Presidents Comments

Comments from President Julie Chapman

President Julie Chapman & 1st VP Siddika Ahmed

THE  ROTARY YEAR AHEAD – “Make a Difference”


I am honoured to be the 106th President of the Rotary Club of Manchester and want to make the year successful and enjoyable. First, I want to thank President George for his efforts, and also the Club Council, Committee Chairs and Members who supported him. Thank you all. I know I will receive equal support to make 2017-18 a very successful year. 

I started volunteering at the age of 14, whilst undertaking my Duke of Edinburgh Award. I worked with very disabled children, feeding them with their evening meal, assisting with bath time and putting them to bed.

My life has, at times, been challenging. My father dies when I was 2, as a result of War service in the Royal Navy, so my Mum brought me up as a single parent. She returned to teaching at a school in Wythenshawe, where she worked for 25 years.

It was during my time volunteering and going into my Mum’s school, that I became very aware of those less fortunate than me. In turn I developed a social conscience.

The views I developed in my youth were refined and reinforced when I started teaching, as I spent most of my career in the inner city, and then teaching at Booth Hall Hospital School. During those years, I evolved an empathy with socially disadvantaged and under-privileged children and young people.

My husband, Roy, joined Rotary in 1989 and I always supported him in his efforts. Roy inducted me into this Club in 2011. That foundation, of attitudes and thoughts, influences what I would like to achieve whilst President.

My theme for the year is the same as that of RI itself - ‘Make a Difference’. When asked why they join, many Rotarians will answer that they ‘wanted to make a difference’. We must all work together, with partner organisations and others to ‘make a difference’, particularly across this great City of ours and in partnership with Breakfast, Trailblazers and Rotaract.  

Rotary International and RIBI have decided that Rotary Clubs can now be very much more flexible in terms of meetings (frequencies and venues), projects and club administration. Nowadays, Rotary Clubs can adapt to the areas they serve, the make-up of membership etc. Overall, the Club needs to be fun and we can be more flexible in considering:

·     What we offer – our ‘Product’– Members, visitors and supporters should have fun, fellowship, stimulation, a widening of knowledge, a sense of belonging and a feeling of contributing to something much bigger than themselves.

·     Value for money – our ‘Price’ –In offering varied events, meetings etc.

·     Reaching our ‘customers’ and audiences – ‘Place’Where and how do we reach our Members, visitors, partner organisations and supporters. Can we innovate?

·     Promotion –We must promote all we do, via word of mouth, newspapers, and websites. When running events, it is vital that the Club gains exposure and credit (e.g. ‘the Rotary Club of Manchester working in partnership with ???’. Also, every member is an ambassador for the Club.  

·     ProfitWe need fund raising events to boost our reserves AND to contribute to Rotary objectives.

What things are close to my heart.

1. Youth  – Given my involvement in youth work in the past, as a Teacher, with the Air Training Corps, and other work I have undertaken with disadvantaged young people, I want the Club to be active in these areas. ‘Do we adequately support the District youth competitions, Youth Exchanges etc? What about the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards? We can work with the excellent Rotaract Club of Manchester International, and may soon have a second in the Rotaract Club of Salford. Also, can we build on the good relationship we have with Manchester Communication Academy (thanks to Robin’s efforts)? What about our links with some primary schools. Internationally, we are involved with girl’s education through 1st VP Siddika. I would love the Club to support charities working with children and young people – at local, District and International Level. 

2. ‘Honour our Heroes’. My father died as a result of War Service when I was only 2 years old. As a war widow, my Mum received great help from the Royal British Legion. Given this, I wanted to ‘make a difference’, so became a Poppy Appeal Organiser for South Manchester. It would be great if we could more actively support the work of the Royal British Legion, and Broughton House (our local old soldiers home).

3. Community– I am Manchester ‘Born and Bred’ (I was born in Withington Hospital and grew-up in Sale and Brooklands). Manchester is one of the most diverse Cities in the World. In a walk from the University to the City Centre, it is said one will pass people from every Continent of the World. The awful bombing of 22nd May showed what happens when understanding between peoples breaks down and religious extremism generates hate. However, that awful event brought people together and showed the best of people from across our city. I would hope the Club will help to improve relations between ethnic communities in Manchester.

4. Rotary in Manchester (RIM) - The ‘pooled’ resources of the four Clubs (3 Rotary and 1 Rotaract) can achieve much more than they can individually. Much progress has been made in recent years (and I want to thank Robin for his efforts in this area), but I want to take RIM further and hope you will support my efforts.

Specifically, I feel we should:

  • Finish off ‘WOW Water’. Any day now we should have it confirmed that we have a Global Grant. Well done Robin for all his hard work;
  • Raise money for Disaster Aid – a great charity that originated in our District;
  • Continue helping Narrowgate – the homeless charity in Salford;
  • Continue to develop our link with Manchester Communications  Academy.

Central to our success is our Club programme. Getting maximum effect from our programme will require input from EVERYBODY in the Club. Please do not just attend yourselves, but try to bring along a friend or colleague to every meeting and to our Social and Fellowship events            .

Yours in Rotary friendship

President Julie Chapman