Fri 1st April 2016 at 09.00 - Sun 3rd April 2016 - 13.00
Rotary International in Great Britain & Ireland Annual Conference in Bournemouth
Good Morning All
This is a first attempt at a blog type report, so expect mistakes and changes along the way. It is also an attempt to keep everyone informed whether or not you get to our weekly meetings. It is being written on an erratic phone and variable wifi access.
Rotary have a number of conferences throughout the year. There is a District Conference - our next one is in October at the Beardmore Hotel in Clydebank.
This report is about the Rotary International in Great Britian and Ireland (RIBI) conference in Bournemouth this weekend.
There is also an annual International Convention which this year is being held in Seoul, South Korea in May.
Bournemouth, for those who don't know it, is a busy, thriving seaside town on the south coast of England. It is pretty much central for those who live from Cornwall to Kent and up to Birmingham. However, for us poor souls who live in Scotland it is about as far from central as you get! Just a mere 550 miles away and 8 hours driving.
Nevertheless it is a good place to have it - 7 miles of beautiful sandy beaches, good range of hotel accommodation and lots of retail therapy for my lady! Running through the centre is a really nice open garden/park area.
We set off at 10am yesterday and enjoyed our run down the motorway through very little traffic and past all the countryside gradually coming into bloom. Blossom in the trees, crows busy building their nests and lambs in the fields. Sunshine all the way - almost idyllic.
Arrived comfortably at 7pm and booked into the town centre Premier Inn, a recently converted cinema. Perfect timing for dinner just round the corner in an Italian chain restaurant- mozzarella followed by chargrilled chicken and mushrooms covered in a delicious gorgonzola sauce washed down with a little red. Gelato dessert, then coffee and an Amaretti liquer. And so to bed.
Day 1 Friday:-
Bright and sunny morning and a chance to get our bearings and a visit to Patisserie Valerie for a spot of lunch. Eggs Florentine plus a couple of rashers of bacon to help out her ladyship who had asked for scrambled eggs and crispy bacon. Two eggs scrambled, 4 rashers of bacon and two slices of toast!
Then of to the BIC (Conference centre).
Lots of familiar faces, hugs and kisses while we browse around the Rotary Exhibition. All kinds of stalls covering a huge range of activities we get involved with. Many many leaflets and ideas for next year.
and many others in the gallery.
Carefully avoided the initial introductions then listened to Gillian Shepherd talking about problems in English education and opportunities for Rotary.
A quick presentation on the upcoming Convention in Seoul then a very interesting presentation from Dist. 1040 on setting up Satellite clubs. The afternoon was brought to a close by a very humorous question and answer session with broadcaster/journalist John Humphries.
Back to the hotel, a five minute walk in the sun and change for a Conference Dinner we had chosen to attend(can't recall the menu but the red stuff was excellent) followed by a Military Band concert. Knackered - Bed.
Day 2 Saturday:-
So, a new day and what a bright sunny one it is, if still a little cold this early in the morning. Back to the BIC for the morning session and a good start with a presentation on eClubs. There are ideas we can use here if adapted to suite our ideas.
This was followed by a talk from Steve Brown, paralympian, captain of the GB wheelchair basketball team. Steve told us his life story including how he came to be wheelchair bound leaving nothing to our imagination. He is a real 'tears to the eyes' inspirational speaker and a truly likeable and courageous young man.
A talk by Inner Wheel President Trish Douglas was followed quickly by the Rotary Young Citizen Awards and again we had fantastic inspirational stories of these youngsters and the amazing work they have been doing.
I missed the second half of the morning session but am told that Geoff Miller had some extremely funny tales to tell of his time in cricket and Eric Knowles was what you'd expect as our Foundation Ambassador. I spent my time in the Rotary Exhibition taking photographs and picking up leaflets for next years committee convenors not to mention getting in for lunch before the masses descended.
The afternoon was our business session and I can tell you that Resolutions 1-5 regarding constitutional changes were all passed while 6-8 were not. For Steuart's benefit it was agreed to increase RIBI fees by £4 to £52pa.
For those not attending the Business Session there were a number of general interest events organised throughout the afternoon. Gloria Barnett on The World Beneath the Waves; Haberdashers' Monmouth School for Girls and Poet Jonathan Edwards - 'Flamingos'; Eric Knowles on Amazing Antiques; Tom Yendell, Mouth and Foot Painting Artists; plus David Bishop with Classic TV Clips.
This evening we are not attending the Gala Dinner but instead are meeting old friends who now stay in Lymington. I may not make it to the early morning session in time for the start!
Pictures will be added later when I have the ability to reduce their size.
Day 3 Sunday:-
Our final day dawned dry and warmer but with a sea har which quickly burned off and, as we walked over to the Conference Centre, the pier area was absolutely buzzing with crowds gathering for the start of the Bournemouth Bay Run
- everything from a 1k toddle to a half marathon. Nothing to do with Rotary, all in aid of the British Heart Foundation.
Our first speaker with his thought for the day was the very amusing and talented Rev. Richard Coles, sometime pop musician, remember The Communards - 'Don't leave me this way', radio broadcaster and now a Church of England priest in Finedon, Northamptonshire.
He was followed by our own Rotary International President K.R. 'Ravi' Ravindran, CEO and founder of Printcare PLC, arguably the largest supplier of tea bag packaging with manufacturing facilities in Sri Lanka and India. A third generation Rotarian since the age of 21 he is a past Director of RI and the Rotary Foundation and also past RI Treasurer. During his country's civil war he was very much involved in the business community efforts to find peaceful solutions. As Sri Lanka's Polio Plus Chair he headed a joint task force of the government, UNICEF and Rotary to successfully negotiate a ceasefire with the northern militants during National Immunisation Days. The country had its last reported case of polio in 1994. Among other things he also chaired their Schools Reawakening project in which District 3220 raised more than $12 million to rebuild 20 tsunami-devasted schools to benefit some 14,000 children. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Colombo.
A very positive and inspiring speaker, he tells our story exactly how it is - no embellishments or soft words. Increasing our membership is the most important administrative task we face and to achieve this we must have attractive vibrant clubs which can be easily accessed by all adults. Change whatever is necessary but remain true to our motto of 'Service Above Self'.
We had presentations from the Rotaract Chair, a bubbly Louise Moss, Ken Robertshaw on his kayak trip all the way down the Mississippi river and then a preview of next year's event in Manchester, 7 - 9th April, 2017.
In his final address our RIBI President Peter Davey, like Ravi before him, re-emphasised the absolute need for clubs to be vibrant and attractive to the following generations. For those interested, Peter is visiting Alloway Rotary Club on Monday 25th April - details here. He is an excellent speaker.
The event was brought to a thunderous conclusion by Sir Richard Stilgoe and the Orpheus Group. He founded the Orpheus Centre in Surrey in 1997 where young disabled people prepare for independent living through performing arts courses. In addition to learning independence they go into prisons and schools for students who have been excluded and work with them in writing and performing songs which often bring out past experiences they would otherwise not talk to anyone about. The three singers accompanying him, though clearly very nervous and in some difficulty, all had the most beautiful voices as they sang and told their story. Sir Richard sang, they sang, we all sang.
A marvellous ending to perhaps the best RIBI Conference ever.
We really must be in Manchester next April.
Before then though, another visit to Patisserie Valerie for lunch and delicious cakes to prepare us for the journey home.