Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Reflections on a Journey of a Lifetime

At the start of the year, RI President Ron Burton said  “At the end of the day, I hope to leave the woodpile just a little higher.”   As I have noted during the year “It’s what we leave behind for future Rotarians that is important for every President & Governor.”  

Pericles said "What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others." 

The following observations are from a speech I made during the District Officers Handover Dinner, held in Windermere on the 29th June 2014.  
At the Calvert Trust
"In the past year ……..
I have seen the lives of young people changed by taking part in RYLA, RYPEN and attending the Calvert Trust. Who can forget the feedback we received from Collette Southworth following her visit to the Calvert Trust with 18 year old Peter, she said that “it was the best week she had had with him since he was born.” 

Young Chef gets some advice
Our competitions for young people have again showcased the talent within our schools.   Details of our Youth Services Activities can be found here   

Mobile Dental Clinic Bangalore
Internationally we have used both our Foundation District Grants and District Designated Funds to good effect supporting for example the Microfinance Project in Coche, Ethiopia; the Dental Van and Ambulance in Gumballi, Karnataka, India; Water and Sanitation projects in Kenya, Education in Colombia; supporting Students in Uganda and Morocco and of course researching our Palliative care VTT project with friends in Bangalore. (we hope that the multi-disciplinary team from India will be with us in early September to learn from several of the Hospice organisations in our District)

Foundation Chairman Vas storytelling 
Closer to home our Foundation funds have supported disadvantaged groups on the Fylde; Literacy projects in Rossendale; Hospice at Home in West Cumbria; some of our local Food banks and our Community Melas or Health Fairs.

I’m really excited and pleased that we are also now making final preparations for the implementation of our First Response, District wide, Community Project, funded by a £65k Foundation Grant and supporting much needed equipment for our Rescue Teams, capital investment in defibrillators and the further development of Community Health Fairs in our disadvantaged communities.   Find out more about this project by clicking here.

Not every Grant Application will be successful and the Foundation Team will continue to learn what is acceptable and what is not under the new grant model, providing advice and support to Clubs in their endeavours.  

Still within our Foundation Programme we had the pleasure of hosting Frannie Noble a Peace Scholar from Boston studying at Bradford.  Following her input to our District Conference she spent a few days in the District visiting several Clubs, the Calvert Trust and being grilled by a team of Rotakids from Hayton School.

One of our Rotakids Conferences
And talking of Rotakids we cannot let the year go by without mentioning that we won the First National Rotakids Development Award from RIBI.  We also held two Conferences for our Rotakids. Thanks go to all the Clubs, Teachers and children who made these happen.

Polio Eradication continued to focus the minds of many with our Flash mobs and other awareness raising activities in October and the Worlds Greatest Meal in February.  This activity has resulted in a 50% increase in giving to the End Polio Now Campaign.

Giving to the Annual Fund was down a little but this was offset to a large extent by the fact that we have several new projects underway there was a 4 fold increase in funds going to Foundation directly to these projects. Overall our giving to Foundation has increased by around 30%.

Our International team have also been encouraging Clubs to support projects including Mary’s Meals in Malawi, Sand Dams in Kenya, renewing our activity with the Eshowe Project in Kwa Zulu Natal and the Water & Sanitation Project in Maikot, Nepal following on the successful Matching Grant for Khiraule School also in Nepal.   Alongside activity to limit the impact of Malaria with REMIT.

It is clear to me that those Clubs that have active Community and Vocational projects, those that truly engage with their local communities, have more success in recruiting and retaining Rotarians.  This was truly recognised by the Award, by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, of one of the first RIBI Champion of Change Awards to Jeff Fawcett of the Rotary Club of Penrith for his dedicated work in the town.

Yours truly as Santa - in a gale!

Our Stroke Awareness activity, Bonfires, Santa Sleighs and support for Food banks are all a part of this. Clubs are also actively pursuing links with the Prison Service and I would like us to investigate what more we can do to help those with profound Literacy and Numeracy problems in our Communities. We must go out and talk to community groups, parish and town councils.  From talking to several mayors and other civic leaders in the past year they do value what we do and would like us to do more where and when we can.

We have been fortunate, apart from the gales in the winter, not to have had the problems some areas of the country had.  And when the Typhoon hit the Philippines as ever you went out to do what you could to help with funding for disaster boxes, Teddy Bears and, still to come, replacement fishing boats.

Getting many of our Good Deeds into our local and regional press continues to be a challenge, but I know we are getting better at it with, for example, great coverage of the Polio activity on Radio and in newspapers. Increasing use is being made by many Clubs and individuals of Social Media and we must continue to develop this important area.   Our magazine Norwest has continued to thrive, using the savings to make available new banners and flags for use within the District.  Thanks go to all our contributors, advertisers.

We have certainly “woven Rotary into the lives of others”  - Engaged Rotary and Changed Lives

Many Clubs have Engaged with Change, whether simply moving meeting times, reducing the number of meals, setting up networking events or embracing diversity.  They have all made inroads into making sure that Rotary continues to thrive in their community.  I’m pleased that several others have decided to take up the offer of support using our Toolkit for Change.
Amanda Watkin encourages members

Our Development activity also involved workshop on Membership and Leadership, these were both very well received and I know that Roger will be making sure that we continue to offer this important support to Clubs as they continue to investigate what needs to change to ensure our future survival.

I think we have a net gain in membership of around 50 or 2.5%, better than last year but not enough to be sustainable.  So the work being undertaken by Clubs in the deep SW to start a new Club in Buckshaw Village is key to making sure we overcome the inertia we have elsewhere.  As is the work on setting up our E-Club for those busy people who cannot attend a formal meeting regularly.

I have agreed to take on the formation of New Clubs for the next few years and will be exploring new areas and the use of satellite groups to help us grow and become even more diverse.  I believe that one of our key legacies is to make sure that we have an organisation that is fit for purpose and the Rotarians who are able to continue community service on a global scale for many years to come.

It was Harold Whitman that said "Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
The lapsed Morris Dancer

We all certainly “came alive” at District Conference and I have to thank the whole team for putting on a great weekend.    Wendy & I have been to see Maddy Prior since; Angela Locke from the Juniper Trust has spoken to a few Clubs and I expect some partnerships to emerge; Jo Berry continues to develop “Bridges for Peace” and I am aware of other Rotarians who would like to support her activities; We have a visit to Todmorden and Incredible Edible arranged for the 19th July, do let us know if you want to join us and find out how we can get our hands dirty.   Some of the presentations at Conference are on our D1190 YouTube site including the Rotakids from Hayton School and the Youth Speaks Team from Balshaws CoE High School.  Click here to access the videos

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the whole of this years District Team for supporting Clubs in their service activity, arranging our development & learning events, setting up our Youth Competitions and our own internal sports events.

Thank you to you all and best of luck as we continue to Engage Change and Light up Rotary"