Conference 2016 memories

A look back at the highly successful District conference in Harrogate

This year's conference was held in the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate on Friday 28 - Sunday 30th October.

After the buffet meal on Friday the main speaker was Bill Copeland (solicitor). He spoke for 40 minutes and it was an endless series of jokes anecdotes and observations that had the hall in tears of laughter.


District Governor Olive welcomed delegates, and introduced the conference Theme and Charities.

Welcomes were delivered by Inner Wheel D2 Chairman Margaret Russell and RI President’s Representative Lena Mjerskaug from Norway.

Other speakers included:

  • Milton Frary - Rotary Wheelchair Foundation
  • Maggie Tookey MBE – Aid Work in the Middle East. Maggie's experiences in war-torn countries was inspiring.
  • Malcolm Wells MBE - Canine Partners, What they could train dogs to do to aid disabled people was truly astounding. Nobody who heard him will forget Noodle the Poodle.
  • Dr James Robertson - Music Therapy and how music can be used to heal
  • Ian Geddes interviewed three of our District's Global Scholars
  • A speaker from the famous Betty's Tearoom outlined the history of the business

On Saturday evening we had a delightful meal followed by dancing to the sound of the superb Abba Forever.


Speakers in the initial session included Dr Keith Paver who gave us the medical background to polio and where we are now, and Rob Lake, who talked on ethics and the four way test, and then led an Ethics Debate with four Rotarians.

The final session of the day was simply excellent with a presentation by Sir Chay Blyth - 'Tolerance & Understanding in a Hostile Environment' This was a summary of his background and stories of his adventures rowing and sailing round the world.

The final speaker was Lydia Slack.

Lydia grew up on a farm surrounded by animals and not too many humans. A natural story-teller, with punchline-perfect stories of the trials and tribulations of growing up on a Peak District hill farm, followed by a report of her time as a volunteer with the Nelson Mandela children's fund in Swaziland.

 Lydia Slack offered a clean, observational and humorous entertainment and the hall was in stitches.

Auld Lang Syne finished off a great conference.