Rotary Matters by Jim McColl
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
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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’!
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
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’.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
the cause is just, the enthusiasm and support is there, a strong characteristic
of our society.
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!
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.
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
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
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
Week commencing 28th May, 2018
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
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
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
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! 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
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
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
Week commencing 23rd April, 2018
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
“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.
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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 Â£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 Â£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 Â£10 membership fee and Â£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 Â£250, to our St Andrews Night total. As a result, we were able to donate Â£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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