whopper - a cheque for £250 towards the fund.  This (and the breakfast) set us up well for the last leg of the walk down to Rainbows.

The regular walkers this morning were joined by quite a number of members of Dawnbreakers and others including Steve Lawes and Roger Summers, and we set off at a steady pace for Trent Lock, where there was of course a difficulty to overcome.   The river.   We had to cross it.   No problem.  Rtn Roger Sissons had arranged for the local sailing club to provide their safety boat to take us across four at a time.

This proved quite an adventure, especially for those who "don't like water" or "don't like sailing".   The District Sergeant at Arms, Owen (6' 5" tall and built like the proverbial brick outhouse being a case in point.   He was gripping the sides of the inflatable boat so hard I thought his fingernails were going to burst it !

On one of the crossings we did have to carry out a genuine rescue mission, as we recovered (still intact and in good health) a small teddy bear accidentally dropped into the water by a young boy on a bridge over the cut.   The two were happily re-united shortly afterwards.

Following our water borne expedition it was back on foot for a few miles alongside the River Soar.   Once we left that we headed for a small pub where we peruaded the management to let us eat our sandwiches if we bought our drinks from the establishment.

After half and hour's lunch and with some of the Dawenbreakers leaving us for other comittments the remainder of us walked on into Loughborough, unfortunately along the main A6.   The sun was baking hot - apparently the hottest day of the year - something I can personally confirm.

As we came into Loughborough we set off through the residential area to Rainbows.    For the last mile or so we were met by Rotarians Stella and Mike Herbert.  Through illness Mike is now in a wheelchair and Owen pushed him the last mile to Rainbows.  This was a great and emotional moment for me as Mike and I have quite a lot in common and began working on District about the same time.    Stella and Mike - thanks very much for joining us it meant a lot.

As we neared the hospice - less than 50 metres to go Steve Lawes in passing conversation said to me, "Wouldn';t it be great if the cyclists turned up now?"   Almost before I could reply, I glanced behind and saw the lead cyclist just joining us.

We were then able to walk/ride into Rainbows together, following Gail and Carey in the support car.  We were met by rapturous applause from staff, volunteers and residents of Rainbows, bunting and cameras everywhere.   What an absolutely great moment, one I shall not forget for an awfully long time.

Caroline Rossin had laid on a cream tea for us and during a short speech announced that the Hospice intended to place a glass brick in the wall with brief details of the walk to commemorate the event for ever.

Not sure how much we will have raised for the two hospices, but I am hopeful, confident indeed that we will make our target figure of £5,000.     Just as important however was the friendship and fellowship that was created between Rotarians, non-Rotarians and Clubs by taking part in some small or large way.     My sincere thanks go out to EVERYONE who was involved in any way shape or form - Rotarians and Non-Rotarians alike.  It was a fantastic four days.
 DG Dave's feet
 DG Dave wearing his flotation support equipment

 Nog, John, Chris and Craig preparing for the ride
 Pres. Simon presenting cheque
Happy bunch ready to leave Cafe Zing

Day Three from Belper to Long Eaton 5th May

Feeling a bit stiff this morning, but determined to get to the end, we started at Belper with my daughters Nicola and Sarah, respective husbands Chris and Craig and two grandchildren Xanthe and Sebastian there to see us off and to walk out of Belper with us. (Three year old Xanthe was determined to ask for money from everyone we saw)   In company with Owen, Kevin, Andy, Phil, John Hill and Owen Blackwell (Heanor) we all set off over the hill at Openwoodgate down to Kilburn and from there on into Ilkeston for lunch at the Queens Counsel pub on the Market Place (provided courtesy of RC of Ilkeston.)  

Some interesting photos were taken of my feet - to be found on the walk Facebook page - and a caption competition ensued.

After lunch and with a couple of changes to the walkers we launched into the second half of the day, called first at Ron Brooks Toyota, to say hello, to some good friends of Rotary.  After that it was onto the canal that led us straight into the heart of Long Eaton.     Interesting sights along the way included a pair of swans nesting with their cygnets in the garden of a house that backed onto the canal.

The weather today was warm again, too warn for long distance walking (for me anyway) but we arrived at our destination, Cafe Zing at spot on 5pm, our estimated arrival time.

Thanks once again today go to my wife Gail and Owen's partner Carey for staffing the back-up car and feeding us regularly with muffins, mars bars and water.

There was no chance of an early night tonight as we had to get straight back home, shower change and prepare to attend the District Rotary Young Musicians' Concert at the Darwin Suite at the Assembly Rooms.    As always a really well organised event, but with a somewhat less than usual turnout.   (Let's hope it was just a blip ! )   The youngsters who performed all did really well and some exceptional talent was yet again on display.

I made (at least) one mistake during the evening - that was climbing up onto the stage.  A mistake because getting down was much more difficult and did cause some merriment in the audience.   By this time my feet were even more sore and the muscles in my legs were tightening up nicely.

Back home before midnight, when I relaxed with a quick whisky (just the one mind you) before turning in for a short night's sleep.

A great day overall - thanks to all concerned.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Day Two - a hard slog 4th May

The Hospice to Hospice walk started this morning at Chesterfield, where we finished last night.   As well as myself, Owen Briggs, Andy Ledbetter and Kevin Brown who are trying to do the whole four days we also had Rodger Heathcote and Clive Robbins walking with us from the start today.  Phil Stone from Ilkeston also joined us today, fresh from a holiday in Teneriffe where he did 27 km to make up for not being able to walk with us yesterday.   As well as the Rotarians doing the walk we were also joined by half a dozen lady volunteers from the Bluebell Wood Hospice who supported us by walking through Chesterfield with us.

Sean Murphy, husband of Eileen from my club provided the back up car for the day.

The walk from Chesterfield over to Matlock was quite hard going with lots of hills to go up and down, including of course that well known hill, Slack Hill.   The weather was kind to us again today with just a single brief shower to contend with.

We arrived at the Temple Hotel at Matlock bath a little later than scheduled, but were greeted by the Matlock President Peter Wigglesworth and a number of members. and wives of members of the club - Oh and Peter's dog, Jack.

Rodger left us at Matlock and Peter and we were then joined by a number of others for the afternoon session.  These included, Pam Harrison the wife of Noel Harrison from Sherwood Sunrisers and Eileen Murphy from Belper and Duffield.

The afternoon walk, started along the A6 to Cromford where we dropped onto the canal path alongside it all the way to Ambergate.  Along the way we picked up some new walkers, my wife Gail and Liz Wright the wife of the Belper and Duffield President.       As we reached Ambergate we were also joined by Paul Taylor from Belper club - one of our older members.  It was great to see Paul coming out to support us.   

Also joining us as we neared Belper was my daughter Nicola and her husband Chris together with their two children Maddie and Francesca with balloons and banners to let our entry into Belper be well publicised.

When we arrived at Belper members of my club had laid on a buffet for us at the Strutt Club and many of them were there to welcome us - along with some very appropriate music - courtesy of Alan Widdowson of our Club.

When we arrived back home I managed to climb into the bath for a nice soak and then at about 8.30pm went straight to bed, leaving Gail to entertain our guest, Kevin for the remainder of the evening.

Overall the day was a great success, if a bit painful.  I ended up with a couple of blister that are quite sore and  Kevin has been taking some painkillers for pain in his knees.     We will however be there to do it all again tomorrow.

My sincere thanks to everyone who has taken part in the walk either by walking, raising funds, providing back up, laying on the buffet etc etc.     Also, sincere apologies to anyone who I should have mentioned and haven't - I put it down to fatigue.

Tomorrow we are walkiung from Belper to Long Eaton, via Ilkeston.  Do feel free to join us en route and cheer us on.

 Lunch at Temple Hotel, Matlock Bath

Gail and Liz - ready for the off

"Go Grandad" poster

Friday, 3 May 2013

Hospice to Hospice Walk - Day 1. 3rd May

Well, I thought the day was going too well when Gail, Owen J Briggs, Carey Toplass, Kevin Brown and myself all arrived at the start point, Bluebell Wood Hospice, with loads of time to spare so we could relax with a cup of coffee and a cake.    It was then that I received a call on my mobile from Tim Wherly of the Derby Club, telling me that he was waiting for me - as arranged - at the Proact Stadium.   Oops - forgot him.

Andy Ledbetter from Dronfield and David Turner from Kirkby arrived and joined in with the coffee and  cakes.

Gail and Carey duly set off to collect him and bring him to Bluebell Wood (whilst the rest of us had coffee and cakes)  This week has been Hospices Week and today was Super Hero's day at Bluebell Wood so lots of the staff (apart from Julie  !!!!! ) were dressed up in super hero costumes.  Oh and one of them was dressed as a six foot tall red squirrel - very worrying.

Well shortly before we were due to set off Gail and Carey arrived back with Tim, so after apologising profusely to him the walkers set off - to tumultuous applause from staff and children - and the hospice dog, George.     We got safely to the gates without any problem.   Andy by this time was still at the hospice sorting out his facebook entry, so we all duly turned right at the gates.    Oops - wrong again - should have turned left.  Only walked about a quarter of a mile in the wrong direction - but my fault again.

Anyway after that everything went very well, we picked up a track alongside the Chesterfield canal and walked as far as Killamarsh where we stopped for lunch.     The sun had been blessing us with its presence during the morning, but after lunch we saw a fair amount of cloud, but still fairly warm.

We then walked through Staveley and into Chesterfield to the Proact Stadium where we we greeted by Rotarians from Drone Valley, and Chesterfield Scarsdale - thanks to them for that.

In order to cut the mileage down tomorrow we then walked on to the Do-not roundabout car park in Chesterfield where we will start again in the morning for the stretch to Matlock Bath and the Temple Hotel.

My sincere thanks to everyone who took part, including Gail and Carey for driving the support car.

Thanks also to Dennis Power-Neads for doing the very necessary Risk Assessment beforehand.

After a nice soak in the bath I felt much better and more or less ready to go.  One or two sore spots on the old feet, but I'm sure we will be fine for the next 20 miles

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Great Night at Vale of Belvoir 2nd May 2013

Rotarian peter Shepherd, a fellow member of the RC of Belper and Duffield, took on the role of DG Chauffeur again this evening for the trip over to the Welbeck Banqueting Hall at West Bridgford for the 23rd Charter celebrations of the RC of Vale of Belvoir.

President Alan Folwell was in the chair and carried out his responsibilities superbly.  Alan has a no nonsense down to earth approach to Rotary that I really admire.    With almost 130 in the hall the seating was comfortable but cosy.   The meal, for which there was a choice was excellent and well served by the staff.

Prior to the meal Alan awarded two Paul Harris Fellowships to members of the club.   Dennis Bacon and Derek Goodacre were the worthy recipients and both were clearly deeply moved by the presentations.    I am so pleased that we don not give out Paul Harris Fellowships on payment as happens in some countries.

After the meal we were entertained to sties of umpiring at Wimbledon and elsewhere in a very amusing and yet informative style by the main speaker.    Now here's a test to see who reads my blog.   A prize for the first person to tell me his name (as I have completely forgotten it.   Sincere apologies to speaker concerned.)

My sincere thanks to Alan and his team for the evening - which incidentally was rounded off with a collection in aid of the sponsored walk - starting 03/05/13 - which raised over £100.   Thanks to all who contributed.