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Shropshire’s High Sheriff today told why she is ‘delighted’ to be invited as guest of honour at the upcoming presentation by Supervet Noel Fitzpatrick.

Mrs Dean Harris is not only a ‘big fan’ of the Supervet, she and her husband Mark take their Giant Schnauzer Rupert to his DogFest events in neighbouring Cheshire. So she was thrilled to receive the invitation from Past President Donald Thompson of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club to attend in her official capacity when Noel Fitzpatrick visits Theatre Severn on September 27.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club are organising the talk which will feature Noel Fitzpatrick’s life and dedication to advancing veterinary orthopaedic surgery.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club are hoping the Noel Fitzpatrick talk on Sunday September 27 about his life and dedication to advancing veterinary orthopaedic surgery will be a sell out. Through advances in some of the most complex problems affecting the animals he treats, Noel hopes humans and animals can benefit equally through a One Medicine approach – a cause he is passionate about.

The High Sheriff said there are three DogFest events held every year, in Cheshire, Hertfordshire and Bristol, and she and her husband visit Cheshire, though due to the coronavirus outbreak the 2020 series has been cancelled.

Of Rupert, she said: “He is eight years old in September and we have had him from a puppy. He is the second Giant Schnauzer we have had. “Rupert is very handsome, very spoilt and very stubborn – but the apple of my husband’s eye.”

Said Rotarian Donald Thompson: “When I invited Mrs. Dean Harris and her husband Mark to be the guests of my wife Barbra and I at the presentation, I had absolutely no idea that they were fans of Noel Fitzpatrick. It came as a most pleasant surprise and I am sure they will both enjoy the evening.”

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club say 260 tickets for the presentation at 6.00 pm on September 27 have already been sold. Tickets priced £30 can be obtained from the Theatre Box Office 01743 281281 and the talk is in support of Rotary, other local charities and the Humanimal Trust.



Within hours of the Theatre Severn box office opening tickets have started selling for a ‘live’ performance of the Supervet later in the year. The organisers, Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, are hoping the Noel Fitzpatrick talk on Sunday September 27 about his life and dedication to advancing veterinary orthopaedic surgery will be a sell out.


Through advances in some of the most complex problems affecting the animals he treats, Noel hopes humans and animals can benefit equally through a One Medicine approach – a cause he is passionate about.


“If people enjoy the TV series this personal insight cannot fail to impress,” said Rotarian Julian Wells, himself a vet now retired, and a member of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.


Tickets for the talk, which starts at 6.00 pm in the main auditorium of the theatre, are priced £30 and proceeds will be for Rotary, other local charities and the Humanimal Trust.


A Rotary club has announced that it is to continue donations of £2,000 per month to support a school and food bank in the present crisis. Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club will be donating £1,500 to one of the Shrewsbury Food Banks for May on top of a similar donation members made for this month (April).

A further £500 will be donated to the Grange School for April which is similar to an amount the club contributed to the school last month (March). The Grange School had spent March’s donation on providing breakfasts for children still attending school, Easter eggs for a hunt and a sports coach to attend on a Monday to organise games. In addition, Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has been told that the school had purchased four kindles with money supplied by the local authority. Any additional funding by the club will be used to purchase more.

The club has held its first Council meeting via Zoom and agreed to continue the activity next month (May).



Despite the coronavirus pandemic, a Rotary club is continuing to receive repayments on loans made to Third World countries through the Lendwithcare finance scheme.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has received 25 totalling £109.87. The number of entrepreneurs in Third World countries who have received financial assistance is now nearing the one thousand mark. For 875 entrepreneurs and 3,338 family members have to date been helped by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club through the Lendwithcare scheme.

The assistance has also led to 1,007 jobs being created since Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club launched its Lendwithcare initiative five years’ ago. The club has £362 of repayments available to lend and has already made a total of 122 loans.



The impact of a £6,000 grant from a Rotary club to businesses affected by the recent flooding in the Longden Coleham area of Shrewsbury has been described as ‘significant’. The comment has come from Karen Williams, foodbank PLUS Project Lead, in a report received by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club whose members were unanimous in making the donation which went to a total of 12 Longden Coleham businesses.

Karen says in her report issued to the club today: “Many traders were moved, some shed tears and for others it helped them realise that the wider business community of Shrewsbury wanted to support them in a significant way despite not being asked to do so. “As of today some shops have not been able to re-open, complicated further by the ongoing situation with the coronavirus outbreak. The speed with which we were able to distribute this grant was a significant factor especially given the ability to follow a simple process and distribute the funds accordingly.”

Eight out of 12 traders received 100% of what they asked for. Karen approached all local traders with a leaflet and carried out face to face conversation where possible.

She said traders had responded with a ‘massive thank you’ for the quick response from Rotary. One said: “I burst into tears, I am overwhelmed by the generosity and so grateful. It will help towards our recovery tremendously.”



A Rotary club is giving an immediate emergency donation to a local primary school to assist with additional expenditure due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club have agreed to a proposal to donate £500 to the Grange School to assist them at this difficult time. The club, which is not meeting but making proposals and decisions over the internet, will give the money immediately. It hasn’t ruled out the possibility of additional donations being made during this difficult period for the school.

A proposal to send Shrewsbury Food Hub a donation to be passed on to local food banks has also been agreed. The money will be drawn from individual members accounts to the tune of £10 per person per week initially for one month when the difference that this money has made will then be reviewed.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club say the Food Hub will receive around £400 per week.



Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club announced today that it has taken the decision to postpone meetings and visits because of the spread and health risks caused by the coronavirus.

The decision affects already arranged visits as well as those of booked speakers who are being informed accordingly. It also affects the club’s regular monthly involvement with reading support at the Grange Primary School.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club says it will evaluate the situation in early May when hopefully a clearer picture, both at local and national level, will emerge.



Members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club are responding to a request for financial and voluntary support of Crucial Crew. Up to 1,500 children from 40 to 60 primary schools in the Shrewsbury and Oswestry areas attend the Crucial Crew event over a two week period in June at Nesscliffe Military Training Centre.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club is to support the event, which gives the children social awareness and safety training as a means of teaching them essential life skills, to the sum of £300. Individual members of the club will also be supporting Crucial Crew in a voluntary capacity.

Anyone interested in joining Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club can contact secretary Gareth Watkins on 01743 359636.



As many as 15 local distressed businesses hit by the floods could benefit from a donation which has been announced by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. The club’s members were unanimous in their resolve to support affected businesses in the Longden Coleham area of Shrewsbury.

As a result Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has made a donation of £6,000 which Karen Williams, Project Leader, Barnabas Community Projects (Flood Relief) will distribute to Longden Coleham businesses worst hit and most needy.She said: “We are extremely grateful to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club for this most generous donation which will be shared and could assist possibly 15 distressed businesses. I am currently awaiting a report on those businesses which can most benefit from financial support and we will administer the money on behalf of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.”

Rotarian John Yeomans said he had been in Longden Coleham talking to shop owners. “A lot of little businesses are struggling right now and the Barnabas Community Project will advise on those businesses that are currently suffering and in need of immediate assistance.

“Many affected are unable to obtain insurance because of the flood risk whilst for others there won’t be immediate payments available.”

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club also unanimously agreed to provide financial support for the farming community through Shropshire Rural Support.

Said John: “The floods are the worst for the last 20 years and have had a significant impact on a lot of people in the town and across rural areas with hundreds of acres under water and crops ruined. Farmers are desperate because of the flooding of their crops and they are a very different need. Such events cause them equal anxieties. They are trying to find support and are short of cash. It is an immediate need for money and we should therefore respond.”

The club is donating £1,000 to Shropshire Rural Support, a charity for farmers desperate because of the flooding of their crops.

John added: “All the money we raise through our Santa sleigh campaign is from the people of Shrewsbury and district and we like to give it back to help those in need.”



Members of a Rotary club were looking forward to visiting Shrewsbury Police Station and meeting newly appointed police chief Superintendent Mo Lansdale but due to the flooding and increasing traffic congestion on roads around the town, Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club were forced to cancel the visit. It is hoped the visit to the Monkmoor Police Station can be re-arranged when conditions return to normal.



Rotarians have heard how a fundraising appeal and plans for the country’s first dedicated Veterans’ Orthopaedic Centre are progressing at Shropshire’s specialist orthopaedic hospital. Lt. Col. Carl Meyer, a consultant military orthopaedic surgeon at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH), made a presentation to members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club earlier this week. He told Rotarians: “Thanks to the fantastic support I’ve received from members of the community – both individuals and local companies, my patients, the wider public and organisations’, fundraising for the build of the centre is progressing well.

“The important thing is to let people know what we are doing and dispel myths about the disadvantaged not being able to receive the same service.”

He described how the £1.5m Veterans’ Orthopaedic Centre would help patients in a bespoke care environment. Lt. Col. Meyer also praised the working relationship between the hospital and Shropshire Council in looking after service veterans. “This ranks as one of the best in the country,” he said, adding: “Shropshire people are not being disadvantaged.  We are not only creating a health centre for veterans to go, but the whole of the hospital. This will benefit everyone – not just the military population but civilians who are just the same as veterans.”

In a vote of thanks, Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Fred McDonogh said: “The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital is a pearl in the NHS and in your hands I hope it will remain so.”

Lt. Col. Carl Meyer is welcomed to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club by President Fred McDonogh.



A Rotary club is planning to expand the therapy of music to elderly residents of local residential and nursing care homes. The initiative to develop further concerts through Music in Hospitals and Care, a charity, has been announced by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.

It follows the successful introduction of a recent concert at Montgomery House, Sundorne Road, Shrewsbury, for which Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club made a donation of £150 to the charity.

Now the club has agreed to support two more venues in the sum of £300 to assist dementia sufferers and those with learning difficulties who would be stimulated by the music.

Said Rotarian John Yeomans, chair of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s Community & Vocational Committee: “We shall investigate helping two homes which are caring for less financially advantaged people over the next couple of months. I am asking Rotarians to come up with suggestions of people in care homes who would be stimulated by, and benefit from, music.”



Plans to ‘adopt’ a listed red phone box and install a defibrillator are progressing, Rotarians have been told.

 Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club is prepared to spend £2,000 mainly for the purchase of a defibrillator for the telephone box outside The Abbey, Shrewsbury and Rotarians heard the project would be a ‘permanent mark’ of Rotary benefit to the town. Rotarian John Yeomans (photo), chair of the club’s community and vocational committee, said BT were prepared to relinquish the phone box to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.

Working with the Community Heartbeat Trust, who have successfully supported the adoption of phone boxes for a number of Rotary clubs around the country, a defibrillator would be fitted. “The programme would be run by the Community Heartbeat Trust which links it all into the West Midlands Ambulance Service,” said John. “There is a strict code of governance which the trust utilises to manage the defibrillator.  

It means that over four years there would be a cost of £200 to replace the battery of the defibrillator and a £100 charge by the trust to provide 10 years of cover, support and training, which includes public liability insurance in respect of the defibrillator. The club would be responsible for buying the defibrillator, but the trust in effect own it and suggest we look for people in the locality to help us in checking to see it is secure.

The defibrillator will be housed in a locked receptacle with access via a 999 call. The difference between an emergency call and free access is estimated at only 12 seconds.The county council planning offer would be involved because it is a listed phone box, but the trust will assist us with that.”

He said the club would be asked to paint the phone box, but the trust would fit the defibrillator and badge the box to show Rotary’s involvement. “It would be a permanent mark of something we have done for the benefit of the town,” said John. He added that he was ‘cautiously optimistic’ the project would happen this year.



The number of entrepreneurs in Third World countries who have received financial assistance from a Shropshire Rotary club is now nearing the one thousand mark.

For 875 entrepreneurs and 3,338 family members have to date been helped by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club through the Lendwithcare finance scheme. The assistance has also led to 1,007 jobs being created since Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club launched its Lendwithcare initiative five years’ ago.

The club has £362 available to lend with a further £500 having been agreed by the club which has already made a total of 122 loans. Said Rotarian Chris Allsop, Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s international committee chair: “It gives club members such tremendous satisfaction seeing relatively small loans making such a massive impact on people's lives and wellbeing."


Face Off

Two Rotarians who took part in the recent successful Santa sleigh fundraising for local charities will be having their beards shaved for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity next week.

Gordon Duncan, who drove the Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club sleigh to every fundraising event over the festive season, and Peter Love, who was Santa for several of the visits, were unanimous in their support of Midlands Air Ambulance. And the hairdressers who will give the beards the chop, Risdon’s Barber Shop, of The Market Hall, Shrewsbury, will be supporting the Rotarians free of charge.

Said Peter: “We shall of course both be reluctant to lose our Santa beards in winter weather, but we couldn’t think of a better cause than Midlands Air Ambulance Charity for fundraising at the start of 2020.

“We have both supported various charities in the past, but have a soft spot for Midlands Air Ambulance who do an absolutely fantastic job without any government funding.”

Said Maria Jones, Shropshire Fundraising Manager for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity: “A big thank you to all family, friends and Rotarians of the Shrewsbury Severn Club for supporting Peter and Duncan with this wonderful fundraising idea.“We are extremely grateful that Peter and Duncan have chosen Midlands Air Ambulance as their charity of choice this year for their annual beard shave, as we rely totally on donations like this to keep our three helicopters operational.”

Said Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Fred McDonogh: “Gordon and Peter are stalwart Rotarians who work hard on fundraising and community service. The disposal of their luxuriant and lustrous beards is well worth supporting as they are entirely renewable.”

The shave-off will be at Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s meeting on Tuesday January 28 at the Corbet Arms, Uffington. Pledges of donations for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity can be sent to Peter or Gordon at the following email addresses:





A Rotary club is earmarking up to £3,000 to ‘make a real difference’ to children’s lives in a disadvantaged area of Shrewsbury. Members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club have agreed to the expenditure to assist the Grange Primary School, Harlescott. The club will spend £500 on Christmas books and set aside a further £500 for the Grange emergency uniform fund.

Some money will also be donated for a day out for the children, with Pettypool Youth Adventure Centre in Cheshire being considered.

Said Rotarian Kerry Ferguson, the club’s youth opportunities officer: “I have requested the club to donate between £2,000-£3,000 worth of finance during the year. “This will make a huge difference to the lives of children in this area of town.” He added: “We are also trying to set up another holiday club utilizing the President’s fund of Immediate Past President Julian Wells.”



International architect Andrew Arrol of Shrewsbury who specialises in conservation has cast doubt that the fire ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral can be restored within the five years set by French President Emmanuel Macron.

In an illustrated presentation to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club he said there was a ‘huge amount of complex salvage work’ to do and added ‘I don’t think they are going to do it in five years.’ He told Rotarians: “The fire was a real disaster and shock to everyone who saw it and thought it can’t be true.” He described problems which he said the authorities still had to deal with due to fire and water damage. Gables were on the point of collapse and it wasn’t just a question of repair, but cleaning as well. He described how molten lead had poured out of the vault scuppers and the danger of lead poisoning. “I have never seen anything like the extent of lead partition – there‘s a real task ahead.”

Four thousand oak trees were required for the building of the roof, said Andrew who attended for one term at a school in France. He described as ‘bonkers’ ideas which had been put forward for the cathedral, from a mosque to a glass roof under which would be parks with trees. “I would personally like to see the cathedral go back to its original design,” said Andrew who hoped that the French would collaborate with the British and Italians to share information. “I think that across Europe there will be a sharing of ideas, but they will be lucky to do it in five years. There is a construction period on top of this.”

He also told Rotarians of the 16 years he had spent on the ongoing restoration of York Minster Cathedral which was English and French all the way through. He described the Minster as an ‘extraordinary building’ with a huge amount of history and a key issue in its restoration was the stone. The stone that had been used in construction was magnesian limestone which had a salt content that would have to be replaced. There were chemicals and salt in the stone and water entered into the crypt. It was also a building that moved and the foundations had required reinforcing. “Our job as architects is analysing the stone and only when we are sure the stone is right we agree to it,” said Andrew.

He added that this was his last year and if Rotarians were interested in seeing the work in progress he would be happy to show them round the Minster.

Locally, he has been involved in many Shrewsbury buildings including the old Market Hall. 

Andrew Arrol (left) is thanked for his presentation by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Fred McDonogh.



 A Rotary club has received its second global setback since making loans to entrepreneurs in Third World countries over five years ago.

Two failures have now arisen in Zimbabwe where in the latest Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club loaned entrepreneurs ‘Slow But Sure Group’ £30 last March through the Lendwithcare organisation.

Information from Lendwithcare, which works with two microfinance institutions in Zimababwe to support entrepreneurs to start or grow a small business, is that Slow But Sure Group is no longer able to repay the loan, though the club has had two repayments totalling £6.59.

The group was formed by a widow named Dorcas and three friends who applied for a loan to buy vegetables and meat for a stall.  She works day in and day out to provide for her children who are still at school. Records show that Dorcas, who lives in a high density suburb of Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe, makes sales averaging $60 (around £45.00) on a daily basis which can sometimes be surpassed. But Zimbabwe is at present going through a severe economic recession and that there is an additional risk that some of the loans might be delayed or defaulted.

Said Rotarian Chris Allsop, chair of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s International and Foundation Committee: “This is the second issue we have had with Zimbabwe. Further information from Lendwithcare is that the Zimbabwe dollar has decreased by 17:1 against the US dollar since May, hence the loan having defaulted. “There have been no other subsequent loans made to entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe therefore the club is not expecting any further similar setbacks. Shrewsbury Severn Rotary has recently received £250.71 of repayments from other entrepreneurs through Lendwithcare which is now ready to be re-loaned through the scheme.

At present the Rotary club has on-going repayments from nine entrepreneurs in South America, 12 in Africa and 13 in Eastern Asia.”

Chris Allsop announces that Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has had its second issue with Zimbabwe.



Shrewsbury Rotary’s Tree of Light continues to be popular. So far donations total £7,147.50 for Rotary’s three charities Parkinson’s Society, The Food Hub and the Samaritans which is the Mayor’s charity. Those who would still like to donate £5 or more to sponsor a light on the Tree which is located in St. Mary’s Church can contact Rotarian Mike Haw on 01743 240356. Names of donors and those commemorated will be displayed around the Tree which will remain in the foyer of St. Mary’s Church until January 2.

A service of dedication was held in the church on November 24 and amongst a large congregation were the Lord Lieutenant Anna Turner, High Sheriff Dr Jeremy Dixey and Mayor Councillor Phil Gillam.

Since 1995 the Rotary Tree of Light has been a symbol of remembrance at Christmas time. Approximately £140,000 has already been raised for a wide variety of local charities.



Rotarians have heard how a descendant of a Shrewsbury family currently celebrating 150 years of trading was a major influence in introducing minimum wages in Shrewsbury.

In a talk to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, Lyndsey O’Loughlin, Group Solicitor and Company Secretary of Morris & Co., said James Kent Morris, son of the founder, was influential in the local Labour movement and later in the national Labour movement. His election address urged the introduction of the minimum wage which is an ethos running through the company now in all their nursing homes. “We don’t just pay the minimum wage, but a full living wage,” she told Rotarians. She said that to celebrate 150 years in the town Morris & Co had produced a book telling the story of a family of five generations of Morris’s who had led the company along with the many hundreds of staff, who worked and still work for the business.

Mr. Cliff Morris, who appears throughout the story, wasn’t a Morris of the Morris family.  He married a Miss Morris (Evelyn) and their descendants carried on the Morris name. At the age of 101 his efforts in the First World War were recognised with the presentation of a medal - The Legion D’Honneur – a photograph of which is featured in the 150 year celebration book. He retired aged 80 in 1978, but was brought out of retirement in 1986 and continued attending board meetings until he was 100.

She said Morris’s were always entrepreneurs and this extended to their understanding of marketing and ability to spot a great idea.  For example, the company brought Green Shield Stamps to Shropshire and enjoyed a monopoly in their supermarkets for quite a number of years before the concept was shared by others. Said Ms O’Loughlin: “If an opportunity to add value to the shopping experience presented itself, Morris & Co seized it! Morris’s staff were always known to be very proud of the quality of their goods and indeed in the book it features a poem that staff sang about the company’s sausages!

“The ethos and commitment of the Morris family engendered in their staff – there was even a Morris Home Guard!” She described how a lot of the Morris holdings were on Pride Hill and how they believed that people had an incentive to buy on the ‘sunny side’ of the street. It was a philosophy that worked for them as their business grew and indeed, the building that is now Thornton’s on the other side of the street in the shade, was in fact sold. She said being very progressive, Morris’s employed a lot of women in senior positions – 536 of the 720 employees were women.

The company had a consolidated turnover of £56 million, three trading operations spanning property, care homes with six nursing homes, and site machinery. Ms O’Loughlin said one of the remarkable things was the directors’ ability to judge the property market, knowing when to invest and when to sell.

The entrance doors to the head office at Welsh Bridge were from the HMHS Britannic, the sister ship to the Titanic, and had been bought from a shipyard by J K Morris in the early 1920s before they became the handsome entrance to the Welsh Bridge offices completed in 1926. She said the company’s founder, JK Morris, who served an apprenticeship and learnt the philosophies of serving people, set up his own business at 7 Frankwell back in 1869. He was a man with a philosophy which still features in the reception at Welsh Bridge today: “To do the common thing uncommonly well brings success.”

In the year 2000 Morris’s sold the grocery operation to the Co-Op which ended 130 years of grocery retailing in the town. In 2004 there was a rationalisation and part of the Goddard family took over oil and leisure whilst Bill Morris, Robin Morris – fifth generation chairman – and Timothy Morris retained the property and care businesses. “This enabled all parts of the business to move on very successfully,” she told Rotarians.

In 2006 the company bought ArcGen which had a UK distribution licence for generators and began manufacturing lighting towers which were distributed all over the world, particularly to Australia. This was the beginning of a new division – Morris Site Machinery - which Bill’s second son, Chris Morris, now runs bringing, what she described as, ‘a nice balance’ to the business.

Residential care activities continued to grow with Morris & Co bringing in their own builders to refurbish and extend properties to provide nursing care currently in six homes. Ms O’Loughlin described how the company interacted and supported the community in many ways including this special 150thyear, sponsoring a scholar at Shrewsbury University for three years.

She presented Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Fred McDonogh with the company’s 150th anniversary book and in a vote of thanks he told the visitors: “Your enthusiasm is plain for all to see.”

Morris & Co presenters Lyndsey O’Loughlin and Charlotte Gittins, a Paralegal at Morris & Co following her graduation in June, and Rotary President Rotarian Fred McDonogh.



Cheques for £1,500 were presented to each of two organisations at Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s Christmas party which was also their farewell to the Lord Hill Hotel. The club recently partnered with the League of Friends at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital to stage an event, ‘The Tham Luang Cave Rescue – Against the Odds,’ which was presented by Mike Clayton and Emma Porter of the Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary President Fred McDonogh said it was a first-time partnership with a charity to which the club wanted to give money. The League of Friends had been chosen because of their reputation as an ‘excellent fundraising organisation.’ “I would hate to think what our Health Service would be like without organisations such as the League of Friends,” he told members and guests.

Richard Lawn, chair of the League of Friends executive committee, described the cave rescue presentation as a ‘wonderful event’ and that the League of Friends had had a ‘good year,’ having been given legacies. The coffee shop they ran in the hospital had taken over one million pounds. He said the League of Friends tried to make their coffee shops ‘not just a coffee shop to make money,’ but provide a ‘great friendly service’ and be ‘very enjoyable places to work.’ The amount raised this year was more than expected and they would be spending it on equipment which represented a significant part of the hospital’s funding.

“This is a thank you from all the people whose lives will be made better with the equipment we buy. Your money will save lives and make other lives better.”

Rotarian McDonogh described the cave rescue presentation as a ‘wonderfully inspiring story’ which was initially told to the club. He realised it should be presented to a larger audience. “This resulted in an enjoyable and wonderful evening at Shrewsbury Colleges Group.  Mike and Emma’s story was so inspiring.”

He presented them with a cheque for £1,500 which Mike described as a ‘generous donation.’

“As a purely voluntary organisation we rely on donations to keep the cave rescue team running and this amount is three years of normal fundraising for us so it is a massive help.”

Said Emma: “It is a massive amount of money for us,” adding that their rescues had become considerably more diverse.

The club’s Christmas party was its last event at the Lord Hill Hotel which closes shortly. The President presented ‘thank you’ gifts to two members of the hotel staff who had served the club over a number of years.

Richard, Fred, Mike, Emma.



It was truly wonderful to see so many happy, smiling faces at Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s annual Christmas carol service and afternoon tea for elderly residents of the town.

Once again superbly organised by Rotarian John Yeomans and his wife Carol, the event has definitely become a ‘must have’ on the Rotary calendar of the year’s social highlights.

Members of the club played their part in assisting with transport and providing help for the visitors into the United Reformed Church for the half hour service which was followed by refreshments in the Church Hall.

The event was introduced by Vice President John Law who, with Rotarians Donald Thompson, Chris Yaxley and Iain Gilmour read the lessons.

John afterwards thanked all those who had assisted with the tea, especially the wives and friends of Rotarians without whom the event would not be possible.

Rotarians formed a choir to the accompaniment of Alan Leather and Rotarian Garth Joscelyne on guitars for Christmas carols. The musicians also entertained the visitors during tea.

And the occasion wouldn’t have been complete without a ‘surprise’ visit of Santa.



For dementia sufferers and those with learning difficulties at a Shrewsbury residential and nursing care home, music is therapeutic. So the appearance of two musicians with a variety of instruments and a repertoire of songs, sponsored by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, went down a hit at the 90-bed Montgomery House, Sundorne Road.

The Rotary club made a donation of £150 for Music in Hospitals and Care, a charity, to give a concert at the home – a first for both Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club and Montgomery House. Annie Summers, of Ludlow, and Helen Wilding, of Bromyard, were the musicians and they entertained the residents of the home singing classical and folk songs whilst playing the harp, violin and ukulele.

Said the home’s event co-ordinator Helen Haf Evans: “This is amazing for dementia suffers and it engages with those that have learning difficulties. We organised the concert on the nursing ward so that even residents in bed could also hear the music. The sounds will make a big difference.”

Rotarian John Yeomans, chair of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s community and vocational committee said: "Our club president Fred McDonogh and myself stayed at Montgomery House to listen to the performance. “It was both moving and delightful to see how after a short time the audience started tapping their feet and joining in with the singing, clearly bringing joy to their day.”

Left to right Rotarian John Yeomans, Helen Wilding, Annie Summers and Rotarian Fred McDonogh.



All the fun of the Frankfurt Christmas Market at the Birmingham Bullring was enjoyed by a party from Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. The group of 30 spent over four hours at the market which is reputed to be the biggest of its kind outside Germany.

The visit was organised by Rotarian William Burden who said afterwards: “

“With a wide choice of German delicacies, wines and beers, everyone had an enjoyable evening. Club President Fred McDonogh described the visit as a ‘wonderful evening of fellowship’ which had taken the place of the normal weekly meeting.



Thirty two members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club drank a toast in celebration of the 90th birthday of Rotarian Brian Leverton. Brian was a founder member of the club’s forerunner, Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary, formed nearly 33 years’ ago and was its third president in 1989-90.

He thanked the club for the considerable fellowship and added “I am fortunate to enjoy most of that time with you all.” He added: “I have had a fairly full life, but the garden doesn’t get much attention these days!” He told members that a second great grandchild, a boy, who was born three days earlier, would carry the Leverton name forward.

Club President Fred McDonogh, who marked the birthday with two gifts, said: “You are an example to us all.”

Brian provided wine for the dinner.




A Rotary club has made one of its largest single donations towards the purchase of a state of the art powered wheelchair to assist a student, who has cerebral palsy, with his studies. A cheque for £500 was presented by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club to 18 year old Oliver Burrows, of Bicton Heath, Shrewsbury, who is taking land based studies and horticulture at Derwen College, Oswestry.

The cost of the special wheelchair is £15,011 and with the Rotary donation Oliver is now nearly half way towards raising the full amount. He is crossing his fingers that the wheelchair could be delivered in time for Christmas which he says would be ‘the most wonderful present’ he could receive.

His mother Deborah explained that the power wheelchair would make ‘the world of difference’ to Oliver’s life, enabling him to access outdoor places he cannot currently visit. “He loves the outdoors and the power wheelchair will enable him to go over different types of ground including gravel, mud and rocky surfaces. The wheelchair will help us to go to places we haven’t been able to visit before.”

The family is being supported by the Caudwell Children’s Trust which is dedicated to improving the lives of children with disabilities. Said its spokesperson Mark Bushell: “This is an absolutely vital support for Oliver and we will make up any shortfall in funding.”

Rotarian John Yeomans, chair of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s community and vocational committee, said: “We are delighted to be able to help a local lad and we are excited at the prospect of him being able to do so much more with his life.” He added that it was one of the largest single donations to be made by the Rotary club.

Mark, John, Oliver and Deborah



The popular Rotary Tree of Light returns to St. Mary’s Church in Shrewsbury where it will be making its 24th festive season appearance. It will be situated in the foyer until after Christmas.

A service of dedication will be held in the church on Sunday November 24 and will be attended by the Lord Lieutenant Ann Turner, High Sheriff Dr Jeremy Dixey and Mayor Councillor Phil Gillam.

Members of the public are also welcome to attend the service at 3.00 pm.

The Tree of Light commemorates loved ones with people asked to donate £5 or more to sponsor a light on the Tree.

Names of donors and those commemorated are displayed around the Tree and published in the Shrewsbury Chronicle over a period of weeks.

Since 1995, the Rotary Tree of Light has raised approximately £140,000 for a wide variety of local charities and this year the beneficiaries will be Parkinson’s Society, The Food Hub and the Samaritans which is the Mayor’s charity.



A tree expert has exclusively told Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club that he was asked to survey the trees on approximately 32 miles of the proposed HS2 route through Staffordshire.

Andy Gordon, who has spent 49 years in forestry, identified 38 trees ‘within spitting distance’ of the proposed route which he thought might be at risk from the development. He told members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club that in particular there was one very old and large oak with a girth of over 8m - suggesting it was over 800 years old  - right next to the proposed  service road which would take heavy dumper trucks.

Said Andy: “I carried out this work for the Woodland Trust which was able to convince the HS2 company to move its approach road 50 metres away so that the tree would not be affected.” He said that at a point near Whitmore on the A53 HS2 would also pass through a blue bell wood and that he was ‘all in favour’ of the Trust’s campaign against cutting down such ancient woods for the HS2.

Andy, who qualified with a PhD in making Scottish whisky, told Rotarians how he was recruited into the Forestry Commission while on a Post-doctoral Fellowship in Winnipeg, Canada. He moved to Shawbury and started a tree seed business for a forestry company near Whitchurch, but after five years bought it out and started his own company, Forestart in Hadnall, selling it 20 years later by which time he felt that it had captured well over 60% of the UK market. Forestart now has some 80% of the British market place as there is no other large British tree seed company.

Since retiring Andy has worked as a volunteer for the National Trust and Woodland Trust and has carried out a vast number of ancient tree surveys, including all 2,000 acres of the Attingham Estate as well as 26 other National Trust properties in the North West Midlands.

Andy told Rotarians that he had recorded some 300 trees in the Attingham Park itself, including one which is approximately 800 years old, and that the UK had more ancient and veteran trees than all the other countries in Europe together.

He told Rotarians he has found that the rate of tree growth in Attingham is similar to that of Windsor Great Park where the soil is quite sandy, but about 10% slower than the rich red sandstone soils of Herefordshire. He revealed that he has been carrying out a lot of work on the cedars at Attingham He said a lot of their branches broke off as a result of heavy snow 18 months ago. As they were planted over 200 years ago at five metres spacing they have proved to be the tallest and largest plantation of Cedars of Lebanon in the UK.

NT Management had wanted to cut down the cedars and allow the 27 replacement trees, which have been planted over the last 50 years, to take over, but by studying the phenology of these replacements he fears that they are not all Cedars of Lebanon!.

Andy spoke of how the girths of trees are measured to give an indication of age.  By the time an oak’s girth reaches 6m this gives a rough idea in centuries of the age of a tree (600) and so on to 10m and 1000 years.

Tree diseases were the last main subject Andy touched upon. He said: “We are suffering from an enormous epidemic of tree diseases which have come in from abroad in the last 20 years due to global trade.

“It is not all to do with the EU, though a lot of it is, but things like packing cases from China have introduced pests such as the larvae of Long Horn Beetles.  Another pest originating from the Orient – the Oriental Chestnut Gall wasp - escaped into the wild in Kent for two years before being identified and eradicated by clear-felling a large area of chestnut forest. There is good evidence that diseases arrive in the UK not only on plants imported from the continent, but through wind born spores. The clearest evidence of this was with ash die-back where infections were found in the far north-west of Scotland where no ash trees had been planted for many years. Spores had carried across the North Sea from Denmark.  However, just as many infections arose because plants grown from seed supplied to foreign nurseries by Forestart were being sold back into the UK with the disease. Because of EU regulations these could not be banned from entering the UK. Brexit could allow the UK immediately to ban such introductions in future! Ash die-back has been devastating in Denmark where some 80% of mature trees are dying.  Hopefully, we shall not see these levels in the UK where our native ashes appear to be more resistant.”

Attingham was one of four main study sites for another disease which at one time was thought to pose a great risk to our oaks.  Acute Oak Decline (AOD) appears as black bleeds on the lower trunks of oak trees. These are almost always associated with Jewel beetles whose larvae eat out networks of galleries just under the bark before eating their way out and leaving d shaped exit holes about 2mm across.

“Trees are incredibly resilient,” Andy told Rotarians. “Except after multiple attacks the tree calluses over the larvae which prevents the disease spreading.  As a result only some 5% of the trees end up dead.”

Andy’s final warning was of the possibility of attack by Xylella bacteria. This disease originated in the West Indies, somehow got to the heel of Italy and in a few short years has spread as far north as the Loire Valley in France.  Hopefully cold winter temperatures will halt its northerly progress.

“We hope and pray it doesn’t come to the UK,” he told Rotarians. “Thirty six of our common tree and shrub species have been shown to be affected by it.  However, if it comes to the UK, it will be a catastrophe for the nursery and garden centre world.

“But,” he assured members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, “there is a comprehensive action plan that will be put into action by the Plant Health Authorities if it does arrive. The whole horticultural industry is keeping its collective fingers crossed.”



A successful autumn charity fundraising event has resulted in a Rotary club considering organising a similar occasion in the spring.

The dramatic Thai cave rescue presentation, organised by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club last Saturday, will raise approximately £3,000 to be shared between the Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation and the League of Friends at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

As a result of the event, which was attended by nearly 200, the Rotary club is now looking further ahead and eager to find another event to sponsor in the Spring.

Said Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s President Fred McDonogh: “The incredible rescue of the 12 schoolboy footballers and their coach from a water-filled cave in Thailand last year really captured the imagination of so many. Half the money we raised from the Thai cave rescue presentation will go to the Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation and half to the League of Friends by giving them equipment we all hope we will never have to use. We are now seeking to find another fundraising event in the spring and look forward to hearing from anyone with an idea that Rotary could support.”

He added: “Our own club members will be putting on their thinking caps to come up with suggestions for a spring charity fundraiser.”

Any organisation wishing to link up with Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club can contact the president on 01743 362537.



It has been exclusively revealed that the amazing rescue of 12 schoolboy footballers and their coach from a water-filled cave in Thailand will feature in a limited release movie. The surprise disclosure came during question time at a packed two hour presentation on the ‘Tham Luang Cave Rescue - Against the Odds’ which was organised by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.

Presenters Mike Clayton and Emma Porter, of Bridgnorth, who were both involved in the dramatic rescue which captured world interest, told an audience of nearly 200 that there would also be ‘probably a few things in the future happening.’

In a vote of thanks, the couple’s slide presentation was described by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Fred McDonogh as ‘outstanding and inspiring.’

The evening, at The Clayton Hall, Shrewsbury Colleges Group, London Road, raised £2,700 jointly for the Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation and the League of Friends at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

The presentation began with Mike and Emma introducing themselves and their long involvement with the Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation. Mike is equipment officer for the British Cave Rescue Council and chair of the Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation, whilst Emma is secretary of the latter. Everyone in cave rescue is a volunteer and they go out caving in Thailand every year. Mike went out to Thailand for the rescue as service controller/diver support to make the equipment checking as hassle-free as possible so that the divers could concentrate on the diving.

During the Thai rescue Emma managed the UK operations and logistics 24/7 for three weeks which she described as the ‘most intense three weeks of my life.’

Emma, who was at the centre of communications from an office in her home at Hampton Loade, hardly had any sleep for three weeks.  Every morning at 3.00 am British time – 3.00 pm in Thailand – the divers were giving her an update. “Little did I know that at 3 in the morning I was going to get called.  It was strange really because the operation was being run from our house at Hampton Loade.  I just had to be near the phone and have access to the internet.”

As soon as the boys were found Emma never left the house 24/7 as the media, in her words, went ‘berserk.’  She was being contacted by email and telephone and messages on Facebook which she described as ‘absolutely crazy.’ She started putting together press releases and said the media were ‘very good.’ “You hear bad things about the media, but they listened to us and worked with us on this.”

The group, a young football team of 12 members, Wild Boars, and assistant coach, thought that after football practice they would have a caving trip. They cycled to Thang from their town Mae Sai. This cave does flood every year. They had got a long way into the cave, considering their football kit, torches and bare feet. They got 800 metres from the entrance and were stopped by water. There was a massive downpour which came two weeks early.

They went back into a large area, waited there, and tried to head deeper into the cave where they were eventually found. Criticism of the coach for taking them in there was rejected by Mike. “It was an instinct adventure. They were unlucky, that was all. There was no reason to criticise them or the coach for going into the cave.”

Two members of the Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation found four people they had no idea were in the cave.  Nobody knew the men, engineers, had been in there for 24 hours. He described as an ‘amazing fete’ to rescue the four engineers under ‘difficult circumstances.’’ It was feared the boys would not be alive and because of the ‘desperate conditions,’ the high water levels, it would be impossible to bring them out. The divers were under immense pressure.

They actively tried to drain water out of the cave, but with the amount of rain it was never going to work. When they did find the boys, which they couldn’t believe, it was a question of ‘how on earth are we going to get them out of the cave?’ The rescuers did not expect to find the boys alive. They had thought that if one of the boys came out alive, that would be a success. They had been trapped in the cave for 12 days with almost no food.  The coach said they were drinking drips of water coming off the rock. “That was one thing he did to keep the boys alive and also taught them meditation,” Mike told the audience.

A critical part of the rescue was to sedate the boys, apply face masks and give them pure oxygen. The rescue, for which the King of Thailand had given permission, took three days, and it was described as ‘sheer good luck’ that everyone got out of the cave safely. “Luckily, by the 10thof July,” we had all 13 of them out alive,” said Mike.  “Once they came out they were rushed to hospital in Chiang Rai, the nearest large city about an hour away, where they were put in isolation.”

He said none of the parents were told who had come out and the boys could not remember anything which was a ‘real positive thing.’ Mike added: “Although the whole rescue was a massive success, 13 came out alive which no-one really expected at the time, what we need to remember is someone did lose their life.” – a former Thai navy diver Saman Gunan.

Following the rescue, Mike and Emma said they had been ‘treated like royalty.’ It had all been a whirlwind that had changed their lives. After the rescue the team was invited by the Speaker to the House of Commons and they also spent a couple of hours in No.10 Downing Street.


The Shropshire presenters of an imminent talk on the Thai cave rescue of a football team of 12 boys and their coach, believed to be a world first, are currently on a return trip to Thailand exploring and mapping caves and providing rescue training.

Mike Clayton and Emma Porter, of the Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation and from Bridgnorth, will shortly be presenting a detailed disclosure of the Tham Luang rescue last year which captured global attention and admiration.

Their presentation, ‘The complete story of the Thailand cave rescue,’ will be given at The Clayton Hall, Shrewsbury Colleges Group, London Road campus at 7.00 pm on Saturday November 2.

The event is being organised by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club and those wishing to attend are asked to mail their names with payment to Rotarian G. Watkins, Hillside, Burgs Lane, Bayston Hill, Shrewsbury SY3 0EF.

The cost of the presentation is £15 a head and will include drinks and canapés.

As Emma said today in an interview from Thailand: “The cave rescue in Tham Luang was truly against the odds and we know of no other cave rescue like it in terms of duration, difficulty and of course with so many children involved. The risks were such that we believed that if one child came out alive, it would be a success.”

It took over a week for the young footballers’ location to be discovered, but at that point there was no way to get the boys out safely. It was so dangerous that an experienced Thai Navy Seal diver, Saman Gunan, died in a rescue attempt when taking oxygen to the boys. 

Almost every cave rescue team in the British Isles had some involvement in the Thai cave rescue, and Midlands Cave Rescue had the highest number of key personnel directly involved.

As secretary of the British Cave Rescue Council, Emma was involved from the outset and jointly managing the UK operations for the entirety of the three week rescue.  She provided 24/7 contact with the two lead divers who first went out, liaising with third parties including the Foreign Office and the Thai Embassy.

Said Emma: “I was providing logistical and operational support to ensure BCRC diving and surface support personnel could safely get out to Thailand and source equipment from all over Europe, together with dealing with the media with the pressure of the world watching.

“Mike was initially supporting me, but was then asked to go to Thailand to act as one of three BCRC surface support personnel for the BCRC cave divers.  His role was to liaise with the other agencies on site, including the Thai military, local government officials, US military and Australian government officials.

“In addition, to obtain any equipment the divers required, but mainly to allow the divers to concentrate on the job in hand and develop their rescue strategy.”

Emma was then supported by Graham Smith, treasurer of Midlands Cave Rescue in the UK control room, run 24/7 and based in Hampton Loade.  Other members of Midlands Cave Rescue also supported the BCRC during the Thai cave rescue with Kelvin Lake managing the website and dealing with the sudden surge in hits, and Heather Simpson, who is also treasurer of BCRC, handling press communications and donations. 

As volunteers, Emma and Mike have been providing cave rescue training in Lebanon and Tunisia and have recently returned from helping to set up the Moroccan cave rescue organisation.

In the next few weeks, six members of Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation will be out in Thailand, including Emma and Mike, to explore and map the caves in the Tham Luang area, and provide cave rescue training to some of the personnel who supported the Thai rescue operations.  

Proceeds of Emma and Mike’s presentation are in aid of Midlands Cave Rescue and the League of Friends of the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.




A Rotary club is setting aside nearly £2,500 to support four worthy causes which includes a possible ‘life changing’ power wheelchair for a college degree student.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club is to allocate £500 if the family of a disabled teenager is able to raise half the cost themselves. Members were told that the special wheelchair would help the young man, who suffers from bilateral cerebral palsy, to participate in day to day work on a horticultural course at Derwen College, Oswestry.

The family of the man, who is studying for a degree, was said to be trying to raise half the cost of £15,000 for the specialised wheelchair which would run over rough ground.

Members were told the power wheelchair would improve his lifestyle and would be life changing. Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has agreed to provide support, but the finance is conditional upon the actual purchase of the wheelchair.

The family is being supported by the Caudwell Children’s Charity which requires half the cost is raised by the family.

The club is also supporting a new project, ‘Music in Homes and Hospitals,’ with £150 which is the cost of a 75 minute session.

Rotary will trial the project as a one-off at Montgomery House care home, Sundorne Road, Shrewsbury, which has 90-plus residents. Members heard that professional musicians visit a home or hospital and provide live music to a group of people.

Rotarian John Yeomans, chair of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Community and Vocational Committee, told members that Montgomery House was ‘excited’ about the possibility of the project being delivered to them. He said: “The project can be extended in the future to day centres to merged groups of older people. It provides good communication and significant stimulation to these people.”

The club has once again agreed to support Minsterley Eisteddfod with a donation of £300 towards prizes.

Rotarian Yeomans also outlined a scheme for phone boxes telling members that BT is disposing of phone boxes and offering them to communities for different uses. He said the club was interested in securing one of these phone boxes to place a defibrillator in it. He had made an initial online application for one of two phone boxes in Abbey Foregate. “The reason for their release is because BT say no-one is using them,” he told members.  Community Heartbeat Trust, which has strong links with Rotary, would help to adapt a phone box.

They would provide the defibrillator and guidance on how to manage the phone boxes over a four year commitment. The club would be expected to open and maintain a phone box with a defibrillator – linked to the Ambulance Service - at a cost of £1,400. BT, on request, would leave the telephone in an operating condition. The trust would keep the equipment in order. When a defibrillator was used, there would be an on-going cost of £40. “That’s £40 to save someone’s life,” said John, whose proposal to support the idea and progress the project with other Rotary clubs was backed by members.



A Rotary club which has lent £1,500 to help 746 entrepreneurs mainly in Third World Countries, has had its first underpayment in five years. Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has had an underpayment of £49 on one of their Lendwithcare loans which was made to an entrepreneur in Zimbabwe.

Unfortunately, the repayment of the £60 loan was affected by adverse currency fluctuations. “This is not a default and is the first underpayment recorded in the five years the Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has supported this scheme,” said Rotarian Chris Allsop, chair of the club’s international committee.

Through Lendwithcare Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has created 907 jobs as well as helped 2,898 family members.

In its latest round of lending, the club has loaned £550 to 12 entrepreneurs, mainly from central America, Asia, Zambia and Rwanda.

 “This is mainly to people to support more jobs to help their local community,” Chris added.



A Rotary club has completed its search for a new venue following the announcement that the Lord Hill Hotel is to close on January 1. Members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club have chosen the Corbet Arms, Uffington, to be their new home after a second ballot.

There were three test drives following which the Corbet Arms received more than 50% of the vote cast and meetings from January 7 to the end of the presidential year in 2020 will be held there. The Rotary plaque will switch to the front door of the Corbet Arms.

However, the club has voted unanimously to hold its Christmas party at the Lord Hill Hotel on December 17. It will be the final occasion, bringing to an end a 20 year association with the hotel which is to be re-developed into apartments.



The Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation is to give a presentation at Shrewsbury College on November 2.

The event, which is being organised by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, will be in aid of Cave Rescue and the League of Friends of the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

Midlands Cave Rescue were involved in the incredible Thai cave rescue mission, saving 12 schoolboys and their football coach from a cave in Thailand. They were trapped in the Tham Luang cave for more than a week and there were concerns that a rescue would not be possible due to the hazardous conditions. The scale of the operation to rescue the 13 was totally unprecedented and it was impossible to know what the outcome would be.  Nothing like this had ever been attempted before.

‘The complete story of the Thailand cave rescue’ will be given at The Clayton Hall, Shrewsbury Colleges Group, London Road campus at 7.00 pm on November 2.

Those wishing to attend are asked to mail their names with payment to Rotarian G. Watkins, Hillside, Burgs Lane, Bayston Hill, Shrewsbury SY3 0EF. The cost of the presentation is £15 a head and will include drinks and canapes. Proceeds are in aid of Midlands Cave Rescue and the League of Friends of RSH.



Reasons why Social Services today are under enormous pressures have been outlined to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.

Summarising the background to the challenges currently facing this sector, Roger Sharp, who has spent his career operating in the Social Services environment, told Rotarians that new legislation in the Children’s Act placed the welfare of the child as the paramount concern in all aspects of child safety and welfare.

“This often left social workers with the very difficult choice of whether a child should be put in care or left with the family. This was often judgementally a very fine line with potentially disastrous consequences if got wrong,” said Roger.

He said the 1989 Children’s Act became the principal piece of legislation that has since been built on. Throughout his career his main focus has been working with children in need of care, whether through abuse, neglect or because they were beyond the control of their parents.

Roger, who studied history at Cambridge University, got his first job in the London Borough of Haringey working as a child care officer. He subsequently studied for his professional qualification at Liverpool University. He subsequently moved to Maldon, Essex, as an area manager, prior to joining the Lothian Social Services Department working in Edinburgh where he had to adapt his working approach because of the different legal system operating in Scotland.

A move then followed to Lincolnshire where he rose to the position of assistant director of Lincolnshire Social Services.



Members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club attended the funeral of a man who found ‘great enjoyment and satisfaction’ in being a Rotarian.

Ian Stewart, 62, who was a member of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary, died on August 30 in the Hospice with his wife Shirley by his side. The funeral celebrant Mr. Roger Dugan spoke of Ian’s enjoyment of joining a Rotary club in his address.  He had also had a keen interest in Round Table.

Although he was born in Warwickshire, the son of a police officer, he had Scottish roots and loved watching Scotland play rugby. He was said to have ‘loved life with a real passion’; was passionate about his work and helping others; interested in gardening, golf and archaeology; ‘loved Shrewsbury’; was full of energy and ideas and was the ‘life and soul of the party’.

He and his wife Shirley, with whom he set up home in 2005, married in 2015 and re-located permanently to Shrewsbury.  The couple adopted two baby elephants in Nairobi. He was ‘full of energy and ideas,’ but ill health had affected him in recent years.



A coaching lesson was about to begin for golfing members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.

They were assembled at the Golf Driving Range when golf professional Owen Evans took a call on his mobile from his wife who was about to go into labour.

“How much time between the two?” asked Owen, much to the amusement of the golfers. He added: “Will you excuse me, gentlemen, I think I had better go.”

The Golf Driving Range subsequently advised that a free lesson will be arranged.

Experienced golfer Rotarian Iain Gilmour took over the coaching and great promise was shown by novice player Rotarian John Yeomans who looked far from a beginner.



Former member Mark Beddow was a visitor to the last meeting of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.

He left the club due to work commitments overseas, but has continued to keep in touch.

The meeting he attended at the football ground debated the future venue for Shrewsbury Severn Rotary and the decision will be announced shortly.

                                      Mark is seen being welcomed by President Fred McDonogh.



President Fred and his wife Deirdre hosted a barbecue for Rotarians and guests at their character home near to the picturesque Shrewsbury Quarry.

More than 30 enjoyed a splendid barbecue and drinks in the delightful garden of the spacious house in Port Hill Gardens.

The President asked everyone to raise a glass in memory of Rotarian Ian Stewart who passed away last Friday.

Geoff Lloyd, who was head cook, proposed a vote of thanks to Fred and Deirdre for hosting the event.

Thanks also go to Gordon and Cindy Duncan whose assistance in the preparation for the barbecue was greatly appreciated.

Geoff Lloyd and Gordon Duncan.

Sue Wells, Sandra Kelly, Margaret Leverton, Sue Hughes



The art of vine growing and wine making in one of the country’s most northerly vineyards has been outlined to a party of 30 Rotarians and guests.

They were on a visit to Wroxeter Roman Vineyard which is surrounded by the ancient Roman city of Viroconium stretching back a little longer than the vineyard – 2,000 years compared to 28 years.

Martin Millington explained to the visitors how his father was ‘presented’ with the still vine vineyard and decided to grow four varieties of vine – three white and one red, the latter being the shortest ripening red. He explained how the vines are planted north to south 6ft to 7ft with some rows 8ft apart and others 6ft apart with a total of 1,000 vines times eight producing one and a half to two bottles of wine per vine, a total of 7,000-8,000 bottles each year, and every year is different. He said Wroxeter is different to other vineyards as it does not prune when the leaves first drop. The vineyard operates a double geo system, pruning twice.

When planting, he said they were aware that the vineyard was in a ‘frost spot,’ having the same weather patterns as RAF Shawbury, with 1,010 light hours a year, equivalent to a couple more weeks of ‘useful light.’ He spoke of the vineyard having to mitigate the problem of frost and utilising 50 gallon drums, taking one end out and punching holes in the other.  They were fed with different coals, hay and straw to create as much smoke as possible.  The vines were cocooned in smoke raising the temperature by three or four degrees, making as much physical use of the smoke as possible.

They treated a milky solution of sulphur as a preventative method against mildew on the vine. Every two weeks in the summer, a low level of sulphur was sprayed on the vine to prevent mildew. He didn’t use chemicals – sulphur was all he added to his wine. He explained that he also looked out for wasps who liked sweet things and ate into the grape which allowed disease in.  However, he liked to see the badger which was an ‘early warning system’ that the grapes were ripe to pick.

The grapes were picked and put into buckets and trays and the trays of grapes were put into machines which included an auger and press.  There was one tonne of fruit at any one time in the press which he said was a ‘Godsend.’ The fermentation process changed the juice into alcohol in a two and a half hour process with pressure at 35 psi. He outlined the flavours, textures and varieties as well as the shifting of weather patterns.  The weather patterns had changed the varieties on the continent over the last few years and had assisted vineyards in the south of the country. Last year’s harvest was on the higher side of an average crop and he explained why they concentrated on still wines rather than sparkling wines which ‘don’t make money.’ The vineyard doesn’t have a bottling line or labelling machine and used natural corks.

During a tasting of three wines, two white and one red, he told Rotarians: “I don’t say much about my wine.  It is for you to decide.  It is not for me to tell you what you are tasting. Taste is specific to a person doing the tasting.” All three wines being tasted were 2018 wines with 11.5% alcohol.

In a vote of thanks, President Fred said: “It has been a pleasure to see around the business.  I didn’t see light in anyone’s eyes to follow in your footsteps.  It is admirable to see your belief, determination and bags of energy.”



A member of the small production team who worked on the first Doctor Who television series has confessed that she subsequently wondered why the programme came to have such a large fan club…it was, after all, just another programme. Wasn’t it?

Catherine Trimby told members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club that the team of four were extremely surprised Doctor Who became so popular after the first series in 1963. That the programme continued, initially, for over 20 years she said, was ‘astonishing.’

She recalled how the lead part was given to William Hartnell. She remembered being present at the first hearing of the iconic electronic theme music, composed by Ron Grainger, and how the production team wondered if it would catch on because it was such a new sound.

The cast rehearsed each episode for about a week and she helped William Hartnell learn his lines. “He made an excellent Doctor, but at the time I thought he was rather old, and he sometimes had difficulty remembering his lines’, she recalled.

The first episode was screened soon after it was recorded and shown on black and white television screens. The ratings were good. “About six million people watched and the rest is history.

“Overall,” said Catherine, “Doctor Who was ferociously hard work, but great fun, and none of us had any idea how popular it would become. I am delighted that a woman, Jodie Whittaker, is now playing the role – not that I am a regular watcher.”

Salopian Catherine, who studied at a stage school and then drama school, said she had found it a privilege watching actors create their parts in a new play. ‘It was also exciting seeing actors finding something new to do in a well-known play.’

She reluctantly trod the boards herself occasionally and recalled being the back legs of a pantomime horse and appearing as an apparition in Macbeth.

Catherine with Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s Speaker Secretary Willie Strachan.



The 3rd Test Drive in the search for a new venue has taken members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club to the Four Crosses Inn, Bicton.

Members are now being asked to complete a questionnaire to help decide where the club should meet in the future.

The 1st Test Drive was at Shrewsbury Town Football Stadium and the second at the Corbet Arms, Uffington.

The questionnaire, based on members’ experiences of the establishments visited over the last three weeks, has been produced by Rotarians Colin Sharp and Geoff Lloyd and circulated to members by secretary Gareth Watkins.



Highlight of a Rotary walk around Haughmond Abbey was a visit to the Chapter House. Members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club heard that each day the Abbott would read one chapter of the rules of the society. Canons would also conduct their business meetings in the Chapter House.

The building is decorated with statues of the saints and in the photo are Rotarians Fred McDonogh (St Fred), Roger Sharp (St Roger) and Willie Strachan (St William) admiring the scene. The font was rescued from the Haughmond Abbey Church at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry V111 in 1539. The stony faced saints around the door of the Chapter House are Augustine, Thomas Becket, Catherine of Alexandria, John the Evangelist, John the Baptist, Margaret of Antioch, Winifred and Michael.

The walk was organised by Rotarian Bob Scaiff and the walkers afterwards joined their fellow Rotarians for a meal at the nearby Corbet Arms, Uffington.



The Corbet Arms in the village of Uffington, near Shrewsbury (photo), was the venue for Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s 2nd Test Drive. Following the announcement that the Lord Hill Hotel is to close at the end of the year, the club has embarked upon a short series of trials to find an alternative venue.

The previous week members tested Shrewsbury Town FC. This week it was the turn of the Corbet Arms to undergo the 2nd Test Drive.

Next week it will be the Four Crosses, Bicton, and all 3 Test Drives will be discussed when the club meets at Wroxeter Vineyard on August 20.


A Rotary club has helped to create nearly 1,000 jobs in under-developed countries. Since launching its Lendwithcare programme providing a total of 110 loans to would-be entrepreneurs and other overseas workers, Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has not yet had a single default. Under the scheme the club has loaned a total of £1,500 which has helped 756 entrepreneurs and 2,898 family members with the number of jobs created so far reaching 907. Said Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s International Committee chair Chris Allsop: “We are very proud of this record and I am pleased to say the club has sanctioned a further £500 to loan. “Each recipient has received a maximum of £60 and the Lendwithcare assistance has been well worth pursuing.”



Shrewsbury Town FC stadium (photo) – the first of three venues that Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club is test running.

Three tables of 10 were set out in the Arthur Rowley Suite for the 30 members (photo) who attended the first of the club’s test runs on July 30.

In his welcome, President Fred described the football ground as ‘test drive 1’ which will be followed by the Corbet Arms, Uffington, on Tuesday August 6.

The second test run will be combined with a walk.



Shrewsbury Food Hub volunteer Michael Carding told members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club that they now support more than 56 groups in the community.

He revealed that early morning collections were now being made from 18 supermarkets which would no longer have the food on shelves - though the fruit and vegetables were still more than edible  - from where it went to the food  hub depot and was then distributed to organisations. “Customers are unhappy with waste,” said Michael. “The raison d’etre when Shrewsbury Food Hub was launched three years ago was to reduce food waste. There has been a massive reduction in landfill at the same time as greatly benefiting the groups who receive food  from supermarkets. We save the hospice 25% of its food budget,” he told Rotarians.

The food hub, said Michael, had just ‘grown and grown, doubling the amount of food it collects each year. Meanwhile, pressure on local families’ food budgets had increased.  “If a family is struggling financially and they get hit with a change of circumstances, their food budget is often the only flexible part of their budget and they have to cut down on what they spend.   Surplus food is not the solution to food poverty, but can be a helpful stop gap,” he said.

Shrewsbury Food Hub, which is supporting 11 primary and one secondary school with surplus food from supermarkets, will be helping families during six weeks of the school summer holidays by supporting four partner churches to run foodshare tables where they can pop in to get food on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis.

He said there was a connection with one of the schools, the Grange Primary School, which Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club also supported. In term time the school received a daily delivery of food, mainly for the breakfast club, but also for break time and after school club.

The other schools benefiting from Shrewsbury Food Hub include Greenacres, Harlescott Primary, Shrewsbury Academy and Sundorne Infants.


Michael Carding (left) demonstrated a box of foodstuffs which had come out of the food hub that morning. He is pictured (left) with club Vice President John Law, District Governor Brian Reilly and visiting Rotarian Jeroen Van Der Kolk.



Rotary is the force that makes the community better. These were the profound words of District Governor Brian Reilly when he addressed Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club – the third of the 52 clubs he will be visiting during his year in office.

“Service above self is not an idle phrase.  We do good in the world and we need to say more about it to the world,” he told members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.

It was appropriate that his visit should coincide with the appearance at the club of an overseas guest – Dutchman Jeroen Van Der Kolk. Jeroen, 48, an HR consultant who was on a business English course in Shrewsbury, has been a member of the Rotary Club of Rijswijk-Ypenburg for three years. He and members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club heard the District Governor say: “Service above self is what we are about. Each year a new president comes up with a new theme. This year ‘Rotary Connects the World.’ Making a difference, giving service, making an impact.

You do it by connecting and hopefully you will connect with Rotary International. Rotary is quite unique. Two hundred countries in the world support Rotary. 1.25 million members. It means you are part of something which connects.”

Each year, said the District Governor, Rotary re-invented itself in many ways. A new president, a new team in charge and a revitalisation of its efforts at international level to make a difference in the world. “So many diverse projects you do that effect not only people in Shrewsbury, but people throughout Britain and people internationally. You make that possible and without you it doesn’t happen. You are the force that makes the community better.”

Rotary, said Brian, was entering a new phase whereby it was becoming more outward looking with the message to the general public being ‘come and join us.’ “We are having to change with the times. For all of us that is relative. Life is very much in your face and as Rotarians we have to adapt and keep up with the possibilities. We have to plan forward and we have to set goals. There’s a future and our future is pushing those boundaries to be more inclusive. Rotary is about support, it is about connecting, connecting you with each other and your community. Rotary works, it works for you, it works for clubs and it works for the community.”

Brian finished his address by thanking the club for all it did and invited members to join him in September in Bath for the District Conference.



The search is on!

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club is earnestly looking for a new home.

With the announcement that the Lord Hill Hotel is to close on January 1 next year, Shrewsbury Severn, along with the other two Shrewsbury Rotary clubs, must find a new venue and the consensus of members is ‘let’s find a new home sooner than later.’

Various venues are under the spotlight as Shrewsbury Severn Rotary look to fill the criteria that the Lord Hill Hotel has met over the years. At the same time, the club is also seeking a new home for its Tree of Light.



Paul Harris Fellowships, the highest recognition that Rotary can make, have been awarded to three members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. At the club’s handover meeting, outgoing president Julian Wells announced that the work of Iain Gilmour, John Yeomans and Kerry Ferguson had been recognised with a Paul Harris award.

Iain’s was for his outstanding work on the Tree of Light and other club activities; John for community service initiatives and the great success of the Christmas tea party for elderly people; Kerry for delivering an ‘excellent’ youth programme, particularly support for the Grange Primary School and Harlescott Youth Club.

Kerry confirmed that the Harlescott Youth Club would deliver two sessions of three-day activities in the summer holidays and hoped to repeat this in the October half term. The cost of the July programme is about £2,000 and will equate to £8 per day per child. Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has donated £500, Darwin Rotary Club £500, Shrewsbury Rotary Club up to £200, the Convent £760 and a £500 donation has been made by a member of Darwin Rotary. Shrewsbury Town council is supportive and a full range of activities will be available, said Kerry, who added that he would like to widen this to make a bigger intervention in the Harlescott area.

He added that he would ask a representative of the town council to give a talk to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.

Julian said the presidency had shown him the great variety of activities that the club does in a year and that it had given him the opportunity to get to know members better and the various roles they take on in the club. He decided to break with tradition and instead of selecting a ‘Rotarian of the Year,’ he personally thanked a total of 19 individual Rotarians whom he said had given him ‘great support’ throughout his year of office.

He said it had been a record fundraising year thanks to the Tree of Light and an ‘excellent’ sleigh campaign. The outgoing president thanked all members who had contributed to the success which had meant that the club was able to support many local and international charities. Julian concluded by handing over the president’s chain of office to Fred McDonogh.



Lendwithcare continues to go from strength to strength as a highly successful Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club scheme. Rotarian John Law, chair of the club’s International and Foundation Committee, has announced that £1,225 had been loaned out to help create entrepreneurs in developing countries. There had been 23 repayments from various parts of the world with no defaults. He added that the current balance was £275. “Lendwithcare is going on very nicely,” John added, explaining that this was a key international Rotary project bringing much needed seed funding to self employed small businesses in the developing world.



Three Rotarians from Bridgnorth travelled in non-stop torrential rain and a heavy volume of surface water on the roads to make a scatter meeting in Shrewsbury and after the two and a half hour get together with Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, weather conditions had worsened on the return journey for Rotarians Elwyn Jones, David Hampson and Dermot Creece.

But all three Bridgnorth Rotarians agreed their scatter night at Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club was ‘well worth the travel misery.’ “We beat the weather,” said Elwyn. “Visiting other Rotary clubs are opportunities to understand more about how they operate, a process which strengthens both clubs. A major emphasis for all clubs is expanding the membership of Rotary. The clubs provide a heady cocktail of social events, ongoing fellowship as well as organising and taking part in fun events for the financial benefit of charitable causes.”

Longest-standing of the visiting Rotarians is Bridgnorth club secretary Elwyn who joined in 2010. David has completed two years and Dermot coming up to one year.

Said Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Julian Wells “It couldn’t have been a worse night for our visitors to travel so it was particularly pleasing to welcome them to our meeting.”



A Shropshire Rotary club has outlined a strategy to boost membership.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, which meets weekly at the Lord Hill Hotel, Abbey Foregate, is aiming to introduce at least four new members during the new Rotary year starting on July 1. Ideally the club would like to welcome both men and women in the 55-65 age group – but neither age nor gender should be considered barriers to entry.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club starts the new Rotary year with 41 members and anyone interested in finding out more can contact the club’s incoming president Fred McDonogh at fredmcdonogh@gmail.com

The club is putting forward a varied programme for the coming year with fundraising activities a top priority. These will include the traditional Rotary Sleigh visits to supermarkets, villages and suburbs of Shrewsbury, the Tree of Light and a spring and autumn fundraising event.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club is actively discussing with the Shrewsbury and Shrewsbury Darwin Rotary Clubs to set up a ‘Friends of Rotary’ group. The idea is to welcome younger people into a friendly environment with the opportunity to later decide whether to join one of the three Rotary clubs which all meet at the Lord Hill Hotel, either for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Visitors are very welcome to join our meetings and learn more about the social, community service and charity fund raising activities that members enjoy and that provide much needed voluntary help in the local community. While Rotary is an international organisation providing much needed support worldwide, the focus of activity is on local community projects.



A Rotary club may take the initiative and ‘adopt’ a phone box to house a defibrillator.

The idea was discussed at a meeting of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club who heard that BT would renovate the phone box and provide power. The cost is believed to be in the region of £850-£1,000 and the club will look into the idea during the new Rotary year starting next month.

Members heard that a long-term project is to make Shrewsbury a ‘Rotary Town’. Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club is aware that many towns in the UK and overseas have a visible Rotary presence which is missing in Shrewsbury. Ideas include adopting a roundabout with Rotary signage or installing a Rotary wishing well somewhere in the town centre. The club is also talking to the council about developing a project to plant a symbolic tree for every Rotary member.

The club’s Community and Vocational Committee is proposing to spend over £7,000 during the next Rotary year on people and environmental projects. Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club is continuing its commitment to support the Grange Primary School with reading, funding for a Kids Day Out, books and clothing. They will be making a donation for three years to help ensure Harlescott Youth Club is available during summer school holidays. Shrewsbury Severn Rotary will also support Shrewsbury College Star Awards which recognise achievement in adversity.

And it is not only the young who will benefit from Rotary financial support.  The club will finance an old folks’ Christmas party and support homeless and food bank projects.

There are also plans to support a litter picking project in the town, either directly through volunteering to pick up litter, or providing suitable tools.



A Shrewsbury shop owner has called for a reduction in the amount of packaging being produced. Sam Winterflood, who runs Green Options in the Charles Darwin Centre, is inviting people to take their own waste packaging to his shop. “We should be trying to cut out the classic packaging and waste as much as we can,” Sam told a meeting of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.

“In a supermarket everyone is fooled by the packaging,” said Sam. “They are fantastic at marketing through packaging. We are being fooled by the packaging to buy more products.”

Sam, whose background is in recycling, said 56% of plastic produced was in packaging and it was important what happened to it afterwards and trying to encourage people to recycle. He questioned whether we were making the best use of plastics and warned of the danger of micro plastics. “Micro plastics are in food such as fish and we don’t know where that leads,” he said.

Government, said Sam, needed to set targets for plastic reduction, especially packaging. And he added that products in his shop were unpackaged. “The general conception is that products in the shop will be more expensive, but this is not the case because packaging is often a significant part of the cost of an item. Customers can purchase a re-usable container, often paper, or bring along their own.”

He added: “Incineration is not the answer, we need to move to consume less, not rely on incineration which produces dangerous gases and is inherently wasteful.”

Rotarian Willie Strachan (left) who introduced Sam (right) and his partner Lillie Lockwood.



A Rotarian sat through a two and a half hour meeting with two fractured wrists. The extent of the injuries was not known to Bunny Parker when he fell just prior to the start of the latest meeting of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. He had a fall in the foyer when he tripped over a small table just minutes prior to the club’s annual meeting.

Bunny, who is in his eighties, was re-elected to the club’s council for the next Rotary year. After the meeting, a fellow Rotarian John Yeomans took him to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital Accident and Emergency Department where fractures to both wrists were diagnosed. He was subsequently kept in hospital overnight.

It is expected that both arms will be in plaster for up to six weeks.

Said Bunny: “It was just a simple accident, but I fractured both wrists which are in plaster. I don’t know the timescale for recovery. It was very good of John to take me to hospital and I do appreciate all the subsequent good wishes of my Rotary colleagues.”



The purchase of a ShelterBox in the next Rotary financial year has been agreed by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. The club’s annual meeting agreed to an International and Foundation Committee proposal to buy a ShelterBox at a cost of up to £750.

The partnership between Rotary and ShelterBox has provided a place of refuge to people facing some of the most difficult and uncertain moments in their lives. At any given time ShelterBox response teams are on the ground supporting families to recover after disaster and conflict all over the world and Rotary is with Shelterbox every step of the way. From practical support on the ground during a response to disaster, to raising funds, Rotary is helping to reach families in desperate need.

The club has also agreed to the same committee’s proposition to top up the £1,500 to Lendwithcare with a further £500 during the next Rotary financial year. Lendwithcare allows Rotary to make small loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries and help them work their way out of poverty.

The club has appointed a new Junior Vice President for 2019/20. He is Rotarian John Yeomans who chairs the club’s Community and Vocational Committee.

Committee chairs for the new Rotary year starting in July will be John Yeomans (Community and Vocational), Graham Hughes (Fellowship and Activities), Tim Hughes (Fundraising), Chris Allsop (International) and Colin Sharp (Joint Activities).

Elected members of Club Council were Bunny Parker, Mike Mortimer, Mike Haw and Peter Dimelow.



Speakers on the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan have been told by a Rotarian that the town should make use of the assets it has and find its own natural resource.

‘Let Shrewsbury shine its light,’ Rotarian William Burden, Chair of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s Fellowship and Activities Committee, suggested to Kevin Lockwood and Seb Slater on their visit which attracted more than 30 Rotarians.

“Shrewsbury is an attractive proposition for investment, visitors and residents and we must get the infrastructure right,” William added. He and his fellow Rotarians had heard Kevin, Shrewsbury Shopping Centres Manager, and Seb, Executive Director of Shrewsbury Business Improvement District (BID), earlier described Shrewsbury as a ‘great place to be’ which didn’t need any more retail, but mixed use development.

The day to day perspective was attracting customers into the shopping centres, generating interest and increasing footfall, which Kevin said was being achieved through working closely with Seb and BID. “It is important that the town centre, of which BID is a key part, jells. It is all about the experience of people who come to the town centre,” said Kevin.

“BID is collaboratively working with - and bringing together - businesses and the different centres in Shrewsbury. We are also influencing, including the council, on things which we think will be good for the town and for business, issues such as safety, parking, park and ride and transport.” Increasing park and ride fares was ‘not the thing to do,’ adding: “We are going to battle – it’s a hot topic.”

He spoke of the ‘stresses and strains’ of retail at the moment. “We are bucking the trend when it comes to footfall, but it is still tough.” He said retail nationally had taken ‘quite a hit’ and revealed that it took a long time to attract big retailers in – Primark took nearly four years. “And the big retailers want their pound of flesh,” he told Rotarians.

Rents were ‘coming right down’ by as much as 40%-50% and the whole retail scene was changing. “But it is not for the fainthearted – pension funds are trying to sell some of their businesses.” He believed that retail online would change with a shift in people’s attitude to internet shopping. Kevin told Rotarians that the town centre was the ‘beating heart’ of any town. “But we have to change and we have more independent retailers in the shopping centres than we have ever had before.

“This is independents and nationals working together.”

He said the Market Hall had a 400 waiting list and it was possible some of those could be accommodated in the shopping centres which was currently under review. “We are re-shaping the town centre and exploring all the options.” He was in favour of a play area opening in one of the units. “We have to be more community focussed now that we have that community feel.”

Seb believed that people wanted town centres for an experience where they could meet and that the town centre should be accessible to old people. “We are creating a collective vision…let’s get behind a vision and a plan.” The town had great assets, including its heritage, and there was scope for more enterprise. “It is being ahead of change,” he added.

Left to right Kevin Lockwood, Julian Wells (Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President) and Seb Slater



Rotarians were full of anticipation as they waited at the visitors’ reception for their tour of Tarmac Bayston Hill Quarry. None of them had previously ventured down Sharpstones Lane off the A49 on the approach to the village.

So to find out what lay behind the scenes at the quarry had encouraged 21 members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club to assemble on site for the 4.00 pm rendezvous. However, the greeting from their host Mike Gale wasn’t what organiser William Burden, chair of the club’s fellowship committee, or his fellow Rotarians, had remotely expected.

They were told there had been an incident – a lorry is believed to have overturned - on site less than an hour earlier and that the visit would have to be aborted for investigations to take place. Despite the disappointment, but understandable reason for the tour cancellation, Rotarians were enthusiastic to make something out of the occasion.

They took the opportunity to follow the public footpaths and walk round the perimeter of the quarry, intrigued by the extensive amount of activity taking place on site. But after walking three kilometres in the direction of Sutton Road, the journey came to a dead end – a bit like the visit itself.

An optimistic William is, however, hoping to reorganise the quarry tour some time in the very near future.



Atlantic rowers Di Charrington and Sharon Magrath let Rotarians into a little secret…

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club heard that they achieved three world records when they crossed the finishing line in the 3,000 mile Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2027.

In what is considered the toughest rowing challenge in the world, Di, Sharon and Elaine Theaker became the first trio of ladies to row the Atlantic, the oldest ladies to row the Atlantic and Di became the oldest lady in the world to row any ocean.

Di, 63, a retired nurse, of Pontesbury, and Sharon, 56, a midwife, of Bayston Hill, paid a return visit to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club following their feat which finished on February 13 last year after 60 days, 18 hours and 34 minutes at sea.

When they visited the club three months before setting off on the experience of a lifetime, there was much discussion on the risks they were taking, from the weather and 40ft waves to the pure physical ordeal and potential damage to their bodies. And the fears expressed were certainly founded on the epic row from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean in a rowing boat called Poppy which twice capsized.

Sharon celebrated her birthday in the middle of the ocean when the sea was choppy and the weather was stormy, conditions they described to Rotarians as ‘scary.’ Following the second capsize, they admitted to being ‘terrified’ with help at least 1,000 miles away. There was devastation in the cabin, with everything tossed around, as well as broken oars and injuries. They thought at that stage Elaine had broken her leg and should they wait four or five days for a rescue. But they decided to get out of the cabin and took it in turns to steer and row.

Throughout the entire race, in which they were 20thout of 21 finishers, they didn’t see any of the other boats. Asked if she would still have taken part had she known how hard it would be, Di, who was knocked out and suffered a black eye when an oar hit her, replied: “If I had known how hard, I would still have done it. “It has altered my life massively – it has given me a reason to live and focus. I now have all the confidence in the world.”

She also spoke of the joy of sharing the journey. “And if we can inspire people, I am happy,” added Di who has subsequently written a book.

Their budget for the challenge was over £100,000, most of which they found themselves, and they have so far raised £40,000 for their charities, Alzheimer’s, Motor Neurone and Relapsing Polychondritis.

As part of his vote of thanks, Shrewsbury Severn Rotary President Julian Wells presented Di and Sharon with a cheque.

The next challenge for Di is to climb Kilimanjaro and for Sharon it is cycling from London to Paris.

Di and Sharon show their ‘ensuite bucket’ from the challenge to Rotary President Julian



Drug and alcohol misuse is no longer an addiction which is ‘hidden,’ Rotarians have been told.

A newly formed charity, Share Shrewsbury, is bringing it out into the local community, former mayor Councillor Jane Mackenzie told a meeting of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. She established Share Shrewsbury just before Christmas last year having identified a gap for services and support of people with difficulties, particularly alcohol.

“It is something we don’t tend to talk about,” said Jane. “It has a huge stigma which is so great that people who need support are ashamed or embarrassed to seek it. The biggest cause of death amongst young men under 45 is alcohol and women are fast catching up. The charity is informing young people about the risks of drug and alcohol mis-use. Self-help groups are raising awareness.  It is no longer an issue which is hidden. Share Shrewsbury is asking businesses and people in the local community for skills, time or resources to share this with those in need.”

She gave her talk on the occasion of a presentation of £700 to Share Shrewsbury from the president’s fund of immediate past president Colin Sharp.

Working with Share Shrewsbury to support recovery is Comics Salopia, Shrewsbury’s first major international comic art festival. Encompassing the town’s most prestigious venues, the festival on June 1 and 2 will be staged at Shrewsbury Castle, The Square, The Museum and Art Gallery as well as The Guildhall. Shane Chebsey, a creative artist living in Shrewsbury, told Rotarians that the festival in the heart of the town would include a shop window in the university.

“Comics are a story telling medium which makes them unique.  The festival will educate people about that. Comics are a great literary aid and will be a big part of the festival. Forty five international artists, who are world renowned, will be coming to Shrewsbury. We have an excellent selection of artists and writers, some of them geniuses.  It will be an enriching experience for people from all walks of life. Comics are for everybody,” he added.


It is only five years since Shrewsbury resident Paula Howells spent £200 to try and educate 40 to 80 children in The Gambia, West Africa. The subsequent ‘mind blowing’ journey was outlined to members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club when Paula visited to provide an update on the project.

She said that with two donations from Shropshire’s Concord College work had now started on a new school build which would enable Ebo Town Community Nursery in The Gambia to educate 120 children aged four to seven. She told Rotarians a big fundraising effort was now underway to raise the £31,000 to build the three classroom school with a local builder donating a mosaic floor in appreciation that Paula is ‘educating our children.’

A £700 donation from Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club president’s fund of immediate past president Colin Sharp will, said Paula, go straight into the building fund, and every single penny goes directly to the cause.

Said Colin: “I have been so impressed with Ebo Town Community Nursery School that it is something I wanted to support.” Paula added that the charity registered in November 2017 continued to support families in The Gambia with essentials such as clothing, bedding and food.

She said that anyone wishing to support the charity could contact her on ebotowncommunitynurseryschool@outlook.com


Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has responded swiftly to the catastrophic cyclone which has hit Southern Africa. The club is donating a ShelterBox that provides temporary shelter and life saving supplies to displaced families.

Rotarian John Law, Chair of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s International and Foundation Committee, told a meeting of the Club’s Council that the cyclone was the worst ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere. Rotarians have agreed that whilst the ShelterBox provides an immediate need, they will continue to monitor the situation and review future requirements.



It was a close shave for two Rotarians in a charity beard cut for they almost reached their target in support of the Lingen Davies Cancer Fund. Gordon Duncan and Peter Love raised just under £600 – with gift aid – for the charity which they were supporting for the first time.

The two, who are members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, have with a late colleague been shaving their beards for charity for a number of years.

“We are delighted that this time it was the Lingen Davies Cancer Fund to benefit from our beard shave and to hear that they can make good use of the money,” said Peter. “It is once again a very big thank you to all the people who have supported our charity beard shave.” He and Gordon both grow their beards as long as possible for Rotary’s Christmas fundraising activities and then traditionally stage a shave-off thanks to the generosity of Risdon’s Barber Shop of The Market Hall, Shrewsbury.

Lizzie Coleman, Lingen Davies Events and Fundraising Officer, said the monies would support Lingen Davies key workers. These are new staff roles which will provide support for patients receiving treatment for cancer. In addition, Endoscopic Ultrasound Scopes – two of these which are used to investigate and diagnose cancers in the upper gastro intestinal system.

‘Get Active, Feel Good,’ is a project that helps people with cancer to feel better through physical activity and moving around more.



A Rotary club is making an impact on helping to reduce global poverty and at the same time create jobs for entrepreneurs in poor countries.

Lend with Care is in its third year as a Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club project and during that time a total of £5,504.97 has been recycled. The total number of loans made to date is 110 and during the same period 756 entrepreneurs have been helped through the Lend with Care scheme. 

The total number of family members helped is 2,898 and 907 jobs have been created.  The number of defaulters on repayments is nil. This month Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club increased its initial investment fund by 25% and at the same time invested £960 in a further 23 entrepreneurs/groups. 

Rotarian John Law, chair of the club’s international and foundation committee, said the entrepreneurs/groups were primarily in the farming sector within Cambodia and Rwanda. He said: “As a club we look for entrepreneurs who are creating jobs for themselves, families, communities and others through sustainable activities. “From our perspective the investment risk is relatively low and we are hoping to be repaid within due time.”

He added that at the same time Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club was considering shorter loan periods to enable them to recycle cash quicker to future entrepreneurs.



In 30 years of practicing as an exotic animal veterinary surgeon, Mike Stanford found that most pets were taken into the surgery – in a lunchbox!

It was one of the anecdotes in an hour long entertaining talk by the vet – known as Stan – to members and guests of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. Stan was introduced by a fellow vet Julian Wells, President of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, who said his visitor qualified from Liverpool and became a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1987. He later went on to become a Fellow and founded a successful practice becoming a recognised specialist in avian species.

In practicing as an exotic animal veterinary surgeon, he came into contact with many species with the black widow spider, ‘much less dangerous than a rattlesnake’ - his favourite.

He talked about birds and reptiles and how 10m reptiles were kept as pets.  “They are a very different mind game compared with birds,” said Stan who told how several reptiles – ‘very easy to breed’ - arrived here alive and well. He told how he once found 8,500 birds in a house in Wigan and the day he met Nick Knowles – ‘I thought he was a BBC producer’ – during some filming.

Stan talked amusingly about endoscopy, revealed that his favourite bird was the falcon and that he had seen a peregrine flying at 40 mph. 

Our guests for the evening were Mike Stanford, Barrie Hughes and some partners. Julian introduced Mike, known as Stan, a veterinary colleague and friend. We were then entertained by many hilarious stories of Sam's work as he practised as an exotic animal veterinary surgeon working mainly with birds and reptiles.



There are between 12-20 rough sleepers currently on the streets of Shrewsbury living from hand to mouth, a Rotary club has been told. Shrewsbury is a ‘relatively soft landing place,’ Mike Saull, a volunteer at The Ark, informed members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.

“Many are locals and have been here for some time, others gravitate and settle here.  Often, they are involved with substance abuse and beg on the street to fuel their habit,” said Mike.  “There’s no simple solution. It is important that we reduce the risks of those who fall upon hard times and have no one to turn to from becoming long-term, habitual rough sleepers,” he told Rotarians.

Mike was invited to talk to Rotary members following a recent debate in the club on the issue of homelessness and begging, both described as ‘complex issues.’ The club has been discussing trying to do something, but felt it should approach The Ark for advice before making a decision.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has taken the view that as rough sleeping and begging are not the same, they may need separate co-ordinated interventions. Said Mike: “We have a responsibility to help and look after these people.  We may not like their lifestyles, but they do need support and The Ark has a critical role to play in the town.”

He told Rotarians there was always a need for volunteers. They come from all walks of life and currently include an ex-renal ward sister, a co-ordinator of football referees, a retired poet and a talented saxophonist. Mike said Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club and its members could support The Ark with volunteers or donations.  Also, with The Ark looking to relocate to more suitable premises, certain professional skill sets, including architects, IT, builders and anyone with experience of filling in grant applications, would be in demand. He added that support, through volunteering, could be ‘incredibly rewarding.’ 

Mike was accompanied by an Ark trustee Emily Bell and both were thanked informally by the club President and then more formally by Rotarian Mervyn Davies.  Said Rotarian Julian Wells: “This is a very difficult subject, but your enthusiasm is infectious. A lot of us will feel more comfortable about offering our time.”



It captured worldwide media attention.

“A little event that happened in the summer that you might have heard of,” members and guests of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club were told. The ‘little event’ was in fact the dramatic rescue of 12 young footballers and their assistant coach from a four and a half kilometre long cave in northern Thailand on the Burmese border. Telling the gripping story of the sensational Tham Luang cave rescue in Thailand to an enthralled audience of Rotarians was Mike Clayton, Chairman of the Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation - who was actively involved.

He went out to Thailand as a surface controller while his partner, Emma Porter, who is Secretary of the British Cave Rescue Council and Warden for Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation, co-ordinated the UK rescue effort and handled contacts from every media organisation in the world.

Mike and two colleagues had gone to Thailand to assist the care divers and liaise with the authorities. He and Emma were actually in Thailand last February for two weeks taking part in a caving expedition. On June 23, 12 young Thai footballers and their assistant coach decided to go caving to Tham Luang which Mike described as a showcave (tourist cave). They chose a caving trip which some of them had been on before. In their football kit and bare feet, they were within 900 metres of the entrance when they got stopped by water.

“The cave does flood in the monsoon season from July to December/January,” said Mike. “It came early and there was an immense heavy downpour.  They were just unlucky that the rain came and they got trapped by the water. “They went back into the cave and were chased by water.  They didn’t come out.  Park Rangers were closing for the day and found a row of bicycles at the entrance.  They realised people were in there.  They saw water and it looked like people were trapped.

“Ten kilometres from the cave lives a British caver.  He has been exploring this cave for a number of years.  He realised they were trapped early on the Sunday morning.   He realised that the water levels were such that the only way in was diving – and specialist cave divers were needed.”

Contact was made by the Thai Government with the British Government asking for help from divers.  The British Cave Rescue Council was involved in the logistics of getting divers out there.

“I became their point of contact 24/7,” said Emma who was receiving calls at 3 o’clock every morning for updates of what was happening. “There was a lack of co-ordination on site,” she recalled. On the Wednesday, a team of British cave divers – Rick, John and Rob - got out there.  Upon arrival they found acres of mud everywhere. On an early dive they found four pump engineers in a chamber.  No-one knew they were there.  They were trapped by rising flood water. “Rick and John dived in. They saved the engineers’ lives.  That hadn’t even made the media,” said Emma.

There was ‘masses of water’ which the Thai authorities were going to try to pump out of the cave. “There were millions of gallons of water going into the cave.  One idea was to pump the water out and it helped to reduce water levels in the entrance series of the cave.” It was July 2, said Mike, when they found the boys.  The boys were found in what he described as chamber nine. They were found, but now the hard work began. The Thai Navy tried, but Rotarians were told ‘they weren’t trained for this environment.’ Rick and John requested two more UK cave divers to go out.

“It became a major multi-national event,” said Mike. “I and two colleagues went out to assist the divers and to liaise with the authorities.” Said Emma: “Every media organisation in the world was contacting us.  I can’t begin to describe what it was like. Thousands of people were contacting us for updates. A group of 12 UK cavers helped us with the media interviews.”

Mike spoke of help they received from the British Embassy in Thailand. “All we knew was that 13 youngsters were trapped in a cave. We thought if one came out alive it would be a success. “We received very good support from the British Embassy.” Referring to one of the slides in his presentation to Rotarians, he said: “You can tell who the British were, tee shirts, shorts and wellies.  The others were in uniform.”

Whilst planning went on with regard to the rescue, divers managed to get rations to the young people.  But another concern was a gas reading which gave an oxygen level of 15%. The divers took supplies in, but it was evident they couldn’t leave them there with low oxygen.  Eventually, authorisation was given to attempt a rescue which was unique. Nothing like this had ever been attempted before.  There was little to no visibility.  Everything had to be done by touch.

“The American Air Force gave us 110% support,” said Mike. “Having the support of the US Air Force was invaluable. They carried our equipment for us and were brilliant with their support.” He said the divers had four positive pressure dive masks from the American military. Meanwhile, Emma was hunting all over Europe to find more of these dive masks. There were also questions of whether masks and wet suits would fit the boys. With the water temperature at 23 degrees, there was the danger of hyperthermia from such a prolonged dive. A medical plan was drawn up, including the use of Ketamine to inject which had never been done by divers before for a cave dive rescue. There was diplomatic immunity for the cave diving doctor who would sedate the boys.

Four rescue divers and five support divers were involved in the rescue operation. Four divers each took a boy out a day. One boy, one diver. “The boys came out unconscious. Day one was suck it and see because this had never been done before. It was explained to the boys what was going to happen and they accepted it. Mentally, the strength of the boys was outstanding. There was no panic, no show of any fear. They just knew it was the only way they were getting out. The coach probably saved their lives. He wanted to be sedated as well”. What made the rescue, said Mike, was the 100% success rate. We got the boys out within three days. The rescue had to take place as quickly as possible because the rains were coming. It was fantastic the result we got.

With the Thai cave rescue mission accomplished, at the end of July the rescue team was invited to 10 Downing Street for tea and buns with the Prime Minister. A Buckingham Palace audience with Prince William was followed by a reception by the Speaker of the House at the Houses of Parliament. “This was a massive recognition for such a small charity,” said Emma, who added: “This was a worldwide thing.”

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Julian Wells told Mike and Emma: “What a fantastic story. We are all in awe. We will be providing you with a  donation,” he added.

The British Cave Rescue Council is the governing body for the 15 cave rescue teams in the UK offering rescues from caves and disused mines. There are fewer rescues these days because equipment is better. Everyone involved with cave rescue is a volunteer and the organisation gets no funding other than what they can raise. 

Mike, President Julian and Emma



Bunny Parker’s two very different careers were the main subject of his job talk to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. On leaving school at 14, he took a five year apprenticeship with Holloway Brothers, civil engineers, of London, and was three years into his apprenticeship when he was called up for National Service. He did his two years and returned.  “Holloway Brothers let me do evening classes and day release to finish my apprenticeship,” Bunny told Rotarians.

“They took me on full time after my apprenticeship and I was working on big marine diesel engines.  Holloway Brothers specialised in power stations and cooling towers. For five years I worked on diesel engines, cleaning them up and repairing them.”

And although he loved the workings and systems of the engines, he was lured away. After 15 years, he took a complete change of direction.  He joined Swarovski, crystal manufacturers, who made glass products in Long Eaton from where Bunny was to move to Shrewsbury. When the family were at home, he lived in a five bedroomed house, but was looking for somewhere smaller.  His youngest son lived in Shrewsbury and having regularly visited he decided it was Shrewsbury where he would move for good.

Bunny, who added that he had been a Rotarian since 1982, joined Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club about a year ago.



Two Rotarians committed to Santa sleigh fundraising activities have been topping up their monetary collections – with charity beard shaves.

Gordon Duncan, who drove the Santa sleigh throughout its seasonal programme, and Peter Love, who grew his beard specially for Father Christmas appearances, are raising funds for the Lingen Davies Cancer Appeal. They both underwent a shave off in the presence of fellow members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club at the Lord Hill Hotel. Their first comment to hairdressers Mat Glover and Jess Snadden, of Risdon’s Barber Shop, The Market Hall, Shrewsbury, who gave their services free of charge, was ‘Brr…it’s cold!’

The loss of their beards was instantly felt by the pair who nevertheless regarded it as well worthwhile.

“We are raising money for a very good cause,” said Peter. Rotarians paid for the pleasure of watching the pair go under the razer and the barbers were afterwards formally thanked by club President Julian Wells.



The team of readers from Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has been given a refresher training session at The Grange Primary School. Headteacher Mrs. Charlie Summers and year one class teacher Mrs. Claire Kinna outlined to Rotary readers the techniques they teach the years one and two children and how the readers can support them.

Readers were told that at the end of year two the school is aiming for 75% of children to be at age related expectation in reading which is in line with national statistics. The Phonics Approach to reading was outlined and Claire revealed how the Phonics Approach, which she described as a ‘very effective way of teaching,’ had even helped her own spelling!

The Rotary readers were thanked by Charlie, for their time and support, on behalf of the children they assisted.  “It really does make a huge difference to all our children,” she added.

The club has provided a team of readers at The Grange for the last three years.



A college, a junior school and a youth club are among the latest organisations to benefit from Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club donations.

A £200 monetary award has been made to Shrewsbury College for their Star Awards which are presented to students who are disadvantaged and have to work under ‘extreme and unusual circumstances.’ The club has been told that the Star Awards ‘go down well’ at the college which is also to benefit from Rotarians volunteering to assist with mock interviews.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club is making a total of £1,500 available to The Grange Primary School in support of on-going projects over the next 12 months.

The club has also agreed to support Harlescott Youth Club with a donation of £500/yr towards the funding of a youth worker one evening a week for up to three years.

The Club has again set aside a budget of £750 for a carol service and Christmas party for elderly people in the town. The event, at the United Reformed Church, Abbey Foregate, will be held on either December 1 or 8.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary has also agreed in principle to support a Newport Lite Rotary initiative with a donation of £150 to purchase two wheelchairs. Newport Lite is co-ordinating a project to fill a container with wheelchairs for countries that include Morocco, Malawi and Tanzania.

Members also voted to donate £275 to the Minsterley Eisteddfod (23 March 2019) in order to support an event that, in particular, promotes the abilities of local young musicians.



New member Peter Dimelow, a Yorkshireman through and through, has introduced himself on joining Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. He has transferred from the Rotary Club of Wortley, South Yorkshire, which he joined in 1984, thinking that the only way he would ever leave his native Yorkshire was ‘in a box.’

But he decided the time was right to move nearer to his daughter in Acton Burnell.

“Everyone we have met have turned out to be very nice people” said Peter, who gave Shrewsbury Severn Rotary an insight into the club he has left after 35 years.

He said his previous club, which was down to 26 members, was experiencing the age-old problem of trying to recruit new members. As a result, his former club were considering some ‘radical changes’ such as moving venue and meeting once a fortnight. He outlined some of their fundraising functions which included a ‘Millionaire’s Night’, race nights and quiz nights, and added that their Father Christmas sleigh was ‘not as good as the one you do.’

They held a vintage vehicle rally, now in its 23rdyear, which featured 200 classic or vintage cars and told the amusing tale of the £1 a car to park. Rather than pay the £1, people would park in the next village and swap over so that there were eight people in one car.

“I hope to be a valuable member (of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club). I can’t do as much as I used to do, but thank you for your fellowship,” he added.

Peter was formally welcomed to the club by President Julian Wells



Rotary’s Santa sleigh has achieved its most successful fundraising programme since its inception. Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has recorded that the Santa sleigh of 2018 raised a total of £8,702.33 in support of local charities.

The sleigh made a total of 20 appearances throughout the festive season which started on Pride Hill for the switch on of the town’s Christmas lights. In addition to touring suburbs of the town and nearby villages throughout December, the sleigh also appeared at Severndale School, the Quarry Fun Run, Shawbury’s Christmas fair and a children’s party at the Lord Hill Hotel.

The itinerary included no fewer than 11 visits to the supermarkets of Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Asda, the latter right up to Christmas Eve, delivering a total of 100 hours of supermarket attendance – 50% up on two years ago.

Said sleigh organiser Rotarian Fred McDonogh: “On behalf of the club, I thank everyone for delivering the excellent sleigh result which is the best ever and easily beats the previous record of £7,300 from Christmas 2013. In addition to the fundraising, the Santa sleigh also provided young and not so young with a tremendous amount of pleasure which is also important to remember.”

He added that Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club had already been offered five days at Morrisons for this Christmas.



Santa was a surprise visitor to all the classes at The Grange Primary School, Harlescott, Shrewsbury.

Pupils were aware there was a surprise in store – but they didn’t know quite what to expect, so there were resounding cheers when Santa walked into each of the classrooms, chatted for a long time to the children and then presented each of them with a book.

“Santa distributed approximately 300 books to very excited pupils,” said Kerry Ferguson, Youth Opportunities Officer of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club who organised the visit. “Santa was in popular demand by all the pupils who were most appreciative of the books he presented to them.  It was a really special run-up to Christmas for the children.”

Headteacher Mrs. Charlie Summers said: “Santa made our day – for the children, the staff and myself.  We can’t thank Rotary enough for organising this special visit.”


Christmas Dinner

 President Julian Wells introduced the musical entertainment for Shrewsbury Severn's annual party as follows:

“Conleth McGeary was born and raised in Dungannon, Co Tyrone. He started playing guitar in early teens, completed his secondary education then moved to Liverpool where he studied International Relations and Education and went on to start a PGCE with the intention of becoming a Spanish teacher.

Performing music in the Liverpool clubs and bars began to take precedence over teaching and now Conleth is a full time performing musician. His regular venue is the Liffey pub but he has performed a number of times at Liverpool football club, has headlined twice at the O2 and supported bands such as the Fureys and Wolftones.

He regularly travels back to Ireland to perform – including a tour last summer. Conleth has been booked to tour the middle east in 2019.

We have known Conleth for over a year as our youngest daughter Alice’s boyfriend and he seems a very nice young man although we are looking forward to the day when we can understand a word he is saying!”


Shropshire Shufflers

The Santa Sleigh was visited briefly in Castlefields by a group of Shufflers enjoying their evening run



There were spontaneous expressions of pleasure and delight when Santa and his sleigh turned up at a children’s Christmas party.

More than 80 children attending the party in the banqueting suite at the Lord Hill Hotel sat on the sleigh outside and told Santa what they wanted for Christmas.They were all given a present by Santa on behalf of the Lord Hill Hotel and courtesy of their elf Lydia.

Members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club also supported Santa and the sleigh which spent over an hour at the party.

The Rotary club meets weekly at the Lord Hill Hotel at 7.00 for 7.30 pm



A Rotary club which hasn’t yet applied for a District Grant to support a small local project has been given a valued insight into the way forward.

Rotarian Ken Wagstaffe, District 1210 Foundation Committee Chairman and District Governor Nominee for 2020, gave Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club an introduction to Rotary Foundation which supports Global and District Grants. He said District would match pound for pound what the club contributed to a project and that he was encouraging local projects that need help. He described Rotary Foundation as a ‘passion’ for him and how it had been established to ‘do good in the world’.

Ken reminded members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club that Rotary Foundation was Rotary’s only charity and that an individual club’s fundraising was not for ‘Rotary charities,’ but for ‘good causes’ supported by Rotary. He said the minimum District Grant was £180 and the maximum £2,000.  The minimum project value for a Global Grant for an international project was $30,000. For a Global Grant it was necessary to a partner an international club and district; the project must be sustainable and have measurable outcomes and must actively involve Rotarians.

The areas of focus were peace and conflict prevent/resolution; disease prevent and treatment; water and sanitation; maternal and child health; basic education and literary; economic and community development. He said the District has nine Global Grants completed or in progress by five clubs; two were waiting approval; at least three were in preparation.

Currently, the District Designated Fund is fully committed for the current and next Rotary year.  Clubs wishing to apply for a Global Grant should first consult the District Foundation Committee for guidance. Club qualification includes being up to date with District and RIBI dues and being compliant on all grant reporting.

“It takes a long time to process a grant application,” Ken told members, “querying whether it is feasible to do and whether are resources in place to ensure that in the long term the project can be sustained.  We need to ensure the money is properly spent.” And he advised: “Don’t commit to a project until you have actually got the money and we are talking about projects starting in the next Rotary year.”

Ken took questions which included the following:

“I commented that the last time I applied for a District grant the paperwork said that if you make an application for a grant you fund it at your own risk prior to completing the grant procedure.

He said you can't proceed until the grant process is complete and you have the District Grant in your account.

“I also asked about the Global Grant viability, explaining that we rejected one because our investigations proved it was not viable over the medium and long term.  He said that he was involved in checking the viability of various schemes. I suggested it was a waste of manpower to do it twice!” - Rotarian Mike Mortimer.

“I queried whether it was necessary for Foundation to maintain reserves equal to nearly four years grants. The answer was that this policy was due to the time taken to put together and approve projects (sometimes years) and many projects took several years to complete” – Rotarian Iain Gilmour.

“I mentioned that I feel we should still prioritise the Polio rather than Global Grants donation”.

“The rationing of District Grants based on reference to last year’s donation to the Annual Fund has an unfair impact on the grants.  It should be on a longer time span” – Rotarian Chris Yaxley.

Ken agreed that others had made the same point and he will reflect on this in two years’ time when he is District Governor.

He was introduced by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s International and Fundraising Committee Chair John Law and was thanked by the President Julian Wells who added: “Thank you for explaining the intricacies of the grant awarding system.”



A Santa took time off from his traditional Rotary duties to make a sleigh appearance at the start of a Shropshire village’s Christmas Fair. The venue was Shawbury Village Hall and stallholders as well as visitors gave Santa a very warm welcome. He spent an hour walking round the various stalls and in particular talking to the young and not so young who were supporting the Christmas Fair in aid of Shawbury’s St. Mary’s Church which originates from Saxon times.

Santa chatted to a large number of children from two to 10 years of age, one of them remembering him from her visit to Pride Hill in Shrewsbury when the Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club sleigh appeared on the occasion of the switch-on of the town’s Christmas lights.



A larger than normal number of members and guests of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club were splendidly treated to a compelling solo performance of a one act play, Music for Dogs.

The artiste was Carol Caffrey, a writer and actor, who lives in Shrewsbury. A native of Dublin, she came to Shrewsbury in 1991 and two years ago took Music for Dogs to the Edinburgh Fringe where it received a 4-star review. Carol was one of five siblings, four of whom – David, Peter, Sheila and Linda – have died from various types of cancer and she has dedicated the production of Music for Dogs to her late brothers and sisters.

It was as a memorial to one of her brothers that she was attracted back into acting to perform Music for Dogs which is part of a trio of works for radio set in Ireland in the early 2000’s.

Music for Dogs, a black comedy written by award-winning Irish poet and playwright Paula Meehan, is set during Ireland’s Celtic Tiger years.  The action takes place on Dublin’s Burrow Beach as a woman, Jane MacDonald, records a message for her estranged brother and sister. Janey’s story describes the very funny – if somewhat dubious – means by which she came to make the fortune she is leaving to her siblings.  Though the context of Janey’s personal tragedy is a dark one, her essential humanity and joy in life are very much to the fore.

Carol worked as an actor with Moving Theatre, TEAM Theatre-In-Education, RTE and The Bawdy Beautifuls in her native Ireland.  She is a member of Room 204, Writing West Midlands’ writer development programme. Music for Dogs has toured several festivals and venues around the UK and Ireland.

Janice Forsyth Show,, BBC Radio Scotland, said:  “Music for Dogs is absolute riveting…The script is so poetic…Carol Caffrey is brilliant.”

Richard Purden, The Irish Post: “A moving and powerful piece of theatre…Carol Caffrey brings the joys and tears of the mother to life.”

Those members and guests of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club who were privileged to enjoy a word-perfect, stylish performance by Carol, applauded rapturously before Rotarian Fred McDonogh gave a vote of thanks. “Thirty five minutes…a tribute to your outstanding talent.”

The raffle raised £130 which will be donated to Prostate Cancer UK



It is very fitting that this year’s Rotary Tree of Light is situated at Shrewsbury Abbey as the concept was the brainchild of the vicar Rev. Paul Firmin. He heard of the idea from a local parishioner who had seen the project in South Africa.

The initiative has since been adopted by Rotary clubs and many other organisations throughout the country, thereby raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for various individuals and charities that have benefitted from financial support. Paul, himself a former Rotarian, is shortly retiring and it was again entirely fitting that the dedication of the Tree of Light should be his last Sunday service.

In the first address to a large congregation at Shrewsbury Abbey, President of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, Julian Wells, thanked Paul for his efforts, not least on behalf of Tree of Light beneficiaries. Said Julian: “This year we are hugely grateful to the Abbey and all its staff and volunteers who have provided what I hope you all agree is a most appropriate venue.

I should also like to publicly thank Paul for both devising the service and officiating, as well as organist Nigel Pursey, director of music Peter Smith and the Abbey’s choir.”

The 30ft tall tree with dozens of lights is situated in the entrance to the church and for a minimum £5 donation individuals can purchase a light in memory of a loved one which was very much Paul’s theme of the dedication service.

“We celebrate the Tree of Light and we remember those loved ones whom we loved, but see no more.  We dedicate the tree to the good remembrance of our loved ones.”

He added that it was hoped the 2018 Tree of Light would raise in excess of £6,000 for the three Rotary charities, the League of Friends, Young Carers and the Mayor’s charity, Little Rascals Foundation, each described during the service as an ‘inspiration to us all.’

Guests of honour at the dedication service were the Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire, Sir Algernon Heber-Percy, High Sheriff of Shropshire, Mr Rhoderick Swire, and the Mayor of Shrewsbury, Councillor Peter Nutting.

The dedication was one of the Lord Lieutenant’s last duties before he shortly retires after 22 years in office – a record for an English Lord Lieutenant.  He gave the third reading from the bible.

Other bible readings were given by the High Sheriff and the Mayor and further addresses were from the President of Shrewsbury Darwin Rotary Club, Colin Ames, and President of the Rotary Club of Shrewsbury, Phil Henshaw. 

The congregation was reminded by Julian Wells that this was not the only Christmas venture.  Other activities involved the Santa Sleigh which tours the neighbourhood in December both as a community service and to raise funds, particularly for local charitable work.



There was a good turnout for Rotarian Philip Gillings’s last meeting as a member of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. After 25 years, Philip has reluctantly relinquished his membership on moving away from the area.

President Julian Wells commented ‘on the good attendance to wish you well on your journey.’ “Philip’s contribution,” said the President, “is massive.  He is a Paul Harris Fellow, a past President of the club and a significant part of this club’s furniture.  He will be really missed by us all.”

Philip said there were a few members who would recall going to Rotary at Albrighton Hall Hotel and a few founder members ‘were determined we would not be a normal Rotary club.’ “It is nice to see the club has blossomed and bloomed into what it is now and we have attracted a great lot of new members. Thank you for sending me off with a flea in the ear!”

The President presented him with a good luck card which was signed by fellow Rotarians and guests and a bottle of bubbly which he hoped would remind him of the club when he drank it.



A poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ inspired a job talk given by Senior Vice President Fred McDonogh to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. He revealed that the poem best described his extensive travels which took him bouncing around a global triangle bounded by North America, Europe and Australia. The globe trotting chemical engineer, whose career began when he was 21, continued until he retired a couple of years’ ago at the age of 60 – having made no fewer than 11 moves.

After graduation Fred joined Alcan who were setting up an alumina plant near Limerick in South West Ireland. He explained, in his anecdote, that his first move came when the company sent him to learn the alumina process at a plant in Quebec, Canada.  The region is 92% French-speaking so Fred became fluent in French in three months.

The second move was back to Ireland; the third to Montreal, via Harvard Business School; the fourth from Montreal to Gladstone in Queensland, Eastern Australia; the fifth was back to the original plant in Ireland; the sixth to Malaysia; and the seventh, Glasgow. It was ultimately move number eight which brought Fred to Shropshire, to Bridgnorth in fact, and he decided to settle his family in Shrewsbury.

His ninth job was in Cologne, Germany, and job number 10 was in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which he admits was the most lucrative with a very low cost of living and zero tax. Fred’s final move, his 11th, was to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, to assist the building of a new aluminium foil plant.  The project was progressing well until a drop in the oil price saw building work abruptly halted.

Fred’s globe trotting days were finally over and on returning to Shrewsbury he joined Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.

The Road Not Taken, below, was written by Robert Frost.


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveller, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;


Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,



And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.


I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference



The Hive, a Shrewsbury-based independent charity, is seeking £6.000 to revamp its front entrance to make the council-owned listed building more inviting and welcoming with accessible space for everyone. Emma Croall, The Hive’s Fundraising Manager, has told Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club that their current front entrance at no. 5 Belmont is ‘uninviting, uninspiring and a barrier to people experiencing The Hive.’

“We are running a Crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to help renovate our front entrance and encourage more people to visit us,” she told Rotarians. “We need help with this to make The Hive a home for everyone.”

She said no-one would have any idea what was behind the Georgian front of the building so a new entrance way into the building was the aim. “We are a charity, but apply for funds to deliver services,” said Emma.  “Over 80% of our income comes from trusts and foundations such as Lottery, Armed Forces, Youth Music,  the support of projects, which has included support from the armed forces covenant. We work with partner organisations who are always looking for new relationships. We are helping young people from challenging backgrounds grow in confidence and self-esteem.  We work with partner organisations and specific groups, including Young Carers, Looked After Children, Pupil Referral Units, Hope House Hospice, Youth Services and even with schools in Shropshire and the Telford area and their special education needs pupils.”

Since becoming The Hive 14 years’ ago, over 34,000 people have engaged in the creative activities they offer.

She produced a collection tin and members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club generously put money in which would help The Hive continue their work in local communities. 

Rotarian Willie Strachan, Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s Speaker Secretary, and Emma Croall



Hundreds of children joined Santa on his sleigh at the switch-of Shrewsbury’s Christmas lights which traditionally mark the start of late night Wednesday shopping in the run-up to the festive season.

The town centre was packed and the queues of families with children wanting to meet Santa were continuously lengthy for nearly four hours on Pride Hill.

Santa was in constant demand as enthusiastic youngsters were keen to tell him what they would like to receive for Christmas. He was accompanied by his elves who not only assisted children onto the sleigh but were pleased to receive donations from generous parents in return for taking photos on their phones.

“I think everyone enjoyed the occasion – there were some very happy faces on Pride Hill,” said Shrewsbury Severn Rotary President Julian Wells. “Santa was very busy and we were all very fortunate that the weather was fine and mild.”

Donations from all the Santa sleigh visits support Rotary and, in particular, local charities.


Author Natalie Cumming signed copies of her new book 'The Fiddle' when she addressed Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. She told a meeting of members and guests that the story she had to tell was important and the atrocities that happened to so many people, not just Jews, during the war. As a result, Jewish born Natalie decided to write a book based on a violin which she described as having been 'the most important thing in my life.'  Her family survived because of it.

In a true story tracing the 'precious' family violin across landscapes devastated by war and terror of the second world war, it was brought to safety and restoration in 21st century Britain. The violin has now been donated for perpetuity to the Yehudi Menuhin School of Music in memory of her aunt and father.

The violin, which her Aunt Rosa played when she was imprisoned in Auschwitz, was handed down through the family to her.  And the violin continues to play what she described as 'beautiful music.' The book 'The Fiddle' is a true story tracing a precious violin across landscapes devastated by war and terror to safety and restoration in 21st century Britain. Abraham and his family fled the Bolsheviks, from St. Petersburg to Odessa and safety in the UK. Abraham’s skill on the violin earned them food and lodgings as they struggled through the freezing Russian winter. The violin passed to Rosa, Abraham’s daughter, violinist with the famous Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.  Arrested by the Nazis on Kristellnacht 1938, she was sent to Mauthausen Concentration Camp and then to Auschwitz where her musical talent saw her forced to join the Women’s Orchestra and saved her life. She spent the last five months of the war in Belsen before testifying at the Nuremberg Trials, exposing the horrors of the Nazi death camps. 

Rosa’s brother Israel inherited the violin.  A celebrated musician, he joined ENSA during the war, entertaining the troops together with such famous names as Vic Oliver, Harry Roy, Billy Cotton, Vera Lynn and Ann Shelton. Post war, he investigated Nazis trying to escape trial.  He formed several popular bands, well-known throughout the 60’s and 70’s.

Finally, the violin comes to his daughter Natalie who has written her family’s extraordinary story lest the world should ever forget global events against which the journey of this 'beautiful instrument' is told. 

She added:  "It went on the journey with the family – suffered with them; rejoiced with them.  They gave their lives, but this was not in vain because the violin continues to play beautiful music, despite suffering serious damage at the hands of the Nazis.  "Its heart enabled it to survive and the memory of it being played by my father will stay with me forever.  He urged me to write down everything he and my aunt told me about their lives – and The Fiddle is the result."

Natalie signs a copy of her book for Rotarian Chris Medd

Natalie with Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Julian Wells



A small party of Rotarians has planted another set of purple crocus corms at the front of Shrewsbury Abbey. It is hoped that the second set of 5,000 bulbs will be as colourful next February as the first set were earlier this year.

The planting by members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, as part of Rotary International's Purple4Polio initiative, also marked the End of Polio Now campaign day (today). Busily working at the front of the Abbey were left to right Rotarians Julian Wells (club president), John Yeomans, and Chris Heaven.

Rotary and its international partners, the World Health Organisation, UNESCO and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, spends about $US 1 billion every year on its immunisation programme. Total spend over the next 10 years is estimated to be in excess of $US 78 billion worldwide on polio vaccinations programmes. The number of cases of polio worldwide is now down to 19 so the end of this distressing disease is in sight.



A Rotarian who was standing in for a Bishop has given a talk in Shrewsbury about human trafficking, a modern day form of slavery, and how examples of this can be seen in the UK.

Mervyn Davies, a past president of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, was speaking to members in the absence of the Bishop of the Diocese of Durgapur in northern India whom he said had been detained on important church business. So he was telling Rotary something about what the bishop would have been talking to the club on - human trafficking and the work that his diocese is doing. He recently made his second visit on behalf of the Shrewsbury United Reformed Church travelling by rail from Durgapur across the Ganges to Malda on the Bangladesh border.

He arrived at Malda late at night with many people sleeping on the station. He asked about that and was told most were likely to be people trafficked. He spoke of the work the church of northern India was doing to combat modern day slavery and human trafficking. India is the fourth worst affected country with West Bengal having 44% of the cases reported in India.

Mervyn met the Bishop in 2016 to discuss the safe house scheme to the north of West Bengal and the United Reformed Church decided a build accommodation for 20 girls and provide five years of running costs. This was the result of a legacy left by a URC member to the .

"I invested a lot of time in developing plans with the Bishop and in ensuring due diligence," he told Rotarians.  He said the girls were aged five to 15 and would be there until they were 18. The aim was now to sponsor 21 girls who were in a hostel and with enough sponsors the capacity could increase to 30.

Other projects in which the church was involved included raising awareness of trafficking  in rural villages and providing support and care. But, he told Rotarians, it wasn't only in India where human trafficking was a major problem.  Examples could be seen in the UK, notably in nail bars, car washes, farming, construction and the hospitality industry. He said the perpetrators of the Rochdale child abuse ring were convicted of trafficking.  Of an estimated 40.3 million people worldwide, more than at the peak of the slave trade, an estimated 12,000 were in the .

And he added:  "Who is responsible? We all are sometimes, through ignorance and sometimes indifference. Too busy in our own little worlds, not noticing injustice and if we did - we did not care."

Mervyn with Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Julian Wells



Shrewsbury's evening Rotary club is planning to plant purple crocus bulbs around the Abbey to mark End Polio Day.

Last year Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club planted thousands of crocus corms at the front of the Abbey and they made a bright, welcoming picture for the many visitors.

Now, Rotarians are to plant more purple crocus which represent the purple dot placed on the forehead of immunised children.

For Rotary is getting ever closer to its aim of ridding the world of polio with only 17 cases reported this year. With help from the Bill and Melinda gates Foundation Rotary International has raised and sent over $2.5 billion since the campaign began.

Shrewsbury Severn is looking into the possibility of placing a plaque in the vicinity of the bulbs to explain the connection between Rotary and the End Polio Campaign.

This year End Polio Day is on October 24.



A total donation of £3,683 has been earmarked by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club to local causes in the coming days.

The club will be spending £750 on a Christmas party specially for local elderly people in December, combining the event with a carol Service and afternoon of musical entertainment at the URC.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary will also be giving Grange Primary School £500; Shrewsbury College £440; £238 to the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA); £390 for Kids Day Out; £250 to Crucial Crew; £275 to Minsterley Eisdtedfodd.

In addition, £250 has been pledged to the Severn Hospice in relation to the Charleston World record event for which the club also provided marshals. The Club has also set aside £590 for a Shelter Box to help replace those used in disaster relief work following the Indonesian earthquake.

Said Shrewsbury Severn Rotary President Julian Wells:

We are delighted to be able to make these modest donations and provide a measure of support for such worthwhile initiatives. We are mindful that this is made possible through the generosity of the local community who give so willingly during our fund raising events, especially around Christmas. I would like to thank everyone who has helped make a difference.



Conscious of the potential need for urgent action in Indonesia following the devastating earthquake and tsunami, Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club is preparing to provide a shelter box costing £590 to the relief effort once the situation in Sulawesi becomes clear.

The club discussed the need to build up the stock of Shelter Boxes no matter how many are required for this latest disaster. Any other offers of assistance would be considered when the specific need becomes clear.

Anyone wishing to assist in funding Shelter Boxes is welcome to contact the club President on 01743 361188



The popular Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club Santa sleigh will be making a total of 18 appearances this yuletide. The Santa sleigh is one of the club's major fundraising events for local and Rotary charities. Its first appearance will be on Pride Hill, Shrewsbury, for the opening of the town's Christmas lights on the first late shopping night November 14.

Santa, with the assistance of his elves, will be welcoming children aboard the sleigh - over a three hour session - to tell him what they would like to receive for Christmas. Then on December 2 begins six community visits and 11 supermarket appearances ending on Christmas Eve.



Shrewsbury Rotary's Tree of Light organiser Iain Gilmour meets up with Shrewsbury Chronicle editor Kim Bennett to plan a publicity campaign in readiness for this year's launch.

The Chronicle has once again confirmed detailed coverage of the Rotary Tree of Light event including the publication of names of sponsors which is a popular feature throughout the fundraising campaign.

Iain outlined plans for the annual dedication service which this year will be held at Shrewsbury Abbey on Sunday November 25 at 3.00 pm.  The High Sheriff, Mayor and a representative of the Lord Lieutenant will be among the congregation.

Editor Kim also confirmed that the Chronicle will cover the Rotary Santa sleigh activities, including its first outing which coincides with the switch-on of the town lights on Wednesday November 14.

Both the Tree of Light and Santa sleigh are Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club's biggest fundraisers of the year.



In his introduction to guest speaker Jane Brookes, President of Newport Lite Rotary Club, Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Julian Wells said the three year old club's membership had expanded very quickly. Their initiatives and activities were different to the traditional Rotary organisation and therefore challenged clubs like Shrewsbury Severn to think differently about some of their procedures. He said Jane was a retired Executive Director of the Wrekin Housing Trust and went on to run a business consultancy until deciding to hang up her working boots.

Jane, who has been in Newport Lite for two years, said she would describe the make up, what it did and how it was a bit different.  It was originally formed by a group of local Rotarians who were in Newport Rotary which was still going and that was before she became involved. She said Newport Lite wanted to move away from the traditional format and have different activities.  So they formed a new club which is very informal.  It doesn't have a meal, it has a monthly meeting which is in the cricket club in Newport.

The club has 42 members with another two due to be inducted at the October meeting.  Six or eight others were finding out about the club so see whether they liked it before making up their minds so the club was growing quite rapidly.

The membership was approximately 50/50 men and women which made it a bit remarkable in Rotary.  They ranged in age from mid-30's to around 70.  Some of the older members were in the Newport Rotary Club and the Lite average age was around 50.They were from a wide range of careers, professions and businesses.  The meetings were on a monthly basis in the evening and usually took 40-45 minutes. Unlike the majority of Rotary, Lite did not have formal committees.  They had leads on Youth and Foundation, but operated more as a working group.  This took up less of people's time and made it more manageable. 

One of their biggest activities is the sleigh and Father Christmas which starts  on December 1 and was every night through to the 21st.  Someone takes a lead on that which was how their projects tended to be organised and it worked for them.The majority of projects in which they were involved were about fundraising, but others provided help and assistance in the community.  She spoke of their First Responder vehicle which was not part of the formal NHS.

She said the idea was to try and raise £15,000 for a second hand vehicle.  But the idea snowballed and through the generosity of the town and businesses they ended up providing a brand new BMW 4 wheel drive, fully kitted out inside, state-of-the-art vehicle within 18 months and this had provided a huge amount of publicity and credibility.  That, she said, was their 'big one.'

She spoke of other activities including a food festival, Chinese New Year and French market which attracted a lot of presence in the town and at the same time raising money for local projects and at other times for a Shropshire charity such as the Hospice.They had taken part in a number of projects around dementia and had become a 'dementia friendly club.'  From that they were looking at ways of supporting people in the town with 'drop-ins.'  If this was something Shrewsbury Severn was interested in she could put the club in touch with the trainers.

She also spoke of a 'bench walk' round town for people who had had operations - non-funding raising, but support to the community.

Jane said Newport Lite had supported the Yorkshire Tea barcode collection for the Wheelchair Foundation.  Barcodes could be turned into a wheelchair costing £75,000 and delivery was through Rotarians.Unfortunately, Yorkshire Tea stopped supporting this and now gave a monthly donation.  Barcodes was something that as a club they wanted to support and they managed to provide up to 40 wheelchairs. £250 per club would provide another 60 wheelchairs and she put that forward as a proposal towards getting a container full.  They were also looking at match funding.

They were making a big effort towards the End Polio Now campaign with tea parties, planting of crocuses and Shropshirerocks.  These were colourfully   painted rocks at rock painting parties which they were persuading people to hold.  Painted rocks and purple crocuses had raised awareness of the ned for vaccinating and had been successful in getting the message out.

She went on to explain how Newport Lite had attracted members.  Initially, this was through word of mouth from people starting up the club.  It was all very light and informal and giving back to the community was how Rotary had been sold to her, said Jane.  It was word of mouth to friends, relatives and acquaintances.The club had also been successful in attracting small groups of people of a similar age - they had 10 in their 30's.

The club had a lot of presence at different events and talking to people.  The next phase was using the press - they had a very good mouthpiece in Jeremy Crabb - Facebook and tweeting and getting the message out.  Facebooking was used to spread the word as to where they were on estates with the sleigh.This had been a useful way of getting messages out, helping raise funds and attracting support.  It was all about awareness and they had successfully used WhatsApp.They started attending events in the town which required volunteers - the old fashioned marketing approaching of selling the message and when doing an event wearing purple teeshirts.

She also said it was about finding a model which worked for each community.  The overwhelming message was that people didn't want to get involved in a lot of bureaucracy and Newport Lite kept that to a minimum.It was a co-operative style of working which she accepted could go wrong, but at the moment it was fine.  Whilst it was informal, they still had risk assessments. If someone had a good idea they tried to support it.  People had recognised Rotary could be good for their business and would join for that reason.  They had a wide range of people who wanted to join for different reasons.She recommended being very open to trying things and making sure there were no barriers and that the club didn't smack of elitism.  Be open to try things, not everything would work and it didn't matter.  Getting people interested was all that mattered."You have to go out and find the people and it can be hard work," she added.



Julian welcomes Jane to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club



Aboard the good ship Sabrina, which perhaps should be more accurately described as a boat, members and guests of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club lost all sense of time...

As the vessel went upstream towards the showground from its moorings at the Frankwell Quay, Rotarians and guests noted that the Market Hall clock showed a particular time of the day.  Again, more accurately, time of evening.

When Sabrina turned round to head towards Coleham Pumping Station, the Market Hall clock bore no resemblance to how it was previously showing the time, even given the fact that the boat had meantime covered a few nautical miles. Mesmerised, but nevertheless fascinated, Rotarians and guests understandably lost all sense of time and thoroughly enjoyed the three hour leisurely cruise on the upper deck of Sabrina on the picturesque River Severn, including the scenery in both directions.

Organiser Rotarian William Burden commented:  "Losing all sense of time was very strange, but it was a nice evening out with nice people.  I think everybody enjoyed the fellowship."

President Julian Wells commented:  "It was an enjoyable evening with a gentle trip up the river and was very successful."

Where were the Rotarians when this photo was taken?  Rumour has it they were hiding!



Shrewsbury Severn Rotarians spent an evening hosted by current President and his wife Sue in the garden of their home. Forty six Rotarians and their partners were subjected to a barbeque in the early evening after a day of rain showers and grey skies. Fortunately the evening stayed dry!

The food had been prepared during the day but final touches were provided by well-known barbeque king Geoff Lloyd who begrudgingly agreed to using the host’s gas barbeque but went on to produce some excellent traditional sausage, burgers, kebabs and lamb steaks (thank you Geoff). A range of salads, sweets and cheese rounded off the evening which was an opportunity for the club to relax and enjoy some companionship before warming up for an Autumn of busy fund raising and community service.


Many historical characteristics - including a rare Charles Darwin feature - were witnessed by a group of 15 or so intrepid Rotarians who met on a club night for a walk with a difference. On entering Doctor's Field, walk leader Rotarian Bob Scaiff told his fellow members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club that this was where a young Charles Darwin first developed his interest in nature. The family home, on The Mount, could be seen above.

Starting just below the 'new' Shelton Water Tower, Bob explained how Owen  Glendower, or Owain Glyndwr for those from the Principality, allegedly hid in an oak tree at to witness the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403.The spot was commemorated and a hotel was built on the site, now sadly demolished and redeveloped.  Many Rotarians will remember the Oak Hotel.

Walking along the riverbank, the location of the old Army training grounds was pointed out and evidence was seen of water drainage works on the site. Rotarians were happy to see activity on the river with rowing crews and canoeists, like themselves as walkers, enjoying the evening's sunshine.The walk continued alongside the river and Bob pointed out where water was previously extracted for the town.  He explained how it was pumped via the pumping station at Coleham to the whole town.

An informal evening meal, at the Olive Tree, Frankwell, comprised a range of tapas which was enjoyed by all.  Only disappointment to some of the group, who carried on to the end of the walk, was that the venue had run dry of all draught beer!

A vote of thanks was proposed by President Julian Wells to the organiser, William Burden, and the walk leader and guide, Bob Scaiff.



In an unprecedented job talk spread over two consecutive weeks, recently installed Rotarian Chris Medd not only highlighted events in his career, but gave an unparalled insight into the life of Robert Maxwell for whom he worked for two years. Robert Maxwell, the flamboyant head of one of the world's biggest media empires, was discovered dead in the sea on November 5 1991 after disappearing from his yacht off the Canary Islands.  He was 68.

The second instalment began with Chris, who was inducted as a member of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club earlier this year, telling members about his close connection with the notorious Maxwell and how their relationship developed during a number of business acquisitions. For Chris, the Maxwell era began when the tycoon purchased the cable TV business of Rediffusion. 

"Soon after the amalgamation into the Maxwell organisation I was at a board meeting that Maxwell chaired.  I was there as deputy managing director at the time and half way through the board meeting Maxwell said 'I am resigning as chairman and Mr Ward-Thomas will take my place.’ Maxwell got up from the table, tapped me on the shoulder and took me outside while the board meeting continued. He said ‘The MD will have to go.’ He then asked me how much I earned and came up with a figure a bit more than the one I’d quoted and said 'do you want the job?'  I went for the slowsuicide and accepted his offer and then we went back into the boardroom. I wondered what would happen next, then Maxwell said 'Mr. T has resigned and Mr. M (me) is now managing director.  Are there any questions?’  This is how things happened in the Maxwell era." 

Chris relayed a number of anecdotes to illustrate the way that Maxwell conducted business, which was usually unorthodox.  For example, Chris continued: “We’d fired our advertising agency and the final account amounted to more than a quarter of a million pounds. This amount required Maxwell’s signature. Over the next six weeks I constantly asked him where the cheque was and he said he’d posted it.  At the time Maxwell had an excellent personal assistant who was seconded from the Civil Service.  This gentleman used to riffle through the tycoon’s briefcase while he was out of the office.  And this time he found the cheque for the advertising agency that Maxwell HAD indeed signed. The PA passed the cheque over to me and the agency received its money.”

Chris told a story relating to the chief executive of Littlewoods and Everton FC who told Maxwell there was a damaging strike at the Post Office in which was harming his mail order and football pools business. “This happened while we were eating our starter at a lunch in Maxwell’s office dining room,” said Chris.   “By the time we reached dessert the Post Office union leader had been traced to a remote beach in , had spoken with Maxwell on the phone and the three-week strike was settled.  This was a real illustration of Maxwell’s power.” 

Chris went on:  "Maxwell was a classic bully but he did, on occasions, have a sense of humour.  I used to give him a bit of lip and got away with it but you had to pick the right moment.  I knew there would be a day when he would turn on me, so I took my opportunity to leave with a settlement when Viacom were given a managing brief as part of a deal that gave Maxwell access to MTV.” 

After leaving Maxwell, now working as a consultant, Chris obtained the cable licence for on behalf of Windsor Cable.  This still remains the largest cable TV licence issued in the UK.This was followed by work in Ireland on behalf of Irish Independent Newspapers where he obtained more than half of the 32 microwave TV licences issued by the Irish government to cover Eire.

Chris then went on to work for British Satellite Broadcasting (BSB), followed by ITV Digital before returning to the cable television business with a company called Cablecom where he finished his career in TV.

In the first part of his job talk Chris said he left university in 1968 and joined Rediffusion, a television rental and broadcast relay company that began in the 1930s as a radio relay company. At that time, less than half the houses in the country had electricity.  Lighting was supplied by gas and there wasn't much demand for electricity.  Radios were run off batteries that were replaced weekly by a local dealer who took them away and recharged them. 

This pattern of operating was the start of the rental industry in many ways.  People who rented this radio service went on to rent televisions in the future. 

"There was a man in Kent who had his own radio connected to mains electricity.  He thought it would be a nice idea if he connected his neighbours to his radio and so he cabled up loud speakers linked to his radio to seven other homes.  Although his neighbours could only tune in to what was on his radio, it didn’t matter, as there was only one radio station on-air at the time! 

“Because he was honest, the man bought a radio licence at the Post Office and persuaded the clerk in the Post Office to hand write an additional licence to cover his seven neighbours at one shilling per year, per home.” Chris explained that this was the beginning of radio relay.This hand written licence set a precedent that lasted right up until 1984, whereby relay companies paid the Post Office a licence fee of one shilling per year for every customer connected to their systems. "That was how Rediffusion began," said Chris, “it started to wire up houses and by the mid-1930s nearly six million homes in the UK were capable of being connected to this radio relay network."  

A relay radio amplifier was capable of feeding the service to 1,000 homes.  These amplifiers were valve-driven with the main valve been as tall as four foot.The service was at its height during the war years as people could listen to the radio even during power cuts. After the war a television service was added to the radio service using multi-pair cables.  The original systems had six pairs of cables carrying one television channel per pair ie capacity for six TV channels.  This was very forward thinking as it took the broadcasters 50 years to reach five TV channels. 

Having started his career in Merseyside, Chris was transferred by Rediffusion to . “In Scotland, in those days, it was much more typical for TVs to be rented with a slot meter – a form of pay-as-you-view.  Although slot meter TV rental was significantly more expensive, many families preferred it because it generated a cash rebate at the end of each month.  Typically, the cash went to the housewife who could pocket the money without the husband knowing!” He talked about other experiences such as the TV engineers who were 'held hostage' on an island until they’d fixed all the local electrical appliances (they were of course well fed and plied with whisky). 

How a painting of Campbeltown’s waterfront (shown at a art exhibition) prominently featured a company van. This led to a 'surprise' visit to the town that revealed the van being hired to fishermen, the office telephone being hired out at favourable rates for international calls and the works ladders being rented to the local window cleaners! 

From Scotland, Chris continued his career with Rediffusion on the Wirral, then as a district manager in the South West before moving on to become general manager of the company’s London region. In 1982 he was seconded to a new division that concentrated on modern multi-channel cable television.  This involved lobbying government in the lead up to the 1984 Cable & Broadcasting Act, together with promoting interactive services such as home shopping, banking and betting that could be carried on cable systems. In 1984, he was responsible for launching the distribution of the first cable channels in the UK, including the original Sky Channel. 

In 1985 Rediffusion’s parent company, BET, broke up the group, selling the TV rental business to Granada, the flight simulator and computer division to US companies and the cable TV company to Robert Maxwell. Chris finished by recalling how Mr Maxwell paid no heed to convention.  “He would call at all hours.  I remember being woken by him phoning at 5 am to ask ‘What is the man in the street saying about me?'  I found it extremely uncomfortable lying naked in bed talking on the phone to Maxwell.  But he was completely oblivious.”

Chris in pensive mood as he reflects on his time with Robert Maxwell



The plight of a family with a five year old child suffering from cystic fibrosis, who are in urgent need of a respite break, has touched the hearts of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club members.

The club has agreed to donate £500 to the family through a charity called Dream Holidays which is run by a Rotarian whose own daughter died from the disease just 2 years ago at the age of 38.

The charity was set up to help families with children suffering from cystic fibrosis by giving them a much needed respite holiday (in the UK) and the Shrewsbury family was referred to Dream Holidays by the cystic fibrosis consultant at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals.

The £500 donation will enable the family to take a respite break before schools re-start.  They will also be advised by Rotary that Hope House offers respite care.

Said Dream Holidays founder Rotarian Elaine Tozer:  “We are so grateful to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club members for helping towards this family’s holiday. 

"It is through clubs and associations such as Rotary, along with some larger Grant Giving Trusts, that we are able to continue what we do. Rotary help is very important to us as we help more than 200 CF families every year across the UK.”



Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has been outlining its initial plans for the new Rotary year and these include several community and fundraising activities.

In addition, the club is further supporting Operation Sabre to the tune of £1,500 with one of its members, Rotarian Mike Mortimer, driving a second hand ambulance to a special needs home in which the club has previously supported with a shower and toilet block.

Currently the residents of the home have no official transport and have to reply on ad hoc arrangements for visits to hospital.

Crocus bulbs have been purchased ready for planting around the Abbey this autumn.

The seniors Christmas party is likely to be held on Sunday December 2.  The club is currently awaiting confirmation of the date from the United Reformed Church, Abbey Foregate, .

Discussion with Rotary Woodland Trust about tree planting is still progressing.

The world record attempt for numbers dancing the Charleston will take place in Shrewsbury Quarry on Saturday, September 22 between 10am and 2pm with a request to the club to provide stewards.

The club is organising a boat trip on the Sabrina on the River Severn on September 11 with a buffet supper and bar.  Partners and guests - numbers permitting - welcome.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary has three main areas for fundraising activities:  the sleigh, Tree of Light and a potential business breakfast to attract corporate sponsors from the business community.

Past President Mervyn Davies has invited the Rt Rev Probal Dutta, head of the Anglian Church in Northern India, to address the club on October 16.This is being scheduled as an international evening with the other two Shrewsbury Rotary clubs being invited to attend. The bishop is very much involved in combating human trafficking which it is understood will form the basis of his address.



Ashley Gray, newly appointed District Governor for Rotary in Shropshire, has set out the five major activities he considers important for the next year. He was speaking to members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, only his third club visit in just nine days after taking office. Underlining the new Rotary theme of 'Be The Inspiration,' he outlined his priorities for 2018/19:  End Polio Now, Foundation (Rotary's own charity), membership, projects and marketing/PR.

He said the number one Rotary priority - throughout the world - was to eradicate polio forever, a promise which was made in 1985.  And last year there were only 22 cases of the disease reported in the world.

He told members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club that Foundation was the cornerstone of the organisation and every penny given to Foundation is accountable and traceable.

On membership, he asked the club:  "How are we going to create new members?  We don't want to lose traditional clubs, but we need to make things different to attract people into other clubs alongside us.

"Our challenge is to get a succession plan in place as a legacy to go forward with Rotaract and Interact clubs the best way to deliver this."

He said that projects, including Christmas lunches for people in need, were not just writing a cheque and handing it over "Young people don't want that, they are not interested at all.  It is projects over committees, projects work and projects will attract young people. If people can see what you are doing they will want to be part of it, 'we did this, proud of it and hang a badge on it.'  Projects to me are important and they get members."

On marketing and PR, he said the best way was doing projects in the local communities.  "We get ourselves noticed - we need to get out there. Major things we as an organisation ought to be looking at requires everybody to do their little bit to get things moving. "Nobody can do it all on their own.  We need a team effort from everybody - I believe projects get members."

He presented Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club's new President Julian Wells with a banner from Rotary International President Barry Rassin inscribed with this year's theme 'Be The Inspiration.'

Ashley Gray (left) presents the Rotary International banner to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Julian Wells



Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has received a ‘thank you’ from Shrewsbury Colleges Group for their support towards the Star Awards 2018. Gill Cox, Chair of SCG Equality & Diversity Committee, has written to the club on behalf of the Board of Governors, Principal and CEO and the College’s Equality and Diversity Committee, to thank the club for its donation of £150 to sponsor prizes.

Said Gill:  “The College has received some lovely verbal feedback and thanks, not only from nominees, but parents, teachers and committee members.  It was a lovely event.” She thanked past President Colin Sharp for taking the time to attend the ceremony as well as presenting the awards and certificates and showing ‘real interest and encouragement’ to students.

Rotarian was also thanked for helping them to prepare and take on the difficult job of joining the judging panel and ensuring they were in a position to award a lovely trophy, vouchers and the reader pen at the event itself.

“Lastly,” said Gill, “please pass onto the Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club and its members the college’s gratitude and thanks for the financial support given to the college. To be able to recognise the achievements of these students and with your help, to continue to offer support to students next year, means a great deal to us,” she added.

Colin Sharp (third left) is shown with Christina Gore, Lead Governor for E&D responsibility (far left) and Gill Cox, Chair of the E&D committee (right)



Outgoing president Colin Sharp highlighted the events that had succeeded in Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club's year of 'Making a Difference.' This had been the theme set by Rotary and Colin, who has now handed over the chain of office to Julian Wells, said not only did this reflect major local fundraising events, but also 'Making a Difference' internationally.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club had received recognition for their contribution to the End Polio Now Campaign where its support had enabled the immunisation of 45,000 children. In recognition of its efforts, the club was presented with a certificate from the Rotary Foundation by Rotarian John Sayer, Past District Governor of the Rotary District which includes Shropshire.

At home, he spoke of the continuing success of the club's Santa Sleigh and Tree of Light which together raised a total of £12,500 for charities. Said Colin:  "We have been 'Making a Difference' and I am now looking forward to the coming year which is a 'Year of Inspiration.'  I know Julian will do an excellent job."

And he told members:  "This is a great opportunity for me to thank all of you for your support for what has been a most enjoyable year."

In taking over the chain of office, Julian responded by telling Colin:  "You have made a difference which is what you set out to do.  I am going to do my best to follow your example and concentrate on enjoying our time in Rotary, as I firmly believe that everything we do for the community originates from the friendship and common interest that we share.  Let's have a good year."

The club has agreed to donate £250 to Sarah Bright and the Charleston Dance Group who are holding an event in the Quarry on September 22 when they hope to break the world record for the number of people participating in the dance. All money raised will go to the Severn Hospice and Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has also been approached to provide not only sponsorship, but stewards with 35 required.

Colin Sharp (left) hands over the chain of office to Julian Wells



Former Mayor Jane Mackenzie has been telling Rotarians about the brand new charity, Share Shrewsbury, that she is setting up with the £25,000 raised during her Mayoral year to improve services for local people suffering from addiction. She told members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club why she chose to support people who are trying to overcome problems with addiction.

She said individuals with substance misuse problems were ‘unfairly stigmatised and marginalised, and when they are in desperate need of help society often turns its back and walks away. Said Jane:  “Individuals with substance misuse problems suffer from a dreadful, complicated condition which is misunderstood by society.  It is a condition which kills. The vast majority have already faced disadvantage or trauma in their lives.  And once they develop an addiction they face discrimination and stigma all over again.

This time it is often those very services which should be offering support and solutions that turn their backs on service users in their moment of greatest need. The attitude of hospital staff which leads to those with serious medical complications being discharged without proper treatment.  The unwillingness of some GPs to engage with, or even take on, patients with substance misuse problems.”

She told Rotarians:  “We know there is an overwhelming relationship between substance misuse and psychological problems.  That these conditions must be looked at as a whole. However, there is an unwillingness of mental health services to assess and treat individuals until they have stopped using substances for six months.  It just doesn’t make sense – and it must change.

Through my charity, I want to make a difference to an often overlooked, stigmatised, vulnerable group, a group that may include our friends, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, sisters, mothers or fathers. I’ve met an amazing group of people in recovery, all so diverse and different.  What they did have in common was a strength, a determination and an optimism throughout their journey that was infectious and inspiring. But every day they face a silent battle – a battle no-one else can begin to understand.”

She said her brand new charity, Share Shrewsbury, would make a difference to other people’s lives.

She spoke of her Mayoral charity, Shropshire Recovery Partnership – which will carry on – and the support it gave people who are recovering from substance abuse. “The help they give enables people of all ages to regain their self-respect, get back into work and re-build family life.”

She said that during her Mayoral year she had been impressed that so many people wanted to share their time, skills and resources with those who needed help that this inspired her to set up Share Shrewsbury. “Share Shrewsbury is based on the simple idea of sharing what we have with others. Everyone can be part of this because we all have something we can share. I am hoping to set up a base in Shrewsbury town centre where people can meet to share their time, skills and experiences with others who need help. I am also hoping to set up a support group there for the family and friends of those suffering from addiction in all its forms. In order to move forward, I am urgently looking for an administrator and someone with book- keeping experience to come on board and work with me to get the charity going.

Jane spoke of her two big fundraising events which she held earlier this year, in support of local people with addiction problems.  The first was the annual Mayor’s Charity Ball which raised a record £9,000 on the night. The second was what she described as a ‘fabulous’ music concert held in the main auditorium of Theatre Severn.  The artist was local singer/songwriter Dan Owen who gave his performance freely to support her charity. “One of the first things I did when I became Mayor was to travel to London where Dan was recording music and ask him to support my charity work.  I was thrilled when he accepted. He is well known and loved in Shrewsbury and is an amazing talent who is bringing out his first album this summer.  He’s also now getting involved locally, working with children and young people to inspire them with the story of his journey from busking in town to international musical success.”

Her talk also included some reflections on her Mayoral year which she described as a ‘real once in a lifetime opportunity and a huge honour.’

“Serving as Mayor is a wonderful way to learn more about the community of volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes in Shrewsbury and make it such a great place to live. I have had the opportunity to meet a wide range of people and organisations who give their resources and skills to benefit others.

I’ve most enjoyed meeting with the wonderful unsung heroes in our local community who freely give their time to improve the lives of others.  It is a real privilege to be able to recognise their efforts. It is also a chance to go behind the scenes and experience what makes Shrewsbury tick,” she added.


Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Colin Sharp, thanking Jane, said:  “We shall think about how we can support you both as individuals and as a group.”


It was time to bring out the banners for the visit to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club by Past Mayor Jane Mackenzie who was welcomed to the club by President Colin Sharp.


Development of a clear overarching strategy for Shrewsbury should be a priority for the future of the town. Former Mayor Jane Mackenzie told Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club that everyone needed to understand what the town council was working towards in terms of housing, transport, employment, leisure, tourism, health and well-being. “Surprisingly,” she told club members, “ We have no town plan or integrated transport plan for Shrewsbury and until we develop these we will not have a vision or direction for how we want our town to move forward. With Shropshire Council funding being slashed, we must also build on our tradition of community service and develop strong partnerships with the voluntary sector.  This way we can keep delivering high quality public services and protect the most vulnerable in our communities. The establishment of the University Centre Shrewsbury is a massive boost and we can already see the local economy responding to this.  Integrating the university into the heart of the town will enable its growth to benefit everyone, but it must be managed sensitively. The future prosperity of Shrewsbury depends on economic growth, bringing jobs and starter homes into the area which should be part of our strategy. I am really concerned and worried about what is happening in the heart of our town.  Rents and rates are increasing and with higher car parking charges, some businesses are talking about leaving the town. We have unique independent shops bringing in visitors, but car parking charges could kill the centre of the town, and this is troubles me.” 

Jane told Rotarians that she was working with Shropshire Council’s principal planner, Ian Kilby, who shared her disappointment in the lack of vision of many of the big developers whose focus, she said, was on profit rather than quality. She said she was working with Ian and developers’ agents to produce a set of quality standards which would act as a yardstick for future housing development in Shrewsbury. “We hope this will become a system whereby developers, whose designs reach the desired standards, will be awarded a certificate and accreditation as approved developers for Shropshire.”

She said she valued the ‘unique heritage’ of the town which could be seen in its historic buildings as well as its ‘beautiful natural environment.’ A major initiative, which she said she would like to see happen, would be more closely associating the Charles Darwin brand with Shrewsbury. She has established a steering group which will seek to acquire Charles Darwin’s historic birthplace on the Mount for Shrewsbury and for the nation. “I’m a huge fan of Darwin,” she confessed, “and I believe we should be doing more to link his name with our town.  Darwin was born and grew up here, he went to school in the building which now houses the library and lived here as a young man. He got on a stage coach at the Lion Hotel in Wyle Cop to begin his famous voyage of discovery on HMS Beagle and five years later, on his return, he rushed straight back to Shrewsbury, the town he loved.”

Said Jane:  “Wherever you travel in the world people have heard of Charles Darwin and I believe that if we tie the two together would also become known worldwide as his birthplace and childhood home.” Her vision, she added, was a ‘cultural corridor’ linking Charles Darwin’s house at Mount House, with the iron-framed Flaxmill, which has been called the most important building of the modern era by Historic England.



Rotarians have been warmly praising one of their colleagues whose 40 years in the removals industry have been recognised with a rare award. William Burden, a member of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, has been presented with a certificate as an honorary life member of the British Association of Removers. The award is in recognition of his contribution to the removals industry and the British Association of Removers over many years.

The certificate expresses ‘the thanks and grateful appreciation’ of the association’s board of directors and members, particularly for William’s dedication to the West Midlands area and officers.

He was a director of White & Company, established in 1871, and earlier this year took early retirement after 40 years in the removals industry. The British Association of Removers represents 25% of the professional removals industry in the UK.

Said William, who lives in Shrewsbury:  “I was very surprised, touched and humbled.” He has just received another recognition, this time from Rotary.  He has been appointed chair of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s fellowship and activities committee for the Rotary year 2018/19.

William (centre) is photographed with Tony Tickner, President of the British Association of Removers and Marcus Brigstocke who compered the awards ceremony



A retired court manager has been telling of incidents in his career which made national news. Rotarian Mike Haw told members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club of an event that followed the trial of Tony Martin, the Norfolk farmer who shot and killed a 16 year old burglar at his isolated farmhouse in the fens.

Said Mike:  “It was national news at the time and after the jury had convicted him of murder, allegations were made that the burglar’s relatives had somehow intimidated jurors to secure a conviction. The press wanted to know what the court was going to do about it. There was well established case law that once the jury had returned its verdict the court could no longer intervene and the matter would have to be taken to the Court of Appeal if the decision was to be challenged. Together with my then boss, and with input from the Court Service HQ, we put together a statement for the press.  But they wanted a sound bite to go with it.  So I agreed to read the statement on the steps of the court building, which I duly did. That item was then the first item on the BBC lunchtime news and again in the 6 o’clock news.  And that is my claim to fame.”

The other event which appeared in the national news related to a case being heard by a High Court judge who, very late in the day, without prior warning, decided to send a jury out to consider its verdict. “At that time if the jury had not reached a decision by the end of the court day we had to find accommodation where they could be kept overnight. Even with advance warning this was never easy. On this occasion we really struggled to find a hotel that could take them and keep them separate from other guests.  It was the middle of summer and one of my staff suggested that we approach the University of East Anglia who had accommodation which would not be being used by students. The university agreed to make the accommodation available to us and assured us that the jury would be able to get a meal.  Arrangements had to be made for the jury members’ relatives to bring in overnight clothes and toiletries and a bus was arranged to take the jurors to the university.  When the last overnight bag arrived I took it to the university. When I arrived the jurors nearly lynched me.  There had been no food in the canteen and the rooms were at the top of the building exposed to the sunlight of a hot summer’s day and were unbearable. I arranged to fetch them all fish and chips and after I had done so left them to the less than satisfactory accommodation which by then had cooled down a bit. The next day I went to tell the judge what had happened and he nearly had a fit that I had spoken with the jury, since the oath the jury bailiff took was to keep the jury in a private place and allow no-one to talk to them. I pointed out that I had not talked to them, but they to me, and it was impossible for me not to respond.  He then decided that I had to go into the witness box to explain my actions which I did. I cannot remember the result of the trial, but I do remember that the next day the Daily Telegraph carried a brief account of the incident as a filler at the bottom of one of their columns.”

Mike, who became a member of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club in 2016, said during his time at the court he met and spoke with the Queen, met Prince Charles and, along with his wife Sandra – to whom next year he will have been married 50 years - attended two royal garden parties, one at Buckingham Palace and the other at Sandringham House.

One of the circuit judges, with whom he worked closely with, was Sir John Blofeld, brother of cricket commentator Henry Blofeld, and also during his time in Norwich he worked with Andy Hayman, Chief Constable of Norfolk, on the Criminal Justice Board. Andy Hayman subsequently went back to the Metropolitan Police as an Assistant Commissioner and was in charge of the police team that shot and killed Jean Charles de Menezes. “Before that,” added Mike, “he was being talked of as a future Commissioner, but shortly afterwards retired from the police service.”

Mike, 71, who started his court career in Grantham and worked in Swindon, King’s Lynn and Norwich, retired in 2006 after being chief clerk/court manager for the best part of 30 years and in the court service for over 40 years.


Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Colin Sharp (left) congratulates Mike on the talk he gave to members at the Lord Hill Hotel, Shrewsbury



 Shrewsbury Severn Rotarians have given serious thought to the forthcoming Rotary year and the various service activities its local community can expect in 2018/19.

The club is considering a number of new initiatives involving the various authorities caring for the less fortunate in society with a particular focus on education and youth activities. The club say all good intentions must be supported by fund raising and the club hopes to extend its traditional activities, currently centered over the Christmas period, to other months of the year.

Shrewsbury Severn’s incoming community and vocational chair John Yeomans announced the intention of the club to ‘make its mark’ and has urged Rotarians to come up with new ideas to promote increased membership and encourage support for Rotary activities. On the environment, he acknowledged a nationwide Rotary initiative to plant trees and hoped the club might form an association with the Woodland Trust. This could include planting a tree as a memorial to someone who had passed on - particularly poignant as the club has recently lost two long-standing members. He said the continuation of annual crocus planting in support of the eradication of polio had already showed Rotary’s presence in the town and he outlined the initially successful scheme at Shrewsbury Abbey.

John also discussed potential opportunities for Rotarians to use their skills and experience to support a number of voluntary organisations where mentors are required for one-to-one coaching.


Front left President Colin Sharp and Incoming President Julian Wells; back left to right William Burden (chair fellowship and activities), John Yeomans (chair community and vocational), Fred McDonogh (chair fundraising) and John Law (chair international and foundation)



Details have been given to a Rotary club of a Round Britain Rail Tour to raise funds for APS – Antiphospholipid Syndrome, sometimes known as ‘Sticky Blood’ that clogs the blood system. Phil Godfrey, who is also a Rotarian, spoke to members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club about the incurable life threatening autoimmune disease and his rail tour which began in March from London to Ramsgate and on to Brighton.

In April he carried on to Bournemouth and down the Central Wales Line from to .  May started with Skegness to Kings Lynn and Merseyside which was followed by to Morecambe. “It is impossible to try and do it in a proper order,” said Phil.  “During these rail trips I have discovered quite a few people, either with APS or with close relatives having problems aligned with APS. Raising awareness of APS is vital so on my journeys, which started with my Isles of Scilly to the Shetlands Islands walk, has now become the Round Britain Rail Tour, in stages. I was forced into a change of plan from walking to rail travel due to a knee problem.  The challenge has changed – with a different mode of transport. However, I intend to speak to as many Rotary clubs, Inner Wheel clubs and churches as possible along the way to spread the word and try to help prevent medical tragedies due to APS.”

He said £65,000 has so far been raised which has allowed the first-ever GP e.learning module or training course to be developed and launched through the Royal College of GPs. This allowed GPs to learn about APS in significant detail and also gave them personal development qualifications.  Currently over 300 GPs have completed the course.

Phil lost his wife Christine to APS in 2015.  “I feel strongly about raising awareness as I do not want other people to experience the suffering Christine had to endure,” he added.


Phil (left) plotting his next APS fundraising rail journey with Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Colin Sharp



A man who once worked for publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell would refer to him as Uncle Bob and people would immediately jump to the conclusion that Chris Medd, Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s newest recruit, was related to the flamboyant Maxwell.

Chris told the amusing tale on his induction as a Rotarian which he said signaled another chapter in his life. Chris, who was born in 1945, 22 years after Maxwell’s birth, graduated in bio chemistry at Liverpool University and started his career as a graduate trainee at Rediffusion. For nearly 20 years he was general manager of Rediffusion London Ltd., a company with 120 shops, 200k plus rental customers and 180k homes covered by television relay systems. When the cable side of the business was sold to Robert Maxwell he became MD, but left after two years, adding:  “Two years with Maxwell at this time was considered long service.”

He lobbied government in the lead up to the 1984 cable and broadcasting act and promoted business sectors into developing services similar to those on the current day internet. He has also been a consultant, regarding his time in Eire as his most effective. He managed to obtain over half the microwave television licenses in the country. He described this as ‘a journey that made Maxwell look like a pussy cat.’

Chris was successful in obtaining the Birmingham cable TV franchise for another client – still the largest cable TV franchise ever issued in the UK. After that he worked at BSB, the squarial satellite broadcaster, until the Murdoch takeover and later for OnDigital, renamed ITV Digital which, after collapsing, became the now beloved Freeview.

In his latter years he worked for a company called Cablecom where they purchased the rump end of what was left of the Rediffusion cable TV business. Chris retired and he and his wife Anne moved from Banbury to Shrewsbury in 2014, telling Rotarians:  “We moved to Shrewsbury to start a new chapter in our lives and Rotary is another part of that chapter which I am sure I will enjoy and be able to bring something to the work you do.” He added that it was a ‘great pleasure’ to be joining Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.

His hobbies include collecting antiques, playing croquet and attending Tai Chi classes.


Chris shows the Rotary badge he will wear with pride.  Left is Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Colin Sharp and right is proposer Rotarian John Yeomans who described Chris as a ‘public spirited person’



It was poignant that the order of service of thanksgiving and celebration for the life of Peter Bone should feature the crest of his beloved Middlesbrough Football Club founded in 1876. For he was born in the shadow of Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough Football Club, which was a big part of his life right from the start. If the gates were open he would cut across the pitch to get to school and was so proud when he learned that Brian Clough lodged only a few houses away.

He also had a passion for steam trains which featured on the reverse of the order of service and conducting the funeral service at Emstrey Crematorium, Civil Funeral Celebrant Christine Jolly, said his ashes would be scattered from a train on a heritage railway line. She said he was proud to be a long serving member of Rotary with nearly 30 years service and rarely missed a Tuesday meeting.  His various responsibilities had included treasurer, fundraising on the Santa sleigh, working for the successful millennium ball and successfully booking guest speakers for meetings.

He was married to Sandra with whom he had a 55 year relationship, marrying her shortly after they had met.  “As a couple,” said Christine, “they were different characters. He was confident and outgoing, but they shared a sense of humour and had been a good team over the years.  Sandra will miss him more than words can say.” They have two sons, Martin and Andrew, and three grandchildren.  He retired from Muller, Market Drayton, in 2012. Said Christine:  “The funeral has been planned with so much care by Peter’s family.  He was a matter-of-fact man who didn’t like a fuss so this service will be simple and dignified. He was a funny, clever man and, in Sandra’s words, there was never a dull moment.  He had a sharp sense of humour and a refusal to suffer fools.” She added:  “His Yorkshire routes and thoughts were always important to him and he wished to be remembered as a Great Northern Bloke.”

Peter Bone passed away on April 15 at the age of 71.  Donations at the service were for the British Heart Foundation. 


A photo showing Peter on the left hand side of the table stuffing Tree of Light envelopes



 A Rotary club’s involvement with the Lendwithcare scheme started with an initial investment of £1,200. The impact on poverty in developing countries has resulted in Shrewsbury Severn Rotary making a total of 76 loans, helping 357 entrepreneurs, 1,286 family members and creating 355 jobs. The information was given to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club by its International chair John Law who said a further investment of £600 will be allocated towards the Lendwithcare initiative.

 “Our experience is that Lendwithcare is doing very well and we are now progressively increasing our initial £1,200,” he told members. “At the end of last month Lendwithcare entrepreneurs had made 18 repayments of loans with no defaulters.”



Distressing stories of children between the ages of five and 18 caring for siblings, parents and even grandparents have been revealed to a local Rotary club. “They do most amazing things,” said Jill Livingstone, service manager for the Shropshire Young Carers Service since 2013, “and they need and deserve respite breaks.”

She was speaking to members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club who have donated £680 to Young Carers in Shropshire as a result of Past President Donald Thompson’s presidential gift. Jill told Rotarians how this ‘special, unique group of children’ carried out a substantial caring role for a member of the family and how they do “most amazing things, supporting people with alcohol, drug, mental health and physical disability problems. These are unique young people whom I have the privilege to work with,” said Jill who explained that Young Carers Shropshire was currently supporting 150 children across the county.

Shropshire Young Carers Service worked closely with the police and social services. The young carers were carrying out a substantial caring role for a member of the family and only that day she had discovered that a boy of 13 was looking after his grandad.

She said the caring role could adversely affect a young person in a variety of ways.  These could be emotional with feelings of stress and anger and being trapped and isolated. They found it difficult to meet up with friends, which in turn could lead to being a target for bullying.  Their education could suffer because they were tired in school and often there wasn’t time for homework.

They were often caring in a low income environment where there was not enough money to cover basic needs. “The main remit,” said Jill, “is short, sharp respite breaks, such as going bowling, to the seaside or horse riding, to get them away from the caring role and make friendships which last for a long time. We need to channel our resources but it is important they get these breaks. The £680 will go a long way towards providing activities in the summer,” she told Rotarians, adding that there was a desperate need for volunteers.

Past President Donald Thompson, who gave a vote of thanks, said Jill’s talk explained why he was donating £680 from his president’s fund to Young Carers Shropshire. President Colin Sharp told Jill:  “Clearly you do an amazing job and our support for Young Carers is something we must consider for the future.”



With leaflets which were handed out to members are Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Colin Sharp, speaker Jill Livingstone and Past President Donald Thompson.



A unique beer brewed by a Shropshire firm is now a ‘national ale’ sold by Wetherspoons, Enterprise Inns and Punch.

Rotarians who visited the Salopian Brewery were able to sample the prize winning cask beer which has pride of place amongst the brews the owners ‘want to drink themselves.’ “If we think it’s good then hopefully everyone else will too,” head brewer Kevin Harris told a party of more than 20 members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. “What is special is the way we regard our beers because the beers we make are the beers we want to drink ourselves.”

He gave Rotarians a little known insight into the brewing process at the Salopian Brewery in Hadnall near Shrewsbury.  “It is a process people don’t usually see behind the beers and it is different to what other local breweries do,” said Kevin.

“The challenge of producing good beer is huge.  It is easy to produce one good beer, but one bad beer can knock down your reputation. Consistency is hugely important.

We supply hundreds of pubs in the counties of Shropshire and Staffordshire as well as into Liverpool and Manchester. “At the same time, internet sales of beers are taking off and we are starting to ferment a good amount of 40,000 liters a week.  Last year we produced 3.3m pints and we are on target for a similar quantity this year.”

He told Rotarians that six core range beers were produced all the time with four or five other beers on a monthly cycle. He described in detail the fermentation process in the brewery’s copper vessel, from the oxygen, yeast and sugar content to the boiling hops to produce an aroma for a much greater flavoured beer. “A stronger beer requires more yeast and sugar and takes four or five days.  The fermentation eats the sugar and turns it into beer.  So for lower gravity core range beers it is a week long process. We find our systems work better for us,” said Kevin who added that since the brewery moved to Hadnall in 2013 the plant installed was able to produce 50 barrels (8,200 liters) in a total shift. Every day we brew a different beer and have eight or nine different beers, including six core beers, in production at any one time. Oracle, which is more hop led, is the premier beer because of its more modern style and bigger flavour profile. Its flavour intensity is higher.”

As the visit drew to a close it was very much ‘time gentlemen please!



Rotarians clearly enjoy a brew.



Kevin pulling a pint and Rotarian Alun Humphreys about to sample one.



The brewery.



Life on board a yacht in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans was outlined to Rotarians at a joint meeting of three clubs. Kate Sumner is taking part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race and explained to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, and Shrewsbury Darwin clubs that she is in between legs. She is part of the UNICEF team competing in the eight leg race and was a crew member on leg 2 from South America to Cape Town . She will also join the crew for the final leg from to with the race scheduled to finish in July.

The race started from Liverpool last August with 12 boats, but there are 11 remaining because one was lost off .Tragically, one crew member lost their life.

Kate, daughter of the late Gerald Chidlow, a founder member of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club when its name was Shawbury and Mid Shropshire, explained how competitive the race is. She said it was ‘particularly tough’ if you entered as a non-sailor.  It was necessary to undertake a month’s training, and complete each individual section, before being permitted to take part. It was only on successfully completing the training that a member was allowed to join the70ft UNICEF yacht. She told Rotarians about life on board, a typical day revolving around deck duties, support duties such as cooking and cleaning and the time allotted – for that all-important sleep. All these tasks were made more difficult because they were often performed at an angle of 45 degrees due to the constant movement of the boat.



Visitors to Shrewsbury’s Abbey Church cannot miss to be impressed by the purple crocus welcome they receive. For the vibrant display of 3,000 purple crocus in the grass at the front of the Abbey holds a twofold message from Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. The carpet of spring bulbs is not only a joyous introduction to Easter, but equally important a mark that polio is being conquered throughout the world.

The purple crocus represents the purple dye which is put on the finger of every child immunised against polio with Rotary International targeting to rid the world of this disease. Members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club planted the purple crocus on November 20 and in recent days the flowers have been at their most resplendent.

Said Rotarian John Yeomans, who was one of the team of planters:  “They are a picture – a most lovely welcome to visitors to the Abbey Church. Despite the snow, they all seem to have survived and will hopefully represent an appropriate introduction to the Easter season.”


Rotarian John Yeomans heralds the arrival of the purple crocus at Shrewsbury’s Abbey Church



A three day journey in a fire engine from Shropshire to Romania was described to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club by Rotarian Mike Mortimer. It was one of a convoy of five fire appliances driven to Romania by Shropshire Firefighters who have the code name Operation Sabre. When Operation Sabre started they was only had six fire engines to cover an area the size of Shropshire.  Now a total of 40 appliances have been taken to the Mures region of , after being purchased and refurbished by Operation Sabre, since 2007.

The fire engines are purchased for a nominal sum at the end of their working life from various Fire Authorities and refurbished prior to being sent to Romania. Taking five fire engines on a journey through France, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Hungary to Romania was, according to Mike, too many. “The reason is you have to train the Romanian Fire Fighters and we were only there for five days,” he told Rotarians ”and each fire engine went to a different village”

Before they set off from the the fire engines were filled with three and a half tonnes of equipment as well as shoes, clothes and presents, which had been donated. “Every single space was filled,” said Mike who told the club the fire engines were polished and minor defects removed before the final departure from the Quarry. He outlined highlights of the journey, filling the fire engines with fuel, and showed slides of a typical Romanian village with the mayor and people in costume. He said Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s donation of £1,500 to install a shower and toilet block in a home for the disabled was money ‘well spent,’ adding “I was very impressed with it.” He visited a factory where disabled people were making various items from wood; and they decorated a couple of rooms in an old people’s home.

His slides included twins in their new school uniforms.  They had been brought up in a home where their Mum was a resident with mental health issues and after the previous trip when the fire fighters had bought them a bike each this time they provided them with new school uniforms. He hoped the club would be able to maintain aid and provide help to three community homes in the Mures region of Romania.




A woman at the special needs home appreciating her teddy present



 Mike with Viorica Sand, director of the special needs home

 Letters subsequently received by Mike from the following:

 Hi Operation Sabre,

My name is Sand Viorica, and I'm  director of the Care House for Disabled Persons in Capusu de Campie, a residential service that accommodates 72 adults with disabilities aged between 19 and 92.

The first contact with the Operation Sabre was made in May 2017 when, together with the mayor of Iclanzel you visited our center and after a team return in Capus in October.

Following the discussions, we found the necessity of some aid materials for our center to work in optimal conditions.

I received this help in the form of donations of clothing, sheets, shoes, extinguishers, hygiene, paints, toys, etc. We had a real help in building a  new bathroom with absolutely everything we needed, thanks to Mike Mortimer and more, Brian's donation, through which we were able to buy some pairs of winter shoes, redecorating some of the center saloons, all made by a wonderful team of Operation Sabre, a great team and people with big soul. Thank you all for joining us and we look forward to you in 2018.

of greetings,Viorica Sand

Dear friends,

We are so grateful to have you in our lives. We are looking back in 2017 and see what a big difference your help made in our lives. And when we say that, the first thought which comes in our mind is the detector smoke system that saved our lives. As you know, last year we went through a fire, but we are grateful to God and to you because there were no victims. The detector smoke alarm turn on and woke people up. One of the room was burnt up but no one was injured. And we are the only service from Child Protection from our county who have this detector smoke system.

You not only saved our lives but you brought color in our world. Every corner of our rooms with joyful butterflies and flowers stuck on the walls brings color and life  and makes this place a friendly one.And the blessing from you continued to pour out. All the clothes, toys, shoes, sweets, fire extinguishers came to satisfy the needs of our moms and their children from our and not only for them. Other moms and their children who were in need, who couldn’t be accommodated in our centre because of limited space,benefited of your help.

Our partnership and friendship created a new beautiful partnership with local fire department. It’s amazing how a common goal joined people together and made them like a family.

We feel you as part of our family, and appreciate that you always ask us about our moms and their children.

Thank you for all that you have done in our lives and may God bless you!

We are looking forward to see you again and you are welcome anytime here.

Kind regards,  team and the beneficiaries


 A Shrewsbury primary school head teacher has praised Rotary for helping its children improve their reading. Charlie Summers, head of the Grange Primary School, Shrewsbury, told members and partners of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club that the reading support they provide was ‘greatly helping’ pupils.

“With the help of Rotarians and partners children are becoming more confident with their reading,” said Charlie. In addition, it is also having a grandparent figure guiding them, and the conversation, language and the vocabulary is having an impact on their confidence. I can’t tell you what a difference this makes and I can’t thank you enough for everything you have done for us.”

Charlie completed the presentation by highlighting how Rotary’s contribution to the school, both financial and reading support, had greatly helped the school and was ‘very much appreciated.’

“We are now looking at enriching the curriculum,” she added. She described her role at the school as a ‘journey’ to face the challenges ahead.  “At the same time, we are celebrating the things you have helped us with and the difference Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has made.”



 At a charity cheque presentation from the latest Rotary Tree of Light, the Mayor, Councillor Jane Mackenzie, described as ‘fantastic’ the amount raised for her charity. She told members and guests of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club: “You will be making a difference to Shropshire Recovery Partnership. It is tremendous that through the Tree of Light you have chosen to support my charity which helps with alcohol and other issues. We all know of somebody who has suffered from alcohol or other addictions which effects family and friends. A lot of young people see others just give up, lives are lost and they think nothing can be done. In a rural county people are living in isolation and deprivation and turn to drink and are ashamed to get the help they deserve. My job is removing that stigma and giving young people the help they need. In the coming months it will definitely make a big difference.”

The Mayor was one of three beneficiaries of cheques for £2,701 resulting from the Rotary Tree of Light at St. Mary’s Church. Jo Garrard, of the Shropshire Recovery Partnership, told how the charity helped individuals with alcohol, drugs and other abuses to recover, get back into the community as well as into work. “It is helping individuals in their recovery and enables people to get back into education and on courses. The Mayor has been phenomenal this year,” said Jo, “and with this money Rotary will be making a difference to people’s lives.”

The other recipients of similar cheques were Ray Smith, Chair of the League Friends, said the money would assist in buying a new MRI scanner. “We had limited investigations with the old scanner and with the new scanner we have been told it is all singing and dancing and offers us many more disciplines to examine patients.

Shrewsbury now has two machines and the real benefit is you have worked hard to help us so that patients will no longer have to be shipped out elsewhere. When patients are shipped out this costs us money so we shall be saving money.  It will attract people into the trust for examination so that other trusts will be transferring people to Shrewsbury. So this is an important addition to our army of equipment in the hospital.”

The third recipient was Maria Jones, fundraising executive for Air Ambulance Shropshire, who said they were ‘grateful’ to be chosen as one of the Tree of Light recipients. “We receive no government nor lottery finance so we rely on donations every year.  We have to raise £9 million each year.  We can’t do it without people like yourselves. We have taken delivery of a superb new helicopter costing £7 million so it is thanks to people like yourselves who have helped us raise a fantastic amount of money. The Tree of Light donation will make a huge difference to us.  We are very proud of the helicopter and money from the Tree of Light will save somebody’s life.”

 Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has also acknowledged the support of Tesco for allowing their other major fundraising event, the Santa sleigh, onto its Harlescott site. President Colin Sharp told Rachel Hartley, Tesco ‘Community Champion,’ that they were a large contributor to the £6,500 collected last Christmas. He added that the evening was a ‘celebration of our contribution as a club to the community.’

The Mayor with (left to right) Mr. Tony Parsons, Mayor’s Consort, Charlie Summers, Head Teacher and Beverley Williams, Safeguarding and Parent Support, Grange Primary School, who were both speakers, and Rotarian Colin Sharp, President of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club 

 (Left to right) Rotarian Iain Gilmour, Tree of Light organiser, Ray Smith, Maria Jones, Rotarian Colin Sharp, Shrewsbury Rotary Club President and Jo Gerrard. Shropshire Recovery Partnership responsible for building recovery in the community President of Shrewsbury Rotary Club Colin Sharp and Rachel Hartley



 Past President Mervyn Davies made a striking impression at Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club when he wore a colourful shirt given to him on a very recent visit to the city of Durgapur in West Bengal. The blue shirt was a gift from one of the schools that benefit from the Church of North India which carries out missionary and community work, not only for schools, but hospitals and eye clinics as well as providing nurse education and vocational training.

Mervyn was part of a group from the United Reformed Church, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, who were guests of the Right Reverend Dr. Probal Kanto Dutta, Bishop of Durgapur, at their annual thanksgiving service. Whilst there, Mervyn saw the caring of poor children in child development centres, including six hostels for those without a home.  In total, 350 children are in care. The group took a train trip to visit a safe house near the Bangladesh border which is home to children who have been the victims of human trafficking.  The construction of the hostel, as well as the running costs, have been financed by a legacy to the United Reformed Church.

Mervyn and a colleague visited two years ago to discuss how the legacy could be used.  “It was a privilege to be in a position to be a part of bringing this to fruition and seeing the girls happy and secure. “Whilst there we were also able to agree to pay for two computers from a donation given to me shortly before I left.”

The group was also guests of the Rotary Club of Aerocity Durgapur who transported them to a school that they had started for children with special needs. He said Aerocity was only chartered in 2012, but already had 15 major projects supported by Rotary global grants.

Added Mervyn:  “This was my second visit to Durgapur and the warmth of welcome from all whom I met was undiminished – we are now old friends.  It is humbling and heartening to see the fantastic work that is being done by both the church and Rotary.” One of the highlights of the visits has been the cultural shows featuring dancing by children in the child development centres.  One hostel has a strings orchestra hopefully visiting the UK in May.

Mervyn displays his colourful shirt with Colin Sharp, Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President



At age 96, World War 1 veteran Jim Penny can definitely be described as a ‘treasure’ of peace in our time. He superbly described the importance of Bomber Command to an attentive and enthusiastic Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club meeting on February 20.

To a larger than normal attendance of nearly 40 members and guests, the veteran campaigner described how he had volunteered on his 18th birthday on July 19 1940 and entered Bomber Command where he was based at RAF Shawbury between January and March 1943. His story was riveting.  The bravery unbelievable.  Jim was a prisoner of war from November 25 1943 to May 1 1945.

He described how he was blown out of a plane.  He pulled his parachute and admitted he was ‘petrified.’  He landed in someone’s back garden.

Bomber Command air crews were volunteers and 55,575 died in action.  He was one of 9,838 who became prisoners of war. He described the stalegs, his liberation and how the Lancasters were a ‘wonderful aircraft – so light in control.’ He said building aircraft took such a long time and politicians were doing now what happened then – ‘not supporting the military sufficiently.’

And he produced some poignant quotes.  Neville Chamberlain:  ‘Peace for our time’ in 1938.  And Winston Churchill:  ‘The fighters are our salvation, but the bombers alone provide the means of victory.”

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has agreed to donate £100 to the RAF Benevolent fund.


Jim (left) and Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Colin Sharp with copies of Jim’s memoirs.



The three Atlantic Ladies Rowers were in for a surprise when they landed in Antigua.

They have been promised a donation of £250 from Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club towards their charities Relapsing Polychondritis UK, Alzheimer’s Society and Motor Neurone Disease Assocation.The news has been emailed to Di Carrington, 62, of Pontesbury, where Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s President Colin Sharp also lives.

He has written:  “On behalf of the Rotary Club of Shrewsbury Severn I am writing to wish you, Sharon and Elaine the very best in the final few hours of your epic journey which we have been closely following. To celebrate your achievement I confirm that we shall be donating £250 to your four charities. Perhaps when you are recovered please let me know the best way for us to make the payments.

“Yours in admiration.”

 Di, together with Sharon Magrath, 54, of Bayston Hill, and Elaine Theaker, 54, from Abergavenny, have rowed 3,000 miles across the Atlantic in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge which started last December 12.  They have also set three new world records.They visited Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club shortly before departing for what is regarded as the world’s toughest row.



President Colin with Sharon and Di



 Severn Hospice say they are ‘incredibly grateful’ for a large donation resulting from a Santa beard shave.

 A sum of more than £800, when gift aid is taken into account, was raised by Rotarian Peter Love of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club who handed the money to hospice community fundraising adviser Mike Perry last night (Monday). There will also be further funds from fellow Rotarian Gordon Duncan who had his beard – and head – shaved for the hospice. The joint beard shave was in memory of late Rotarian Tony Cook who along with the other two had also gone under the razor raising money for charity.

 Said Mike:  “We are delighted to be the beneficiaries of the now annual beard shave following Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s Christmas activities. “We are very grateful for the support they have given and it is a real privilege to be part of this once again so many thanks to those involved. We rely on the generosity of the public for two thirds of our income every single year and this will help to achieve that once again.”

 Said Peter:  “I am grateful to all the wonderful people who have enabled me to support the hospice.”

 He invited a number of sponsors to the cash handover including Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, Arthurs Vauxhall, Harwood The Estate Agent and Mrs. Hilary Mansell.


Peter puts some cash into the Severn Hospice money box watched by (left to right) David Goldthorpe (Arthurs Vauxhall), Patrick Smitheman and Dean Millington (both Harwood The Estate Agent), Joanne Aird (Arthurs Vauxhall), Hilary Mansell and Colin Sharp (Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President)



 A Rotary club has agreed to support worthwhile charitable and other causes to the tune of more than £3,000 and the donations to be made by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club include a local school and youth club.

The club has agreed a donation to the Grange Primary School to cover the provision of books, some other essential items and also support for pupils to attend a Rotary ‘Kids Day Out’ initiative. They have also pledged support to Harlescott Youth Club to enable between 10 and 15 young people to visit a small zoo in Telford and then go on to Ironbridge to take in one or more of the museums.

 The club has set aside a sum of money to host this year’s Christmas party for elderly people and will be making a donation to St. Mary’s Church for hosting its Tree of Light event. Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club is also supporting Crucial Crew, which will be meeting at Nesscliffe Army Camp from June 4-15.  In addition the club will send volunteers.

The Ladies Atlantic Rowers, who are now less than 700 miles from , will be given support for their four charities.



 Entrepreneurs in developing countries are to benefit from an extra £300 a year – possibly for the next three years. Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club is increasing its ‘Lendwithcare’ support which started with an original investment of £1,200.

 The club is looking to invest sums of £50-£60 to help individuals or small groups of people to generate employment in countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia and Rwanda. Since the club launched the scheme it has not experienced any defaults and believes that progressive investment by £300 each year is the way forward for the scheme to grow.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club is also investing in a further ShelterBox costing approximately £600 for emergency disaster relief.



 They grow their beards for Santa sleigh shifts then they have them professionally shaved off to raise money for charity.

 And it was no different once again this year for Rotarians Gordon Duncan and Peter Love but this time the cause was different.

 Their beard shaves were in support of the Severn Hospice who cared for and supported one of their fellow Rotarians when he was seriously ill. Sadly, Rotarian Tony Cook passed away in January, but fully favoured the beard shave going ahead to raise much needed funds for the hospice. Tony had been a fellow beard shaver in the past – they were known as ‘The Three Muskateers’ - and it was therefore in his memory that the latest public shave off took place.

 Severn Hospice provided a pop-up poster banner as a backdrop and the cameras started clicking as Risdon’s Barbering of Shrewsbury began the ticklish job of shaving. Peter was only sponsored for his beard shave off, but Gordon clearly had a head start – a full over shave.  And both exclaimed afterwards that they felt the cold.


The pair is confident of raising a few hundred pounds for the Severn Hospice and they thank their supporters for their generous and kind donations.



 As many as 45,000 children will be immunised against polio as a result of a Shropshire Rotary club’s contribution to an international campaign. The staggering figure was revealed to members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club by immediate past District Governor John Sayer who thanked the club for donating $3,750 last year to the Rotary District’s End Polio Now Campaign. 

Said John:  “Last year Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club was one of the top donators to Rotary End Polio Now Campaign in the district that covers Shropshire, Staffordshire and parts of the West Midlands. Together with the Bill Gates Foundation uplift, this will immunise 45,000 children and I thank you for that on their behalf and I am presenting the club with a certificate signed by the president of Rotary International and chair of the Rotary Trustees.” 


Left to right Shrewsbury Severn past president Donald Thompson, in whose year the donation was made, current club president Colin Sharp and immediate past District Governor John Sayer who is presenting the certificate



Charities and worthwhile local causes will be the beneficiaries of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s hugely successful fundraising activities in the lead-up to Christmas. For the Rotary Tree of Light at St. Mary’s Church raised approximately £6,500 for three charities, Air Ambulance, Royal Shrewsbury Hospital League of Friends and Shropshire Recovery Partnership. This record amount, achieved with the support of the other Shrewsbury Rotary Clubs, is about £500 more than the previous year.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s own Santa sleigh, which toured villages and streets in Shrewsbury as well as visiting supermarkets, raised a further £6,000 for local and Rotary charities.

Said Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s President Colin Sharp:  “This is an excellent achievement on the part of our members who worked extremely hard to make both projects such a huge success. “Once again we would also like to express our most grateful thanks for the generous support of members of the public, without whom this significant fundraising achievement would not have been possible.”



Rotarian Iain Gilmour, organiser of Shrewsbury Rotary’s long-standing Tree of Light, has praised the work of the national charity The Churches Conservation Trust which supports St. Mary the Virgin, the only complete medieval church in Shrewsbury with its world famous stained glass as well as having one of the tallest spires in England. He was responding with a vote of thanks to Mahalia France-Mir, community fundraiser for The Churches Conservation Trust, who gave a talk to members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club on January 16.

Mahalia travelled from her base in Leeds to visit Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club where she spoke of the work of the trust and emphasised its need for help and support to raise funds. Rotarian Iain said Rotary had now used St. Mary’s for two years for the Tree of Light and the church had proved to be a ‘fantastic venue,’ mainly because the tree was under cover and locked up at night. “This has been a huge success for us,” said Iain, “with Christmas time at St. Mary’s providing a tremendous footfall with its craft fair attracting over 1,000 visitors and we handed out 2,500 leaflets that attracted nearly 50 new Tree of Light donors – we need a few more each year to make up for those we lose. We would like in the future to establish a closer relationship with The Churches Conservation Trust to see whether there are other fundraising activities we can organise, particularly in the summer.”

Mahalia spoke of the work The Churches Conservation Trust was doing in support of St. Mary’s, but emphasised the need for financial help to continue with a more sustainable strategy. “St. Mary’s is an amazing Gothic building and we would like it to be used even more.  It is a hub where everyone wants to go and we thank Rotary for the Tree of Light.”

Sadly, St. Mary’s was a victim of lead theft on two separate occasions last year, leaving the charity with costs of several thousand of pounds to replace the lead and repair the damage to the historic building. A more recent incident in which someone hid in the church and helped themselves to money was passed on to the police. Mahalia added that The Churches Conservation Trust was a small charity with an expenditure of £11m to look after more than 350 redundant churches which she said was ‘not an easy task’ when they dated back 1,000 years. “For every pound spent, 95.2p is used directly in charitable activities, with every 4.4p spent on raising income and 0.4p on running costs.”

Mahalia added that the ‘Splendours of Shrewsbury’ would be part of the trust’s programme of historic church tours in 2018.  St. Mary’s, the Abbey and St. Chad’s were in the walking tours itinerary for Saturday July 14.

Mahalia and Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Colin Sharp with The Churches Conservation Trust historic church tours and events 2018 brochure



There is always something new coming along and a major requirement for extremely clean engine components to give the engine a longer life is just one of the examples highlighted. Roy Haworth, Advanced Premium Engineer, emphasised the importance of ‘high quality, long lasting’ plastic automotive parts during a visit by Shrewsbury Severn Rotarians to MAHLE Filter Systems UK Ltd. Sixteen Rotarians had a ‘whistle stop’ tour of the Halesfield factory which makes cylinder head covers and air intake systems, among other things, from automotive grade plastics which have strong physical properties. He said it was in the 1970’/80’s when plastics started to increase their appearance  under the bonnet of vehicles and today MAHLE not only supplies engine systems and components, but also filtration and other auxiliary products in its portfolio.

“MAHLE makes everything required for the engine,” said Roy, “including sound generators - which help to tune engine sounds - and also makes other vehicle systems such as heating and ventilation.   The Telford factory runs 24 hours a day with around 230 employees on the books. We make parts for a number of vehicle manufacturers, including Bentley and Daimler. Plastic moulding and joining is a lot of what we do here in Telford.  We make separate shells which, when separated from the moulds, are joined together using a variety of plastic welding techniques, such as vibration welding and ultrasonic welding.  In addition, traditional hot plate welding is used as well as newer techniques such as hot gas processes.

“If you want to build an engine for power output, there is no problem putting sufficient fuel in.  The problem is normally getting sufficient air in.  To do that, computational fluid dynamics helps to design the air ducts and air cleaners for the most streamlined internal flow. The intake system takes air into the air cleaner through the dirty side ducts and out through the ’clean side ducts’ to the engine.  Flow sensors measure how much air is going through at a time, acoustic resonators help to control the intake noise, and isolators such as bellows may also be included to reduce vibration transmission from the engine to the vehicle body,” added Roy.

A visit to the test and development laboratory saw the testing of filter elements and in a semi anechoic chamber an example of acoustic testing. Said Rotarian Tim Hughes who organised the Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club visit to MAHLE:  “I admire Roy because he is a multi-talented person. He is currently the choirmaster at The Shrewsbury URC church, where of course Rotary held a Christmas party for the elderly, and is an accomplished organist.”



 Over 60 Rotarians and guests enjoyed a variety show at Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s Christmas party which took place on their last meeting in December. Alan Birchall, a former member of the Black and White Minstrels, related amusing anecdotes and accompanied by a three piece band, each of whom had been members of the famous Joe Loss band, entertained everyone with an array of popular songs.



In its three week long programme of visits, the Rotary Santa sleigh never looked more colourful or festive than on this special occasion. It was very appropriate that the refurbished sleigh which belongs to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club was out in snow for the first time for many years. The Santa sleigh has brought an endless amount of joy and happiness to many local children once again and none more so than on this school visit.



 “Many years’ ago, I had a life changing experience,” Shrewsbury Darwin Rotarian Roy Bound told Shrewsbury Rotary’s evening club, Shrewsbury Severn. What could that be, thought members of Shrewsbury Severn?

 Roy, 22 at the time, was an electrician at Hartley Electromotives in Shrewsbury and two electricians, as well as other tradesmen, were needed for an installation in South Georgia. “The Cold War was on at the time,” recalled Roy.  “But I volunteered to be one of the electricians who would visit the island which is 100 miles long and 20 miles wide – virtually nothing there apart from animals. South Georgia has more animals per square mile than any place in the world.”

This didn’t deter Roy who was born at Stokesay Castle and grew up with animals on a 650 acre farm.  The life changing moment happened when he was at Hartley Electromotives. He had volunteered to be an electrician for the construction of a three storey building on St. Georgia which was commissioned on behalf of the Crown Agents.  They provided a specification and he worked out all the electrics. “We had to do everything,” said Roy, “from 6 in the morning until 8 at night and we were each paid £1,200 with a £200 bonus.  I bought a brand new Saab car and I call it a life changing moment because I have never since been short of money.”

 He worked on site in snow and mud which he described as ‘incredible.’  He continued:  “On Boxing Day there were two inches of snow and it was cold putting the roof on – you hung onto each other for dear life – there was no Health and Safety and no scaffolding.  It was physically heavy work without a crane, everything was done virtually by hand and the building was built by 20 blokes.

 “The food and drink was supplied by the Norwegians and they would come in at 2 in the morning and we had to be up by 5.” He said the building was designed to do with whaling on the island at a cost of a ‘load of money’ - £1.4m.  He recalled that many years’ later the unused building was burnt down. In addition to his work as an electrician, he was involved in laying underground cables as well as laying all the tiles in the recreation room which he described as a ‘most beautiful place’ with lots of glaciers.

 “We were there in 1962-63, it was hard graft and I have never worked so hard in my life.  But we wanted the bonus.”

 A vote of thanks was given by Shrewsbury Severn Rotarian Mike Mortimer who served in the Royal Navy and described St.Georgia as a ‘fascinating place in many ways.’

 Roy (left) and Colin Sharp, President of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, with a selection of artefacts that were shown to the meeting.



 Santa spent a morning personally presenting every child in Reception and Key Stage One at The Grange Primary School inShrewsbury with a book for Christmas. A total of 270 books were handed out to pupils aged three to eleven as part of a Christmas donation to the school from Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. The club’s President Colin Sharp and Youth Opportunities Officer Kerry Ferguson accompanied Santa as he visited pupils from seven classrooms.

 The schools’ Headteacher Charlie Summers said afterwards:  “Pupils in key stage one, reception and nursery have all enjoyed meeting Father Christmas. Each of the children unwrapped their presents whilst Santa was visiting and this made it very special.  It was in fact a very special day for them and definitely makes a difference for many of our children. We try to make Christmas time a very happy period because some of our children don’t have very much at Christmas so unwrapping their books means a great deal to them. We shall also be celebrating Christmas Jumper Day as well as having a Christmas meal with crackers to pull and hats to wear. We shall be giving hampers to particular families so that they have Christmas in a box.”

 Said Shrewsbury Severn Rotary’s President Colin:  “The Headteacher made a reference to the books making a difference and it just so happens that the current Rotary theme is ‘Making a difference.’

We are trying to make a difference through providing a service to others and promoting integrity through goodwill and peace.”

Said Rotarian Kerry Ferguson:  “We are delighted to have a close relationship with the school and provide support in a number of ways, especially regular reading with key stage one children. It was lovely to see the delight on the children’s faces when they opened their present and, hopefully, it will help them to develop their reading skills and all the enjoyment that brings.”



Donations totalling £750 have been presented to the Home Start Shropshire charity by the Rotary club of Shrewsbury Severn. The club has been so impressed with the support and friendship Home Start offers to parents with young children throughout Shropshire so that every child can have a good start in life.

Speaking to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, Carol Brown, a trustee of Home Start, told members that school readiness was ‘really important’ and this included how to eat together as well as talking about the school day so that any difficulties could be addressed at the beginning before they became a bigger problem. Carol, who herself had five brothers and a sister, told Rotarians:  “As a family we sat down and ate together every day, though I recognise that families today don’t necessarily have a table, often due to lack of space, so there is less chance to talk about what children have been doing during the day.  “In addition, Home Start is about building confidence and a rapport with people and, if you get it right, in my experience those children will be okay,” she told Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. She said the Rotary donation would pay for their next preparation course to recruit and train at least 20 new volunteers to support families in homes in Shropshire, particularly Shrewsbury, Ludlow and Oswestry.

Introducing Carol, Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s Youth Opportunities Officer Kerry Ferguson spoke of Shropshire’s social mobility issues measured by the Social Mobility Commission. Out of 324 local authority areas across the country, Shropshire came 237th in social mobility – even though the county has relatively low unemployment. The county scores in the top third for attainment in early years, 125th out of 324, but performances then decline so that youth attainment is 292nd

Carol thanked the club on behalf of Home Start Shropshire and said it was ‘fantastic’ to have some new money that had not already been earmarked for projects. “I am really overwhelmed and the club’s generous donation will be used to help disadvantaged families throughout the county”.



 Rotarians have been thanked for providing transport for more than 80 elderly people to be able to attend a carol service and afternoon tea in Shrewsbury.

 Members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club took the elderly to the United Reformed Church, Abbey Foregate, either in their own cars or in a Dial a Ride bus voluntarily driven by Rotarian Bob Scaiff. The service of carols and lessons was conducted by the Rev. Meriel Chippindale with the introduction and thanks delivered by Rotarian Colin Sharp, President of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. He said Rotary’s theme was ‘Making a Difference’ and he hoped that the event would make a difference for everyone attending this Christmas time. After the service, the guests were served afternoon tea by wives and partners of Rotarians and Santa made a ‘surprise’ appearance, handing out festive gifts to the visitors.

Entertainment was provided by musicians Rotarian Garth Joscelyne and Alan Leather and members of the club formed a choir to sing for the first time, accompanied by the musicians. It was the third event of its kind and once again organised by Rotarian John Yeomans. A spokesperson from one of the day centres said that the organisation and transport was ‘greatly appreciated’ by the visitors, without which such an enjoyable service could not take place.



The importance of Rotary’s Tree of Light in Shrewsbury was specially highlighted in two addresses at its dedication service last night (Sunday). A large congregation, which included the Mayor and High Sheriff, were told that the first appearance of any Tree of Light in the UK was due to the efforts of the Reverend Paul Firmin who took the service at St. Mary’s Church last night (Sunday). He picked up the idea from a local parishioner who had seen the project in South Africa, and the idea has now spread to many other Rotary clubs as well as to other organisations in the UK.

In a welcome on behalf of the three Rotary clubs in Shrewsbury, Rotarian Colin Sharp, President of Shrewsbury Severn, told the congregation:  “The idea is to give donations to charitable causes in memory of those dear to us who have passed on, whether they are family, friends or colleagues.The outward symbols are the tree, a traditional symbol of Christmas, and the lights symbolising those whom we are remembering.  Our theme is service and the three charities who will benefit this year are perfect examples of the ethos of service and making a difference.”

One of the charities, Midlands Air Ambulance, was affectionately referred to by Mandy Thorn when she addressed the congregation. Mandy, past president of Shrewsbury Darwin Rotary, was standing in for the club’s senior vice president Colin Ames. “Last Sunday morning at 6.30 am Colin had a heart attack.  He was found by his partner Margaret who called 999.  When paramedics arrived they realised he was critical and sent for the Air Ambulance.

“The Air Ambulance arrived less than 10 minutes after it had been called and within one and a half hours Colin was at Stoke, having three stents fitted into one of the arteries in his heart.  He is now home and recovering well.  Without Air Ambulance we wouldn’t have Colin now.”

The two other charities benefiting from Tree of Light donations this year are Royal Shrewsbury Hospital League of Friends and Shropshire Recovery Partnership, the Mayor’s local charity.

The choir Of One Accord also took part in the service of dedication and donations can continue to be made in memory of a loved one by sponsoring a light on the tree.  Details on the website www.shrewsburyrotary.co.uk



In a building that had been a supermarket, BBC Radio Shropshire opened nearly 33 years’ ago. With parking all around, the building at 2-4 Boscobel DriveShrewsbury, was considered to be a great location for a radio station.

Managing Editor Tim Beech went on to tell a party of more than 20 members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club:  “We need to sound as if we are where the listener is. “We have to be aware of where the listener is and have an emotional connection.  This is a good location for that reason and not being in the centre is not necessarily a disadvantage to us.”

He told Rotarians that Radio Shropshire was in the third first tranche of radio stations in 1985 and was working with equipment of the 80’s.They were not using computers and the first BBC computer came in in 1989.  It was an old fashioned analogue radio station with digital later added on to it. The studio was 20 years old and was analogue.  So investment was made in 2007 and the following year Radio Shropshire moved into a portakabin in the car park where they broadcast for 11 months while the building was completely stripped. Open plan had become more popular for sharing ideas and creative thoughts.

“We thought we might be in a period of expansion which included local digital TV,” said Tim.  “Digital journalists were working on 10 minute bulletins. A super local news video service gathered for radio on line and pushed out on different platforms.  But one of the reasons we didn’t do this was financial.The BBC found it tougher and local newspapers were concerned about falling circulations.  The Shropshire Star now sells about 25,000 which is one of the better performing newspapers.

The BBC Trust restricted expansion into online local news so we went back to being a radio station which has been the core of our service for 33 years. We are at core a radio service and we constantly finish in the top three in the country, having 100,000 plus listen to Radio Shropshire for five minutes at least each week. Two thirds of our audience is 50-plus so the music is aimed at that demographic. We are thinking all the time about who we are delivering our service to.  We will be introducing new programmes outside our core hours and targeting specific audiences outside our normal demographic. Over the next year after 7 o’clock our audience will turn the radio on for people who make music.  We will carve out a niche and have something a little bit different.  Support after 7 is a big enough audience.”

He also told Rotarians:  “We are broadcasting live on the internet and more people listen at home than in the car.  For people who live alone or are isolated, radio is often company and a backdrop to their lives. We don’t want you for 10 minutes – we want you to stay with us.  We therefore want presenters you want to spend time with. Radio listening is habit forming and there is a relationship with the presenter. We love Shropshire which is part of what we are selling.  So we don’t want Shropshire to be unduly criticised or feeling miserable. People turn the radio on to be cheered up, not to be depressed about where they live.”

He said the job of local radio was to give people sufficient information to form an opinion themselves.  “We don’t put a conclusion to it. We don’t have an opinion.  And impartiality has to include fairness. It is about helping people to understand and they can form what opinion they like.”

On a tour of the building, Rotarians experienced the two recording studios, identical and facing each other. My job is to have the presenters comfortable on air,” he said. Tim also introduced Rotarians to their broadcast van called a ‘Verv’ which enables the use of satellite. He said the beauty of satellite was a cleaner signal, while wi-fi is an alternative for broadcasting without delays.

Tim Beech (front) shows visiting Rotarians round the newsroom

Rose Ashton, Assistant Editor, at work in the newsroom

The newsroom was quiet

The BBC Radio Shropshire broadcast van ‘Verv’



A small working party of Rotarians is planting 5,000 purple crocus corms in the grounds of Shrewsbury’s Abbey Church.

Vicar of the Abbey, Rev. Paul Firmin, enthusiastically welcomed the offer of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club to plant the crocus bulbs which will provide a stunning spectacle for visitors next springtime.

The crocus planting team, under the organisation of Rotarian Alun Humphreys (right), included (left to right) Rotarians Bob Scaiff, Chris Heaven, Fred McDonogh and John Yeomans. The planting is part of the Rotary Purple4Polio campaign with the purchase of bulbs supporting the funding of eradicating polio from the world.



Rotarians photographed busily at work stuffing envelopes with important pieces of information regarding the forthcoming Tree of Light charity fundraiser. Work has started on preparing many hundreds of personalised letters which will shortly be sent out to existing Tree of Light sponsors of the lights. For a minimum donation of £5, recipients will receive an illuminated light on the Rotary Tree of Light situated in the belltower of St. Mary’s Church, ShrewsburyThe tree, which is visible from St. Mary’s Street when the church is open during the day, will be illuminated with lights in memory of loved ones in the lead up to Christmas.

For those who do not receive an envelope, forms are available at St. Mary’s Church and also online at www.shrewsburysevernrotaryclub.co.uk

Said organiser Rotarian Iain Gilmour on behalf of the three Shrewsbury-based Rotary clubs involved in the project:  “We are working very hard to ensure that this year’s Tree of Light is the best supported in the 22 years it has been running and so far raising £132,000 for charities. “I am most grateful to the members of the Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club who spent their last meeting stuffing envelopes with important pieces of information regarding the purchase of lights on the Tree of Light. A really good number of Rotarians attended the meeting to ensure that the task was successfully completed on time because this really needs a concerted effort to post out envelopes to meet deadlines. There will be a Rotary Tree of Light dedication service at St. Mary’s Church on Sunday November 26 at 7.00 pm to which all those who sponsor lights, as well as others who are interested, are warmly invited. We look forward to a good attendance at the service which will be attended by the Mayor of Shrewsbury and the High Sheriff. The Rev. Paul Firmin, Vicar of the Abbey Church, will officiate.”

This year’s Tree of Light will support the Mayor’s charity Shropshire Recovery Partnership, the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital League of Friends and the Air Ambulance.



Elderly Shrewsbury people who will be invited to this year’s Christmas party organised by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club are in for a pleasant surprise. For members of the club will form a choir to entertain up to 80 elderly who will sit down to a festive tea following a traditional carol service at the United Reformed Church, Abbey Foregate. Organiser Rotarian John Yeomans said the event on December 3 would include a ‘sing song’ as well as the appearance of Santa to entertain the guests, many of whom are transported to and from the party by Rotarians. The latest carol service and afternoon tea is the third which the club has organised for elderly local people.



The ever-popular Santa sleigh programme in Shrewsbury and surrounding villages gets underway on November 15 at the switch-on of the town’s Christmas lights. Members of the Rotary Club of Shrewsbury Severn will again be manning the sleigh which will be located at the top of Pride Hill from 4.30 pm until 7.30 pm. 

Donations will be for local and Rotary charities with the club having already strongly supported a number of local causes during the year. Following the Pride Hill event, the Santa sleigh will move on to Pontesbury on December 3 and Shawbury Village Hall on December 4 followed by Hadnall on December 6. The sleigh with Santa and his elves will then be at Greenfields Primary School on December 8 and at Asda from 10.00 am to 8.00 pm on December 9 followed by a return visit on December 9 from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm. The sleigh will be in the northern part of the town on December 11 when it visits Mount Pleasant between 6.00 pm and 8.30 pm and two days later will be in Castlefields for a similar period. 

On December 15 the sleigh will be at Tesco from 10.00 am to 8.00 pm moving on to Bomere Heath the following day from 5.00 pm to 8.00 pm. Then it is to Sainsbury’s on December 18 and 19 – from 10.00 am to 8.00 pm on the 18th and 12.00 to 6.00 on the 19th. It is the turn of Sundorne for the sleigh on December 20 from 6.00 pm to 8.30 pm and, as a finale, Morrison’s.  The sleigh concludes its Christmas programme with two visits. The first is on December 23 from 10.00 am to 8.00 pm and the last from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm on Christmas Eve.

Said Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Colin Sharp:  “We are delighted to once again provide Santa and his sleigh to local people because it continues to be so very popular. We look forward to meeting many children and their parents during the exciting run-up to Christmas and we thank them in advance for their kind donations which we are therefore able to hand over in support of local and Rotary worthy causes. From past experience we know that the Santa sleigh with its elves is most popular wherever it appears and we can’t wait for the excitement to begin.”#



 A member of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club accompanied Operation Sabre on a trip to Romania, an outward journey of four days driving - in a fire engine.

 Rotarian Mike Mortimer described to the club visits to several disabled people’s places with a view to coming up with ideas for Rotary matching grants.The team he was with on the trip handed over five fire engines to different villages, one each day except the last day when two of the villages came together. He was able to see at first hand a shower room that Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has paid for with a donation of £1,500. 

“This has meant an awful lot to the residents” said Mike.  “For it includes under floor drainage, wash basins, shower and a toilet.  Previously the residents of this block had to be taken to the main building to use the shower and toilet facilities. “We also took three tonnes of various aid in the fire engines and this was distributed while we were out there.  

“It was a most successful trip which was very worthwhile, in particular the visit I made to the disabled people’s home made me realise how lucky we are in the UK. We had a very good time painting and decorating some of the residents’ rooms and we were privileged to be entertained by a fashion show with clothes made by the residents.” 

He said that while in Romania he had put together material for a power point presentation and would be presenting this to members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club at a future meeting. In the meantime, members and others can visit the club’s Facebook page to see the new bathroom Rotary has helped to fund.



 A meeting of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club received a surprise visitor Rotarian  Joseph Mathew from the Rotary Club of Mysore West, India. He is The District Governor Nominee 2019-20 of Rotary District 3181. He spoke briefly to Rotarians of the Shrewsbury Severn club to say his club is 47 years old. He was the president of the club during the year 2009-10. He was the Assistant Governor during the year 2012-13.  Presently, he is the Governor Nominee for the year 2019-20. 

The club has 73 members and sponsors nine other clubs. He invited members of Shrewsbury Severn to his conference which will be held in the third week of January 2019-20. Professor Mathew said that his club has a lot of on-going projects. It is running two schools, one occasional training centre and a further school for the mother and deaf. 

The Mother and Deaf institute is a unique institution in Asia where the mothers are taught how to communicate to the children through lip reading. Professor Mathew also said that another important on-going project was the save a child project where economically backward children were helped to conduct operations for major illnesses. “The problem of the age is keeping up with Indian society and we have a project called caring for elderly people where we help old people for dialysis who are economically backward. We also take the polio project very seriously.  We are grateful to Rotary for the eradication of polio in our country and we are now declared a polio free country.” 

He hoped that in the future his club and Shrewsbury Severn could have matching grants and common projects which would help both the clubs. “We can think of this in the future,” added Professor Matthew who brought the brief stay to a close by adding:  “I wish you all the very best.”

Professor Mathew was accompanied by his relative Surabhin Chackiath.


Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Colin Sharp welcomes Rotarian  Professor Joseph Matthew (centre) and Surabhin Chackiath



Two young people who have attended the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) course have voted it a ‘smash hit.’ Both Lois Ingram-Evans and Chris Davies told Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club that they found RYLA a ‘really good thing to do’ and that the course had helped them ‘enormously.’

Lois and Chris,  both 17, are the club’s latest sponsored candidates to participate at the RYLA camp at Kibblestone, Staffordshire, where they spent almost a week carrying out leadership exercises and personal development skills. They gave the club the assurance that their experience of RYLA had been so helpful that the Rotary sponsored course would continue to benefit future young people. Both Lois and Chris said that through the colleges and social media future youngsters with potential could be reached because, like them, they would benefit from the experience.

“We didn’t know what to expect and RYLA is a really good opportunity to offer people of our age,” said Chris who is currently studying A levels with a view to a university place to further his education in classics. “I wanted to improve my leadership skills.  I worked at that and know what my weaknesses are and everyone finished the week a better organiser,” he added.

Said Lois: “I have always wanted to be a nurse and RYLA has given me the starting block – this has really helped me.  It has made me more confident because I can achieve more than I thought. “I wanted to develop my leadership skills and I have now formed a Rainbow group.  These skills will help my development throughout life,” she added.

Chris and Lois praised the mentors who they said were ‘terrific’ and ‘made us feel welcome.’ “The week wouldn’t have worked without them, it was physically demanding and tiring,” said Chris.  “But everything is done for a reason. I wanted to do things outside my comfort zone and become more motivated and focused on my goals.  As a result I plan things better now at .”

President Colin Sharp welcomes Lois and Chris to the club



 Members and guests of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club enjoyed a meal with a difference away from their normal meeting place.

 Forty five Rotarians, partners and guests sat down to a three course evening meal at Origins Restaurant, London Road, where all dishes on the menu are prepared and served by students of Shrewsbury College.

 A wide choice of starters, mains and desserts in a very relaxed atmosphere were very much enjoyed by the visitors who pledged they will 'go again.'


In the photos, President Colin Sharp thanks the team at Origins and happy Rotarian John Yeomans with ‘posh nosh’ at Origins



 A team of Rotarians is currently giving up their spare time to ensuring a Santa sleigh is fit for purpose this Christmastide. They are putting in many hours in a unit on a trading estate to refurbish the Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club sleigh which will once again this year go into action in the run up to Christmas.

 A re-build of the sleigh body is needed after a number of years’ wear and tear as it tours Mid Shropshire villages and Shrewsbury housing estates as well as visits to local supermarkets. The Santa sleigh is the Rotary club’s main charity fundraiser and repair work has to be completed in time for its first public appearance, the switch on of the town’s Christmas lights on November 15.

 The refurbished sleigh will make its first appearance of the season at the lights switch on.  It will be stationed in its now familiar spot at the top of Pride Hill from 4.30 pm until 7.30 pm. Said Rotarian Gordon Duncan who heads up the team of repairers:  “All the external cladding will be new and we have strengthened some of the structure, including the steps for those getting on and off the sleigh. Work on the sleigh, which is a major job this year, has given us the opportunity to check the running gear and we have found that despite the weather conditions and the many miles that the sleigh travels during the lead up to Christmas, the underneath of the sleigh is remarkably sound.”

 Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Colin Sharp, who has visited the  refurbishment, praised the work of the team of Rotarians Gordon Duncan, Geoff Lloyd, Chris Yaxley and Fred McDonogh and also thanked Elizabeth Lowe, Head of Estates at Morris Property, for the loan of a unit to carry out the work. “As a fundraising organisation, we really appreciate the gift of the unit not only for the refurbishment to be carried out in excellent conditions, but also the fact that we can safely house the sleigh there during the busy Christmas period,” he added.


 President Colin Sharp (right) with Rotarians Chris Yaxley, Geoff Lloyd, Fred McDonogh and Gordon Duncan



There are not many people who can say they have rubbed shoulders with the legendary golfer Arnold Palmer, played at Gleneagles and caddied for 147 rounds of golf in seven months at the old course of St. Andrews. It was a ‘university of life,’ said Glaswegian Nigel Matthews in a job talk to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club on Tuesday October 3 and he confessed to being ‘absolutely astounded’ at the turnout on the night – 31 members in attendance.

“I was expecting one table at the most,” said Nigel whose theme was change, chance and attitude to his life which began in 1952 and his background in East Kilbride, a new town 10 miles from . “If you wanted to move to East Kilbride you had to go for an interview before a panel to discuss your status.  The allocation of a house was based on that. I grew up in a vibrant community with a rounded environment. “School days were all about sport, representing secondary school in nine sports and the county in five.  I was in the top 20 in in football and ended up at Tottenham, but something told me I had reached my peak. I never played soccer again.

“It was then I decided to play golf.  I changed direction and worked it out.  If I couldn’t play professional football, I could be a pro golfer. I applied for a number of assistant positions and got a post in . “I also applied to Gleneagles, the top drawer in terms of golf clubs. I went to London, but ended up at Gleneagles which was my university of life.

“In the 1975 Canoustie Open I was playing behind Sandy Lyle and for a second time I wasn’t going to be good enough – I couldn’t take my putter back.  What after golf?”

Nigel described a career that included working for giants like Procter & Gamble, Imperial Group, HP Golden Wonder and the Pru for whom he was in .

“I selected a job and the job selected me.  I then moved into an up and down phase of life which is where attitude comes in. Career wise, I have had lots of ups and downs as well as rocky phases.” Despite this, Nigel said he was proud to be the father of two ‘wonderful’ daughters who had both gone to university, had good jobs and were happily married. He told of the time he spent in Michigan where he was responsible for golfing products.  There were visa problems affecting him moving between the and , so he returned to the .  Eventually the visa problems were resolved and he returned to where he joined Rotary and became part of the community.

“However,” said Nigel, “I decided to come back.  My daughter and grandchild live in and a new whisky shop had opened on Wyle Cop. “I am not a whisky expert, but I know enough to sell competently and make it a nice experience for customers. I am happy. “I have lived in 28 houses, but I am making this my last stop and something more stable.  Thank you for the welcome and the opportunity to talk to you.”

On that note, Nigel opened a bottle of malt and had a celebratory drink.

PS He added in question time how he had been playing in front of the television cameras with Bernard Gallagher, Sam Torrance and Brian Barnes.  Every time they were on camera, a red light went on, but it went off when he was playing! 

Nigel and Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Colin Sharp sample a glass of malt.



 “I am doing it from the love of my heart,” said Paula Howells who has set up the Ebo Town CommunityNursery School in The Gambia, West Africa. Paula, who established the nursery two and a half years ago and will be returning for two weeks on November 28, told Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club:  “I am a Christian, but we respect the Muslim faith.

 “Muslims and Christians have become one.”

 Her heartfelt talk on running a school for 80 children aged three to seven in a desperately poor country, which although only a six and a half hour flight from Britain, relies on tourism which she described as ‘cheap sun.’ The school, like the Gambia said Paula, is 90% Muslim and 10% Christian.  However, religion is not taught and only English is spoken.  At the same time, it costs £2.08 a month for parents to send children to school when the average wage is £12 a month.

 Paula, of Shrewsbury, first went to The Gambia on holiday in 2014 with £200 in her pocket to find out whether this could help.  She quickly found out that children were being educated in ‘dire conditions’ including mud floors. She spent the £200 on putting in concrete floors and what she described as proper windows.  She started raising money and slowly, but surely, the project took off.

 “I couldn’t leave 100 children without education and my hubby and I said we can do it and we came up with the Ebo Nursery School and found a building to rent,” said Paula. In the end, they were able to provide free education for 80 children in two classes of 40, opening their doors for the first time in 2015.

 Paula explained how she employed – and sent for training – two teachers at a cost of £100 per teacher. “£25 a year will sponsor a child who gets two uniforms as well as pens and pencils.  We have children inoculated for rubella and we send out teams to the Gambia twice a year.” The education of Ebo children had been extended into the community with food and clothing support for families in a ‘dire’ state which had brought ‘smiles on faces.’

 She described what the community in The Gambia now needs, from food to bedding, cleaning products to tarpaulins, and how her charity had bought beds. “The recent flooding broke my heart,” said Paula. “and it is the rainy season at the moment.” She said she had a piece of land and plans passed for a school with classrooms, showers and toilets to accommodate an extra 40 children. But for this she needs £25,000 equivalent to 25 businesses each contributing £1,000.


Paula and Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Colin Sharp with the school uniforms of Ebo Town Nursery School



A Rotary club which has been asked to provide £800 to fund the opening of a youth club during the October half term has been to see for itself the activities taking place.

Rotarian Julian Wells, Vice President of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, described his visit to Harlescott Youth Centre as ‘very impressive.’

 “It is a thoroughly good project and they are doing great work,” he told Rotarians at the club’s latest meeting.

He said he found a group of 15 youngsters being constructively entertained.  Sports included a number of ball skill exercises including indoor football; a cookery class was making pancakes and there were arts and crafts taking place.

 “It wasn’t as undisciplined as we had feared,” said Julian.  “I have doubts whether any of our skills would be suitable to entertain or teach these youngsters, but there is no doubt in my mind it is an excellent project with regular attendees.

“It seems most appropriate for us to help fund professionals, who are dedicated to their roles, to manage the activities.

 “The only disappointing thing is they have built a wonderful raised garden and put a lot of effort into this, teaching the kids to grow vegetables and flowers in a large raised bed.

“But every cat in the neighbourhood is using it as a toilet which is tragic. It was difficult to see how this could be prevented without the addition of expensive additional fencing, but it was such a shame and rendered the garden unusable,” he added.



By Rotarian Bob Scaiff

A great evening out was set for the Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club on September 5. The walk from Shrewsbury Water Tower to the old water works in town followed the River Severn over lovely meadows and pastures and even the beaches, which are popular with young children to test the water, are still there.

Sandpipers had been nesting in the river banks, all deserted now, cormorants preparing to roost in the branches of a dead tree, goosanders are seen here regularly each year. Across the Doctor’s Field and finally passed the old fish traps and the Servern cut with its old pub for bargees to refresh themselves on the way into town. 

Across the river on the other side we could see the new houses and nursing homes alongside the Pig Trough and then the old wharf at Coton Hill, the site of the Southam’s famous brewery, the new Gateway with the new town walls alongside Lily’s Tea rooms and the Ferry post which was used for access across the river to the cattle market.

The old Victorian waterworks are still standing, but now converted to ‘green’ offices.  Around the Frankwell cricket and hockey club grounds and on the way there were fine views of the river and all the wildlife.

 It was a lovely walk that we planned. On the day it rained and rained and so instead we had a quick walk along the Dana to the prison, round the Quarry and a very pleasant time at the Anchor. This was followed by a fine Curry at the Third Place.

Enjoying the walk on the towpath near the English Bridge are left to right Rotarians Colin Sharp (President), Graham Hughes, Alun Humphreys, Chris Heaven, Chris Yaxley and Bob Scaiff.

On another part of the walk, next to Shrewsbury High School, are Rotarians Chris Heaven and Alun Humphreys




The specialist – and stressful - world of the removals industry, moving furniture from one place to another both in this country and overseas, has been described to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.

Members were given a fascinating insight into the removals and storage industry by newly installed Rotarian William Burden, a director of White & Company, one of the oldest – and largest - removal companies in the UK. He disclosed that 200 shipments a year, to places outside the EU, were made from the Telford office which as a main director he co-ordinated and these included a substantial amount of work for the Ministry of Defence. The shipments were to many different places where this country has a significant presence and included the Ascension Island in the middle of the Atlantic.

An experience he had learned during his 18 year career in the removals industry was that the goods they were packing and loading onto lorries or containers for ships was that the contents ‘meant the world’ to the owners. “Whilst the actual goods we move may not be very valuable, the artefacts can be priceless to their owners, and we have to be aware of that at all stages of the operation. The removal sector is only one part of the moving process, but it is the coalface of moving day.  When you see the red and white truck turn up, it is the culmination of often months of worry and heartache, anticipation and excitement.”

He spoke of the challenges.  “The grandfather clock, with a big tick tock, left to a family before the owner died, requires a most careful move.  Real care is what our customers want in terms of a successful move. “Items like a grandfather clock are often priceless to the family concerned.”

He said he had bookings up to next May, but the biggest single day of the removal calendar was Friday August 25 – a day that had been fully booked for at least six weeks. William added that moving house was considered one of the three most stressful events in life - alongside death and divorce.


William (left) on his induction into Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club



 Two of the three Atlantic Ladies Rowers impressed members of a Rotary club when they gave a detailed presentation on their forthcoming challenge to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

 They will row their seven metres long boat from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean as they participate in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2017 starting on December 12.

 Members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club questioned Di Carrington and Sharon Magrath as to what motivated them to participate in what is regarded as the world’s toughest row. “We are big risk takers and we are doing it to inspire people and the biggest thing is charity,” Di told Rotarians.  “We have each chosen a charity which to each of us means something special.” 

 After completing the row their boat Poppy and all their equipment will be sold with the proceeds being donated to their chosen charities Macmillan Cancer Support, Alzheimer’s Society – already a Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club Tree of Light charity – Motor Neurone Disease and Relapsing Polychondritis UK. One club member, Chris Yaxley, himself a rower in the past, gave a vote of thanks to the speakers and with a wry smile went as far as to say:  “I admire your determination and enthusiasm, but perhaps accepting the challenge is an act of complete lunacy!’

 The talk by Di, 61, of Pontesbury, and 54 year old Sharon, of Bayston Hill, afterwards provoked a lot of discussion as to the risks of facing all kinds of weather, from 40ft waves in waters where they may come face to face with sharks and jellyfish, to experiencing possible sleep deprivation, the pure physical ordeal and potential damage to their bodies. In discussions afterwards, their bravery was unquestioned by Rotarians, and those attending the presentation were in awe of three previously unseasoned rowers facing such a daunting challenge lasting for up to 70 days. “The message is if you want to do something badly enough, have the courage, get up and have a go,” said Di who left her audience with the adage:  “You can never cross an ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

 The trio includes Elaine Theaker, 54, from Abergavenny, who was unable to attend the presentation.  The Atlantic Ladies have only known each for a year so have come together as ‘strangers,’ but now know each other very well and share the determination to achieve their goal.

The 3,000 mile row will be undertaken in Poppy a red, newly designed prototype fibre glass and resin boat, which is seven metres long and 1.8 metres wide, the cost of which was £53,000. And the rowers – who will break several world records including being the oldest female trio to undertake the crossing - can be followed on Yellow Brick Races which is a free tracking application.

 The salute to the Atlantic Ladies from Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club members, was ‘bon voyage, God speed and fair wind and no obstacles in your way.’ The club looks forward to an ‘exclusive’ when the ladies return in the New Year.

The Atlantic Ladies Rowers will need a bucket (held by President Colin Sharp) and packs of food held by Sharon and Di



The latest newly inducted member of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club received a resounding cheer for a statement Rotarians found both pleasing and gratifying.

“This is the most enjoyable club during my review of the clubs in Shropshire,” Nigel Matthews told members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary on his induction. He thanked Rotarian Darryl Evans for his sponsorship and thanked members for the welcome they had provided him.

Nigel, a past member of the Flushing Rotary Club in Michigan, USA, is manager of the Whisky Shop, Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury, which said Darryl was ‘well worth a trip.’ President Colin Sharp welcomed Nigel as a new member of the club.  “This year we are told Rotary is about making a difference so I am sure you will make a difference.  We look forward to you with fellowship going forward.”

Newly installed Rotarian Nigel Matthews admires the Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club chain of office worn by its latest President Colin Sharp




A Rotary club which has lost two members to prostate cancer has handed over £1,000 to the charity in its latest fundraiser. The donation to Prostate Cancer UK has been made by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club in memory of the late Alan Eames.

The club previously lost a past president, Niel Kelly, to the same disease.

Alan was originally diagnosed with prostate cancer 10 years’ ago and wanted to do something to raise funds. He sold ‘outrageous’ ties to fellow Rotarians, family and friends, and this gesture, together with other donations, has helped towards a total of £1,000 for Prostate Cancer UK.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary’s cheque has also included Santa sleigh collection contributions.

Said Club President Colin Sharp:  “Alan was not only a tremendous character, but a magnificent Rotarian, and we shall never forget the wonderful work he did as an excellent Santa over many years. He brought so much happiness to so many children.”

Rotarians Kerry Ferguson, President Colin Sharp and Darryl Evans with their ‘outrageous’ ties.



Rotary making a difference in the diversity of local communities has been highlighted by Rotarian Carol Reilly, Rotary District Governor for Shropshire, Staffordshire and parts of the West MidlandsShe was paying an early visit in her year of office to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club where she questioned whether families in our communities and internationally had the means to adequately feed them and provide an adequate education for their children.

“If the answer to these questions is no, then we have to ask what as Rotarians we can do to help. I don’t feel Rotary celebrates or promotes itself enough when it comes to its public image, awareness and the good work we do.  People in our communities need to know what a great organisation we are.”

The District Governor emphasised the importance of humanitarian service and peace in our community, and that a peace fellow has been sponsored to study for a Masters in Peace and Humanitarian Service. In outlining Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s many activities, the Rotary District Governor told members:  “I want to come and work with you and work on your projects and work with you on your visits. The satisfaction we find in Rotary is because it reminds us week by week and year by year that we are making a difference.  Rotary is defined by what we do and we are the people of action.”

She presented Shrewsbury Severn Rotary’s President Colin Sharp with his theme badge for this Rotary year as well as the club theme banner.Said Colin:  “Your year of office will be one of making a difference and I know we all support you as much as we possibly can.”

The District Governor with President Colin as well as the new club theme banner



Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club considers its Lendwithcare scheme to be a great success.

To date £3,644 has been recycled and lent to overseas entrepreneurs in poorer countries which has helped them to develop, expand and sustain local business projects as well as employ local people and also help their community.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary say the current credit available to be lent is £353 with loans at £60 per time. So far there have been no defaults.



Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has agreed to a total spend of £5,500 in support of local and international organisations in the new Rotary year. Donations will cover a wide spread of activities, particularly those in which young people are involved.

The club’s commitment includes a donation to a local primary school for the further supply of books and equipment; a ShelterBox and the supply of materials for a toilet and shower facility for mentally and physically disabled people in Romania.

Rotarian Mike Mortimer will be visiting the Romanian project in October and planning to erect a Rotary plaque on a wall of the accommodation.



Exclusive behind the scenes viewings were excitedly experienced by members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club on a visit to Shrewsbury Town Football Club’s stadium.

As a group, the stadium was first visited courtesy of Rotary member Harry Wilson, a director of Shrewsbury Town, during its construction in 2007 and so it was a nostalgic return during the current pre-season 10 years on. Harry again organised for a visit by a total of 32 members and guests who went behind the scenes on July 11 just four days before a friendly with Aston Villa.  Unfortunately for the visiting Rotarians, the dressing room to be occupied by Aston Villa players was closed for cleaning but Rotarians were able to walk into the home dressing room and visualise the ‘scene’ when players return, firstly for the Villa friendly, then for others including a visit from Wolves before the 2017/18 season in League One gets seriously underway on August 5 with a visit from Northampton Town.

Rotarians were able to walk through the side bench dressing room with Shrewsbury Town FC crests on the walls and into the spacious shower area – a bit different to the days of the communal bath. The visit began with a pre-season drink in the third floor President’s Suite before everyone gathered in the Board Room on the same floor for a group photo.  The visitors were intrigued by the unusual design of the board room table and the trophy cabinet also attracted attention.  Oh that it would include another trophy at the end of this coming season.

The group then walked out of the Board Room into the seating area of the stand where directors and guests view matches with the pitch looking in splendid condition. It was then a walk along the touchline, past the dugouts, to the away supporters’ stand which houses a glass fronted control room and adjacent area from which Brian Jervis makes his match day announcements.

The visit concluded with a meal in the President’s Suite with Harry, ironically, winning the wine raffle.  Perhaps a lucky omen for the season ahead.



He’s the newest Rotarian in the world!

Well, he was at that moment in time. William Burden also happened to be the first candidate to be inducted by newly installed Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Colin Sharp. William was introduced by Rotarian Darryl Evans, newly appointed almoner, who said he would make a ‘very good Rotarian.’  Like him, William’s background was Round Table.

“I commend William as a fine potential member of this club,” Darryl added. Secretary Gareth Watkins presented the 4 way test of Rotary, particularly service above self, adding ‘you get out of it what you put into it.’ The President presented William with his Rotary introductory pack and badge and welcomed him into the Rotary Club of Shrewsbury Severn. Following his induction, William told members:  “I look forward to serving this club as best I can and the fellowship you have shown to me I hope to re-pay in the near future.” 

William (left) receiving his introductory pack from President Colin.



The faces say it all… 

Four pupils at the Grange Primary School, Shrewsbury, with books which have been donated by Rotary. The Rotary Club of Shrewsbury Severn has donated 225  books to the school as part of its on-going relationship with the Grange Primary. In addition to donating books, members of the club rotationally visit the school to assist pupils with their reading.

Said Rotarian Kerry Ferguson, the club’s past president who runs the reading rota:  “I am pleased that we are able to continue to support the Grange Primary School both in terms of direct help with reading for year one children and also by ensuring that the books available are up to date and interesting. “I believe that teaching children to read as early as possible is of enormous help with further learning and, of course, their development generally. It is most encouraging that the children are incredibly motivated to want to learn to read and it is a delight to be able to help them.”

Said the Grange Primary School head Mrs. Charlie Summers:  “The books have helped our lower ability readers because they are aimed at their phonic level. The books allowed us to create a new book area for KS1 and the children have been more motivated to read.  Thank you Rotary for this donation - it makes a massive difference to our pupils.”



Outgoing first president of  Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club Donald Thompson outlined a 'wonderful year' to its members on handing over to vice president Colin Sharp. Until last year the club, which was formed as Shawbury and Mid Shropshire in 1987, operated under that name.

On the last meeting of the current Rotary year, Donald said  members of the club had been 'absolutely fabulous' and every Tuesday had been 'full of laughs' as well as achieving many successes in fundraising for charities. In particular, for the Rotary club's support of  The Grange Primary School for which the club has recently supported the attendance of pupils and staff at a Rotary District Kids Out at Drayton Manor Park. In addition, its continued support of The Grange Primary School with reading and other important fundraising activities where there were cases of hardship.

Said Kerry Ferguson, the club's Rotarian of the year:  "We are pleased with the work we do in support of The Grange Primary School, but we are not complacent.  We know there is a lot more expected of our time and financial support which Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club is committed to during the forthcoming Rotary year." He said the club had already donated £500 towards the replacement of last year's books for year one pupils and this Rotary support would continue.

Incoming president Colin Sharp said he would back the Rotary club's support of  deserving organisations seeking financial help.


Left to right outgoing President Donald, incoming President Colin and vice President Julian Wells



Two 17 year old Shrewsbury students are actively preparing for a week long Rotary sponsored course.

Lois Ingram-Evans and Chris Davies will shortly be attending the Rotary Youth Leadership Award – RYLA camp – at Kibblestone Activity Centre, Staffordshire. The candidates are being sponsored by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club whom they have visited to introduce themselves and to talk about the leadership skills they both hope to attain when they attend RYLA in August.

Lois, of Little Minsterley, who is studying health and social care at Shrewsbury College with a view to a career in nursing, has been involved in the Girl Guides and Brownies and following RYLA is hoping to become a leader in Rainbows at Brockton which is a guiding group of four to seven year olds. She has previous experience of attending the Kibblestone Activity Centre as a Guide four years’ ago and this time, thanks to Rotary, will be looking for activity ideas for the Rainbows. Said Lois:  “At the same time, I am also hoping to gain confidence, have fun and meet some new friends.”

Chris, of Sutton Park, Shrewsbury, is studying A level history, English literature and maths at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College from where he is hoping to go on to university, either Oxbridge or Durham, to study classics, and in the process become the first member of his family to do so. The former Priory School head boy will be attending a summer school at Durham University prior to RYLA where he is looking forward to meeting ‘like-minded people’ on the course. “RYLA will provide me with an opportunity to develop my inter-personal skills and I am hoping it will inspire me to be ambitious and aim high.  I am really looking forward to the camp, I am confident it will be a memorable experience and it can’t come soon enough.” In his spare time Chris is a volunteer guide at Shrewsbury Museum which he says he has enjoyed since starting this year.

Both Lois and Chris thanked Rotarian Kerry Ferguson, Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s Youth Opportunities Officer, for selecting them for RYLA sponsorships.

“On their return from RYLA we shall welcome them back to share their experiences with us,” Kerry told Rotarians who wish the pair every success.



Rotarians were 'staggered' to hear that the largely voluntarily run Severn Valley Railway currently has an annual turnover of £8 million. Speaking to members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, railway volunteer Martin Weeks also revealed that Severn Valley Railway makes a £16 million annual contribution to the local economy.

The railway has 13,000 members and in 2016 welcomed 250,000 visitors with 33,000 attracted to the Father Christmas Santa Specials. Martin, who recently retired to Minsterley after 45 years working in the power generation industry for the Central Electricity Generating Board and a director of Dungeness Power Station, has always had a love of coal and steam generation. He picked this up as a hobby and ambition to get involved with steam engines and became a volunteer with the Severn Valley Railway as a volunteer guard as well as being a member of their speakers panel. He said that the Severn Valley was never a commercial success and closed before Dr. Beaching.  In fact, it closed altogether in 1970.

A group of volunteers discussed the idea of re-opening parts of the line and agreed to approach British Rail with a view to purchasing the Bridgnorth to Hampton Loade section. In March 1970 the first train ran and in 2015 the Severn Valley Railway celebrated its golden jubilee. The railway has 22 steam locomotives which are rotated with 10 operational and 12 stored.  There is one replica under construction; 25 diesel engines - which get more visitors - and one five car diesel unit.

"We are a big business in relative terms," said Martin.  "We have superbly restored stations including Arley and Highley has the main visitor centre. "Princess Anne has visited on a number of occasions and we wouldn't be a line without Michael Portillo as well as the Duke of Gloucester who is a regular visitor." But the line's most famous visitor was the Flying Scotsman in September 2016 when it was working its way around the preservation railways of the UK.

Severn Valley Railway is run by 1,500 volunteers and most of the work is carried out by volunteers, including signalmen, drivers, firemen and guards who are in charge of the trains.    

Catering, said Keith, was generating 'good money,' specially in the retail outlets and the railway owned two pubs in the stations at Bridgnorth and Kidderminster

As a charity, Severn Valley maintained all the rolling stock and the infrastructure and was bringing forward a heritage skills training academy to ensure long term feasibility of the railway. The heritage skills training academy was maintaining old boilers, bearings on some engines and craftmanship on wooden carriages. The Severn Valley Railway provided training opportunities for track maintenance and opportunities to schools who were among the many visitors.

"The line is in reasonably good condition, apart from Bridgnorth station," Martin told Rotarians.  "The biggest issue is storms and floods and the behaviour of the line south of the Bridgnorth Gorge." But the feature that was afterwards talked about by Rotarians was the Severn Valley's 'staggering' turnover.


Shortly after Martin's presentation the Duke of Gloucester was given an award for 20 years' service.


Photographed at a late night running of the Severn Valley Railway were Shrewsbury Severn Club President Donald Thompson and speaker Martin Weeks




A Paul Harris Fellowship has been awarded to a member of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club - following an email recommendation to the president. Rotarian Tony Cook emailed Donald Thompson, president of the Shrewsbury Severn Club, putting forward long serving Gordon Duncan for a Paul Harris Fellowship. In particular, he cited Gordon's involvement over many years with the club's Santa sleigh - one of its principle fundraisers.

He said that since becoming a member of the club's sleigh maintenance team, Gordon had 'put his heart' into the project. Gordon had used his expertise and desire to make the sleigh as 'good as possible' with its safe storage during the off season. He had also been driver, Santa and elf on many occasions. "Without his efforts on the sleigh's maintenance and driving there would be a big hole to fill which could have had a massive influence on our charity account," wrote Tony.


"In addition, he always turns up for the V Fest tent collection.  I think he deserves a Paul Harris Fellowship." The club fully agreed and the president presented Gordon, a member since 1992, with a certificate and brooch which he shows in the photo.

"It is quite a shock and thank you all very much," he said afterwards. And totally in character, he added:  "I shall be looking for a working party very soon." Said president Donald:  "I have been looking forward to this and it gives me enormous pleasure to make this presentation which I am really pleased to do."

Rotarian Gordon Duncan (left) receives his Paul Harris Fellowship certificate from Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Donald Thompson



 Members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club were given a conducted tour of the campus at Concord College, Shropshire’s international school based at Acton Burnell.

The group of 16, led by Rotarian Tim Hughes and accompanied by the College estates manager Trevor Clay, strolled around Concord College campus.

Each Rotarian was handed a plan of the campus and on their way through the site they passed a few of the buildings designed by Tim’s firm of architects Hughes and Abbott. Tim said he had been privileged to have worked on Concord projects for the last 14 years and was fortunate to have had an ‘excellent’ support team. These included a structural engineer, mechanical and electrical engineer, landscape architect, drainage consultant and quantity surveyor.

 Added Tim:  “Thanks for the visit are due to the principal Neil Hawkins, bursar Barbara Dean and estates manager Trevor.” Buildings which Rotarians saw on their visit included an extension and refurbishment to create an extra 15 classrooms as well as a library and information centre; an extension to the dining hall; student common room and various residential accommodation buildings. The first building to be designed by Hughes & Abbott, in 2004, which was an extension to the science block, is now to be replaced by a brand new science building, including 22 laboratories, and is due to be completed in November.



 “You are a really good club.”

 With those chosen words visiting Assistant District Governor Elect Diane Sims summed up her thoughts on her visit to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s assembly meeting. “I have no doubt, from your club assembly, you are making a difference and I really and truly believe you will continue to make a difference,” she told members and visitors. “I wish you every success in the new Rotary year and particularly incoming president Colin (Sharp).”

 In his assembly address, Colin reiterated the Rotary theme of ‘Making a Difference’ and said he was ‘honoured’ to be elected. He set out the strategic goals and objectives as well as the Rotary 4 way test:

 Is it true? Is it fair? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

 “I thought we should attach these to what we do,” said Colin who emphasised the importance the club placed on producing an article for the Shrewsbury Chronicle for world polio day recognition. In addition, to consider the sponsorship of a peace fellow. He said he would explore the possibility of corporate membership and with the other two Shrewsbury Rotary clubs consider establishing an E-club as well as inviting Alumni to share experiences. In addition, to consider participation in youth exchange programmes and to work towards establishing an Interact club at Shrewsbury College.

He promised that the Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club would continue with its reading support at the Grange Primary School. “I would like us to enhance our public image and awareness of Rotary, including bi-monthly articles in the Shrewsbury Chronicle.” He said he would be asking the club to consider joining Shropshire Chamber of Commerce and to consider participation in the UK Parliament Week. On further ideas, he said:  “Let’s look at what we do really well – and do it better.”

He emphasised the Tree of Light on November 26 and to make contact with Shrewsbury BID to look at their involvement in the centre of town. Finally, slightly expand the villages visited with the Santa Sleigh.

The new chair of International Committee John Law said the club would continue with Lend with Care having already made 71 loans, helping 294 entrepreneurs, 985 family members and created 219 jobs in overseas countries. “The big one for the committee is making a global grant application.  At the moment this is very much in its infancy, but Rotarian Mike Mortimer is doing work behind the scenes looking to provide an ambulance for children in Romania.”

Julian Wells, who will be heading up Community and Vocational, said the committee would be supporting a number of initiatives including repairs to Shawbury Churchyard and extending crocus planting. The club would continue its support of reading at the Grange Primary School which he said members enjoyed and which was proving to be a most worthwhile club effort.

New chair of Fellowship and activities, Graham Hughes, outlined a tour of Shrewsbury Town Football Club, a River Severn boat trip, a visit to BBC Radio Shropshire, the Battlefield Brewery and a country walk.

Current President Donald Thompson, who will continue to chair the club’s Membership services, said the focus would be on membership, including a corporate member, and he was pleased that Colin had included this as one of his objectives. He said the club had agreed with the Shrewsbury Chronicle for a bi-monthly series of articles which could include Rotary International. Colin added:  “I hope we can all share the enthusiasm we have for this club and enjoy ourselves in the various activities which take place.

“We are going to have a great year and thank you for your support in the future.”

 President Donald concluded the club assembly by saying:  “Colin has it under his belt and has got it all sorted.  He has a huge success as head of the fundraising committee and with his enthusiasm and expertise everything will be absolutely fantastic. “For my part, I am looking forward to being an ordinary member.”

 In addition to Diane and Simon Sims, the club was visited by Rotarians Neil Hockaday, of the Rotary club of Paignton, and Rotarian Peter Styles, a founder member in 1990 of Birmingham Rotary Breakfast Club.


 Simon Sims, Rotary District Sports Officer, his wife Diane and President Donald Thompson.


Rotarian Bob Scaiff, Rotarian Neil Hockaday who brought along some new reading material which could be introduced to The Grange, and President Donald.


Neil, Rotarian Peter Styles and President Donald



Incoming Shrewsbury Severn President Colin Sharp has confirmed the appointments of committee chairs for the new Rotary year.

These are:

Community and Vocational Julian Wells; International and Foundation John Law; Fellowship Graham Hughes; Fundraising Fred McDonogh.

Current President Donald Thompson will continue to chair Membership and Colin Joint Activities.  Vice President will be Julian Wells.

He confirmed the appointments at the May 9 meeting of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club when members heard that the club will again be sponsoring two students for the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) camp.

Youth opportunities officer Kerry Ferguson said the young people, one of whom is from ShrewsburyCollege and the other from the Sixth Form College, would be visiting the club on June 20.

He also announced that the club would be sending 20 children from the Grange School on the District Kids Day Out at Drayton Manor Park on June 14. He said he would shortly be meeting with Shrewsbury College to decide the form of the grant the club has agreed to provide, probably taking the form of an award for delivering the greatest achievement in adversity, including voluntary work. Kerry added that he is also exploring the possibility of setting up an Interact Club with the College.

President Elect Colin said afterwards:  “If any member who is not on Club Council and wishes to attend they can do so and would be welcome.”



 A member of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has recently returned from spending five days in Romania investigating at first hand the possibility of pursuing a global grant to help very poor villages in the Mures region of the country.

 Rotarian Mike Mortimer has come back with the firm belief that Rotary through his own club and district as well as the local Tirgu Mures Rotary Club in Romania should pursue how this possibility could be achieved in the coming months. “I firmly believe the villages I visited would most definitely benefit from a Rotary global grant because these are communities which are so really poor and needy,” said Mike whose visit took in various villages in the Mures region which he likened to a county in the middle of Romania. “For them a global grant would be worth tens of thousands of pounds which could help these people enormously and I now hope to pursue through my own club as well as the district.”

 Mike was accompanied on his visit by Shropshire fire fighters who are involved in several community projects in the Mures region and which Shrewsbury Severn Rotary has already supported as a club. The club has already donated approximately £3,000 to the Mures region of Romania which includes the purchase of a Ford Ranger fire truck which he was pleased to see started first time and was well maintained.

 He visited an old people’s home in a converted prison which Shrewsbury Severn Rotary has supported due to the work of the Shropshire fire fighters.  They are also involved in a village school re-building project which is supported by the Tirgu Mures Rotary Club. Mike took with him a considerable number of teddy bears for children of mothers being temporarily housed in a refuge which Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has supported.  “The refuge only provides temporary accommodation for these women, some as young as 13, with their child, and once they leave the refuge the children no longer have any toys. One woman of 23 had already given birth to five children and I saw some of the kids who are quite traumatised – a touching experience. I was pleased to be able to make contact with the medical staff in a partnership to supply them with a vehicle which will help to improve the mortality rate of children and mothers in rural areas. Since returning from Romania there was a fire at the refuge and because they had fire alarms fitted, which we purchased, everyone escaped safely and no-one was injured. In addition to seeing at first hand where our money has been spent, I was keen to see how we can best continue to support Shropshire Fire Service and make sure our partnership with them continues to flourish.”

He said the road network in the Mures region left a lot to be desired – only fit for horses and carts – the mode of transport. “Again, this is an area which needs support to improve the way these people travel.” He added:  “There was wonderful hospitality from everyone I met on the visit and the custom of toasting every event with the 62% national drink Palenka!.”



Tributes have been paid to the late Alan Eames, a member of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.

At his funeral at Shrewsbury Crematorium, Mr. William Rowell, who conducted the service, described Alan as a ‘remarkable man who led a remarkable life.’

He was, said Mr. Rowell, a ‘true original’ who was always interested in other people.  A man who was always positive and forward looking. Alan, 76, always had a positive characteristic and made people ‘smile.’ He outlined Alan’s career which started by working for his father and ended in him running Wicker World in Shrewsbury.  In retirement, he joined his wife Barbara in child minding. He had enjoyed becoming a Rotarian with the ethos of service and fellowship which were very important to Alan who was a ‘people person.’

One of the lasting memories for his fellow Rotarians was Alan as a Santa on the Rotary sleigh, talking to children and loving every moment of the occasion.

At the club meeting following Alan’s funeral, President Donald Thompson described it as ‘unique,’ culminating with the song ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.’

A sale of brightly coloured ties which Rotarians wore to the funeral raised £100 which will be donated to Prostate Cancer Research. The ties were from Alan’s collection and essentially left over from his earlier fundraising efforts in aid of research following the passing of Rotarian Niel Kelly who was also a sufferer of the same disease. And shortly before he died, Alan donated a bottle of whisky which was raffled at a club meeting and raised another £250 for the same charity.



A Rotary club is donating £500 in response to the East Africa Crisis Appeal.

The money has been pledged by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club to Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). Rotarian Chris Allsop, chair of the club’s international committee, said drought and conflict have left 16 million people on the brink of starvation and in urgent need of food, water and medical treatment.

“It is reported that 800,000 children under five are severely malnourished,” said Chris, a retired medical practitioner. “People are already dying in South Sudan and Somalia.  In Kenya, the government has declared a national emergency and Ethiopia is battling a new wave of drought following the strongest EI Nino on record.”

He said donations of £25 could provide a month’s supply of life-saving peanut paste to a malnourished child; £60 could provide clean drinking water for two families for a month; £100 could provide supplies to a clinic treating severely malnourished children for a week. Said Chris:  “The UK Government has matched pound for pound the first £5 million donated by the public to the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal through its Aid Match Fund.” He said that the DEC brings 13 leading UK aid charities together in times of crisis.  These are ActionAid, Age International, British Red Cross, CADOD, CARE International, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Oxfam, Plan International UK, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision. “They are all collectively raising money to reach those in need quickly,” Chris added.



Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has made history…

…the honouring of a diamond wedding anniversary of one of its longest-serving members. A past president, Rotarian Brian Leverton and his wife Margaret, shared one of their anniversary celebrations with fellow Rotarians.

A memorable fellowship evening it turned out to be with another  past president Rev Paul Firmin returning to the club to anecdote weddings with which he had been involved. He said that during his 30 years as a priest he had conducted between 450 and 500 weddings.  The fewest in any one year was five when he was at Grinshill.  The most in a year: 28. He said the fee to marry at the Abbey Church, where he is presently the vicar, is £450, but the total cost of marrying in a church today is £800.

The average age of couples marrying today is 25-34, whereas when he started in the priesthood it was 20-24. “Weddings are huge fun and I have enjoyed almost everyone of them.  You meet people today whom you first met 20 years ago, they have three children, and you feel you are very much part of a community.”

He added:  “I invite people who want to get married and be part of the community to come and see me.”

Addressing fellow Rotarians, Brian described himself as a ‘quiet and shy sort of bloke’ who was ‘surprised at the depth of excitement’ that their 60th wedding anniversary had brought about. He said that he and Margaret had been very fortunate to have reasonable health to continue life if not exactly to the full, fairly closely. The couple had met at Quaintways dance hall in Chester which in those days was the ‘place to go.’  They discovered they had a ‘common taste’ in music which became one of the bonds of their marriage and they were pleased to have been founder members of the Shrewsbury Phoenix Choir. He described how he wanted to be an engineer and work for Rolls Royce cars and when they moved from Crewe to Leicester he had a 100% mortgage guaranteed by his new employer which enabled them to buy their first house. With their son Tim only months old, he moved back to Rolls Royce in Shrewsbury leaving Margaret to cope with the sale of the house.  Then when their second child was born in 1961, Brian was frequently overseas and often for weeks at a time, leaving Margaret to cope with the two little ones in their early life.

He said that in the last 30 years Rotary had been a large part of their lives and Margaret had enjoyed Inner Wheel.   Added Brian:  “We have enjoyed considerable fellowship with you fellow Rotarians and spouses over the last 30 years that has added much pleasure to our lives and we thank you.”



Newspapers continue to be the eyes and ears of their readers. So said Martin Wright, Editor of the Shropshire Star, when he addressed members and guests of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. “If we are not there, who is?” he asked.

 He spoke of local newspapers ‘shining a light’ on what is going on in their circulation area. He said health and the county council were a key source of stories for the Shropshire Star.  “Our job, to shine a light on what’s happening, is more important than ever.” He said that if the Shropshire Star was not at these meetings, a lot of issues would not be aired publicity which was a ‘risk.’ “If there is no scrutiny then there is no challenge and people can do what they like.  These things are enforced without the public knowing about them which is quite a grave danger. More and more decisions will be taken behind closed doors if there is any way the press can be excluded.  This is a real issue for local democracy.”

He said the Shropshire Star took news seriously and put pressure on people making decisions.  “We are watching them and holding them to account.”  He said the newspaper industry was facing challenges as circulation falls and advertising revenues come under pressure. Despite these challenges, the Shropshire Star remained one of the biggest regional newspapers in the country.

He spoke of the growth of the internet and digital with some newspapers, such as The Independent, going digital only. He said the Shropshire Star’s digital audience had continues to increase at a rapid rate but he said the big challenge continued to be generating revenue.  “Digital is growing, but the message is that print is still important to us as a business.” Martin spoke of having to contend with another issue:  fake news.  A term popularised by President Trump.

“This is yet another issue to contend with. I am hoping this means people will look to trusted sources for information, including their local newspaper.  “So in the long run this idea of fake news will make trusted local newspapers more important again. We are still a trusted source of local news. Local journalism is still vital for democracy and we are here to stay. There is no doubt that challenges are ahead for print, but it is not all doom and gloom.”

In his half hour talk, he told Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club of the changing shape of the Shropshire Star news room and how the way a newspaper was put together had changed ‘massively’ due to advancements in technology. Martin also touched on a number of other issues, ranging from the appointment of George Osborne – ‘clearly we have a lot to learn from Mr. Osborne who tells us he can edit the London Standard in half a day’ – to how the press is regulated.  And who should do the regulating. He said:  “We joined the Independent Press (IPSO) which is a very rigorous form of regulation for us in the newspaper industry.  There is no way we would want to upset our readers and walk away anyway, but IPSO ensures that we treat all complaints seriously and if we make a mistake, we put it right.

“One of the legacies of the Lawson Enquiry is Section 40 which, if implemented, would mean that newspapers not signed up to a state approved regular would be eligible to pay both sides of the costs in any legal action – even if the newspaper was completely vindicated in court. The Section 40 issue looms still and remains a very serious concern for the Press. If it was to go ahead it would leave editors in an impossible position – either publish the story and face a substantial legal bill even if you’ve done nothing wrong, or don’t publish at all and let down your readers.”



Martin (left) with President Donald Thompson



Donations totaling nearly £8,500 have been made by the Rotary Club of Shrewsbury Severn to four charities benefiting from the last Rotary Tree of Light at St. Mary’s Church. Recipients of cheques were Louise Dawson, Lingen Davies, Emma Dowler, Alzheimer’s, and Graham Riley and Ian Bolingbrook, Shropshire Prostate Cancer Support Group.

Cheques for £2,724 were presented by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Donald Thompson to Lingen Davies and Alzheimer, whilst Shropshire Prostate Cancer Support Group benefited from £2,883 – thanks to money raised from the auctioning of a bottle of whiskey donated by Rotarian Alan Eames.

Following the presentations, each guest thanked the club for its ‘excellent’ fundraising effort via the Rotary Tree of Light and gave a brief review of how the donation would be used. Graham Riley informed Rotarians about a recent prostate awareness event held in the Jubilee Centre, Ironbridge, where 421 PSI checks were carried out.  The cost of each blood test was £18, funded by various stakeholders including the NHS. The Shropshire Prostate Cancer Support Group has offered to support Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club in sponsoring a similar event.

Left to right Louise, Emily, Donald, Graham and Ian



 West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion has spoken of the ‘tooth of the tiger’…keeping people safe. “I am proud to be associated with keeping people safe – my authority comes from you.”

His comment to members and guests of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club backed up a statement he made in his foreward to a document ‘Safer West Mercia Plan 2016-2021.’‘To take our strong foundation of a good police force and create an even safer West Mercia.  Together we can build a safer West Mercia.’ He said he had previously worked in the security of the prison system.  These were dispersal prisons housing category A prisoners most at risk to the community.

 As an independent adviser, he questions ‘locking up’ some people who wouldn’t afterwards get jobs and they returned to prison.  “Custody has a role, but we should be breaking that cycle of offending.” He talked about the role of the Commissioner and the key priorities within the plan.  “I am the community connection between the two,” said John. “I am like a representative of the shareholders in a plc, holding executives to account on behalf of shareholders.”

 He spoke of being responsible for ‘powerful tools in the pack,’ for example being in charge of everything the force owns and purchases, including its fleet of vehicles, uniform and other police kit, estates – including police stations – and all police ICT. 

He said he had the powers to remove the Chief Constable.  “I have the power to hold him to account – he is not the body sovereign.  But I can’t direct him. However, he has to justify to me why a certain purpose has a certain way. “Part of my process is to hold the chief to account to make him explain to me the plans and help him to account to me to make sure it happens.”

 He said he had to produce a police and crime plan at the front of his four year tenure.  It was a central document he had to publish and how he held police to account.  There were four points in his plan. “I want to make sure we double our efforts which is what people need if they have been a victim of crime.  You haven’t asked to become a victim.  It doesn’t always mean a critical prosecution. I believe passionately the police service is held in high regard in this country and West Mercia is no different.”

 He went on:  “Even in Storm Doris which was in the high 70’s we were making sure you were getting  the police service you expect.” And then the Commissioner touched on why his accounting role was vital.  “I can’t stand here today and say we are spending your money efficiently.” Technology, he said, was part of our lives, but the police service didn’t use technology.  They didn’t have access to smart phones and wifi. “Our processes haven’t caught up with technology and while are spending money we have been given only the necessary. However, we are starting a pilot giving police some technology. It is not cutting edge, but in policing we are using technology that people are using in their everyday lives. I believe it is absolutely vital that we catch up and keep up with the available technology. We are reforming our organisation by rolling out smart phones and giving our police officers and staff what they need. We have made investments in mobile technology to improve the visibility of our officers across the force in the community.  If I can make a dozen people more visible an hour per shift it is massively impactful on our community.”

 He said West Mercia was rolling out a £1m investment in body worn video cameras which would provide officers with the power to change the behaviour of those who were aggressive and at the same time reduce the number of assaults against police officers which was one of their most important roles.  We want to make sure that those who are protecting us are protected.” John said he was nine months into his job which was to make sure ‘those who are protecting us are protected.’

“I feel responsible for the way of the role nine months in and I know I have the power to change things.  I have recruited a chief constable and invested in body worn video and agreed a technology role over four years. I want to make sure I get to the things which are important, but not immediate.  I want to maximise every minute.  I like to get out and deliver with partners.  I don’t want to miss an opportunity or what’s important. I want to be known as the man who had a vision for West Mercia.  Getting people to trust me and confident in the office I hold.”

 He added:  “I am accountable to you and you guys only. I am a community representative which is one of the best jobs in politics.” In a vote of thanks, Rotarian Stephen Rogers said it was essential that technology played an ‘enormous part’ in the future of West Mercia. “The role of the police commissioner has developed and so have the visions for West Mercia which will continue to develop.”

 John Campion was introduced by the club’s speaker secretary Rotarian John Yeomans who said the police and crime commissioner had replaced the role historically carried out by the police authority.


 Left to right John Campion, Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Donald Thompson and Shrewsbury Severn Speaker’s Secretary John Yeomans



It isn’t every week, month or even year that a local Rotary club receives a visit from the top Rotarian in Great Britain and Ireland but that was the case when Eve Conway, Rotary National President, visited Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club to deliver an important message that Rotary was ridding the world of this dreadful disease.

She not only spoke about Rotary’s success in reducing polio to just one case this year, but how the movement has planted seven million purple crocus corms to mark the 112thanniversary of the founding of Rotary International.

Eve, a most personable character, spoke on a variety of high profile topics and mixed with Rotarians not only from Shrewsbury Severn but six other Rotary clubs in Shropshire on her special night in the county.

At the end of her interesting talk she was presented with a memento by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Donald Thompson. A book entitled ‘Nearest Earthly Place to Paradise: The Literary Landscape of Shropshire’ which has inspired many writers over the centuries: its bucolic rolling fields and orchards, its dramatic wild hills and moors, its ramshackle market towns, its patchwork of copses and hedgerows, its bleak and beautiful mountains. Extracts from Charles Dickens to Henry James, from Kathy Swift to AE Housman, from Bill Bryson to Pete Postlethwaite, are matched with stunning photographs by Shropshire's Geoffrey Taylor who has captured the landscapes that drew out the words.


Eve received the book with great pleasure.


On Valentine’s night, the Rotary Club of Shrewsbury Severn enjoyed a taste of Italy at La Corallina restaurant in Shrewsbury. 44 members and guests were treated to an authentic evening of Italian cuisine, style and atmosphere. The dà©cor provides Mediterranean ambiance with many of the items shipped over from Italy, including the flooring and table tiles, which were hand painted by a Neapolitan friend of the owner. The club was reminded of the romantic connections of Italy through Romeo and Juliet and, of course, Casanova. The evening started with a welcome glass of Prosecco kindly provided by President Don Thompson in celebration of his birthday. Jessica, the owner of La Corallina, who hails from Naples, then talked us through the menu and brought a tear to the eye with her emotional description of one of her mother’s recipes. There was a great buzz in the room all evening but the abiding memory is that of laughter. Isn’t fellowship great?



 There is help at hand for vulnerable families with a child under the age of five.

 This message was conveyed to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club by Homestart Shropshire whose support includes issues such as housing, debt, domestic violence and child behavioural problems and last year 170 Shropshire families were supported.

 Homestart Shropshire’s representatives Barbara Bates and Carol Brown told Rotarians that support continues until the issues are overcome – or become manageable. The support includes two to three hours each week and lasts on average for up to 15 months. The 44 Homestart Shropshire volunteers accompany vulnerable families to various venues helping them integrate, build confidence and their self-esteem until they are able to maintain contacts themselves. In terms of involvement, this includes pre and post natal support which often extends until a child is over a year old.

 They told Rotarians that referrals to Homestart come from health visitors, often as the first contact with mothers after birth, social workers, nurseries and schools as well as occasionally from GP’s. The representatives told Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club:  “The main source of funding is from the lottery with Homestart Shropshire currently in its third year of grants. Without that support we could not survive as an organisation.  In addition, corporate and individuals donations are crucial. We are also looking for trustees to sit on the governing body and for any business sponsorship which will be acknowledged on our Facebook page.”

 Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has made a donation of £500 from Past President Kerry Ferguson’s fund when he was president.



 A Rotary club’s immediate past president has made what is believed to be an unprecedented donation from his honorarium to a children’s charity in Uganda. As a result, Rotarian Kerry Ferguson, last year’s president of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, has heard that thanks to his donation two little boys have new families. James was abandoned last summer.  Six months later he has a family who call him ‘The fulfillment of all our dreams.’

 Kerry has been told by a charity representative that he has changed James’s life from being an orphan to becoming a son. Aiden, whom the charity describe as a ‘little miracle,’ was one day old when he was dumped on a rubbish tip last summer. Now he is part of a loving family.  The charity’s team will continue to check up on them both until the families get adoption orders from the courts. And in the next couple of weeks, two little girls will also be placed into Ugandan families as the government panel has just approved them for adoption.

 Anyone wishing to raise money for Child’s i Foundation – and at the same time have ‘the best fun of their life’ – can sign up to the inflatable-filled 5km challenge that is the ‘gung-ho!’ event across the UK. Every £5 raised can pay for children like Aidan and James to receive love and life-saving 24 hour care in a foster family whilst the charity finds them a permanent home.

 Kerry has received a ‘thank you’ from Lucy Buck who since 2005 has spent six months of the year as a producer of high profile TV shows for BBC, ITV and Channel 4 and the other six months volunteering at Sanyu Babies’ Home in the Uganda capital Kampala. She says on the charity’s website:  “My two worlds could not have been any more different – oscillating between the craziness and glamour of “Reality Television” to the poverty, sadness – and hope – of Uganda, one of the world’s poorest countries. I’ve gone from working with celebrity chefs, Formula 1 Racing Drivers and celebrities in Fiji, to dealing with Malaria, Meningitis, HIV/AIDS and fighting to keep a 1-day-old baby alive who has been left for dead in a toilet. I’ve experienced the power of the media first-hand, working on TV shows that reach audiences of millions. But for this project, I intend to harness the cost efficient, global power of the internet and online communities. Our aim is to create a connection between orphans in need of a home with people who are willing and able to help them. We want people to support our charity because they feel a connection with the children and the web is the perfect tool to create that connection.”

Footnote:-  Sir Winston Churchill once described Uganda as the 'Pearl of Africa.’



Lendwithcare continues to flourish in Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club and its President Donald Thompson has remarked:  “It is amazing how people’s lives have been changed.”

In total the club has credited Lendwithcare with £1,200, lent £3,000, equivalent to 59 loans, helping 211 entrepreneurs, 775 family members - and creating 188 jobs. Said Rotarian Chris Allsop, the club’s International and Foundation Committee chair: “Shrewsbury Severn Rotary has been making loans to Lendwithcare for over three years and there have been no loan defaults. Lending to entrepreneurs has enabled them to develop, expand and sustain local business projects as well as employ local people and also help their community.” Chris added:  “Our present credit available from repayments stands at £351 and this enables up to start lending again.



Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has agreed to pursue a global grant through the Rotary Foundation – Rotary’s own charity - to support the provision of a converted ambulance to serve a rural area of Romania. Rotarian Mike Mortimer of Shrewsbury Severn has volunteered to visit to assist with the pursuance of the project and liaise with the local Rotary club in the Mures area.

Mures is a very rural and sparsely populated area with a poor local infrastructure. Romania has the highest mortality rates for both children and their mothers. The vehicle itself would be sourced locally in Romania which imposes tax implications on imported vehicles. The purpose of the vehicle, which would cost Rotary in the region of £50,000 would be to support maternal and child health in the rural area.

Shrewsbury Severn and one other club will pay 25% of the cost with the Romanian Rotary Club matching this 25%.  The balance of 50% will then be met by Rotary International. The project is in conjunction with Shrewsbury Firefighters ‘Operation Sabre’ whose president Steve Worrall is visiting Romania next month when Mike Mortimer intends joining him.

Said Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s International Committee Chair Chris Allsop:  “Mike will be able to see for himself what is required from Rotary and will also report back on money already donated directly from the club. This has gone to help several projects, including modernising a mother and baby safe house, as well as an old people home. The five day visit will also give Mike the opportunity to meet with the potential local partner Rotary club for a possible global grant application as well as gaining first hand local information on the maternal and child health situation we are trying to help.”

Rotarian Mike Mortimer with passport and map in readiness for his visit to the Mures area of Romania.



An insight into the workings of a successful Shrewsbury-based manufacturer of pressings and assemblies and powder coating has been given to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.

A party of 24 Rotarians visited the 60,000 sq.ft. factory of Salop Design & Engineering Ltd which has been in metal press work for 50 years, making parts for car manufacturers. Commercial Director Christopher Greenough, whose day had started at 6.30 am with a meeting in Coventry, was equally fresh 12 hours later when he showed Rotarians round the factory with its banks of giant presses and streamlined powder coating plant.

“Through the work we are doing here, we are putting Shrewsbury on the map,” said Chris.  “I am proud of what we do in terms of investment in machinery and people. We are looking at expanding and developing new products to take the turnover to £15m a year.  We have secured £1.9m from the Marches LEP, via its Growth Deal with Government, to set up a bespoke training centre in Bridgnorth which will be open in September. We have a fantastic business in Shropshire and we need to get that message over.  The more people we can show of our manufacturing capability, the better the future will be. SME’s (small and medium sized enterprises) have the biggest growth potential in the UK and capacity is going to come from us.  We are a prominent manufacturer and we are keeping it going. Manufacturing is flavour of the month with any politician.”

He said Brexit offered a lot of export potential all over Europe.  “The state of the pound is helping manufacturing and if you are exporting this is a good time.  There are good opportunities,” said Chris. “Manufacturing is the current buzz word and if you are willing to invest – the world is your oyster. “

He outlined Salop Design & Engineering’s markets which included automotive, garden and leisure parts.  “If it is metal we can make it and the strategy is to look for non-automotive press work. We are looking to partner with other people in manufacturing and how we sell the product has changed.  You have to change the way you do things.  People very quickly forget what a company does. I have 24 years in this industry and we have to be positive.  We have fantastic kit and fantastic products and want to work with all Shropshire and Midlands companies.”

He said the company employed 100 people, had doubled its turnover in two years to £11m and expected that to increase to £15m in 2017.  Ten percent of turnover was currently export.

During a tour of the factory floor, Chris showed Rotarians the large scale presses which were producing automotive pressings, out of flat aluminium sheet, for first tier automotive customers.  “This is going fantastically well, though we don’t want to be tied to the automotive industry. However, it is an exciting time to be in automotive press work. These days there is a completely different mindset in manufacturing whereby you work and talk with competitors.  We all understand that you have to make a margin – you are allowed to mention profits.”

The visitors wound their way round the huge shop floor at Salop Design & Engineering as Chris described the capabilities of the various giant presses, some as large as 600 tonnes. Presses were producing quality brake shoes for Germany.  “The Germans like quality,” said Chris.  “There are not many automotive presses in the UK that can do this particular heavy gauge.”

There was the installation of a recent Italian press costing half a million pounds and a 400 tonne progression press.  Rotarians then moved to the main mechanical line where most of Salop Design and Engineering’s operators work. Here, Chris described the work won this year from Germany.  Wilkins and Mitchell and Verson and Wilkins presses were described, the latter producing the hood back plate for the a prestige type convertible car.

“We have 930 solar panels on the roof and must be the one of the biggest roof based solar farms in Shropshire,” said Chris.

Following a tour of the heavy presses, Rotarians were taken to the powder coating equipment. The three and a half metre long, fully automated, 200 degrees power coating plant, had represented a three quarters of a million pounds investment for each line, and represented between 15%-20% of total turnover. “We believe we have got the powder coating price and quality right, we can paint on track and we re-cycle 97% of what we use.  And powder coating is also a rust inhibitor.”

Added Chris: “Salop Design & Engineering rose from Dick Homden designing press tools many years ago and then customers asked him to try press tooling and he ended up being a press worker and we are now press work and powder coating.”

The visit was organised by Rotarian Willie Strachan and a vote of thanks was given by Rotarian Brian Leverton.

Footnote:  Founder Dick Homden was a former Wolverhampton Wanderers Chairman who played a key part in the club’s revival in the late 1980’s.  He died at the age of 78 in December 2010.



Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has agreed to make charitable donations totalling £1,300. The club is giving £600 to the Shrewsbury Food Hub which is the first of its kind in the UK and has been set up to collect surplus food from supermarkets. The food is then distributed to community groups and charities.

In addition, Shrewsbury Severn Rotary will be donating £500 to the Blood Bikes charity and £200 to Crucial Crew. Shrewsbury and Oswestry Crucial Crew teaches life skills to 500 children from 40-60 primary schools in the area in June every year at Nesscliffe Army Barracks.



Whilst he was addressing a Rotary meeting, blood biker Roy Broad received an email from his controller asking whether he could respond to a ‘shout.’ “How are you fixed after 10 o’clock – we need a third rider from Shropshire tonight,” was the message.

For the charity Shropshire and Staffordshire Blood Bikes, of which Roy is a volunteer, operates 24/7 winter and summer averaging 10 emergency service calls every 24 hours. Roy, one of the ‘unsung heroes’ of the charity, was speaking to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club in his leathers as the text from his controller came through. The Blood Bikes operate a voluntary service delivering blood and life saving medical supplies in support of the NHS and patient care.

“The NHS needs volunteers who are committed to turning out when they are needed because this is a largely out of hours service,” said Roy who as well as his leathers also had his helmet and mobile ready for a ‘shout.’ He told Rotarians:  “3.15 am is the worst time of night, particularly in winter, for a shout.  I recently had a shout at that time to take blood samples to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. “I got back home just before 7.00 am.  I took my wife a cup of tea and she said ‘hello darling, have you been out?’ “On an exceptionally busy night we would expect to do as many as eight jobs delivering the difference between life and death.  Delivering blood and blood products as well as frozen donor breast milk which is also a very important part of our service. Plasma can be taken in a frozen state from hospital to hospital in secure refrigerated boxes and we carry a lot of samples between hospitals.”

He explained that all Blood Bikers were advanced riders and represented what he described as a ‘broad church,’ from youngsters to a few ‘grey haired’ as well as several retired traffic policemen. “We attract bikers from every walk of life.  We have a retired vicar and a serving district judge who loves wearing his leathers and helmet and is completely anonymous. Volunteers can do as much or as little as they can do.  They can do so many shifts or be on stand by.”

Roy added that Shropshire and Staffordshire Blood Bikes was currently saving the NHS over £100,000 a year and last year carried out over 3,000 jobs on their behalf. “The NHS needs its volunteers and people who are committed to turn out whenever they are needed and there is pride amongst our volunteers to deliver a professional service which is largely out of hours. We will need more bikers in the future as the charity grows.”

Said Rotarian Chris Heaven in a vote of thanks:  “The NHS has a lot to learn from the way you run your organisation.  You are doing an absolutely cracking job and the professionalism is absolutely outstanding.”

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact shrops.staffsbloodbikes@gmail.com

President Donald and Roy

Roy and bike ready to go



 The ‘intensity’ of running an English vineyard has been outlined to members and guests of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. Rotarian Gordon Channon and his wife Angela spent six years at the helm of the Wickham Vineyard in the Meon Valley, Hampshire, where they obtained many awards including several in the International Wine Challenge which pits 10,000 wines from around the world against each other. 

 They told the meeting how they learnt the theory of wine making “on the job” with help from the previous owner and from an Australian Master of Wine.  “We decided to look at an English vineyard to change our lifestyle,” said Gordon who with Angela worked for Grand Met’s wine and spirits company. “We looked at quite a few and ended up buying Wickham Vineyard with its 18 acres of vines on 43 acres.”

 Angela, the first English wine maker to achieve an international medal for English red wine, outlined to Rotarians how a typical year in an English vineyard works. She ran through the pruning and coping with April frosts to the June flowering and “set” forming the grapes, a month she described as ‘hopefully a good one’ for English wine producers as the “set” determines the volume of the harvest. The vineyard had to spray against mildew and rot during the summer and thin out the canopy of vines, opening up grapes to the light. Spraying is stopped at the beginning of September to ensure a gap of at least 2 weeks before picking the grapes.  “The climate in this country means it is difficult to grow grapes without sprays,” said Angela.

 “In order to produce good quality wine you need three things to be in balance when deciding when to pick - the acid and sugar levels, but most important of all, the taste. The key indication of a good wine is to pick at the right time and picking the best quality grapes.  You only want the best grapes and the gangs of pickers were absolutely brilliant.”

 She emphasised the importance of preparation of the winery – the tanks, the press, all the equipment- which had to be spotless.  There could be not a spec of dirt. “The sooner you get the grapes in the press the better and we were often pressing wine until midnight.  One tonne of grapes will yield approximately 750 litres of wine. If you press too hard you can get poor quality juice so towards the end of the pressing process you are tasting all the time.  As soon as you detect any hint of an off taste, you stop the press. For the best possible wines you treat the grapes gently and do as little as possible to them after that.  The less you do to a wine the better.

 Said Gordon, who would spend Sunday mornings tasting as many as 12 wines, “After tasting the different wines in the tank you decide what the blend will be and the different amounts of each type.  It is a high intensity process!” Angela spoke of the mathematics and chemistry involved – ‘a lot of which I didn’t do at school!’  For example measuring sugar levels in the grapes using an Oeschle scale which you then use to calculate the potential alcohol in the wine. 

 She described how most of the grape varieties were German in origin i.e. adapted to a cool climate - and that at Wickham Vineyard they produced 30,000 bottles a year of their own wine and 70,000 bottles a year for other people. One of their wines, the Fumà©, was supplied to the House of Commons as their own label white wine, usually about 5,000 bottles per annum. They also sold their wines through Tanners, Sainsburys, Waitrose, restaurants, wine bars and of course their own shop on site. Visitors to their restaurant could also sample the wines with their meals. Angela, who was born in Zimbabwe, is the daughter of the late Leonard Baart, a well known Shrewsbury architect, and his wife Diana.  She was the first girl from Shrewsbury High School to go to Cambridge where she read English and then Law. She worked in a senior role at Grand Met (later Diageo) and was then a main board Director of Royal Sun Alliance UK.

 In a vote of thanks, Rotarian Garth Joscelyne said he never realised the ‘tremendous knowledge’ that was needed and that the talk was ‘fascinating.’



A Rotary club brought happiness to a lot of children when they presented books to them as Christmas presents. Santa paid a surprise pre-Christmas visit to the Grange Primary School, Harlescott, Shrewsbury, to hand out over 100 books, donated by the Rotary Club of Shrewsbury Severn, to pupils in five classes. Santa called specially at each of the classes to make the presentations.

The visit was organised by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s immediate past President Kerry Ferguson who with his wife Gill assisted Santa to present the books. The visit was also attended by the club’s current President Donald Thompson.




 Rotary’s move of the popular Tree of Light has proved to be not only a big success – but a tribute to the people of Shrewsbury and beyond. The sum raised from the 2016 Tree of Light located at St. Mary’s Church, Shrewsbury, is nearly £7,500.  Last year’s income was £6,333.

One of the Tree of Light organisers, Rotarian Mike Mortimer, of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, said:  “A big thank you to the Shrewsbury Chronicle for their wonderful support of our 2016 Tree of Light. “I would also put the 2016 success down to the additional support we received as well as handing out leaflets at St. Mary’s Church.” Said Rotarian Colin Sharp, chair of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s Fundraising and Joint Activities Committee:  “This is a fantastic outcome. “The relocation and fresh ideas have had a tremendous impact. Rotarian Iain Gilmour has made such a positive impact on the 2016 Tree of Light and we all applaud him.”

Said Iain:  “This success is a tribute to the generosity of the people of Shrewsbury and beyond who have chosen to support us again this year by donating in memory of those who have passed on, whether it be family, friends or colleagues. “The staff and volunteers at St Mary’s have been hugely welcoming and supportive and the move has proved to be very popular. The service of dedication was well supported and I am sure we will be looking to do even better next year.”

It means that the £7,422 raised from the 2016 Tree of Light will be shared between three charities – Lingen Davies Cancer Relief Fund, Alzheimer’s Society and Prostate Cancer Support Group. The figures for 2015 and 2016 both include gift aid.

Said Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s President Donald Thompson:  “I would like to say thank you to Rotarian Iain Gilmour and all those who helped in organising such as successful Tree of Light. “It was a pleasure and an honour to take part.”


Bob or Billy

The Rotary Club of Shrewsbury Severn was thoroughly entertained by ‘our kid,’ Billy Woodall of Gornal. Billy was the name used by Bob Mills as his character when Bob used to put on Black Country humour shows some years ago. Although he has long since stopped doing it, Bob was a regular feature of the Shrewsbury Police Male Voice Choir, with which he sings, when he put on a comedy routine during breaks in their concerts.

As a special favour to President Don, who had heard him some time ago, and at the request of his friend Rotarian Chris Clayton, Bob agreed to brush the cobwebs from his scripts. Rotarian Chris set the scene for the evening by introducing Bob and recounting a true story in broad Black Country language from his home town of Dudley. Bob then introduced Billy to the club and after 20 minutes of raucous laughter, everybody agreed the evening had been a roaring success.

A favourite of everybody (with the kind permission of Billy) was: Man goes into a bar and orders a double whisky, drinks it and then orders another, drinks it and orders another, drinks it and then orders another. He says to the barman, I shouldn't be drinking this with what I've got. Barman asks what he's got. Man says 7 pence.

What a shame that Billy has now left the district for good. He wor arf a gud bloke.



 Entertainer Paul Rushworth brought great laughter and much happiness to members and guests of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club on its first Christmas celebration since the new name was established.

 Paul was the special guest of the club at their annual party at the Lord Hill Hotel, Shrewsbury, and not only provided high spots of magic, but as part of his extensive repertoire he included first class singing entertainment from past recording stars including Elvis, Elton and John Lennon.

 The event, organised by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Donald Thompson, was attended by 74 members and guests.



 Having fun are President Donald and entertainer Paul Rushworth



For the second successive year a Rotary Club has organised a carol service and afternoon tea for elderly citizens.  But there was a difference. Last year, the event was under the name of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary.  This time, it was Shrewsbury Severn Rotary following the club’s recent change of name.

Rotarian Donald Thompson, the club’s first president since the name change, said he had succeeded last year’s president Kerry Ferguson in his welcome to visitors at the United Reformed Church, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury. “Many of you were here last year and I sincerely hope will be here next year when again I sincerely hope we shall still be Shrewsbury Severn Rotary under another president,” he told the congregation.

The service of four readings and six carols was led by church minister Rev. Lesley McNeil and the organist was Roy Haworth. After the service the visitors enjoyed afternoon tea served by Rotarians’ wives.  Musical entertainment was provided by Rotarian Garth Joscelyne and Alan Leather. The event, which was organised by Rotarian John Yeomans, also included a visit from Santa.



Shrewsbury born Graham Hughes, a former BBC Radio Shropshire journalist and producer, has been inducted into Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. Introducing Graham at the club’s last meeting, Sergeant at Arms Darryl Evans said they were friends of many years standing.

“I believe he will be an excellent Rotarian having been born in Shrewsbury and since moved way.  He and his wife Christine are retired and he moved back and now Graham wants to be involved in the local community.”

President Donald Thompson set out the object of Rotary, the principle of ‘Service Before Self’ and the avenues of service open to Rotarians to fulfil. “Service Before Self – that to me is almost an impossible task, but there are quite a few members who almost achieve that. There is something called the Four-Way Test which is Rotary’s moral code of things we think, say or do. This club wouldn’t be what it is without the humour and repartee.  I have only been here six years, but I have loved every second.”

Graham was warmly welcomed into the club by all members and said he was a member of a Rotary Club in Canada for a year which was ‘exciting because we got involved in so many things.’ He said his father and father-in-law were Rotarians and his connections with Rotary went back over a long while.”

Newly inducted Rotarian Graham Hughes with President Donald



An appeal has gone out to Rotary clubs and individuals in the Rotary district that covers Shropshire, Staffordshire and parts of the West Midlands looking for hosts for a team from South West Germanyvisiting for two weeks next April. Their visit follows a team of young professionals led by team leader Rotarian Gary Sharpe of the Rotary Club of Stafford Knot seizing the opportunity to go Germany where they were hosted in the beautiful area around Lake Constance.

He told members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club that the district was pioneering Vocational Study Exchange programmes and this was its second year.  The district is at the forefront of the programme which is attracting interest from other districts. He said the team was able to enjoy the culture of a different country and how their respective vocation is in that country.  Lake Constance, he said, was an area which was ‘absolutely gorgeous.’

“Our hosts were absolutely fantastic – they were very good to us.  We would like to reciprocate accordingly when their team visits us next April.” Information will shortly be distributed advising clubs of the vocations of the visitors to facilitate hosting in which areas of the district.

Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President Donald Thompson (left) with Rotarian Gary Sharpe


Attachments area


 St. Mary’s Church was tonight declared – and dedicated - as the new ‘stunning setting’ for Shrewsbury Rotary’s Tree of Light. The Rev. Paul Firmin, vicar of the nearby Abbey Church, who officiated at the service, told a congregation of 300 what a contrast to previous Tree of Light dedications. “This is so much nicer than faffing around at the back of a place in town.  This is so much better.  It is much nicer than meeting in the back of a shopping centre and I hope it will be the first of many years the Tree of Light will be here.”

 The Rev. Firmin, who originated the idea of the Tree of Light, told the congregation:  “It is lovely to be meeting in this amazing place for a wonderful mix of text and hymns.” The vicar picked up the idea of the Tree of Light from a parishioner who had seen the project in South Africa and the idea has now spread to many other Rotary clubs as well as to other organisations in the UK. He delivered a Latin phrase which translated is ‘where there is charity and love there God is’ symbolising the three charities that Rotary is supporting through this year’s Tree of Light.

 Said Rotarian Donald Thompson, president of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club:   “This project has for many years been supported by all three Rotary clubs in Shrewsbury and the tree has had a number of ‘homes,’ most recently in the town shopping centre, and before that in the Castle grounds. This year we are hugely grateful to the Churches Conservation Trust and all its staff and volunteers who have supported the move to what I hope you all agree is a most appropriate new venue.” 

 Addresses were also given by the two other Shrewsbury Rotary club presidents, Mandy Thorn, MBE (Shrewsbury Darwin) and Pat McLaughlin, MBE (Shrewsbury).  Mandy highlighted the beneficiaries and Pat ‘Now and the future.’ The Tree of Light, with its 600 remembrance bulbs, is located in the entrance to St. Mary’s Church in support of the Lingen Davies Cancer Relief Fund, the Alzheimer’s Society and Prostate Cancer Support Group.

The dedication service, which was organised by Rotarian Iain Gilmour of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, also featured the choir ‘Of One Accord’ and organist Mr. Bill Smallman.



Hundreds of children visited the popular Rotary Santa Sleigh at the top of Pride Hill over a busy period of nearly four hours which started late afternoon and continued well into the evening. The Rotary Club of Shrewsbury Severn provided the Santa Claus and elves for the switch on of the town’s Christmas lights.

 Sitting on the sleigh, where he was watched by a large number of people, Santa rang his bell in the countdown to the switch on of the lights which brought a large cheer at 6.30 pm. From 4.30 pm onwards, parents and children had formed a continuous queue well down Pride Hill for an opportunity to visit Santa on the sleigh and have their photos taken.

 “Santa continues to attract large numbers of children, some of whom bring their written list of Christmas present requests,” said the club’s spokesperson Peter Love.  “And one person specially bought a mince pie for Santa which he thoroughly enjoyed afterwards. The switch on of the lights is a special occasion which Rotary thoroughly enjoys and feels a strong part of, particularly as it continues to attract more and more families.”

 The Rotary Club was collecting for Rotary and local charities and the Santa Sleigh programme continues in town this Saturday November 19 and Sunday November 20. Santa and the sleigh will be at the Parade Shopping Centre ice rink from 11.30 am to 7.30 pm on Saturday and 11.30 am to 3.30 pm on Sunday.



 Past President Kerry Ferguson has announced how he has allocated the President’s fund from his year in office at Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. He is giving £500 to the Grange Primary School, Shrewsbury, to buy new reading books. Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has previously made similar donations for books and to support the needs of children at the school.

 A similar amount will be given to Home-Start Shropshire which offers support, friendship and practical help to parents with young children in local communities. Volunteers are recruited and trained to visit families in their home to offer informal, friendly and confidential support so that parents grow in confidence and strengthen their relationships with their children.

 A donation of £270 will be made to the Child’s i Foundation which believes children should grow up in families, not orphanages. The charity has proved it is possible to find families for abandoned children instead of placing them into long-term care in Uganda.  Now Child’s i Foundation wants to change the lives of other children around the world. Said Kerry:  “I think that it is so important for children everywhere to be given the best start in life and we will continue to do whatever we can, even in small ways, to support this aspiration.”


Kerry Ferguson



 Shrewsbury’s ever-popular Santa Sleigh will soon begin its tour of the town and surrounding villages. Santa starts the six week long programme next Wednesday at the switch-on of the town’s Christmas lights.

 Santa and sleigh will be at the top of Pride Hill from 4.30 pm to greet children and welcome parents on behalf of the Rotary Club of Shrewsbury Severn.

 This will be the start of Rotary’s annual festive fundraising for local and Rotary charities.

 The full programme of Santa Sleigh visits so far arranged is:

 Wednesday Pride Hill

Saturday and Sunday November 18 and 19 Parade Shopping Centre Ice Rink starting at 11.30.

 December 2 Sainsbury’s from 10.00; December 3 Aldi from 10.00; December 5 Shawbury Village 6.00 onwards; December 7 Hadnall 6.00 onwards; December 9 and 10 Asda from 10.00; December 11 Pontesbury from 10.00; December 12 Mount Pleasant from 6.00; December 14 Castlefields from 6.00; December 16 Tesco from 10.00; December 17 Shrewsbury Town Football Club from 12.30; December 19 Shawbury Village from 6.00; December 21 Sundorne from 6.00; December 22 and 23 Morrisons from 10.00.

 For further information on times etc contact Colin Sharp at colingsharp@gmail.com



 The 2016 Rotary Tree of Light of Remembrance has been unveiled in its new home in the centre of Shrewsbury. Rotarians of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club have installed the Tree of Light in the porch of St. Mary’s Church where in opening hours, from 10.00-4.00 Monday to Saturday, it will be visible to passers-by in the town’s popular St. Mary’s Street. The 12ft tall tree has 600 bulbs as once again Rotary invites members of the public to ‘own’ a light in memory of someone or a cause dear to them with a gift of a minimum of £5.

The Rotary Clubs of Shrewsbury and Shrewsbury Darwin are once again joining Shrewsbury Severn as partners in promoting this annual Christmas tradition in partnership with the Shrewsbury Chronicle. For many years the Shrewsbury Chronicle has published the names of donors and  the names will also be displayed near the tree and on the Rotary website.

 Sponsorship forms are available through Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s treasurer Chris Yaxley who can be emailed at chris.yaxley@btinternet.com . This year’s proceeds from the St. Mary’s Church Tree of Light will be distributed between the Lingen Davies Cancer Fund, Alzheimer’s Society and Shropshire Prostate Cancer Support Group.

A service of dedication of the Tree of Light will be held at St. Mary’s Church at 7.00 pm on November 27 and all are welcome to attend.


 Rotarians Mike Mortimer (left) and Iain Gilmour beside the newly installed Rotary Tree of Light in the porch of St. Mary’s Church



 Malcolm Philcox talks a lot of hot air and flies by the seat of his pants!  So much so he thoroughly enjoys it and wouldn’t have it any other way. For the veteran hot air balloon enthusiast certainly knows his burners and baskets, not least his cylinders and fabrics, upside down and inside out whether flying straight ahead at a target or at 180 degrees.

He gave a most enlightening talk to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club on his story in hot air ballooning which goes back exactly to the date of August 12 1982 when he was offered a flight at BewdleySafari Park. “It was my first balloon flight and from then on I was hooked,” said Malcolm who went on to tell Rotarians that the first hot air balloon was launched in Paris in 1783. “Then the first gas balloon was launched and gas ballooning became the thing for many years and still continues to be – particularly on the continent.”

Germany was the leading country for hydrogen hot air ballooning and the first balloon in this country was the Bristol Belle which was made by Don Cameron, MBE, born 1939, an aeronautical engineer and founder of Cameron Balloons which still makes balloons today. He told how a New York newspaper proprietor by the name of Gordon Bennett sponsored a flying competition and as a result fixed wing flying had gone on to great developments.  The Gordon Bennett competition, he said, was now for gas balloons.

Modern hot air ballooning started in the United States 56 years’ ago and in describing the requirements of a pilot, he said meteorology was the key to everything involved in ballooning. Ballooning was weather dependent and because of that flying was carried out either first thing in the morning or in the evening when winds dropped off.  The cost, however, was not cheap. He explained that as well as the equipment, there were other significant costs, for example insurance.  However, virtually all crew did it for the enjoyment, and occasionally got to fly. Modern competition balloons were designed for manoeuvrability.  Efficient crewing and retrieving, said Malcolm, was important, particularly in a competition.  “Retrieving a balloon is an art as much as a skill,” he told Rotarians.

 With a 77.000 cubic foot balloon, you could explore the countryside and he illustrated, as well as described, the many different special and unusual shapes that attracted people to talk about hot air balloons. “You can make anything into a spectacular and bizarre hot air balloon,” as his slides showed, particularly the Sloggi. The largest balloon in which he flew only carried six people and he got to fly with pilots from all over the world, ‘some very good, a few very bad,’ said Malcolm. He spoke of ballooning competitions – particularly in Japan and Europe - which were all about accuracy and he likened the skill to that of a golfer.  “The best pilot won’t win everything, but will perform at the highest level than most.” He added:  “It was viewed as exciting when I got involved, but people’s perceptions changed once ‘bus rides’ came in.  Competition has become more technical and less fun for the crew.” 

 Malcolm, who now lives in Shrewsbury, was introduced by the club speaker secretary Rotarian John Yeomans who described him as a ‘friend and good neighbour.’ “He moved to Shrewsbury two years ago from Bewdley on the same development to mine, Old Meadow by the River Severn, and became involved as a volunteer on the Severn Valley Railway.

 “He won’t talk on that, but hot air ballooning.”

 Malcolm, whose father was a Rotarian and brother-in-law is a Rotarian, said he thought most people in Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club would know about the Severn Valley Railway, but not necessarily about ballooning though he afterwards admitted he was surprised at the number of Rotarians who had experienced a balloon flight. One of those, Rotarian Tony Pugh, had not only experienced ballooning from many years past, but knew Don Cameron.  “It is great fun doing retrieving,” said Tony.


Rotarian Tony Pugh, Malcolm Philcox, President Donald Thompson and Rotarian John Yeomans with a green balloon fabric that had been described in Malcolm’s talk.



A Shropshire Rotary club has been told that one in eight men will be affected with prostate cancer during their lifetime.  And there is no present cure. The aim of the Shropshire Prostate Cancer Support Group is therefore to support men and their families diagnosed with the disease, members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club have been told.

The group was started 10 years’ ago by four men who had suffered prostate cancer and all are still alive today. Rotarians were told by speakers Ian Bollingbrook and Graham Riley that this is a small group who distribute information and literature on the disease as well as any new developments with regard to treatment. A key aim, Shrewsbury Severn Rotary was told, is to alert men to seek regular medical checks to ascertain their PSA level.  This gives an indication of the presence of the disease. The higher the number, the greater the chance cancer is present and because the test is not 100% accurate it is not routinely offered as a screening test on the NHS. But doctors can order it if asked.

It was stressed to Rotarians that regular screening – possibly annual – is essential to spot the systems early.  Whilst there is no present cure, treatments can control the cancer. The group supports public prostate cancer screening events where they subsidise the £15 per person cost.  The test gives the person his PSA result which can be followed up if necessary with their GP.

The last screening event showed about 4% of men probably had the disease and were advised to seek further medical advice. The group has been nominated by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club as one of the beneficiaries of its forthcoming traditional Tree of Light campaign. 

The switch on will be at St. Mary’s Church, Shrewsbury, at 7.00 pm on November 27 and all are welcome. The money that the group raises is used to support screening events and purchase specialised equipment used in prostate biopsy.



The Rotary team met once again on Friday 14th October with the result that the memorial garden project neared completion as the picture below indicates.



Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club is amongst the first in the district to make a donation to the Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland Donations Trust which has set up the ‘Caribbean Hurricane Fund.’

The club agreed at its meeting on October 11 to donate £500 following the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew on the people in Haiti.

Rotary clubs throughout the district, which covers Shropshire, Staffordshire and parts of the West Midlands, are encouraged to make donations to the Donations Trust which is the appropriate vehicle for those looking to support rebuilding and reconstruction in the longer term following the disaster. Donations can be made via the link https://mydonate.bt.com/events/caribbeanhurricane/359590



 Shaukat Ali was born in the Punjab, North East Pakistan, but couldn’t speak a single word of English on moving to Lancashire at a young age. But worse for Shaukat was a really severe stammer which meant he couldn’t say a single word at school and confesses he didn’t do anything academically.

 “I knew I was intelligent and knew I could learn,” Shaukat told Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.  “I would go to the local library and get books out and study on my own. In those days there was no or very little support for stammers.  I had a few weeks of therapy with two other children. I was terrified of words. But I was determined and after much self-learning went on to study for an engineering degree, eventually becoming a chartered engineer.”

 Today, Shaukat Ali holds many academic qualifications, including a PhD and his current role is senior lecturer and research fellow at the University of Wolverhampton Business School. His experience is that children who start school with speech difficulty become shy, teased in the playground and can’t take part in activities. This impacts their life chances hence early intervention is essential. Parents, GPs and nurseries need to seek help as soon as a child shows symptoms of dysfluent speech. The chances of preventing a stammer at very high at this stage, but progressively decline with age.

 “Dysfluency in children starts to shape who they are and what they do in life.  Some manage their stammer and achieve various degrees of success. Former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has a stammer.  Almost in all fields there are people with a stammer. But it doesn’t mean they are not intelligent or cannot do a job or pass exams.” Dr. Ali told Rotarians that one percent of the UK’s population suffered from a stammer and revealed that scientists were taking part in trials to find the signs and causes of stammering. There is neurological basis for it, often triggered by environmental factors. “For some there is no cure or technique that can change that, but you can get short term temporary relief from a variety of therapies and using various tools and techniques.  I have had short periods of near total fluency, but these are particularly hard to manage and maintain on a permanent basis.” He said stammering was a predominantly male problem – about five to one male to female all over the world.

 Dr. Chris Allsop, a member of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, said Dr. Ali’s talk was most ‘thought provoking’ due to the complexity of speech and how language is co-ordinated. “If not working properly speech is ineffective and I only hope early intervention which is so important will produce a long term result.” He added that there were 25 speech and language therapists in Shropshire for children with a stammer.


 Left to right Speaker’s Secretary Rotarian John Yeomans, Dr. Shaukat Ali and Rotarian Dr. Chris Allsop who gave a vote of thanks.



A husband and wife were both in winning teams in a Rotary golf competition.

Iain Gilmour was a member of the three man team which won the 18 hole competition for the Niel Kelly Trophy. Niel was a founder member of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary Club, now Shrewsbury Severn, and was its president in the millennium year of 2000.

After a close run game on a sunny September afternoon at Shrewsbury Golf Club,  Condover, in which 14 members and guests competed, Iain, Darryl Evans and Colin Sharp – all Rotarians - were presented with the trophy by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s Immediate Past President Kerry Ferguson.

In addition to the winners, prizes were awarded to the ladies team of Marjorie Gilmour, Sandra Haw and Gill Ferguson as well as to team captain Sandra Kelly and Rotarian Willie Strachan as ‘rookie golfer’ of the competition.  Kerry Ferguson congratulated all who had taken part.

Following the prize-giving, Rotarians and guests retired to the dining room for a well earned dinner.

 Left to right Colin, Iain, Darryl and Kerry


Attachments area


Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club announce that their Tree of Light dedication ceremony will be at St. Mary’s Church, Shrewsbury, on November 27, starting at 7.00 pm. The Mayor and High Sheriff will be among the attendees. All are welcome.

The club will be holding a pensioners’ party and carol service at the United Reformed Church, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, on December 4.

The club’s Santa Sleigh programme starts with the switching on of Shrewsbury’s Christmas lights in the town centre on November 16. Then Santa and the sleigh will be at The Parade Shopping Centre in town on November 19 and 20. The programme of visits to villages, supermarkets and housing areas starts in earnest on December 3 and continues until December 23. Come along and meet Santa – there could be a mince pie as well!



She came along to the Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club as a completely different person. Emily Griffiths, shy and retiring on her first visit prior to the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) camp, was a totally reformed character – by her own admission - on her return. Members of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club who had heard her talk prior to her RYLA experience couldn’t believe it was the same girl. So confident, enthusiastic and outward, her personality had changed beyond belief.

Rotary is so pleased because sponsorship of RYLA means so much to the candidates who are sponsored – as well as to members of the club who firmly back the long-established project. Emily, 17, of Monkmoor, Shrewsbury, admitted that before she went on the RYLA course she was ‘sceptical.’  “I didn’t think it was for me.  I don’t do danger things like building coracles and getting myself soaked for the sake of it. You have proved me wrong.  RYLA was a very good experience.”

In a half hour talk to the club, the girl who could barely talk for a couple of minutes previously, told Rotarians all about her ice-breaking experiences which had an impact on her - included getting soaked when she was squirted with water guns.

She took part in building a bridge over a lake and taking part in a ‘massive walk when it was absolutely peeing it down.’“At that time I thought I absolutely hate this,” said Emily.  “I was getting stressed out on expeditions. Now I think it is really funny.  People who were in my team have become really good friends. Members of the team were really there for me and made me a different person. “We made masks and decorated them,” said Emily who wants to become a paediatric nurse. “At the end I felt I had known these people for years.  My team members really pushed me forward as a team leader for the rest of the course. These people are my friends and I felt like I had known them for ever. I feel I wanted to be around these people for the rest of my life although I had only known them for three or four days. It was the most revealing and dramatic experience in my life.  I got my confidence out of it.  Now I feel confident in myself.  I have lots of friends and I have learned how to make friends. I thank you for giving me this opportunity – you are really nice people.”



A Shropshire Rotary club is making an immediate £500 donation to a local charity which is planning urgent repairs to a leaking flat roof in a child protection unit in RomaniaThe Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club is responding to the urgent request from the Shrewsbury-based charity Operation Sabre which aims to protect the most vulnerable who reside in Mures County, Transylvania, Romania.

Operation Sabre is endeavouring to support the child protection unit which provides a refuge and secure accommodation for young and vulnerable mothers – some as young as 13 – and their children. The immediate priority is to repair the leaking roof causing dampness and mould within a baby recreation area.  Shrewsbury Severn Rotary understands that during the team’s visit every effort will be made not only to repair the roof, but launch a three year decorating and renovation programme for the child protection centre.

Operation Sabre has already undertaken a major renovation project at an old people’s home and delivered humanitarian aid to the elderly as well as to vulnerable children. Said Rotarian Chris Allsop, chair of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s International Committee:  “Sadly, on every visit, volunteers from the charity discover further essential work necessary to improve living conditions in this impoverished area.

“Operation Sabre is a charity of Shropshire Firefighter volunteers with whom we have a long connection.” To date the charity has delivered 28 fully equipped fire engines and over 2,000 sets of firefighting uniforms to Mures CountyThe Rotary club has learned that Operation Sabre will be returning to Mures County next month with volunteers taking vehicles and equipment for donation to remote communities who currently wait up to an hour for a fire engine to arrive in an emergency. On behalf of Operation Sabre, Operation Sabre’s President/Chairman Steve Worrall said the charity was extremely grateful to the Rotary club – formerly Shawbury and Mid Shropshire. He added that a further donation would secure the necessary materials to carry out the essential roof repairs as well as the internal decoration.



 A top Rotarian whose aims include ridding the world of polio told one of the Shropshire Rotary clubs that household names Donovan and Mia Farrow had poliomyelitis. Rotarian John Sayer, Governor of the Rotary District that covers Shropshire, Staffordshire and parts of the West Midlands, told Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club that only that morning he had heard of another case of polio in Nigeria. He said the elimination of polio was the most important and biggest project in which Rotary was involved.  Thirty one years ago there were 1,000 cases a day.

 “So far this calendar year there have been just 22 cases including one we heard about today. But what a tremendous achievement that a group of volunteers have done.  I think we deserve to pat ourselves on the back for it. However, the job is not yet over.  There are still 22 children who may never walk again; 22 children who may never climb a tree, kick a football or go to a dance.  That’s why we have got to finish the job.We must make sure every child in the world is immunised for three years after the last case to hit the polio virus on the head. It takes three clear years before the World Health Organisation can say polio has been eliminated from this planet.”

 He said that through the purchase of a crocus lapel badge Rotarians could help raise funds and awareness.  And he encouraged the club to put a collecting box in their meeting place.

 “I have a teddy bear I take to events and club visits to raise awareness. The work Rotary has done on polio is very important and it is tremendously important to our future that our role is recognised.”

 Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club has agreed to increase its contributions to Rotary’s End Polio Now fund.


The polio teddy bear is on the globe behind Rotary District Governor John Sayer (centre) with Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s President Donald Thompson on the left and Vice President Colin Sharp (right)




Nearly twenty years ago the then Rotary Club of Shawbury and Mid-Shropshire, under the leadership of President Gerald Chidlow, designed and built the Memorial Garden at Shawbury village church. Time has moved on and, although a popular and well used feature, the garden has become difficult for elderly parishioners to maintain, so in response to a request from the church administration, the renamed Shrewsbury Severn club has undertaken to restore the Garden using artificial turf, new borders and new gravel. It is work in progress but around 100 man hours have already been devoted to the project with an estimated 50 still to go. The pictures show progress made on the two days allocated to date.



 News of the activities of Shrewsbury Food Hub – the first in the UK - set up to collect surplus food from supermarkets which is distributed to community groups and charities, has been broken for the first time - to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club. Rotarians were the first to hear of the breakthrough Shrewsbury Food Hub is making to save money for charities and local groups – and prevent food waste. 

 Shrewsbury Food Hub, through 15 volunteer drivers, will this year distribute between 10 and 15 tonnes of supermarket surplus food to groups like school breakfast clubs, Shrewsbury Ark, Shropshire Mind and Severn Hospice. The number of recipients of the food, including bread, fruit and vegetables, is within its first four months already up to18 groups on a regular weekly basis and this is expected to grow during the year.

 Thanks to Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s the distribution of surplus food is growing and in a talk to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club Dr. Katy Anderson described how the organisation was expanding. It started with the distribution of half a tonne of food in the first few weeks – ‘of great value to the people to whom it was sent,’ she told Rotarians.  The Hub is now regularly serving 18 ‘hard pressed’ community groups every week. Said Katy:  “This service reduces supermarket waste and enables food to be used that would have previously gone to waste.

 “We hadn’t realised that the Hub was the first of its kind in the UK, as we were simply responding to the need of local charities to have help in collecting surplus food from supermarkets.  However, the group that manages M & S’s surplus food Neighbourly noticed that thanks to our service, Meole Brace M & S was distributing food far more often than other stores. We’re working on the numbers, but it appears that we’re moving four times more food than the normal approach where a store has one or two charity partners.  Neighbourly sent a film crew to find out how we do it. One of the Hub’s objectives this year is to recruit a 20 strong volunteer team to operate in the north of the town as well as to involve collections from all the major supermarkets thereby distributing another 10 to 15 tonnes of surplus food. People perceive supermarkets are the cause of food waste, but we throw away millions of tonnes more from our own homes .  We are trying to get the message out about food waste and how it can be reduced,” she added.

 Guests at the meeting included Rotarians Brian and Carol Reilly.  Carol, a member of Walsall Saddlers Rotary Club, is District Governor 2017/18 and Brian, a member of Aldridge Rotary Club, is District Governor 2019/20.

Left to right Brian, Carol, Katy and Donald Thompson, President of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club



 It was a night of celebration and the ladies took centre stage.


The occasion was a toast to the newly named Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club at Pengwern Boat Club on the banks of the River Severn. Photographs show tents in the Quarry in readiness for Shrewsbury Flower Show and a fully lit river cruiser passing by during the late evening.


Stephen Roberts entertained on the keyboard with a very wide selection of popular and classical music and in traditional fashion ‘a good time was had by all.’


Thanks go to the organising team led by Willie and Lesley Strachan.



 A picture fitting with a location at which the newly named Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club met on Tuesday July 26. The photo of members attending that evening was taken in the grounds of the Mytton and Mermaid Hotel, Atcham, with the distinctive bridge to the side.

 And although the River Severn which flows through Atcham couldn’t actually be seen, it was there…behind the group of Rotarians. The evening was a ‘first’ for the newly named club – an ‘Anything Goes’ evening at a different venue to kick off the new Rotary year which President Donald Thompson is confident will be a happy and successful one for the club and its members.

 It should be pointed out that for whatever reason not all 41 members of the club could be present on the evening.

 Anyone interested in joining Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club can contact the President on 01743 761183.


 More than £16,000 of charitable donations has recently been made by Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club which was formerly Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary Club. Among the major beneficiaries are The Shrewsbury Ark, Alzheimer’s Society, and Lingen Davies Cancer Fund who have all just received a further £748 from Gift Aid receipts following the Rotary club’s 2015 Tree of Light campaign.

 As one of the beneficiaries, Ian Somervaille, honorary treasurer of The Shrewsbury Ark commented in a letter of thanks to the club:  “I had not expected this additional donation which makes it all the more welcome and is therefore the icing on the cake.” He said:  “We have just taken on responsibility for an outreach service across the whole of Shropshire Council’s area, responding to reports of rough sleepers and trying to resolve the problems that have caused their homelessness.” He added that the level of support received from individuals and local organisations such as Rotary gave The Shrewsbury Ark confidence they would be able to help fund former clients so they do not rapidly become homeless again.

 Leanne Meara, Customer Care Officer of Azheimer’s Society, said the further donation from Rotary ‘would be put to work right away to help people living with dementia and their carers.’

 Liz Kyle, Acting Fundraising Manager for Lingen Davies, said the gift aid on the original donation would help towards raising funds for an additional Linear Accelerator (LINAC) which she said is ‘desperately needed to ensure that waiting times for radiotherapy treatment do not increase.’

 Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’s treasurer Chris Yaxley emphasised the benefit of Gift Aid towards increasing donations to beneficiaries from their Tree of Light. And together with the club’s Santa Sleigh donations Rotary has been able to donate over £16,000 to charity.




 The first member to be inducted into the newly named Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club – formerly Shawbury and Mid Shropshire – is a man who hails from County Galway in the West of Ireland.

 Fred McDonogh, a chemical engineer, has worked some 38 years in various segments of the aluminium industry – a career that has taken him to nine countries, from Scotland to Australia and Canada to Abu Dhabi. The lowest temperature he encountered was -50C when he was in Quebec and the highest was +50C in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  The most humid was Malaysia and the driest Australia. Married to Deirdre, he has two adult daughters and has made Shrewsbury his family home for the past 14 years.

 Interestingly, his home is close to the River Severn which now encompasses the new name of the Rotary club. Fred is a keen cook and gardener and what he describes as a ‘periodic allotmenteer’ as well as ‘an average bridge player and a debutant sailor.’  He also plays golf which he says is ‘always badly.’

 Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club recently received its new charter from District Governor Elect John Sayer who is now District Governor for Shropshire, Staffordshire and parts of the West Midlands.

 Kerry Ferguson, Past President, inducts Fred into the newly named Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club while John Sayer (right), now District Governor, tells Fred what a good Rotary club he has joined!



The date has been announced for the inaugural switch on of the three Shrewsbury Rotary Clubs Tree of Light. This will be at St. Mary’s Church, St. Mary’s Street, Shrewsbury, on November 27. The tree will be situated in the porch of St. Mary’s Church, visible from the street, and locked up at night.



 Shrewsbury Town in the Community, a registered charity for Shrewsbury Town Football Club, was one of the best kept secrets, Rotarians have been told. Jamie Edwards, a former professional footballer who now runs Shrewsbury Town in the Community to ‘engage and inspire the local community,’ said this fact had emerged during presentations he had made across the county.

 Speaking at a meeting of the newly named Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, Jamie said locals should be proud to have a football club in their town and they wanted to give everyone the opportunity to represent Shrewsbury Town Football Club no matter of age, gender or ability. The charity’s staff are proud to wear the badge of Shrewsbury Town which was a recognisable brand, though ShrewsburyTown in the Community was a not so well known registered charity.

 In his video presentation to Rotarians, he said all 92 clubs in the Football League had a registered charity working alongside them and they all had varying levels of income. This engaged 7.8m people across the country and despite the rivalry of the clubs the charities worked closely together, Shrewsbury with Stoke, Wolves and Chester in particular. Shrewsbury Town in the Community, who employed 16 full time members of staff, had 5,917 individual participants and delivered 1,586 individual sessions in 2015. They had secured a licence from the FA for a Regional Talent Club for girls aged 12-16 and he went on to say that one of the Community’s biggest successes was walking football for different age groups.

 He said they were teaching skills to young people with a mixture of disabilities and this was ‘really successful.’  ShrewsburyTown in the Community was also looking to support dementia where they could, including getting football memories to stimulate conversations with dementia patients. They had started a ‘Reading the Game’ workbook which would be all about Shrewsbury Town and they were delivering literacy to boys and girls aged 5 to 14. He spoke of how the charity was improving facilities at Ludlow and had secured £60,000 worth of funding from partners.  “The turnover is now over half a million pounds and we have moved into a new community hub.

 “We are sustainable and we are looking at different ways in which we can obtain unrestricted funds.  We are in a good position to cherry pick the work we want to do for our area.” Beneficiaries were primary and secondary schools through foundation degrees up to the age of 21, adult disability teams and the elderly with the walking football project. “We couldn’t run without the support of the football club’s backing and the brand and I can’t speak highly enough of the football clubs board and chairman’s support,” he added.

 Jamie, 33, who originates from Herefordshire, described how he was involved with Hereford United through Graham Turner (former Shrewsbury Town manager). He played and coached in Melbourne and Sydney and had set up his own business delivering curriculum led courses in schools.  He had been with Shrewsbury Town in the Community for just over two years and said no two days were ever the same. “I am meeting Dave Edwards (former Shrewsbury Town footballer) tomorrow to discuss how well Wales did.  And there’s nothing like walking through the doors of a football stadium to begin work every day.”

 In a vote of thanks, Rotarian Fred McDonogh described Jamie’s presentation as ‘inspirational.’

Jamie (left) is welcomed to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club by its President Donald Thompson



On the night a new president took over, it was the end of an era for Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary Club after 30 years. Rotarian Donald Thompson succeeded Kerry Ferguson and District Governor Elect John Sayer presented the club with a new charter in the name of Shrewsbury Severn. It was a momentous evening with Kerry outlining highlights of his year before handing over to Donald who began by saying ‘What a great bunch of guys you are and I would like you to applaud yourselves.’

 Kerry began by saying it had been a rapid year adding ‘My view of the role of president isn’t so much to be a leader but keeper – and supporter - of the club. Everything we have done this year is a reflection of the way everyone has played their part.  We started with 41 active members and finished up with 41 active members as well.”

 He praised the Santa Sleigh, including the role of Rotarian Colin Sharp, and Tree of Light which he said had done ‘its usual job.’  He outlined the many fundraising highlights as well as the range of activities and the speakers organised by Rotarian Garth Joscelyne. Socially, Willie Strachan and his team had done a ‘good job’ and he also thanked John Yeomans for organising the Christmas carol service and party for the elderly, an event he hoped would be repeated. He also spoke of Colin Sharp’s ‘great efforts’ around Christmas and Peter Love’s ‘enormous’ contribution to club and district publicity.  He described Tony Pugh as one of the club’s ‘unsung heroes’ and Peter Bone who had taken over the wine raffle and grace.

 His two candidates for Rotarian of the Year had both done so much work in their respective functions and he rewarded treasurer Chris Yaxley and secretary Gareth Watkins. “Rotarian of the Year is jointly Chris and Gareth,” said Kerry who added that from his president’s fund he would be donating to Grange School, to Home Support helping families with pre-school children and a children’s organisation inUganda uniting completely abandoned children with their parents. He said he was handing over a club which was functioning well into the capable hands of Donald Thompson adding ‘I am sure you will give Don the same amount of support you gave to me.’

On taking over the chain of office, Donald said it was a pleasurable task to show the club’s gratitude to Kerry as well as its thanks and appreciation. “Bloody marvellous, Kerry, and thank you to the chairs who have agreed to carry on under my presidency as well as to every single member of the club.”

District Governor Elect John gave thanks to past president Kerry for all he had done in the Rotary year and said he was ‘delighted’ to present a revised charter to a club which had been in existence for 30 years and had an enviable record of service within their community.

He said the club had carried out a tremendous amount of fundraising, regularly donating to the Rotary Foundation and was delighted that members would be donating to the polio fund in the next Rotary year. “It is a great pleasure on behalf of District Governor Richard Green and the President of Rotary International to present the club with the new Charter in the name of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.”



  The magnificent Hodnet Hall Gardens were the venue for a memorable visit by Rotarians and partners of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary Club. A party of 40 enthusiasts spent over an hour and a half walking round the variety of garden areas now open to members of the public. The extensive range of trees, bushes and flowers of many different descriptions – as well as stone features - were a real picture as the photos below illustrate. Whether the woodland, circular, Camellia or water gardens, there was something to enthuse everyone with many saying they planned a return visit to witness the changing scene in the autumn or spring.

 Afterwards, at supper at the nearby Bear Hotel, President Kerry Ferguson thanked Rotarian Stephen Rogers for organising the visit which he said had been extremely popular.



 Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary, shortly to change its name to Shrewsbury Severn, will have two newly appointed officers amongst its ranks for the new Rotary year starting July 1. With a brief to enhance the profile of the club in the community, Rotarian Geoff Lloyd takes on the mantle of Community Relations Officer. His sphere of operation will also include building relationships with organisations and businesses as well as raising the profile of Rotary in the town.

 Mike Mortimer – like Geoff a past president of the club - becomes Social Media Officer, liaising with Geoff Lloyd and Communications Officer Peter Love, to more actively introduce the club to the digital world of Facebook and Twitter.

 The appointments were announced by incoming President Donald Thompson in a presentation to members at the annual Club Assembly where he also introduced the programme and objectives of Rotary for the year ahead. He emphasised the importance of the appointments to the newly named Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club as well as making Shrewsbury a Rotary town and working together with the two other local clubs. One idea put forward was for the three clubs to run a charity shop in the town. During the presentation expressions of regret were made following the news that the long established Market Drayton Rotary Club is to disband due to an ageing membership.

 Incoming President Donald said this would become an ever-increasing challenge if Shrewsbury Severn was to maintain the existence of the club into the long term. He listed many of the professions/jobs not represented within the club and invited members to think about how each and every one could attract such people to join.

 He added that the club had a new Junior Vice President Julian Wells. Committee chairs outlined their proposals for the Rotary year ahead before District representative Gary Sharpe advised that global grants could be used to support local projects, not just international ones, and that with payment into Foundation, Rotary’s charity, half came back to the club after three to support grants. “Polio is still a Rotary priority and we need a polio free world for three years before we can confidently say it is eradicated. You are a very enthusiastic Rotary club, running a lot of projects and at the same time having fun,” he added.

Incoming President Donald Thompson (right) makes a point to Gary Sharpe (left) and Kerry Ferguson



 Rea Valley Riding for the Disabled has been presented with a cheque for £500 by the Rotary club of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire.

 In one of his last engagements as club president Kerry Ferguson visited Berriewood, where Rea Valley meets, to hand over the cheque to Carla Howarth, chair of Rea Valley Riding for the Disabled Association. The money brings the Rotary club’s support of Rea Valley Riding for the Disabled to a total of £1,500 over the last two years. Said Carla who is also county chair of Riding for the Disabled Association Shropshire:  “We are indebted to Kerry Ferguson and all the gentlemen of the soon to be named 'Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club’ for yet more support for Rea Valley RDA. 

 “We are so grateful to them for their hard work in raising money throughout the year and donating to causes such as RDA. Our group at Berriewood will be able to purchase much needed equipment and provide the support systems necessary to keep all our clients riding throughout the year.”

 Previous monies have been used to service a hoist to elevate a rider from a wheelchair to a horse.  For children with different kinds of medical problems benefit from riding. The latest donation from Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary will not only be used for the replacement of equipment, but also for the group’s end of season fun day.

Instructors at Rea Valley Riding for the Disabled



 For ‘The One’ there could only be one farewell gift.

 A blend of English, Scotch and Welsh whisky made in the Lake District which was presented to Rotarian Alex Reid on his retirement from Rotary after four decades. The presentation was made by Kerry Ferguson, President of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary Club where Alex has been a member since 2002.

 At a supper which followed a club visit to Hodnet Hall Gardens, Rotarian Chris Clayton said Alex had previously served in Hagley Rotary Club where he was also its president. “He has put his heart and soul into everything connected with Rotary and for all the effort he put in he was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship. We shall miss Alex and hope he comes back occasionally.  For now, it is has been good knowing you – you cantankerous old fool – and we will see you again.”

 In response, a clearly delighted Alex said “The One – that’s me!” He said afterwards that Rotary had given him a ‘wonderful time’ which had resulted in him meeting some ‘wonderful people’ from many parts of the world. “I still keep in touch with a lot of people, particularly in America and South America, because Rotary is such a great organisation. I am so very proud to have been involved in Rotary with Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary Club, soon to change its name to Shrewsbury Severn, and meeting some great people.  I have so many happy memories – Rotary has been a super experience.”

 To ‘The One’ – from left Diane, Kerry, Alex and Donald



 On one of his final club visits, a very relaxed District Governor Richard Green was a welcome guest at Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary before the club changes its name to Shrewsbury Severn from July 1. The DG commented on the name change during a brief talk at the beginning of the June 7 meeting and further added:  “Thank you for the terrific support I have had  from the club.

 “Across the district we have achieved so much and your club has been in the forefront with the Christmas carol concert, Santa sleigh and Tree of Light; your £500 donation to the flood relief appeal played a significant part in enabling us to send a total of £48,000. You are supporting Riding for the Disabled, you sent a ShelterBox to Lesbos to help with the refugee problem, and you are one of the leading clubs in the Lend with Care scheme, enabling our District to stand at number two in the league table of participating Districts in Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland. You are helping people in the third world get back to work with a small amount of money through this scheme. I am pleased to say that we haven't had a single bad debt so that all the money is continuously recycled. I also praise the club’s support for fire fighters in Romania.”

 He added:  “Thank you for the work this club has done under President Kerry Ferguson during my year as District Governor.”

Kerry Ferguson, President of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary (left) welcomes District Governor Richard Green to the club.



 A shocking insight into the world of paedophilia has been given to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary. A talk by a long serving detective in the Metropolitan Police gave some horrific and disturbing details of how paedophiles exploit and abuse young children. Sickening cases were related by Jim Cavenham who has spent the last six years working in the paedophile department at the Met – the biggest unit in the country dealing with children predators. He said that the unit concentrated on online predators who were especially dangerous because children online were very vulnerable.

 “The children we concentrate on are the younger ones – even from babies,” said Jim.  “There are images and videos we haven’t come across before and when we watch these videos we are trying to identify these children and get them out of that situation. We look at carpets and furniture to help us narrow things down.”

 From the 16th floor of an office building in London, he and his colleagues download and view images of child pornography. “This is our job,” he told Rotarians. “We have a lot of successes through our detection team.”

He explained the distinction between the image offender and contact offender.  “Image offenders tend to be a priority from a publicity standpoint but contact offenders, a hands on offender, are more dangerous. We recently arrested 36 people for abusing the same child.” He told the story of a British Airways pilot who abused children in Kenya using his “respectability” as a BA pilot to gain access. This was a terrible job, he told Rotarians. “There were also dozens of victims in Uganda which included an orphanage. I spent a lot of time in East Africa on this case,” said Jim.  “There were a total of 162 cases but we know he was doing exactly the same thing in Tanzania as well. We charged him, he was given bail and he went to a train track where he committed suicide.”



The future of RAF Shawbury – which will be celebrating its centenary next year - is ‘secure for many years to come.’ A new contract has been awarded to UK industry to supply rotary wing training to the Armed Forces. This will include the delivery of 29 Airbus H135 and 3 Airbus H145 training helicopters.

This fantastic news was delivered to Rotarians by Group Captain Jason Appleton, Station Commander at RAF Shawbury, on his inaugural visit to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary Club. Future military aircrew will benefit from the very latest training methods, enabling them to undertake operational roles across a range of front line aircraft types, including Apache, Chinook, Merlin and Wildcat. It will also create new infrastructure and install cutting-edge synthetic training equipment at RAF Shawbury. Royal Air Force Shawbury has a broad training remit through the Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS) and the School of Air Operations Control (SAOC). Student helicopter pilots and rear crew from all three services receive their instruction at DHFS.

This year the DHFS will train approximately 215 helicopter aircrew including 100 pilots, 50 Weapon System Operators (WSOs - Crewman/Air Loadmaster), 50 Qualified Helicopter Instructors (QHIs) and 15 Qualified Helicopter Crewman Instructors (QHCIs). SAOC trains RAF and Royal Navy air traffic controllers and the Flight Operations Training Squadron, part of SAOC, also trains RAF and Army personnel. A total of 230 personnel were trained over the last year at SAOC using virtual reality simulators. The course is intensive, with trainees controlling up to six aircraft at a time. It is a difficult course with an 80% pass rate. As well as training students to a world-leading standard, Shawbury is a showcase for International Defence Training, delivering training to foreign and commonwealth personnel.

 Group Captain Appleton revealed many interesting statistics, particularly regarding the 25 Squirrel and 11 Griffinhelicopters. RAF Shawbury typically has 55 sorties a day, adding up to 23,500 flying hours over the skies of Shropshire. He said: “We try to minimise the disturbance to the local community by spreading our noise footprint throughout the Low Flying Area. Every single flight is controlled and logged and if there is a complaint, it is investigated.

 “There are 78 fields throughout Shropshire which the helicopters have permission to use through the kind support of local farmers and landowners.”

 He added: “Engaging with the local community is important in maintaining support for this essential training. Our trainees are often out and about in the community raising money for charity or completing community projects at local schools, churches, gardens and community centres. Last year we hosted 90 visits with another 150 liaison visits throughout Shropshire.”

 The audience also heard about the history of RAF Shawbury. Originally a World War 1 airfield which opened in 1917, the base has seen many different aircraft, including the Avro 505, Sopwith Camels, Airspeed Oxfords,Lancasters, Lincolns, Halifaxes and Wellingtons to name just a few. The base is justifiably proud of the part it played in the record breaking secret Lancaster “Aries” flights which circumnavigated the globe in 1944 as well as subsequent polar and speed flights. The arrival of helicopters in 1997 and the Defence Helicopter Flying School shaped the future for the base and it is now world renowned for the excellence of its helicopter flying training.

Group Captain Appleton described himself as coming from a working class background in Bolton and was aged 17 when the Air Force gave him his first opportunity on a 6th Form scholarship. He has been associated with RAF Shawbury since 1993 and is very proud to be back at the base serving as its Station Commander.


Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary President Kerry Ferguson welcomes Group Captain Jason Appleton to the club



 Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary’s latest Tree of Light fundraising will support a local garden of remembrance as well as two charities and a school.

 Continuing their season of giving, the Rotary club is to present a total of £1,250.

 Rotarians have agreed to give £250 to Crucial Crew, a similar sum to Riding for the Disabled and the Grange Primary School.

 In addition, £500 will be spent on materials to improve the garden of remembrance at Shawbury Churchyard where the club is seeking volunteer Rotarians to spend two consecutive Saturday mornings on the work.

 Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary designed and built the garden of remembrance and the tidying up process will take place on June 4 and 11.

 These latest donations are from the club’s Tree of Light fundraising in 2015.



 Twenty nine members and partners of Rugby Rotary – formed in 1922 – visited Shawberry and Mid Shropshire Rotary for the first fellowship evening of its kind. During the two course meal at the Lord Hill Hotel, members of both Rotary clubs communicated and completed a quiz paper challenging their respective knowledge of both the towns of Rugby and Shrewsbury.

 Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotarian Ian Stewart, who was educated in Rugby and spent his formative years in the town, gave a presentation on the history of Rugby from its establishment in the Iron Age. Commenting on the Queen’s visit to Rugby, he said:  “I sat in her coach when she visited Rugby Show.”

 The President of Rugby Rotary Kevin Kiernan, who only joined Rotary 10 years ago, expressed his club’s ‘delight’ to be with Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary and thanked the club for its invitation. “In 1999 we started a millennium project called Tree of Light which you already had underway and we contacted you and Paul Firmin (former Shawbury and Mid Shropshire President and founder of the Tree of Light) gave us all the information we needed. Because of our connection with you we have been able to raise thousands of pounds on behalf of hospices in Rugby.”

He produced a karaf book representing a ‘lovely’ record of what Rugby Rotary is doing.  Members and guests of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rota all signed the book.

 Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary President Kerry Ferguson said it was a ‘first and last’ as far as the name of the club was concerned.   “For when we meet up again Shawbury and Mid Shropshire will become Shrewsbury Severn which is a more appropriate name and more accurately represents our aims and objectives, though we shall still continue to strongly support the Shawbury community.”


 An exchange of banners between Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary President Kerry Ferguson (left) and President of Rugby Rotary Kevin Kiernan



 An induction, together with two very varied job talks, was the platform for the latest meeting of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary. Gordon Channon, a neighbour of Rotarian Stephen Rogers, was sponsored by Rotarian Iain Gilmour who said they had known each other for many years through the League of Friends and later on the golf course.

 Gordon’s career had ranged from being an accountant with British Oxygen to general management and finally BT where he had 11,000 people working for him.  He even bought a vineyard. A family man with two children, he is a governor of Shrewsbury College and sits on the Shropshire Education Appeals Panel. Gordon told the meeting he welcomed the opportunity to join Rotary.  “My life has been corporate seven days a week and I spent a lot of my time on aeroplanes.  Therefore I find Rotary a lot more exhilarating and an opportunity to give something back is more important to me because I didn’t have the opportunity to do that in corporate life. I am looking forward to getting involved in contributing to the community as much as I can as well as meeting people.  I have enjoyed the company of people here and the welcome I have had. I really look forward to being an active member,” he added.

 Gordon was inducted by President Kerry who presented him with his Rotary badge (photo) and welcome pack.

 For further details on joining Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary, contact President Kerry on 01743 364908.

 The next part of the meeting comprised two ‘soap box’ type talks by Rotarians Philip Johnson and Peter Savage. Philip spoke of his desire to visit the most northerly point of the American continent after visiting the most southerly (Ushuaia) some years ago. Alaska, at two and a half times the size of Texas, has a vast dramatic terrain of glaciers, lakes and mountains up to 6000 meters high. The most northerly point, Barrow, is an Inuit town of wooden huts on the edge of the ice-floe pack where polar bears roam and the only restaurant is Mexican which hosts the most northerly Rotary club in the world. He then spoke of driving across Alaska taking five days to reach a small town called Haines, on the way encountering Alaskan pot-holes, frosties as they are known there, which can be up to two miles long. From Haines he went by boat, train and bus to Whitehorse, in the Yukon and on to the Rockies, but that is another story.

 Will writer and estate planner Peter Savage provided some thought provoking questions in three different scenarios concerning the interpretation of wills. He skilfully used members of the club to make some effective points in terms of how a will lets you decide what happens to your money, property and possessions after your death and in making a will protecting the family home and other assets from being seized to pay for care home fees. “I have never seen the subject so well explained,” said President Kerry.  “What you have told us is very worrying, but nevertheless excellent advice.”

Gordon Channon joins Shawbury and South Shropshire Rotary Club

Peter and Philip toss coins for who speaks first



 Shrewsbury College’s HQPA Performing Arts group is to be congratulated once again on another entertaining and polished performance of a musical in the Walker Theatre. A party from Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary was among a sell out audience for the first of two performances of Made in Dagenham which was given a standing ovation.

 A visit to the theatre to see the College’s Performing Arts group is becoming a popular feature in the Rotary calendar – thanks to the enthusiastic organising of Rotarian Iain Gilmour. The rousing numbers, creative dancing, costumes, scenery and of course boundless energy of the students all contributed to making this a really entertaining and enjoyable evening in the compact and friendly Walker Theatre.

 The show was certainly full of fun and laughter as well as having touching and heartfelt scenes. The college’s appeal for spare overalls for the actors to wear during the two night show clearly paid off.  For the overalls helped to make the show authentic and realistic as the story is based at Ford’s Dagenham plant.

For those who were unable to attend, the musical comedy is about friendship, love and the importance of what is right.  The main character, Rita O’Grady, acts as the spokesperson for a group of female workers at the plant who go on strike to fight the inequality that becomes apparent when women workers were to be paid less as they were classed as unskilled. But Made in Dagenham also tells the story of how Rita, a working woman and mother, becomes a union leader amidst the strike, despite the wishes of her husband and children who feel neglected by her focus on labour issues.



 Rotarian Richard Dunicliff, 87, who passed away last month, had been a founder member of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary. At a special thanksgiving service, a past president Rotarian Brian Leverton recalled how he and Richard attended the first of the formation meetings of the club in those early days and that friendship grew from them both becoming founder members.

 Richard supported fundraising and individual efforts to assist others and helped to plant hundreds of daffodil bulbs on the roadside in Shawbury.  He derived much pleasure from being in Rotary, which included offering advice and guidance to new members of the club for which they expressed appreciation.

 In his tribute at the United Reformed Church, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, where Richard and Margaret had worshipped since 1954, Brian told the tale of how the couple were great travellers and were pleased when the club started to arrange weekend visits to European cities. Before going to one of these, Madrid, the party of Rotarians had been warned of pickpockets around the city.  One evening a group were returning to their hotel after dinner when two men tried to steal Brian’s wallet. “Help came from a local man aided by Richard who used his brolly to good effect.  Both men ran off – without the wallet. We shall all miss Richard greatly, but hope to continue to see much of Margaret in the future,” he added.

The Rev. Tim Harwood, Minister of the United Reformed Church, read a tribute from Margaret to whom Richard had been married for 62 years.  She said Richard had enjoyed Round Table and becoming its chairman. 41 Club was a follow on and he remained a member for the rest of his life.  He was approached to join a new Rotary club and became a founder member of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary. “Rotary rapidly became an important part of his life.  He enjoyed fellowship and activities.  He enjoyed banter with his fellow members.  He laughed at his own quirky brand of humour! He was thankful for the kindness Rotary offered when he was unwell and enjoyed the company and conversation with those members who visited him when he was at Radbrook Nursing Home – which he described as ‘his hotel’ – when Margaret recently required an operation.”

 The couple, who have two daughters, a son and seven grandchildren, have lived in Shrewsbury since 1959.



Rotary fellowship enjoyed by Richard on the left of the Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary group photographed on a visit by Rotarian Lynne Marshall when she was District Governor 2014-2015



 A new hostel to rescue girls being trafficked in India has provided a fitting sequel to Rotarian Mervyn Davies’s visit to India. Following his recent 12 day visit, the Bishop within whose compound he stayed has since confirmed in an email to Mervyn that the hostel will be built and will support girls for five years. The email referred to ‘girls being rescued from evil slavery’ and that the hostel will also have some elements of a school and will be built on land donated by a local Indian church member.

 Whilst in India Mervyn had talked to the Bishop of the Church of North India – which has a large protestant following - about plans for a member’s legacy from the United Reformed Church of the West Midlands whom he was representing. “I went as a member of the URC to do due diligence for releasing that money,” he told Rotarians.  He said it amounted to nine million rupees which for India was a big amount of capital spend. The URC had given out grants amounting to a quarter of a million pounds last year.

 During his stay he visited a Rotary club which meets in the Bishop’s compound and has raised district and global grants for projects. He visited a 125 bed hospital run by six doctors, 30 nurses and 100 student nurses – ‘all doing a fantastic job in terrible conditions with the eye clinic set up in a very poor area.’ He said he was impressed with the ‘really big projects’ which were changing the lives of really poor people, many living on Christian aid. “There is still a lack of government provision which is why there is a need for Rotary and the church to bring in life changes,” said Mervyn.

 “I loved the trip and I have got a kick out of diverting the Bishop from spending on a building that would benefit few and only in a small way and instead putting together a project that deals with life changing situations in a sustainable way,” he added.



Mervyn with some of the gifts and purchases he brought back from India, including a beautiful shawl he bought for his wife Ann



 Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary has presented a cheque for £500 to haematology consultant Dr. Nigel O’Connor. The money will be spent on improving patient facilities in the haematology department at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

 Dr O’Connor spoke of the work of the Shropshire Blood Trust and explained why the money would be spent on much needed refurbishment work.


Dr Nigel O’Connor with President Kerry Ferguson who introduced him to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotarians



 A bye-gone age when Shrewsbury was a centre of manufacturing was recaptured in an absorbing talk by Nigel Hinton to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary. From Silhouette to Hartley Electromotives and Potter Brothers to Chatwood Safe Company, he spoke in depth of the manufacturing wealth that Shrewsbury once owned but Nigel didn’t demise the future, saying that the town continued to be a professional centre for borders and Wales and that a new era of hydrologists was springing up!

 Water ecology, security and storage through engineers travelling the world were now very much a developing new industry with Shrewsbury becoming a centre of excellence but it was more to the former industries on which Nigel based his talk, particularly Silhouette which at one time employed 3,500 people as well as home workers.

 Fashionware was made at Silhouette including an inexpensive ladies nylon corset.  It was the advent of tights that led to the shutdown of the Harlescott factory in Shrewsbury. Nigel spoke of how Hartley Electromotives designed the first tape recorder and the early cassette tape is now in theShrewsbury Museum. “This cassette tape – an early Dictaphone - was designed in Shrewsbury to be an aid for secretaries.  Hartley’s also produced the Wondergram battery operated portable record player in 1959 which represented advanced technology,” he told a large gathering of members. “The oscilloscope, weighing 72lbs, was made at Harlescott and was still a working model in 1951/52.”

 Nigel said he was interested in ‘all things historical made in Shrewsbury’ and recorded the development of Potter Bros who occupied a historical building in Shrewsbury. “I am pleased that the building, which is part of The Stew,” has been saved, he told Rotarians though not all expressed agreement with him. “Why have so many buildings survived in Shrewsbury?” he asked.  “One of the reasons is there is only one bomb which ever landed in the second world war.” Potter Bros made industrial waterproof covers and were also a ropeworks making ropes for the Dana Prison for bespoke hangings.

 He said the wool trade was very important to Shrewsbury and Thomas Corbett had a factory in Castle Foregate now Morris’s oil works. He said agricultural equipment designed and made in Shrewsbury between1870-90 was exported all over the world. “Thomas Corbett was a true innovator and designer,” said Nigel who went on to tell Rotarians about Wales and Edwards of Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury, who repaired and refurbished vehicles in the war. “Wales and Edwards developed electric vehicles and moved out to Harlescott to make milk floats.”

 Two other manufacturers described by Nigel were Asquiths who manufactured massive boring machines and Warner Swasey. The latter had advanced manufacturing machines to make engine blocks and in the 1960’s had an automated production line skilled to assemble various machine centres. He added that items were being donated to Shrewsbury Museum from people with a connection to Silhouette and Hartley’s as well as a plough from a descendent of Thomas Corbett.

Nigel Hinton (right) shows Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary’s President Kerry Ferguson a copy of his book ‘Silhouette.’



The sensation of an earthquake was experienced by Rotarian Donald Thompson on a very recent holiday in New Zealand and his wife Barbra will always remember the earthquake of 5.8 magnitude because it happened on her birthday!

 Donald, vice president of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary, told of the experience at the club’s last meeting when he also stood in for president Kerry Ferguson. He and Barbra spent a week in the North Island before moving on to Blenheim on the South Island for two weeks where he was in contact with two Rotary clubs. The couple then flew to Sydney and on to Adelaide and while walking down Adelaide High Street came across a ‘Rotary presence’, giving out leaflets to members of the public.

 They then travelled to Perth and Donald joined what he described as a ‘very rich club’ for lunch.  Members chipped in 45 dollars for lunch – approximately £22.50 – and they actually “employed” an office manager! “It was also my birthday while we were away,” said the 75 year old, “and my daughter gave me a present to take away, the book ‘Energise Your Rotary Club’ by Dr. Bill Wittich. “He states how important it is for each Rotarian to connect with all of our fellow Rotarians in the club, and he quotes from a Past President of RI as saying ‘Rotary’s greatest strength will always be the individual Rotarian.  No other organisation has such powerful human resources.’”

Vice President Rotarian Donald at a presentation when he was also in the chair

Anyone interested in joining Rotary can email Donald at dpt14@outlook.com


Alzheimer’s Society, which provides care and support for over 4,000 people in Shropshire, has received a cheque for just over £1,800 from Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary. The money, said Emma Dowler, community fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Society, would support as many people as possible with dementia.

The donation came from the recent Rotary Tree of Light which Emma described to members as a ‘fantastic amount.’ Speaking to Rotarians, she said:  “The Tree of Light is an amazing project you carry out every year and the donation will help people with all forms of dementia. We lead the way with care and support for over 4,000 people in Shropshire and once they have a diagnosis we can offer them support through our local services. We opened a dementia cafe in Market Drayton last year and we couldn’t do that without money from organisations like Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary. Money raised will also allow us to fund established services so there is continuing support for people with dementia.  It really is appreciated,” she added.

Emma Dowler with Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary vice president Donald Thompson who introduced her



 Two organisations which have received donations from Rotary have been telling of the difference the money will make to their future plans. Representatives of Lingen Davies Cancer Fund and The Ark charity attended the latest meeting of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary to be presented with monies and to tell Rotarians how these would be spent.

 Liz Kyle, acting fundraising manager of the Lingen Davies Cancer Fund, received two cheques, one for £1,200 from a beard shave by Rotarians Tony Cook, Gordon Duncan and Peter Love, and another for £1,823 from the Rotary Tree of Light. She said these would help towards the cost of providing a world class linear accelerator for the Cancer and Haematology Centre at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital – a machine which she said was desperately needed to cut waiting times for the delivery of radiotherapy treatment to cancer patients. As she spoke, the amount raised so far was already reaching half a million pounds towards the total of £750,000 which the Lingen Davies Cancer Fund has pledged to raise by the end of the year.

 Howard Hutchings, on behalf of The Ark, spoke of how the Rotary cheque for £1,823 would enable the charity to continue its support for vulnerable and homeless people and how the charity, with support of other organisations, was continuing to look for new premises in the town. Howard, coincidentally, was celebrating his 62nd birthday – the date that Rotary was founded 111 years ago.

 Anyone interested in joining Rotary can contact Shawbury and Mid Shropshire’s president Kerry Ferguson on 07802 708051.

Left to right Rtn Peter Love, Rtn Gordon Duncan, Liz Kyle, Rtn Tony Cook and Rtn Kerry Ferguson, president of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary



 Many years of studying Covert Operations in the Cold War – and still on-going – were presented to Rotarians in an interesting and inspiring talk by specialist Aldon Ferguson. Aldon, older brother of Kerry, President of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary, gave rotarians an insight into how various forms of intelligence were still ‘vital’ in covert operations which continued to take place today.

 It was during his career in commercial property that Aldon, who now lives near Maidenhead, moved to work in Russia from the late 1980’s where he built up his business, opening offices in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kiev, now Ukraine. As part of his interest in aviation and military history, he has written several books and is currently recording Royal Air Force station histories and recording those which are closing for future generations to understand.

 He spoke to Rotarians of the Iron Curtain and how the Soviets monitored their citizens with revulsion and the stories were ‘horrendous.’  With an atomic weapon they became a global power very quickly. The Cold War in Europe lasted 45 years. Said Aldon:  “We used signals, communications and electronic intelligence.  Both sides in the Cold War gathered intelligence from the other and it continues to this day.  Human intelligence was vital.  We needed to know their capability, potential threat and weapon development and today considerable surveillance continues to check their missile, submarine and all weapon signatures with satellites are doing a major part of the job. Russian Bear bombers continue to probe our air space still.”

 He told how two Royal Air Force fighters were on stand-by 24 hours a day, lining up to escort the Russian bombers to ensure they don’t penetrate our air space. “It’s a threat and they are doing this more and more,” Aldon told Rotarians.  He revealed that this country was sending more and more capability to Lithuania .  “The Cold War is still going on.  They are doing it to us and we are doing it to them. We have a secret weapon in this country and we will never be beaten.” He said this was James Bond and Aldon showed a clip from Golden Eye which was filmed in St Petersburg.

 “We are monitoring China carefully because they are spending so much money on defence and we are cutting back. At the same time, President Putin is sitting there with unlimited reserves of oil, coal and gas but after taking over the Crimea, supporting separatists in Ukraine, he is now looking at the Baltics to de-stabilise them.  He wants to protect Russian citizens and of course this is brinkmanship.” Added Aldon: “The threat is growing rather than receding.”

 In a vote of thanks, Rotarian Mike Mortimer, who served in the Royal Navy for nine years and left as a Petty Officer said there had been ‘very secretive times’ though ‘they aren’t as secretive as they were.’

Aldon (left) with his brother Kerry and book that he has written



 An excellent evening of fellowship and wine tasting in the company of many partners is reported by Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary’s Secretary Gareth Watkins. The event last week was hosted by Will of Majestic Wine where Rotarians and guests were given five wines to sample and an array of foods to compliment them.

If members wish to purchase any of the wines they are listed below, in the order in which they were sampled, together with the Majestic retail price.

1.  Sauvion Haut Poitou Sauv.                Â£6.99
2.  Chateau Greysac.                               Â£9.99
3.  Villa Maria Gewà¼rzt.                            Â£8.99
4.  Clare Valley Shiraz.                             Â£6.99
5.  Vistamar Late Havest Moscatel.        Â£5.49

President Kerry Ferguson thanked Will from Majestic Wine and Rotarian Willie Strachan for organising the enjoyable evening.



The chair of a Shropshire Rotary club’s international committee has revealed that their members have so far made 42 loans to create 85 jobs, help 149 entrepreneurs and 541 family members in poorer countries. Speaking at the latest meeting of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary, Chris Allsop said the club had so far made a donation of £900 which over three years had been recycled to provide £2,040 of finance to entrepreneurs in some economically impoverished communities across the world.

“This has been achieved with very little risk and I am hoping that through Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary the scheme can go forward with even further success,” said Chris. He provided examples of how lendwithcare.org to which Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary is signed up, helps people throughout the developing world transform their future.  He said lendwithcare.orgenable families to find their own route out of poverty. Said Chris:  “Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary’s international committee looks at how loans, not handouts, will help a promising entrepreneur or business by providing a new source of initial income for them to find their own route out of poverty. “This not only has a direct impact on their lives, but helps entrepreneurs start and develop their own business, building a better future for themselves and their families. This is what we have set out to achieve through our loans. It touches a lot of people and, creates better understanding of life and we only lend out the money – the maximum single loan being £60 - we get back in.”

 A total of 29 Rotary clubs in the Rotary district that covers Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midland has already loaned £34,000 through the scheme.  Total number of entrepreneurs helped: 3,436. Chris gave Rotarians individual examples of how Diyase Banda, 31, a Zambian divorcee with two children in school, had set up a poultry rearing unit selling eggs.  Her loan, of £711, which she has re-paid, has enabled her to pay her house rent and buy food for her children.

 Bui va Chung, 29, and living in Tam village of Trung Hoa, Vietnam, needed £603 for his business growing purple sugar cane on a field of 2,000 square meters.  They also look after 10 pigs and one buffalo. These farm works generate the only source of income for the family which includes two school aged children and Bui’s mother who is 63.  He requested a loan of £603 over 24 months to finance the installation of a household biogas plant which will process both animal and organic waste, then convert them into biogas which will be used for cooking, lighting and heating, saving of electricity bills.

 Flor Vivanco, 62, divorced with 10 children, has fully repaid her loan of £374 to raise and sell chickens on her smallholding.  At the same time she cooks and sells traditional Ecuadorian food such as tamales and humitas which are snacks made from maize. She requested a loan in order to purchase maize in bulk as it works out cheaper and she also wanted to produce and sell more food.

 In Malawi, a group of 25 women, some of whom are married and divorced, the majority with school going children, sell tomatoes, sugarcane and fritters and some have grocery stores. They requested a loan of £2,390 with a repayment term of eight moths in order to purchase various goods to attract more customers in their village.  They have fully repaid their loan. Added Chris:  “Through these small loans mostly to individuals in developing countries Rotary through the scheme will have made over 21,000 loans totalling £6 million and these entrepreneurs repay the loans of a few pounds a week. We can then use the credit to provide money to another entrepreneur so the money is recycled through CARE International which has set up lendwithcare.org to enable families to find their own route out of poverty.”

 Said Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary President Kerry Ferguson:  “One of the best things we can do is to help disadvantaged people.  The club will consider the possibility of developing this further at its next council meeting.” He added that whilst Shawberry and Mid Shropshire Rotary supports overseas entrepreneurs, it balances this with giving the majority of its donations to local charities.

 For further information about Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary, contact Kerry Ferguson on 07802 708051.


 Chris Allsop addresses Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary on loans the club has made to create jobs and help entrepreneurs in poorer countries.



 The cost of putting on an amateur show at Theatre Severn is in the region of £40,000, Rotarians have been told. The chairman of Shrewsbury Amateur Operatic Society, Steve Thomas, disclosed the cost at a meeting of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary. He was telling members of the cost of the society’s next show Return to the Forbidden Planet which will be performed very shortly.

 Said Steve:  “We put on five performances and from those we have to get our £40,000 because the theatre costs represent an immense amount of money.  The hire is £12,000 and royalties amount to between 10% and12% depending on who owns the licence. We need a pianist, costumes, advertising, programmes, insurance and the hire of complete set costing several thousand pounds, including the arctic truck.”

 Steve, an assistant head teacher at Belvidere School where the society rehearses, was supported by fellow members Helen Bryant and Sharon Taylor as well as this year’s president Dave Cookson. Helen outlined the history of the society since its beginnings in 1923 and its progression to the 1,500 seater Granada Theatre in 1956 followed by its move to the Music Hall in 1972 and eventually to Theatre Severn in 2011 for the production of ‘Oliver’ to packed houses. She added:  “To be able to fill the theatre, to get bums on seats, is extremely hard because people want to see the Les Miserables and other West End shows that we can’t offer at the present time. For nearly 18 months I have chased one particular show we thought we had got and then I had a message through that we couldn’t perform it after all – very frustrating for us because we need the show to pack the theatre.”

 New members’ secretary Sharon spoke of the need for actors, dancers and singers and handed out forms to Rotarians.  “This is an excellent opportunity to be part of an incredible family and make new friends – if not on stage but to be a non-acting member and help back stage where there are numerous jobs from scenery to make up.”

 Return to the Forbidden Planet will be performed at Theatre Severn from March 9-12.


Left to right Helen, Rotary President Kerry, Steve, Dave and Sharon



 A Scottish themed evening was organised by Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary at Origins Restaurant on the campus of Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology.

 More than 50 members and guests attended for a delicious four course traditional Scottish menu with entertainment provided between courses. Traditional Scottish music was also a background feature. The Selkirk grace was delivered by Rotarian Gordon Duncan and there were readings and poetry from Rotarians Willie Strachan and Iain Gilmour, who organised the event. Iain and Rotarian Ian Stewart were resplendent in their respective clan kilts and were joined for a photo by college hospitality student Alex Turner, 19.

 Rotarians and guests were looked after superbly by student chefs, waitresses and bar staff throughout the evening.



 They were Santas for an exhaustive Rotary fundraising programme which also brought great joy to many children. Now the Santas have ‘retired’ until the festive season begins once again. Tony Cook, Gordon Duncan and Peter Love of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary thought they would put their beard growing to a sponsored shave off for charity.

They unanimously chose the Lingen Davies Cancer Fund at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and between them raised several hundreds of pounds for the appeal. Before an audience of fellow Rotarians and guests at a Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary meeting at the Lord Hill Hotel,Shrewsbury, the trio had their beards professionally shaved. Amber Risdon, a local hairdresser, was brought in to perform the shaving – free of charge. Together with her assistant Charlotte Gutteridge, they did an excellent job on the three Rotarians as the ‘after’ photo shows.

 A Shropshire Star photographer was present to record the event and a ‘spread’ appeared in the paper as well as on video.

Tony, Peter, Gordon before the beard shave

Peter, Amber, Tony, Charlotte, Gordon

The trio afterwards



 Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary announce a record Santa sleigh result.

 For the first time, Rotary has achieved the record sum of over £7,600 from its programme of charitable Santa visits in the festive season.This beats the previous best sum in 2003 when 7,496 was raised from sleigh visits to villages and supermarkets to raise money for local and Rotary charities.

 Said Rotary president Kerry Ferguson:  "This is another tremendous achievement and our thanks go to all Rotarians who worked so hard, especially to Santa who gave so much pleasure to the children. We must particularly thank everyone who gave so generously at a time when spare money can be very limited. Rotary has no administrative costs so all donations will be given entirely to deserving causes."

At the same time, Shawbury and Mid Shropshire’s Tree of Light has already raised more than £7,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society, Lingden Davies Cancer Fund and The Shrewsbury Ark and more support for the Tree of Light can continue into the New Year as the JustGiving website is still open.  Tree of Light donors can access the JustGiving through www.shrewsburyrotary.co.uk . The JustGiving is open until the end of January and donations continue to be made towards remembering a loved one at this time of one year moving into another.



 Banners have been awarded to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary for being a 100% Foundation Fund contribution club and also a ‘100% Sustaining Members’ Club.’ The latter award means that all club members contributed $100 per member to the Rotary Foundation Fund for last year.

 The presentation of the banners at a District Foundation meeting was attended by Rotarian Brian Leverton, a member of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary’s International and Foundation Committee. “These are both excellent club achievements,” commented President Kerry Ferguson.

 Said District Foundation Chair Ashley Gray:  “There is only one Rotary charity – the Rotary Foundation.  This supports clubs and district by providing grants to allow them to carry out high impact projects both in their local community and internationally. “It is also important to note that End Polio is Rotary’s signature project and therefore administered by the Rotary Foundation. All donations from individual Rotarians, clubs and others goes directly to help fight polio. This also helps to deliver the millions of vaccinations required every year until this terrible disease is eradicated from the planet.”


 Displaying the banners from left are Rotarians Tony Pugh, Colin Hargreaves, a visitor from the Rotary Club of Skipton Craven, Kerry Ferguson, John Yeomans and Donald Thompson



 There were some beaming faces at Shrewsbury’s Grange Primary School when headmistress Marie Sibley handed out books gifted to year one pupils. The smiles were not only because 37 children were being given books of their own choice, but that they could actually keep them and not have to return them as books borrowed from school.

 “They are yours for ever – you are very lucky,” said Mrs. Sibley who was addressing assembly.  “It’s a great start to Christmas with your first presents of the festive season. “We are most grateful to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary for their most generous donation of books for year ones. They will help you become better readers.”

 She told the children that it was the second successive year that the Rotary club had donated books to the five and six year olds at the Grange School. She said afterwards there was a choice of 10 different books which at first some of the children couldn’t appreciate were there’s to keep.  One pupil, who had only joined the school the previous day, found himself with a book. Attending the happy book presentation at the school were Kerry Ferguson and Donald Thompson, president and vice president of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary.

 Said Kerry:  “It was a lovely occasion and how inspiring to see the smiles on the children’s faces.  This is what Christmas is all about. “Whatever we can do as a Rotary club to also help the reading skills of these young people will hopefully benefit them – although they might not realise it now.”

 Joining the children with their new books are Kerry Ferguson (left), Marie Sibley and Donald Thompson



 The ‘Dapper Flappers’ really entertained when they made a guest appearance at the Christmas party of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary.

 Members, wives and guests enjoyed a wonderful display of Charleston dancing by the ‘Dapper Flappers’ and then took to the floor themselves to move joints they didn’t know they had! The theme of the party was the roaring twenties and many of the attendees dressed up as gangsters or molls in keeping with the flapper period.  The Charleston was a popular dance, though it was banned in dance halls of the day due to it being considered too wild.

 But it wasn’t too wild for the Lord Hill Hotel which, of course, is one of those posh, swanky ‘speakeasies’ that on the night of the party actually escaped the attention of the police and agents of the Bureau of Prohibition.

 According to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary President Kerry Ferguson, who with wife Gill were among the first on the dance floor for the Charleston, Al Capone once said that he wanted to join a Rotary club to legitimise himself!






 A selection of digital images from the party



 It was the first carol service of its kind to be organised by Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary for elderly citizens in the Shrewsbury area. And a congregation of more than 70 people from local day centres enjoyed singing traditional Christmas carols to organist Adrian Cleaton and listening to bible readings at the United Reformed Church, Abbey Foregate.

 Introducing the service, church minister Tim Harwood said it was an opportunity to prepare ‘hearts and lives to be in a proper frame of mind and spirit to welcome Jesus once again.’ He said it was the first of the season’ carol services to be held at the United Reform Church.  “It is a great joy that you and I are able to share in this and in return if any of you do not have another carol service we have a Candlit one here on Christmas Eve.”

 Minister Tim spoke of why there were so many bags of presents in the church.  He said they were to be distributed to British Red Cross young carers aged 5-18. “Young people get such bad press that it is important to praise the work of these young carers and important we encourage young people and build them up.”

 Kerry Ferguson, president of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary, introduced the carol service and afternoon tea which followed and he thanked all the volunteer helpers including wives and partners of Rotarians. In particular, the president singled out Rotarian John Yeomans and his wife Carol for their ‘sterling performance in making the event such a huge success.’ Whilst having refreshments the visitors were entertained by Rotarian Garth Joscelyne and Alan Leather who sang and played popular songs.

To conclude the afternoon, Santa arrived to give everyone a present before they went home


 Ready and waiting for the carol service to begin

 Minister Tim Harwood and President Kerry Ferguson get the service underway

 Time for tea

 The team of wives who prepared and served refreshments

 The entertainment is about to start.  On the left, Alan Leather and on the right Rotarian Garth Joscelyne

  Rotarians relaxing with a cuppa between helping

 Santa makes the draw with organiser Rotarian John Yeomans



 The risk of more fire engines being taken out of service as a result of budget cuts was a warning given to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary. Shropshire’s Chief Fire Officer John Redmond told Rotarians that the reality of cuts in services was the possibility of the county losing some of its 28 fire engines if the trajectory of the cuts continued beyond 2020.

 He spoke of a 28% cut in funding from government grant since 2010.  “We are always on the back foot in terms of funds taking fire engines out,” he told Rotarians. Mr. Redmond, who was appointed Shropshire Fire and Rescue’s Chief Officer in 2013, described the breadth of tasks undertaken by the service which currently has 23 fire stations staffed predominantly by firefighters on part time contracts and a smaller number of full time duty firefighters. The backbone of the service was the part timers.

 He said one of the biggest risks of fire was Shrewsbury town centre with its ‘fantastic’ medieval buildings and architecture which would not only be lost to the town, but the nation.

Mr. Redmond, who came to Shropshire as deputy chief officer in 2010, outlined the many fire and rescue activities undertaken from responding to emergencies to search and rescue.

He also spoke of the fire and rescue service’s ability to respond to terrorism.  “We have a range of first aid mobile services for de-contamination,” said the chief.

 “The fire service deals with 4,000 incidents a year and has a range of equipment for dealing with emergencies ranging from car crashes to serious fires which includes sophisticated pumps and powerful cutting equipment,” he told Rotarians. He said the county’s 250 flat and house fires a year is where most fatalities occur and which caused the most distress. “With regard to fires in business premises, we are successful at getting our message across to businesses and suffer relatively few fires as a result.

 “The fire service is all about prevention, stopping fires and other emergencies happening in the first place is our principle core objective.  Our prevention work is undertaken in partnership with agencies who themselves work with people who may be prone to fires.

“The aim is to work with vulnerable individuals to interrupt the activities or put in place some controls that will eliminate - or at least reduce - their vulnerability from fire.

 “Partnerships are vital to what we do as a successful way of improving people’s safety.”

He spoke of a whole range of agencies as well as the police and crime prevention – a conglomeration of public services.  “Agencies we work with have access as part of their normal ways of work to the groups we need to get to prevent fires.  The most vulnerable groups are the people over 70 living alone. We work with Telford and Wrekin Council to work out who these people are and work with the individuals by offering them help at their request.  We make a home fire safety visit which means visiting people’s houses and giving them advice.”

 As part of the service they offer, the service will install single point smoke alarms – which last 10 years – in the hall or landing of houses occupied by vulnerable people.  They have installed over 78,000 smoke alarms in vulnerable people’s houses in the last 10 years. “The work to provide early warning for vulnerable groups via home fire safety visits in particular is singularly the best thing the fire and rescue service has done during my career.  Home fire safety visits have made a big difference,” said Mr. Redmond.

 He also went on to discuss some of the dangers during the Christmas period.  “There is an increased risk from the increased amounts of wrapping paper in the home at this time of the year, especially when a naked flame from a candle or an open fire is present.  Businesses can also be vulnerable due to the increased amount of stock in the stores.” He added that the fire and rescue service worked closely with the police regarding threatened and dangerous people.  “Arson is a big issue we are trying to stop.  We have several notable successes in keeping arsonists off the streets by working closely with the police and other elements of the justice system.”


John Redmond (left) and Kerry Ferguson, president of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary, discuss fire safety in the home.



 It’s the time of year for giving and one Rotary club is doing just that.


Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary has donated a ShelterBox costing £590 for the Greek Island of Lesbos to support refugees from war torn countries including Syria.

ShelterBox is an international disaster relief charity and a global Rotary club project.  The charity was set up in 2000 to provide rapid disaster aid to families all over the world made homeless by disasters. The contents are altered, depending on the disaster, but a Shelterbox typically contains a disaster relief tent for a family, thermal blankets and groundsheets, water storage and purification equipment, solar lamps, cooking utensils, a basic tool kit, mosquito nets and a children's activity pack.


Five Aquaboxes – containing newly purchased humanitarian goods to meet the basic needs of desperate families – are currently being filled by Rotarians. The purpose of the Aquabox project is to involve Rotarians and others in hands-on service, offering an ideal opportunity to involve – and forge links – with many community groups.


           Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary continues to support Lend with Care

           which assists many people living in poverty around the world who desperately  

           want to be self sufficient, but need a helping hand to get started. Rotary clubs such as                Shawbury and Mid Shropshire are able to support these people by getting them                          started.  Money is paid back as they start earning.  Once the loan is repaid, the Rotary                club then looks for the next project begin. The club has agreed another allocation of £300            - £370 has already been repaid and is ready for reallocation.


Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary is also donating £300 to purchase mattresses by the Fire Fighters of Shropshire for Romania.


Anyone interested in joining Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary Club can contact president Kerry Ferguson on 01743 364908 or secretary Gareth Watkins on 01743 872677.



It was fitting that one of Shrewsbury School’s former pupils should be making a name for himself at the same time as his headmaster was singing his praises. Mark Turner, head of Shrewsbury School, referred to the success of cricketer James Taylor in a talk to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary. Amazingly, at the same time, James was guiding England to victory with a classy unbeaten 67 in Sharjah to take a 2-1 lead in the one day series against Pakistan.

According to reports, the former Shrewsbury School pupil looked assured as England reached their target with six wickets to spare in challenging conditions.

Mr. Turner also referred to other famous ex-pupils including Sir Philip Sydney, Michael Heseltine, Michael Palin and John Peel.

He is the 27th headmaster of the school founded by Edward V1 in1552, which he regards as ‘a great privilege and honour’ which was a significant change at the time. He described how the learning types of today with oral information and other orotary compared with the kinaesthetic learning in 1552 and how history had gone on to 1882 when the governers decided to move the school from Shrewsbury Library to Kingsland.

Today, Shrewsbury School has 800 students dissipated across 13 different houses employing 100 full time academic staff, 250 support staff and a total of 350 making it one of the biggest private employers in Shrewsbury. Most of the income comes from fees, a total of £25 million a year and the School has opened up other schools around the world – in Thailand, Hong Kong and China - to provide a revenue stream to support their operation. Said Mark:  “We are taking a broad vision of how income can be generated across the world and we are always very keen to see and be aware of what is going on globally and internationally.”

He revealed that although fees were £32,000 a year for a boarding place and £20,000 for a day place,Shrewsbury School is a charity. It has 800 pupils – 180 of whom are supported by the generosity of others which include free places upon access. Fifteen percent of pupils come from 25 countries around the world and there are 10-15 applications for every one of their international places.

Mr. Turner told Rotarians Shrewsbury School specialised in pastoral care, academic excellence, breadth of opportunity and had a combined cadet force of 150 boys and girls. They had pupils from 60 different prep schools across the country and were attracting people from across the UK which he regarded as ‘very important.’ “We have to have a reputation which is high enough to encourage people to get to Shrewsbury from other sides of the country,” said Mr. Turner.

He said the school had embraced co-education with admittance of the first girls in 2008.  “There is a high demand for good educational boarding schools of our type and in 2020 we shall be opening another house with 25% of our pupils being girls.” He spoke of Shrewsbury School’s relationship with local charity Medic Malawi and how it had sent a group over there to build an eye hospital. “Boys and girls went over to open the eye clinic in Malawi last summer,” he told Rotarians.  “We have done many cataract operations there and we are developing our international operation.”

He told Rotarians:  “Shrewsbury School is alive and well.  It is a great place.  We are working hard to make it modern and vital.” As his visit coincided with the terrorist attack on Paris, he was asked about religion and said Muslims, Hindus and all other religions attended the chapel.  “For the vast majority of our services, everyone attends. “We would take them as pupils unless they weren’t prepared to attend as Christians.  We have a tradition of holistic attention and we are sticking to the Christian principals as a rule of life,” he added.

President Kerry with Mark Turner (on the right)



Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski has won the support of Rotarians to keep Shrewsbury’s swimming pool in the Quarry. Speaking at a joint meeting of the Rotary clubs of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire, Shrewsbury and Shrewsbury Darwin, Mr Kawczynski said the choice was between a cost neutral brand new swimming pool outside the Quarry or one that stayed in the town centre. He told his audience:  “I am mindful that it is for Shropshire Council to make the final decision and bear the subsequent costs; I have had more letters on this than any other issue, people are incandescent with rage at the possibility of the swimming pool being moved though we have to provide that facility for Upton Magna as well as the town centre.

“If people think about a brand new cost neutral swimming pool outside the town – and there has been so much public consultation on this – compared with the swimming pool staying in the Quarry, I will have a bet that the people’s choice is for it to stay in the Quarry. “I was lobbied on this, but it is a Shropshire Council decision rather than mine.”

The long-standing Shrewsbury MP spoke passionately on a range of issues from Saudi Arabia to Libya and Syria to the EU. On Syria, he said:  “I don’t want the government to enter the Syrian theatre of war.   People are still very frightened about the Libyan experience before allowing British involvement in Syria“I recognise that something ultimately will have to be done due to the suffering taking place in the country and the hundreds of thousands of refugees leaving and making perilous journeys away.”

On Europe, Mr. Kawczynski said:  “We are taking advice from leading experts and we have to wait until we have all digested the ramifications of the re-negotiations. “The UK has played an important role and I am uncertain myself, but I look forward during the referendum campaign to hearing what the public’s perspectives are.”

Daniel Kawczynski (front) and Kerry Ferguson, president of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary club



Santa’s sleigh will be making a total of 21 appearances in Shrewsbury and Mid Shropshire villages over the festive season. The first date is as soon as November 18 when the Rotary club of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire will take Santa and the sleigh to Pride Hill. This is the occasion of the switching on of the town’s lights for Wednesday late night shopping. Santa, his elves and the sleigh will be at Pride Hill from 4.30 pm until 8.30 pm collecting for Rotary and local charities.

The sleigh will also be fundraising when it makes other appearances including, for the first time, the Parade shopping centre ice rink on November 21 and 22.

Santa and the sleigh will be touring Shawbury on the evenings of December 2 and 12; Hadnall 7th evening; Sundorne 10th (evening); Mount Pleasant 14th (evening) and Castlefields 16th (evening).

There will be a visit to the football ground on the afternoon of the 19th and for the first time the sleigh will be at B&Q during the day on the 11thand 13th.

The supermarkets are again on the rota, starting with Tesco on the 15th (day); Sainsbury’s 18th, 19th, 20th (day) and Morrison’s 21st, 22nd and 23rd (day).

Said Kerry Ferguson, President of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary:  “Once again we hope to give great pleasure to children in the area and at the same time carry out some important fundraising on behalf of local and Rotary charities.”



It was Tree of Light envelope preparation time in readiness for the latest fundraising event at a meeting of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary Club. Members are seen putting their all into the process which is one of the most important occasions in the Rotary calendar. As a result of the energy, enthusiasm and advanced organisation, the process was completed in record time. The object this year is to get the Tree in the best possible position in the Darwin Centre. And this year Rotary will be able to offer online donations.  Search for Shrewsbury Rotary, follow the link to Tree of Light, then to ‘just giving’ and make a donation.

 As a result, this year’s letters invites sponsors to donate online:


 An investigation will be made to see whether the Tree of Light online information can be linked to the club website.


President Kerry Ferguson (left) and secretary Gareth Watkins preparing Tree of Light envelopes



A solid plaque on the door of a girls’ dormitory in a Kenyan orphanage in Miriu marks the significant contribution that Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary has made over many years.

Dave Queen, a retired teacher from the Thomas Adams School, Wem, is just back from Kenya where he has told long-standing friend Mike Mortimer, a member of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary, that the orphanage is ‘really beginning to take shape.’

“Your Rotary has helped us to buy so much for the girls’ dormitory,” said Dave.  “This includes bunk beds, nearly all the cooking pans, utensils, plates and cups and a very good gas cylinder stove.” A sticker acknowledging Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary’s contribution to the orphanage has also gone on a very visible water tank.

Said Dave:  “We have 15 full time student orphans, but we also help with the local community’s younger waifs and strays.  All the younger locals get a free meal which is cooked by Susan, one of our 16 year olds. “She did a free lunch for around 30 disadvantaged younger kids on the day I was there.  Thanks to the kindness of local Shropshire Rotary clubs we now have two purposes built dormitories, a sewing school hut and a carpentry workshop.

“We couldn’t have done it without you,” he told Mike. Dave added:  “If we can raise enough money by this time next year we will have an IT and study/resource centre which is currently being designed by one of my ex-students who came with me to Miriu about five years ago.”

Said Mike:  “In addition, Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary has supplied kit for the orphans in the dormitories which were built to help them.  Previously, some of them camped out with nothing. “We have also helped with supplying a water catchment system with storage tanks which has saved pupils having to carry water almost a kilometre from a local river to their school. “A second water project has involved supplying a 2km long water pipe from a reservoir to the local village as the original one had been washed away in the previous years floods,” he added.



A Rotary donation to the Rea Valley Group of the Riding for the Disabled Association will help to subsidise some riders who otherwise wouldn’t be able to ride. Riding for the Disabled Association’s Shropshire Chair Carla Howarth said the latest donation from Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary, for £500, would also assist with the purchase of new equipment to extend the number of games the Rea Valley Group would be able to play over the winter months when they moved indoors. “Without generous donations such as the one we have just received from Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary the Rea Valley Group could not continue.  Both riders and volunteers alike are all so grateful for the support and continued interest of the Rotary club in our organisation,” she added.


Pictured at the presentation of the cheque to the group were rider Alistair on Jazz, a grey mare of approximately 132”, Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary President Kerry Ferguson and volunteers Anne Carter (left) and Angela Storm.



Twenty nine members and guests of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary enjoyed a rare visit to theRAF Cosford Museum where they witnessed a spectacular array of vintage aircraft set up in three hangers. Tour guides John Parsons and Tony Hall split the visitors into two groups for the two and a half hour walk round the hangers viewing the Test Centre, First World War and the Cold War exhibits which all the visitors agreed were ‘absolutely amazing and outstanding.’

A small selection of images from the visit are seen below including the H126 research aircraft, described by the tour guides as the most advanced aircraft in the world at the height of the Cold War. The engine from the TSR2 combat prototype Olympus, also photographed, went into ConcordThe visitors saw the only plane in the world made of stainless steel which was used for research purposes.

And from the Cold War there was Polaris.

A meal afterwards was enjoyed at the Shrewsbury Arms Hotel, Albrighton, where President Kerry Ferguson thanked organiser Rotarian Stephen Rogers for making the event possible.


H126 research aircraft.  Former Prime Minister Harold Wilson cancelled the contract

Tour guide John Parsons with the Olympus engine which went into Concord


Inside the Lincoln



On a memorable night when Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary received their biggest number of visiting Rotarians from a single club, a £1,000 cheque was presented to British Red Cross Young Carers. The Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary cheque was presented by vice president Donald Thompson to Rowan Ellson Arias, British Red Cross Young Carers Co-ordinator who said she was ‘so proud.’

“I am proud we are doing as best we can by British Red Cross Young Carers and together with Rotary we have a wonderful set of principles. “We didn’t expect to receive a cheque from Rotary, but we are enormously grateful for it.” Afterwards, Rowan said:  “I think Rotary share fundamental principles with British Red Cross Young Carers and we are very grateful for so much Rotary support which will provide respite activities for these young people. “This will include residential trips to build skills and resilience to crises,” she added.

Ten members of Church Stretton Rotary under President Colin McIntyre were present to hear Rowan and see the cheque presented on behalf of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary.

Vice President Donald makes a presentation to Rowan

The Vice President with the visiting members of Church Stretton Rotary



Any crime can be the subject of money laundering, barrister Carla Howarth has told members of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary. Different crimes lend themselves to money laundering offences, the barrister and governor of Shrewsbury School told members on a recent visit to the club.

She said money laundering was necessarily the product of terrorism, drugs and other criminal activities. She also spoke of bribery and corruption, evasion, tax avoidance and evasion and even a link to the world of football. “Tax evasion and avoidance sit side by side with money laundering,” said Mrs. Howarth who has an MA in criminology.  She said that one example of large scale money laundering started with drug cartels in Columbia.  Carriers took the drugs from Western Africa into Europe and the money then went back through couriers in different forms. The cash passed through Africa to exchange houses in the Lebanon and ultimately to the Lebanese Canadian Bank which had Hezbollah connections.

One of the questions posed was:  “How are you going to get the cash into the wider community and legitimise it?’  In the LCB case the money was sent to northern America where it was used to purchase cars shipped to Benin?” She said that in London Â£180m worth of property purchasing was under investigation due to the suspicion of it being bought with dirty money and these purchasers utilised various different professions to make their operations successful.

“How safe are we?  London is a problem because money laundering is controlled by very clever people. “We need to identify the beneficial owner and a register of beneficial owners is something that the 4th EU Money Laundering Directive has introduced. It comes down to who gets the benefit of the money generated by that particular company.”

She spoke of the way goods were in transit around the world and where there was very little investigation at ports because of the size of containers and the lack of resources to investigate. She set the tone by looking at the activities of Al Capone who went through millions of dollars and how there had been different examples of successful money laundering through El Chapo of Mexico.

President Kerry Ferguson welcomes Carla to Rotary with a copy of Roto.



You are extremely active and going from strength to strength.’

District Governor Richard Green’s words to members of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary on his visit last Tuesday. He referred to the club’s planning of a whole range of fellowship activities and went on:  “This club really is a gift to the world and I congratulate it. We want to attract younger members who have a gift of expertise and knowledge and I am about to write my 27th letter of welcome to a new Rotarian in the district.”

He spoke of a ‘new style’ of membership, including satellite clubs and corporate members to swell numbers. District Governor Richard had earlier spoken of RI President Ravi Ravindran’s commitment and compassion and challenge to Rotarians to be a ‘gift to the world.’ The District Governor spoke of the ‘wonderful news’ that India was polio free and that there had been no new cases in the continent of Africa for a whole year. This year to date there had been only 6 in Afghanistan and 26 in Pakistan – the only countries where polio remains.

I was so impressed with the club assembly and helping children at the Grange Primary School who don’t have books in their homes.” He said the theme for his year as District Governor was ‘Young at Heart’ and he was delighted that this district, covering Shropshire, Staffordshire and parts of the West Midlands, would be hosting the national final of the Young Musicians Competition this Rotary year followed by the national finals of the Youth Speaks and Young Chef competitions in the following years.

Our young people are vital to the future of our movement and we want to continue to be innovative with our ideas.”

He spoke of how the district’s new Vocational Study Exchange team had been ‘wonderful ambassadors’ and they were full of praise for their experience visiting Norway. The team carried out intensive studies of their vocations in Norway, including, in the case of one of the young lady members, tree surgery. In addition to the 2 Kids Day Out summer events at opposite ends of the District, he said Rotary was now planning a Christmas Kids Out party for youngsters from homes where they would never have such a memorable experience.

The District Governor referred to the ‘Lend with Care’ scheme – one of the club’s projects – which hadn’t incurred a single bad debt. He said Rotary was providing shelter for 15,000 people in Nepal and there would be other disasters which needed Rotary help.

The refugee crisis is a complicated, difficult and politically sensitive area, but when they arrive here we can help.  In the meantime, you can help with cash donations and ShelterBoxes.”

The DG added:  “You are a damned good club – you are a gift to the world.”

Said club President Kerry:  “District Governor Richard Green made an excellent presentation putting Rotary in a wider context which was very enlightening, informing us, amongst other things, that polio has virtually been eradicated although it was not a time to be complacent.  He also praised us for our efforts.  We sometimes forget how much we do as we are so busy doing it!  I think that one of the main things that I took from his presentation was the question of membership development and, perhaps, we should be focussing on this more systematically than we have in the past.”

 President Kerry brings the District Governor to order!



 The club has received a very nice and informative e-mail from Marie Sibley thanking us for our latest donation to The Grange Primary School and explaining how the money will be used: 

Dear Rotarians

Thank you so much for your excellent hospitality last Tuesday. Both Suzy and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and you made us feel at ease and most welcome. 

We had agreed to giving a talk many months ago before we ever knew that you were going to be so generous to us financially once again. Last week we were so focussed on telling you all about our school and how you have already helped us that I had completely forgotten that there was going to be a presentation of a cheque and was thus lost for words.

I would like to say a little more about how the money will be spent. We would once again like to purchase a book for every pupil in Year One. As you are aware, we focus a lot of resources trying to get our Y1 pupils reading which is why we value your weekly support with those children so much. We want to develop a love of reading in these children and will therefore allow them to choose which book they would like us to buy for them for Christmas. we hope that once again this year a representative from your organisation will be able to come to present the books.

We will also continue to fund the 'Plus One' and 'Power of Two' books with Rotary money. These are excellent books which lead children through the basics in maths which some of our children are missing for various reasons. Each book is about £15 which we cannot afford from our ever decreasing budget but these books make a huge difference to the pupils using them.

Your donation really will have an impact on the lives and life chances of many children and once again I thank you very much.


Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary has presented a cheque for £1,000 to the Grange Primary School to be partly used to buy every child in year one a book of their choice. The Rotary club established a relationship with the Grange Primary a year ago and this has resulted in Rotarians giving reading support to the youngest pupils. The cheque was received by Headteacher Marie Sibley and Deputy Headteacher Suzy Mann on a visit to the Rotary club to update members on the school’s academic progress.

The school say that through purchasing a book for every pupil in year one this will encourage a love of reading as well as providing some resources to support individuals struggling with their maths. Said Marie:  “The school couldn’t afford to get these specialist items without such a generous donation and these books will make a huge difference to the pupils using them. At the same time half of the money is to be used by the Education Welfare Officer for Shrewsbury Academies Trust to support some of the most vulnerable families.”

The two school leaders, who have worked closely together for several years, described the Grange as a ‘fantastic school’ which opened in 2009. Said Marie:  “We have a very loyal team and the school is a rewarding place to work.  The majority of children are making good progress and there are no regrets about becoming an Academy. We are part of the Shrewsbury Academy Trust which has four schools and this has transformed many of our thoughts and systems.” She and Suzy presented statistics which identified an improvement in numeracy and literacy across the school and they thanked Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary for its ‘excellent support’ with early stage reading.

Added Marie, who has been head teacher for nine years:  “The support of Rotarians has helped accelerate the progress in reading at a time when budget pressures are difficult.” Said Suzy:  “The experience you give to children in year one is tremendous and if we get it right it is at that point it will be a great help to them.  Your support has made a real difference.”

Rotarians are also offering to give one to one help with grammar and spelling which has been put forward for the Grange Primary heads to consider. The cheque for £1,000 was presented by Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary’s vice president Donald Thompson who is a governor of the Academy Trust.

 Back left Donald and right Garth Joscelyne (speaker secretary); front left Suzy and right Marie.


Spiralling workload ‘unsustainable’ says town’s GP

A GP in a Shropshire town’s medical practice has called their workload ‘unsustainable’. Dr Jamie Malcolm, a GP partner at Market Drayton Medical Practice, which has 17000 patients, told Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary that he makes between 110 and 135 patient contacts per day – either by face to face appointment, telephone, home visit, letter or test result.

“There comes a time when the number of patients per day that a GP deals with becomes dangerous, and it has a negative effect on our own well-being,” said Dr Malcolm, who has been a GP since 1999 and in Market Drayton for the last nine years. In a frank discussion with Rotarians, he gave his own ‘coal face’ view of the daily pressures and increasing workload of being a GP, and his concerns over the future of the NHS in primary care. He described the GP appointment structure at his surgery as being a mix of book ahead and urgent on day appointments.

“Some symptoms can be managed without a face to face GP appointment at the surgery, and we have strategies to try to deal with the insatiable patient demand. But with patients living longer, management of chronic multisystem diseases, patients’ increased health awareness, traditional hospital based care being devolved to GP surgeries, a huge increase in the number of investigations and treatments available , and all the government targets, the competition for GP appointment time is fierce” , he told Rotarians.

A routine morning surgery would see 16 booked appointments at 10 minute intervals. There are also home visits and telephone consultations, along with clinical and business meetings at lunchtime. After a similar length of afternoon surgery, he would often do paperwork until 7.30pm, and on a few nights per week would continue paperwork at home until midnight. He has a half day a week when he tries to swim or bike ride to relax.

A morning on-call at the practice would generally require Dr Malcolm to phone back 30-45 patients with urgent clinical need, responding with either an appointment, home visit, prescription or advice, before starting a 90 minute booked surgery.

 “The on-call workload is intense – on average one phone-call every 4.5 minutes, and this includes typing notes, so please excuse me for being brief on the phone to you,” he pleaded. Recent surveys on GP workload are concerning, as GP consultation rates per patient rose by 41% between 1995 and 2009. The average member of the public sees a GP x6/year – double the number of attendances from the previous decade.

6 in 10 GPs are considering early retirement owing to workload pressures, whilst a third were actively planning for this decision.

Dr Malcolm said his work also included an array of medical reports to complete, and more recently, onerous mandatory revalidation requirements of life-long learning, audit and feedback. He revealed to Rotarians that there were not enough GPs inEngland, with many leaving the UK to continue their work abroad in countries like AustraliaMore than 1 in 3 vacancies at GP practices have remained unfilled for a year or more, and in 2014 almost 40% of GP training places were unfilled in some areas of the UKSo there are not enough GPs to respond to 5 day working weeks let alone the recently proposed 7 day working.

Dr Malcolm also looks after 100 patients with severe mental illness, and is also involved in teaching/ mentoring GP trainees. He said he was too overrun with patient commitments and revalidation requirements to effectively influence future NHS direction, but did think that reducing the complexities of GP pay and revalidation, along with the incessant drive to avoid hospital admission might ease the current crisis in GP recruitment and retention.

Dr. Malcolm (centre) with Rotarians Colin Sharp (left) and Kerry Ferguson, president.



 Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary has said ‘goodbye’ to popular long-serving Rotarian Alan Patterson with the message ‘enjoy a tipple or two.’ For former club president Alan, who joined the club in 1990, is leaving Shrewsbury after 29 years in the town to live in WorthingTo ‘ease the pain’ of his leaving the club current president Kerry Ferguson presented him with a bottle of his favourite malt.

Alan was president in 1999 and made a Paul Harris Fellow in 2007. Said Kerry:  “We wish Alan and his wife Pam all the very best.  In my experience of Alan he is a lovely bloke, very willing and supportive in terms of Rotary.”

In response, Alan told members at their last meeting:  “A very big thank you to you all.  It has been a real privilege being a member of this club and I thank the late Niel Kelly for introducing me all those years ago. I will be back.  I have made so many friends over the 29 years I have lived in Shrewsbury and I shall come along on the club night. The bottle of malt will be enjoyed and I look forward to seeing as many members as possible on the Sussex south coast.”


It’s a 'cheerful goodbye’ to Alan Patterson (centre) from Rotarians Geoff Charlton, Kerry Ferguson (president), Donald Thompson (vice president) and Chris Yaxley


Rotarians enjoying the British Ironworks Centre



Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary are to make donations totalling £3,000 to local causes and charities. Members have agreed to give £500 to the Grange Primary School which will be used to purchase additional reading books for year 1.  The club also currently supports the school with reading help for year 1 children. They will now add to that a further allocation of £500 for the school to use - at the discretion of the Headteacher - in support of the educational achievement of all pupils.

British Red Cross Shropshire Carers are to benefit from a further £1,000 whilst Rotary is also giving £500 to Riding for the Disabled.

A further £500 will be spent on a Christmas party for senior citizens at the United Reformed Church.

In addition, other funds have been allocated for worthwhile causes as a result of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary’s last year Santa sleigh which will again take to the streets of villages this coming Christmastide.The club is organising its programme of Santa visits which will also include local supermarkets.  The programme will be announced later in the year.



A new initiative which is the first in Shropshire is being pioneered by the British Red Cross Shropshire Young Carers. Details of the pilot were revealed to members of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary by Rowan Ellson Arias. She disclosed that the organisation was keen to support any ‘hidden or known’ young adult carer between the age of 18 and 25.

Said Rowan:  “This is in addition to the existing service that works with young carers from 5 –18. Young carers interested in the pilot can get in touch with the office on 01743 457800.”

The pilot, said Rowan, was part way through its funding by the Cabinet Office and they were keen to interest young adult carers who could access a number of different development and respite opportunities. “We are recruiting as many as we can onto both young carers schemes from the age of 16,” she told Rotarians. She added that the Red Cross was organising an ‘Autumn Red’ fundraising dinner at Origins, Shrewsbury College, on October 20.  The price of £20 a head would include a welcome drink, three course meal and key note speaker.


Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary Vice President Donald Thompson believes the new young carers initiative is pointing in the right direction. 



What giraffes are to the town of Horsham, sheep could be toShrewsburyFor if Shrewsbury decides to emulate the Horsham model, there would be benefits for charity, business, the town and Rotary. The start of the big debate on sheep for Shrewsbury was aired at a lively meeting of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary.

And there was a conclusive outcome.  A unanimous show of hands for the debate to be positively further discussed at Club Council on August 18. Rotarians Colin Sharp and Geoff Lloyd gave an excellent presentation to members on why the club should grab this venture with both hands because it would not incur any expenditure.

Simply, businesses would be invited to buy a resin sheep which would be artistically decorated, displayed, sponsored and ultimately sold at auction. An artist from Bishop’s Castle could make the resin sheep, which would include a prototype. The club was told that a number of prospective participants from outside Rotary were keen to become involved in what could be a major event in the town from Easter to September next year. The involvement of local businesses, schools, local authority and other interested organisations was outlined by Colin and Geoff during the presentation.

They have agreed to present the Club Council with a costing, the need for a substantial team of people to drive the project forward and how a sheep trail could be established inside the bridges.



The three Rotary clubs which meet in Shrewsbury are organising a Military Charity Dinner.

The event, on September 18, will be at Shrewsbury Town Football Club.

Speaker is Lt Col Mark Foster, a consultant hand and plastic surgeon from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.

There will also be entertainment by the Military Wives Choir.

The dinner will be hosted by the three Rotary clubs and tickets at £35 each are available from Rotarian Colin Sharp 07817 270694 or emailcolingsharp@gmail.com



Work on a community library in Uganda has now been completed thanks to a grant of £500 from Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary. The community library is the flagship project of Omushana, Sunshine for Children, a UK registered charity run by Shrewsbury based Gill Castle.

“The library has already made a huge impact on the whole community as it is open six days a week with an employed librarian/IT instructor and available to 10 schools and over 2,000 children,” said Gill. “With solar panels and 10 laptops as well as the 600-plus books it is a wonderful resource.  We have had a student volunteer spend a month in the library and her role was to work with children having ‘Fun with Books’.”

Following completion of work to the exterior of the building, Gill is expecting it will last many years longer.  Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary has been acknowledged on the outside of the building. Gill’s charity has a long-standing connection with the Kabale Rotary Club who have recently asked if Omushana can support their plan to bring vocational training to children in the rural areas of their district. She said:  “They are proposing to arrange holiday vocational training for children in villages by using existing primary schools during the holidays and sending trained instructors.

“They will do all the organising, but asked if Omushana can help with equipment and possibly funding.  I promised we could send equipment and would seek help with funding.” Gill added that another priority this year is their “Class Support” project and she has asked Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary if it is interested in becoming a ‘Class Supporter’ at the secondary and vocational school which is just opening in an area where until now the children had no hope of education beyond primary. 

She added that to support a class in this way only needed £90 per year for four years.

Said Mervyn Davies, immediate past president of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary:  “I am most interested in this concept and I can assure Gill we shall look at the possibility of helping a class receive education.”

For further information contact gill@omushana.org or visit the website www.omushana.org



Sarah Wakeman, Regional Fundraiser, Parkinson’s :

On behalf of Parkinson’s , I would like to say a huge thank you for the generous donation of £2,655.87 from your Tree of Light campaign. We are very grateful to you for your support and it was lovely to meet you in person and have the opportunity to say a heartfelt thank you in person.

Every hour someone in the is told they have Parkinson’s.  Because we’re here, no one has to face Parkinson’s alone.  We bring people with Parkinson’s, their carers and families together via our network of local groups, our website and free confidential helpline. Specialist nurses, our supporters and staff provide information and training on every aspect of Parkinson’s.

As the ’s Parkinson’s support and research charity we’re leading the work to find a cure and we’re closer than ever.  We also campaign to change attitudes and demand better services.

Parkinson’s depends entirely on voluntary donations to fund all of its work.  Support such as the Tree of Light campaign really does make a difference to take us one step closer to finding a cure and improving life for everyone affected by Parkinson’s.

Emma Dowler, Community Fundraiser, Alzheimer’s Society, :

On behalf of the Alzheimer’s Society I would like to thank you for choosing our charity to benefit from your Tree of Light.  We are delighted that £2,655.87 was raised for people with dementia. Having to care for people with dementia can be a physical and emotional struggle and our services truly are a lifeline.  Your support and the money raised menas that we can continue to provide the best quality support and information to people with dementia and their carers. Your support is greatly appreciated and invaluable – it really is down to the support and opportunities such as these that we have come so far and made so much difference in the lives of people with dementia and their carers. I hope the quote below can begin to explain how valuable your support of Alzheimer’s Society is:

‘I don’t know how I would cope if it were not for the Alzheimer’s people at the other end of the phone ‘ - a carer.

Both letters were sent to Rotarian Peter Savage who also received a certificate of thanks from the Alzheimer’s Society.

Peter Savage with the certificate



Outgoing president Mervyn Davies revealed to fellow Rotarians that he ‘nearly didn’t’ accept the position. Speaking at the final meeting of his year in office, Mervyn told Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary members of the activities going on in his life at the time. A church elder, treasurer of a charity and the support for a further charity which was ‘in a mess,’ were all on Mervyn’s mind when he took over in June 2014.

“I dug them out of a big hole and they subsequently gave me the work,” he said.

He also spoke of the needs of his young family and ‘sacrifices’ he had to make, missing important dates in the academic achievements of his son and daughter.

“I also missed out on concerts and the Tree of Light switch on,” said Mervyn.

“After being the club’s president, I have decided to work with some neglected children – my own,” he said.

He outlined the high points of his year in office:

  • The club’s 40’s night when everyone entered into the spirit, dressing up and enjoying music, food and ‘Dad’s Army’
  • A presentation of books to the Grange Primary Schoolwhen they realised the books were their’s to keep.  ‘Great Rotary.’
  • The thanks of Tree of Light donors who had inspiring stories
  • His thanks to everyone who had helped during the year, particularly Rotarians Gareth Watkins and Kerry Ferguson who had been most supportive
  • Reading at the Grange Primary which had been most appreciated by staff
  • To vice president Donald Thompson who had worked long and hard on youth activities
  • To club secretary Peter Gould who had been a ‘great source of advice and support’
  • To club treasurer Chris Yaxley
  • To Colin Sharp for fundraising activities
  • To Chris Allsop, particularly for the ‘Lend with Care’ scheme
  • To Bob Scaiff who had done an ‘excellent job’
  • To Iain Gilmour, speakers secretary
  • To Alan Eames for ‘grace and wine’
  • To Peter Love for maintaining ‘our high and my own media profile’

“Thank you all,” said Mervyn.  “The people said sit down from one of the songs and selecting someone who is a good example of Rotary – Peter Bone and Peter Savage.

“My Rotarian of the Year for all his work on Rotary as well as Service above Self is Peter Love who has also been a support and guidance to me throughout the year,” he added.

Incoming president Kerry Ferguson brought smiles when he said his theme for the next Rotary year was ‘brevity’ – and he promptly sat down.

But it wasn’t too long before he was back on his feet to thank Mervyn for his year, putting Rotary before a lot of personal things and ‘going beyond the call of duty.’

“It is a great pleasure to be asked to be your new president this year with Donald Thompson as vice president.”

Mervyn hands over the chain of office to Kerry

Kerry presents Mervyn with a tankard

Kerry congratulates Donald

Mervyn presents the Rotarian of the Year trophy to Peter



Ian Kenny from SITA gave a very interesting talk on recycling road sweepings. Making concrete blocks and even recovering precious rare earth metals from the sweepings. With modern money now made of a ferrous material there is sometimes a continuous stream of coins collected by the magnetic separation process. 

The speaker is photographed left with President Mervyn Davies and Speaker Secretary Iain Gilmour



Mark Beddow (right) from the Rotary Club of Astana in Kazakhstan exchanges banners with President Mervyn Davies on a recent visit to his mother club of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary



 On the final club fellowship night of the current Rotary year, 14 members and partners of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary enjoyed a visit to Shrewsbury Theatre Severn. The #HQPA group of Performing Arts students from brought their rendition of the 1950’s Tony Award-winning musical Guys and Dolls to the stage of the Set in the 1930’s gangster scene, the Broadway show’s themes of marriage, gambling and religion combine comedy and romance in a musical extravaganza which was warmly applauded by a sell out audience.

As well as performing in the show, the students were also tasked with other production roles, including assisting the director, stage management and marketing team to help them gain valuable experience of various roles within the industry. Level 3 Performing Arts student, Christian Lugtu, 18, from , played lead protagonist 'Nathan Detroit' as well as acting as dance captain for the show. He is quoted on the college website as saying: “I am thoroughly enjoying bringing Nathan Detroit to life, he’s a great character to play and I just can’t wait get on the stage now.

“It’s great that we’ve been involved in other roles in this production, it really helps us develop knowledge and experience which will help us when we leave college”.

Michael Jenkins, course tutor and show director, is reported to have said: “I am very excited to be doing the show with such an extremely talented bunch of students. With infectious music, well-known songs and a brilliantly comic script, it is going to be one of the best musicals the #HQPA students have produced to date”.

 Members and partners of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary echo that sentiment for the fast moving show, with its large cast, had lots of energy and enthusiasm and no small amount of talent in delivering the catchy songs and slick dance routines. Club thanks to Ian Gilmour for organizing this enjoyable theatre visit.



A new member has been inducted into Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary as cub president Mervyn Davies begins the countdown to his year of office. For insolvency practitioner Ian Stewart, it was a double celebration. The ex-Round Tabler, who has moved to the area, is to be married to fiancà© Shirley on July 1. She is now in full time employment in with Dyke Yaxley.

He extended a warm welcome to Rotarians to join them at their wedding in Hampshire and promised the club ‘I will do as much as I can for you.’



Vice president Kerry Ferguson and his team have laid out their plans for the coming Rotary year. Under the slogan ‘Manifesto,’ Kerry spoke of the club’s strong relationship with the Grange Primary School and of his desire to assist pupils even further. “I am discussing some ideas with the head and will be reporting back on this,” he told members. Colin Sharp, chair of Joint Activities and Fundraising, said each member of the committee would be asked to propose a fundraising event. Chris Allsop, chair of International Services and Rotary Foundation, said individual members of his committee would be taking on responsibility for specific projects. He said he had submitted an application for a district grant for fire fighters in Romania and that the committee would continue with the successful Lending with Care scheme for which £900 had already been lent. Julian Wells, the incoming chair of Community and Vocational Services, reiterated that there would be another sum of money for the Grange and that the reading project would continue. He also hoped that an Interact club would get off the ground very shortly. New speaker secretary Garth Joscelyne wetted the appetite with speakers he has already booked for the new Rotary year, including head Marie Sibley of the Grange Primary School. He also announced the forthcoming visit to the club of Mark Turner, head of Shrewsbury School, and Chief Fire Officer John Redman. New District Assistant Governor Gary Sharpe praised the Manifesto and told members:  “You are very active doing a great job so keep it up.  You have a healthy membership. “I have enjoyed this evening and I am looking forward to seeing you all over the coming Rotary year.”

Kerry, Mervyn, Gary and Don



To echoes of ‘wow,’ ‘incredible’ and ‘fabulous,’ a Shropshire Rotary club handed out more than £8,500 to charities from their latest Tree of Light fundraising. This year’s charities to benefit from the Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary Tree of Light are Parkinson’s, The Ark, and Alzheimer’s Society with Age UK also benefiting from a Rotary concert.

Sarah Wakeman, who received a cheque for £2,655 on behalf of Parkinson’s, said she was ‘absolutely blown away’ by the generosity and how ‘lovely it was to work with Rotarians. Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary is incredibly supportive of Parkinson’s and this amount of money will go a long way to making a difference to those with this neurological condition. We have lots of incredible projects going on which will make a difference.  Things are changing in Shropshire with more Parkinson’s nurses in particular.”

Howard Hutchings, chair of The Ark, also spoke of the difference the money would make to their vision to develop their provision of services for the most vulnerable people in the community. Howard, a volunteer and cook at The Ark, said it cost £120,000 a year to run the service which was looking to move into new premises in the area in order to expand their services.

Emma Dowler, on behalf of Alzheimer’s Society, spoke of their need to sponsor dementia support workers and that in September they were launching a brand new service to keep people active in the community. “So the money to us will make a big difference,” she added.

Heather Osborne, Chief Executive of Age UK Shropshire Telford and Wrekin, spoke of their need to increase befriending volunteers across the county with over 100 people awaiting support. “There are people who don’t speak to anyone for a week at a time and they are very lonely and so we are always looking for befrienders,” she added.

Said Shawbury and Mid Shropshire president Mervyn Davies:  “These are charities making a little go a long way and we applaud them"

Mervyn with firstly Sarah then Heather, Howard and Emma



District Judge Stephen Rogers has given Rotarians an insight into the scope of work he carries out on a daily basis mostly sitting in Telford. Stephen, a member of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary, outlined the ‘enormous range of cases’ that come before him as a district judge both in the civil and family court. “The work of the district judge is hugely important within the judicial system,” he told Rotarians.  “We deal with an enormous number of cases and an enormous range of cases.”

Appointed a district judge in 1995, he explained to Rotarians the role of the office, particularly in the family court, and where the district judge fits into the system which goes back to the Magna Carter – 100 years old this year. Said Stephen:  “The work of district judges involves a wide spectrum of civil and family law cases such as claims for damages and injunctions, possession proceedings against mortgage borrowers and property tenants, divorces, child proceedings, domestic violence injunctions and insolvency proceedings. District judges are full-time judges who deal with the majority of cases in the county courts. They are assigned on appointment to a particular circuit and may sit at any of the county courts or district registries of the High Court on that circuit.

“District judges do most of their work wearing a normal business suit, but in open court district judges wear the civil robe introduced in October 2008, with blue tabs at the neck and without a wig.”

He revealed that the cost for the delivery of justice was £750m a year.

Stephen touched on housing, insolvency and family cases during his half hour talk to Rotarians who were let into the ‘inner circle’ of the judges’ proceedings for the first time. “I deal with 60% family cases including divorce, financial remedies on divorce, procedural steps to go through and domestic violence.” And on his involvement in Rotary and as a member of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary since early 2000, the president in 2005/6 added:  “I uphold the long standing Rotary tradition of ‘Service above Self.’

In a vote of thanks to District Judge Stephen, retired police officer Rotarian John Yeomans, who spent 38 years as an officer, said:  “I spent a lot of time before justices, latterly with children before district judges. “Separating the judicial from politics, I was often in awe of the judge.  I found them my friend; wise and prudent in delivering justice.  Particularly in larger protection matters. I have a high regard for the judicial system and what you do as a judge.”



Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary is to donate a total of £1,500 to the Nepal earthquake disaster. The decision was made by members at last Tuesday's meeting. There will be a donation of £500 now to buy a Shelter Box including a relief tent for a homeless family, thermal blankets, groundsheets, water storage and purification equipment, and a further £1,000 as more sustainable support. Said Chris Allsop, chair of International Services: “We feel that a further donation of £1,000 will be most beneficial when the immediate affects of the disaster have been overcome.”


Mark Beddow update

Greetings from a warm and sunny Astana. My third winter here has now passed and almost all the ice and snow has disappeared.

I am pleased to report that RC of Astana (District 2430 Ankara, Turkey) received its Charter last Thursday evening at a gala event at the Hilton Hotel, attended by the 25 Charter Members, partners, a District delegation from Ankara, members of our mother Club (Almaty, Kazakhstan), numerous Ambassadors and mass media organisations.

The Club has been described as a text book model, with approximately 50% split between locals and ex-pats, dual gender, age range from 20s to 60s, wide ranging vocations and about 20% experienced Rotarians. It has raised a huge amount of interest locally. We will see!

I look forward to seeing you all in the summer, and will bring greetings from our President, Gareth, together with our banner.


For the first time in its 28 year history, Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary has welcomed babies to one of its weekly meetings.


The unusual � and unexpected - appearance of the babies happened at its last meeting when three week old Theodore and six week old Jacob were among the guests on what was another unprecedented first for the club. For the meeting was presided over by its junior vice president Donald Thompson in the absence of president Mervyn Davies and senior vice president Kerry Ferguson. Donald not only officiated over the evening�s proceedings, but conducted the club�s AGM which was part of the meeting.


He warmly welcomed the record total of 10 visitors � the largest in many of club members� memory.  The visitors included three generations of the visiting Davies family of Rotarians amongst whom was Kelly, youngest Rotary club president in the district, with her son Theodore. The meeting was addressed by Alan Davies who spoke of his experience in visiting Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, through the charity International Aid Trust (IAT). He told Rotarians that the charity was set up over 20 years� ago by Bernard Crocker to help children in streets and ghettos.  He thought it would make a difference and as a result IAT has become a major charity.


Said Alan, who lives in Shawbury:  ï¿½IAT has developed into a major charity with Bernard at the helm though many others are involved as well.  IAT send aid all over the world and have enough aid to be a part of any major disaster anywhere in the world, whether it be famine, natural disasters or a pandemics.�The charity deals with approximately five million pounds worth of aid a year � equivalent to 74,000 tonnes. There are 23 shops throughout the north and south as far asCannock.  The shops receive donations from local communities and sell the products through the shops, raising valuable funding for distribution of aid. This aid consists of clothing, medical supplies, dried food, vegetable seeds, moderate foods, shoe boxes, bikes and musical instruments.�


He spoke passionately of the visit to Ukraine with his wife Julie last November and how they visited an orphanage in Kievwhere there are 100,000 children on the streets. ï¿½It was a privilege to visit the orphanage and see the changes at first hand.  There is very little welfare in Kiev and the reason for my visit to Ukraine was to see with my own eyes that the aid handed out was fundraising through Rotary.  And this exceeded my expectations.�


Alan was accompanied by Trevor and Robyn Davies, Kirsty, Kelly and Lauren, partners and babies Jacob (Kirsty�s) and Theodore (Kelly�s).





Three charities stand to benefit from the proceeds of a concert to be given by the award-winning Froncysyllte Male Voice Choir on Saturday April 18. The concert at St. Chad�s Church, Shrewsbury, is being jointly organised by the Rotary clubs of Shrewsbury, Shrewsbury Darwin and Shawbury and Mid Shropshire. The beneficiaries will be Homes for All, Hope House and Age UK.


Tickets at �15 each are currently on sale at the Music Hall 01743 2588888 and will also be available on the door.  The concert starts at 7.30 pm.


Said Rotarian Colin Sharp:  ï¿½This is a great opportunity to visit St Chad�s and hear the amazing Froncysyllte choir while benefiting the three charities nominated by Shrewsbury�s Rotary Clubs.



Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary Club has donated �1,000 to the Vanuatu disaster appeal as a result of the devastation caused there by Cyclone Pam. The money is being forwarded via Merseyside and North Wales Rotary District to a Rotary District in New Zealand. This NZ district will be liaising with Rotary clubs in Vanuatu who will be aware of how the emergency fund should be best spent in the short and longer term.



Fruit trees have been planted at Severndale Academy�s new Futures building with money donated by Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary. The planting was highlighted when Severndale Head Chris Davies and Assistant Head Siobhan Williams visited the Rotary club to talk on the progress of Futures which opened last November. The development is offering further education opportunities for post 16 students up to the age of 25.  Futures currently has 52 students and the building can house 80. Rotarians were told that Futures, which is on the site of Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology, London Road, is offering students a more varied range of qualifications which includes setting up young people for the world of work. And the work related learning which Futures is now offering students is being carried out in close liaison with the college. In addition to planting fruit trees, with berries and herbs underneath, outside the building at London Road, students grow crops at Tickwood Farm, Much Wenlock.


Rotarians heard that students �love gardening and horticulture� as well as hand made crafts from materials such as ceramics, glass and wood. Following the talk, Rotarian Mervyn Davies, president of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary, visited Futures to see at first hand the variety of activities, including the new fruit trees in the grounds. ï¿½I was most impressed with the enthusiasm and high volume of activity, including making Easter gifts for selling on a stall in the Square,� said Mervyn. During his visit the president was offered a cup of coffee from a sophisticated coffee making machine in the Futures caf�. He was told by manager Tim Mulloy that students who staff the caf� are learning the skills of making a variety of coffee which is very popular.


Mervyn is photographed with Tim and one of the caf� students Nathan Lloyd, 17.


In an introduction to Chris and Siobhan at the meeting, Iain Gilmour, chair of governors at the college, said Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary had a long association with Severndale. This had started with Rotarians and partners taking children from Severndale on outings to Alton Towers and more recentlyShrewsbury College had supported Severndale to build the �1.2m Futures at London Road. He said the site was now the responsibility of Chris who reminded Rotarians it was 1997 when he last spoke to the club. When Severndale started in 1995 there were 120 students and 60 staff.  Today there were 410 students and 310 staff.  The budget then was �1m.  Now it is running at just over �7m. Over �20m had been spent on the two sites, Woodcote Way and London Road, in terms of infrastructure.

Fruit trees have been planted in the grounds of Futures.  Jack Talbot and Ben Noble, both 18, were among the planters and are seen with Liz Harrison, lead teacher, and Rotary president Mervyn Davies.

Nathan Lloyd, Tim Mulloy and Mervyn Davies.

Siobhan Williams, Mervyn Davies and Chris Davies.



A charity concert hosted by Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary has raised over �2,200 which will benefit a poor area of Africa.

The concert, in support of Medic Malawi, took place at Crowmoor Baptist Church, Shrewsbury, and featured more than 70 performers from the Shrewsbury Concert Band and The Mere Singers. They treated the audience to a varied programme of music from around the world that concluded with a medley of Beatles hits featuring the two groups performing together. The concert was organized by Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary whose president Mervyn Davies is also treasurer of MedicMalawi.  He said:  ï¿½It was a very enjoyable evening of music and the money raised will soon be put to good use. I am so grateful to all who made the event such a success.  Whilst the concert took place in the name of Rotary, the real credit must go to Harriet Harwood who was one of the performers that visited Malawi last summer. As a member of the band, she galvanized many supporters into action to attend on the evening and make the concert the success that it was.�

Stephen Drew, who runs the charity from his home in Shrewsbury, told the audience of the vital work that Medic Malawi does and how every penny raised reaches Malawi because there are no UK costs. The sum raised from the concert included over �700 from Barclays Bank who matched the amount from the raffle.  The sum raised will be enough to carry out over 70 eye operations or employ a nurse for more than a year. For the charity runs a hospital and eye clinic as well as supporting an orphanage, nutrition centre and two schools in Mtuntanhama serving over 50,000 people in a rural area of Malawi. 

 Left to right Mervyn Davies, Harriet Harwood, Mary Keith, Ken Lumley and Stephen Drew.


It was an intriguing evening of �Call My Bluff!�

Teams were decided by MC Rotarian Geoff Lloyd and Rotarians were subjected to a difficult �Call My Bluff!� challenge.

 The questions were expertly put to the five teams by Rotarian Bob Scaiff and ranged from words for meanings like Beguine, Estufa, Myosis, Pipage, Purgery, Li and Bossage.

 The result: an honourable draw on the night.

 ï¿½Who would have thought Rotarians could bullshit so much?� commented president Mervyn (for which he was fined!).

 He is photographed centre back flanked by Geoff and Bob. Front Alan Eames, Peter Bone and Alan Peterson who each called �My Bluff�.



Three members of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary had their heads and beards shaved to raise funds for the Severn Hospice.


Alan Eames, Peter Love and Gordon Duncan went under the shavers of hairdressers Michaela (left) and Amber of Risdon�s Barber Shop, The Market Hall, Shrewsbury. Last night�s big shave off at the Lord Hill Hotel, Shrewsbury, was supported by fellow Rotarians and friends and watched by Mike Perry, community fundraising adviser of Severn Hospice. Said Peter:  ï¿½The donations I have personally been given already top the �600 mark and monies are continuing to come in.  I am thrilled with this result on behalf of Severn Hospice.�



Back left to right Mike Perry, Michaela, president Mervyn and Amber; front left to right Alan Eames, Peter Love and Gordon Duncan



Members of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary were told they were the first club in the district to achieve a coveted banner whereby every member has contributed to  The Rotary Foundation every year. ï¿½Hopefully, lots of other clubs can follow suit,� district Foundation chair Ashley Gray told the club on his visit last Tuesday. He said the club�s total contribution to Foundation over the past three years was one of the best three in the district contributing $14,000 to The Rotary Foundation which �is a fabulous amount of money.�

In his talk about the opportunity the club had to make the most of Foundation, he suggested it used Foundation to help with projects.

�District has given the club two small grants and both were for international projects on water which is a fantastic achievement. A district grant can also be used for a local project which is maybe something to think about,� said Ashley. He described how the club could undertake a $30,000 Global Grant Project through as he described it as �free money.�

�Shawbury and Mid Shropshire is a net contributor to The Foundation having paid more in than the value of the grants they have received. What you should be looking to do is making some contacts overseas for next year to see if a global grant project was possible. Global Grant projects must be done overseas ï¿½Projects have a minimum gross value, $30,000, so put your thinking caps on.  This is a great opportunity for this club. The District decides on the quality of the project.  Money is available from The Rotary Foundation, you think about the project which is the most important thing.  Water projects are the most popular throughout the Rotary World. Don�t forget the biological process and clean water.  We must also improve the sanitation.  Eighty percent of the world�s population don�t have a toilet � there are more mobile phones in the world than working toilets.�

Ashley also outlined other areas the club could focus on:

Economic and community projects such as providing cows and goats

Disease prevention and treatment

Maternal and child health

Basic education and literacy

�Ask the local people what they want is the best way of doing a project,� he told Rotarians. ï¿½You need to have a Rotary club in the area where you are doing the project on the other side, otherwise the project cannot go ahead.� He said there were Rotary clubs in Malawi that could become a partnership club because the partnership was a link between two clubs. For a $30,000 project all of the money can come from The Rotary Foundation, hence the �free money� concept. 50% comes from funds allocated to the Districts involved in the project and this is matched $ for $ from The Rotary Foundation World Fund. Of the funds allocated to the Districts 70% would come from our District and 30% from the District where the project is to take place. He said there were five global grant projects being undertaken in the district at the moment where the accumulative funds are already in place. ï¿½Don�t worry about the money,� said Ashley, �just concentrate on the project and liaise with the club abroad. Doing a project is all about preparation - a well prepared project will go through. The district Foundation committee will look at your project.  Of all the applications so far received, none has been turned down. It�s a massive opportunity for the club to look at.  Your support for Foundation is second to none and this is something the club can get its teeth into. Get your thinking caps on � everyone in the club can have a say.�

At question time, Ashley was asked a number of questions. In response to one, he replied:  �The biggest issue is finding partner clubs.  A partnership between two clubs and two districts.  But there�s a way forward. The district is where the project takes place, but you could get money from another district anywhere in the world. Initially, it�s about getting projects off the ground.  It�s Rotarians knocking on doors quietly and getting things done for long term sustainable projects. Where there�s a will there�s a way�let�s sort a project out.�

In a vote of thanks, immediate past president Gareth Watkins said:  �Ashley has acknowledged how much this club has donated to Rotary Foundation. ï¿½We have contributed a large amount. Having information about club grants and pursuing one of these projects will stimulate some thought in terms of what we can do.�



Young musicians aged six to 18 will benefit from a donation that Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary has given to this year�s Minsterley Eisteddfod. The �250 Rotary sponsorship will cover individual and group vocal and instrumental competitions as well as children�s choirs when the eisteddfod is held on Saturday March 21. Said Mervyn Davies, president of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary:  �The rationale behind the sponsorship is to encourage aspiring young musicians whether they sing or play an instrument.�

Joe Evans, committee chairman said:  �We are extremely grateful to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary for sponsoring 11 of the children�s competitions which is very generous of the club.�

Left to right Mary Stott (cup and committee secretary), Mervyn Davies and Joe Evans



There was Captain Mainwaring giving orders to Dad�s Army.

 There was the Angle and Flan duo.

 And there was Captain Mervyn Davies sounding the Last Post.

 It was all part of a �Forties Night� enjoyed by Rotarians and guests at Eat Well in Milk Street, Shrewsbury, its large front windows facing the town�s attractive High Street. An imaginative �first� for the club, the popular �Forties Night� was organised by Squadron Leader Geoff Lloyd and Dad�s Army�s Private Frank Pike (Willie Strachan). Congratulations to all those who dressed in 40�s outfits for the occasion.

 Rotary�s thanks to the Eat Well team for a great supper and providing a superb venue for this novel event.



Rea Valley is the only Riding for the Disabled group inShropshire to use a hoist to elevate a rider from a wheelchair to a horse, Rotarians have been told. Speaking to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary, which recently gave a cheque for �500 to Rea Valley, Carla Howarth said the speed of transfer of a rider to a horse was critical. ï¿½It is a big juggling act of taking a horse to a disabled rider.

It is very stressful for the horse if it takes a long time for the disabled rider to get on,� said Carla who is county chair of Shropshire Riding for the Disabled.


�It�s impossible to get horses that are bomb proof and so that makes risk assessment and following processes and procedures all the more important for our riders. The situation of course is different with an able bodied rider � that�s the versatility of the horse.�


Rotarians heard that children with all sorts of medical problems benefited from riding.  One of the riders at Berriewood, whereRea Valley meets, is totally blind. ï¿½When you have been on a horse you are a different person afterwards.  It benefits balance and muscles and enjoyment is of course part of it as well.� Carla explained:  ï¿½Volunteers get a lot out of it and it�s due to donations such as the one we kindly received from Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary. ï¿½We are setting up fundraising at county level allowing all 10 groups to buy hats.�

Rea Valley, which has 30 volunteers, meets at Berriewood on a Monday evening for for younger people and Tuesday between 10-12.  ï¿½We are reliant on Berriewood Stables,� said Carla. She explained to Rotarians that riders paid for half an hour, but the difference was made up by the group.  Some riders required three volunteers. Carla added that Riding for the Disabled Association is a worldwide trust with a history going back to the Romans with 500 member groups across the UK.


Left to right Amanda Gamble (volunteer), Carla Howarth, Mervyn Davies (president of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary), Jackie Cordery (volunteer) and Kerry Ferguson (vice president of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary).



The top table is laid for six but there�s only the president seated.

What�s happened to the rest? An intriguing question. Anyone got the answer?



The �highs and lows� of police life was the theme of a talk to Shawbury and Rotary Rotary by its latest member Rotarian John Yeomans. Although the club�s most recent recruit, John has a Rotary background from his career in the police force in which he served for 41 years (1972-2013), 31 of those as a constable, sergeant and inspector.


His �detective work� first began though outside the police force. He was working as a trainee manager at British Home Stores in Chester where there was a high level of stealing. He contacted the police who arrested the shoplifters. It was in 1972 that he signed up to be a policeman having initially been a commercial apprentice at Rolls Royce Derby before joining British Home Stores.


Whilst with British Homes Stores it was completely by chance that he happened to meet a couple of beat bobbies whom he said did a �good selling job� on behalf of Cheshire Constabulary. ï¿½I went to Warrington to the police training school and didn�t know what I was letting myself in for,� said John who originates from North Wales. He started as a bobby on the beat in Cheshire Constabulary � with just a truncheon.  ï¿½The police job isn�t always a pleasant one when you are dealing with all the things that go wrong. There�s an amazing side of the job and injuries.  I had a hairline fracture of the skull for which the criminal was sentenced to 18 months for assault.� As a uniformed officer, he also suffered a broken cheekbone and as a uniform officer was dealing with all sorts of offences.


But John had aspirations to be a detective and wanted to get into CID which he told Rotarians was a �bit of a closed shop.� He highlighted arrests for the theft of �50,000 worth of car badges by 40-50 young lads in Hazelgrove which had been an on-going problem.  Over two weekends he arrested 50 youngsters. He joined the Fraud Squad and was involved in the investigation of a �7m fraud. His career continued.  ï¿½It was a funny job in so much as it included having to deal with porn films.  People sent for a list of outrageous video tapes with postal orders and cheques. I completed around 100 of these brief enquiries, unearthing many funny and bizarre people who had been ordering this stuff.  Showing them their completed order forms was really cruel but amusing as they squirmed and tried to offer an explanation. ï¿½I did however get four or five full statements of complaint which helped to convict the fraudsters.  A clever scam which had netted them hundreds of thousands of pounds. There never were any porno films!�


He recalled calling at a very large detached house in Hale Barnes armed with a photocopy of a cheque for �20 and a photocopy of an order form for four very descriptive pornographic films. ï¿½My ploy was to show the copy of the cheque first and ask if they had ordered goods by mail order that hadn't been delivered. I was aiming to get a statement of complaint as the fraudsters actually never had any films and generally knew that people were unlikely to report non deliver to the police. ï¿½The police in Middlesex had raided the postal address in the advert and uncovered thousands of mail orders with cheques cash and postal orders. On this occasion both husband and wife were present when I showed the cheque....husband immediately recognised his wife's handwriting and said �that�s your�s dear, what was that for?  The wife immediately coloured up, saying she couldn�t remember. Sensing her embarrassment, I decided not to bring out the all telling copy of the order form and said I would leave them to see if they could recall what it was for. When I got home that evening the inspector from the Force Operations Room rang me to say he had had a woman on the phone pleading with him to make contact with me as a matter of urgency, which I did.


�She asked if she could meet up with me next morning as she wanted to explain the cheque. I met her next morning at her own business premises where she explained that she was having an affair with a business colleague who had persuaded her to order the films. She did not offer to make a statement of complaint, but was eternally grateful for my discretion!  She happened also to be a very attractive woman!�


John told members he made arrests for murders and rapes as well as a prostitute.  ï¿½She was raped by a taxi driver and I went to great lengths for her.  I identified the taxi driver and arrested him.  Even for a prostitute I felt she had a right to be protected.� In 1990 he set up child abuse units in Stockport.  These dealt with sexual and emotional abuse.  In year one there were 400 investigations.  There were a lot of successful prosecutions for child abuse. As a detective protection officer, he worked in child abuse cases for 20 years and told members of the club he had a lot of experience of different levels of child abuse.  Some of it �horrendous.� ï¿½Greater Manchester�s response to abuse was to send to children�s homes in Manchester.  I never failed to be surprised how this problem goes on and on by men and women.� Under �Operation Cleopatra� he successfully prosecuted sex offenders.  ï¿½I managed a unit in Greater Manchester which is still in existence and led to me becoming detective inspector managing sex offenders. ï¿½When I came to the end of my career my experience led to me being offered work with dangerous and violent people as well as high risk sex offenders who are visited by the police.�


John (left) shows president Mervyn Davies his long service and good conduct medal and a photograph recalling his police career




Greetings from a balmy Kazakhstan! British culture rules ok here. I attended a superb Burns Supper here on Saturday night.

Haileybury School Astana were the organisers.  It is the local �branch� of Haileybury School, near Hertford, that was formed by the East India Company in the days of the Raj, originally known as East India College and then the Imperial Services College. 

Notable alumini include Clement Attlee, Rudyard Kipling, Stirling Moss and Alan Ayckbourn. A similar event to mark St David�s Day is to be held on 28th February, complete with Welsh lamb, leeks and a male voice choir. The weather here has been unseasonably warm for the past month, generally about -5C, but things are back to normal now at -35C! I felt sorry for the Scots in full regalia leaving the hotel on Saturday night! I hope to see you all later in the year. Incidentally, there are rumours of a Rotary Club being formed here. How things have changed since I arrived 27 months ago!



Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary has now loaned �600 to support small businesses in developing countries. The loans have been made to a variety of entrepreneurs from a farmer in Ecuador to a greengrocer in Malawi. The loans are made through www.lendwithcare.org and next month marks the first anniversary of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary�s lending through this organisation. The entrepreneurs who have benefited are from Africa, Asia and South America.  The loans have helped them to enhance their businesses and provide local employment opportunities. Said Chris Allsop, Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary�s International Services chair:  ï¿½We have received repayments amounting to �400 with further repayments expected in the next few months which we will re-loan. The club has also approved �300 of similar loan money for enterprises such as farming, sales and transport.� He added that the loans have already assisted some 60 different businesses. Further details are on the lendwithcare.org website.


Mike Evans of the Rotary District International Committee added:  ï¿½This project is a very effective and sustainable way of lifting people out of poverty, giving them a hand up, not a hand out. There are now 11 clubs in the district participating in this project with more expected shortly. It has engaged the interest of club members and most clubs are adding further capital to their loan accounts with lendwithcare.�



Rotarians are embarking on a new project with a local primary school. Members of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary, together with wives and partners, are to assist year one pupils at GrangePrimary School, Shrewsbury, with their reading. They have undergone a training session under the guidance of deputy head Suzy Mann and will shortly begin one to one reading with the children.


A rota will be drawn up for regular Rotary visits to the school for an hour and a half of reading with the year ones.  A total of 18 Rotarians, wives and partners have volunteered for the project. Said organiser Kerry Ferguson of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary:  ï¿½We thought this would be helpful and put the idea to the school who are delighted with the support. We are starting with reading and it could develop into further support for numeracy.� Said Mrs. Mann:  ï¿½We are thrilled to be developing such an exciting project with the Rotary club.  It's a great opportunity for us to work together to develop the skills of our young readers.�



 It�s a classroom setting for Rotarians and wives who will help pupils with their reading.  Mrs. Suzy Mann is sitting back left.



The Dingy Skipper, as opposed to the bat as an endangered specie, certainly caught the imagination of Rotarians when Rob Doran, a volunteer for Shropshire Wildlife Trust, spoke to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary. Despite its name, a freshly-emerged Dingy Skipper reveals a subtle pattern of browns and greys that is quite beautiful.  And Rob revealed this butterfly�s strongholds in Shropshire are the Granville and Ercall areas of the county. However, Rob wasn�t drawn into comment from Rotarian Tim Hughes who expressed his dislike of bats and queried why these creatures were held in such importance.

�When inhabiting buildings they create considerable mess together with the associated health risk and also cause difficulties regarding planning applications which impose time delays and cost,� said Tim. ï¿½It is difficult to understand how bats can be compared with creatures like the Dingy Skipper butterfly which, as Rob outlined, is a very important indicator of a successful habitat,� he added.

Tim was one of the responders to Rob�s talk to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary on behalf of the Shropshire Wildlife Trust whose headquarters are a quarter of a mile from Rotary�s meeting place at the Lord Hill Hotel in Abbey Foregate. In a most interesting slide presentation, Rob, a member of the Trust since 1995 and a volunteer in the Telford area, saidShropshire now had 40 nature reserves. He revealed a massive decline in nature species and a 72% decline in butterflies. ï¿½The work of the Trust is to preserve habitats before they become significantly worse � we need to halt the decline,� said Rob who was speaking to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary as an ambassador of the organization. Most of our work such as planting trees and shrubs as well as maintaining paths and gates and carrying out scrub clearance takes place in the winter.�

Rob outlined many successful conservation schemes throughout the county where the Trust works in partnership with external organisations, including some 30 commercial partners. He highlighted as an example work done in the Telford area with E.ON.

He referred to the importance of keeping the River Severn in favourable condition as well flood management to increase the grassland on a flood plain. ï¿½We are working to increase the habitat land on a flood plain. The Severn is a major wildlife habitat,� said Rob.  ï¿½We are also working with land owners to restore pools and slow the flow of streams in the north of the county.� He added by encouraging Rotarians and others to consider wildlife gardens to encourage wildife.

Rob with president Mervyn



Gordon, Alan and Peter who are going chin to chin in a Severn Hospice fund raiser

Now there are three Musketeers�

Gordon Duncan and Peter Love have now been joined by Alan Eames in a head and beard shave to raise funds for Severn Hospice. All three Rotarians were involved in Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary�s recent Santa sleigh programme and are now willing to go (head to head) and brave the cold in support of the Severn Hospice. Gordon, Peter and Alan are looking for support from Rotarians, families and friends over the next month prior to the head and beard shave which will be at the Lord Hill Hotel.

Date and time to be announced very shortly.



Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary�s latest two Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) candidates have written to the club expressing thanks for their sponsorship and updating members on their progress. The pair, Robert Jackson, 18, and Rosanna Floyd, 17, were the first two RYLA candidates to return to the club and describe their experience in a joint power point presentation which highly impressed Rotarians. Now, in a further communication with Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary, they have unilaterally explained how their personalities have undergone positive changes.

Said Robert:  �We both have offers from respective universities.  Rosanna has completed at least three work experience programs in two secondary schools and one primary school which took her well out of her comfort area and wouldn't have had the guts to do before and showed her that she wants to teach in a secondary school not a primary school. ï¿½Also, I was invited to do a speech about RYLA and my experience to the Newport (Shropshire) Rotary  Club which I did with relative ease as they don't have as many members as your Rotary club and I think that I managed to influence them to give RYLA another shot. We are still in Shrewsbury Sixth Form College together and are in the same history class together so we see an awful lot of each other."

�We also saw the article about us in the Rotary magazine and we enjoyed it very much and even boasted about it to our RYLA buddies as we still keep in touch with each other and meet up on occasion and even claimed that we were Rotary celebrities."

�Happy New Year from the Confident Double Act, Rosanna and Rob.�

The communication was forwarded to Rotarian Donald Thompson, the club�s youth opportunities officer, who is responsible for sponsorship of RYLA candidates. He was delighted to hear from Robert and Rosanna as was club president Mervyn Davies. Commenting on the communication, Mervyn said:  �That is really nice.  I am pleased that the effect, friendships and thanks are ongoing. I am also glad that Robert has shared his experience with another club. Please could you pass on the thanks of myself and the club for this update.�

The two RYLA students pictured at a Rotary meeting in 2014



Students from Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology entertained members and partners at Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary�s annual Christmas party at the Lord Hill Hotel. A choir of more than 20 students sang a mixture of traditional carols and other favourite songs following the turkey meal enjoyed by 60 Rotarians and guests. The party was presided over by president Mervyn who wished everyone a very happy Christmas and New Year.

The club�s next meetings are on January 6 and 13



Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary is pleased to announce that the Tree of Light in Shrewsbury�s Darwin Centre raised nearly �6,000 and its Santa sleigh which visited villages, supermarkets, Shrewsbury football stadium and Cineworld made just over �7,000.

The results of these charity fundraising activities were similar to last year.

Said club president Mervyn Davies: "These are tremendous totals for funds raised which will benefit many people and are the result of a great deal of hard work by our members. I would like to thank them and everyone who has supported us in any way over the festive season. It is always a pleasure to help share the joy of Christmas with the Santa Sleigh"



These special drawings, which were given to me on the Santa sleigh, preciously depict Christmas in the eyes of two very young charming people.To both of them, Grace of Bomere Heath and Heidi of Shawbury, I am greatly appreciative of the time and thought they took with their lovely drawings which helped make my time on the 2014 Santa sleigh mean so much and be so memorable.


I will keep them safe.


Rotarian and Santa helper Peter Love



New books have been presented to year one pupils at Shrewsbury�s Grange Primary School by Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary. The 28 year one pupils were each given a book of their choice as part of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary�s support for the school, which will also include a reading and arithmetic initiative. The books, ranging from princesses to dinosaurs, were presented to each of the children by head teacher Marie Sibley. Present to see the pupils excitedly receive their books were Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary president Mervyn Davies and Kerry Ferguson, chair of Community & Vocational Services.


In a short address to the children, head teacher Marie explained the work of Rotary in raising money for charity and other worthy causes and she thanked Rotary for the generous gifts. ï¿½These are all books of your own choice, they belong to you and can be kept at home to help with your reading,� she told pupils.


Said Rotarian Mervyn Davies:  ï¿½It was a very special moment seeing the children's faces light up like Christmas morning when they were told that the books were their�s to keep. ï¿½We hope that it will encourage them to enjoy reading regularly and be successful in future.�

  Pupils with their books from left to right Davey Taylor, 6, Demi-Lee Woodward, 5, Mackenzie Bond, 5, and Kaitlin Burgess, 6.  Standing behind Rotarian Mervyn Davies, head teacher Marie Sibley and Rotarian Kerry Ferguson.



Just Credit Union, Shropshire and Telford�s community bank, is reflecting local people�s spending this Christmas. The average family spend over the Christmas period is �1,000 while the average loan is �400. The statistics were fed to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary by Just Credit Union board member and Financial Inclusion Manager for Shropshire Towns and Rural Housing Caroline Morris. Caroline told Rotarians that Just Credit Union, currently based at the Guildhall, Frankwell, Shrewsbury, was meeting a big change with government welfare reforms.

�With Universal Credit coming into Shropshire next year Just Credit Union will be working closely with housing providers,� said Caroline. She commented that amongst the bank�s 4,000 members the fire service, county council and teachers were saving by payroll deduction.  Savings with the credit union were currently �1.1m.

�We are looking for middle earners who will support us by saving.  For money which is invested through savings is money which is lent within the community providing local people access to affordable credit,� said Caroline.

She said Just Credit Union loans to people in Shropshire, including Oswestry, were averaging �400 and that more than 2500 loans were made locally in the last financial year.

Just Credit Union employs eight people based at the Guildhall and provides a �drop in� service.

It�s giveaway time for Caroline Morris with Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary president Mervyn Davies



Students on a Rotary sponsored performing arts visit toLondon�s West End saw War Horse and met the cast in what they have described as a �real life experience.� Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary helped finance theShrewsbury College trip to London which also took in The Book of Mormon for which people have been waiting many months for tickets.


A summary of the London West End visit was given to Rotarians by Andy Pierce, lecturer in performing arts, and 17 year olds Daisy Bain and Kelly Evans who are studying a performing arts course for their BTEC national qualification. Andy described how the students had also raised money for the trip, including performing for the National Trust at AttinghamPark, which raised �300. Together with another �300 from onesie sales and silences, it met the match funding from Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary.


�We are grateful to receive your money to help us and it got us to London,� said Andy.  ï¿½Students put money in themselves and others who needed help were given it.  This was a really worthwhile educational experience.� He spoke of the benefits to students of seeing professionals only a little older than themselves, and arranging their own tours so that they got an understanding of what he described as a �very hard dream.�


�Some students had never been to London.  They have done that now.  At the start of the year when students go for auditions to RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) they will not be worried about London ï¿½ which would have put them off. ï¿½They might turn up at audition and this will help them to be better placed.  Seeing shows and meeting the cast is a life experience and being in the city and using the tube might ultimately be the most valuable thing. Many people who go to drama school may do a degree to fall back on.  But the main point of going is to get your skills onto the highest levels to audition for a job.�


Daisy told Rotarians they had really enjoyed the two West Endshows.  She spoke of meeting cast members and talking to them about their experiences.  ï¿½The fact they were real people that we could meet and talk to is incredible.� Said Kelly:  ï¿½Having that opportunity was eye opening.�


In a vote of thanks to Andy and the students, Rotarian Alan Paterson said it was a �delight� to hear at first hand how the Rotary money had been spent. ï¿½We share in your enthusiasm and the clarity with which you put over the visit.  What more would we expect of performing artists. We really do hope things will move on for you and we shall see your names in lights.�



Nonagenarian Stanley Edwards who has never had a television in his life can now listen to books and music � thanks to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary. Stanley, 92, who lives in a one bedroom warden controlled bungalow in Shawbury, has been provided with an audio player for books and music from CD�s. Stanley, a retired gardener and a widower for the last two years, is �thrilled� with the player which provides him with hours of daytime entertainment. Said his daughter Mrs. Joan Rust:  ï¿½My father is registered partially blind and the audio player is proving a Godsend to him in the daytime.


�He can�t get about very much and relies on listening to books and music as he has never had a television and can no longer do the hobbies which used to keep him active. His eyesight limits his ability to even cope with the controls on the radio so he is thrilled to have the audio player which he finds so much easier to use. He is most grateful for Rotary�s support and can�t thank the Shawbury and Mid Shropshire club enough for so readily donating the player which is making a big difference to his life.� She added:  ï¿½I wrote to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary asking if they could assist and there was no hesitation.�


Said Kerry Ferguson, chair of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary�s community and vocational services committee:  ï¿½This is an excellent example of how Rotary can provide direct help locally.�



Santa will shortly pick up the best present of this Christmas�his totally refurbished sleigh and a new Rudolph.

Thanks to the generosity of students and staff at Shrewsbury College of Arts & Technology Santa�s sleigh has had its first full makeover.The refurbished sleigh made its first appearance in Shrewsbury Square on Wednesday November 19 at the switch on of the town�s lights.

Representatives of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotaryhave visited the college to collect the sleigh and to thank students and staff for their commitment to the three month refurbishment project. More than a dozen painting and decorating students aged 16 to 19 worked on the project outside of their vocational studies.  Said Bruce Rolls, Curriculum Leader, Construction & Building Services:  �They all wanted to be involved in this community project which included dealing with the client, making a presentation and working to deadlines to the customer�s satisfaction. They have been able to use wider skills and have benefitted from a broader development beyond the academic side.  The closer to reality, the better the prospects for individual students.�

One of them, Liam Thomas, 17, of Monkmoor, Shrewsbury, was encouraged and motivated by learning support assistant Sam Lindsay who has provided pastoral support.

The chassis was straightened and strengthened by staff in the engineering department who have also provided the sleigh with a roof for Santa.

Said Mervyn Davies, President of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary:  �The re-appearance of the sleigh is looked forward to by all concerned and it is great to have a safe and appealing sleigh for young and not so young to enjoy.

�I am sure that Santa will appreciate a safer and more comfortable sleigh and he will ensure the students and staff will be on his list for visits this Christmas. We are most grateful to all at the college for their commitment to this excellent refurbishment,� he added.


Santa, his elves and sleigh begin their busy festive programme this Wednesday (November 19) from 4.30 pm to 8.30 pm when they will be in Shrewsbury Square for the switch on of the town�s Christmas lights. It is also the night of the switch on of the Rotary Tree of Light in the Darwin Centre, Pride Hill, at 7.00 pm. The Santa sleigh programme, organised by Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary, moves to Shrewsbury Town FC�s ground on November 29 where they will continue their collections for local and Rotary charities between 1.00 pm and 3.00 pm.

On December 5 and 6 the Santa sleigh will be at Tesco from 10.00 am until 6.00 pm.

The first of the village sleigh tours starts at Shawbury on December 8 (6.00 pm until 8.30 pm) followed by Hadnall on December 10 (6.00 pm until 8.30 pm) and High Ercall on December 11 (6.00 pm until 8.30 pm).

The sleigh is at Sainsbury�s on December 12 (10.00 am until 6.00 pm) and the following day sees a �first� for the sleigh which will be at Cineworld from 10.00 am until 6.00 pm.

On December 15 the sleigh is at Bomere Heath (6.30 pm until 8.30 pm); December 17 Sundorne, Shrewsbury (6.00 pm until 8.30 pm); December 18 Mount Pleasant, Shrewsbury (6.00 pm until 8.30 pm); December 19 and 20 Asda (10.00 am until 6.00 pm); December 22 and 23 Morrison�s (10.00 am until 6.00 pm).

Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary hope shoppers and villagers will support the Santa sleigh as generously as in previous years.

Over the last three months the sleigh has undergone a makeover thanks to students and staff at Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology.

Rybrook of Shrewsbury is kindly providing Rotary with a towing vehicle to take the sleigh around the villages.




A fascinating demonstration of cutting stained glass was given to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary members who were spellbound by the techniques. One of the techniques, cutting a right angle with a diamond saw, was highlighted to Rotarians who were also shown an oil cutter with a steel wheel and lead cutting plyers.


Peter Amis, of Shrewsbury, demonstrated the cutting and the use of copper foil, taking a piece of glass cut to shape, sticking it on, doing the same with the next piece and then soldering. With tallow on the lead and a solder blob, he said it was very much an art that needed practice. Rotarians were under no illusion that it needed a lot of practice.


He described how glass was thicker at the bottom than the top; and using various oxides of metals, iron, copper and silver to colour the glass. The Egyptians founded glass and the Romans brought it toEngland.  The Romans had glaziers who imported glass fromGermany and Northern France in the 11th century. He spoke of 13th century glass in Shrewsbury which came from Trier Cathedral, Athens, at a time when this country didn�t have a lot of money.  But the churches, which were rich, decided they would have windows and stained glass 14th century heraldry came in.


The Victorians decided they wanted glass in their churches so they designed a standard window with pressed glass. Said Peter:  ï¿½Glass is heated up, put in presses and fitted to a pattern.  A piece of coloured glass is put behind it, put into a glass armoire and into a glass window.  Bicton Church has such a window. Hand made glass is still produced in the Midlands in whatever colour you like.  And there are thousands of colours in computer controlled production.�


Peter, who worked for a long-established Shrewsbury firm Goode and Davies, encouraged members to try their hand at glass cutting.  ï¿½You never know what you can do,� he added.



The cost of maintaining Attingham Park, in addition to new expenditure on the Picture Gallery roof, has been outlined to members of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary. Speaking at their meeting on Tuesday, Saraid Jones, Engagement and Conservation Officer, said it costs �1m just to �keep Attingham running� each year and �1.4m was needed to repair the Picture Gallery roof.

 Visitors to Attingham Park included 77,000 to the house and 370,000 in the parkland so maintenance of visitor facilities is also important, said Saraid.

 Work also needs to take place on the wider estate such as works to Cronkhill, the John Nash Italianate villa on the road to Crosshouses.  New walks have been opened up such as a picnic site by Tern Bridge which faces the house.

 In a history of Attingham Park where she has worked for the last six years, Saraid talked affectionately about her role looking after its antique collections � including its �fantastic silverware� - and day to day running of the property which dates back to 1782.

 She said the interiors were currently being revived including work as part of the Attingham Re-discovered Project and the focus for next year will be starting to tell the stories of the first floor rooms.

 Rotarians were also told how various Lords Berwick from the Hill family had played significant parts in the history ofAttingham Park ï¿½ including a bankruptcy sale.

 Local people may still remember Attingham Park being home to Concord College Girls, Edgbaston Girls School and ShropshireAdult Education College, including a period when Sir George Trevelyan was involved.  

 A research project about the college is currently ongoing, she added, and the team would be keen to receive written memories of the college.

 Commenting on the next few months, Saraid added that the winter tour programme would commence in November and the Christmas decorations in the house during December.



Saraid and Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary President Mervyn Davies discuss Attingham Park�s winter tour programme.

Photograph courtesy of Paul Highnam



A confident double act�

That was how Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary�s Vice President Kerry Ferguson described the joint power point presentation by Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) candidates Robert Jackson, 18, and Rosanna Ford, 17.

 It was the first time that RYLA candidates, sponsored by Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary, had presented their experiences in a technology form.

�We are most impressed how your confidence has developed,� said Kerry, Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary�s Chair of Community and Vocational Services. They both spoke about their 6 in the morning wake up and the various activities in which they had taken part, from coracle and raft building to an assault course and mask making and decorating.

 ï¿½We all of us on the course bonded so well and we have come friends for life,� said Rosanna, who like Robert is a student at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College.

 ï¿½It was brilliant because we got a lot from RYLA.  We all missed each other so much afterwards because we bonded so well that my group of girls met up at my house for a sleep over.� ï¿½We are keeping in contact through Facebook,� said Robert who added:  ï¿½We gained confidence in communication skills.�


Left to right:  Rotarian Donald Thompson (Youth Opportunities), Robert, Rosanna and Rotarian Mervyn Davies (President). 



Books are like sunshine to the children of Uganda.


Omushana, Sunshine for Children, is a charity set up by friends from both Uganda and the UK who share goals to change the lives of children. Similarly they aim to contribute to conservation through education in the areas around the mountain gorilla reserves in Africa.   

A talk on this charity was given by co-founder and trustee Gill Castle to members of Shawbury and Mid ShropshireRotary on September 9. She told Rotarians that Omushana means sunshine in Rukiga, the local language in the locality of BwindiImpenetrable Forest, South West Uganda, where the project was founded. Both Rukiga and English appear in the full title of the charity (Omushana, Sunshine for Children) because the project was founded on a partnership between Uganda and the UK.


Gill said the essence of Omushana is to make a positive contribution to children�s lives by improving their educational opportunities, welfare, confidence and enjoyment.  ï¿½We achieve this by providing and delivering equipment and grants to schools and groups working to support children - particularly orphans - in the Mgahinga and Bwindi areas of Uganda. Our focus is to fulfil specific requests, where the benefits will be shared by large numbers of children. �


She told how she worked at a school on the edge of the forest and for the children it was the first time they had seen a computer and moving pictures.  She left two computers at the school and the charity expanded from that small start.


Since then a community library has been built at that school and last week solar power was installed to allow the laptops to run.


One of the charity�s priority projects this year is providing text books for the local curriculum.  The aim is to provide schools with at least one copy of each essential book so that at least the teacher has a copy to teach the subject. Each school completes a list of which books they are missing and Omushana is working its way through the list! Gill said a lot of our secondary schools had given their old text books.  There is now also a need for more books in the local language. Gill, who has visited Uganda eight times since 2010, said the children were cheerful and hard working, helping their parents with the growing of crops, child care and many other tasks but also desperate to attend school which is often a great challenge.


Very few go on to secondary education and university is prohibitively expensive.  So another of Omushana�s priorities is the development of vocational schools which encourage young people to learn a trade and help them become electricians, plumbers and motor mechanics. ï¿½Self employment is the way forward.�


She showed the group pictures of Uganda�s special wildlife with its Three-Horned Chameleon, the endangered mountain Gorillas and the national emblem the Grey-crowned Crane.  She said there were over 1,300 species of bird in Uganda ï¿½ more than any other country in the world. ï¿½Uganda has taken over my life,� said Gill.  ï¿½I came back after my first visit and couldn�t get it out of my head.  I really didn�t know why I loved it so much, but I think it is a combination of the wildlife, scenery and people � especially the kids who stuck in my mind.� She added that many of the community groups supported by Omushana produce their own crafts, making baskets, jewellery and carvings, some of which she showed to Rotarians.


website www.omushana.org or gill@omushana.org


Anyone interested in finding out more about Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary can contact President Mervyn Davies on 01939 210997 or email mervyn.davies1@sky.com


Gill with Rotarians Iain Gilmour, left (Speaker Secretary) and Mervyn Davies (Club President) and some crafts.



The need to spend time �more productively� building membership has been emphasised to Rotarians by District Governor Lynne Marshall. Speaking at a Special District Council meeting in Penkridge on September 1, the District Governor stressed that it was vital to halt the membership decline. ï¿½If we do nothing we shall surely die as a district,� she told the meeting which was attended by more than 80 club delegates. She said growth must come not only from existing clubs, but from the formation of new clubs in new locations.

�Some districts are running their own advertising campaign.�

The question was raised as to whether District 1210 could run its own advertising campaign as part of �trying something a bit different.� District Governor Elect Richard Green took up the theme:  �If you would like us to consider a subvention for an advertising campaign let us hear what you think,� he told the meeting. Said Past District Governor Bill Hitchen: "Ask someone to join your club.  That's the way to be effective."

The District Governor added that she was pleased with the progress of the two newest clubs, Boscobel Oaks and Six Towns Stoke on Trent.

The Special District Council meeting was called to clarify issues over re-districting in what District Governor Lynne described as a �friendly discussion purely to get views.�

Date of the next District Council is November 18.



Roger de Montgomery has featured twice in a fortnight in talks to members of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary. When a group of Rotarians visited Shrewsbury Castle and Regimental Museum last Tuesday the name Roger de Montgomery was prominent. For Roger de Montgomery built fortifications on the Welsh border to keep the warring Welsh at bay but he didn�t see ShrewsburyCastle completed.  He became a monk at the nearby Abbey and three days later he died.

King Edward was the great castle builder who made Shrewsbury Castle, which started in 1096 and was completed in 1150.  And so it became a fortification for a considerable time.

In a previous recent talk to Rotary the Rev. Paul Firmin, vicar of the Abbey, affectionately spoke of Roger de Montgomery as one of the last great saints and so Roger de Montgomery was mentioned again by castle guide John Taylor who gave Rotarians a history of the castle through periods when it has been in and out of use. It was once a town house for Lord Pulteney, the local MP who brought in Thomas Telford who raised the roof and put in large windows. The castle was eventually bought by Shropshire Horticultural Society who gave the castle to the council who reverted it back to what it was like in Norman times. The council retired from the castle in 1978 and for four years it used for large events and weddings.

It became a regimental museum in 1986 and was bombed by the IRA in 1992.  The ground floor Shropshire Yeomanry collection was wrecked and a lot of early artefacts were lost. Shrewsbury Castle and Shropshire Regimental Museum attracts an average of 25,000 visitors a year which guide John Taylor revealed was already 1,000 up on last year. He said the castle was attracting a lot of foreign visitors, including many Germans who were now teaching first and second world war history in their schools. Highlights of the tour were many, including the castle�s Onslow roof of 1571 and guide John gave an interesting account of the IRA bombing which wrecked the Shropshire Yeomanry collection on the ground floor.  A lot of early artefacts were among 60% of small exhibits lost.

Rotarians were shown many of the castle�s treasures and showcase highlights, including the modern army of today including a complete set of kit from a soldier in Afghanistan. There were weapons aplenty, including an SA80 and Armalite and AK47 which fired in any condition, from ice and snow to dust.  A general purpose machine gun and light support weapon, 28lbs in weight and capable of firing 1,000 rounds a minute. The tour of the museum took the party of Rotarians to the 2nd Afghan war.  The 85th The Kings Shropshire Light Infantry were involved in the 1878-80 war. There were a pair of Chinese silver incense burners; an array of South African medals issued to members of the Shropshire Regiment for the Boer War 1899-1902.

Sergeant Harold Whitfield�s VC in the first world war collection; a German anti-tank rifle of 1918; a German machine gun which was water cooled and could fire 550 rounds a minute.

The first soldier killed in the 2nd World War was Corp T.W. Priday of the 1st Btn KSLI near Metz on December 9 1939.  A display remembers the first British Army fatality of WW2.


A photo capturing the aftermath of the V Festival at Weston Park on the Shropshire-Staffordshire border.

But it isn�t all rubbish.

Rotarians from Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary club salvaged about 50 tents as well as sleeping bags, mattresses and folding chairs in a district-wide clean-up campaign.

Rotarians from clubs in the district were kept busy at the end of the V Festival collecting camping equipment for re-use. As many as 500 volunteers, including a number from Shawbury and Mid Shropshire, collected tents and other camping gear which will be sent to countries where the equipment can be used again.

As thousands of festival-goers packed up and headed home, the Rotarians sprang into action, collecting thousands of abandoned tents, deckchairs, sleeping bags and items of clothing.The collected items were then loaded onto a truck for transportation to the International Aid Trust where it is sorted, cleaned and packed for distribution to where it is needed. Many of the items will go to children�s summer camps in various parts of the world.

Image courtesy of Rotarian Mike Mortimer



The vicar of the Abbey Church Rev Paul Firmin has spoken affectionately of their most famous �son.� He was giving a talk to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary on Shrewsbury�s famous, but underrated son, Robert de Montgomery.

�Roger de Montgomery was one of the great men of this county,� said Paul who has re-joined Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary after an absence of some 10 years. Roger, who died in 1094, was Earl of Shrewsbury and also Lewes and he developed the Castle, the older �twin� sister to the Abbey, which followed when his position was secure. ï¿½The reason for the building of the Abbey was for very possibly for penitential reasons.  He wanted to ensure his mortal soul was safe. ï¿½Earl Roger is likely buried between the two altars of the Abbey.  The tomb cover is the only piece of tomb-ware which is original to the Abbey of which he was the benefactor.

�Roger was one of the half dozen greatest magnates in England during William the Conqueror's reign.�

Paul rides to Rotary on his bike


Fred McDonogh

On his first visit back to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary since he took up a new post in Abu Dhabi, associate member Fred McDonogh has been talking about his experiences in the United Arab Emirates. Fred. 57, a qualified chemical engineer, became an associate member when his application for the job in Abu Dhabi was confirmed.  He got the job before he could be formally voted a member of the club. It is just less than a year since Fred, of Porthill Gardens,Shrewsbury, took up the role of overseeing the planning and construction of a new aluminium foil plant in Abu Dhabi.


He is currently reviewing bids to build the $250 million plant and hopes that construction will begin at the end of the first quarter next year.  The project will take between two and three years to complete. ï¿½My remit is to build the plant and then run the business,� Fred explained.  ï¿½The interesting thing about Abu Dhabi is that is it developing very quickly. ï¿½Two years� ago the Sheikh laid out his vision for 2030 and part of that was to move the economy�s dependence on oil and gas to the manufacture of other products.  This includes the creation of higher value products that will use metal.� He said 20% of the population are Emirati and the remainder are expats like himself.  Of the expats there is a 7-1 male to female ratio.  The Emirati�s are trying not to rely on the management and skills of the expats. ï¿½There are many construction projects as the economy is growing.  There is a vast tourism sector and Abu Dhabihas a nice climate for eight months of the year.


�Because Abu Dhabi has developed after Dubai, they are paying a lot more attention to the details of planning. There is a rigorous planning structure and rules that have to be obeyed. ï¿½There are four levels of parking for a large apartment tower in order to make it efficient and avoid traffic gridlock.  ï¿½Abu Dhabi is an island with two coasts which have been nicely developed.  The 14 km western cornice has imaginative planning with an amenity area that includes walking and cycling paths, places to eat and children�s playgrounds.


�The striking thing is the apparent wealth of the Emirati mainly because it is a small country with a lot of oil.  The country is well managed and well run.  They have a plan and like to see things done properly. ï¿½The Urban Planning Council is run by a Scotsman � they are not afraid to bring in people who will do an effective job at managing.� Fred said he was �very happy� in Abu Dhabi.  ï¿½I have made friends through the Welsh Society that I have formally joined.  There is also an Irish Society, but I haven�t joined that yet,� said Fred who originates from CountyGalway in the west of Ireland. He hasn�t yet found Rotary.  ï¿½There doesn�t appear to be any Rotary activity in Abu Dhabi,� he explained. However, he is hoping to re-visit Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary in November.  ï¿½I will definitely be back for Christmas,� he added.



Rotarian Pete Savage wanted to get fit and lose weight. But at the same time, get a kick out of it. The Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotarian has achieved just that � by joining Astons Kickboxing Academy. In less than two years, the veteran kickboxer has not only lost over two stones, but become a champion in the veterans class of the martial art.


�I never would have believed it,� said Pete, 54, whose daytime profession is a will writer. ï¿½It relieves stress and both mentally and physically has done me a power of good.� Yet he had never previously considered kickboxing as a way of exercising and losing weight � despite the fact his 15 year old daughter Jo had been active in the sport for two years previously. ï¿½I used to come along to the academy and watch Jo, but it never interested me to join.  I suddenly changed my mind, had a go at it and have never looked back,� said Pete who has since won British kickboxing championships.


�I would recommend anyone to come along and do what I have done � whatever their age.  It is far more interesting than a gym and I get a real kick out of this martial art.� Chris Aston, who has run AKA in Castle Foregate,Shrewsbury, for the last five years, said Pete had been a �role model� member.


�He has achieved championship standard in the veterans class whilst his daughter has gone on to even higher levels, already becoming a European champion. ï¿½They will both be competing at our next overseas event in Belgium at the end of September,� added Chris who has 65 members in his club which meets Monday to Friday.


Said Pete:  ï¿½I might be able to use this martial art as a way of raising money for charity.  I am looking into the possibility.�




He went to the same grammar school as Fran Cotton, the famousEngland and Lions rugby player.  He captained a cricket X1 with David Hughes, the ex-Lancashire skipper, in the side. And he played in a Jim Parks benefit match with the legendary Peter May in the team � and outscored him! If that wasn�t enough, he captained a side including Geoffrey Boycott �who confirmed his 100% focus on self.�


Rotarian David Owen was guest speaker at a meeting of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary on July 22. His sporting achievements were actually eclipsed by his talent in pharmacology in which he gained a Ph.D at Aston University. He told Rotarians and guests at the meeting that his studies created a key inventive understanding, recognised in a crucial patent without which were would not have been investment in development. The drug is SK&F 101468, Ropinirole, trade name Requip, used to treat symptoms in patients with Parkinson�s disease. Requip has sold $500 million per annum for 15 years.


David outlined his involvement in three distinct phases: R&D in the pharmaceutical industry; Technology Transfer at the Medical Research Council; an ongoing collection of responsibilities including monoclonal antibodies and genetics.


He told of a debate on genetics and in particular sequencing the human genome which resulted in an appearance in the Radio 4 Today studio with Peter Hobday and Brian Redhead as well as on Newsnight and many other media. He also made a solo two hour appearance before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Research reviewing genetic research.


�One final point on genetics,� said David.  ï¿½Rotarians may remember that when the first full human gene sequence was completed, suddenly Tony Blair and Bill Clinton decided it was they who would announce the success to the world.  I had seen neither in a lab coat!� And he told how he had become a �huge fan� of Princess Anne when she opened laboratories in Edinburgh for which he had responsibility. ï¿½She was impressive.  She read the brief and fully understood it,� he added.

Rotarian Dr David Owen



Three applications for funding have been given the green light by Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary.

 British Red Cross Shropshire Carers have been given an initial donation of �250. Said Kerry Ferguson who chairs Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary�s community and vocational services:  �We consider the work of carers to be very worthwhile and our initial donation reflects that. ï¿½We shall be re-visiting this to see what more we might be able to do in the coming weeks.�

 Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary will purchase a machine which helps blind and partially sighted people operate CDs and audio books. This will be supplied to a 92 year old partially sighted person in Shawbury.

 A third donation of �250 has been made to West Mercia Probation Trust.  This is for their emergency fund to assist people to get back in to work.

 Anyone interested in joining Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary can contact president Mervyn Davies atmervyn.davies1@sky.com or telephone 01939 210997.



Breathe new life into Rotary was the theme of Shropshire�s top Rotarian on a visit to one of the county�s clubs. District Governor Lynne Marshall, who heads up 55 Rotary clubs in a district that covers Shropshire, Staffordshire and parts of theWest Midlands, said recruitment of new members and forming clubs represented the future.


She told Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary:  ï¿½The trend of losing more members than we gain cannot continue.  We cannot sit back and be complacent.  For if we do nothing we will surely die as a district. ï¿½We need to be certain of our district�s future by bringing in new members and forming new clubs.  Each of us needs to bring in at least one new member and we need to promote membership in a new way.Breathing new life into Rotary is the theme and new life translates into membership.  Keeping our members and encouraging new members.  And new life is new projects, ideas and activities with all Rotarians becoming involved in new life by bringing activities to their clubs. We need to bring new life and keep going so that our wonderful organisation cannot die.  The target is to raise membership by one net new member which I know is going to happen in Shawbury and Mid Shropshire. Quality, active Rotarians with high ethical standards in business and service is what all clubs need.  Helping young people nationally and internationally is also important in Rotary service.�


The District Governor said trends had affected Rotary and it was therefore important � and necessary � to attract people into the organisation.  For example, by bringing in new club structures with less formality. ï¿½The theme for the new Rotary year is �Light up Rotary� by sharing our service and lighting up Rotary by reaching our goal of 1.2 million Rotarians.�


She spoke of serving the community locally, nationally and internationally and with projects such as Bikes4Africa and MedicMalawi, Shawbury and Mid Shropshire was already �lighting up Rotary.� ï¿½I would encourage you to carry out a Rotary Day so that I can present you with a certificate.  A Rotary Day event can take any form as long as it is fun and appealing.

You probably already do something which could qualify for Rotary Day.�


She also spoke of the need to eradicate polio.  ï¿½We do need to get the job finished,� Mrs. Marshall added.


Anyone interested in joining Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary can contact president Mervyn Davies on 01939 210997 or emailmervyn.davies1@sky.com

The District Governor with members of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary.


It was an evening when virtually every member of the club got a mention if not a thank you. It was of course the handover evening.


But it was hosted in his now familiar inimitable style by Gareth Watkins, president for the last 12 months. He handed over the chain of office to vice president Mervyn Davies who in turn presented the vice president�s chain to Kerry Ferguson.


Gareth told the handover meeting on June 24 that it was almost two years since Geoff Lloyd asked him if he would like to take the job on. I can�t believe where this year has gone.  It�s flown by,� said Gareth who admitted he had been �apprehensive� about taking on the role. ï¿½It is of course fear of the unknown, but I can honestly say I have thoroughly enjoyed my year and I am honoured and proud to have been president of this great club.  We do have a lot of laughter and fun."


�I feel we have achieved some of the objectives whilst a few are still on going.  It�s been a successful year and I thank you for your support,� he told members. One of the highlights of his year was visiting the RYLA camp and seeing the endeavour of young people.  This, he said, had been a �delight.� He also described it as a �great year� for fundraising with the golf day raising �4,000-plus for prostate cancer; Tree of Light �6,000; Santa sleigh �7,500.


For Rotarian of the year, he said there were �plenty of candidates� but his choice had gone to someone new to the club who had taken on a chairmanship and delivered a �great job.� The trophy went to Chris Hudson, chair of club services and fellowship.  ï¿½It�s been a brilliant year in terms of what we have had and what we have achieved,� praised Gareth.


Alex Reid was the best attendee followed by Colin Sharp. Though the president himself had missed only two meetings. Following the handover, Mervyn described �what a tough act� he was to follow.  ï¿½Thank you for leading the club in the past 12 months,� he told Gareth. Mervyn said the photo taken of the actual handover marked exactly 21 years since the gong went over his head when he became president of Rotaract. ï¿½I was nervous and feel exactly the same tonight.  Could I do it?

 I am already feeling the burden of responsibility.  But let�s have a good year and I am sure it will be a success,� he added, presenting Gareth with a tankard to mark his year of office.





His fellow Rotarians all thought he was Scottish. No-one ever questioned the accent. But in a job talk to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary Gordon Duncan totally  surprised his colleagues by confessing - he was born in England!


Mouths dropped open and startled expressions were on other faces when popular Gordon said he was brought up in Perth inScotland ï¿½ but he was born in the south of England. He outlined his childhood and adulthood in Scotland and told his audience of when he met his wife Cindy in Hong Kong where she was a nanny with a wealth American family.


He took the club through a career path that has included many years in road industry transport training, principally with the RTITB, both in this country and overseas. Gordon, who has been responsible for the Rotary sleigh for many years, told the story of a training package he had put together for SAGA. This came about as a result of a woman who had never driven as well as one who was recently bereaved and this had given them confidence to take to the road again. Another little bit of fame for Gordon:  he lives at Kiln Farm in a house that has been of considerable interest to Richard Madeley. It was once owned by Richard�s grandfather Geoffrey.  Richard�s father Chris and his uncle Jim were brought up at Kiln Farm.


�Richard did visit Kiln Farm many times as a child from the family home in Essex and visited us more recently as part of the research for his book �Fathers and Sons,� Gordon added.



Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary which covers a large area just to the north of Shrewsbury has a new president.


He is Mervyn Davies, 48, a chartered accountant, of Hadnall � one of the villages within Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary�s catchment area. Mervyn, who is married to Ann and has a son Jonathan and daughter Bethany, describes the next 12 months as a �year of challenge and service.� He is keen that Rotary should expand and Shawbury and Mid Shropshire�s membership increase by one net member. 


�I would like to see us expand our impact on the local community and work with youth which means building on the work already done with schools and other youth activities,� he told his fellow Rotarians. ï¿½My theme is to ensure every member has an opportunity to serve to benefit others.  And the challenge:  if not me then who?� New chair of community and vocational service, Kerry Ferguson, said it was a balance of �giving and doing.� ï¿½Let�s do a few things very well � all of us doing something in our own way which will help.�


Chris Allsop, new chair of international service and foundation committee, spoke of the importance of responding very quickly to international problems which the club had successfully done in the past. ï¿½We need to be able to continue with that should disasters happen.� Visiting Rotarian Mike Evans, assistant district governor for Shawbury and Mid Shropshire�s area, said:  ï¿½This Rotary club is active locally and abroad and there is a good incentive for anyone who wants to join the club if you can spread the word. ï¿½This means talking to people about Rotary and bringing in newer and younger members of the club.  I am impressed with the work you are intending to do.�



Mervyn Davies, new president of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary (left) discusses his forthcoming programme with visiting Rotarian Mike Evans, assistant district governor



A Shrewsbury sixth form student has set out her personal ambitions for a forthcoming Rotary youth leadership camp (RYLA) which she hopes will help to make her more �authoritative and assertive.� For Rosanna Floyd, 17, of Church Stretton, describes herself as �quite small and girly� and wants to change the �girly� image.


�I love meeting different people because I can talk to anyone,� Rosanna told Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary who are sponsoring her attendance at the camp in August. Her talk to Rotarians coincided with a visit to the club by Barry Picken, Governor of District 1210 which covers Shropshire, Staffordshire and parts of the West Midlands. He told her to enjoy her experience when she visits the camp at Kibblestone, near Stone, from August 24-29.


The sixth form student, who is studying English literature, history and classics, is a volunteer worker with the Beavers group of boys aged 5-7. ï¿½They are lovely and every year they really change in character,� said Rosanna who has her Duke of Edinburgh bronze, silver and gold awards.  ï¿½My willpower has come on a lot as a result,� she added.


The daughter of a GP, she hopes to study history at university and become a primary school teacher. She is the second candidate this year to be sponsored by Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary together with Robert Jackson, 17, of Newport, who is also a student at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College.



Rosanna with district governor Barry Picken (right) and club president Gareth Watkins (left)



A Rotarian says he has been �inundated� following his appeal for old bikes. Mike Mortimer, chair of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary�s international committee, said he had received over 80 names. ï¿½The offers are mostly for multiples of bikes,� said Mike who made his appeal on behalf of the charity Bikes for Africa.  The club members have collected more than100 bikes to date and anticipate that the total will be over 150 by the time all have been collected and donated to the charity.


�We intend to make our first delivery of about 50 bikes to Jolerider, which is the charity who organise the refurbishment of the bikes with the prison service and then ship them out to various parts of Africa,� Mike added.


Shawbury Rotary Club would like to thank all those who have made generous donations of bikes.




Mike Mortimer



A report on the progress of new almshouses in Shrewsbury was part of a talk to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary. The new almshouses are behind the Abbey on the bowling greenand despite a current planning set back work is expected to start on the scheme very shortly. The Telepost Bowling Club is being re-located a short distance away.


Elsewhere, an investment has been made in almshouses atFairford Place, Coleham, which have been fitted with solar panels that have have proved to be successful. The story was told to Rotarians by Nigel Hinton, a past master of the Drapers, who spoke to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire on the �Drapers Legacy in Shrewsbury.� This included many famous black and white properties dating back to the 11th century.


It was in 1444 that the first almshouses were built in Shrewsburyand the Fairford House almshouses were built in Coleham in 1964 as bed sits. In 2003 almshouses by the Abbey were given to the Drapers company and planning permission given to build behind those. Mr. Hinton said some of the new build were for partners having a separate large bedroom.  The criteria was not a large amount of capital was required.



With Nigel Hinton, who wore his robe for the talk, were left to right Rotarians Tim Hughes (vote of thanks), Iain Gilmour (introduction) and president Gareth Watkins




One of the club�s Paul Harris Fellows feels the time has come to reduce his involvement in Rotary. Due to hearing problems, Alex Reid has announced that he will not be renewing his full membership from the end of the current Rotary year. He says he feels he misses much of what happens which for Alex is very frustrating. He has been an active member of the club since the start of the present century and has a good attendance record. Prior to joining Shawbury and Mid Shropshire he was an active member of the Hagley club. Alex does not want to lose his ties with Shawbury and Mid Shropshire and still intends to be present as often as he can. He also wishes to keep in touch with club activities and as a result club council has agreed he should be offered associate membership. President Gareth Watkins believes that associate membership fulfils two aims: The role keeps him in touch with club activities as well as on the communication list.


Bikes for Africa

Long distances and lack of reliable transport are huge barriers to education in Africa. So a Shropshire Rotary club is to assist with one of the solutions to the problem � bikes. Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary is collecting old and not so old bikes for a registered charity �Bikes4Africa�. Said Rotarian Mike Mortimer, chair of the club�s international committee:  ï¿½Many children in Africa cannot reach school and those that can arrive late and exhausted after several hours walk.

�Bikes are a simple, low-cost, low-tech solution to the problem.  Almost everyone here has one or more unused bikes in their garage or shed. Matched with money to ship them, they can change a child�s life � permanently. Every bike delivered not only gets a child to school, but affects the lives of as many as nine others, including school peers and family members.�

He said the club had agreed to support Jole Rider, a registered charity which enabled children and young people to reach their potential through the Bikes4Africa project. The project is well established and approved within Rotary International. Anyone with an unused bike can contact Mike Mortimer on 01743 792933 to arrange collection.


Mike with a bike.



A Shrewsbury Sixth Form history and economics student has told Rotarians that one day he would like to wear their �snazzy� badge and give something back to the community. Robert Jackson, 17, of Newport, is one of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire�s RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award) sponsored candidates for the next camp. Robert, who is part of West Mercia Police Cadet Scheme, said he hoped that one day he would join Rotary.


�I would like this to be somewhere hot, wear the snazzy badge and give something back to the community which you are giving,� he told Rotarians. ï¿½Through RYLA I am hoping to make new friends, gain experience and develop leadership skills.�


He hopes to go to university to study history or economics and hopefully become an economist. Robert, who has his Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award, told Rotarians that one of his ambitions was to visit every continent in the world by the age of 21.  His achievement so far is five.

Robert admires Rotary president Gareth Watkins�s �snazzy� badge of office.



The direction of Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology is being focussed even more closely on meeting the needs of the local community and businesses, Rotarians have been told. Shrewsbury College  Principal Steve Wain, speaking to Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary Club, said the policy was to deliver �real world experience� opportunities through the setting up of the restaurant,  beauty salons and similar enterprises on the campus. ï¿½It is more about demand and less about supply,� said Mr. Wain who highlighted that the college�s next challenge was to relate even better to the business community. He said the emphasis for the college was to operate in the �real world� with more focus on what employers in the town and county wanted. And he said Rotary could help.  ï¿½If there is a groundswell to make changes and we believe change is necessary we would welcome any support and help you can bring to that.


�It is business people like you with an interest in training young people who can help the college to advise them.


�The challenge is also about character development and ensuring that students leave college ready for the world of work, including self-employment.� He said businesses needed communication skills and the college�s response was to focus on individual character development.  But he went on:  ï¿½Employers need to challenge themselves on their expectations.


�They work best with people who understand they are charged with the  development of young people.  You have to offer 16-18 year olds training � you have a duty to train and nurture them which is the best way of developing them.� He said:  ï¿½Measures that matter are real world destinations � what our students do when they complete their education.  We know where all our students go when they finish their course. ï¿½We are very proud that 96% of students go on to further study, to jobs or to higher education � the college sent students on to 50 Universities last year.�


Chairman of Governors Rotarian Iain Gilmour said Mr. Wain, who was appointed Principal 18 months ago, had been instrumental in introducing significant change to the college, both internally and externally, focussing on the quality of teaching and learning as well as success rates and destination.




A Shropshire Rotary club is to buy a Ford Ranger which volunteers from Shropshire Fire Service will donate to cash-strapped Romania.


Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary made the decision to spend �1,500 to purchase the Ford Ranger which is on the Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service volunteers �vehicle shopping list� for this year. Rotarians were unanimous in their decision to pay for the vehicle which will carry the Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary name. Charlie Cartwright and Carole Walker, who were guest speakers at the club, had left the meeting when Rotarians cast their vote. Carole and Charlie said today:  �We are extremely grateful for the support received from Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary Club - support that will make a huge contribution to the safety and wellbeing of Romanian communities. ï¿½Currently, remote communities may wait 45-60 minutes for a fire engine to arrive at an incident.  The sponsorship and donation of the Ford Ranger will greatly improve access and response times.� In addition to supplying fire engines and support vehicles, such as the Ford Ranger, the charity workers from Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service are taking essential items such as locally made blankets for a Romanian old people�s home. Carole, who is workshop and fleet administrator at Fire Service Headquarters in Shrewsbury, has sewn no fewer than 46 blankets for the home in SighiÈ™oara, Mures County,Romania.  The team of Shropshire volunteers will spend time painting and decorating the home during their forthcoming 10 day visit.


Two examples of the blankets were on display to Rotarians (photo).


Rotary�s vehicle with its logo will be donated to the Mihai Eminescu Trust, of which HRH Prince Charles is patron.  The Trust is dedicated to preserving the Saxon culture and medieval heritage within Transylvania and the Ford Ranger will be used in remote areas of Mures County to aid firefighting operations. Mures County which is twice  the size of Shropshire, but with a similar population.  Shropshire has 23 fire stations � Mures has six.

Charlie, Carole and Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary president Gareth Watkins with a blanket.



Three charities have benefited to nearly �2,000 each from Rotary Tree of Light.


Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary has presented cheques for �1,806.81 to Midlands Air Ambulance, Parkinson�s and Alzheimers.


Each of the charities thanked Rotary for their continued support.


The money was recently raised as a result of members of the public donating �5 for a bulb on the Tree in remembrance of a loved one.


The Rotary Tree of Light, in association with the Shrewsbury Chronicle, has raised more than �100,000 over the last 15 years.

 Left to right Maria Jones, Midlands Air Ambulance, Gareth Watkins, president of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary, Sam Fitzgerald, Parkinson�s, and Dr. Roy Broad, Alzhemiers.



On a recent trek in the Himalaya region, Chris Hudson visited an orphanage in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, to give money kindly donated by Shropshire Rotarians and others to help orphan children in Nepal. Given the difficult political and economic situation in Nepal, he said there were many orphan children � some of whom risked being trafficked into prostitution to other countries. Said Chris, who raised around �1,200 for the orphanage:  ï¿½The orphanage gives at least some of these children a chance to have a decent life and an education.

�The orphanage seemed to be doing a great job with the 36 children in their care being well looked after,� said Chris who chairs Shawbury and mid Shropshire Rotary Club�s Services and Fellowship Committee. His two and a half week trek took him to the Everest Base Camp from where Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made their famous ascent to the summit of Mt Everest more than 60 years ago. Besides seeing Mt Everest, the trip included many memorable sights including what were said to be relics of a Yeti.

 ï¿½I found the trek arduous but this was more than compensated by the fabulous scenery, and the warmth of the Nepalese people,� he added.

Chris Hudson on the trek.


St David's Day

It wasn�t quite on St. David�s Day, but the rendering of Calon Lan and Gwahoddiad

meant it could have been a celebration of the patron saint ofWales.