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Rotary Matters by Jim McColl

Week commencing 3rd December, 2018

It was back to business with a thump this week! In fact, there was very little business to conduct.  Importantly, however, members were reminded that the meeting on 18th Dec would be a Christmas evening to which wives, husbands, partners and close friends would be made welcome – so long as members remember to let the secretary know of their intentions in good time. It would be a bit embarrassing if there wasn't enough turkey for everybody!!

The one report of note was that a team of members had been on duty on Monday in the Bon Accord Centre, in charge of the Annual Christmas Car Raffle Appeal. They had a successful time during which they sold tickets to the value of £300 or thereby.

I have to say that earlier in the day, Mike Barron, Eric Massie and I attended a lovely wee tea party at Hanover Court along with a team from the Men's Shed. It was a 'thank you' gesture to us for successfully completing a bit of landscaping around the building. It was a very pleasant interlude.  The other comment about the project which I wish to make was the way in which Rotary and Men's Shed came together to enhance an essential facility in the town. In this case the elderly residents will benefit. Co-operation is the name of the game and long may it continue because it is amazing what can be achieved when like minds get together!

Having closed the meeting, President George then called a Special General Meeting! This was principally to approve the audited accounts for the year and then to elect our office bearers for the year 2019 – 20!  This never ceases to amaze me, because the new team will not assume office until the second half of 2019 – so be it!  The Rotarians voted into office are President- Iain Mathers, Vice-President Kay Diack, Secretary – Sandra Turnbull and Treasurer – Charlie Taylor.    

Week commencing 29th October, 2018

We had a night off this week! Well not quite, we gathered with partners, wives, husbands and friends (about 60 of us) to have a meal together and to celebrate our Patron Saint – St Andrew.

President George Ross was in fine form and as usual, he had a rather interesting point to make. In the company were two members and a guest namely Kit Pawson, Mike Hay and Stuart Watson with something in common! In the 1953 list of Founder Members of this Rotary Club is to be  found three names – Black, Hay and Watson – the father of Kit, Mike and Stuart! 

Mike Hay, Kit pawson and Stuart Watson

Events programme organiser Howard Hughes had a short but excellent entertainment line up for us starting off with Singer/instrumentalist Raymond Mack from Dyce. His songs and stories were extremely well received, by all but there was more to come. Our next guest was Alistair Cameron, a member of the Elgin Club. We were treated to an 'Observational Lecture' which had the audience in fits of laughter. It was about Inverurie and 10 mile round, it's people and in particular the members of Inverurie Rotary Club. It was a proverbial HOOT of a performance  both clever and very witty.  Bert Maitland had the pleasant task of thanking all  - the hotel staff for providing an excellent meal, the events committee and our guest performers.

It was an evening to remember.

Week commencing 12th November, 2018

Back in harness after my holiday and what a week it has been in my Rotary world.  Returned on Wed 7th, on Thursday 8th we had a Glee Club gig for Senior Citizens in Huntly in the afternoon and then, in the evening, I had the privilege of compering the Rotary-sponsored  competition for young musicians in Inverurie Academy and what a terrific night that turned out to be.  Congratulations are due to the school authorities for selecting nine very worthy performers and to my Rotary colleague Murray Matthew for 'pulling it all together'. All instrumentalists this time, the competitor's ages ranged from 13 to 16. The judging panel ( including our Honorary Member Linda Davidson) awarded the top prize to 14 year old trumpet player Hannah Reid, who played the very engaging tune Ragamuffin composed by Pam Wedgwood.  Hannah will now go on to compete in the District Finals.

Two days later, on Saturday 10th, another Rotary team headed up by Peter Donaldson participated in the  Farmers' Market at the Town Hall! Overall it was described as rather a quiet day nonetheless, there was significant interest in the Rotary movement and the team did sell a wheen of tickets for the annual Christmas Car Raffle in aid of the CLAN charity.

….....and that brings me to our regular meeting! Members arrived expecting it to be, shall we say the usual mundane 'Information meeting'  but,  we were in for a BIG surprise, not only did we have several visiting Rotarians from Ellon, Portlethen and Belford/Duffield (Derbyshire) but we had a speaker from- BRAZIL!  Cinthia Goncales du Silva is a Rotary Peace Fellow studying for a masters degree at the University of Bradford!  The title of her message was 'One Shade of Gray: Peace, Policing and Counterterrorism!

I guess not many present would have been aware that, since 2002, the World Rotary Movement sponsors and supports over 100 such students working world wide. There are six other University sites offering courses for these students. Having originally graduated as a history teacher, Cinthia went on to study for an MA degree on Political Violence & Terrorism!! During her studies, she had to live anonymously about 5 miles away from her family home! That says it all!  It was a complicated and frightening tale of people trafficking and so much more.  As one colleague remarked " we don't know the half of it"!

Following  several questions, answered very expertly, Cinthia received a very warm and enthusiastic round of applause. The vote of thanks was proposed by Jim Hatter.

That's Rotary for you – busy in the local community but with an eye on what is going on world wide!

Week commencing 15th October, 2018

My report this week is brief and secondhand!  I missed Tuesday night's Rotary meeting because I had  more important 'fish to fry'!  I attended the end of series Beechgrove Party in Aberdeen. It was a fine affair, as usual meeting up with many of the people associated with making the programme who we never see!

That said, round about the same time, the Inverurie Rotary Club Gavel team played an away game at Turriff. Here is Mike Barron's report of the shenanigans.

' Inverurie Rotary Club defeated Turriff Rotary Club 10-6 on the away “turf”in the Gavel competition.. The excitement was growing when at round 6 with the last challenges to be played, all 4 Inverurie pairs won. The rounds included tractor pulling, jenga, putting and dominoes.  The successful pairings in the last round were Charlie Taylor and  Mike Barron, John Nicol and Murray Matthew, Bill Duncan and Bill Murdoch and Peter Donaldson and Jim Sommerville.

With Inverurie losing to Kintore, and then this victory, the final in this round will be played on Tuesday 23rd at Inverurie with Oldmeldrum being the visitors. The winners go on to the north east final.'

Mike's photo of the Tractor pulling just about sums up the character of the gavel Competition. It is an opportunity for well respected adults to return to their childhood, picture the scene,  scrabbling aboot oan the  flair on their hans and knees playin' wi Dinky toys!!   To explain the technical aspect of this caper, the competitors had to roll in the tractors on a spindle facing away from them!

 I guess the winners were toasted in a more adult fashion.

Week commencing 8th October, 2018

It proved to be a busy night on Tuesday principally because we had a match on our hands!  President George Ross, in his opening remarks, welcomed a team from the Rotary Club of Kintore, Kemnay & District who would later compete with the Inverurie team in the first of the season's Gavel Competitions, more of that shortly.

President George then continued with his opening remarks including the sad news of  the passing of Mrs Alma Massie, the wife of Past President Eric Massie, after a long illlness.

Past President John Nicol recently returned from his trip to Uganda gave a brief summary of attending a meeting of the  Kampala Club and subsequently visiting the school projects funded by Rotary. More of this cracking story when John has time to report in full. For a taster, John  told of attending a Roman Catholic Church service where the Bishop christened 55 weans! Can you just imagine the racket?!

It was past-president Peter Donaldson's turn next, he has been involved for some time now on plans to modernise the workings of the club, frankly to make it more attractive to potential new members. In other words, despite the fact that we do an amazing amount of charitable work our image somehow doesn't appeal to modern day society.  Here is a typical example, it was only a week ago that it was announced that Rotarians Eric Massie and John Nicol had just completed a project at Pitscurry amounting to about 40 hours of unpaid maintenance work! 

At the end of the month, the club meeting will take the form of a visit to the Garioch Heritage Centre.

Now to this gavel Competition – the challenges were Putting on a mat with the queerest looking club you ever did see. Harry Lauder's walking stick would have been a distinct improvement! Quoits, Dominoes and Bagatelle!  Typical old -fashioned bar sports but still much enjoyed by all involved and a wheen of spectators forby. Unfortunately, the home team lost by just two points! 

Kintore, Kemnay & District Gavel Team 2018

Well done Kintore & Co. The big question now is -will there be changes to the team for the away game with the Turriff club which comes up next.  The manager has yet to decide!!

Week commencing 1st October, 2018

What an interesting evening it turned out to be on Tuesday last!  The essentials were finished rather sharply, including the fact that next week we play host to the Kintore/Kemnay and District Gavel team for the first match of the season – can't wait! After welcoming a couple of our regular guests Lorraine and Dorothy, president George handed over proceedings to Rotarian Joe McDowall who introduced our third guest Dr Bill Gribbon a Belfast scientist, now based in St Andrews.  Bill is the proud holder of The Polar Medal (which was passed round for all to see), awarded in 2014 for pioneering work in Greenland and the Canadian Arctic having led 6 student parties into that area, conquering something like 60 peaks, most of them first ascents! In studying the rock beneath the melting ice it was deemed to be the nearest on earth to moon rock!

But that was not the story we heard, it was all about the experiences of action man Joe and colleagues who explored the same area on a 12 week long odyssey in 1969, coincidentally at the time of the first moon landing! From Newcastle to Denmark to Greenland they travelled finally setting up base camp on an uninhabited island!  Accompanied with some stunning pictures it was about cycling, hiking, climbing, crevasses, green ice, slippery rocks, mountain peaks, skinny-dipping before breakfast,(just the normal ablutions you understand), ferry boats, supply boats, wee boats which had no room for your legs, husky transport – the lot!

Delivered at a sharp pace, Joe covered his remarkable experience in record time. The only time he hesitated was when asked the question 'What was it all about?'   It was obviously an experience of a lifetime and in fact there was a little bit of research carried out in between times.  A great story, well appreciated by the members. 

What did Joe's guest Dr Gribbon have to say?  On this occasion, not a lot but maybe we could have him back sometime because he has some story to tell, including being arrested by the French Government for dodging army call-up.......................!

Week commencing 24th September, 2018

Let me tell you a story! Should have included it last week with all the other sporting tales but ran out of space! In 2017 our Mr Howard Hughes represented the club in the Scottish Rotary Fly Fishing Championship at the Lake of Menteith and WON!  By the way, those of you who have come to live in Scotland, will often hear the Lake of Menteith described as the only lake in Scotland. Reason – all the others are Lochs! To the tale – he has gone and done it again! Howard is the 2018 Scottish Champ! When congratulated on his second win in a row, he simply replied 'Well I just wanted to prove that last year's win' wasn't a fluke!'  Well done, lad, let's see you get three in a row.

Now to this week's get together, the business was dealt with pretty brusquely by President George with one or two pleas for help of different kinds –these requests will now be passed to relevant committees for consideration. In this context, Rotarian John Nicol sets off for Uganda this week, as he has been involved in the new school project which our Rotary club with others has helped to finance. Bon voyage John.

This week, our speaker was introduced by Rotarian Marie Simpson, it was none other than Martin Simpson who together with his father George, set up Deeside Water in 1994.  Since then the business has grown steadily over the years and described by Martin with great clarity from the discovery of the properties of the water drawn from the Pannanich Wells to the modern development, distribution and even to some of the present-day problems like recycling plastic waste!

Back to the location - Ballater known back in the late eighteen hundreds as a spa town because of the properties of the well water, endorsed by no less a person than Queen Victoria! Very soon it became widely known that the water had health benefits. Notably, it was said to have beneficial effects on people suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis! The proof of this was researched when it was proved to be something to do with a very small molecule size!  At this point, I was so glad that Martin changed tack! Back to the realities like delivering 40 crates of bottled water per day by car!  The company currently employ 12 people and in this ever more sophisticated world, new uses for the spring water are being researched  - cosmetics being an obvious target.

A marvellous success story, well told and after a few questions the vote of thanks was given by Bill Murdoch. 

Week commencing 17th September, 2018

We had another good meeting on Tuesday night with a couple of guests and our speaker, over thirty sat down for the meal.  Rotary Clubs across the globe have a number of traditions, some of which may be dropped as clubs begin to modernise their proceedings. I mention this because it was my turn to say Grace before the meal AND the vote of thanks to the speaker. None of the ordinary members escape the essential duties, whilst the principal office bearers are deemed to have enough to do!

The business session was short and to the point with convenors having little to say except Eric Massie as sports supremo. He reported that the annual club golf competition had been very enjoyable and successful though numbers competing were down on the previous year. Ladies winner was Phyllis Walker whilst Joe McDowall took the gents prize.  The prize-giving took place after the company enjoyed the excellent hospitality of Inverurie Golf Club.  Meantime two further competitions are about to begin – the curlers will soon be hearing the shout 'Sweep, Sweep' whilst a team of members get ready for the first round of the Gavel Competition, a home game against the Kintore/Kemnay Club. What does this involve? I hear you ask! Loosely described as 'bar sports', the home team gets to decide.

I will now leave you in suspense but promise to reveal all when reporting on the result!

Our speaker from the Kintore/Kemnay club was Henry Riddoch to give us an up-date on ALEC the Aberdeenshire Life Education Centres.  Last time Henry was with us he described the demise of the ALEC caravan that was taken  around schools with the specific purpose of teaching primary school children about the dangers of drug and other abuses and to make meaningful life choices. The caravan formula became prohibitively expensive so the retired design engineer put his mind to producing a pack containing all the essentials, which could be carried in the boot of a car. Wow! That was the reaction of members first time round. On this occasion, Henry reported on the latest development, for which incidentally he received the highest Rotary Award – A Paul Harris Fellowship medal.

The new kit can best be described as a blow-up tent able to accommodate about 25 children. It is fully air-conditioned and actually designed to be used indoors. It is equipped with screen, projector, ipad and numerous other gadgets and still able to be accommodated in the back of an estate car!  This 'Life Space' prototype has been developed because financial pressures threatened the existing project. In 2017, its trial year, it was attended by over 20 thousand children, 3 thousand secondary school pupils, almost 2 thousand teachers and a thousand parents.   Members' reaction this time round could be described as 'Gob-smacked'

In the coming weeks there will be some publicity associated with demonstrations of this innovative facility – if you get the chance, go have a look!

Giving the vote of thanks was an honour.

Week commencing 10th September, 2018

We had a busy evening on Tuesday with three separate sets of guests, firstly, one of our 'associate' members came to the meeting and hopefully she will become a full member in due time. Secondly, President George went on to welcome a party of Rotarians from Turriff on what was obviously their 'scatter' week.  I have explained the device in the past but briefly, each Rotary club in the land will declare a week when members are expected singly or in groups to arrange to visit another club of their choice in the name of fraternity. As a result, many mutual and lasting personal friendships have built over the years.  As well as being good for Rotary and for communities, in a very practical sense, ideas and experiences are exchanged for the benefit of all concerned.

With due respect to the guests mentioned so far, the highlight of the meeting was the attendance of the two young people, sponsored by the club who attended the Rotary Young Leaders (RYLA) camp this year.  They duly received their certificates from President George and were persuaded to express a few thoughts on their experience. First up was Sarah Davidson who very eloquently described some of the outdoor events and challenges set for them including mountain biking, climbing, water sports etc.  Some were individual events but others, just as importantly were team events.  Undoubtedly, for me the biggest challenge for these young guys is to walk in to a room of people of their own age whom they have never met before!  If our team, in conjunction with school teachers and advisers, make the right choices, in other words, if they see something in the candidates for the trip which suggests that that individual just needs a wee shove in the right direction, they will accept that challenge and go on to face the other tasks, enjoying every minute of the journey.  That came over to me in Sarah's comments, as it did when the other successful participant Fraser Robertson took the platform. The same messages came through from Fraser – a new confidence in himself and that emerged on Tuesday night as he stood up in front of 30 adults he had never met before with microphone in hand, nae bother! He talked about physical and mental challenges, the value of team work, team spirit and so on, echoing much of what Sarah said.

So RYLA, once again has 'produced the goods', if these two youngsters are anything to go by.  Sarah and Fraser received a very hearty round of applause with best wishes to both expressed by Joe McDowall.

On a sadder note President George marked the passing of Andy Dick a former Rotarian, indeed a former President, well known to many in the community and remembered as a vibrant participant in many Rotary ploys over the years, including the early efforts of the first Glee Club.  Thoughts and condolences to the Dick family were warmly endorsed by members, a number of whom remain close friends of the Dick family.

Week commencing 27th August, 2018

From time to time I make reference to the fact that Rotary is like one big family. This week I paid a visit to the Alford Branch invited to speak by a colleague from my days  at Craibstone in the 1970's!  Not only did I meet other 'family' members but I was reminded that I hadn't been back since my previous visit in 2005! It was almost like a mild reminder from an old aunt or uncle with the unsaid implication - don't make it so long till next time! It was a very enjoyable visit.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, so to speak, it turned out to be a memorable night in more ways than one. Firstly it was announced that our oldest Rotarian Jack Hendry been awarded a 'Pride of Inverurie' accolade – well done Jack, you thoroughly deserve  not only for your work with the Colony Park Juniors but I would add The Heritage Centre and Rotary and all that implies.  Secondly – we have a new secretary!  Sandra Turnbull has agreed to take on the role – well done Sandra!

Thirdly but by no means least, Sandra introduced to the members Phyllis Gordon the project officer for 'Dementia Friendly Aberdeenshire' The aim of the organisation is to make people  in the area aware of the problem. The presentation started with a powerpoint which consisted of a short video film showing a 'day in the life of' a dementia sufferer. There is nothing quite so dramatic as being face to face with this problem but it did illustrate how the situation can be readily altered with a little bit of understanding by a change of approach -speaking slowly, clearly and softly, asking simple, short questions. In other words, making an effort to empathise makes all the difference – to both parties.

As it happens, the vote of thanks was offered by Howard Hughes, currently boss-man of the Glee Club and he was able to pick up on the importance of music to help assuage the condition, mentioning that at least 12 of our forthcoming gigs are for older folks and many of the groups will have dementia sufferers in them. The point about the importance of music and singing was soundly endorsed  by Phyllis. 

Week commencing 20th August, 2018

We had a comparatively quiet meeting this week, an information  session  when convenors of our various committees report to the club. For example our Foundation/International convenor John Nicol reported on a visit to the St Fittick Club in  Aberdeen to hear about one on their initiatives – in Sierra Leone! They have taken the lease of a cottage there to accommodate and look after young women, saved from 'the streets’ .   They are accommodated for a period of 6 months during which they are given an education and guidance. Called 'Sisterland', this project is funded entirely by Rotary!

From the sublime to the ridiculous! Our events mannie Howard Hughes went to confirm the booking of accommodation for one of our fund raising functions to be faced with an example of the new Data Protection rules! To each of his questions on available dates, options etc he was faced with the same answer 'because of the new data protection rules, I canna tell ye!’  Hilarious but more to the point – farcical.   Goes nicely with the news story about the failure to pass on information about the presence of asbestos in school buildings  - there’s a ready made excuse!

From the ridiculous back to the sublime with a report from David Taylor emanating from a visit to the Ellon Club on their efforts in foreign fields 'First Steps in Nepal'. The Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum has also been involved in this valuable school building programme

So much for keeping up to date on the various charity projects Rotary becomes involved in, the final report was on the theme 'all work and no play....' when sports convenor Eric Massie reported that the Rotary Curling Club in our area was about to reach its 50th anniversary being celebrated with a  traditional dinner. 

Week commencing 13th August, 2018

From time to time, I make reference to the relationship between Rotary clubs across the country, for example recently I mentioned a visit to a Club in Cyprus when we were on holiday. There is another angle to this involving families.  In the eighties when I first joined Rotary, our two youngsters were still at Primary School or just into secondary.  Very soon we realised that families were very much involved in the Rotary scene, having particularly fond memories of ‘family weekends' when we joined other families for a jaunt.  Aviemore was one venue I remember where we could swim, golf, walk, curl and so on.  If we were lucky there might even be a bit of a dance after the evening meal when the youngsters could join in to learn to master The Gay Gordons, Quickstep, Hokey-Cokey etc. It reminded me of one or two  family weddings where there is also a wide age range. There was and still is a tradition of family involvement.  It was magic stuff.

Tempus fugits and these same family members may well have flown the coop by now some will be married  and have children of their own!  In other words, we have to look for excuses now to have social gatherings  of a slightly different style as well as the well tried and tested Burns Night and  St Andrew’s Night hoolies!   In recent times, we have had visits to theatres in Aberdeen, Inverness and Pitlochry, the last two requiring an overnight stay, with more time to socialise and get to know each other because these events, involving other family members, engender a sort of team spirit which can only be good for the health and well-being of the club.

How’s that for a build –up?

This week a sizeable group of members and friends visited The Beechgrove Garden on a perfect summer evening - the sun shines on the righteous! This was followed by enjoying an excellent supper together in The Garlogie Inn. 

After the meal, President George Ross very briefly formalised the event  by welcoming members, families and their guests,  thanking all those involved –principally organiser Howard Hughes (with a little help from yours truly) and finished off with  a toast - To Rotary the World Over. 

Next week we are back ‘tae auld claes and parritch'

Week commencing 6th August, 2018

This week’s Rotary meeting turned out to be a cracker! We had two guests, two excellent speakers and a good turn out of members. Visiting us from the Belper and Duffield Club in Derbyshire was James Kerr a native of  Inverurie known to some of our older members! What a welcome he received.  Then, sitting opposite me was Crosbie Chisholm a weil kent face from the Westhill Club.

The first guest speaker to be introduced was Dr. Pat Wightman from the Bennachie Visitor Centre Trust.  Pat is the Chair person of the Trust and her reason for attending our meeting was to launch her new booklet on the Plants of Bennachie and to say thank you for a bit of Rotary assistance!  I reckon it will become a 'must' for local wildlife devotees and visitors alike. 

As I flagged up last week, our main speaker was Kenny Duguid’s nephew Stuart Winterburn, Managing Director of Dynamic Edge and his subject was Cyber Security Awareness. I tell you what no-one had a bit of shut-eye when the lights went out, members were riveted to their chairs as Stuart opened the door to a world of intrigue, mayhem and mystery concerning the IT world. In essence it was all about the protection of personal data with the basic message 'Don't leave it to others' and that is precisely what I do!  Listening to mutterings around the room, I wasn't the only one.

With examples from big business across the world with headlines such as '4.7 million instances of fraud in the 12 months to Sept. 2017' or ‘NHS hit by ransom threat estimated to cost £4 billion’ and  'Hackers  are becoming more sophisticated and we are the weakest link' , members were paying attention alright

Stuart left no stone unturned he covered subjects like Malware which can 'sit there on your computer' (methinks like a praying mantis) waiting for the chance to strike.  Credit card fraud is commonest with password leaks not far behind – his advice was basic, DON'T use simple words and sequences. Beware of using wi-fi on trains, so easily mis-directed, and so he went on. 

Like many things in modern society the good is often challenged by the negatives! It was a scary thought that crossed my mind! How did we ever manage without that mobile phone let alone the i-phone, i-pad etc.?

After fielding a few questions, Stuart was warmly thanked by Rotarian Bill Duncan .

Aye, it was an eventful night in the KA!

Week commencing 30th July, 2018

At this time in the Rotary calendar, it would be safe to claim that every Rotarian across the country is asking himself or herself to think about their membership of this great organisation because it is time to pay our subscription for the coming 12 months! The decision will come, hopefully after a period of introspection, by answering two questions.  Firstly, what do I get out of it? Secondly, because membership works both ways, what can I contribute?  Is it to be money well spent?  Only the individual can decide, I certainly aim to raid the piggy bank!

The funny thing is, the inter-relationship of these two questions is so close because what you get out of being a member in terms of friendship, camaraderie, a chance to solve challenging problems as part of a team, helping others less fortunate, meeting interesting people, is likely to be why you accepted the invitation to join in the first place!  There has to be an element of discipline of course and guidance on that comes from ‘on high’!

We recently had a timely visit from Roddy Duncan, deputising for Asst. District Governor Kenny Thomson whose job was to stress again the importance of what we do whilst abiding by our core values – Fellowship, Integrity, Diversity, Service and Leadership.

At a time when increasing the membership is challenging, we need to be prepared to change, in other words we have to ask the question – are potential new members put off by what they see?  If that is the case, we must move with the times, it is probably as simple as that and it must be said, some clubs are already on the move. I am reminded of a holiday occasion several years ago when we visited Cyprus.  The local Rotary club met in the hotel we were staying in so I decided to 'visit'!  They met informally at 9pm, members and guests had a coffee or a glass of something stronger, the business of the day was discussed and then they were offski! All within an hour! That may be one of the ways we can change – simply put - 'less formality’.

Our priorities, in no particular order, will remain pretty constant – continue to espouse gender balance, maintain activity with schools and young people, continue to support international projects such as the abolition of polio, continue to offer help to people who are old or infirm. In other words, use our skills and knowledge for the benefit of others less fortunate – whilst enjoying each other's company.

We had much to talk about this week; just as well we had no speaker!  Next week, we look forward to welcoming Stuart Winterburn, MD of Dynamic Edge, a relative of Kenny Duguid's. His subject is Internet Technology.  That will be a refreshing change from navel -gazing!

Week commencing 23rd July, 2018

The theme of this week’s meeting could have been 'Keeping in Touch' but more of that shortly.  President George Ross opened the meeting of a reduced number of members, holidays being the reason for low attendance and in a sense, there was a holiday attitude within the club. Most notably, probably because of the fine weather, the attire adopted by many members was rather casual! There were not so many 'jaikets and ties' evident!  I believe that to be a good sign in that it is not what we wear that counts, so long as the mode of dress is ‘respectable'! It is what we are about that matters and in that regard, we are as busy as ever.

To that theme however, firstly President George was able to tell us that Past President Cath Nash had been in touch.  Many will remember that Cath and husband Pete moved south several months ago and the welcome news was that Cath has joined the Rotary Club of Frampton & Longtown! Secondly, George was able to welcome into our midst Past President Ron Kelly who is now a member of the Lancaster Loyne Club.

It was great to see Ron again and to reminisce on his time with us, especially the early days of the Glee Club in which he was a very active participant.   

Included with some of the regular reports came news from Murray Matthew about the launch of a new Rotary initiative with the charity ALEC which was set up to teach primary age children about the dangers of drugs etc.  As many will know, the charity started by trundling a mobile classroom around the countryside to visit schools.  It was a very costly and time-consuming exercise. Then, along came Henry Riddoch a member of the Kintore Club.  Henry devised a very condensed version of the ‘classroom' which could fit in the boot of a modest sized private car. For those of us who saw a demonstration of the kit, there was only one word to describe it and that was ‘Brilliant’ but the mannie was not content with that!  Now referred to as the ‘Life Space 2’ project, the latest edition is about to be launched, probably in late August. Watch this space!  I have no doubt that there will be an opportunity to view the kit before it goes into service.

Week commencing 14th July, 2018

Playing catch-up this week and firstly I must return briefly to that WAGS Charity Dinner we held back in May.   Chairman of the organising committee George Ross asked me to include a word of thanks as follows: “The Rotary Events Committee would like to thank all who contributed to our recent fund-raising Wags Dinner. To Table Hosts, Sponsors, all who donated Raffle Prizes and Auction items and to all who attended the function on the night. Through your generosity we raised the magnificent sum of £13,500. This money will be divided between ‘Friends of Anchor’ and local charities supported by Rotary.”  Well done and so say all of us!

The mannie was back in the Rotary headlines last week when he assumed the Presidency of the Rotary Club of Inverurie for the second time (just like his predecessor!)  George held the Presidency way back in the Rotary year 1981/82.  His Vice President, referred to as the President Elect, is Iain Mathers with the rest of the Club Committee listed as follows: - Ian Ewan, Alex Lamb, Robert Maitland, John Nicol, Sandra Turnbull, Charlie Taylor, Stuart Watson and Secretary Mike Barron.  A powerful and experienced team indeed whom we wish well in their term in office.

In the meantime, the good work continues with a team of members supporting the Farmers’ Market in Inverurie last Saturday. It was, apparently, an enjoyable exercise with much to report!  The most important element was the potential recruitment of a new member or two! A chat with touring Rotarians from the far south, like Croydon for example.  As a result of handing out bottled water to those in dire need, £40 was raised for the Wateraid charity.  The fairy tale to end with concerned a lady of mature years coming face to face with George Ross for the first time having been buying his rowies weekly for the last 50 years!

It will soon be rehearsal time for the Glee Club!  We received a schedule this week from “Choirmaster and Organiser' Hughes to the effect that we have 16 gigs lined up for the coming season (with an additional list of reserves!) Cue for a song ‘Oh dear me..........!'

Week commencing 2nd July, 2018

Life is getting more complicated as the weeks go by. For example, I wonder how many of you have been deeved by these messages that come up on the electronic media about security and safety, requiring you to sign up to allow this and that - it is called Data Protection or something quite bewildering by the time you get to a certain age (unspecified!).

Due to an unforeseen circumstance (I wisnae feeling great) I did not attend the Rotary Club meeting on Tuesday night – I’m fine now by the way but I missed out on the proceedings which entailed our new management team going through the plans for 2018/19.  Before a blow can be struck, there is a list of obligations to be met, issued by the heid office!  That would be the Rotary International- British Isles, referred to thank goodness as RIBI. These obligations include: Equality & Diversity, Health and Safety, Safeguarding Children, Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults, Data Protection and Insurance.   What a complicated world we live in but the fact is, every Rotary Club in the land has to nominate a member to be answerable on each one of these matters on behalf of the club!  That is quite an onus.

That is followed by a report from each of the main committees on their plans for the coming year.  These will include – Admin, responsible for the general running of the club.  Events and Fundraising with dates for principal annual events some already decided. Youth Service – which includes many of the regular annual events like the Primary Schools Quiz, Young Photographer, Kids out etc.  Each activity has a preliminary budget assessment made.  The Foundation & International Committee will have listed their priorities which includes a levy from RIBI to help fund major worldwide efforts like End Polio Now. Finally, the Community Services committee will continue to have responsibility for the Christmas Raffle, the Collection Cans and one or two other local initiatives for example with the Inverurie Environmental Group.

……….. and then of course, there is the loose cannon - the Glee Club, a force to be reckoned with but difficult to categorise!

Looks like we are in for an exciting and busy year. 

Week commencing 25th June, 2018

It was another quiet night on Tuesday with quite a few members on holiday at this time.  Stuart Watson took the chair for the last time as next week he will hand over to our President for the 2018/19 year George Ross.

One of the low-key initiatives which has been developing over the last few months is the ‘Associate Member’ group. It is made up of people willing to assist with the objectives of Rotary without being full members. Last night from the body of the kirk came a suggestion that we invite them as guests to our inaugural meeting of the 'new' Rotary year. An excellent idea but some may think that a little premature, we mustn't rush our fences!

Secretary Mike Barron and Rotarian Ken Duguid had been  round the town gathering the takings from our Blue Collecting cans that you see in some of our retail outlets and believe it or not when the contents were counted a sum of £467 was reached.  A warm thank you is due to those of you who contribute the small change from a transaction rather than put it back in your pocket.  Quite a remarkable sum to boost one of our charity priorities.

As a tail piece to that, Rotarian Bill Murdoch was able to report that a bunch of pupils at Daviot School which his grandchildren attend, recently contributed £46 to the Wateraid Charity – what’s that old saying about starting them young!?  Well done you guys keep up the good work.

I’ll finish with another cracking story which came from ex-Rotarian Roger Langtree.  Dave Thomson working on behalf of the Banana Trust, arranges to collect redundant football strips from Colony Park FC, has them laundered, Roger gets a heap of cardboard boxes from Tesco to pack them in and delivers them to the Banana Trust in Dundee on Tuesday - they will be shipped to the Trust’s Malawi base this weekend. Nae bother! Just think of the joy that will bring to the young recipients! Explaining fit Colony Park is aw aboot micht tak a filie! They micht meet up in the World Cup in 10 years time!  

Where there’s a will there is always a way!  Good things do happen regularly in our communities.

Week commencing 18th June, 2018

Last week I reported on the Kids Out event at Craibstone run by the Rotary Clubs in our area for the benefit of youngsters attending St Andrews School here in Inverurie and from similar establishments in surrounding districts.  In total over 400 children took part. Chairman of the organising committee is our very own Graham McWilliam and on Tuesday night he gave us a full account of the event. On a personal note Graham was able to say that he had been involved in the event for 13 years! The good news is that following the early fears which I alluded to last week about the uncertainty surrounding the availability of the venue, Graham was able to report that  for the next two years, Craibstone will still be the chosen site.

Whilst the organising team consists principally of Rotarians, Graham was full of praise for the valuable support and physical efforts of others. Top of his list were the 17 'strapping lads’ from Sub Sea Seven, 10 from Anderson, Anderson and Brown and a wheen of senior school pupils  from Westhill Academy. On top of that, whilst Aberdeen FC Association couldn’t have a physical presence, they did present a pair of football shorts, suitably endorsed of course, for every child at the event!  Wait a minute though says their rep. – you better find room for these 20 footballs as well! Such is the generosity engendered by this project.

When the cause is just, the enthusiasm and support is there, a strong characteristic of our society.

Voted the best yet, the 2018 Kids Out, Chairman Graham was warmly congratulated for his enthusiasm and leadership. In turn before sitting down Graham thanked all the companies that helped in one way or other - our very own JG Ross making sure that the youngsters (and the helpers) had plenty to feed their enthusiasm!

……….and then there was the Bike Ride last Sunday!  Excellent weather and a full turn out of enthusiasts ensured that a successful day was had by all.  Only one accident was reported with the cyclist unhurt and with not a scratch on her bike! The troops manning the tent in Kellands Park had a busy time running the bottle stall and handing out leaflets to potential recruits for Rotary and they were keen to register how well they were kept fed and watered by Maeve McDowall! At the end of the day over £300, including a contribution from Aberdeenshire Council, was raised for the Prostate Cancer Charity.

Our next important ‘gig' will be at the Farmers’ Market in Inverurie on Saturday 14 July.  We hope you will stop by for a chat.

Week commencing 11th June, 2018

This week’s meeting had an end of term feel about it as we approach the 'hand over’ date when the new administration takes over.  We had no visitors and no speaker because  it was  also an Information evening when we discuss the goings-on at the last Council meeting.

Sounds all very drab but not so, there were reports from the team of guys who helped put out the floral displays around the town centre last weekend..  Eric Massie also reported on work he and John Nicol had been doing at Pitscurry on maintenance of the lovely decking which they with others built a year or two back.  Joe was on his bike again (the Bike Ride this coming weekend) and Graham McWilliam  gave us an up date on the Kids Out event at Craibstone which happened yesterday. Over 400 children were expected with a team from Inverurie Rotary accompanying the local children!  The very good news reported by Graham was that, with the generous help received from some of the major companies in the area, the continuation of the Kids Out initiative for the next several years has been  assured BUT there is a big problem  facing the organising Rotary clubs in the future. They will have to find a suitable venue to replace the Craibstone site that will no longer be available.

One of our members Jim Young has had a 'free transfer' to the Turriff Club due to a change in his personal circumstances – I never ask why but it could be as simple as moving house! The important thing is that Rotary will still benefit from his skills and experiences. We wish him well. Ken Duguid brought greetings from members of several other Rotary Clubs he met over a round of golf at Grantown -on-Spey.  This would have been an annual re-union to mark and remember a golf trip to Canada several years ago organised by the Canadian Rotary Clubs - a significant element illustrating the world-wide fraternity of Rotary. 

There is still some concern amongst club members about our inability to recruit new people and consequently there is a suggestion that we elect a small group, a 'membership committee’ to put their minds to the problem.

Finally, the Glee Club is alive and kicking though not available for gigs at the moment! Mind you, the gaffer (H Hughes Esq) tells us we have something like 15 engagements already on the books for next winter!  My reason for mentioning the Glee Club is to announce that we will meet later this week to test out a new sound system!  Will it make us sound better?  That's for me to know and you find out - in due time!

Week commencing 4th June, 2018

We had two young guests at our meeting this week. Sarah Davidson and Frazer Robertson had recently been chosen as our representatives at the annual RYLA camp to be held at Nethybridge, starting  after the end of the school term. All the Rotary clubs in the district can send delegates to the week-long camp run by Rotarians to encourage and benefit young people who have shown promise in their school careers. It takes them out of their comfort zone, meeting new people, undertaking challenging tasks, learning the value of teamwork, testing themselves in the outside world, perhaps overcoming shyness. Above all, building confidence in who they are and making new friends.  We wish them all the very best knowing from our own experience of RYLA that they will have a great time.

George Ross confirmed that the successful WAGS dinner had raised just over £13k for charity. Not content with that, Joe McDowall was on his feet again raising the profile of the Great Cycle run on Fathers' Day. Whilst our primary purpose for supporting this event is to raise funds to fight Prostate Cancer the hopeful dual side effects will be to explain a little more about Rotary and indeed recruit a new member or three!

Am I finished rabbiting on about charity?  NO! Would you believe it, we haven't reached the longest day yet but The Hatter was dishing out raffle tickets for us to sell for the CHRISTMAS raffle!  As they say down Glasgow way - gies a brek Jimmy!

All of that was soon forgotten (temporarily, of course) as our speaker for the night got underway.  There was a feeling of excitement in the room because this guy had spoken to us before, it was our very own Jim Sommerville.  On this occasion he gave a masterly presentation on the Genealogy of his own family!  In the process Jim was able to highlight the life of working families back to the 16th century!  Primarily, he was able to describe coal and iron mining from its beginning in the 18th century. As you would expect from a geologist (that in itself is an extraordinary coincidence), he showed maps of where the coalfields were to be found in certain rock stratas – stretching across lowland Scotland in a diagonal from Ayrshire to Fife   His family were coal miners!

Way back then families were large – 6 children were not uncommon, living in a 'single end' with no sanitary facilities and very little furniture!  Women and children worked down the pit! Women particularly laboured long hours hauling the hewn coal sometimes 200 yards along seams with just 2 ft headroom!  During the 1900’s the expectation was that there would be 1000 deaths every year from mine accidents.

Progress was made when ponies were introduced to do the hauling, at one time there were reckoned to be 70.000 pit ponies in Scotland!  Steam and electric power were eventually introduced and eventually specific safety regulations had to be formulated to cope with the most serious danger of all – the incidence of Firedamp, leading to explosions causing lethal  rock falls! Wee boys with flickering candles walked in to the unknown to test for the deadly gases!  Jim brought it home to us in a pretty dramatic fashion – basically, he said ‘I wouldn't have been here if my grandfather had been on the early shift on a specific day when there was a fire in the pit. On that fatal day, he was on the back shift!

It was a masterful presentation, enjoyed by all, Rotarian Kay Diack had the privilege of voicing our thanks.  

Week commencing 28th May, 2018

The main talking point amongst the Inverurie Rotarians this week was undoubtedly the fund-raising WAGS dinner held on Saturday night in the Town Hall. This is a night designed to raise as much money as possible for nominated charities, the principle recipient being ‘Friends of Anchor”.

When the assembled company were seated and top table guests introduced President Stuart Watson gave a warm welcome to all ending his brief remarks on the charitable challenges faced by Rotarians, then by saying Grace.  In a break with tradition, before the meal, we had a quick résumé of the work undertaken by the Friends of Anchor with an emphasis on the fact that ALL the money raised will be devoted to the cause, wages and running costs being covered by the charitable company set up by Jimmy Milne, one of Aberdeen’s extraordinarily generous business persons.

Good company, good food, once again provided by Harry Fraser Catering and a bar efficiently run by two volunteer Rotarians – Sandra Turnbull and Don Gordon ensured us of a splendid evening which at the outset was planned and organised by the events committee headed up by Mr J George Ross.

The fund raising started straight away – Heads and Tails and if you want to participate it costs you a tenner! The winner, of course, receives a handsome prize. If you know the drill you can skip the next bit – All stand, either put your hands on your head or behind your back- toss a coin heads for heads, tails for tails! Unfortunately if it comes down heads and that’s where your hands are you are politely asked to sit doon! Got the idea?  Peace reigns for a while as we enjoy the meal.  During this time, if you wish to participate in the raffle, you sign a chitty and put a fiver in the envelope. The prizes were drawn and delivered to the winners at their table. An excellent idea.

Chance then for a comfort break before the main event – four speakers vying for the top prize of the night, the winner being the speaker voted by the guests as The WAG of the night.  What a brilliant session we had. Given no more than 12 minutes each, the first in was well known local wag Raymond Whyte, whose topic was ‘The University of Life – a never ending learning curve – but who wants to end up round the bend?’ Raymond didnae win but he set a very high standard from the ‘off’. He was followed by Alistair Robertson, another well known local performer on ‘My advice is to get married, if you find a good wife you’ll be happy and if not you will became a philosopher’, then a visitor from Loch Ness side Willie Cameron known locally as Mr Loch Ness. His theme ‘Moving and Shaking in Highland Tourism – The truth is out there’. Sounds a bit dry but it was anything but, another cracking performance. Finally, we heard Jimmy Dick, a farmer from Echt. His theme ‘You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.’ Suffice to say Jimmy was the winner but it was a close-run contest thoroughly enjoyed by the company.

The final play of the night was the auction with some staggeringly good items, all donated. I have just room for a few: Dinner for 2 at Eat on the Green, Golf for 4 at Meldrum House, Radley Ladies Handbag, BrewDog Hamper. There were 12 in total. Huge thanks are due to the donors and indeed to all the good folk who supported the evening.

The total sum raised on the night was over £12,000.  Truly, a worthy outcome from a well organised evening.

Week commencing 21st May, 2018

This week I want to give you a flavour of the kind of overseas project which Rotary clubs get involved in.  This particular example is just one of the Inverurie Club’s efforts. Our convenor in charge of ‘Foreign Affairs’ John Nicol provided the information and photograph. We are off to Uganda using extracts from the most recent report!

Monde Primary School is located in a remote village in Luweero District in Uganda. The school runs from Primary one to Primary seven. Currently the school population is 170 children aged 4-14 years. For many years the pupils at Monde studied under trees and the classroom they had was a dilapidated building without windows and doors.  Monde Primary school lacks a store and a kitchen where lunches can be prepared. Currently, when it rains it is difficult to prepare lunch for the children. The toilet facilities are also very poor at the school. Most of the parents for this remote school are involved in subsistence agriculture. The community and the pupils of Monde Primary are very appreciative of the support from our Rotary club in helping them renovate their school. The first phase included the renovation of a three classroom block and the second phase will include the construction of a kitchen, store and toilets. So far, the renovation of the block has lasted for four months. The classrooms have been re-built, fitted with strong metallic doors and the windows are metallic fitted with glass. The whole block has been painted inside and out. The pupils are very excited because they now have a decent place to study.

The renovation of the school has been beneficial to the community in many aspects.  For example it has helped to build the bonds of togetherness and the spirit of working together. For example, the community of Monde has been collecting food and fire wood and preparing lunch for the builders, The rural road going to Monde Primary school was full of potholes but because of this project the community worked together to fill these potholes with stones so that the trucks ferrying construction material would access the school easily. Since the renovation of the school started the school has registered 25 new pupils and as the work is completed more children are expected to join.  The youth in the community have mobilized themselves to provide labour.

A good news story indeed. Interesting to note that they have pothole problems too!

Week commencing 14th May, 2018

Of late I have tended to rabbit on about the charity work we support but there is another side to the Rotary movement and that is friendship, camaraderie and companionship. We have a good example this week – a lower attendance of members at this week’s meeting because the ‘walking group’ were on their annual trip to the Lake District!  This group was formed about 10 years ago with a bunch of enthusiasts deciding to ‘do’ the West Highland Way!  They went on to tackle some of the others –like the Southern Upland Way and so on. Having conquered a number of these walks in Scotland the next move was south of the border to the Lake District – you note the transition with the passage of time, from the testing Scottish challenges to the slightly more douce slopes of Cumberland!  They will be back soon refreshed and full of stories of derring do! I jest of course because I’m just jealous!

Despite our numbers being reduced somewhat, our meeting on Tuesday, chaired in his inimitable style by incoming President J G Ross, turned out to be a cracker because our guest speaker was Alan Johnston, Acting Deputy Head of Inverurie Academy soon to be referred to as the Inverurie Community Campus! Part of Alan’s role is to monitor and keep in touch with the evolving new structure which is quite a complicated process.

The new facility is being built on what was the neighbouring playing field whilst the work of the day continues in the adjacent building as now.  Complicated – you bet, more like a minefield I would suggest. In a very accomplished and interesting way Alan took us through the process with the aid of excellent visual images.  One interesting point is the fact that the new building footprint is smaller than the present one but will accommodate more pupils!  Because it is a three-storey building!  I guess minimalising the disruption is going to be an on-going tough task.

There were, of course a whole host of plus-points, not least being the fact that the contractors have actually involved the current students in how the process works. Yet another clever move is to bring St Andrews School into the campus – with its own entrance and play facilities but cheek by jowl with the main school. The intention being of course to bring the students of both into contact, a familiarisation move, which ought to pay dividends in time.

As far as facilities go, you name it and there it is – 3 different pools, fitness and dance studios, performance space, gymnasia, meeting rooms.  The not so subtle point being that it will no longer be just ‘the big school’!  The new campus concept is for all the residents of Inverurie. I’m sure many of you will have opportunities in the coming months to learn more as the project develops. Final completion is timed for 2021.

After some questions, the vote of thanks was offered by Rotarian Joe McDowall which included a wee sermon of his own!  Well he is an educationalist himself, so we kind of expect that!

Week commencing 7th May, 2018

We had an ‘information’ night at Inverurie Rotary this week – it comes round every month to allow ordinary members to quiz the management on what they have been up to! Accounts are examined and secretarial reports analysed, I suppose it is what you call democracy, in other words the parliament is answerable to the people!  Works well at our level.

Chat round our table concerned the Home-Start Quiz Night on Friday in the Town Hall!  Whilst some of our chaps and chapesses are manning the bar, one brave fellow, who shall be nameless for the moment has entered a team in the competition! I will report accordingly next time.

Further details of the Great Inverurie Bike Ride were discussed. Apparently our team of volunteers are split –one lot will steward the Struie Hill section of the race whilst the others will man the start/finish tent wherein there will be further information on the charity ‘Prostate Cancer’ and maybe a wee fundraiser on their behalf – a bottle stall is the likely mechanism. Let’s pray for a fine day!

A plea came from Graham McWilliam for more volunteers to help with the Kids Day out at Craibstone in June.  Similarly, further support for our WAGS dinner fundraiser at the end of the month was voiced by Rotarian Howard Hughes.

Would you believe, mention was made of the Christmas Car Raffle 2018 – is that forward planning or wishing our lives away?  Much nearer at hand, with the said Mr Hughes, I’m taking the dosh at the door next week and our guest speaker is to be Acting Deputy Heidie at the Academy Alan Johnston.  

Week commencing 30th April, 2018

Charity! Charity! Charity!  I often stop to wonder what state this country would be in without the charitable work and giving of many in this land.  Whilst many would argue successfully that our Society is changing, indeed it must change to meet the challenges before us, that’s fine but God help us if we squander our ability to be charitable to those less fortunate than ourselves.  It is certainly one of the tenets of Rotary that first attracted me to the organisation way back in the early eighties.

No sooner had the meeting of the Rotary Club of Inverurie started on Tuesday night got down to brass tacks when up stood Joe McDowall to flag up the coming Great Inverurie Bike Ride on 17th June. Proceeds in aid of Prostate Cancer research and treatment.  The troops are needed to erect and man the Official Tent where competitors clock in and where further information on the condition can be obtained, stewards required to man some of the check-points around the route and so it goes on.  A few hours spent helping to raise funds to battle this awful disease is something that Rotary can and do do! 

In recent weeks, I have highlighted our involvement in the provision of another Defibrillator for the town, a childrens’ quiz, a childrens’ photography competition, Glee Club entertaining old folks in Dyce  (our last performance of the 2017/18 season!) Last Monday 3 of us spent time sizing up a wee landscaping job in the town.  Meanwhile, George Ross  and his team are working to make our WAGS dinner on 26 May, a success. It is our major fund-raising event for Charity.

I haven’t tried to add up the number of Rotarians involved in that little lot, the hours spent, the miles driven and it did not cost the community a PENNY.  To my mind, that is charity work at its best and there are so many other organisations who rightly claim to be making the same efforts – for our community, our society!  What do we get in return?  Satisfaction – yes, but just importantly we get to enjoy each other’s company and I reckon our enthusiasm spills over to affect the very people we are helping!

Further to that retrospective, I can report that we had a guest speaker with us on Tuesday. – Rona Millar joined us to describe the work of Charlie House.  This charity was formed in 2011 set up by a young Aberdeen mother who lost twin babies. She and her family needed specialist, expert, targeted support and maybe that was a difficult thing to find at that crucial time. Charlie House is there to assist families who have youngsters with complex disabilities some of which are life limiting! This is undoubtedly heart-wrenching stuff, I reckon everyone listening to Rona’s presentation was seriously affected by it. The organisation have plans to improve the facilities for affected families in Aberdeen and in the Shire. And that will cost a bob or three.

Without prejudging any discussion on the matter, I would expect our club to respond positively to any request for support, who wouldn’t?

Murray Matthew very effectively reflected the feelings of the club members when asked to offer a vote of thanks to Rona. 

Week commencing 23rd April, 2018

Inverurie Rotarians attended two meetings on Tuesday night! Before being called to order by President Stuart Watson for the Annual General Meeting of the club, we had our normal weekly meeting!  Quirky?  Yes!   A pain in the butt?  No, because we do respect tradition which, when once despatched may be lost for all time! That said, we are not thirled to the past, we must modernise and that is high on the agenda for most of us.

As part of the ordinary meeting, Sandy Lamb was able to report on the final of the Primary Schools Quiz held at Meldrum Academy. Twelve local schools took part the winner coming from Alford with Kintore runners-up.  The Inverurie team represented by Strathburn had an off day, coming 5th!  Interestingly, each team turn up for the event with a reserve who may not be required SO, the organisers created two extra competing teams from the 12 reserves. A brilliant move, because involvement by all is key.  What a sensible thing to do but on reflection, can you imagine the stushie if one of these ‘bounce’ teams had carried off the first prize!! 

Moving swiftly on to the matter of our AGM which follows a well-trodden path,  members had received the minutes of the previous AGM which were duly agreed and approved with no questions.  In fact, a feature of the whole meeting was  that all sub-committee reports had been circulated in advance by the secretary Mike Barron a move that was  applauded by the president and members because it saved a great deal of time. Even the matters arising were dealt with swiftly and efficiently.

The treasurer Charlie Taylor was cheered when he judged that membership fees would remain the same for another year, not only that but the 2018/19 budget would remain the same.  The official membership remains at 28.

The President’s review of activities was brief and to the point. He did add  wryly that since the last time he was ‘in the Chair’ (that would be  1988/89) there was a great deal more paperwork to contend with – a sign of the times dear boy, a sign of the times! He reminded us of the passing of John Blevins and David Keith during the year, noting the contributions both had made to the well-being of our club.

Looking forward, we then went on to confirm the management team for 2018/19. President - George Ross, Vice President  - Iain Mathers, Secretary - Mike Barron, Treasurer – Charlie Taylor. Convenors -  Robert Maitland, Howard Hughes, David Taylor, John Nicol, Eric Massie and Sandy Lamb.

In the any other business category, acknowledgement was made of the continuing activities of the Glee Club and the initiative to introduce new people to the aims and objectives of Rotary.

Week commencing 16th April, 2018

What a night we had on Tuesday!  The club met earlier than usual to see a display of photographs taken by school children in the area, entered into a competition organised by our very Rotarian and Past president Jim Hatter. Representatives were there from Port Elphinstone, Kellands, Chapel of Garioch, and Oyne schools.    The children  were accompanied by their parents, brothers and sisters.  President Stuart Watson presented the winners with their certificates, with special awards to the top entrant in each category.  Our photograph shows overall winner of the  intermediate  class, 11year old Eve Strachan from Oyne Primary school along with President Stuart and Mr Hatter himself. 

Votes of thanks abounded!  To Mr H for his work in organising a very successful competition, to the School authorities for endorsing the project , to the parents for their support and to all the children for their clever interpretation of the theme ‘A Different Perspective’.

There followed a report  from Jim Sommerville on the swimming gala which took place on Sunday with over 40 swimmers participating in 32 races, able bodied and less able battling for every winning place – another brilliant event though some of the referees and timekeepers took a while to recover their normal hearing!  A sign of the level of excitement enjoyed by all.

We enjoyed the company of three Banchory Rotarians, choosing to visit us in this their scatter week and finally the meeting ended on a rather sad note as we learned that our first ever lady member Cath Nash with husband Pete has moved on to live in Cumbria.  She had been our first Lady President and for a time acted as our treasurer.  We have happy memories of Cath and naturally we are sorry to see her move on. We wish her and Pete a happy life south of the border.

Week commencing 9th April, 2018

This being our ‘Information  meeting’ in other words a discussion on the monthly Board members report, there was no speaker but we did have a quiz!

Apart from the Treasurer’s  report, updates on members absent because of illness, the arrival of new grandchildren, in other words  the weekly elements affecting the Rotary family, the time was largely spent discussing the future!  Firstly we heard details of next week’s meeting when we will be able see the work of the young people involved in our Young Photographer of the Year competition organised by Rotarian Jim Hatter. The winners will receive their certificates on the night.

Next on the agenda was our WAGS Dinner, our most important fund-raising event of the year with proceeds going principally to Friends of Anchor.  Once again I feel bound to explain the term WAGS – it has nothing to do with sportsmen’s wives and girl friends!  The reference is to that old word  ‘wag’ meaning a bit of a story teller.  The event will be held in the Town Hall on the 26th of May.  At £50 a ticket, that might seem to be a bit expensive but and it is a big BUT there is no question that it is a value for money evening – a first class dinner followed by superb entertainment in the form of 4 excellent speakers each speaking for 10 minutes on a given a quote, the audience to vote on the most entertaining contribution!  These are a given, the optional extras include a raffle and an auction. OK, my challenge to those of you who think that it is an expensive night out is this - ask yourself how much will it cost to attend a top sporting event, with no guarantee that the outcome will please you? Put that to one side, the huge bonus in the case of our WAGS dinner has to be the final destination of the ‘profits’! Think of the charity and the sufferers, this could be your opportunity to improve their lot!  

I’m not finished!  Following the WAGS dinner, volunteers from the Inverurie Club will join members from the other 16  Rotary clubs in the area at Craibstone on 13 June for the annual KidsOut jamboree for children with additional support needs!  Something like 500 –600 children accompanied by over 300 teachers will be entertained and inspired by a whole chain of activities lined up by the Rotary Clubs.  An expensive exercise no doubt but already there is sponsorship in the kitty to the tune of £13k ! Well for a start there are over 1000 mouths to feed during a day filled with all manner of treats like the bouncy castles, puppet displays, a small animals zoo, crawling out, in, over a Fire Engine or a police car, riding in a pony and trap, face painting, dancing and countless other games and activities.  It could be described as a hectic day for one and all but by jingo it is worth it!

Everyone involved will be praying for a fine day!  We wish them all the best.

At the outset I mentioned a quiz! It was business all the way on Tuesday but to end the evening on a lighter note, Secretary Mike Barron came up with an interesting quiz to get the members involved before heading for home!

Week commencing 2nd April, 2018

It was my turn to have a seat at the top table on Tuesday!  Another simple Rotary courtesy – I was there to accompany my guest who was to be our speaker for the evening! 

The habit of having a top table is less precious than it once was. Nowadays it is seen to be a bit too formal – like the wearing of jackets and ties but to my mind the top table is there for a rather obvious and significant purpose.  If you go in to a concert hall to see and hear your favourite singer or watch a play, you want to be looking at the stage, don’t you?  That would be the top table equivalent then, would it not?  

Meal and business over, it was time to introduce our speaker and therein lays another tale. Regular readers will have heard me mention our Scatter Week, when Rotarians visit other clubs in the district in a gesture of friendship within the Rotary family. I took the easy route by visiting the Oldmeldrum Club, meantime I was conscious that I had still not arranged to find a speaker for 3rd April at my own club! Time was running out. Then out of the blue so to speak an Oldmeldrum member whom I had not met before quizzed me about our Glee Club activities.  He introduced himself as Andrew Mcpherson and though a Meldrum club member for two years, he still has strong links with Elgin Rotary Club and where he still  sings in the town’s male voice choir. To cut a long story short, someone in the company mentioned that he did a very good talk to club members entitled ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ at which juncture I pounced!

Doctor Andrew Mcpherson duly enthralled our members on Tuesday night. There was no electronic gadgetry to distract, just a pack of apples lying in front of him! Andy simply stood up and socked it to us.  A GP and a specialist in medical teaching , he discussed diets and the ‘10 portions a day’ stuff!  The things to do and not do to maintain a healthy lifestyle!   Cigarettes and alcohol came in for a mention and so too did simple things like ‘if you’re a entitled to a flu jab, you must get it!’  Why?  Quite a simple reply – if you get that flu jab you are not only protecting yourself but you are protecting ME , said Andy sticking a forefinger in his own ribs!

The importance of fitness and regular exercise was emphasised  ‘Always take the stairs’ he said and I cringed!  Talk to your doctor about concerns  after all ‘you are a partner in any treatment’ said Andy.  Talk to others suffering the same ailments. ‘Check things out with Dr Google’ was a surprising comment.  There were lots of questions and to end a very well received session, Rotarian Marie Simpson proposed the vote of thanks. 

Needless to say there was a queue waiting to have a ‘quiet word’ after the close of the meeting.

It’s time now for my knee bending session!

Week commencing 26th March, 2018

There was quite a buzz about the Rotary meeting this week as we all returned to base, so to speak, after our week away which we describe as our Scatter Week. Members visited the following neighbouring clubs Huntly, Aberdeen, St Fittick, Oldmeldrum, Banchory and Alford and needless to say brought back news and greetings.  The most notable story came from John Nicol who visited the Huntly club.  No doubt you will be aware of Rotary’s ‘EndPolioNow’ campaign?  Last year our efforts had the title Purple4Polio which led to thousands of purple crocus being planted across the country to draw attention to the appeal. Some of the Huntly Club members suggested they sell Purple Ice cream to boost the fund-raising, the town being rather famous for this delicacy!  As a result, a team of Huntly Rotarians have been invited to attend the world- famous Melrose Rugby Sevens Tournament this year!  NOT to take part in the rugby sevens but to SELL their famous ice cream!  Well done Huntly, the End Polio Now initiative is achieving a significant measure of success as a result of Rotary efforts like this.

Our guest speaker Laura Davison is a Complementary Therapist working with the charity CLAN that is significantly supported by Rotary Clubs in the area – The Christmas Car Raffle being the outstandingly successful fund raiser.  Laura was accompanied by Fiona Cormack from the charity who was able to assist in answering some of the questions for members.

The role of the therapist is vital in the care and treatment of cancer sufferers because they can act as a buffer/conduit/confidant for the sufferer and the family members who themselves are likely to be significantly stressed by the situation.  That trusted friend has a significant  and vital  role to play something which I for one hadn’t recognised.  This vital point was endorsed by one of our members who was able to confirm just how valuable the role is!

The members certainly accorded our guests a very hearty vote of thanks.

Week commencing 5th March, 2018

I didn’t manage to get to the Rotary meeting on Tuesday because of the weather conditions, As I said to a colleague I couldn’t swim a length of the swimming bath nowadays let alone try to doggie-paddle from Meldrum to Inverurie! Yes, it was that bad in several places.

These very same travel conditions affecting vehicles and pedestrians were what caused us to cancel a Gardeners Question Time due to be held this Thursday night in the Garioch Heritage Centre, in aid of Rotary Charities. Hopefully we will manage to find another suitable date ere long.  This brings me back to a favourite theme and that is the Rotary motto ‘Service above self’’. You don’t need to be a Rotarian to sign up to that, indeed many people do.  There is no doubt that our society is changing largely influenced by rampant commercialism and the modern media and in my view, which adversely affects many people here and abroad. Thankfully there are enough people around who still have a mind to help others worse off than themselves and that is where the charity organisations step i

In a sense, you might imagine that the charities including Rotary and the myriad of other good causes, are competing against each other, So what! Competition is a good thing and in many cases I believe that different initiatives appeal to different people, the vital point is that  doing nothing isn’t an option! Having been convinced of this approach over the years there is a vital key to the success of any appeal – giving both ways! I’m convinced that when you ask people for money you will be more successful if, in return you give something back! On the one hand it might be a gamble like the very popular Rotary organised Christmas Car Raffle. No matter the odds people will have a go!  Our much-appreciated Glee Club activities GIVE a bit of light relief without demanding a return but I can’t remember an occasion when we didn’t receive a donation. In that scenario, we set out to be the GIVERS but the ‘clients’ want to GIVE! The amount doesn’t matter it will all go into our charity fund. What does it cost?  A bit of time and a few quid on petrol, what did I say earlier ‘Service above self’. The proposed Question Time would GIVE a night of exchanging views, answering questions and giving enjoyment etc with the help of non-Rotarian colleagues also willing to GIVE.  Most people want to help, the skill is in finding a way to GIVE a quiet sense of self satisfaction.

As Rotarians, we will keep doing it.

Week commencing 26th February, 2018

Despite the inclement weather and dodgy travel conditions we had a good turn out at this week’s meeting. Twenty eight members and guests gathered in the KA  for supper and to hear one of our guests tell an interesting but bleak story of life in Nepal at this time.

After our meal, in his current dual role as President and Secretary, Stuart Watson moved on through the business part of the meeting, taking time to congratulate Sandy Lamb and his team for their efforts in organising another very successful Primary schools quiz last week.

From time to time I refer to Rotary being one very large family readily hosting members of that family from oot aboot!  One such this week was good friend and fellow Rotarian from the Banchory Club – Eddie Gillanders.  He was not the furthest travelled by far however, our main guests, invited by Rotarian Ian Mathers came all the way from the Kirriemuir Club! It was a delight to welcome Barbara Lovegrove and George Aitken, their purpose  being to bring us up to date on a project their club is involved in, it was entitled simply ‘A Trip to Nepal’.

Working mainly with a New Zealand charity called First Steps Himalaya and a Ghurka based charity in Nepal, the Kirriemuir Club have raised over £30k to aid the building of new school classrooms following the devastation wrought by an earthquake back in 2015. We saw plenty pictorial evidence that is still there.  In a sense, the scenes are not unlike the man-made chaos we see on our television screens at the moment, coming from Syria. Nonetheless, there is still help out there. The Kirriemuir Club are moving on to another phase, you don’t just need classrooms, for one thing you need ‘sanitation! The good folk from ‘Kirrie’ are looking to raise over £100k!

Following man made or natural disasters, the effect on the human population is catastrophic, young lives are ruined and whole societies destroyed. In so many cases, inept and dispirit governments fail to cope, so thank goodness, for the sake of humanity that more stable societies like ours want to better the lot of these poor individuals. Our governments and aid agencies do their bit but so many organisations like Rotary contribute immense amount of work too, targeting help direct to societies in dire need.

To help others worse off than ourselves, we have to raise a bit of dosh!  In this regard, The Rotary Club of Inverurie have organised a fundraising Gardeners Question Time, in the Garioch Heritage Centre on Thursday 8th March commencing at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £5 and are available from any JG Ross Shop. The panel on stage will be Carole Baxter, Susan Burgess, Colin Stirling and me!  We are delighted to announce that our Inquistor on the night will be the one and only Robbie Shepherd.

Week commencing 19th February, 2018

You know how it is when you have somewhere special to go but there are chores to be done first? Rotary was a bit like that this week, not that I am belittling our regular weekly meeting in any way – it is the key to our existence. Nevertheless President Stuart Watson had other things on his mind when he opened the proceedings.  It was a case of – greetings, meal, essential business reports, one or two announcements, the final toast to ‘Rotary the world o’er’ then oot the door! All done by about 7.15pm

The fact that there were quite a few empty seats at the meeting was the clue that something else was going on. In fact, another squad of Rotarians were already at the Hopeville Club setting up the stage for our annual Primary Schools Quiz.  I hurried there with the President and others, to join the team.  The quiz was due to start at 7.30pm  and when we arrived the place was buzzing, the stage was set – six primary schools were competing from Chapel of Garioch, Kellands, Oyne, Port Elphinstone, Strathburn and Uryside, the last named got a huge roar of welcome as they joined the throng for the first time!   The rest of the function suite was filled with relatives and friends and supporters.

After explaining the rules Rotarian Joe McDowall, acting as Question master kicked off with the first of 10 rounds of questions. The teams of 4 were faced with 6 questions in each round.  The range and level of questions had many of the adult supporters nodding their heads in puzzlement but these youngsters stuck to their task with little fuss. The rounds were headed – Alphabet, Geography, Natural World, Literature, Maths, Sport, History, Media, Pot Luck and Pictures.  I should add that the questions are set after discussions with  one or two primary school contacts  (NOT from competing schools) to ascertain their suitability and level  for Primary School  children)

The eventual winners were a team from Strathburn School and after some refreshments they were awarded the shield and individual miniatures (of the shields!) by President Stuart Watson.

Our thanks are due to the organising committee, headed up by Sandy Lamb. On duty were Jim Somerville, Jim Hatter, David Taylor, Murray Matthew, who did a terrific job  in setting the questions, organising the paper work and the visual presentations, it all worked a treat.  Rotarian Kay Diack also attended on behalf of the Events Committee and finally, once again, thanks to Joe McDowall the question master – his style and ad libs are much appreciated.

Rotary at work in the community once again – that’s what we are all about.

Week commencing 12th February, 2018

On Tuesday morning, I had a fleeting thought that there might be no-one turn up for Rotary at night – because of the weather! As it happened, 24 worthy souls signed in for our regular weekly get-together but for how long will that be the norm? This being the week after a Club Council meeting, we had no guest speaker, the time after the meal being allotted to discussion of the latest Council report!

Each committee leader is invited to comment on their particular projects and responsibilities, whilst the secretary winds up with other relevant matters including requests for help from individuals and from other clubs. Our President, Stuart Watson is the Acting Secretary whilst Secretary Mike Barron is on holiday and whilst never in danger of being over-worked, the President and Acting Secretary, an old hand at the game, is inclined to make the most of his current status! Hopefully you will detect an under-lying theme of humour regarding Stuart’s present situation because contrary to some of the feedback we get from time to time, we are not a bunch of po-faced old gits! There is plenty of time for banter and teasing! 

Announcements included a reminder that next week the Rotary-sponsored Primary School Quiz, with seven teams competing, will be held in the Hopeville Club. My experience of previous quiz nights is one of fun and enjoyment together with enthusiastic rivalry, to be enjoyed by children, parents and Rotarians.

We learned that Home Start Garioch are having a fund-raising quiz night in the Town Hall on 11th May with some of our members acting as stewards. I understand that at least one of our numbers has agreed to ‘take a table’ in other words they are keen to participate. Maybe some of you folks out there will be similarly motivated to support this excellent local help group?

I referred to the main topic for discussion in my opening paragraph.  We had 24 members in attendance but when I joined Rotary in the early eighties there were over forty members!  We need to recruit new members so what is stopping like-minded people from joining? Is it that thing about being too staid, too formal, too expensive?   If so we must be prepared to change. We need to rise above these criticisms because we know there are like-minded people out there willing to help others less fortunate than themselves. Hence the move to form Associate groups who will meet in a less formal fashion to develop their own help programmes under the Rotarian banner. I look forward to reporting regularly on this new initiative.

Week commencing 29th January, 2018

Whilst every Rotary Club in the land is allowed to ‘paddle it’s own canoe’ there is a regional, national and world wide structure that is constantly passing on edicts, themes and new initiatives to bring to the attention of individual clubs, some may be priorities identified and endorsed by the ‘heid-bummers’!  For example, I guess the ‘End Polio Now’ campaign must be seen to be the most outstanding success story – ever! We are almost there.  The system works pretty well but never more successfully than in the local scene.  On a quick count, for example, we have about 20 Rotary clubs within a 25 mile radius of Inverurie! We talk to each other; we visit each other from time to time.  That is almost mandatory because once a year each club will declare a  ‘Scatter Week’ when members, in groups or singly arrange to visit other clubs in the area. That club is ‘warned’ to expect them!  Some have been known to take it as challenge – going from Inverurie to Wick for example, or it might have been Ullapool! No matter, methinks there was an ulterior motive – it might have been the fish or, more likely - the beer!

Here’s a current example, President Stuart made it known that members would be made very welcome at next week’s meeting of the Huntly Club when guest speaker will be the local MP Colin Clark!  I guess a few of our local farmers might be quite keen to cross swords with him!

Moving swiftly on to a development much closer to home, our guest speaker this week was Ashley Wilson, managing secretary of BID, she was introduced by Rotarian Eric Massie.  This local business organisation, chaired by Mr Ian Sinclair became operational in August 2017.  The initials mean Business Improvement District which has a Board of 12, comprising members drawn from a wide range of commercial businesses in the town.  They are working to deliver a 5-year plan with a £500,000 budget to benefit the local economy, businesses and the community at large.

Ashley started with some quite startling statistics comparing the number of retail outlets in Inverurie in 1938 compared with the current number.  Many years ago Inverurie was quoted in the statistics as having the FEWEST high street vacancies across the land!

Whilst trying to help tackle that scenario, which must be like trying to stop the tide coming in, BID’s remit also allows them to go into partnership with community groups to help them achieve their objectives with advice and incentives. 

At one time Business Associations might have been in a position to effect changes to benefit the community but it would seem in these fast changing times that we have to change our ways and perhaps BID and similar organisations will succeed where others have failed.  They have a huge task ahead of them. After a short question session, Rotarian Don Gordon offered an appreciative vote of thanks.

PS  John Nicol’s Foundation sub-committee met to have a quick up date on plans for a Charity Fund- raising Gardeners Question Time  in early March! Watch this space

Week commencing 22nd January, 2018

 The Rotary members and guests gathered on Tuesday to celebrate the life and times of Robert Burns.  In all about 70 people sat down to the traditional meal  of cock-a-leekie soup, haggis, neeps and tatties and  a sweet entitled Tipsy Laird!  Before all that President Stuart Watson welcomed one and all then David Fraser, himself a Kintore Rotarian piped in the Haggis which was duly welcomed and addressed by Ian Mathers. This was followed by the Traditional Grace ‘Some hae meat…..’ delivered by the President.

After the meal and the Loyal Toast, President Stuart handed over to George Ross, convenor of our Events Committee who with Howard Hughes, introduced speakers and guest artists.  Assistant District Governor Kenny Thomson, another Kintore Rotarian kicked off the proceedings by proposing the principal toast of the evening – to ‘The Immortal Memory of Robert Burns and a rare job he made of it. I have been attending and participating in Burns Suppers for 50 years and more and I have never ceased to be amazed at the variety of style and content in which this task is tackled. A measure of the success is the attentiveness of the audience, the laughter engendered and the applause at the end. I can report that Kenny done good!  Next up – the Toast to the Lassies. The lucky lad given this task was Norman Shearer and straight away ye kent he had din this job afore! Praise one minute, a bit of humility the next, a wee cautious jibe here and there and lots of humour – well done Norman. 

On this occasion the ‘right to reply’ was shared, by two young ladies who proceeded to the job in song!  Moira Docherty and Gill Smith, accompanied by Graham Davidson did the job in grand style, starting with a little ditty directed to our Club and some of our members. Some might have wondered who had provided the ammunition, it was definitely an ‘inside job’.  Needless to say, ‘les girls’ were warmly applauded.

To the less formal part now – some more gorgeous singing from Moira, a recitation by George Ross of Tam o’Shanter, a wonderful tale told superbly once again by JG.  Then it was the turn of George, Stuart and yours truly to tell the tale of Willie brewing a peck o’ maut!

The entire company had their opportunity to let rip by singing together The Star o’ Rabbie Burns followed after thanks to the hotel for a splendid repast, to all those who bought raffle tickets and those who provided the prizes and especially to all the performers from President Stuart, by singing Auld Lang Syne.

Fit a grand nicht we had!  That’s Rotary enjoying itself! 

Week commencing 15th January, 2018

For only the second time in it’s 20-year history, the CLAN Christmas Car Raffle supported by Rotary Clubs across the region, was won by a Rotarian - a member of the Stonehaven Club!  This cancer charity does a terrific job and Rotary members are enthusiastic supporters of their work.   Hence, as well as selling tickets in their own areas, they man the kiosk set up featuring the Mini car, in the Bon Accord Centre, Aberdeen in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

At our meeting this week, we heard details of the outcome, the vital one being that over £35,000 was raised for the Charity. Well done everyone who made it happen and that includes you good folks who bought tickets.

Our evening started with President Stuart Watson welcoming one or two guests and welcoming back Pat Mitchell who has returned from a trip to NewZealand with wife Liz, to visit daughter Paula and family. Didn’t have a chance to chat but it looked as if they had some fine weather during their stay. Considering our recent weather and what is currently scheduled for the next few days, I bet they wish they had stayed a wee whilie longer!

It was a fairly short meeting but that allowed time for several sub-committees to catch-up with the business side of our club.  George Ross and his team were putting the final touches to the arrangements for next week when members, families and friends celebrate the life and works Robert Burns.  It promises to be another cracker!

Not surprisingly, perhaps, I am a member of the Admin/Service committee, chaired by Past  President Peter Donaldson.  We tackle stuff like Press relations; something called Face Book;Publications;Website and facilities.  This week we had quite a lengthy chat about microphones, loud speakers etc.

The Glee Cub are in the middle of quite an intensive programme of gigs and frankly our sound system is bulky to transport, time consuming in setting up (and dismantling) with lots of wires all over the place. We need to modernise it and that was the main item on our committee agenda.  Next week, on Burns Night to be exact, the Glee Club will lead the biggest sing-along in town when they entertain the Age Concern members in the KA. If it is anything like last year we are ‘going to have a ball’ but, the place will be packit foo wi nae room for jiggin’!

Week commencing 8th January, 2018

Following our festive season break, The Rotary Club of Inverurie members were back in business this week and wish everyone A Guid New Year and many of them.

It is quite appropriate for me to quote Robert Burns at this time because we will soon be celebrating his life and works around the anniversary of his birth on 25 January 1756. Sometimes ‘The best laid schemes o’ mice ging aft agley’  Why so, I hear you ask.  Our first meeting of the New Year on Tuesday 9th coincided with the Glee Club’s first gig of the season!  Whilst the choristers and comedians of the Glee Club were entertaining in Bridge of Don, the other members met in the KA.  One of our own, Sandra Turnbull was on the bill to give her ‘My Job’ talk

A bit of a computer whiz-kid, Sandra works with Computers and Integration SCIO here in Inverurie.  I hadn’t a clue what SCIO meant (until I asked!)  It means that Computers and Integration is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. They are delighted to announce that they have received a grant of just under £10,000 for a new project called “Be Connected”, it started on January 8th, 2018 and will continue through to the end of December.

The project will provide three free 1 ½ hr sessions, free child care if required and help with transport costs for anyone wishing to learn how to use information technology to access services and information on whatever each individual requires. You can call them now to book your place on Inverurie 01467 623600.

At the present time, Sandra is helping and tutoring 30 clients every week!  In this day and age of advanced communication techniques, it is brilliant to know that help exists for everyone, regardless of educational skills, to be able to keep pace in a fast -changing world!

Finally, the Glee Club returns to duty on Thursday to participate in the funeral service for Past President (2006/07) and Honorary member David Keith, who has passed away after a long and painful illness.  Our thoughts are with his wife Moira and the family. 

Week commencing 4th December 2017

This week’s meeting included a Special General Meeting to discuss the election of office bearers for the season 2018/19!  Needless to say, whilst it highlights the nature of our organisation with regard to forward and strategic planning, the reaction of some members (me included) was basically, wait a minute, why the big rush?  More importantly, the meeting was presented with the Financial Report for the period ended 30 June 2017. After discussion, the report was approved  by the membership with a round of applause to Treasurer Charlie Taylor and  auditor Graham McWilliam for a job well done.

Needless to say, the sourcing of funds was high on the interest list.  To be able to do what we do we must have money-raising ploys like for example, the Collection Cans which you see in retail establishments around the town. By collecting a few coppers at a time, in the year in question we collected just over £700 – given  gratuitously by the shoppers in the town who are due our warmest thanks as are the retailers who cooperate with us so willingly.  All of it used to help others less fortunate or indeed to fund schemes designed to improve opportunities for young people at home and abroad. The Glee Club was formed to entertain groups around the area, Rest Homes, Residential Homes, Old Folks Clubs and the like. We never ask for a penny- we regard it as providing a social service BUT, in appreciation of our efforts, inevitably the organisation will mark their thanks by offering a gift.  In the year in question, that amounted to over £800. Understandably the members of the group are ‘chuffed’ by the response, they themselves receiving no recompense for travelling expenses or indeed fish suppers on the way home!  This all comes under the Rotarian banner ‘Service above Self’. In danger of being accused of ‘blowing trumpets’, I must add that Treasurer Charlie reported that since they were formed the Glee Clubbers have raised over £15,000 for charitable causes – three cheers for the Loons and Quines.

A few years ago, our man George Ross put a notice up in the Highclere Centre inviting people to contribute books which were surplus to requirements. They would then be made available to the public for a small donation to Rotary Funds.  In the year in question, nearly £500 was raised to aid Rotary work!  Just one more example of how, through their generosity the people in town are helping us to help others.

To end on a salutary note, if we are to continue with our work, we do need to recruit  some younger people with that community spirit which drives us!  

Week commencing 27th November 2017

We celebrate the birth of our patron Saint Andrew on 30th November and on Tuesday evening, the Rotary Club of Inverurie did justice to the occasion. Invited to wear ‘a wee bit of tartan’, many responded willingly.  Sixty members, with wives, partners and guests, after an excellent meal, sat back to be entertained but first with a minimum of formality, President Stuart Watson presented two Paul Harris Fellowship (PHF) medals, the highest award that Rotary can give to anyone for service to the club and importantly, the wider community.

Firstly, the award was made to Fiona Cooper from Kintore, I covered that award several weeks ago. Remember? Among a host of other projects, Fiona is hugely involved in the Food Bank initiative. She was nominated for the award by Rotarian and Past President John Nicol who coincidentally was also awarded a PHF medal for a legacy of work on Rotary projects in which he was involved. One of the most notable being the assistance rendered to the Pitscurry Project, involving many hours of hard graft.  Listed amongst the projects in which John was involved was the re- decoration of a flat for an elderly lady! The bold boy invited wife Catherine to help as time was running out to get the job finished! Well done gal! It is called teamwork at which Rotary excels.

After a short interval, Rotarian Howard Hughes took over as MC firstly by introducing The Twa Quines frae Kemnay - Evie & Ethel (in real life Ishbel Imrie and Muriel Gration)  dressed up as ‘cleaning ladies’ with all their gear - buckets, dusters and mops, they entertained us for  20 minutes and more with songs, poems and  gossip!  The audience, many of whom had not been entertained by the ladies before, were in fits of laughter from beginning to end.

In contrast, our speaker was local loon and well-known broadcaster Mark Stephen who gave us a thought-provoking dissertation on St. Andrew, including the story of how our national flag came about!   You could have heard a pin drop! Honestly, you never know what you are going to get from Mark. People who listen to his Saturday morning programme on Radio Scotland will know how versatile he is – one moment in light-hearted banter about how the breakfast is coming along, (being cooked on a camping stove outside the BBC studios in Aberdeen as they broadcast) and next, dealing with some serious issue relating to the health of trees in our countryside

Like the twa quines before him, Mark received a very hearty round of applause

Before closing the evening’s event, President Stuart was in his element as he thanked Howard and the performers for a superb evening.  He referred back to Evie & Ethel and one of their topics, never to be forgotten – about the ozone layer.  They called it the Parazone Layer! 

Week commencing 20th November 2017

Apart from our speaker’s contribution, this week’s meeting turned out to be a bit of navel gazing. Conventionally this is ‘information week’, in other words, the week after the Club Council has deliberated. It is the week when the heid bummers explain themselves and the members hold them to account!  The meeting was chaired by Vice President Alan Robertson, President Stuart being smitten with the flu. We wish him a speedy recovery.

But first, to our speaker, a member of the club – Kay Diack, who gave us a very illuminating ‘my job’ talk as a Locality/Service Manager, Aberdeen City Council.  This infers that Kay is one of a number who operate under the banner ‘Shaping Aberdeen’, the remit being driven by professionalism, customer focus, respect, communications, future focussed, engagement and creative thinking! Quite something to live up to!

Kay’s team of 18, work on regeneration projects, relationships with the local community in the area which includes the Haudagin Roundabout re-structuring, basically working with everyone included in the wider surrounding area -  services like transport, green spaces, policing, access to and availability of the range and balance of retail outlets. They work closely with and for all age groups in the community. In attempting to create a more cohesive and content society they have a motto that says it all - One people/One place/One ethos/One technology!

That’s a very brief interpretation of how one of our municipal authorities work nowadays in an ever more complicated world! Robert Maitland offered our thanks to Kay.

The brevity of our speaker’s talk was occasioned by the need to spend a bit time on company business’! The regular stuff was summarily dealt with in order to review the ‘Visioning Experience’.  Way back in January, a wheen of us spent a Sunday afternoon discussing a whole set of new ideas to combat falling membership by first analysing the reasons for the fall and secondly what we should try to do about it. The ensuing report put together by Rotarian Jim Sommerville was circulated to other clubs and widely acclaimed.  It would be wrong to say we are in a crisis situation but the fact is – not a lot has happened since January BUT, an idea has been propounded that might well prove to be a winner and that is what absorbed the members on Tuesday night.

To summarise, younger people male and female with aspirations to serve the community and admire the Rotary principle of ‘Service above Self’ are not likely to join us because the organisation is thought to be old-fashioned, too formalised, too male dominated and expensive! Some of that is true.

The current option being discussed is the formation of Satellite Clubs, run on much less regulated lines but affiliated to the local Rotary Club and guided/advised by a serving Rotarian on matters like projects to support. The hope being that after a year or two some may join the Rotary Club itself which in the meantime is evolving to suit modern life styles but as one old geezer was heard to mutter ‘Aye min but evolution taks an afa lang time’!

Week commencing 13th November

From time to time the character and mood of our Rotary Meetings changes and there is nothing subtle about it – this week, in sombre mood, we took time from the outset to mourn the passing of our friend and colleague of so many years - John Blevins.

President Stuart Watson started the meeting with a Rotarian eulogy, in other words concentrating on John’s contribution to our club and the work we do at home and abroad. John joined the club in 1989 and went on to fulfil a range of roles including a term as Club President.  He also became involved in the Rotaract movement which encourages  young people to participate in Rotarian projects, this included organising and leading a trip to South Africa. John was a founder member of the Glee Club, a reflection of his lighter side, his poems were hilarious and in this context, some will remember his contribution to the annual town Christmas pantomimes! In 2008 John was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship in recognition of his contribution to Rotary aims and objectives. To close, President Stuart invited members and visitors to stand and to share a minute’s silence.

We had three guests at our meeting, all from Elgin. Firstly, there was a welcome return to Inverurie by Past President of the Elgin Club Bill Duncan and then co-incidentally President Stuart introduced our Principal Guest of the evening, District 1010 Governor Graeme Archibald who happens to be a member of the Elgin Club.  Graeme was accompanied by his wife Carol and whilst Graeme was a top table guest (cos he had a message to deliver!), Carol was warmly welcomed into the body of the kirk!

Before coming to Inverurie, Graeme had obviously done his homework because, as we all know, when the heidie addresses the school, he/she does the congratulatory bit first, quoting a few laudable performance statistics! It was not all negative and there was a serious message behind the figures. For instance, during the floods which affected our area 2 years ago, it has been calculated that 70,000 Rotarian hours were devoted to the recovery efforts.  In other words, publicity may be explicit when it comes to funds raised with pictures galore of the physical help given but how about highlighting the physical hours of commitment to helping others? In other words, as Graeme came to his main theme which was about falling numbers, his point was - to be seen to be a force for good in communities – WE DON’T SELL ourselves well enough! Fortunately, there are already moves afoot to redress the situation. Watch this space!

Turning to the international scene Graeme once again highlighted the End Polio Now project, started by Rotary and nowadays backed by the Gates Foundation. It would be wrong to say that the problem has been eradicated but we are getting very close.

Another cracking scheme is beginning to catch on, coming from head office I believe, and it relates to sustainability – of the planet!  The edict declares that the Rotary Movement should aim to plant a tree for every member of a Rotary club across the globe! That would be 1.2 million!  I have no doubt it will happen and from a selfish point of view, that will be good news for the growers who supply the trees but much more importantly it has to be good news for all of us.

District Governor Graeme was warmly thanked by President Stuart.

It was quite a night.

Week commencing 6th November

Quite recently our President Stuart Watson and Secretary Mike Barron made a  trip to Kintore with a special job on hand!   To present a Paul Harris Fellowship to a young Mum who works tirelessly to improve the lives of many in the community. Let me explain, Paul Harris was the Founder of Rotary.  The top award the movement can award for service above self is the PHF – a Paul Harris Fellowship. The recipient need not be a Rotarian  - the citation can apply to anyone deemed worthy of the honour.

With the endorsement of the members of the Kintore & Kemnay Club, Stuart and Mike knocked on the door of Fiona Cooper, in Ladywell Rd, Kintore to present her with a Paul Harris Fellowship in recognition of her efforts in and on behalf of the local community . To say Fiona was gob-smacked would be an understatement. “Why me? I just did what I felt was necessary.” The answer was just as basic “Because your voluntary efforts to help people in need  merits  recognition”.

The citation says .

“Fiona you have had a very active life in the community for a number of years, initially in support of activities in which your daughter was involved. You were Rainbow Guider for 10 years and built up the group which continues to flourish. In addition, for 10 years  you were heavily involved in supporting the Evolution School of Dancing. However, it is with recent events that you have become better known throughout the wider community as the Aberdeenshire North Foodbank Inverurie Centre Coordinator. This position necessitates that you ensure the foodbank is working correctly, that there are volunteers in place to staff the foodbank, that there is liaison between the warehouse, where donations of food are stored, and the availability of food at the collection centre in Inverurie. You are also the organiser of appeals, e.g. the Tesco collections, attending meetings with other organisations in your capacity as coordinator.

Your involvement in the above led  to you being  one of the initiators of the Inverurie and Garioch Flood Support Group which did sterling work during and after the flooding in early 2016.

This work is still ongoing locally and, on a national basis, you attend meetings of the Scottish Flood Forum. Recently you have been appointed secretary of Kintore Community Council. You are the current secretary of The Bothie, a charity  which was set up to provide a facility for young adults in Kintore to give them a place where they could go and meet socially, and to get them involved in the community. This is now expanding to include older members of the community. In addition to the above voluntary work, you are a very caring neighbour and friend to many”.

How’s that, eh? Congratulations , dear lady.

Week commencing 30th October

This week’s meeting landed on the fifth Tuesday of the month – an excuse for a party? Well not quite but customarily in the months of the year with a fifth Tuesday , partners are invited to join the members for the evening, just one of the traditions which we have adopted from square one!

It proved to be rather special because firstly, we had some trophies to hand out for the annual golf competition! Presenting the prizes was birthday lady Janet Duguid, herself one of our leading players. This year top lady was Doreen Donaldson and top man was Joe McDowall with Mike Hay collecting the runners-up prize. Previous to that, Janet herself received a Birthday cake which we all shared!  A real Rotary family touch!

Believe me that was all a precursor to a terrific presentation by Andy Hall from Stonehaven, a Teacher, Author and Photographer out of the top drawer. He took us on a magical photographic journey, the subject of his seventh book. The title - Aberdeenshire – A New Perspective.  It was a narrative accompanied by photographs  of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, ending with a sort résumé with music from Paul Anderson, the Tarland Fiddle maestro.

Och, it was more than that, each photograph was accompanied by a quote from some pretty famous people like Dennis Law, Jolomo, Sir Duncan Rice interspersed from time to time with tips on how to get the best results with your camera.  Best light one hour before and one hour after dawn, same for night fall and there was the proof of it before our very eyes. Patience pays – the two gannets with necks intertwined, just brilliant. Dedication – up in the morning at 3am  to get the rising  sun on north-west facing Pennan! It looked like it had been floodlit as the camera shutter clicked!

Whilst most were in colour, some of the black and white shots – of Footdee for example, were equally appealing.

After a most appreciative vote of thanks from President Stuart Watson, Andy remained to sell copies of this latest masterpiece and here is the match-winning tail- piece, 50% of the proceeds go to a charity supporting young people with learning difficulties.  Well done, Sir.

Week commencing 23rd October

Tuesday night’s meeting started well for me when I spotted the options for main course!  Salad (as usual) or Scampi & Chips with peas! Need I say more? On that note, for non-attendees who may read this piece, this coming weekend the clocks go BACK one hour and that signals a change in the menu format at our KA meetings!  In summertime our two course meal consists of main course and sweet or biscuits and cheese with coffee or tea. In wintertime we have soup and main course! Just one of these little idiosyncrasies that develop over time!

The evening was marked by the welcome return of Rotarian Howard Hughes after a long illness. Following words of welcome back by President Stuart, in his own inimitable way Mr Hughes replied, his remarks based on that Ronnie Barker masterpiece featuring FOUR CANDLES but included a Garden Fork forby, suffice to say that  brought the house down.  Yes, Hughes is back to his old self and we are all much the better of knowing that! 

Our guest speaker was Kenny Lawson who was introduced by his retired polisman colleague - Ken Duguid!   Kenny Lawson’s subject was Mountain Rescue.  Since being a young  police cadet in 1975, Kenny has served in the Police Mountain Rescue team, allied to the Braemar Rescue Team – to this day! How’s that for dedication and public service!? This year the Braemar team celebrate 50 years of action in the Cairngorm mountains but from time to time they may be called out to assist other groups in times of significant emergency, for example they travelled south to assist colleagues in the aftermath of the tragic Lockerbie disaster.

Notably Kenny also mentioned the tragedy of 5 young men setting off to rendez-vous with chums coming north from Glen Doll but they never got there! In the 1971 disaster, two groups of Edinburgh school children succumbed to the conditions with only 2 surviving to tell the tale.  Since then there has been developed a set of strict rules to be applied when planning to take children on to the mountains.

Backed up with a series of slides, Kenny highlighted many of the situations where the Team were heavily involved, all the while emphasising dedication and team spirit shared with members of the local communities. In the early days teams consisted mainly of police officers and local gamekeepers who knew the hills better than most.

Training  and the development of new facilities and equipment has gone on apace.  GPS, Helicopters, mobile phones (a curse and a benefit) and tracked vehicles have made a significant difference, the next to come on board is likely to be the use of drones.

To mark the 50th anniversary, a book has been produced entitled ‘Mostly Happy Returns’  (subtle eh?) costs £10 and is available at Craigdon.  Returns  from sales will ease the continuing problems of finance despite the fact that there is so much voluntary work encapsulated in this successful and vital public service!

Jim Hatter had the privilege of expressing our thanks to Kenny. 

Week commencing 16th October

It was a rather breathless President who opened our weekly meeting on Tuesday night for the simple reason that he was storm-bound on Monday on the west coast of Ireland where he and wife Norma were visiting family. They were unable to fly out until Tuesday morning. The trauma was accentuated because he had had a 5 am start!   Nevertheless he was in good form as he struck the gavel to get the Club proceedings under way.

Following the meal, we had regular reports on current projects. Requests were made for volunteers to help at a number of fund-raising events followed by an update on absentee members who are unwell at this time and finally a warm welcome was extended  to Ralph Webster a member of the Rotary Club of North Worcestershire. The spotlight was then turned on the subject for the week – Cystic Fibrosis.

In recent weeks we have been captivated by talks on a very wide range of topics and I have to say that this week’s was no exception. Well, in a sense it was because the message was delivered by one of our own members – Jim Hatter. This actually brought back memories of a tradition that has been lost in recent times. If, for any reason, your guest speaker has to call off, you do the job yourself! In most cases that might mean a change of subject but not this time!  The bold James delivered the message on Cystic Fibrosis rather well!  (I have to use that moderate phrase otherwise he would be impossible to work with!) 

The simple heading of the talk was ‘The Butterfly Trust’ a voluntary organisation started in Edinburgh to recruit work teams aiming to back-up homecare of sufferers of this debilitating condition simply to  overcome and  tolerate the difficulties of living!  In the process, to help make their life and that of family members more bearable.

This is an inherited debilitating condition affecting lungs and the digestive system. It demands daily vigorous physiotherapy, in some cases more than one session is necessary to keep the lungs functional. What if family members are not available or indeed not fit enough to perform that physio?  That’s where the Butterfly Trust teams can help. Sufferers may need drivers to move them around, they may need simple friendship, someone to talk with to keep them from becoming introverted and constantly depressed. This role may be required to help fellow family members too.

As to the future, it is to be hoped that modern medical science will be able to detect and deal with the gene which carries the threat of this dire condition.

In the meantime, the teams from the Butterfly Trust continue to provide that essential support service and being a charity, their time and expertise is FREE.  These fine public-spirited, caring people need our help, physical and financial! 

The vote of thanks was delivered by John Nicol.

Week commencing 9th October 2017

Our meeting this week is referred to as an ‘Information Meeting’. After the meal, the members are invited to raise any points included in the ensuing report from the monthly Council. Only 20 Rotarians were present, mind you we have a wheen on sick leave and one or two others on holiday.  The previous week was well attended  maybe because we had a cracking speaker lined up – George Niblock  currently Convenor of the Aberdeenshire Environmental Forum. His first topic however was ‘Fishing on the River Don’ which  took an interesting turn when President Stuart ‘waded’ in with the fact that  since 1308, residents of Inverurie  have had the right to fish the Don and the Urie!

This, from historian Watson – Following the Battle of Barra in that year King Robert The Bruce rewarded the inhabitants for their support both before and after the battle by creating the Town a Royal Burgh and the right in perpetuity to fish both rivers within the burgh boundaries.! Though the succeeding Councils (Inverurie through Gordon District now to Aberdeenshire Council) have administered the rivers over the years, the inhabitants of Inverurie actually own the fishings.

This was of interest to the speaker George because negotiations are currently  in progress regarding the transfer of the fishing “rights” to the local angling association!

Our speaker touched on the reduction in numbers of child anglers over the years here and throughout Scotland. Now parents are banning kids being frightened of the risk of falling in, potential drownings and particularly the lack of supervision. George confirmed that the Inverurie Angling Assoc. have safety equipment available which can be borrowed free of charge if youngsters want to have a go!

Another problem for both children and adults is the Giant Hogweed which is colonising the river banks and can cause serious irritation to skin when brushing against it. Sadly there is little evidence  of this menace being cleared all along the River Don and River Urie.

On the River Don, though the numbers of salmon have dropped over the years, there is still good numbers of sea trout and brown trout . Over 95% of all salmon caught are returned to the river on the Inverurie beats.

Fishing can also have many other benefits. While fishing, George has recently seen otters, kingfishers and osprey…a dream on a pleasant evening!

While angling is George’s hobby, as Convenor of Aberdeenshire Environmental Forum he has headed up a group of organisations concerned with the Council’s inability to carry out essential street cleaning duties, this initiative has received significant publicity in the Press. No doubt we will hear more of it as time goes on.

Suffice to say George was accorded a hearty vote of thanks by the members.

Week commencing 2nd October 2017

(The weekly reports of the Rotary Club of Inverurie)

As indicated a couple of weeks ago, the Inverurie Rotary Glee Club began their season of ‘gigs’ on 7 September travelling to Mintlaw to entertain the members of their Senior Citizens club.  We must have been a hit on our last visit because once again the hall was almost full.  Since that time there have been several changes to the line-up. Firstly, of course, our inspirational accompanist  (and teacher!) Linda Davidson has moved to Ballater where I do believe she is still inspiring and leading people wishing to make music! Another familiar face, missing from the front row is Jack Henry

Now, there isn’t much I can tell you about Jack that you don’t know already! Suffice to say that he has such a busy schedule and social life that he is unable to attend our practice sessions and as a result he has stood down from performing! We will miss his renditions of Doric poetry.  That said, he has been made well aware that there is a space for him any time he likes to return.  Also missing on a temporary basis  as he recovers from illness is our inspirational leader Howard Hughes.but he is still pulling the strings!  So, the line-up at the moment is George Ross, Stuart Watson, Joe McDowall, Jim Hatter, David Taylor and myself.

We have two accompanists who share the burden (I use the word advisedly) of keeping us in tune - Frances Mitchell and Dorothy Walker. We are indebted to both ladies for putting up with us.

Within the group, we have several instrumentalists which I have christened the FF+1 which translate as the Ficherin’ Four ( Stuart, Joe, Jim and myself) the plus 1 being the pianist – the only person who  knows what the right notes should be!

From a selfish angle I would suggest that we get much enjoyment and pleasure making music together but the most important feature is the opportunity we have to entertain other people and it would be true to say that our ‘fan base’ is in the  50 + age range. You will hear us talking about entertaining the ‘auld folk’ but gracious me,  our average age must be nearer 70 than 60!

Fun , fellowship and service to the community would be our motto.  The positive side to that is the usual response  - a donation to the Rotary Club Charity account, enabling us to help even more distressed and unfortunate people at home and abroad.  

Week commencing 25th September.

It turned out to be a busy night on Tuesday as we gathered for the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Inverurie. For a start, I was on duty along with Bill Murdoch. To explain, each member takes a turn at registering attendees and guests on arrival at the weekly meeting, whilst at the same time taking their dosh and noting their choice from the week’s menu! There is a deal of banter and back chat going on so we are always relieved when totting up, to see if numbers registered match the total sum of money paid!

We had one guest – good friend and a founding member of the Kintore and Kemnay Club, Kenny Thompson visiting us in his role as an Assistant District Governor. He was invited to report on some of the steps being taken around our Rotary District to counter the problem of dwindling membership. As you might imagine, there are many reasons why younger people may not consider joining and one obvious example is MONEY! Just how much does it cost to be a Rotarian before beginning to think about contributing financially to charitable efforts etc.?  Members of the Inverurie Club pay an annual membership fee of £100, some of which is a levy to support our worldwide organisation particularly the Rotary Foundation Charity. Each week members will pay £11 for a meal (this includes a small amount to be used to pay for hospitality offered to invited guests).

So, Kenny’s own club is trying out an alternative, given that an annual sub. is essential. If members want a meal they turn up in time and pay accordingly, if they don’t want a meal, they arrive 45 minutes later to join in the club business. How will that be perceived – time alone will tell.

Some other clubs are offering ‘Associate membership’ for groups who espouse  Rotary ideals but for all sorts of reasons are unable to participate in regular meetings, thus missing out on projects they might wish to support. One example being aired was an early afternoon get- together in a local café every fortnight or so taking on an acknowledged Rotary project which they will organise and run themselves with a Rotarian mentor. A nice bit of lateral thinking

Still thinking charity, John Nicol reported on the St Kizito Schools and Community Charity which is a project to renovate a school building in Monde located in  one of the poorest areas in Uganda. In early October some of our representatives, visiting Uganda, will have a meeting with the President of the Rotary Club of Kampala -Wandegeya, which is the Ugandan Club associated with the project. Progress is being made.

Still more good news Rotarian Graham McWilliam was congratulated for his participation in the Loch Ness Marathon, raising in excess of £2000 for the MacMillan Cancer Support ………………..and as we headed for the door Sandy Lamb reminded us to take our Christmas Boxes!  Yet another scheme to brighten the lives of deprived youngsters!

Week commencing 11th September.

One of the rules for the membership of Rotary when I first joined in the early eighties was about attendance!  You were expected to achieve a 60% attendance record or you were up in front of the beak (as we used to call our headmaster when I were a boy). If you happened to visit another Rotary Club on your weekly travels, you could count that towards the minimum total! Please note that I used the past tense when introducing the topic because the situation has  been relaxed somewhat but having said that, a bit of discipline  is no bad thing!  I never was a bad attendee, that only applies to my visits to the dentist!


As official Press Officer for the club, it is incumbent on me to report on the weekly meetings but of late my attendance level has slipped. Whist this week’s meeting was in progress, I was at Haddo House with the Beechgrove team for a question & answer session!  For continuity therefore, I have to rely on colleagues, on this occasion secretary Mike Barron reminds us of a meeting topic from a few weeks back.


Regular readers will have noted that we have covered  a wide range of speakers, some charity related, some inspirational  and occasionally, simply about how things which happen in our community. It could be called ‘keeping in touch’!



For over 10 years Ron Reid has run the Farmers Market, in front of the Town Hall in Inverurie. In all weathers the second Saturday sees the closure of the car park and from 9am until 1pm an average of 12 stalls offer for sale the finest of fresh produce. Each month a local charity is offered a stance.


The concept came about from Sandy Buchan, himself a farmer, but lacking expertise in finding his way around procedures for permission.  Ron processed the paper work at the turn of the Century and the Farmers Market was born.


While farm food was the principle operation, fish and fine trades have been introduced. He felt the ability of customer and stall holder to discuss the finer aspects of their potential purchases was very valuable e.g. the venison supplier was the man who was able to explain the finer parts of the deer….a service not possible in the larger supermarkets.


It provided income for the traders and a first class advertising opportunity for the traders at but £10 for their stall. Being Chairman of the Inverurie Community Council at that time, he did not get away with easy questions and there were many, including…being pushed on the need to influence Councillors to remedy  the lack of toilet facilities especially at play parks.


Ron was thanked by Ian Ewan who wished Ron success over the coming months with the local Farmers Market

Week commencing 4 Sept 2017

Our weekly meeting on Tuesday had a couple  of surprises for the members present! Firstly we drank a Toast to immediate past President Peter Donaldson and his wife Doreen who recently celebrated their Golden Wedding. Warmest congratulations were offered by the members.

Following the meal and the usual, but essential business of the club – up-date on colleagues suffering illness at this time, sports competitions within our Rotary District, greetings from other clubs which members have visited whilst on business trips or on holiday, club arrangements in coming weeks and news of this year’s Christmas car raffle in aid of  CLAN charity.  All the usual but essential guff – and then another real treat!

Last week we were enthralled to hear of the progress made in delivering the aims and objects of the ALEC charity by fellow Rotarian Henry Riddoch and colleague Amy. This week we had yet another cracking presentation by a young man called Vio Elko and he disnae come fae Birse! He bides in Meldrum!

Vio has lived in the UK now for  over 20 years and in that time following his dream, he has represented Scotland and GB in International Events such as Commonwealth Games, winning a Bronze medal for Scotland in the 2014 Commonwealth Games and despite the fact that he is now approaching 40yo he aims to have one more crack at the medals in 2018.  Oh yes, he has been seven times the British Wrestling Champion at Intermediate level (I take that to be a weight category )

His sporting passion has obviously not diminished but his real obsession is with  human fitness- from cradle to grave, as they say!  Yes, he and his wife Laura a qualified gymnast, run the ETKO Sports Academy at the Hoodles Play Barn, North Mains of Barra, Oldmeldrum .

They start with children aged 3 to 5, a bit early you might think but the evidence shows that by the time these children go to school they are fit and have learned to be inter-active with others, allowing them to integrate fully with teachers and fellow pupils alike from day one.

Vio, at this point paid tribute to the owners of the The Barn, Richard and Anna Stephens who backed the project development  by providing more space and  facilities. The business has extended to cater for all ages with Vio targetting fitness, well-being and ambition especially for the young people. This leads to the category headed ‘Fitness for All’ at which juncture I felt he was staring meaningfully at me!

Following several questions, notably about funding, a vote of thanks was delivered by Rotarian  Pat Walker.

(PS following last week’s comment about electronics, Vio wore a head mike and we could hear every word – well done chaps).

Week commencing 28th August

Our guests this week were Henry Riddoch and Amy Clark, their subject – an update on the project known as ALEC – Aberdeen Life Education Centres. In his introduction to our guests Rotarian Murray Matthew reminded us that the organisation was first formed  20 years ago and he should know because he was one of the founders!  What is ALEC, I hear you ask?

It is actually part of an international education charity working in partnership with schools, the business community and parents to provide healthy life choices including drug and nicotine education  to all nursery and primary school children.  I remember the first mobile classroom, a specially fitted out four wheeled monster trailer, the size of a 40 foot artic that had to be towed from school to school – a very specialist and expensive system and therein lies today’s story!

The newest of these mammoths was launched just a few years ago, but the costs of the operation have proved to be unsustainable. This well regarded initiative was under threat then along comes a chap called Henry Riddoch, a member of the Kintore/Kemnay Rotary Club and  now Chairman of the ALEC committee but more to the point - an engineer of significant standing! Maybe he should be described as an inventor.  On Tuesday night we were privileged to see the successor of that 40 ft mobile classroom!  All the essentials to continue this vital and successful initiative that were carted around on four wheels can now be transported in the back of a car in an over-sized suitcase designed by Henry!

There is enough kit and plenty surprises contained therein to transform an ordinary classroom into a space to excite and enthral nursery and primary children, including accommodation for the charity’s mascot Harold the Giraffe – aye, there was a fair bit of tittering went on among these  ‘mature’ Rotarians at his appearance, superbly handled by Amy Clark the Senior Educator. 

You will undoubtedly hear more about ALEC in coming weeks as the new equipment is launched. 

Bill Murdoch offered a very apt vote of thanks.

It seems a shame to end on a rather sour note but I have to say that the very interesting and important message was tainted by a mal-functioning electronics set-up!


Week commencing 14th August

Though Rotary business takes a bit of a breather during the holiday season, that does not mean to say that it stops! Plans for the coming season are being fashioned as I write!  The Rotary Glee Club is due to start rehearsals any day now for coming performances, refreshing the old favourites and trying out the many suggestions for newer material. This forward planning can all be seen to be a valuable part of our service to the local community.

You may remember, a few weeks back, my reference to the Rotary Youth Leader Award  offering young people the opportunity in a week-long camp at the Abernethy Outdoor Centre, Nethybridge  to participate in a programme of physical and intellectual activities, developing skills in Team working, Positive leadership, Communication, Problem Solving and Decision making. This week at our club meeting our two nominees, Eryn Duffus and Andrew Kitchin came to the club meeting to report on their experience. Both are pupils at Inverurie Academy but Alexander was actually selected, having been nominated by his BB Company.

Eryn Duffus (16 yo) had this to say “Thank you so much for all you did to make RYLA such a fantastic experience. A great experience and opportunity, great fun, a chance to find out about myself, eye-opening and challenging.”

Alexander Kitchin ( just turned 17 yo) reported likewise, as follows “What an experience, I learned so much, I also made new friends  who I will certainly keep in touch with. All of our team would love to return and would jump at the chance. I feel that we would put our leadership skills to better use after this initial experience.”

Coincidentally, it was good to hear that both are very musical Eryn plays violin and ukulele whilst Alexander plays drums.  A real talented pair worthy of our support.  Well done guys, we wish you a happy and successful future.

From on high (Rotary HQ in Evanton USA), comes a letter about the worldwide Rotary Foundation Charity which is headed ‘Because of You’ it reads as follows: ‘By giving to The Rotary Foundation during our centennial year, you joined more donors than ever in empowering our Foundation to take on larger projects with greater impact. From developing nationwide literacy programmes to training tomorrow’s peacemakers, to helping push polio to the brink of eradication, your donation is Doing Good in the World. Thank you for celebrating this tremendous milestone by giving. The Foundation’s second century and the future of all who depend on its work will be the brighter because of you’.

We Inverurie Rotarians in turn wish to thank all of you out there who help us to play our part in achieving these objectives at home and abroad.

Week commencing 24th July

Chaired for the first time by our newly elected President for 2017/18 J Stuart Watson, this week’s meeting was quite eventful in that we had as our guest speaker Steph Dowling who represents the CLAN charity in our area. At the end of the evening, Steph was presented with a cheque for £5000 our Club’s donation to the charity this year. Chairman of our Events committee JG Ross was also present - he and his team had organised the very successful fund-raising WAGS dinner, reported on at the time, which raised a total of £11,000. The balance will be distributed to a number of other projects which we support regularly.

I should add that we also support CLAN by participating in the Christmas Car Raffle held annually with the big ticket–selling finale in the Bon Accord Centre in Aberdeen in the run up to the draw on Christmas Eve. This is a case of Rotary workng together as all the Rotary clubs in the area participate.

In her very well presented talk, Steph gave us some idea of the working of CLAN in our area. It is, of course, a Charity organisation principally concerned with emotional and physical support of individuals and families suffering from the consequences of cancer illnesses. This particular charity covers the whole of the NE corner and the Northern Isles. It is quite a significant challenge when you consider that there are over 3000 diagnosed with the condition annually! As a result a wide range of support services have been developed – free of charge so, that’s where the money goes and they need something like £2.5 million per year!

Not only will they organise complementary treatments like physiotherapy and reflexology but they organise school holiday trips for children, a library service and regular meetings. Most will know of CLAN House on Westburn Road, Aberdeen a wonderful stopping off place for people travelling for treatment in hospital.

There are community bases throughout the area, including Inverurie where a move to to new premises will take place soon. Presently there are about 120 clients/patients attending in Inverurie with a quarterly increase of about 20!

This independent charity works hard to raise funds through Charity Shops and that novel Tempo Café provided by the Bon Accord Centre in Aberdeen which has a novel style. Go in for a coffee and make it yourself! You are logged as you go in and you pay for your stay by the minute! At least 10p per minute! We used it each day when on duty at the Car Raffle! Don’t pass it by, ALL the proceeds go to the charity, they dinna even hiv tae pey a rent! Well done Bon Accord Centre!

After answering questions, Steph was given a hearty round of applause.

 Rotary Matters w.c. 17 July 

We had another informal meeting of the club this week with the most pressing subject for discussion is our need to attract new members.  I was reminded of a poster outside a kirk somewhere, which carried the message ‘Carpenter from Nazareth needs Joiners’!   Rotary clubs across the nation need new members if they are to be able to continue the amazing work they do. Giving publicity to these activities somehow does not appear to register with the younger generation despite the fact that Rotary support activities for children and young people come high on the priority lists.

Do we have to be more aggressive in our advertising with banners everywhere, such as I featured a week or so ago?  It helps but it is not enough, I guess in the olden days the membership preferred to help ‘anonymously’ or at least discreetly to avoid embarrassment – on both sides! These days have gone now, we need to be a bit more up front.

On the way home in the car, still thinking about this subject, I took a different line! For all of these years, we have been willingly investing our time, our skills and our efforts in a whole range of activities.  What have we got to show for it other than self-satisfaction for being able to help and improve the lot of a huge number of people?  That’s fine but has the investment shown any bonus?  The fact is, we don’t know!

In recent weeks, I have reported on a range of activities – the landscaping at St James Place which incidentally was completed a couple of weeks ago by the team of Charlie Taylor, John Nicol and Eric Massie with meself acting as gaffer!   We planted a range of shrubs to enhance the entrance. All the plants and the pre-planting compost were donated FOC by Parkhill Nurseries, Dyce. Our thanks go to Gordon and Barry McGillivray for their generosity.

Our efforts on behalf of the Kids Out day at Craibstone , the end of season concert at Inverurie Academy and most recently an account of the RYLA camp, attended by two young people from the area have all been logged.  All of them costing time and money given, without strings. Lets take RYLA as an example of our investment - 2 young people annually for the last  30 years at £500 per head = £30,000.  We keep on doing it but where is the feed-back?  Our young folk this year will be invited to give their impressions at one of our evening meetings and I can tell you if past experiences are anything to go by, we won’t be disappointed. 

What I want to know is – where are the ones who benefited from their RYLA experiences 10 or 20 years ago? How many of them are Rotarians? Many will claim that it was a turning point in their lives. I’d love to hear from them. Where are they now,  I want to know if we spent our money wisely?

Week commencing 26th June 2017

Tuesday night’s meeting proved to be a bit special.

It was to be the last occasion when Peter Donaldson addressed the Club as President before he retires from the post. There were 25 members in attendance and after the regular programme – Grace, followed by the meal we had our annual interlude – the presentation of a gratuity to the hotel staff for the excellent job they do each week on our behalf.

It was time then for Peter to summarise his experience as our President. As well as finding it a rewarding year in that the team ‘done well’. He found it an enriching experience despite it being an onerous and time-consuming task. The level of co-operation with the membership led us to have a good year in serving our community in so many different ways. On the downside Peter made the point that if we are to continue to do good works we do need to recruit new, younger members. In order to help with that process maybe we have to change our image a bit – less staid, less formal, more relaxed. The funny thing is, if I may say so, we are significantly more relaxed and less formal than when I joined in the early eighties. As they say, evolution is a slow process, we all know that but without a doubt times they are a-changing they have to and we have to react rather more smartly!

 Peter’s valedictory address was very well acknowledged by the members. He then formally demitted office by placing the President’s Chain of Office round the shoulders of the incoming President J Stuart Watson acknowledged by yet another enthusiastic round of applause.

In his opening remarks Stuart alluded to the fact that the last time he had worn the President’s regalia was 29 years ago! (You may remember my report of the celebrations when Stuart passed the 50 year membership mark!) He did add that this is the era of re-cycling – even Rotary Presidents! He joined Rotary in1966 at a very young age! No surprise there either because his late Father was a founding member of the club.

Did you know that Rotary is one of the most powerful organisation for peace – in the whole world? The facts are indisputable and picking up on that our incoming President quoted this year’s Rotary motto ‘Rotary making a difference’. Continuing in historical vein , Stuart went on to contend that ‘The only thing you will be remembered for when you die is your contribution to society’! Deep thoughts maybe but, as we continue to enjoy the weekly camaraderie and friendly exchanges, the curling, the Glee Club , the special events we must be able to continue the work we do in our own community and for other troubled communities across the globe.

At this juncture, Stuart invited the other new members of the managing team to take their place beside him – Alan Robertson as Vice-President, Mike Barron as Secretary and Charlie Taylor a Treasurer.

In proposing the final toast to ‘Rotary the World Over’ it was evident that President Stuart’s motto was undoubtedly ‘ Now then guys and gals, lets have more of the same because Rotary matters’.

Week ending 19th May 2017

During a short business meeting on Tuesday Night, President Peter Donaldson brought to the attention of members the proposal for a new business/community initiative for Inverurie, referred to by the letters BID. There were a few mutterings around my table but President Peter was ‘on the ball’ by going on to say that he had invited a member of the organising team to come along to inform the members fully. The big question to be debated will be ‘should the Rotary Club become involved?’ Time alone will tell!

Recently we had a fine talk about the Charity Shop in the town, highlighting the good work they do on behalf of charities in the town and almost as a follow-up we had another cracking talk given by Mhairi Philip , Senior Co-ordinator of Garioch Homestart, just one of the important charities supported by the Shop.

It was a bit of an eye-opener for some of us to hear of the work done by Homestart. We constantly hear tales of disadvantaged families and fleeing refugees who come to live in our communities. They need an enormous amount of back-up and support if they are to be able to lead a modest, quite ordinary life, obviously made quite acute when there are young children involved. Mhairi covered much of what is essential but also highlighted one factor which is nothing to do with physical needs, she discussed the problems caused by social isolation – I guess we take for granted that feeling of belonging, the ability to feel at home, to be able to nod and say hello to people we meet in the street, they needn’t be close friends or acquaintances, we might just meet them in a queue in the post office and have no hesitation in ‘passing the time of day’. It is a great comfort .

The families which Homestart Garioch support have precious little of that and the problem becomes more acute by the day. Four years ago, Homestart Garioch had 20 volunteers in their team, today it is over 60! To make matters worse whilst the numbers of disadvantaged families has grown as indicated by the number of volunteers, the funding from the Local Government bodies has remained static. This is not a small problem, over 100 families are being supported in Aberdeenshire.

Thousands of hours are devoted to this work by volunteers and the only remuneration they receive is travelling expenses! Nevertheless the volunteers are in there doing their bit and as Mhairi explained they try to help families with children under 5 years of age before their situation become critical , in other words they try to avoid having to take ‘fire brigade ‘ measures. To qualify for assistance families must have at least one child under 5 in the household. It is not easy to sum up the work other than to say the organisation aims to help families in distress to reach a standard of living that they can sustain for themselves – just a simple humanitarian objective – these volunteers deserve our admiration and support, thankfully something for which Rotary have a fair track record.

Mhairi received a well- merited vote of thanks from Joe McDowall and a round of appreciation from the members.


Week ending 28th April 2017

 It is that time again, said one of my colleagues as we sat down together on Tuesday night to enjoy our meal before starting the Rotary business of the week. He could have added – it is not long in coming round again! He was referring, of course, to our Annual General Meeting! These are throw away remarks we all use from time to time but when you think about it, such a lot has happened internationally, nationally, locally, personally in that time and when you are lucky enough to be busily engrossed in living life, time does seem to fly past.

In terms of clubs like Rotary, it is time to draw a line under the last 12 months, to assess our successes and failures and hopefully to end on a high note as we lay out the plans, under a new management team, to do at least as well next year. Committee by committee, convenors were invited to report on how targets were reached …or not! Happily the report card must end with the remarks that this pupil done well! That is not to say that members feel complacent because the other much quoted heidie remark applies ‘could have done better! I have no intention in listing the whole lot, but here are a few:

We finally solved the problems associated with communication! I have a bee in my bonnet about this one! Firstly, because I’m getting deaf and secondly I do quite a lot of speaking to people and realise how important it is they can hear what I have to say! We now have a Public Address system to be used at our meetings and it WORKS! Plans to provide another (second) Defibrillator for the community, are almost complete

The Rotarian End Polio Now campaign is going on apace with one of the publicity and fund-raising initiatives seeing 15,000 crocus bulbs planted around the area. Happily we can congratulate schools, clubs, community bodies and other charities for joining in with this project.

Raffles and other fund raising efforts of the Glee Club, Collection Boxes, Second hand Book sales have accumulated a significant sum to be distributed to Children in Need, Clan, Emergency Shelter Boxes and numerous others. Lastly but not least, again we have organised and run some very entertaining and stimulating competitions for young people such as the primary School Quiz, Young Musician of the Year, Young Photographer of the year and shortly we will be sending two young teenagers off to a weeklong Youth Leaders Camp. This is a testing but challenging time with others from the region, to help bring out latent leadership qualities. We talk about young people showing natural leadership qualities but this camp seeks to give a gentle shove to some who have theses qualities but maybe don’t realise it.

……and so to the year ahead under the leadership of J Stuart Watson , a man who has been President before as well as having a couple of spells as secretary. There’s loyalty and commitment for you! We look forward to a challenging year. Our top priority must be to reduce the average age (68 years)! I do realise that evolution is a slow process but it will happen. In the process we will recruit younger members to sustain the work of Rotary. With that in mind, if you have a bit of spare time on your hands, enjoy good company and have a mind to help others – give us a shout! We are getting short of golfers and curlers too!


Week ending 24th March, 2017

There is never a shortage of news and events to report in this weekly account of what is happening in the Rotary Club of Inverurie. In my remarks last week I did draw attention to the ageing nature of the membership and about the need to be better known in our community. On this latter point I would have to say that the present lot are heavily involved in a very wide range of activities in the community involving a very wide spectrum of our society.

For example, perhaps because I am part of it, I tend to leave the odd remark about the activities of the Glee Club as a one-liner but I know a lot of people who would argue that the team deserves a better write-up! Since last October, we have performed on 12 occasions in our area, mostly to Over 60’s groups, retirement homes etc and as often as not, as we leave the question asked is “when can you come back?” I have often compared music with gardening because you can be a spectator enjoying the efforts of others or get involved. There are no barriers – age, religion, colour, creed, ability but in both pastimes, the result is the same – enjoyment, satisfaction, social interaction, reminiscences all very therapeutic. They tick all the boxes and that is why as Rotarians, we lay great store by this activity. Our last gig of the season will be this week – an afternoon at the Inverurie Day Centre. The programme, as ever, will consist of a mix of songs ‘Ancient & Modern’! Well, modern up til aboot the late sixties (like George Ross’s stories)!

At the other end of the scale, I recently reported on the results of the primary School Quiz won this year by a team from Kellands School (Angela Fern’s picture of the team with Rotarian Cath Nash who organised the quiz and Peter Donaldson our President who presented the awards at the school on Friday 17th.Team L-R Alastair Maclean, Adam Downie, Cally Goodwin and Erin Minty)

Still with young people, The Young Photographer of the Year competition, organised by Rotary District 1010 (from Stirling northwards!) which has 88 clubs and now in it’s seventh year, has just been judged! The winning entries come from ……………….Kellands School! The theme was ‘Reflections’ which gave young people the opportunity to use their skills and technical ability to display their results to a wider, often critical audience.

Undeniably the use of digital cameras has revolutionised the photographic world. Its ability to produce instant images, gives a painless opportunity, especially for young people to test their skill.

The work of District winners in each age group will be submitted as entrants in the Rotary of Ireland and Gt. Britain Competition.

Nine years old Isla Wilson has won the trilogy competition, having won the local heat and has gone on to win the District final! Warmest Congratulations to Isla AND to two fellow pupils Emma Barclay (2nd) and Jasmin Mathers(3rd)

If you would like to see examples of their work and artistry, visit the Gordon Arts Exhibition in The Town Hall Inverurie, open until 26 March 2017.

Week ending 3rd March, 2017

On Tuesday, 27 Rotarians were present and after the meal and committee  reports, Rotarian Stephen Martin introduced Stephen Boddie who is a Community Service Representative and Coach for Aberdeen Football Club and let me tell you there is a great deal more to it  than football. Stephen and his associates are involved with people aged from 6 to sixty plus

The goals of this organisation are more inspirational than any Dennis Law ever scored! The organisation is actually a registered charity entirely separate from AFC with its own Board of Directors but of course football is used as one route to attract and engage with young people, hence the team work with Inverurie Locos, Colony Park, Schools  and  others.

Apart from helping to create pathways for boys and girls for their future, the team are encouraging them to integrate, respect all colours and creeds etc. It is about citizenship really. There is currently an initiative to encourage some of the young Saudi refugees, not only to play football but ALSO to learn to speak our language! Integration is the name of that game - sounds logical doesn’t it? 

These guys are true social workers in our community, making a difference to people’s lives, across the age spectrum! They are helping older people tackle a lack of fitness, loneliness and dementia with initiatives like fitness clubs and walking football, changing people’s lives for the better. One of their number has just been voted the Autistic Coach of the Year for Aberdeenshire, went on to win the Scottish title and the UK title. 

If you get the chance to help these guys in any way – grab it, you will not be sorry. 

Stuart Watson gave a very well constructed  and considerate vote of thanks.

Week ending 24th February, 2017

On Monday this week, Rotarian Jim Sommerville visited Strathburn School to collect a batch of 30 Shoeboxes destined for Eastern Europe in time for Easter. 

Primary 5 pupils at the school have been involved in this initiative. They organised posters, emails and notes, made presentations to fellow pupils in P4 , 6 and 7  to encourage them to bring in items to help fill up the boxes. Each pupil in P5 then filled and decorated a box, which was then filled with toiletries, toys, games etc suitable for their own age-group. 

When collecting the boxes, the pupils were quizzed about the scheme with a few relevant questions: 

Where are they destined for?  Ans. Out came a string of answers – Belarus, Ukraine, Bulgaria……They actually prepared a work sheet and route map for where they are destined. These projects surely make potentially boring subjects, come to life ? 

Why do we send them?  Ans. To less fortunate children who may have never received a personal gift before?  

What is the value of the gifts in each box? Ans. This is when the answers got a bit random! Anything from ‘A fiver’ to ‘fifty quid’!. 

So, if it was a fiver, what is the value of this consignment?  Ans. Quick as a flash - £150 !  

Haven’t they done well? The pupils of P5 at Strathburn Primary wish to thank everyone who helped this enterprising project, including pupils and parents who donated items…………….and so say all of us! 

We must also acknowledge the co-operation of class teacher  Donna Murray who obviously developed the project to become a very useful  educational exercise

Week ending 17th February, 2017

Starting this week with a postscript! Many of you will remember the CLAN raffle which Rotary Clubs in this corner support each year. You may have contributed at the time. The prize – a spanking new modern Mini with the draw being made on Christmas Eve. The 2015 winner lives in Inverurie so there was no bother in making the presentation. Not so easy this time – the 2016 winner just happened to be working overseas and as a result that handover had to be delayed until quit recently That is just one side of the story. Whilst we thank all the Rotarians who gave up their time to man the stand in the Bon Accord Centre selling tickets, we also thank the donors who forked out their hard won dosh and as a result a cheque for £38,000 was handed over to the CLAN charity! In addition, each club that participated receives a small sum to use for their own particular charity projects. Who said North Easters were skinflints? Rubbish, say I. Well done everyone.

Numbers were down at this week’s club meeting – midterm holidays and illness being the likely cause. The business of the day must go on but after the usual reports including greetings brought back by members who had visited other clubs, just another worthy tradition, we had an excellent presentation from retired Army Padre – Rev. Philip Clarke. To say that he is something of a keep fit fanatic would not be unkind. A cyclist of note, he still sets himself daunting challenges and by the way he has recently become an octogenarian – welcome to the club Philip!

In describing his array of bicycles, he even has a modest looking everyday bike for doing the shopping! He admitted that some others cost as much as a small car! When he tackles the hills, Philip has a strict rule – he does cycle all the way, not allowing himself to dismount and walk for a whilie! He will stop, rest a moment but then mounts up again from the same spot. The highlight of his talk came as he described, while in his seventies, cycling over the eight highest passes in Scotland measuring height and distance Aha, but that is not all, after a cup of coffee he then retraces his ride – yes indeed, he does it all over again in the opposite direction! These passes will be familiar to many, they include Cairn o’ Mount, Lecht, Glenshee, Ben Lawyers, the Mam Rattigan Pass, the Pass of the Cattle over to Ardnaurchan. As you picture these wonderful routes over which you may have driven many a time just think – on a bike there and back! Eight Passes x height above sea level x two = almost the height of Mount Everest! It is a stunning tale.

Secretary Jim Hatter gave the Vote of Thanks accompanied by very enthusiastic applause .

In the coming days, members will be stewarding and assisting at a Swimming Gala for young folk with learning difficulties and also running the annual Primary Schools quiz.

Week ending 10th February, 2017

 On a rather dreich night 25 Rotarians, joined by one guest - Steve Lynne from the Kintore Club, were to enjoy another excellent evening.  After the meal and business updates, secretary Jim Hatter introduced our guest speaker Scott Adams, a local Scout Leader in a much modernised organisation which I hardly recognised, mind you I moved on from being a Troop Leader circa 1954!  The first thing I noticed was that Scott never used the name troop!

We were reminded during Scott’s dissertation that our club played a large part in the restoration and modernisation  of the Scout HQ in Inverurie a few years ago, our work party being led by Eric Massie of course, a past master at acquiring necessary items just like the Great Houdini himself! In other words, Eric made full use of his contacts within the building industry to benefit the project.

At 24 years of age, Scott’s enthusiasm for Scouts and Scouting shone like a beacon.  After a few words about the local organisation and structure, he went on to highlight the projects and challenges that are set for the young people, segregated into groups by age. He never mentioned reef knots, semaphore or campfire cooking, come to think of it he never even mentioned British Bulldog either, a compulsory skill required if you ever think about playing Rugby!

The critical words that came through to me were Challenge, Energy and Commitment as it applies to themselves and the community. At a very early stage today’s Scouts are encouraged to plan and manage their own affairs – organisational matters are not left to the ‘Leaders’. They would be taking more of a back seat role as mentors. Needless to say, in this modern society, that is a very appealing prospect for quite assertive young people, indeed Scott himself is a classic product of the system, his style and attitude went down rather well with our members.

Several projects in the community were described, for example, in targeting mental health problems, a group, having researched some current simple therapeutic ideas, made bird boxes for a number of sufferers, this facility having been shown to be a benefit by providing a focus of interest.

The usual run of competitions are still popular as fundraisers but I was delighted to hear that camping trips are still popular, often to meet up with others from afar.

As well as being local Scout Leader, on his own behalf Scott aims to become a Queen’s Scout by the time he is 25yo – the highest qualification to be gained in the organisation meantime, he has a new, additional role to play as an Assistant District Commissioner for Young People’s Development  which basically serves to emphasise the ethos of helping young people to take responsibility for running the organisation.

Aye, he’s quite a guy is our Scott . The vote of thanks, fulsome in its praise was very ably delivered by Rotarian Cath Nash.

Week ending 3rd February, 2017

 On duty this week along with Joe McDowall, we clocked in 27 members and one guest. It was a return to normality after a busy week when a number of Rotarians  performed at a range of Burns celebration across this corner. That included a Glee Club date with Age Concern’ Scotch Nicht in the  KA – fit a rare nicht we had!

President Peter during his customary remarks took the opportunity to remind members of coming events when volunteer helpers will be required, these included the annual Primary School Quiz , Swimming Gala and Run Garioch! We have a busy time ahead of us.

Taking over the meeting at this point was immediate past president David Taylor who introduced our speaker this week, from the Blackburn Rotary Club, it was the one and only Barry Craigmile. His subject Guide Dogs for the Blind, yet another wonderful tale of commitment.  A week or two ago it was all about Mountain Rescue, highlighting the importance of the service and the dedication of teams of unpaid volunteers without which the service might not exist.  Here was another, Barry’s commitment to Guide Dogs is, with his wife, to train young puppies for the job!

Whilst it is not an every day experience, the chances are that you will see a guide dog in action from time to time on our busy streets giving that blind person a freedom that otherwise they would not have. The value of the work done by trainers must not be underestimated, the two words I have used already are worth repeating – their role requires commitment and dedication.

In Barry’s talk, he reminded us that the service started back in 1931 when 4 German Shepherd’s were trained. Two ladies – Muriel Crooke and Rosamund Bond , living in Wallasey Cheshire initiated the movement. Since then almost 30 thousand people have been helped to lead independent lives aided by a Guide Dog – an extraordinary tale!

At one time the Guide Dogs for the Blind were prepared to train puppies that were gifted by well- meaning owners but over the years, there was shown to be too high a failure rate it therefore became clear that the organisation would have to breed their own.  Various breeds have been used including Labradors, Labradoodles, Collies with the first-named being the most successful.  Strange, almost quirky characteristics may lead to some breeds being excluded. For example, collies are not so successful. Why? Have you noticed, I bet you haven’t – collies don’t like to walk slowly, they want to rush everywhere to get the job done. I’m sure many a shepherd would agree with that.  Not quite the temperament required to be a Guide Dog.

The basic obedience training of a young dog is about 14 weeks then it will go for special training to the likes of the Forfar facility, as indeed will the Blind person. Overall the cost is in region of £50,000 per dog and there are currently about 5000 dogs working in the UK. With a dog’s working life being 7 to 9 years, there is a constant need for replacements.

The vote of thanks on behalf of the club was delivered by Sandra Turnbull

Don’t turn a blind eye to requests for support!!

Week ending December 23rd 2016

In the absence of our President Peter Donaldson (excused because of much more important family duties!), our weekly meeting was chaired by President Elect J Stuart Watson. It was, of course our Christmas Party night, attended by members, accompanied by wives/husbands/partners and friends. All but the essential formalities were suspended for the evening. Secretary Jim Hatter proposed the Grace before we were to enjoy another excellent meal presented by the KA team.

Following the loyal toast, Stuart handed over to the MC for the evening J G Ross who introduced the Club’s own bunch of thespian/musician entertainers - The Glee Club. As many will know, our original pianist Linda Davidson with husband Frank has moved on to live in Ballater. Such was the reputation of the Glee Club that we had two applicants for the job and we decided to appoint both! (If you believe that you’ll believe onything) George took the opportunity to welcome Mrs Frances Mitchell who drew the short straw for this gig!

Our fellow members and guests were royally entertained for the next hour with a selection of sing along favourites ending with a couple of Christmas Carols and some seasonal ditties, including White Christmas. Highlights were undoubtedly The Bold Gendarmes from Howard Hughes and David Taylor, Jack Henry reciting the Ian Middleton tale of ‘flechs and half eaten meals grouwin their ain pencillin!’, Mr Hughes again telling the story of the Lispin Leghorn aided and abetted by 3 feathered friends! JS Watson singing Hallelujah and the Fulton/Milroy favourite about Lah-dee-dah, and Mr Ross (jokes apart) with The Auld Meal Mill and of course the Ficherin Four plus One playing a wee selection including Ashokan Farewell, Wild Rose of the Mountain and The Dark Island.

The vote of thanks was proposed by Mike Hay and so for many, the seasonal festivities had begun!

Our next meeting will be on 10th January when the guest speaker will address the subject of Mountain Rescue – we look forward to that.

The members of the Rotary Club of Inverurie wish you all a Very Happy Christmas and Guid New Year.

Week ending December 16th 2016

The Rotary Club of Inverurie meeting on Tuesday night was not particularly well attended which is really not surprising at this time of year. Apart from other seasonal events taking place there seems to be quite a number of people struck down with heavy colds. In fact Philip Clarke who was to be our speaker was so afflicted but I tell you what, his ‘deputy’ was a revelation in his own right. More of that in a tick.

A group of 7 of our Rotarians travelled to Alford to attend the 20th Anniversary Charter Dinner of their Rotary Club on Friday last, just another tradition in the Rotary world. The report on the trip was brief and to the point – good to see some old pals again and the meal was a belter! Well that’s what it is all about, isn’t it?

As I indicated, we had a replacement speaker who was none other than Mr Bert Hosie and his subject was the Grampian Cardiac Rehab Association. As many who have benefited from the services offered will know, this organisation was formed back in 2002 when Grampian Region withdrew their services in this facility.

The organisation runs classes for people at risk of heart problems as well as those who have been treated for heart problems, hence the Rehab reference in the official title.

The GCRA is run by a board of volunteer directors and only have one part time employed person – their success is a testament to the skill and dedication of the team. The movement has expanded to provide classes from Forres to Laurencekirk and from Aberdeen to Aboyne. There are 14 classes in Aberdeen alone and 24 in 17 of the rural areas with a total of 740 members benefiting from the sessions. The expert instructors are trained and re-certified every three years, a device surely to maintain the highest standards of care and support.

How is the programme financed? In fact the board of volunteer directors are extremely assiduous in attracting monies to keep this extremely useful service going. Grant Aid forms a significant part of the funding together with donations and fund raising – this may be an invaluable, essential service to many in the community but at present, that is how it has to be sustained, it is the way of the world nowadays. Remember that when you have a bob or two to spare!

Clients who wish to ‘join the club’ pay a £10 membership fee and £4 per session.

The vote of thanks to Bert was proposed by Mike Barron to warm and sustained applause from the members.

Next week is the Christmas party – we look forward to that!

Week ending December 9th 2016

This week was an in-house session, there were no visitors and after the meal and the regular information slot the meeting was adjourned then a Special General Meeting (SGM) was convened!

Odd really but that is how it has always been! Firstly though we had the usual reports from the committees, the most notable being our St Andrews Night which I reported on last week. The convenor for events and fund-raising Past President JG Ross summed up the evening in his usual ebullient fashion! This is not punted as a fund-raising evening but we did have the usual raffle, prizes being donated by the members. The outcome was significant but the total was enhanced through the generosity of one of our members – having won top prize in another raffle consisting of a meal for two and an overnight stay in Meldrum House, he donated his prize, valued £250, to our St Andrews Night total. As a result, we were able to donate £567 to Children in Need.

Why have an SGM in the middle of the Rotary year? With a need for continuity it is essential that club leaders for the following year, in this case 2017/18, should be identified and if necessary voted in to office. In other words if there are several candidates for the various roles, there has to be time for a mini-election. With only one other item on the agenda, this proved to be a short meeting! No mini-election was necessary in other words, there was one candidate for each position as follows:

President – Past President and Paul Harris Fellow, J. Stuart Watson.

President Elect – Past President Alan J Robertson

Secretary – Paul Harris Fellow Michael C Barron

Treasurer – Past President Charles E Taylor

What does that posh man on the tele say – ‘We are in safe hands’!

The Glee Club are busy (two gigs this week, one in Kemnay and the other in Westhill). A week or two ago we performed to rapturous applause in front of about 30 American Lady Curlers and their hosts in Aberdeen. Our specially chosen programme of classic Scots ditties included Flower of Scotland and Ye cannae shove yer grannie af a bus, together with a solo or two, including The Lispin Leghorn and Jack Henry’s rendition of an Ian Middleton poem in 100% Doric went down well but how much they understood I cannot say, we are however waiting, on tenterhooks, for an invitation to tour – first stop Seattle perhaps!

Week ending December 2nd 2016

Our Scottish history and traditions are dear to most of the folk that I know and long may these feelings and expressions continue to be part of our lives. Mind you when idjits in distant offices try to ban a nation’s tradition of wearing the red poppy on the sports field or anywhere else for that matter, you have to ask yourself – what next?

That’s how I feel this morning, reporting on a Rotary night with a difference  - we celebrated St Andrew’s Night as we do every year around 30th November. A total of 64 members, relatives and friends enjoyed a convivial evening of stories, music and song, superbly organised by the redoubtable JG Ross and his committee.

With a busy evening ahead, President Peter Donaldson started off at a fair lick with updates of members who are or have been unwell – a regular feature, on to the Grace and the meal itself. A week or so ago I mentioned the initiative by the Rotary Club of Huntly with local retailer Rizza to produce a purple-coloured ice cream, proceeds from the sales going to the ‘end polio now’ campaign. We tasted the product at the end of the meal and I have to say ‘it went down well’!  Hopefully people will be encouraged to continue to buy the product to help that important Rotary initiative. 

 Mindful of other priorities, the proceeds of the evening’s raffle will go to Children in Need.

Then it was on with the entertainment provided by Craig Pike and friends, it was just sublime! As you know Craig is part of the Flying Pigs team but is also a Producer of stage shows including the Inverurie Pantomime whilst the day job is -  Lawyer!

We were entertained to a programme of songs remembering the days of the Somme,  American musicals and entertainers like Doris Day, a wee bit of Billy Connolly and of course some  Scotland the What favourites. A bit of  poetry by Flora Garry, beautifully recited by Craig but I didn’t get one word of it! My understanding of Doric is not as good as I thought it was! Our two American guests were equally bemused!

Being an accomplished performer in his own right, who better to give the vote of thanks than Alan Robertson and he did so enthusiastically.

Our lives were never meant to be a constant grind, these evenings of meeting together; ‘newsing’ and relaxing are great therapy.  

Week ending November 25th 2016

The highlight of the Rotary week just gone has to be the first round of the Rotary Young Musician of the Year competition, held in Inverurie Academy last Thursday night. Once again it was superbly organised by Rotarian Stephen Martin with assistance from a group of Rotary colleagues on the night and, of course the co-operation of the school authorities.

It is safe to say, we had a cracking concern.

The skills and versatility of the 15 competitors aged from seven to 16 was of the highest order, indeed the judges, professor Peter Stollery from the University of Aberdeen and our very own Rosie Milne were voluble in their praise of all the competitors.

To add to the unique nature of this competition, before announcing the winners, professor Stollery publicly congratulated each competitor on their performance, highlighting excellence, skill in technique and interpretation, offering words of encouragement to every one and from time to time adding a gentle word of advice though it may only be “don’t forget to smile!”

For some of the competitors, this would have been the first time they had performed in front of an audience, not just parents and friends but to complete strangers!

That is, in itself a daunting task as I know from personal experience!

Added to that, these young people have to perform giving it their best shot!

They all handled that challenge very well and as a result, everyone was a winner.

Rotary President Peter Donaldson presented each performer with a certificate then judge Rosie Milne announced the winners whilst adding her own congratulations and words of encouragement to every competitor.

Here are the winners : -

Primary School winner – pianist Alice Coutts, aged seven.

Most promising musician – violinist (fiddler) Chloe Barber aged 10.

Winning instrumentalist – acoustic guitarist Isaac Bacon aged 16.

Winning vocalist – Millie Chapman.

Overall competition winner – Isaac Bacon.

Isaac and Millie will progress now to the next stage of the competition – the regional finals to be held in Perth on February 25.

One last word of thanks go to the young people who entertained us while the judges were deliberating on the competition.

Celtacad (a group of young fiddlers) set the ball rolling with some fine playing, then we had budding actor Evan Reid who entertained us with a beautiful monologue piece, finally JP and Spencer O’Grady played us out with some fine singing, accompanying themselves on guitar.

A grand nicht wis enjoyed bi a’body!

Week ending November 18th 2016

Before getting in to the nitty gritty of this week’s meeting, let me return briefly to the story of the Shoebox team – you may recall this project whereby gift boxes, the size of a shoebox, with suitable contents for under-privileged children, teenagers and families are sent out by Rotary Clubs across the land.

Our President Peter Donaldson was involved in loading up a consignment for delivery to the collection point, over 100 in the first lot with another 40+ due from Inverurie Academy which will be delivered by Christmas.

Now then to this week’s ongoings and firstly, President Peter welcomed back Rotarian David Keith after a long absence due to ill-health. David received a warm welcome back to the fold by the members present.

There followed a fascinating talk by Donald Paterson on the island of St. Kilda.

Donald developed a passion for the place over a number of years during which he became a regular member of the NTS work parties.

His talk illustrated with numerous pictures, held the members spellbound for 40 minutes – at least!

He started by asserting that they are the St. Kilda Islands with Hirta being by far the largest. The elements that make St. Kilda so fascinating are firstly its isolation – 100 miles out in the Atlantic from the Scottish mainland and 40 miles from the Outer Hebrides, as such St. Kilda has its own climate!

That isolation meant that the evolution of the human population, measured in the late 1800s had reached the same stage as Mainland Scotland did in the 1750s!

The facts and figures just tumbled out – the highest sea cliffs in Western Europe, incredible landscapes and seascapes.

No flat ground to speak of and a quaint piece of advice for new visitors to the island – if you are traversing the land in torrential rain, well protected, the first thing you do is take off your waterproof trousers! Why? If you slip and fall, you may continue to slide on your posterior and you may end up in the ocean! Another danger were the dive-bombing Bronxies!

Diet was a real cracker – how about Gannets for their meat and eggs, Fulmars for essential oils and Puffins for afters!

Sheep were farmed and some cattle too, the latter supplying milk but not meat and being used as beasts of burden.

The islands being owned by the McLeods of Skye, the rent was paid in feathers! Surprisingly, another product which was sold to MacLeod at a fixed price was tweed.

Surprisingly the people of St. Kilda were not fishermen!

Undoubtedly this would be related to the sea conditions in the area coupled with the fact that they could only manipulate and cope with small boats.

The last residents evacuated in the early 1930s and in an answer to a question as to how they fared when they came to the mainland, Donald asserted that this was not a happy piece of social engineering.

A very fulsome vote of thanks was offered by Rotarian Charlie Taylor.

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Meetings & Venue

Where and when:

We meet on Tuesdays at 18.00 for 18.15
Kintore Arms Hotel,
Inverurie, AB51 4GQ  01467 621367

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