Rotary Club of Maidenhead Thames
Home | Presidents Jottings | President's 'New Year' Jottings - Jan 2011
I hope you all enjoyed the Christmas festivities and have now started the Year with new resolutions that you have managed to keep to so far!
Things have not quietened down since my previous jotting in November last year. Four primary schools spanning from north to south of the Borough, made excellent poetry and expressions presentations at the Poetry Recital evening in November at the Magnet Centre, funded by our kind anonymous donor! The theme was "Teeth, Talons & Tails", i.e. creatures great & small, across all the continents (just like Rotary!). They were supported by a resident Poet sponsored by us who worked with each School in the autumn.
The Borough once again were grateful to us and felt that they have achieved a great deal over the last 12 years or so, in partnership with Rotary. They felt Rotary have been wonderfully supportive to the RBWM schools and enabled them to engage in some exciting projects that would never have been otherwise possible. These events provide an extra challenge to the youngsters (and teachers) in our schools enabling them to gain a lot from watching and listening to the ideas of peers from other institutions – something that they seldom have the chance to experience.
The Borough were also thrilled to learn that we have launched (in partnership with Windsor St George) the "Young Photographer of the Year 2011" competition. They once again expressed full support to promote photography competition across the Borough‟s schools that would showcase the talent of our young people. They felt this initiative would be so inclusive as some pupils are using cameras as early as nursery age!
They are now looking at offering us suitable gallery space for a photographic exhibition, free of charge! Thanks to Alex and Lucy for their involvement. We hope to get quite a few entries by the mid January deadline.
At a very short notice, we were asked to represent Rotary at the Big Society Day held at Desborough School in December where the Royal Borough and many voluntary Organisations set up stalls and displays in support of this initiative. Windsor & Eton Club supported us with their presence.
Although we did not attract any potential members on that day, I am delighted that we strengthened Rotary‟s presence and its standing in our Community as one of the key voluntary organizations!
It was sad to learn that Ron Phillips MBE, who founded the National Downs Syndrome Swimming organisation, had passed away. He was a driving force behind the National and International competitions, who will be sorely missed. Thank you, Ray for representing our Club at his funeral service. Every year we have interesting talks from Ambassadorial Scholars, and this year was no exception.
Both our American „political‟ Scholar Zac Morris and South Korean „educationist‟ Scholar Minjeonge Song were delightful. With the strict and intensive education regime, no wonder Korea has progressed so rapidly!
One long weekend in December was devoted to the Rotary family:
The Rotaract Old folk Xmas tea party on Saturday, our Club Old People‟s Christmas lunch on Sunday, and the Manor Green School Christmas Disco on Monday, with both the Mayor & the Deputy Mayor supporting these events, and the Lowbrook School Choir entertaining the old folk. Thanks to the Holiday Inn for their generosity, to Alex, Jerry & Peter for their organising, and to all volunteer drivers and helpers for their support.
These events finished off with our own Christmas party at Maidenhead GC. Thanks to Rodney & Ron, it was such a lovely fun evening with over 50 attendees, and starting with the carol singing led by the Salvation Army band. They never fail to turn up and to move us! And the entertainment? Well! Didn‟t Ray do well with his „Pig in a Poke‟?
Apart from partners, it was also so good to see Anita, Rita, Sue, Alex and Reg of our larger Rotary family there too, but sad to say farewell to Angela Newton who has had to return to South Africa; our best wishes go with her.
The Carol Singing at Waitrose ended our year splendidly, with our conductor David Clarke leading us once again, except for the last session when Maestro John, our Stand-in conductor, led us competently. In spite of the snow, there were over 22 members, families & friends who braved the appalling weather conditions at each of the 3 sessions. Waltham Saint Lawrence Band performance was interesting, but the star of the show of course had to be Lucy‟s daughter, Amy. We have booked her again for next year! Was this a fund raising or community effort? I believe both! Waitrose management and the shoppers really appreciated all our efforts; and what‟s more, c£1,350 was raised. Well done all, and thanks to those who kept us going with mulled wine and mince pies!
The weather however did defeat us at our last Club meeting of the Year when our 2010 Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) candidate Megan Howells was to talk to us about her summer experience at Rhos-y-Gwaliau in Wales. Hopefully, she will talk to us in the Spring.
Although an ideal candidate, it was disappointing that our Silvia Gomez, for justifiable reasons, did not secure a place for the GSE exchange visit to Argentine. However, I am pleased that the Maidenhead Club secured a local "Rotaract" candidate.
As mentioned in my last jotting, John Stafford gave us an excellent talk on Micro Credit in Malawi and its impact on people‟s lives and how they are able to work their way out of poverty. Those who heard him were so moved that over £200 was personally donated by a number of our members, and Club Council matched it by a similar amount from our funds.
One can easily see how Rotary can make such a difference to other people‟s lives so far away! Looking ahead, we have quite a number of events & speakers planned:
We have Theresa May speaking to us later this month at our joint meeting with the Maidenhead Club. Hopefully, there won‟t be any national „distractions‟ to cancel her presence!
We also have the Essay Competition in February for the 23 Primary Schools in our Royal Borough to look forward to, another Community event.
The fundraising events also start in earnest, with the Thames Valley Quiz Night kicking off in March. I must take the opportunity to thank Dai for managing the "Help The Illness" Charitable Trust Fund, and for securing an agent at every surgery in Maidenhead & Cookham to identify and fund the needy. The donations may be small in money terms but they are certainly significant in value to the recipients and to our local community.
Preparation for our 25th Charter celebration and the Dutch Exchange visit during the 24/26 June weekend is now underway. Hopefully these, combined with the President‟s Night, will turn this into a big memorable event!
Looking further ahead, I am pleased Peter Hill and Brendan McGrath are supporting Andrew as Secretary and Treasurer for his year. What‟s more, it is a delight that Alex Earley will be Junior Vice (our first lady President to be!) which will provide succession leadership in the Club for long term continuity.
Hopefully, we will have a volunteer for the Senior Vice at the AGM in April! As we start a new calendar year, I now look forward to the second half of my Presidency, and wish you all a very happy and healthy 2011.