80th Annual Conference - Durham, at the Gala Theatre and the Radisson Blu hotel. An interesting weekend - and in, for some of us, a local venue -- this is a personal view of the Conference. (Eric Colling)

Amidst the confusion of the re-modelling of Durham market place, someone hung out a banner of welcome!
(Our thanks got to Colin Wilkes, MD of the Durham Markets Company for this initiative.)

Our thanks also to Bill Sones, a member of the Durham Bede Club, for "decorating" his diminutive  car (a Toyota iQ), seen around Durham in the weeks running up to the Conference, and outside the Radisson Hotel over the Conference weekend.

A real innovation this year was to have a "Rotary Showcase" marquee, open to the public, in Millennium Place, just outside the Gala Theatre.

Using essentially the same display material as was used at the Tall Ships event, but in a smaller tent, many visitors were able to learn more of the Family of Rotary
Our thanks for this must go to Barbara Broadbelt, who did all the hard work to make it possible.

The Showcase was manned by members of the three Durham Clubs (Durham, Durham Bede and Durham Elvet) who work together on many projects under the "banner" of Rotary Works.

The AquaBox and AquaFilter display attracted a lot of attention.

   

The photo on the right shows Joyce Shaw (Rotary Club of Consett) who entertained us on Friday evening (see later). After an impromptu collection was made for her on Saturday evening, she decided she would use it to fund an AquaFilter - well done Joyce!

The following photographs, with one exception, are a small selection of those taken by Keith Fairley, the official photographer, of FearWorks Media. To see the whole collection, visit Keith's website gallery and type in a Username of rotary1030 and a Password of international.

On Friday afternoon, members and guests were invited to enjoy afternoon tea with the
Ministry of Chocolate in the historic surroundings of Durham Town Hall.

PDG Tony Elliot appears to be in deep conversation with RIBI President Jim Moulson.

Meanwhile IPDG Tony Fairley is tucking into a cream cake and Conference Chairman Stephen Croft is in conversation with the Mayor of Durham and her Consort.

  

On Friday evening, we enjoyed the DG's Charity Dinner at the Radisson Blu Hotel ...

DG Les with RIBI President Jim Moulson

The Mayor of Durham with (I think!) Mel Broadbelt

  

District Secretary Cynthia Fairley with DG Nominee Celia Leach(L) and RIBI President in conversation with Barbara Broadbelt

  

Something seems to have surprised PDG Ron Goodwin (L) and Youth Opportunities Chairman David Conway seems to be bowing to RYLA Coordinator Tracy Bell

DG Les and his wife Norma with the Mayor of Durham, Councillor Mamie Simmons and her Consort, her son Neville

  

After dinner, DG Les, in an expansive mood, persuaded us all to buy tickets for his "Bottombola" and a raffle - I think almost everyone ended up with at least one bottle!  But the princely sum of around 1200 was raised for the DG's charities.

We enjoyed some superb entertainment from Joyce Shaw (RC of Consett), accompanied by Pat Stobbs ...

  

 

Then DG Les introduced us to his friend Jimmy Wrightson - a rollicking, ribald, raconteur!

 

Things quietened down somewhat, when Joyce came back on.

A very enjoyable evening!

On Saturday, the Conference got off to a good start in the Gala Theatre, with an introduction from IPDG Tony Fairley and a warm welcome from DG Les Fay ...

The first Keynote Speaker, Dr John Morrison, gave us a harrowing account of the prevalence of acid attacks on women and children in Bangladesh and how he came to establish the Acid Survivors Foundation and the UK Charity Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTI).

  Dr Morrison concluded his presentation by relaying a message from Durham County cricketer Paul Collingwood, the newly appointed ASTI Ambassador.

Next, we were pleased to receive greetings from the Chairman of Inner Wheel District 3, Janet Proud.

Janet spoke of the value of the relationship between Rotary and Inner Wheel, stressing that they are able to bring a different perspective to our joint objectives of Community Service.

We were then treated to a rousing, and amusing, address from the RI President's Representative Gordon McInally.

The second Keynote Speaker was Margaret Maddison, telling us of her support for Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres and her effforts to raise funds for the construction of a new centre at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

Time then for a coffee break before the star attraction of the weekend ...

   

Our third Keynote Speaker was, indeed, the redoubtable Ann Widdicombe.  She entertained and informed us in her own inimitable style, covering subjects such as the changes in Parliamentary procedures - not all for the good - since she took her seat in 1987, to her appearance in the TV programme Strictly Come Dancing.  SInce her retirement from Parliament at the General Election last May, she is now free to speak her mind!  Her website is worth a look - even if it has not been updated much of late.  Quite a remarkable lady!

We were brought back down to earth with a bump by the fourth Keynote Speaker - Michelle Thompson, speaking on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Support ...

In the words of the Conference Programme, Michelle took us "on a poignant journey of laughter, tears, determination and remarkable inner strength".  Directly affected by cancer, she was determined to raise funds and awareness for Macmillan and has raised over 50,000 in a few short years.  Truly a remarkable speaker!

The fifth Keynote Speaker was John Griffith on the subject of "Drinking Water for Developing Countries".  

John, a design engineer, described the challenges in developing the Aquafilter from prototype to a working product that can be manufactured economically and in sufficient numbers to satisfy the real demand - he explained that there are over 900 million people in the world without easy access to clean drinking water.  To those of us who manned the Showcase marquee over the weekend, John and his wife Gill became quite familiar as we helped them demonstrate both the "Community" filter (shown in the photo above) and the smaller "Family" filter, both of which are now part of the Aquabox range

Just time for a vote of thanks to the morning's speakers from DG Elect Tony Wortman ...

... before we broke for lunch.

The story continues ...