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Colin Wood

Rotary Matters w.c. 14 Sept. (20)

It would be true to say that Rotarians are becoming quite accustomed to the weekly meeting using Zoom. Once again we had a good turnout or, more accurately, should it be an audience, for this week's get together.

Much of the business side was dominated by the problems we have in meeting our promises to others because many of our fund-raising activities are 'on hold' during this pandemic. Take for example the annual Christmas Car Raffle aimed at helping the likes of Charlie's House.  This year, there will be no car  but there is still an intention to have a raffle in the Bon Accord Centre with 'no actual cash changing hands' only cards allowed. Two or three significant cash/vouchers will be offered as prizes.  I sensed that the Inverurie members, usually strong supporters of the raffle taking their turn in the Centre every year,  were not too keen on the idea BUT, they will be prepared  simply to sell tickets.  Methinks that is a very justifiable compromise.

Following on from the fantastic news that the Continent of Africa has now been cleared of polio, World Polio Day is still to be celebrated on 20th October but I guess that will also be more low-key than normal. From the foreign desk came another great news story from John Nicol concerning our projects to help a community in Uganda. The Health Clinic we helped finance is almost completed and has already been nominated to be up-graded! At Monde School the teachers residing in the new school are holding classes for children and adults in the local community, including basic agriculture. As a result they are now cultivating  1.5 acres of land with resulting produce being taken by the local community! That alone will have significant benefits to health and wellbeing.

…..and then, to top that good news story Rotarian Howard Hughes introduced Jim Bruce, known to quite a few of the once-fit Rotarians who played rugby with him at Garioch RFC!  As a First Responder, Jim gave  us a fulsome update on the SCAA  - The Scottish Charity Air Ambulance.  Recently retired from the oil and gas industry, Jim has devoted his efforts to this invaluable, life-saving facility and it showed!  With a series of slides to illustrate his tale, he kept members enthralled, gob-smacked even, with the facts and statistics relating to how it came about and how it operates, dove-tailing with Government sponsored emergency services.

In Scotland, we have two helicopters and two fixed wing aircraft  providing the emergency  ambulance  service.  The charity air ambulance helicopter, based in Aberdeen, has a crew of two pilots and 6 paramedics on duty 12 hours per day.  Their  motto being 'Saving time, Saving lives' and as an example, Jim quoted a few comparisons: From Ballater to ARI by ambulance takes 65 mins, by SCAA  - 15 mins.  Huntly to ARI by road 54 mins, SCAA 14 mins and in the west, from the island of Arran to Crosshouse Hospital (near my home town of Kilmarnock )  ambulance by ferry and road - 127mins, by SCAA -15mins.  And so the intriguing story went on! Since the service began they have logged 2500 emergencies !   All of this activity, seen to be so vital, costs a lot of money. One mission can cast £2.5K. The service needs £4m per annum.

One of the successful fundraisers is a monthly lottery with a first prize of £1k, to use an old saying, 'you must speculate to accumulate'! Needles to say there were countless questions and suggestions for compensating the loss of income because of the virus pandemic. Just one example being waste collections by the local Scouts which can raise £20k annually, have had to be stopped for the time being.

Jim Sommerville offered our thanks for an excellent presentation which will certainly have registered with our fund-raising  committees!

Jim McColl

Rotary Matters w.c. 7 Sept. (20)

We are all becoming familiar with the phrase 'new normal' which, of course, refers back to  the type of society we have lived in till now, which has evolved over decades. Post Covid-19, will society and lifestyle look all that different or will we just slip  back in to the habits of yesteryear?  That remains to be seen but if this week's meeting of the Rotary Club of Inverurie is anything to go by, changes are afoot whether we like them or not!

Once again, we experienced  another 'first' that I can remember in something like the forty odd years of being a Rotarian!  In this new Rotary year we are becoming used to meeting on Zoom, in addition we have come to expect that the 'order of service' is likely to be altered for all sorts of legitimate reasons. We have shared our meetings with clubs in the south of England and in Australia!  What next, might I hear you ask?  Answer - At this week's meeting, we had a message about 'change' from four enthusiastic members of the recently formed Forth Bridges Rotary Club.

Now comes the philosophic bit (a first for me)!  What do you do with a crumbling old building, loved by many and which still has it's uses? In my view there are three option. Firstly, you can do nothing, just let it be and watch it steadily deteriorate, secondly –  you renovate it and thirdly – knock it down and start again despite it's honourable and valuable history. That's the easy bit but what about the residents or should I say the members, because as you will have jaloused by now,  I am referring to the Rotary Club if Inverurie!

Our fellow Rotarians from the Rosyth area  had decided that a fresh start was their preference. In the group there was one bloke and  three quines, all under 50 years of age, indeed two of them might have been under 40! (Allan, Izzy, Vicky and Helena)  The club started with four members who then invited four friends to join them until they had 20 where they paused despite being inundated with applications  for membership (dream on Inverurie). Meeting fortnightly with no formal meal proved less demanding and more in line with modern lifestyles.  Young Mums able to take the child with them, just bubbling with enthusiasm (aye, the Mums no the wains) for their projects which were actually very similar to what our club tackles on a regular basis. - local  social problems, helping the needy, disadvantaged and old folks, involved with schools and with projects in foreign lands.

Quite obviously the only difference between our clubs is AGE! The young Forth Bridges Club has no history!  Does that matter?  Not to them but it does to the Rotary Club of Inverurie.  Since it's foundation over half a century ago,  members of our club have raised tens of thousands of pounds to be able to help  thousands of people across the globe.  'Lest we forget......!'  

There were numerous questions fired at our guests, an indication that we enjoyed the presentation and the exchanges. Our thanks were enthusiastically expressed by George Ross.

The club members then went on to discuss our on-going commitments, fund-raising made more difficult because of Covid-19 but we will achieve our objectives.  That said, I guess the members went off to bed with one word in their heads – RENOVATE!   That has to be the way ahead.

Jim McColl    

Rotary Matters w.c. 25 Aug (20)

We had two visiting speakers at our meeting this week. First up was Jim Hatter, a one-time club  member who transferred to the Kintore/Kemnay Club a few months ago but it was in his role as an Assistant District Governor that he addressed us, bringing an up-date from ‘Head Office’! The District theme for the year is ‘Rotary Opens Up Opportunities’. It certainly does and basically this endorses our Club's continuing support for our local community, one of our main reasons for being! Mention was also made of a major Rotary fund-raising effort on behalf of the people of Beirut in their dire situation. These thoughts from Rotary District will, no doubt, be heeded as our various committees continue to work on their fund-raising schedules for this coming year.

Our main speaker’s topic could not have been more different, considering the subjects covered in previous weeks - Middle East Affairs, The new Inverurie Sports Facility, Uryside Park and the The effects of Clovid-19 on our community! Alan Duffill, a partner in Stewart & Watson, Solicitors talked about “Wills, Power of Attorney & Guardianship”!! A rather appropriate topic for many of us no doubt. If we hadn’t considered these matters by now, Alan's message could be read as  'maybe you should'.  Not surprisingly, there were quite a few questions for our guest after which, it was my privilege to propose a vote of thanks.

Finally, discussions are still continuing  with regard to a return to live meetings but there is to be no hurry. Government rules at the moment prohibit meetings of over quite small numbers of individuals and most members are quite prepared to obey the rules, much as we miss talking to colleagues face to face.  In the meantime, the team are doing a great job despite the limitations of the electronic system.

Jim McColl

Rotary Matters w.c.17 Aug (20)

For the first three or fours weeks of our new 'term' Inverurie Rotary Club members listened to a series of excellent speakers, concentrating on what might be called 'Home Affairs'! In other words they were principally concerned with our community. Now, better informed, members will undoubtedly take these elements to their various committees as we decide on our workload over the next year. That said, 'Foreign Affairs' have not been forgotten!  We had that extraordinary exchange with Rotarians in England and in New South Wales courtesy of Zoom, concerning the dire needs of Australian citizens following the bush and forest fires in their part of the world. Then, last week we had  that extraordinary link-up with journalist George Mitchell from his base in Spain as  he graphically described the plight of communities in the Middle East giving us more food for thought.

This week's meeting brought us back home as our guest speaker Kevin Bonarius, Manager of the Garioch Sports Centre brought us up to date with developments there. With an edict to 'promote an active life in the community' the Centre, like so many other businesses, has been frustrated by the affects of Covid-19. Agreed plans for the continuing development of the facility have had to be put on hold though some progress has been possible on small parts of the scheme.

Outlining the over-all picture, Kevin  described their Three Phase Plan.  The first phase is already under way with £250 thousand funding being set aside to  prioritise 'early learning' in sports and recreation for children from 3 years old upwards. Mums and children are already benefiting from this facility which has been possible by re-jigging some existing spaces.

Phase Two has a one word title – Tennis!  Many would have been surprised to note that Inverurie does not have a dedicated tennis facility!  With the backing of the Scottish National Tennis Federation, hopes are high that that will be remedied ere long.  Many readers will remember that Judy Murray, mother of Jamie and Andy, has already visited the site on behalf of her Foundation       offering to assist in developing membership with emphasis on families. In itself this would also help to develop more interest in the sport with more clubs being formed in the area.  The present plan for the Inverurie facility to is build a three indoor court unit (with viewing boxes)

Phase Three is perhaps 4- 5 years ahead but included will be 3 or 4 outdoor playing pitches, running track and more indoor facilities for activities like squash and dance.  Kevin's enthusiasm for this project shone through as he described  add-ons like  indoor and outdoor learning centres for youngsters, a cafe, function suite and areas for the older generation to enjoy such bizarre activities as 'walking football'!

There is much for the citizens of Inverurie to look forward to.  After questions, budding walking footballer Ian Ewan gave an enthusiastic vote of thanks!

There may be a sense of 'all talk and no action' in these recent reports entirely caused by the present pandemic but there is a significant amount of planning being done. To end on a sporting adage, be assured, the Inverurie Rotarians will be 'out of the starting blocks' as soon as the starting whistle blows! 



Rotary Matters w.c. 10 Aug. (20)

This week's Zoom meeting, attended by 28 members and guests was chaired by Vice-President Bill Duncan. There are not very many good things to say about the present Covid-19 situation but in his introductory remarks and welcome to all, Bill was able to draw attention to the fact that Honorary Member John Ramage was able to join our meeting on Zoom from his home.  That was, indeed, a welcome surprise to us all.

Our attention as also drawn to the fact that, recently knighted Capt.Tom Moore had been awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship (PHF) by his local Rotary Club! 

Customarily, each committee convenor is asked for updates in their plans for the coming  months and not surprisingly there was little to report except from Bill himself, convenor of our events and fund-raising committee.  Some of our fund-raising events are in jeopardy because of Clovid-19 so the committee are working on ideas and projects which will allow us to fulfil our plans to assist others. Watch this space!

Mike Barron was then invited to introduce our speaker, from his current location in Spain! George Mitchell  noted Journalist and Writer is, of course, a local lad, known to many of the members. The title of his address was 'Perceived Dangers of the World' ! A rather different scenario compared with   the topics covered at our meetings over the last month, all of which concerned our local community! 

George, who writes a weekly column for the P&J Saturday magazine, concentrated on his visits to the Middle East. As a regular traveller to these troubled lands, with the use of some rather graphic pictures, he gave us an insight into life for ordinary people. His picture of sharing a family meal in a refugee camp speaks volumes. Quote “ We can walk down the street in the UK  and feel safe because of our laws BUT that said I feel safer walking down a street in Gaza because the local people are naturally very friendly!”   

As a journalist, George would have occasion to interview people on either side of the 'divide', in itself a dodgy situation, his guiding principle being 'do your homework'. The Middle East to most of us remains a troubled place and as George commented it is also a very confused place, power and control changing hands over  a period of years with  the 'good guys' becoming the 'bad guys' and needless to say complicated  by interference (sometimes well-intentioned ) by other world authorities.  Sadly, caught up in it all are ordinary people and their families.

It was  quite an experience to have listened to George's story. Once again we learned that when politics and power get out of hand, I repeat, it is the majority of ordinary people who have to bear the consequences.   After several questions and comments, Vice-President Bill Duncan offered our thanks for such an interesting and thought-provoking story.   

Jim McColl 

Rotary Matters w.c.3 Aug (20)

President Kay Diack welcomed 28 members and guests to this week's Zoom meeting of the Rotary Club of Inverurie. Following the normal committee reports, courtesies and notifications from 'Head Office' (in our case Rotary District 1010)  Neill Baillie brought us up to date on the activities of our Associates Group. Their principal task in recent weeks has been to help homeless people who are about to be housed, by providing them with basic, essential items. Concurrently, the Associates are still working to attract more like-minded people willing to join them.

Our guest speaker was Allan Jones Aberdeenshire's  Housing Manager for our area. Housing has been his focus for 16 years but on this occasion Allan's theme was centred on Homelessness and what the Council is doing to tackle the problem and the consequences.

Not surprisingly, current pressures centre round Covid-19, which has resulted in a dramatic rise in unemployment and with it, an increase in homelessness.  The Housing team have been working tirelessly, day and night in their efforts to help find accommodation  for what must seem at times an endless queue of  people in dire need. The Council's residential unit has been available to provide safe short term shelter for such homeless people. Not surprisingly perhaps, the majority of homeless  are single men.

Allan then gave us an analysis of the size and style of properties available to the Council to house the many on that waiting list, currently standing at over 800!   

Needless to say, there was a host of questions from members, an indication of the intense level of interest and concern felt by all of us. 

Our thanks were expressed by John Nicol.

Over the last three weeks, our guest speakers have covered a wide range of subjects which affect the daily lives of all of us living in Inverurie (and ten miles round, as they say). Lessons have been learned and at times you can almost hear the old brain cells ticking as Rotarians begin to formulate their version of 'What can we do to help? In other words these three sessions have undoubtedly left members better informed about the needs of our society, focussing our thoughts on what we should be doing currently for the society we live in. No surprise there because that's one pillar of the Rotary movement!  Watch this space!

Jim McColl  

Our speaker Alan Jones, Housing manager Aberdeenshire council. 

Rotary Matters w.c. 27 July (20)

The time approaches when the Rotary Club of Inverurie may be able to meet up  physically once again, so we learned at this week's get together on Zoom.  Whilst there was obviously tacit approval for the move, it was also quite obvious that members were not in a 'sooner the better' frame of mind! President Kay opened the meeting welcoming all, especially our two guests Martin Auld and Sandy Scott.

Peter Donaldson was asked to summarise the Zoom meeting last week with clubs in England and in New South Wales, Australia. The Aussies organised the event to be able to thank the UK clubs for their financial support following the disastrous fires which had devastated parts of their countryside. We were delighted to learn that our contribution had been used to help train young cadets  in their Fire Service.

Secretary Dorothy Lamb read out a letter of thanks from Jacqueline Duncan, manager of the Bennachie Care Home further to our gift of a couple of Gazebos for the use of residents and their guests, much appreciated now that lock-down conditions have been eased! 

Our guest speaker, this week was Martin Auld, Chairman of  Trustees of the Ury Riverside Park Charity who manage the new countryside facility right on our doorstep. It was a fascinating and informative slide presentation which I'm sure left members intrigued and delighted with the progress so far and the ambitious plans for the future of the area. The park extends to around 60 Hectares (148 acres)  (that would be equivalent to about 100 football pitches!) and there is much yet to be done to enhance the facility, such as the provision of  a  fine granite- built entrance area, a children's play area and a new bridge near Uryside School. Already, in excess of 2,000 trees have been planted and more are planned. Without doubt, a significant mount of fund-raising will be necessary, certainly giving plenty scope for a bit of input from our members!

It is a very diverse area of land home to a great assortment of wild flowers including wet land species and a further range found on drier land. A significant population of wildlife is already inhabiting the area, so far some gems have been spotted – Kingfisher, Osprey Roe Deer and Otters !

The good news is that the area is starting to be used by a wide range of people  in the area for example, The Saturday Park Run is supported by 2 to 3 hundred people! Given the end of  Covid-19 restrictions, it is expected that the area will become a well used outdoor classroom!

Mention of Covid-19 brought up a significant problem – the spread of Giant Hogweed, a handsome plant for sure but not only has it a dominating tendency to take over whole areas, the sap is poisonous. In other words Hogweed and young people are incompatible! Regrettably, cutting it down to prevent seed production did not happen, no doubt because priorities lay elsewhere but  that will allow it to spread further – timely action come spring will be sorely needed!

Sandy Lamb offered a hearty vote of thanks to Martin    

Adding in the contribution of our two previous guest speakers, I would say there are exciting times ahead for the Burgh of Inverurie!  It is the place to be!

Jim McColl

Rotarians Past Pres.J S Watson PHF and Jim Sommerville at Bennachie View Care Home where Gazebos were donated by the club.

The gazebo handover.jpg

Ury Riverside Park (2).png

Rotary Matters w.c. 20 July (20)

We had another very busy meeting of the club this week courtesy of Zoom with 28 members and two guests tuning in, to be welcomed by president Kay Diack. There was an excited air about the first topic which is to link up with fellow Rotarians in England and New South Wales – yes , in Australia!  More of that next time but I should add that because of the time difference as their members sit down for their regular early evening meeting, we will be joining them at 10am BST!

Following on from last week's reports by the President, the sub-committees have met to discuss their plans for the coming months which each convenor described in detail including some interesting ways of fund-raising! Suffice to say, despite Covid-19 we are going to have a busy time.

Our guest speaker this week was Caroline Smith currently Garioch Community Planning Officer. Having listened last week to the Chairman of the Community Council, you can see where our research is targetted  at the moment – how can we help the citizens of Inverurie lead a full and happy life.

Caroline has been working in our area for two years,in that time able to take an overview of what makes our society tick, highlighting failings and where improvements can be made. This work entailed having regular  meetings with representatives from the police, fire service, health workers and councillors. This background work  is leading to a Development Plan for the town and its residents. Two examples mentioned were related to the need to further develop flood prevention banking and  the Men's Shed plans to create Allotments.  But needless to say, during the present emergency much of the time is being spent in helping solve difficulties experienced by vulnerable groups and individuals in the town.

In answer to one question, Caroline illustrated how one community had solved a problem for people who are having to isolate themselves by shielding or simply living alone, perhaps with no modern communication gadgets!  The group, in Westhill, involved members of two churches, a representative from a senior citizens group and one from the Rotary Club. They made it their aim to find such folk, some in dire need of support.

It was another excellent talk and discussion and in offering our thanks, Judy Whyte was able to comment on some of the excellent work being done in Inverurie, sometimes simply by neighbours helping the less able.  One idea which did make sense was to create a Forum, linking groups together to avoid overlap or duplication and vitally, to spot the  people who  are maybe left out.

There is much to be done, rest assured the Rotary team will be dong their bit for the community! 

President Kay then closed the meeting with thanks to all who took part and a toast to 'Rotary the World O'er'


Caroline Smith Garioch Community Planning Officer.png

Our speaker Caroline Smith


Rotary Matters w.c.13 July (20)

President Kay Diack called the members to order with a Roll-call for the first meeting of the new Rotary Year  on ZOOM with a bit of good news – we may be able to meet together for real, ere long! Kay also reported on the Virtual Sunday Afternoon Tea just celebrated when 30 members, families and friends joined together for an afternoon fly-cup and a blether courtesy of modern electronics! Judged to be wearing the most appealing sexy headgear for the occasion was retired Secretary Mike Barron!Such was the level of enjoyment that there is talk of another similar event!

The business part of the meeting followed on immediately with reports from the first Board meeting when our programme for the coming year was agreed in principle.  Each sub-committee convenor was then given the opportunity to enlarge on the various projects to be tackled – more of each one in due time!

There was an element of briskness to the business session because lined up as our guest speaker was Chairman of the Inverurie Community Council (ICC)- Colin Wood. What was to follow soon had the members sitting up like school children as Colin's agenda unfolded.  

Colin Wood

What is ICC for?  Ans - It serves the statuary function of making  public bodies, like elected councils, aware of the opinions of the citizens.  Members of the ICC are volunteers. Colin went on to describe some of their current and future projects, for example – Heritage Walks, Riverside Park, Twinning but during the current pandemic much time and effort has gone into supporting families in need.

Looking at the wider picture, housing, employment opportunities, recreation and traffic present a number of challenges.  Colin went on to voice some of the ICC plans  for the next 10 years, listing their objectives aimed at giving the citizens of Inverurie a sense of identity and a vision for the future such as the development of a transport hub situated in the Railway Station environs leading to the pedestrianisation of the area in front of the Town Hall thus creating an open air events amenity whilst enhancing and creating a 'Sense of Space'. 

It was a well prepared and well received talk full of enthusiasm which certainly intrigued and entertained the members. Crucially, having earlier heard of our club plans for the coming year, it is evident that there is a significant role for Rotary to play in all that is planned by the ICC?  You bet there is!

Our thanks to Colin were expressed by Vice-President Bill Duncan.  

Jim McColl


Rotary Matters w.c. 6 July(20)

This week's meeting, once again held courtesy of ZOOM was one of the key occasions in the Rotary year, referred to as 'Handover Week' which simply describes the end of a President's year of office and day one for the  new President! In the case of the Rotary Club of Inverurie it was a very hearty farewell with generous congratulations for a job well done to Iain Mathers and an equally warm welcome to our new  President Kay Diack.  

The physical handover of the Chains of Office was achieved by introducing a short video – clever stuff! President's chain from Iain to Kay and Kay's Vice-President Chain to our new Vice-president Bill Duncan.  The members responded enthusiastically to that brief ceremony. 

Now it was down to business as President Kay  proceeded to re-affirm her objectives for the coming year which incorporated 1. Continuing to maintain the high standards associated with the Rotary Movement, 2. Working to secure the Club's future which, of course centres on the recruitment of new members. 3. Enhancing the Rotary objectives of helping those in need in our community and further afield. This to include the development of a President's Fund (to enable us to deal with emergency situations) and forming closer links with other local organisations. Finally Kay's  4th objective: To maintain the physical experience of being a member of Rotary  - an 'all work and no play' reminder!

Following announcements on future events, we were able to relax to hear from our guest of the evening. Norman English was introduced by retiring secretary Mike Barron. A professional musician and accomplished Piano Accordion exponent, Norman entertained us with a wide variety of tunes from around the world. The evening was drawn to a  close with a very fitting sing along chorus of that Vera Lynn favourite 'We'll meet Again' !

Jim McColl

Rotary Matters w.c. 25 Nov (19)

The sight of a few kilts, tartan trews and scarves congregating in the Kintore Arms on Tuesday obviously signalled that something special was going on. Well of course there was, the Rotary Club of Inverurie members, friends and relations were celebrating St Andrew our Patron Saint. One wonders, in this fast moving, ever-changing world  if such occasions will be celebrated in ten years time?!  No matter, we still do and thank goodness for that, long may we continue to do so !

Sixty plus members and friends enjoyed an evening of good food and entertainment. On this occasion, the programme for the evening was in the hands of the Events Committee who came up trumps!  Well actually, it was one of their members Bill Duncan, who did the trick by inviting some of his chums from the Elgin Club to entertain us. To open the batting we had 'Three plus One'  (actually two Georges, a Ranald and Raymond!), three fiddlers and a pianist who played a great range of Scottish tunes with a bit of a Shetland bias. That set us up nicely for the Toast to St Andrew, delivered by Jim Royan  OBE,a very well known figure in Morayshire, a Master Butcher by profession, Jim has served as Chairman of Grampian NHS, he is a Vice Lord Lieutenant of the County and a fine speaker!

His Toast, took us to three different continents around the world where he participated in St Andrew's Night celebrations! A tribute to Scots who, for a variety of reasons may have left their native land but as well as their goods and chattels, they took with them their beliefs and traditions. With a few humorous asides thrown in for good measure, it was a thought-provoking tribute well received by the company.  The evening ended with another excellent session from the music group followed by vote of thanks proposed by  Murray Matthew.

The opportunity to have a raffle, raising funds for our charity commitments was not missed but the total raise is not yet to hand!    

Jim McColl

Photo  Captions

1 The Top Table – Mr & Mrs Diack,Mr & Mrs Royan, President & Mrs Mathers, Mr & Mrs Taylor

2 Three plus One, ready for the 'off'!

3 Principal speaker Jim Royan OBE

Rotary Matters w.c. 11 Nov (19)

Whether by accident or not, we Rotarians are constantly reminded of our motto 'Service above Self' and it came to the fore at this week's meeting.  For any organisation to run smoothly, much has to be done quietly behind the scenes and as a result, we might not recognise it, be aware of it, take it for granted even!  Our 'attendance officer' has decided that after about two decades of faultless service, he would hand the job on to someone else. Bill Murdoch, having served as Club Secretary for five years and President at the turn of the century has never let up in his support of the club. His meticulous, behind the scenes diligence in record keeping was acknowledged by the members on Tuesday night. His retirement form the role coming as a surprise to the members who accorded Bill a hearty vote of thanks.

The various committees reported on forthcoming events – a St Andrews Night special with guests, a re-arranged visit to the new Garioch Educational Hub, a couple of weeks break over the festive season  and linked with that a report from Sandy Lamb that 300 'Shoeboxes' filled with  small gifts had been despatched to needy families in countries like Romania.

Jim McColl

Rotary Invitation Evening 29th October 2019

.  We welcomed about 20 guests, invited by members who were entertained and informed about what it is like to be a member of a Rotary club at this present time.  I should add that, in that figure are included three members of the Turriff Rotary Club, it being their ‘scatter week’!  The programme designed and organised by Peter Donaldson was kicked off by him, explaining WHY we were seriously out to recruit new members. He was followed by George Ross one of our longest serving members on what it has meant to him to be a member. He was followed by Kay Diack, a newish, definitely younger member and what it has meant to her!  Then it was down to statistics and that was in the hands of an expert – Jim Sommerville.  Using modern technology ( no longer the projector and slides!), his presentation using computer and large screen took us through the areas of charitable work taken on and delivered by the club over the last 15 years. He also prepared a presentation in the use of Shelter Boxes in disaster situations around the world, indeed there was a shelter box on display showing the remarkable range of contents aimed at keeping a family sheltered and fed for days on end!
All this, together with a glass or two of plonk and a buffet supper, ending with a typical  mini-performance by the Glee Club will surely achieve our objective of recruiting a few new members. I am reminded of that WW One poster– ‘Your Rotary Club needs you’! Such a fine effort by Peter and his team deserves  a measure of success. Time alone will tell!
Please see bulletin below and group picture

Rotary Matters, w.c. 21 Oct (19)

The troops were called to order with a Trumpet Voluntary this week! Not the usual start to a Rotary meeting but it seemed appropriate on this occasion because the player was Hannah Reid who won our Rotary Young Musician Competition a few months ago.  As a result, she went on to compete in the area finals in Perth. A great experience for Hannah and though she didn't win she acknowledges that it gave her confidence a great boost. Keep blawin' yer trumpet Hannah, the troops much appreciated your performance!

On a rather similar theme, coincidentally in fact, our guest of the week was Lucy Watt who was sponsored by the club to participate in the Rotary Young Leaders (RYLA) camp at Nethybridge in the summer.  Invited to say a few words, Lucy described some of the highlights of the week with a degree of confidence – one of the benefits she has gained from her experience. She talked without a script though clutching a copy of the course programme!  Much of what came over depended on teamwork, each member taking their turn as leader, as they climbed, kayaked, played hockey and volleyball.  They listened to a variety of imminent speakers in the evening. It was a packed programme and when asked what the lasting benefit might be, Lucy immediately said – whilst thoroughly enjoying the various challenges, the new friendships made pleased her most!  Just shows, doesn't it – if you work hard, play hard, enjoy the company of others it leads to a happy and purposeful life! 

In thanking Lucy for telling her story, President Iain then presented Lucy with her Rotary Certificate for successfully completing the RYLA  course.   

Two forthcoming events were highlighted during the business session. Firstly, next week we have an open meeting with invited guests intended to emphasise the scope of the work we do for oor ain folk and for communities across the globe. You might describe it as a recruitment drive and you wouldn't be far wrong.  That was followed up by a report from Rotarian Bill Gray on arrangements for our annual St Andrews Night celebration, the entertainment coming from members of Elgin Rotary Club. We are in for a belter (I've heard them before!)

Jim McColl


Lucy Watt displays her certificate. 

Rotary Matters w.c. 14 Oct (19)

The meeting this week had an unusual start! President Iain Mathers had the pleasant duty of inducting a new member to the club.  Well that is not strictly the case,  we welcomed back to Inverurie James Kerr on a transfer from his club in Derbyshire.  I have mentioned James before when as a visitor he met up again with school mate Mike Hay. He has now come back to stay.  Unlike many football transfers these days, there is no money involved!  We are delighted to welcome this retired engineer to our midst.

Following the regular items like stewards required for this and representatives for that, there was included a sheet to put names on a list for another visit to the new Garioch Educational Hub (my title) to replace the Academy with an instruction to include shoe size! I thought they would have been past that stage of requiring  safety boots by this time!  Maybe it will be slippers, not to damage the new flooring!    

But then, all the business over, Stuart Watson was invited to introduce our guest speaker Amanda Ashton-Booth and her colleague Alastair Minty. There followed one of the bravest speeches I have ever heard!  In her mid thirties, Amanda proceeded to tell us a little bit of her own life,  like not meeting her mother and sisters until she was 10 years old, how at 16 years old she walked out of care to be on her own! The trials and tribulations of drug use and thoughts of suicide were not by-passed! BUT, she is now Director of a charity which works for and assists young people described as 'home leavers'.

A trifle nervous because she had never addressed a company before consisting of 25 adults ( mainly men), she was able to tell us how it really is, meeting young people just like herself at that age, giving them the reassurance that they are 'somebody' like anyone else with hopes and aspirations, dreams of career and why not? They deserve to feel that way  but don't believe that they can! In her present role,  Amanda can approach authorities with a certainty which can achieve results.  To the professionals who try the fobbing off attitude 'Yes, my dear, I hear what you are saying....blah, blah'.  She can reply ( and I use that well known Glaswegian expression) – 'Listen Jimmy, ah've been there'!  Truly, Amanda is on a mission, she has come through  a difficult time in her own life, not totally unscathed and she deserves all the support we can give.  Her mentor Alistair Minty must take credit for the  encouragement and advice he has provided and continues to offer.  He was able to chip in with comments on some of the technical aspect of the work which Amanda is involved in.  It was good to hear the inside story rather than constantly read the lurid tales beloved by some of the Press.

After questions, Bill Murdoch gave a very apt but succinct vote of thanks.    

J S Watson, Amanda and Alistair

Rotary Matters w.c.7 Oct. (19)

Two things dominated this week's meeting.  Firstly, President Iain welcomed guests from two of our neighbouring Oldmeldrum and Kintore/Kemnay and District. With one more group to come from the Huntly, they  were the competing teams in the first round of the Rotary Gavel  competition. This is an annual knockout  event and consists in playing a number of 'bar sports' for the want of a better expression. The selection of events which could include things like dominoes is the choice of the home club. It is usually a great evening of fun and camaraderie.

Our visitors were to hear something of the Club's plans for a special night at the end of the month which will centre on recruitment!  As many have commented in recent years, the social life of our communities is changing, clubs are having difficulty recruiting members but the needs of our communities and those much worse off in foreign parts, still exist. Peter Donaldson and his committee have designed a programme for the evening designed to highlight the aims and objectives of a modern Rotary Club. To prepare members for what is planned, he detailed the general format before handing over to Jim Sommerville who gave a masterly 15 minute presentation on the impact our club has made since it was founded back in the 1950's. Alongside the statistics he showed some examples of what the Rotary Movement has done worldwide for communities recovering from climate and man-made disasters. It is a remarkable achievement and we must continue to support our communities  at home and abroad. To succeed in supporting these  projects, we need to recruit like-minded people. Simple!

Just last week, with some children from Uryside School a group  of our members were planting thousands of crocus corms to mark World Polio Day! The aim, started by Rotary and subsequently supported by the Bill Gates Foundation is to rid the world of the scourge of polio and we are nearly there!  The crocus flowers will all be purple! Why?When children in countries where the disease is still present immunised, they tick a finger in purple dye to indicate that they have had the treatment. Nifty eh?   

Jim McColl

Once again, the business part of the evening was pretty full of plans for coming events, recruiting volunteers for this and that, arrangements for next week when we host teams from two  other local Rotary Clubs clubs to participate in the first round of the annual Gavel Competition. I hope to report a home win next time. We then had an update on ailing members with, in addition a very warm welcome to Rotarian Howard Hughes having been struck off that list after quite a few weeks.  He is obviously still bereft having missed that fishing trophy which was mentioned last week, otherwise he was in good form. 

It was then the turn of President Elect Kay Diack to give what used to be called a 'MY JOB' talk! By jove you had to remain alert to keep tabs on her address which was delivered at breakneck speed  Kay works for Aberdeen City Council as head of the Service Department dealing with Homelessness, Poverty and Rehabilitation. Apart from this being a mammoth problem it is also a mammoth task.  For a start there are three groups/committees each with a special role to play – supporting homeless  people and their families, offering housing and accommodation  advice and dealing with statuary homelessness, allocation of council housing etc.  This includes simple requirements like matching accommodation to peoples' needs whether it be hostel, bed & breakfast, furnished or unfurnished flat etc. Believe it or not, the Council have nearly 400 temporarily furnished flats available for otherwise homeless families. In addition there is a welfare benefit team which  helps people to establish just what they are entitled to.

Not surprisingly, two of the major problems for management are related to staffing  - recruiting the right people and keeping them on board.  I'm sure it must have seemed to many of my colleagues that dealing with these problems and the related conditions like drug abuse, sexual abuse and re-offending must be very traumatic for staff, no doubt one of the main reasons for there being a significant turnover of staff and as a consequence perhaps making recruitment difficult as well.

We are a caring society and long may that continue despite the significant costs involved.  It is difficult to imagine a world where these problems would be a thing of the past but we must live in hope. Our heartfelt thanks to Kay were expressed by Bill Murdoch.


Jim McColl

Iain Mathers and his deptuy Kay Diack.jpg

Rotary Matters w.c. 23 Sept. (19)

A word of congratulations for a start this week!  A group of Inverurie Rotarians and partners attended the Old Meldrum Rotary Club's  20th anniversary celebration Dinner at Haddo last Friday night and were full of praise for an excellent evening. Everything about the evening receiving top marks, that included a wonderful meal provided by Country Foods, Alford! Speeches were excellent and not overdone as happens occasionally at these functions! The bonus, for those who were fit enough to partake, was an excellent ceilidh.  Well done Meldrum Rotary.

Our President Iain being on leave this week the proceedings were conducted  by President Elect Kay Diack, taking us smartly through the usual committee reports, she then handed over to Mike Hay who introduced our speaker, the well known local businessman Ian Sinclair. A past Chairman of Round Table, currently Chairman of BID. What was to be his subject? Local Politics? The Retail Trade? Family firms versus the Multiples?

It was none of these, we were treated to a journey – a short history of The Sinclair Family!  Starting with Dad, born and brought up in Unst, working as a car mechanic. Meeting Mum, also a native of Shetland.  A clue of what was to come from that early beginning came from a mention of Dad's hobby – in his spare time he loved mending watches! In one of the ironies of life, when Mr Sinclair senior returned from doing his National Service in the RAF, he discovered that his best pal had taken over his job as a car mechanic!  So the family moved south, to Leven in Fife and from there via  Reekie's  in Laurencekirk to their new tractor dealership in Inverurie.  Dad was still repairing watches in his spare time!

It was a great story of how the family got to where they are today. Their first shop on the High Street had a floor area of 150 sq ft, the first delivery of stock from the Glasgow wholesaler  fitted into a shoe box! Mother Sinclair was significantly involved as they moved to a larger premises measuring 1000sq ft before the most recent move to their current premises which includes a restaurant facility – with a floor area of 10,000 sq ft! The next generation of the family, Ian's daughter is now involved in the business.  

In business now for 40 years, the family decided to celebrate by raising £40,000 for charity and have just about got there!  They must be very content with their efforts and we congratulate  them for it. Rotarian Sandra Turnbull proposed the vote of thanks, singling out Quality and Customer Service as being key elements of their success.   The members showed their appreciation with a hearty round of applause.

Jim McColl

Speaker Ian Sinclair and Michael Hay

Rotary Matters w.c. 16 Sept. (19)

There are several 'good news' elements to report following this week's club meeting. Firstly, congratulations were  extended to Rotarian George Ross on his Lifetime Achievement Award  presented at the recent Pride of Inverurie Awards ceremony, for his contribution to business, the community and the Rotary Club over a significant length of time. On the sporting front we learned that Rotarian Howard Hughes was runner-up in Rotary's 2019 Scottish Angling Championship held annually at the Lake of  Menteith. Howard brought the trophy home last year and was determined to do so again despite not being in the best of health. Undoubtedly he will be disappointed to be beaten by just one fish! In the circumstances he thoroughly deserves our congratulations. Before moving on it was announced, as had been suggested last week that the club had bought and presented to the Academy a freezer to enable them to improve their Breakfast Club service!

Our speaker this week was club member Jim Hatter in his role as an Assistant District Governor.  Basically, despite the grand title, he is the information link between a group of clubs in this area to the Rotary area in Scotland, referred to as District 1010.  The information flows in both directions!  By the way, we are preparing to welcome a new club into District 1010 – at Ythanbank. More information on that in due time.

On this occasion Jim's message 'from upstairs' echoed what we have been working on for some time – the need to recruit new people but also to look after existing members. This latter would seem rather obvious because in my time, I can remember very few who have left the club for no other reason than being dissatisfied. His main topic, however, was to bring to our attention a project which the clubs in District 1010 are being  asked to support jointly and that is the Charlie House Project. I quote 'Their aim is to build a centre in Aberdeen offering parents and carers the chance to recharge their batteries  safe in the knowledge that the children with complex disabilities will be in the care of specially trained medical staff.'

We will sign up to that project and you will no doubt be hearing from us! That might sound like a threat but as I have said in the past we don't beg for money!  We might ask for your help but in return we will offer a heap of options for you whether it be a concert, a quiz night, a flashy dinner or some other service.  We don't just take – we give, not every time but for projects like Charlie House, as they say in modern parlance – that's a no-brainer!   

Jim McColl

Rotary Matters w.c. 9 Sept. (19)

We had an informal gathering of the Inverurie Club this week – nae jaikets and ties, nae tap table, and a buffet style meal! A sign of times to come perhaps? It gets my vote!  An information night so-called, as members were invited to deliberate on the outcome of our Council's meeting last week.

There was however, a rather important ceremony to proceed before all else and that was for President Iain to present Rotarian Mike Hay with his Paul Harris Fellowship Medal, lapel pin and certificate to mark his long and dedicated service to the club. Let me quote the official line:

'The presentation of Paul Harris Fellow recognition is The Rotary Foundation's way of expressing its appreciation for a substantial contribution to Rotary Foundation programmes .It is named for our founder, Paul Harris, a Chicago lawyer who started Rotary International with three business associates in 1905. Rotarians can designate a Paul Harris Fellow as a tribute to a person whose life demonstrates a shared purpose with the objectives of Rotary.'

As our President said in his address ' 

Mike Hay has been an outstanding Rotarian for 36 years. He has held every committee convenor post and served as our President for 2 years in late 90s.The award is based, not only on the foregoing but on Mike's overall attitude, being a most willing Rotarian, where nothing is too much bother. Mike…you are travelling in the path of your father, an original member of this club and a Paul Harris Fellow.

In his reply, Mike made reference to his father Johnston Hay's dedication to Rotary indeed he described it as being brought up with Rotary! Club members expressed their delight in the usual fashion.

Another good news story was drawn to our attention regarding the work of Rotary at home and abroad!  This time it was the latter. It was brought to the attention of members that one of our Group Study Exchange students Tracy Thomson, now Tracy Morse, has just received an award from The Scottish Malawi Partnership for her 20 years work in Malawi.  An environmental health specialist Tracy works for the University of Strathclyde but has been based in the University of Malawi since 2000 where she has led collaborative research projects focussed on preventative community health with particular emphasis on water, sanitation, hygiene, food safety and air quality.

Another fine example of how Rotary can create opportunities for young people!

Jim McColl

Mike Hay receiving his PHF from President Iain Mathers

Rotary Matters  w.c.2 Sept. (19)

It was with a degree of expectation that I attended our regular meeting this week, because our guests were to be members of the new Associates Group.  Let me remind you of this organisation, set up a year or so ago. The idea basically was to identify people in our area, willing to serve the community as we Rotarians do, but who didn't necessarily wish to belong to a formal club!  Mentored by Rotary club members, they would  look to identifying projects to benefit our Inverurie society.

Regular matters of business were dealt with quite expeditiously before President Iain handed over to Rotarian Jim Hatter who introduced the Associates - Neil Bailey, Judy Whyte and Dawn Lynch.  

Dawn was invited to kick off  because as a Depute Rector in Inverurie Academy responsible for Targeted Support , she was able to get right to the nub of the project – To help young people whose lives are blighted  by poverty!  Firstly, in setting the scene Dawn gave us a few statistics – there are about 1000 pupils at the school with 120 teachers.  Many new families have come into the area and believe it or not, there are 30 different languages spoken!  The responsibility of schools is not just teaching and learning  but well-being too and that brings us closer to the target project.  There are children in the school who are in foster care, single parent families, children as carers for older members of the family. In other words we read about these situations in the newspapers every other day and  for many of us, this was a wake-up call, it is happening right here in Inverurie.  The group have identified one major facet of this scenario – food!  Many of the children at risk may hardly ever have a square meal!   

So, by setting up a breakfast club in school, these children can be 'fed and watered' the better able to face the day's school work.  Where does the food come from? The school already have arrangements with local supermarkets to receive food items that are left over from a day's trading – bread, for example but how can you store it?  Therein lies the first challenge for our Associates – they need a Freezer, aye maybe more than one.  The project is up and running

At that juncture, Judy took over and answered one or two of the questions that were quite obviously stacking up – the availability of facilities, the relationships with food banks  and other organisations already in operation, how to overcome the stigma of isolation  which some of these youngsters may feel. Then Neil, in summarising, dealt with the more general challenge of child poverty, the logistics of implementing their plans and looking ahead to providing opportunities to the  help the young people to overcome their growing embarrassment by providing courses to improve their chances of employment.

After questions, Rotarian Mike Hay proposed a Vote of thanks. What a cracker of a project and I can tell you as the meeting broke up, there was already a discussion going with some of the members on size of freezers, health & safety rules etc.  Inverurie Rotary Club will pull out the stops  to help the Associates with this project.  That should be no surprise,  they've been doing this sort of thing for our community since 1953! 


Rotary Matters 27th August 2019

Inverurie Rotarians hear of the challenges of the Aberdeen to Inverness railway line

With only 7% of travellers using the Inverurie to Inverness line there was no chance of dualling being done in that section. Phil Wray, Stakeholder Manager for Bam Nuttall, the main contractor, outlined the work since 2015, taking the double line to Dyce, and now to Inverurie. While the line was again open, the full operation of increased trains would not be felt until December.

26 Rotarians with three guests, affected by the work, Duncan Naismith, Charlie Milne and Bill Christie, from Kintore, fired questions around the technical aspects of the track including widening of the land, cut and fill and particularly the challenges of the many bridges. Archaeological work was discussed but no material finds were identified, other than the work done over the old canal. Those with technical experience, were delighted to hear that of the 150,000 tons of ballast and 200,000 tons of stone used, 97% had been recycled. With the new trains, the Don Viaduct had been a major challenge, with widening and strengthening accomplished.

Showing the work being done as at April, Rotarians were given a train driver view in a 10 minute visual presentation ride on the 17 mile length of the track, by Paula Jackson, Assistant to the Manager

A 3D visual presentation was made of the new Kintore station, which was to have 150 car park spaces. This drew questions on the technicalities, but also mention of the likely addition of future housing, and the hoped for increase in existing properties. 

(Those of younger years, were surprised to hear that post Beeching, in 1966, there had been 2 lines from Aberdeen to Kintore, but the cuts had reduced this to one)

Rotarians voted the presentation and discussion over an hour to be one of the most interesting meetings of the year.

Bill Duncan, from Elgin complimented the work done in Elgin and Forres and thanked Bam for a most professional presentation on the work done between Inverurie and Aberdeen.

Picture….Phil Wray & Paula Johnson of Bam Nuttall (Railway contractors) with Eric Massie of Inverurie Rotary


Rotary Matters w.c. 19 Aug (19)

There was a bit of a sporting air to the evening's proceedings of the Rotary Club of Inverurie this week, firstly the President welcomed back to the team after injury (an afa sair leg) past President Ian Ewan, suitably rigged oot wi a wakin'stick! It was good to have Ian back amongst us. I should add that it is an element of our regular weekly business to up-date the members on the health and well-being of fellow members and their families especially when assailed with illness.

To continue the sporting analogy –  transfer is in the air! The gentleman I mentioned last week – Jim Kerr, has applied for a transfer from his current Derbyshire club to join us here in Inverurie (no fee has been mentioned!) but one thing I can say is that Jim will be made most welcome as he returns to his home area.

I started off with a sporting reference but it could just as easily have been a family context, such is the nature of Rotary. We had a return visit of Messrs McCartney and Rothnie from our 'grand-daughter' club in Oldmeldrum, connected with their upcoming dinner at Haddo, to celebrate their 20th anniversary.  Strange expression you might think but let me explain. When a new club is proposed in any community, the existing nearest club to that community is invited to mentor the embryo club through the setting-up process and thus it is  referred to as the Mother Club! If my memory serves correctly, our Daughter club would be Ellon who then mentored the Meldrum Club – got it?    If I got it wrong, you can bet I will be told in no uncertain terms!

This family element  which pervades the Rotary organisation means that wherever you be, you will be made welcome by the local club! Where might that be?  At home here we just check your wee booklet (every Rotarian has one!) which is entitled 'Rotary Connects Around the World'! Our version covers an area called District 1010. and that covers Scotland  north,east and west from Stirlingshire. For example President Elect Kay Diack, back from a holiday on the Fife coast spoke warmly of visits she made to two clubs in the St Andrews area! 

Lastly, Rotarian Bill Duncan reported on plans for the Club to be present at the next Group-fest event to be held in Inverurie Town Hall on Saturday 7th September when the general  public will be able to meet representatives of a very wide range of organisations and clubs in the area. An exciting chance for us to explain what we are all about.  We'll be there from 10am till 3.30pm. Be sure to come and see us.   

Jim McColl

Rotary Matters w.c. 12 Aug (19)

It was a sombre start to the meeting this week as President Iain Mathers invited past President Stuart Watson to mark the sad passing of Past President Dick Slater by delivering a short Eulogy which was  followed by a minute's silence.

As many have said before, Stuart could/should have been a Minister of the Kirk rather than an Ironmonger!  He hits the spot every time, his resumé of  Dick's contribution to Rotary

over the years and indeed his role in Inverurie society was just right. This included Dick's part in the setting up of the Garioch Rugby Club and his contribution to the work of St Andrew's Kirk. Our thoughts are with Diane and  the family at this stressful time.

On a brighter note, the President welcomed a guest Rotarian from the Belper and Duffield Club in Derbyshire and thereby hangs a tale! The man in question is James Kerr who's father worked for Hay's Lemonade! He and Mike Hay had much to talk about as they remembered 'the old days'! That's Rotary – a nationwide, nay, a world wide club.

Eric Massie, organiser of our very successful outing to the Pitscurry project last week, reported that he had been invited to join the party welcoming the Britain in Bloom Judges to Inverurie  and was   happy to say that they seemed highly delighted with the town displays which augurs well however results of the competition won't be announced for a few weeks.  He then went on to detail coming events for the club such as the annual Golf Competition and a further visit to the new Community Education Centre being built to replace the Academy.

In the meantime, John Nicol and I have been sussing out potential sites for a crocus planting bonanza in aid of the End Polio Now campaign

Our meetings might be rather subdued through the summer season but the work of Rotary carries on! 

Jim McColl

Rotary Matters w.c. 5 Aug. (19)

It was a fine night in more ways than one  for our visit on Tuesday to the Pitcaple Environmental Project colloquially referred to as the Pitscurry project. 14  members with family and friends enjoyed a delightful supper in the The Buzzard Cafe followed by a short tour round the horticulture unit. For quite a number of the company, it was their first visit to the facility which grew out of the Aberdeenshire Council's  Harlaw Unit, now no longer, to train young adults with learning and/or physical difficulties.

The company assembled on the wooden decking terrace outside the cafe and I think it would be true to say that first timers were gob-smacked by the panoramic view across to Bennachie – it is quite a stunner.  As it happens, this was a very appropriate place to start our visit because the terrace with  the surrounding balustrade and flight of steps down to the garden area were built by a team of Inverurie Rotarians led by Eric Massie! A mammoth task, a job beautifully done and certainly well appreciated by staff and visitors alike.  Indeed  the team have just finished a wee bit of seasonal maintenance on the structure.

After the meal, Eric took a few minutes to describe our involvement with the Pitscurry facility. It started off with building a shed to house equipment - at little or no cost!  Thereafter it was time for a stroll round a part of the garden, including a series of polytunnels. The principle reason was to view a novel hydroponics set-up being used to grow strawberries!  I wonder how many realised that this is also where the hanging baskets are filled and grown on, to be used for display in Inverurie each summer?  There is another Rotary involvement in that exercise too.

The vote of thanks to Eric and his team and to the cafe staff was offered by President  Elect Kay Diack.  

Jim McColl

Photo Captions

1 A number of members and guests listen to the welcoming remarks from Chairman Iain Mathers.

2 'Gaffer' Eric explaining our long involvement with Pitscurry!

Rotary Matters w.c. 29 July (19)
Another quiet night in the office!  Just 20 sat down for our meal and that included three guests!  In degrees of importance, I have to say that  the lead topic and one which saddened members was the resignation letter from Graham McWilliam read out by President Iain Mathers. An exemplary and hard working member of the club over the years Graham will be missed by the members for his contributions to the club and for his efforts on behalf of Rotary, most notably his energetic involvement in the annual Kids Out event at Craibstone. As in so many situations in today's society, 'pressure of work' is the main reason for Graham's decision.  We are sorry to see him go, we wish him and his family well and who knows, in times to come, he might seek to join us again – now that would be a welcome outcome.
A pleasant surprise was the arrival of two stalwarts from the Oldmeldrum club Messrs McCartney and Rothnie!  Well known to most club members they were met with the usual banter!  The purpose of their visit was to publicise the 20th  birthday of the Oldmeldrum club!  Yes indeed, time flies as they say – the club was formed in 1999 and will celebrate their 20th  with a dinner at  Haddo House on 20th September.'How many tickets would you like guys and gals?'  There upon the level of banter was raised somewhat as someone (who shall be nameless) asked how many tickets the Meldrum club would require for our Wag of Wags dinner next April?
It was a rare nicht at the Rotary and next week will be another as we move out to Pitscurry for our regular meeting followed by an informal tour of the gardens etc.  We pray that it will be another fair nicht – weatherwise!   

Rotary Matters w.c.22July (19)

As we are right in the middle of the holiday season, not surprisingly only 20 members attended Tuesday night's meeting.  It was ever thus!  That said, there is always a bit of business to be done indeed the Admin Committee which was convened as soon as the main meeting was closed, actually lasted longer! The principal aim was to move forward elements of the 2019/20 programme which had been approved at the AGM. 

Like so many organisations, Rotary has an ageing membership and therefore recruitment of new, younger people to continue the charitable work programmes which is our hallmark, is number one priority. How we tackle that is the main objective of the Admin committee. As a result, we spent most of the time on two elements, firstly – we have to make ourselves more attractive by becoming less formal and secondly, by doing a bit of positive advertising with the main aim of expanding our potential 'customer' base! The first we have already started to do and the second is our next priority – open meetings to illustrate some of the community projects that we are involved in thus encouraging people to become involved.  Watch this space!

I have to report a fine PS from last week's meeting! Father Gerald , back home in Uganda, following his visit to Scotland has been in touch with Rotarian John Nicol to say thank you for the hospitality he enjoyed when he was with us AND to report that the project to bring fresh water to over eleven thousand  people in his community can go ahead, following positive hydrology tests. Rotary and its supporters does it again and we need to be able to continue with such projects at home and abroad.   

Jim McColl

Rotary Matters w.c.15 July (19)

It turned out to be a busy night in the Kintore Arms on Tuesday with 24 members attending in addition we welcomed three guests.  After the meal, we customarily spend a few minutes on club business which this week included an item on Christmas!  We are only just passed the longest day for goodness sake! Aye maybe so but we must plan ahead and on this occasion we were all handed out books of raffle tickets for the Christmas Car Raffle in aid of The Archie Foundation and other charities! This annual event culminates in the car being on display in the Bon Accord Centre through December with teams of Rotarians on duty each day, selling tickets with final draw made

on Christmas Eve.

Our charity theme continued for the rest of the evening, our first guest to be introduced was Erica Banks, PR And Fund-raising Executive of the cancer charity Friends of Anchor.  She made a brief speech bringing us up to date with the current £2 million project to build a special facility for the treatment  and care of cancer patients and their families. So far, the  fund-raising efforts have raised over a quarter of the required amount on target to meet the required total. President Iain then handed over a cheque for £3 thousand raised at our WAGS dinner. As one famous comedian used say 'not a lot' but I am immediately reminded of that old saying 'many a mickle maks a muckle'!

Tickets for Archie, a cheque for Anchor, it doesn't get better than that  or does it?  On stage  next, introduced by Rotarian John Nicol, who's wife Catherine joined us for the evening, came The Reverend Father Doctor Gerald Wamala all the way from Uganda!   You my remember my earlier report about John & Catherine's visit to Monde  last year, explaining that with Rotary backing, a new school had been built for the community with accommodation for two  teachers. Our guiding light on the project Father Gerald, was able to bring us up to date with what has happened since. For example, during the building of the facility, some of the young lads were employed by the contractors! In the region of 350 children are being given a real chance in life by attending school sessions.  Suffice to say that the community have embraced these improvements with enthusiasm, giving them hope for a better life for their children. As he said, rather succinctly 'when you stop to think about what has happened you must also give thanks'. 

I thought it was a bit special that, on the same evening, we could bring together representatives of two projects aided by the Rotary Club of Inverurie - at home and abroad.

Jim McColl

Rotary Matters w.c.8 July (19) by Jim McColl

The holiday season is definitely with us – you can tell by the weather! Seriously, our Rotary evening on Tuesday was remarkably quiet with only 22 members in attendance. Apart  from the weekly business, updates on members who are unable to attend through illness and greetings from other clubs visited that was just about it- but not quite!

Under the Chairmanship of our new mannie in the hot seat President Iain Mathers, the Club Council met BEFORE the meal – something was brewing! More of that in a moment. Firstly it was announced that one of our guests next week would be Erica Banks from Friends of Anchor. As well as giving us an update on the workings of the charity, Erica will receive a £3000 cheque from the club part of the proceeds from our WAGS dinner, held back at the beginning of May. Believe it or not, plans for next year's event are well under way when we will have a WAG of WAGS event!  What's that, do I hear you ask?  Quite simple, we bring the winners of the last four Wags competitions together to compete against each other, at stake is the title Wag of Wags! Next year, because the availability of the Town Hall is in question, the event will be held out of town – at Lochter Activity Centre! Planning, planning, planning – it takes a lot of time but the results justify the efforts to get it right, on the night!

We have another guest joining us next week – all the way from Uganda! Father Gerald Wamala, who co-ordinated the the Monde Primary School Project which Rotarian John Nicol visited last year and which I described some weeks ago. Father Gerald is assured of a warm welcome by the club members..................and all of that explains the meeting of our  Club Council which I mentioned earlier!  It was to ratify plans and funding for the next phase of the Ugandan project – providing fresh running water for a community of 11,000 people!  

Next week is going to be a belter!

Bulletin No 1 for July 2019

There will be a Bulletin every 2 weeks with further updates following Council meetings and news of interest.

Rotary Council for 2019-2020

Office bearers and Council Conveners are:-  Iain Mathers (President) Kay Diack (Pres. Elect), Robbie Maitland (Community), Peter Donaldson (Admin), and Howard Hughes (Events). Sandy Lamb(Youth Activities). Also on Council (Eric Massie & Bill Duncan). 

        Rotary Matters by Jim McColl

Week commencing 1st July 2019

I missed this week's meeting because I just had to be elsewhere and the attendance officer was aware  of that  – a simple courtesy which members, for the most part, accept!  This was the proper 'Hand Over' week, I had obviously jumped the gun with my last report!  No matter, there was something that our new President Iain Mathers said last week which rang a bell with me  and I would like to share it with you.

During his remarks Iain made reference to the fact that he had been a Rotarian for over 30 years and  in a humorous aside, he made the point that he had managed to dodge the role of President for that inordinately long time (though it had been suggested from time to time!). We look forward to his reign with pleasure and expectation!

It started me thinking on various tacks,for example, I have also been a member for over thirty years and the average throughout the club won't be far short of that. With a membership of over 30 it amounts to quite a significant service to the community and the disadvantaged in the wider world! That is only one club, think of the Rotary network worldwide, mind boggling isn't it and what do we get out of it?  What's the attraction?  Obviously, being in a position with like-minded individuals to help others in need  and in another sense, we help ourselves by forming friendly relationships which last a lifetime. The bonus is, wearing that little Rotarian Badge in a lapel is like wearing a badge of friendship, wherever you go!

On a slightly flippant  note, we are like a bag of sweeties!  Allsorts! A mixture of shapes and sizes, colours and flavours to suit everyone!  Two things are not allowed to be discussed  - politics and religion. Are we setting ourselves  above them? In a sense we are because Rotarians are for humanity. Undoubtedly we have our own private beliefs regarding both forbidden subjects but for the purposes of Rotarian aims and objectives we can keep them to ourselves as we work to improve the lot of mankind. A big statement to make but how else can you describe the world-wide efforts of the Rotarian movement?

Under Iain's leadership, we look forward to working together to better the communities we live in as well as the disadvantaged in foreign lands.  In doing so, we expect to enjoy another year of fun and laughter.

New President Iain Mathers takes over from J G Ross with President elect Kay Diack

Week commencing 24th June, 2019

It was changeover night on Tuesday – out with the old and in with the new!The serving President George Ross handed over to incoming President Iain Mathers. His Deputy and President Elect is Kay Diack, Mike Barron resumes as Secretary with Charlie Taylor continuing as Club Treasurer.

George has had a busy year and though fraught with periods of ill-health, as a Master Baker and successful Businessman, he knows how to deliver – on time!  He has put in a tremendous stint again this last 12 months and for that the Rotary Club of Inverurie and the people we serve are thankful. 'What's his secret?', you might well ask! In my view the answer is quite simple – he likes people! Apart from running a business with terrific support from dear wife Betty and the family, George has, for many years, also been a leading figure on behalf of his trade in the Trades House organisation in Aberdeen -what is their principal aim?  Looking after people, see what I mean?  I can't think how many years it is since we started the Glee Club but JG was in there from the start. As our principal MC (and budding comedian), as soon as he steps on the stage, he comes alive even when privately he might not be feeling 'the tops'.  Well done JG, you have put in a terrific stint on behalf of the Club and the people we serve – and so say all your fans!

Now then to business, but first, President Iain welcomed our visitors and there were quite a few  - five of our Associate members, our two young nominees to attend the RYLA ( Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) summer camp -  Lucy Watt and Andy McDonald.  We look forward to them reporting back, in due time!  I nearly said when they have recovered because these week long camps are designed to challenge the young people  physically and mentally, which will take them to new levels of potential in their lives. 

Yet one more guest was introduced – Ken Mcclennan from the Forres Club representing our District, offering words of encouragement and support for the coming year. Key amongst President Iain's aims is to increase our membership, something that the whole club endorsed. Our individual committee leaders then presented their plans for the year to give members a chance to learn more, to criticise and endorse the various proposals.  

The meeting closed with a vote of thanks proposed by Past President JG Ross – still fechtin'! The Glee Club will be back next season, he says – that's nice to know!

Rotary Matters w.c.17 June (19)

The Great Inverurie Bike Ride was just one of the subjects discussed at Tuesday  night's meeting. The key points highlighted  by Joe McDowall in his report to the club were as follows:


"The Rotary Club of Inverurie was once again happy to support the Great Inverurie Bike Ride last Sunday. In changeable, blustery weather the club set up its tent at Kellands Park to raise awareness of Prostate Scotland by offering passers-by free literature on Prostate problems and diagnosis and where to go for help. A bottle stall was provided with all the money raised going to Prostate Scotland. The total raised on the stall together with a gratuity from the organisers will mean that £200 will go to the Prostate Scotland funds.

While one team of Rotarians manned the tent and bottle stall, a second group of diehards took up their stations around the extended bike ride (the Suie circuit) performing marshalling duties to ensure the safety of the riders. Like the cyclists the marshals had to endure sunny, hot, cold and at times wet conditions. At the feeding stations, water, biscuits, sweeties and bananas were available.

This very well organised event run by “Live Life Aberdeenshire” continues to offer a great day out for serious and fun loving cyclists from across the Region. We were happy to lend our support."  

A total of 11 club members were involved and that included one of our new associates”.

Continuing the charity theme President George Ross then handed over a cheque for £3000 (from our WAGS Dinner held in early May)  to Denise Cromar from Grampian Opportunities an organisation which helps people with a wide range of disabilities to live a fulfilling life to the best of their ability, just like any other individual in our society.  Speaking from her wheelchair, Denise gave a very forceful summary of the work done by the organisation which was very well received by the members.

You might think that would be enough for one night but you would be wrong because on to the podium stepped Cathy McIllwaine representing the British Heart Foundation to frighten the life out of (some) of us with  an impressive set of statistics on heart disease.   With a number of  BHF 'beneficiaries' in the audience, myself included, Cathy took us back to the days of the early sixties when the only medication offered to sufferers was aspirin, to the present day when research efforts alone  cost a total of £100million +, children in schools are being taught  CPR cardiac massage techniques and surgery is being performed on children as young as 5 year old!  

Needless to say, BHF depends to a large extent on charitable giving to be able to continue it's invaluable work and support, a message extremely well delivered and appreciated. The vote of thanks was proposed by Kay Diack.

Aye, it was quite a night in the KA with much food for thought !  The charitable work by Rotary and many others is never ending and it must continue!

Week commencing 10th June, 2019

Losh, how time flies, it was information night again, no guest speaker, so plenty time for a blether and a bit of discussion.  With in-coming President Iain Mathers in the Chair, we fairly rattled through the business which usually starts with a welcome to any guests followed by a report on colleagues who are not able to attend  meetings because  of illness, delivered each week by one of our stalwarts Mike Hay. As part of his duties he will also remind fellow Rotarians who is on duty the following week and who is responsible for providing the speaker, when appropriate.  This is followed by the question – has anyone been visiting other clubs in the course of their travels? Any correspondence?  On this occasion, it was a 'yes',  we had a letter from Past President and Treasurer Cath Nash, currently living in Englandshire!  It had come to our attention that Cath had been seriously ill so we sent her a bunch of flowers with a letter expressing our concern and subsequent delight that she was now recuperating at home. Why mention this little domestic gesture?

I'll tell you why!  It reinforces the 'family' element that pervades the Rotary movement. We check up on members who are ill, visiting where appropriate, sending the 'get well' messages as described. The frequent references to visitors very often applies to Rotarians visiting or working in our area away from their home and their own club.  It is this 'fraternity' feel that appeals to me and   fellow members. Wearing that little lapel badge can have surprising outcomes!  A couple of weeks ago I attended a ceremony at the Burns Monument and Museum in my home town of Kilmarnock and was approached by one of the local organisers who had spotted that wee symbol!  We had a fine blether about our respective clubs over a cup of coffee (yes it was coffee, we met in mid-morning, for goodness sake). That illustrates one of the benefits of being a member of Rotary – Fraternity.  

Coming up this weekend is the Big Inverurie Bike Ride with Rotary members heavily involved, manning The Tent at the the starting point and providing stewards at each of the checkpoints round the route.  Badgered, cajoled  and led by Joe MacDowall the team will also be running a 'Bottle Stall' specifically to raise awareness of Prostate Cancer and contribute to the charity's  Appeal Fund.  The duties will be shared with members of our newly formed 'Associates' group! 

It all starts from Kellands Park , the main race ( 'The Suie Classic') competitors setting off at 10.30am . Lots of things going on in the park including events for children.  Lets hope they get a good day for it.

Planning ahead is an integral part of the successful management of any business and that includes organisations like the Rotary Club of Inverurie.  At this time of year when new officers are being elected, our various committees are also being renewed.  Every Rotarian in the club has to serve on one of the committees – how much they participate is a matter for the individual! As 'Press Officer' it is appropriate for me to be a member of the Administration (Admin) Committee which basically attends to the day to day running of the club.  So what does that infer?  Here is an example from a recent meeting:

1. Make arrangements to ensure that the new sound system is in place ready for each club meeting. It is suggested that we set up a rota for this task.

2. We seek the club’s agreement for more informality at our business meeting, held  monthly, starting in September. Yet another attempt to modernise our meetings by making them less formal, some would say less stuffy!

3) We propose  to have an open evening with light refreshments inviting members of the business community, schools, churches etc to give them a taste of the activities we get involved in past and present.  This will entail the compilation of a list of people in our community who might be interested. A sort of genteel recruitment campaign!  Reminds me of a poster I saw outside a kirk years back which said 'Carpenter from Nazareth needs Joiners'!

4) It would be useful in our forward planning to have a list of forthcoming events in and around Inverurie where we might have an opportunity to take part.. We propose that a list of these events be drawn up.

5) Further work needs to be done to ensure better coverage on our web site.

Just one committee's agenda for the coming weeks, progress to be reviewed in a months time. We have five committees in total -Admin, Community Service, Youth Activities, Foundation(Rotary's own charity)/International, and Events/Fundraising.

All aimed at making this world a better place.

Week commencing 27th May, 2019

We had a good turnout for an excellent meeting on Tuesday night with just one guest, our speaker, more of which later.

It was rather a sombre start to the evening as past president Stuart Watson offered a short eulogy marking the sad death of Rotarian and Past President Pat Walker after which the members observed a minute' s silence.  We were invited by Stuart to reflect on Pat 's contribution to our club and indeed to the wider society of Inverurie and Kintore, his dedication to Kellands School and his passion for the game of cricket. Our thoughts are with Phyllis and the family. The funeral service will be in St Andrews Church on Monday next at 1pm.

With President Elect Iain Mathers in the Chair, after the meal, there was a short business session before Rotarian Robert Maitland introduced our speaker for the evening, Suzanne Mackie, a member of the Sir Ian Wood Charitable Trust Team. 

 You must know by now that one of my favourite sayings is ' Every Day is a School Day'! Here's another example.  I had never heard of  'Company, Conversation and a Cuppa', an initiative set up by the charity Contact the Elderly – Suzanne explained what it is all about!  Contact elderly people (generally over 75) who live alone, bring them together in small groups monthly, on a Sunday afternoon for a blether, a cup of tea, a sandwich and a bit of cake!  Groups may vary in size up to 10 and the timescale would be 2 hours or thereby. What a fine idea, proving once again that we still are a caring society.

Needless to say, this requires volunteer drivers to collect the clients and volunteers to provide the location and the goodies!  The get-together might be in a private house or in a community facility. Suzanne has several groups in our area but there is plenty room for more.  The biggest problem is to identify the old folks who might benefit from such a facility!

If you are engaged by this story and perhaps wish to become involved, Suzanne can be contacted on 077438 58948.

Week commencing 20th May, 2019

It was the turn of Ellon Rotary Club to have a “scatter week” so we were delighted to welcome three well known faces to our meeting - Fred Watson, Charlie Burgess and Derek Ritchie. As you can imagine, when old friends meet, the patter during mealtime was brisk! Vice-President Iain Mathers was 'in the chair' as President George Ross takes a well-earned holiday.

Murray Matthew reported on the Primary Schools quiz District final which was held in the Beach Ballroom, Aberdeen, last Saturday, with 'our' team from Strathburn, one of seventeen schools taking part. We didn't feature in the prize list, the winners coming from Newport, Strathdevon and Portessie. Nonetheless it must be a great experience for all these youngsters. We look forward to the 2019 competition.

Joe McDowall reported on the Homestart quiz which raised £900 for the charity. Our contribution being as bar staff!

Our speaker, guest of Eric Massie, was Alan Rae who gave us an account of yet another charitable effort and by jings it was an effort!  To climb the three highest peaks in the UK, in other words, Ben Nevis (Scotland), Scafell Pike (England) and Snowdon (Wales) within a 24 hour period, as it happened, the last one in pitch darkness! The charity to benefit from that mammoth effort was Clic Sargent – Young Lives v Cancer.  The charity benefited to the tune of more than £6000.

Alan's presentation was accompanied by a series of photographs to illustrate his tale. You don't just suddenly decide to phone a few chums with the idea of a weekend in the hills!  A significant amount of pre-planning and training has to be undertaken which included recruiting 7 chums to do the climbing bit and 3 more to do the driving! They hired a minibus and to abide by the rules of the challenge, it must not exceed 60mph during the journey! Another rule meant that the whole team had to be photographed on each peak – together!  

The Ben Nevis climb started at 6.30am and was completed in 4.20hrs. Then a drive south through traffic and hold-ups like a bad accident on Loch Lomondside!  Scafell Pike was a 4 hour job and then on to Snowdon, starting at 2 o'clock in the morning and back on the flat in 4hrs 10min!

Total time 23hrs and 40mins. A wonderfully successful challenge!   

We in Rotary are constantly involved in raising funds for charity but we are not the only ones! Alan's tale was a fine example of how in our society, much is achieved, by a whole range of our citizens, to help people who are worse off than ourselves.  Long may that continue.

Week commencing 13th May, 2019

Last week, I itemised the work done by just one of our committees in the Rotary year  coming to an end, that was the Community Services team, this week I would like to highlight the work of the Youth Committee.  These guys are responsible for the Rotary Shoebox scheme. These boxes are distributed to primary schools (and to club members as well) The only relationship to shoes is the size of the box! It is filled with a range of gifts suitable for young people, concentrating on items which may not be available in their society or which they can not afford!  This year 338 boxes were distributed, collected when filled and despatched to the Ukraine where many families live in poverty and as well as to children's homes and orphanages. As a little PS, it is customary to sellotape a couple £1 coins to the box to help cover transport costs!

This simple little exercise has a double benefit for the people involved – the 'givers' get to hear of people their age who don't have such a comfortable existence as we do and perhaps realise that life here in the UK is not so bad after all! The 'receivers' benefit from our generosity, even if it is   simply to put a smile and a look of delight on their faces!

Another element of this committee's responsibility is the Primary School Quiz and as reported our winners from Strathburn won their way through to the big District final which takes place this Saturday 18th May in the Beach Ballroom in Aberdeen – we wish them all the best.

Coming up in July are the RYLA Camps at Nethybridge.  We have sponsored two students, one for the Boys Camp and the other for the Girls Camp.  Not a cheap exercise, we have had to raise over £1000 to cover the costs. These camps are designed to bring out the best in young people who have already shown an aptitude for leadership by putting them in to testing situations. I hasten to add that these are physical challenges as well as mental exercises. In the process, many will benefit not just from the challenges and decision-making exercises but in making new discoveries about themselves and making new friendships.   Rotary sees RYLA as a way to benefit society as a whole.

Finally, this busy committee also organised the annual Young Musician competition. This year we heard nine candidates give of their best and apart from the competition element, they gave us a super evening of good music.

Plans are already being discussed for the 19/20 season.

Week commencing 29th April, 2019

Our numbers were enhanced on Tuesday night by the attendance of four members from the Oldmeldrum Club this being their Scatter Week. In replying to our President's welcome, Andrew McCartney was able to tell us that the Meldrum club will celebrate it's 20th anniversary in September with a dinner at Haddo.  I guess that there could be a few representatives from Inverurie keen to be part of that celebration.

Rotarian Jim Hatter who serves on our District  committee  was able to bring us up to date on new clubs being formed in the area, a subject I touched on last week.  One of them will be rather different from the norm in that it will be a 'family club'!  There was news of further changes in the way Rotary is to be governed in future, time alone will tell how that will affect the functioning of our club – I will keep you posted.

Recently I mentioned how Strathburn School who won our School Quiz competition back in February were to compete in the area final at Blackburn – they won that too and now go forward to the District final!  Well done Strathburn.

Coincidentally our evening ended with a Quiz!  It was designed by David Taylor and as ever he produced a cracker. Each table was given a list in three parts as follows

1 Listed were all the Bond films to date! Question – what was the name of the song associated with each film and who sang it, each correct answer receiving 2 points

2 Name the Harry Potter books – each correct answer  winning 3 points

3 The Fellowship of the Ring (9  of them )– Name a given character!

It got a bit shambolic at times  - at one point, the question master was told that his answers were inaccurate!.

It was a terrific idea and what a hoot! There ended another fine evening of Rotary.

PS – the new sound system was in use for the first time!  Whoopee!

Week commencing 15th April, 2019

From the highs of last week, we were back to normal this week, well not quite!  Our so-called Information Night when members get to question the Board members on their monthly deliberations, was enhanced by the presence of three guests – special guests in fact, members of our newly formed 'Associates Group'.  As you may remember from my previous ramblings, Rotary is trying to change its image from a rather staid, business men's club, meeting weekly for a lunch with attendant ceremonies. During that lunchtime they would plan to help worthy causes in the community and beyond before returning to their place of business. That is no longer the case, far from it – no more of the 'now you may remove your jackets' stuff as recalled in conversation by our treasurer Charlie Taylor PHF (one of our new Paul Harris Fellows)! More to the point and perhaps the biggest change was to invite ladies to become members. Yes, progress is slow but it is being made – evolution is not a speedy process!

So the associate members – Linda McMaster, Judy Whyte and Alan Diack were warmly welcomed into the fold by President George Ross.  Together with one or two others unable to be present, our new branch will run their own affairs, meet when it suits them, work to help local initiatives like food banks and the like, in the name of Rotary but without the trappings of weekly meetings, formal meals, committees and the like.  Needless to say our club members, in endorsing this development will be there to help when needed/asked and who knows, in time – we might even recruit a new member or two!  Now that would be a bonus.  Our Associates were subsequently given a warm welcome by the members.  As a PS to that story, it was reported that seven clubs in our District have initiated Associate groups 

Bizarrely, Rotarian Jim Hatter, with news from our District organisation, was able to report that THREE new Rotary Clubs are being formed in our area!  Quite astonishing in some respects when many of our existing clubs are fighting to reverse the trend of diminishing membership or is that giving us another not-too-subtle hint that we need to change our ways – pronto!

But the work of the day must go on.  President  George reported that our target amount to be gained from the WAGS Dinner will be lower than predicted, largely due to there being late call-offs and some elements proveing to be a little more expensive than predicted. No matter, it was a grand night, well done to all concerned.

To end on a really happy note, this week Rotarians Jim Somerville, Murray Matthew and Sandy Lamb handed out over 80 Easter Eggs to pupils at St Andrews School and reports would indicate that they had a ball! 

Week commencing 1st April, 2019

It was a busy night in the KA on Tuesday for two very specific reasons.  Firstly, we welcomed a new member into the club – John Brownie was introduced by Vice-President Ian Mathers.  John Brownie

The process of 'induction' is brief, to the point and without undue ceremony. Included is a reminder to all of us of the so-called Four Way Test of things we think, say or do by which our actions should be judged – 1 Is it the truth?- 2 Is it fair to all concerned? -  3 Will it build goodwill and better friendship? -  4 Will it be beneficial to all concerned?  In other words, before you voice an opinion on behalf of Rotary, can you answer all four questions in the affirmative?  Not a bad ethos to live by!

To sum up, the object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a worthy enterprise.   Our motto, of course is 'Service above Self'. Suffice to say, John was given a warm welcome by all the Rotarians present.

Before the meeting started, we had an opportunity to view the work of young photographers from local schools who were winners in the annual competition run by Rotary Clubs all over the country. Organised locally by Rotarian and professional photographer Jim Hatter, the work on display on the theme 'The Beauty of Nature' was quite outstanding, a view shared by all of us 'snappers'. A prize were awarded in each competing school and then overall winners. In all 57 children took part.  Parents and siblings were invited to attend the viewing and presentation of local awards by President George Ross. The principal winners will go on to further competition in due course. In his remarks Jim praised the terrific efforts of all the competitors, and thanked Rae Osborne from the Gordon Arts committee for her assistance and to parents and teachers for their support.

As the doors closed on a special night, there was still a huddle of members sitting round a table putting the final touches to the arrangements for our big fund-raising WAGS dinner to be held on Saturday night!

Week commencing 25th March, 2019

As I mentioned last week – our so-called Scatter Week, members reported on various venues visited in the area. Most notable was the trip made by a car load into Buchan which ended up by visiting the Peterhead Prison, an interesting experience which we will no doubt hear more about in due time. It was reported that they all got out safely! 

In his remarks, President George announced that next week we would be welcoming a new member to the club, a really good news story. Sandy Lamb had been to visit the Strathburn School to deliver the newly inscribed Shield to the winners of the School Quiz competition. He was delighted to be hosted right royally by the youngsters!

Our speaker, introduced by Don Gordon, was Liz Chrystal a director of Fly Cup since 2015.  Most residents in the area will be familiar with the initiative which trains young adults with learning disabilities to enable them to take up employment in the catering industry. It is a Scottish Charity based at Unit 2 Advertising House Burghmuir Circle Inverurie. Times have changed from the days when such young people were protected, kept apart almost from the outside world. Society has moved them on and thankfully, organisations like Fly Cup can prepare their young clients to play a useful role in society. Described officially as a Social Enterprise Co.  enabling trainees to access training and employment in catering, achieve formal qualifications, develop lifelong independent living skills, reduce social isolation, increase confidence and self-esteem and gain employment opportunities,(that bit direct from their leaflet!)

Each trainee has a personalised training strategy delivered in a secure and supported environment, and much of the teaching/learning is on a one to one basis. Every member of staff is a trainer as are the numerous volunteers who support this wonderful initiative. The range of catering services offered is awesome – events, business lunches, celebration cakes, children's parties – you name it,  Fly Cup can do it.  They provided something like 1000 meals last weekend at the Garioch Run event.   Plans are afoot to obtain their very own premises, and in that regard, there is a variety of ways in which you can support the Fly Cup – start off by visiting for your own fly cup, open Monday till Saturday 9am till 4pm!

Secretary Sandra Turnbull delivered our Vote of Thanks, thus ended another very interesting evening in the KA.  Yesterday, the Glee Club were 'singin their wee hearts out' in Dyce!

Week commencing 18th March, 2019

This being our so-called Scatter Week, there was no  formal Tuesday meeting of the Rotary Club of Inverurie  but the members were out and about in different ways.  Some will have planned to visit other clubs, we'll hear all about their exploits next week. I attended the meeting of the Oldmeldrum club on Monday night and  apart from meeting up with some old chums, a pleasure in itself, the evening's focus proved to be extremely interesting.  Four senior school students gave an excellent presentation on Dementia and  Alzheimer's.  Having taken part in a fund-raising walk to raise funds for research into these conditions 18 months previously, these four lassies had chosen to research the conditions – quite surprising in itself perhaps but finishing with a much clearer idea of the seriousness of the conditions which they proceeded to pass on rather cleverly. What exactly is Dementia and Alzheimer's? Is it hereditary? Is there a cure?  Do they only affect  'old' people?     It was an excellent presentation.

Then, on Tuesday afternoon, with a few friends and relatives, a goodly number of Inverurie club members went back to school! Actually, we visited the burgeoning Inverurie Community Campus, due to open in February 2020.  We were met by Norman Smith, Robertson's Project Director and Ashley McDonald the Community Development Advisor – Major Projects.  Suitably kitted up as required by Health & Safety regulations for visits to a building site, the group then toured the new building!  Firstly, however, we were divided into two groups and whilst half went off for the tour with Ashley, the other half were fully briefed by Norman on the whole project, then swapping over.

What a project! What a  facility for the people of Inverurie!  This is a Community facility, not just  a replacement for Inverurie Academy. There is accommodation for 1600 students but a great deal more for by!  Swimming pools , indoor sports facilities,  performance spaces, cafe etc etc. Two particular aspects appealed straight away. The site includes accommodation for St Andrew's School located quite separately but with potential for integration too. That has to be good news for all concerned. The other good news story to emerge goes as follows: Roberston's invite present day academy pupils to take a closer look at the new project. Ten pupils took up the opportunity to work on the site in different areas for a few hours a week.  Three have signed up for apprenticeships!

Our warmest thanks go to Robertson's for their hospitality and  to Norman and Ashley for their presentations. It was a first class PR exercise

If you are offered an opportunity to take the tour, don't let it pass you by!  

Week commencing 11th March, 2019

Dark trousers, white shirt and bow-tie is the order of the day!  Must be a Glee Club outing. Of course it was, yesterday to Portsoy to provide an afternoon's entertainment for an audience of Pensioners, in the Town Hall. A long way to go for a singsong but we enjoy it. We have two more gigs before the end of our season during which we have had nearing 20 engagements! This is just one way in which our Rotary Club serves the communities in this corner of Scotland. Rest assured, other clubs are equally as targeted in a wide variety of ways, because it is an integral part of the Rotary ethos.

Our club meeting this week was an Information Night, when the club members are able to quiz the various committee convenors on their reports to the Council of the club which met last week.  That's how it is folks – transparency is vital, there can be nae secrets if we are to work together as an effective team.

We had two guests on Tuesday night one of whom, James Kerr is a member of the Rotary Club of  Belper & Duffield in Derbyshire but more to the point he was born and brought up in these parts. He sat next to Jack Henry and Mike Hay and did we have a history lesson?!  We were entertained to a string of stories and memories of the characters and happenings in Inverurie 50-60 -70 years ago. It was magic!   In reply to the welcome from Chairman, Mr Kerr told us a little about the Derbyshire club and not surprisingly much of their present efforts, like our own, are in finding ways to engage with and recruit younger people. 

Next week is called Scatter Week! It happens just once a year when there is no Rotary meeting in Inverurie, instead members are encouraged to visit other clubs in the district.  Frequently, several members (a car load) will agree to visit one of our sister clubs in the area. As a courtesy, they are duty bound to let the host club know!   Some people have been known to take this idea to the extreme!  You may recall a year or two ago one car load arrived in Ullapool – I reckon there must be a good fish and chip shop there!

Week commencing 4th March, 2019

My report of last week's meeting centred on the work Rotary is involved overseas . This week could be headed 'Home Affairs' but first, the order of the day. President George welcomed back his Deputy Ian Mathers, recovering from a serious illness. He reported that our share of the Christmas Car Raffle amounted to about £400, to be added to our own Charity Fund. Murray Matthew had attended the District  Final of the  Young Musician's competition held in Leven, unfortunately our young trumpeter missed out despite a fine performance. Peter Donaldson brought greetings from Rotary clubs he had visited in far away places, like Singapore and Australia while visiting family!

Our speaker for the evening was introduced by Jim Sommerville. On the staff of Inverurie Academy, Shona Lees is responsible for a new project being developed within our secondary schools to assist young people who have difficulty in re-adjusting as they move up from  Primary to a very different environment in Secondary school.  For a variety of reasons some young people might find it difficult to cope. I was switched on by this topic right from the start because it brought back memories!  At Primary School I can reveal that I was always in the top 5 in my class – honestly! When I moved to the Secondary school, to use modern parlance, I was rubbish, (except at sport)!  Oh how I might have made a better job of it with a bit of mentoring!    Typically, as Shona explained, modern  research has highlighted the fact that some of these young people may have a difficult time outwith school – some could be young carers for example. The programme, developed in Glasgow Schools, is all about helping these youngsters overcome their difficulties by pairing them up with an adult to chat informally about their misgivings and their feelings of inadequacy. In other words how to cope with the vagaries of modern life. They meet once a week, for up to an hour in the library, within school hours – there is no agenda, it is simply a blether discussing matters of the day, essentially to build an informal trusting relationship such that  the young person's confidence in themselves is built up. The mentoring person  simply becomes a trusted pal.  The results show that it builds up confidence, self-esteem and aspirations to move on.

The impact on attainment, achievement and post school destinations has been transformational! The national figure for the number of young people who go on to further and higher education  after school is 57%. The number who have come through the mentoring process is 81% !                                                                   

To quote one young responder  Before mentoring “ Things were awful homewise and at school. I was completely disillusioned so I just sat back and let it all pass by, I had no idea what my future  would hold “  After mentoring, he has now moved on to a graduate job and is himself a mentor! A young person who is now defined by his talents NOT by his background.

Inverurie Academy is one of 5 schools elected to test this project  and from members' reaction to  Shona's splendid presentation, I wouldn't be surprised  if she has one or two potential mentors knocking at her door! Jim Sommerville having already joined up

Bill Duncan expressed our thanks to Shona and wished her every success in this imaginative and very promising development.

Week commencing 25th February, 2019

We had a partners evening this week which included guests from the Rotary Clubs of Aberdeen St Fittick and Aberdeen St Machar and a couple of our associate members. In all we had near 40 folk in the room and I'm willing to bet everybody went home talking about it.  Why?

After the essential business of the evening which included a thanks to all who helped with the Primary School Quiz, information on the Children's Photographic competition and our WAGS dinner coming up in early April, we got to the main business of the evening – a report by John Nicol, ably assisted by his wife Catherine, on their trip last autumn to Uganda to see the work done with Rotary help to build a new school at the village of Monde about 75 miles from Kampala. The talk was backed up with very demonstrative pictures of the area, the living conditions, the primitive agriculture and the people who live there.

It was a long story, at times rather emotional but it shows what good will and determination can do for people who are disadvantaged.  By our standards you could say that they are severely disadvantaged but they can still smile as they express their pleasure at meeting and gratitude for the help being given, something that obviously affected both John and Catherine.

The present story began in 2016 when we learned that the St Kizito School Project for Monde was launched, costings were produced by Rachel Rennie from the Charity, a grant from our Rotary District Funds was agreed. The Inverurie Club took a leading role chipping in £4,700 to build a three-classroom school with facilities to teach, accommodate teachers and including a school kitchen.

Some of the statistics were mind-boggling, situated on the equator land-locked Uganda has a population over 30 million and a new baby is born every 22 SECONDS! It means that  over 70% of the population is under 25 years old.  About 80% of the able bodied are employed in agriculture with no machinery like tractors etc! Everything is done by hand. The main export is coffee.  Most of the population in the country areas live in mud huts, clean water is from boreholes, the diet is basic so not surprisingly they respond readily to any help offered. In other words, they are repressed by circumstances but given half a chance to better themselves they have the ability to move forward.

One of the key figures helping to organise these communities is Rev. Father Gerald Wamala – quite a character apparently, John was voluble in his praise of the priest.

During the festivities at the end of the trip, as you already know, John received a goat which has subsequently produced two kids. I did threaten to show the picture of Mr Nicol being fitted for a grass skirt for the festivities but have chosen rather to show that it was not a one-way process. The picture this week shows the local Monde team in sports tops gifted by Inverurie Academy.

A very worthy and happy story – that is what sent the folk home still talking!

Week commencing 18th February, 2019

The dominating event of this Rotary week has been the Primary School Quiz held in the Hopeville Club.  In a sense it was the cause of a rather mediocre attendance at our weekly meeting because, as it is proved constantly, you can't be in two places at the same time.  In other words, Sandy Lamb and his team were busy setting up the stage for the Quiz!

President George made short work of the business which included the weekly report on our sick and wounded, a reminder of our fund-raising WAGS dinner coming up in April and reference to an exciting visit to the new school being planned for March.  That was it, for a number of us it meant heading for the Hopeville!

To the Quiz – seven local Primary School teams took part in this annual competition, facing 10 rounds of 6 questions posed by MC Joe McDowall whilst being shown on a big screen. Completed papers collected at the end of each round Sandy Lamb and Kay Diack, delivered to Stuart Watson and myself to add the points for correct answers then passed to the heid bummer Jim Sommerville who cross-checked our decisions and entered the results into the computer. Answers read out to the competitors and then on to the next round. It went like clockwork....... but we have done this before! Done and dusted in about 45 minutes.  The competing teams were then 'fed and watered' before the results were announced!

The stars of the evening were the competitors, the young teams themselves.  The standard of ALL the results was extremely high – none were less than 70%!  In the meantime, the supporting parents and friends became as excited as the youngsters, there was a great atmosphere permeating the hall.

I have to say that great credit is due to the people who make up the questions, here are the categories to show the scope -Alphabet, Natural World, History, Human Body, Geography, Mathematics, Literature, Technology, Sport and Media.  I would have to say that I was not the only adult in the room to be bamboozled by some of the questions – how about 'What is the name of a 5- line poem? Or, which came first, the radio or the telephone? Or which internet site was funded by Jimmy Wales in 2001?   

President George Ross presented the winners with the Shield, each member of the team receiving a miniature shield...........and the winners were Strathburn School. Congratulations! This winning team will now compete in a District Final, date to be confirmed later. We wish them well.

PS Saw the Uryside School uniform colours for the first time – very smart!

Week commencing 4th February, 2019

When is a Rotarian not a Rotarian?  When he/she is an Associate! Readers of this column will know that one of the present Rotary priorities is to recruit new members.  Changes in society and the way people choose to lead their lives make that a difficult task but as the old saying goes 'never venture, never win'. The fact is, there are people out there who have the same human values as Rotarians with respect to helping others. Bingo! Why not encourage them to get together, mentored by a Rotarian, to achieve some of these objectives without going through the whole rigmarole of formally joining a club, with all its rules and expectations! We have an Associate Group – bravo!

Our Associate Group has just submitted a short report, listing their objectives and projects to be tackled in the coming months.  We wish them every success and I am sure that Club members will make themselves available to help in any way they can, if required.  I hope to report further in due course.

That was just one of list of reports from our various sub-committees to be discussed by our Council after Tuesday's meeting.  Importantly, mention was made of the Primary School Quiz to be held in the Hopeville Club on 19 Feb. members were asked to help with stewarding etc. 

Our speaker for the evening was fellow member David Taylor.  The troops were quite up-lifted by that news based on previous performances. In other words you don't know what to expect and dare I say it, we were not disappointed.

David started by listing a whole series of authors of children's books that 'one was expected to read'  when he were a lad! Lewis Carol, A A Milne, Beatrice Potter, J M Barrie et al  and declared , well I didn't read any of  'em! Then he held up front pages of a range of adventure comics of the the day such as The Hotspur and The Rover, referencing heroes like Alf Tupper and Wilson! That brought back happy memories to quite a number of members, myself included.

Where was he going from there? The subject was gambling on horse racing, and in particular The Derby and how to predict winners, or not! We were treated to a couple of video clips of The Derby  in the course of David's dissertation as people like Champion Jockey Lester Piggott were quoted as knowing the secret but obviously David didn't find out what it was! He did however continue to test the odds! It would be safe to say that members were suitably entertained.

The vote of thanks was offered by Bill Duncan, who might not have heard DLT before – I'm happy to report that he was suitably impressed!

Week commencing 28th January, 2019

Much of the pre-meal chat this week centred on the very successful Burns Supper held in honour of our National Bard, inter-laced with comments from Glee Club members on our involvement in the Age Concern Concert also in the KA last Thursday night.  We had over 100 people at our Burns Night but there was almost double that two nights later! On that occasion we received a very generous donation to our Rotary Charity Funds. Thank you Age Concern Inverurie. 

This week there was much less formality as we returned to a few items of club business before our guest speaker Mr Ralph Green OBE was introduced by Rotarian Jim Sommerville. Ralph, a well known businessman in our area, proceeded to give us a fascinating account of his career starting from being called to the Heidie's office at Inverurie Academy, back in 1962, not for a telling off or anything so negative but to be informed by Dr Dixon that there was an office job for him at the local slaughterhouse if he chose to take it. Ralph accepted the offer.

Two years later, having taken a liking to the whole business young Ralph entered into a 4 year apprenticeship to become a slaughterman. On qualifying, he moved to Forres to work and during his 2-3 year spell there was involved in a very remarkable incident when one of the beasts he dealt with was shown to be suffering from Anthrax creating a considerable how-de-do! It was quite an experience. In 1970 he returned to Inverurie to become an Assistant Manager.

Ralph progressed up the ladder to senior management spending time in Inverurie, Turriff and Portlethen before retiring in 2006. During that time, there were many highs and lows. Overseeing 3 containers of NE Beef per week going in to the London Market, but in March 1996 there was an outbreak of BSE to be contended with! Becoming sole supplier to TESCO for a time, overseeing £30 million facilities being built at Portlethen must have been quite a highlight. I should add , perhaps that the changes in ownership of the meat processing industry in the NE  over this period is mesmerising -there was Buchan Meat, FMC, John Rhind, McIntosh, Mathers!

As if that wasn't enough for the man, he also became involved in the politics of the industry through the Meat & Livestock Commission and Quality Meat Scotland to name but two. Unsurprisingly, Ralph was awarded an OBE for services to the industry in 1994.

There is a key political message in this tale and maybe I will be sacked for saying so! It is for young people with a determination to succeed - going to university is NOT essential. This success story started off with an apprenticeship! It is alright to earn while you learn.

After Ralph had dealt with several testing questions, Bill Murdoch expressed our appreciation in proposing a hearty vote of thanks

Week commencing 21st January, 2019

What a family gathering we had on Tuesday night in the Kintore Arms. Firstly there was the Rotary family with 'cousins' from neighbouring clubs Blackburn, Kintore, Oldmeldrum and St Fittick's and together with friends, over 100 in total gathered to celebrate the birthday of Robert Burns whose family of devotees, like Rotary, stretches world-wide!  It was a cracker of a party I can tell you and  I am fairly well qualified to judge, as a native born Ayrshireman with a cousin called Robert Burns (that's a story for another day), I have been celebrating 25th January since I was knee-high to that daisy which Robert described so eloquently in his tribute to that wee crimson-tippit flo'er 'To a Daisy'!

Rotarian David Fraser from Kintore piped in the Haggis after a brief welcome to all from President George Ross which included an acknowledgment that our Rotary District Governor was with us, known to many locally – Ian Dow from Kemnay!. The beast was duly lauded by Rotarian Howard Hughes and 'cut up wi ready slicht'! By the applause, you could tell, he made a grand job of it!  The staff of the hotel then served the traditional meal - remarkably quickly which was acknowledged later by President George.

After a brief comfort break, the evening's programme of sangs and clatter started with a wee  burst on the accordion by Stuart Anderson to the words being whispered round the tables – I remember him as that wee boy on the tele! Aye, we remember him well and didn't he do well. Then followed the address with the title 'The Immortal Memory of Robert Burns' which was delivered skilfully, with humour and vision by Ron Williamson. That was followed by the Toast to the Lassies delivered by well-known musician and raconteur from Fife – Tich Frier. He didn't disappoint either! The right of reply for the second year running (by popular request) was beautifully and skilfully delivered in song by Moira Docherty & Gill Smith, accompanied by Graham Davidson on keyboard.  After another superb blast from Stuart Anderson, the company were invited to sing 'The Star o' Rabbie Burns' which was followed by a very well deserved vote of thanks to all from Bill Duncan and then we all sang Auld Lang Syne.

These events don't just happen and whilst a number of rotarians were involved like Bill Murdoch for example, who designs and creates the programmes and the guys who sort out the sound system, the organisers deserve a big round of applause – President George is key to that  but a huge 'thank you'  is due to Howard Hughes for delivering one of the best nights we have enjoyed under the Rotary banner since I joined in the early eighties! It was a truly memorable night.

Week commencing 7th January, 2019

A belated Happy New Year to Advertiser readers from the members of the Rotary Club of Inverurie. We had our first meeting in 2019 on Tuesday night but five of us 'plunked' it.  Do you know that expression? It comes from my boyhood – when someone decided that he or she would take a day off school, without telling parents or teacher they were said to have 'plunked it'!  Maybe that is an Ayrshire expression from my school days and by the way with hand on heart I can say that I never 'plunked it'!

Well the five of us who missed the first meeting in 2019 were, in fact, members of the Glee Club who were entertaining a group in Bucksburn BUT, we do expect to get a tick in the attendance register because we were on a Rotary Mission!  This is just one example of the ancient rules and regulations demanded of our members. At one time a minimum 60% attendance was deemed to be necessary as a sign of 'commitment' to the movement. Gladly, whilst that may still be in the book of rules, nowadays, commitment is more likely to be measured by members' involvement in the efforts made by the club to improve the lot of fellow citizens. For the record, when the Glee Club is invited to perform, nine times out of ten we will not take a booking for a club night. Every now and again, though....... there’s an exception.

On the good news front, we have just learned that we are to receive an award from the 'Awards for All' organisation – funding for a new public address system, thank goodness! The Glee Club will certainly benefit as will the club itself.  So often, in recent times, we have had guest speakers at the club night with great stories to tell BUT, because they could not use a microphone properly, the audience didn’t  get the message. On this particular subject, I can speak with a little bit of experience!  Whoopee, the problem has been solved, the new system avoids the need to hold a microphone or to stand in front of a static mike when every time you turn your head slightly, your voice disappears! People will just have to stand up and speak normally. Thank goodness.

The other good news story this week is that John Nicol's goat has had two babies!  That Ugandan community is quite obviously thriving!  More to the point, a further improvement to their situation is being planned by the Rotarian team, relating to the delivery of clean running water to a community of 25,000! yet another worthwhile Rotary project.

Week commencing 10th December, 2018

Like most other organisations at this time of year, our Rotary Club will celebrate with a Christmas -themed meeting with friends and relatives next week before having a break. Otherwise, business has slowed down but the planning must go on!  We are already discussing the Primary School Quiz at the end of February, always a highlight of our season.  The Glee Club team with two more gigs before Christmas have quite a busy schedule through the early months of the new year.  Not wishing to give away too many secrets, I reckon if we did a Top of the Pops poll of our repertoire, numbers one and two might be the “The Lispin Leghorn” illustrated here, and the “Bold Gendarmes”.

 Mind you there is another performance coming up fast on the inside straight which involves a mannie and his good lady from Rhynie (or wherever we happen to be) on a motoring holiday in the US of A!  Who said Rotary was a bit stuffy and po-faced?! Like so many things in life you get out of it as much as you contribute!

On the foreign affairs front, I had a quick word with John Nicol regarding our school project in Uganda which he visited earlier in the year but with his full report and presentation in the offing, I will leave you with just a titbit from our conversation.  You may remember the previous reference to this project soon after John returned home, I commented that he and Mrs Nicol had attended a church service of thanksgiving which included the baptism of over 50 babies!  What he failed to mention at the time was that he was presented with a GOAT and some chickens!  Being an agriculturist of some standing, I'm sure he wasn't phased by that but relieved that the church folk would be happy to look after the livestock for him!  Think on the mess they would have made in his garden in Kintore, never mind the import of livestock regulations!

It was another enjoyable Rotary evening in the KA including the Mushroom soup and the Lasagne!

Week commencing 3rd December, 2018

It was back to business with a thump this week! In fact, there was very little business to conduct.  Importantly, however, members were reminded that the meeting on 18th Dec would be a Christmas evening to which wives, husbands, partners and close friends would be made welcome – so long as members remember to let the secretary know of their intentions in good time. It would be a bit embarrassing if there wasn't enough turkey for everybody!!

The one report of note was that a team of members had been on duty on Monday in the Bon Accord Centre, in charge of the Annual Christmas Car Raffle Appeal. They had a successful time during which they sold tickets to the value of £300 or thereby.

I have to say that earlier in the day, Mike Barron, Eric Massie and I attended a lovely wee tea party at Hanover Court along with a team from the Men's Shed. It was a 'thank you' gesture to us for successfully completing a bit of landscaping around the building. It was a very pleasant interlude.  The other comment about the project which I wish to make was the way in which Rotary and Men's Shed came together to enhance an essential facility in the town. In this case the elderly residents will benefit. Co-operation is the name of the game and long may it continue because it is amazing what can be achieved when like minds get together!

Having closed the meeting, President George then called a Special General Meeting! This was principally to approve the audited accounts for the year and then to elect our office bearers for the year 2019 – 20!  This never ceases to amaze me, because the new team will not assume office until the second half of 2019 – so be it!  The Rotarians voted into office are President- Iain Mathers, Vice-President Kay Diack, Secretary – Sandra Turnbull and Treasurer – Charlie Taylor.    

Week commencing 29th October, 2018

We had a night off this week! Well not quite, we gathered with partners, wives, husbands and friends (about 60 of us) to have a meal together and to celebrate our Patron Saint – St Andrew.

President George Ross was in fine form and as usual, he had a rather interesting point to make. In the company were two members and a guest namely Kit Pawson, Mike Hay and Stuart Watson with something in common! In the 1953 list of Founder Members of this Rotary Club is to be  found three names – Black, Hay and Watson – the father of Kit, Mike and Stuart! 

Mike Hay, Kit pawson and Stuart Watson

Events programme organiser Howard Hughes had a short but excellent entertainment line up for us starting off with Singer/instrumentalist Raymond Mack from Dyce. His songs and stories were extremely well received, by all but there was more to come. Our next guest was Alistair Cameron, a member of the Elgin Club. We were treated to an 'Observational Lecture' which had the audience in fits of laughter. It was about Inverurie and 10 mile round, it's people and in particular the members of Inverurie Rotary Club. It was a proverbial HOOT of a performance  both clever and very witty.  Bert Maitland had the pleasant task of thanking all  - the hotel staff for providing an excellent meal, the events committee and our guest performers.

It was an evening to remember.

Week commencing 12th November, 2018

Back in harness after my holiday and what a week it has been in my Rotary world.  Returned on Wed 7th, on Thursday 8th we had a Glee Club gig for Senior Citizens in Huntly in the afternoon and then, in the evening, I had the privilege of compering the Rotary-sponsored  competition for young musicians in Inverurie Academy and what a terrific night that turned out to be.  Congratulations are due to the school authorities for selecting nine very worthy performers and to my Rotary colleague Murray Matthew for 'pulling it all together'. All instrumentalists this time, the competitor's ages ranged from 13 to 16. The judging panel ( including our Honorary Member Linda Davidson) awarded the top prize to 14 year old trumpet player Hannah Reid, who played the very engaging tune Ragamuffin composed by Pam Wedgwood.  Hannah will now go on to compete in the District Finals.

Two days later, on Saturday 10th, another Rotary team headed up by Peter Donaldson participated in the  Farmers' Market at the Town Hall! Overall it was described as rather a quiet day nonetheless, there was significant interest in the Rotary movement and the team did sell a wheen of tickets for the annual Christmas Car Raffle in aid of the CLAN charity.

….....and that brings me to our regular meeting! Members arrived expecting it to be, shall we say the usual mundane 'Information meeting'  but,  we were in for a BIG surprise, not only did we have several visiting Rotarians from Ellon, Portlethen and Belford/Duffield (Derbyshire) but we had a speaker from- BRAZIL!  Cinthia Goncales du Silva is a Rotary Peace Fellow studying for a masters degree at the University of Bradford!  The title of her message was 'One Shade of Gray: Peace, Policing and Counterterrorism!

I guess not many present would have been aware that, since 2002, the World Rotary Movement sponsors and supports over 100 such students working world wide. There are six other University sites offering courses for these students. Having originally graduated as a history teacher, Cinthia went on to study for an MA degree on Political Violence & Terrorism!! During her studies, she had to live anonymously about 5 miles away from her family home! That says it all!  It was a complicated and frightening tale of people trafficking and so much more.  As one colleague remarked " we don't know the half of it"!

Following  several questions, answered very expertly, Cinthia received a very warm and enthusiastic round of applause. The vote of thanks was proposed by Jim Hatter.

That's Rotary for you – busy in the local community but with an eye on what is going on world wide!

Week commencing 15th October, 2018

My report this week is brief and secondhand!  I missed Tuesday night's Rotary meeting because I had  more important 'fish to fry'!  I attended the end of series Beechgrove Party in Aberdeen. It was a fine affair, as usual meeting up with many of the people associated with making the programme who we never see!

That said, round about the same time, the Inverurie Rotary Club Gavel team played an away game at Turriff. Here is Mike Barron's report of the shenanigans.

' Inverurie Rotary Club defeated Turriff Rotary Club 10-6 on the away “turf”in the Gavel competition.. The excitement was growing when at round 6 with the last challenges to be played, all 4 Inverurie pairs won. The rounds included tractor pulling, jenga, putting and dominoes.  The successful pairings in the last round were Charlie Taylor and  Mike Barron, John Nicol and Murray Matthew, Bill Duncan and Bill Murdoch and Peter Donaldson and Jim Sommerville.

With Inverurie losing to Kintore, and then this victory, the final in this round will be played on Tuesday 23rd at Inverurie with Oldmeldrum being the visitors. The winners go on to the north east final.'

Mike's photo of the Tractor pulling just about sums up the character of the gavel Competition. It is an opportunity for well respected adults to return to their childhood, picture the scene,  scrabbling aboot oan the  flair on their hans and knees playin' wi Dinky toys!!   To explain the technical aspect of this caper, the competitors had to roll in the tractors on a spindle facing away from them!

 I guess the winners were toasted in a more adult fashion.

Week commencing 8th October, 2018

It proved to be a busy night on Tuesday principally because we had a match on our hands!  President George Ross, in his opening remarks, welcomed a team from the Rotary Club of Kintore, Kemnay & District who would later compete with the Inverurie team in the first of the season's Gavel Competitions, more of that shortly.

President George then continued with his opening remarks including the sad news of  the passing of Mrs Alma Massie, the wife of Past President Eric Massie, after a long illlness.

Past President John Nicol recently returned from his trip to Uganda gave a brief summary of attending a meeting of the  Kampala Club and subsequently visiting the school projects funded by Rotary. More of this cracking story when John has time to report in full. For a taster, John  told of attending a Roman Catholic Church service where the Bishop christened 55 weans! Can you just imagine the racket?!

It was past-president Peter Donaldson's turn next, he has been involved for some time now on plans to modernise the workings of the club, frankly to make it more attractive to potential new members. In other words, despite the fact that we do an amazing amount of charitable work our image somehow doesn't appeal to modern day society.  Here is a typical example, it was only a week ago that it was announced that Rotarians Eric Massie and John Nicol had just completed a project at Pitscurry amounting to about 40 hours of unpaid maintenance work! 

At the end of the month, the club meeting will take the form of a visit to the Garioch Heritage Centre.

Now to this gavel Competition – the challenges were Putting on a mat with the queerest looking club you ever did see. Harry Lauder's walking stick would have been a distinct improvement! Quoits, Dominoes and Bagatelle!  Typical old -fashioned bar sports but still much enjoyed by all involved and a wheen of spectators forby. Unfortunately, the home team lost by just two points! 

Kintore, Kemnay & District Gavel Team 2018

Well done Kintore & Co. The big question now is -will there be changes to the team for the away game with the Turriff club which comes up next.  The manager has yet to decide!!

Week commencing 1st October, 2018

What an interesting evening it turned out to be on Tuesday last!  The essentials were finished rather sharply, including the fact that next week we play host to the Kintore/Kemnay and District Gavel team for the first match of the season – can't wait! After welcoming a couple of our regular guests Lorraine and Dorothy, president George handed over proceedings to Rotarian Joe McDowall who introduced our third guest Dr Bill Gribbon a Belfast scientist, now based in St Andrews.  Bill is the proud holder of The Polar Medal (which was passed round for all to see), awarded in 2014 for pioneering work in Greenland and the Canadian Arctic having led 6 student parties into that area, conquering something like 60 peaks, most of them first ascents! In studying the rock beneath the melting ice it was deemed to be the nearest on earth to moon rock!

But that was not the story we heard, it was all about the experiences of action man Joe and colleagues who explored the same area on a 12 week long odyssey in 1969, coincidentally at the time of the first moon landing! From Newcastle to Denmark to Greenland they travelled finally setting up base camp on an uninhabited island!  Accompanied with some stunning pictures it was about cycling, hiking, climbing, crevasses, green ice, slippery rocks, mountain peaks, skinny-dipping before breakfast,(just the normal ablutions you understand), ferry boats, supply boats, wee boats which had no room for your legs, husky transport – the lot!

Delivered at a sharp pace, Joe covered his remarkable experience in record time. The only time he hesitated was when asked the question 'What was it all about?'   It was obviously an experience of a lifetime and in fact there was a little bit of research carried out in between times.  A great story, well appreciated by the members. 

What did Joe's guest Dr Gribbon have to say?  On this occasion, not a lot but maybe we could have him back sometime because he has some story to tell, including being arrested by the French Government for dodging army call-up.......................!

Week commencing 24th September, 2018

Let me tell you a story! Should have included it last week with all the other sporting tales but ran out of space! In 2017 our Mr Howard Hughes represented the club in the Scottish Rotary Fly Fishing Championship at the Lake of Menteith and WON!  By the way, those of you who have come to live in Scotland, will often hear the Lake of Menteith described as the only lake in Scotland. Reason – all the others are Lochs! To the tale – he has gone and done it again! Howard is the 2018 Scottish Champ! When congratulated on his second win in a row, he simply replied 'Well I just wanted to prove that last year's win' wasn't a fluke!'  Well done, lad, let's see you get three in a row.

Now to this week's get together, the business was dealt with pretty brusquely by President George with one or two pleas for help of different kinds –these requests will now be passed to relevant committees for consideration. In this context, Rotarian John Nicol sets off for Uganda this week, as he has been involved in the new school project which our Rotary club with others has helped to finance. Bon voyage John.

This week, our speaker was introduced by Rotarian Marie Simpson, it was none other than Martin Simpson who together with his father George, set up Deeside Water in 1994.  Since then the business has grown steadily over the years and described by Martin with great clarity from the discovery of the properties of the water drawn from the Pannanich Wells to the modern development, distribution and even to some of the present-day problems like recycling plastic waste!

Back to the location - Ballater known back in the late eighteen hundreds as a spa town because of the properties of the well water, endorsed by no less a person than Queen Victoria! Very soon it became widely known that the water had health benefits. Notably, it was said to have beneficial effects on people suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis! The proof of this was researched when it was proved to be something to do with a very small molecule size!  At this point, I was so glad that Martin changed tack! Back to the realities like delivering 40 crates of bottled water per day by car!  The company currently employ 12 people and in this ever more sophisticated world, new uses for the spring water are being researched  - cosmetics being an obvious target.

A marvellous success story, well told and after a few questions the vote of thanks was given by Bill Murdoch. 

Week commencing 17th September, 2018

We had another good meeting on Tuesday night with a couple of guests and our speaker, over thirty sat down for the meal.  Rotary Clubs across the globe have a number of traditions, some of which may be dropped as clubs begin to modernise their proceedings. I mention this because it was my turn to say Grace before the meal AND the vote of thanks to the speaker. None of the ordinary members escape the essential duties, whilst the principal office bearers are deemed to have enough to do!

The business session was short and to the point with convenors having little to say except Eric Massie as sports supremo. He reported that the annual club golf competition had been very enjoyable and successful though numbers competing were down on the previous year. Ladies winner was Phyllis Walker whilst Joe McDowall took the gents prize.  The prize-giving took place after the company enjoyed the excellent hospitality of Inverurie Golf Club.  Meantime two further competitions are about to begin – the curlers will soon be hearing the shout 'Sweep, Sweep' whilst a team of members get ready for the first round of the Gavel Competition, a home game against the Kintore/Kemnay Club. What does this involve? I hear you ask! Loosely described as 'bar sports', the home team gets to decide.

I will now leave you in suspense but promise to reveal all when reporting on the result!

Our speaker from the Kintore/Kemnay club was Henry Riddoch to give us an up-date on ALEC the Aberdeenshire Life Education Centres.  Last time Henry was with us he described the demise of the ALEC caravan that was taken  around schools with the specific purpose of teaching primary school children about the dangers of drug and other abuses and to make meaningful life choices. The caravan formula became prohibitively expensive so the retired design engineer put his mind to producing a pack containing all the essentials, which could be carried in the boot of a car. Wow! That was the reaction of members first time round. On this occasion, Henry reported on the latest development, for which incidentally he received the highest Rotary Award – A Paul Harris Fellowship medal.

The new kit can best be described as a blow-up tent able to accommodate about 25 children. It is fully air-conditioned and actually designed to be used indoors. It is equipped with screen, projector, ipad and numerous other gadgets and still able to be accommodated in the back of an estate car!  This 'Life Space' prototype has been developed because financial pressures threatened the existing project. In 2017, its trial year, it was attended by over 20 thousand children, 3 thousand secondary school pupils, almost 2 thousand teachers and a thousand parents.   Members' reaction this time round could be described as 'Gob-smacked'

In the coming weeks there will be some publicity associated with demonstrations of this innovative facility – if you get the chance, go have a look!

Giving the vote of thanks was an honour.

Week commencing 10th September, 2018

We had a busy evening on Tuesday with three separate sets of guests, firstly, one of our 'associate' members came to the meeting and hopefully she will become a full member in due time. Secondly, President George went on to welcome a party of Rotarians from Turriff on what was obviously their 'scatter' week.  I have explained the device in the past but briefly, each Rotary club in the land will declare a week when members are expected singly or in groups to arrange to visit another club of their choice in the name of fraternity. As a result, many mutual and lasting personal friendships have built over the years.  As well as being good for Rotary and for communities, in a very practical sense, ideas and experiences are exchanged for the benefit of all concerned.

With due respect to the guests mentioned so far, the highlight of the meeting was the attendance of the two young people, sponsored by the club who attended the Rotary Young Leaders (RYLA) camp this year.  They duly received their certificates from President George and were persuaded to express a few thoughts on their experience. First up was Sarah Davidson who very eloquently described some of the outdoor events and challenges set for them including mountain biking, climbing, water sports etc.  Some were individual events but others, just as importantly were team events.  Undoubtedly, for me the biggest challenge for these young guys is to walk in to a room of people of their own age whom they have never met before!  If our team, in conjunction with school teachers and advisers, make the right choices, in other words, if they see something in the candidates for the trip which suggests that that individual just needs a wee shove in the right direction, they will accept that challenge and go on to face the other tasks, enjoying every minute of the journey.  That came over to me in Sarah's comments, as it did when the other successful participant Fraser Robertson took the platform. The same messages came through from Fraser – a new confidence in himself and that emerged on Tuesday night as he stood up in front of 30 adults he had never met before with microphone in hand, nae bother! He talked about physical and mental challenges, the value of team work, team spirit and so on, echoing much of what Sarah said.

So RYLA, once again has 'produced the goods', if these two youngsters are anything to go by.  Sarah and Fraser received a very hearty round of applause with best wishes to both expressed by Joe McDowall.

On a sadder note President George marked the passing of Andy Dick a former Rotarian, indeed a former President, well known to many in the community and remembered as a vibrant participant in many Rotary ploys over the years, including the early efforts of the first Glee Club.  Thoughts and condolences to the Dick family were warmly endorsed by members, a number of whom remain close friends of the Dick family.

Week commencing 27th August, 2018

From time to time I make reference to the fact that Rotary is like one big family. This week I paid a visit to the Alford Branch invited to speak by a colleague from my days  at Craibstone in the 1970's!  Not only did I meet other 'family' members but I was reminded that I hadn't been back since my previous visit in 2005! It was almost like a mild reminder from an old aunt or uncle with the unsaid implication - don't make it so long till next time! It was a very enjoyable visit.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, so to speak, it turned out to be a memorable night in more ways than one. Firstly it was announced that our oldest Rotarian Jack Hendry been awarded a 'Pride of Inverurie' accolade – well done Jack, you thoroughly deserve  not only for your work with the Colony Park Juniors but I would add The Heritage Centre and Rotary and all that implies.  Secondly – we have a new secretary!  Sandra Turnbull has agreed to take on the role – well done Sandra!

Thirdly but by no means least, Sandra introduced to the members Phyllis Gordon the project officer for 'Dementia Friendly Aberdeenshire' The aim of the organisation is to make people  in the area aware of the problem. The presentation started with a powerpoint which consisted of a short video film showing a 'day in the life of' a dementia sufferer. There is nothing quite so dramatic as being face to face with this problem but it did illustrate how the situation can be readily altered with a little bit of understanding by a change of approach -speaking slowly, clearly and softly, asking simple, short questions. In other words, making an effort to empathise makes all the difference – to both parties.

As it happens, the vote of thanks was offered by Howard Hughes, currently boss-man of the Glee Club and he was able to pick up on the importance of music to help assuage the condition, mentioning that at least 12 of our forthcoming gigs are for older folks and many of the groups will have dementia sufferers in them. The point about the importance of music and singing was soundly endorsed  by Phyllis. 

Week commencing 20th August, 2018

We had a comparatively quiet meeting this week, an information  session  when convenors of our various committees report to the club. For example our Foundation/International convenor John Nicol reported on a visit to the St Fittick Club in  Aberdeen to hear about one on their initiatives – in Sierra Leone! They have taken the lease of a cottage there to accommodate and look after young women, saved from 'the streets’ .   They are accommodated for a period of 6 months during which they are given an education and guidance. Called 'Sisterland', this project is funded entirely by Rotary!

From the sublime to the ridiculous! Our events mannie Howard Hughes went to confirm the booking of accommodation for one of our fund raising functions to be faced with an example of the new Data Protection rules! To each of his questions on available dates, options etc he was faced with the same answer 'because of the new data protection rules, I canna tell ye!’  Hilarious but more to the point – farcical.   Goes nicely with the news story about the failure to pass on information about the presence of asbestos in school buildings  - there’s a ready made excuse!

From the ridiculous back to the sublime with a report from David Taylor emanating from a visit to the Ellon Club on their efforts in foreign fields 'First Steps in Nepal'. The Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum has also been involved in this valuable school building programme

So much for keeping up to date on the various charity projects Rotary becomes involved in, the final report was on the theme 'all work and no play....' when sports convenor Eric Massie reported that the Rotary Curling Club in our area was about to reach its 50th anniversary being celebrated with a  traditional dinner. 

Week commencing 13th August, 2018

From time to time, I make reference to the relationship between Rotary clubs across the country, for example recently I mentioned a visit to a Club in Cyprus when we were on holiday. There is another angle to this involving families.  In the eighties when I first joined Rotary, our two youngsters were still at Primary School or just into secondary.  Very soon we realised that families were very much involved in the Rotary scene, having particularly fond memories of ‘family weekends' when we joined other families for a jaunt.  Aviemore was one venue I remember where we could swim, golf, walk, curl and so on.  If we were lucky there might even be a bit of a dance after the evening meal when the youngsters could join in to learn to master The Gay Gordons, Quickstep, Hokey-Cokey etc. It reminded me of one or two  family weddings where there is also a wide age range. There was and still is a tradition of family involvement.  It was magic stuff.

Tempus fugits and these same family members may well have flown the coop by now some will be married  and have children of their own!  In other words, we have to look for excuses now to have social gatherings  of a slightly different style as well as the well tried and tested Burns Night and  St Andrew’s Night hoolies!   In recent times, we have had visits to theatres in Aberdeen, Inverness and Pitlochry, the last two requiring an overnight stay, with more time to socialise and get to know each other because these events, involving other family members, engender a sort of team spirit which can only be good for the health and well-being of the club.

How’s that for a build –up?

This week a sizeable group of members and friends visited The Beechgrove Garden on a perfect summer evening - the sun shines on the righteous! This was followed by enjoying an excellent supper together in The Garlogie Inn. 

After the meal, President George Ross very briefly formalised the event  by welcoming members, families and their guests,  thanking all those involved –principally organiser Howard Hughes (with a little help from yours truly) and finished off with  a toast - To Rotary the World Over. 

Next week we are back ‘tae auld claes and parritch'

Week commencing 6th August, 2018

This week’s Rotary meeting turned out to be a cracker! We had two guests, two excellent speakers and a good turn out of members. Visiting us from the Belper and Duffield Club in Derbyshire was James Kerr a native of  Inverurie known to some of our older members! What a welcome he received.  Then, sitting opposite me was Crosbie Chisholm a weil kent face from the Westhill Club.

The first guest speaker to be introduced was Dr. Pat Wightman from the Bennachie Visitor Centre Trust.  Pat is the Chair person of the Trust and her reason for attending our meeting was to launch her new booklet on the Plants of Bennachie and to say thank you for a bit of Rotary assistance!  I reckon it will become a 'must' for local wildlife devotees and visitors alike. 

As I flagged up last week, our main speaker was Kenny Duguid’s nephew Stuart Winterburn, Managing Director of Dynamic Edge and his subject was Cyber Security Awareness. I tell you what no-one had a bit of shut-eye when the lights went out, members were riveted to their chairs as Stuart opened the door to a world of intrigue, mayhem and mystery concerning the IT world. In essence it was all about the protection of personal data with the basic message 'Don't leave it to others' and that is precisely what I do!  Listening to mutterings around the room, I wasn't the only one.

With examples from big business across the world with headlines such as '4.7 million instances of fraud in the 12 months to Sept. 2017' or ‘NHS hit by ransom threat estimated to cost £4 billion’ and  'Hackers  are becoming more sophisticated and we are the weakest link' , members were paying attention alright

Stuart left no stone unturned he covered subjects like Malware which can 'sit there on your computer' (methinks like a praying mantis) waiting for the chance to strike.  Credit card fraud is commonest with password leaks not far behind – his advice was basic, DON'T use simple words and sequences. Beware of using wi-fi on trains, so easily mis-directed, and so he went on. 

Like many things in modern society the good is often challenged by the negatives! It was a scary thought that crossed my mind! How did we ever manage without that mobile phone let alone the i-phone, i-pad etc.?

After fielding a few questions, Stuart was warmly thanked by Rotarian Bill Duncan .

Aye, it was an eventful night in the KA!

Week commencing 30th July, 2018

At this time in the Rotary calendar, it would be safe to claim that every Rotarian across the country is asking himself or herself to think about their membership of this great organisation because it is time to pay our subscription for the coming 12 months! The decision will come, hopefully after a period of introspection, by answering two questions.  Firstly, what do I get out of it? Secondly, because membership works both ways, what can I contribute?  Is it to be money well spent?  Only the individual can decide, I certainly aim to raid the piggy bank!

The funny thing is, the inter-relationship of these two questions is so close because what you get out of being a member in terms of friendship, camaraderie, a chance to solve challenging problems as part of a team, helping others less fortunate, meeting interesting people, is likely to be why you accepted the invitation to join in the first place!  There has to be an element of discipline of course and guidance on that comes from ‘on high’!

We recently had a timely visit from Roddy Duncan, deputising for Asst. District Governor Kenny Thomson whose job was to stress again the importance of what we do whilst abiding by our core values – Fellowship, Integrity, Diversity, Service and Leadership.

At a time when increasing the membership is challenging, we need to be prepared to change, in other words we have to ask the question – are potential new members put off by what they see?  If that is the case, we must move with the times, it is probably as simple as that and it must be said, some clubs are already on the move. I am reminded of a holiday occasion several years ago when we visited Cyprus.  The local Rotary club met in the hotel we were staying in so I decided to 'visit'!  They met informally at 9pm, members and guests had a coffee or a glass of something stronger, the business of the day was discussed and then they were offski! All within an hour! That may be one of the ways we can change – simply put - 'less formality’.

Our priorities, in no particular order, will remain pretty constant – continue to espouse gender balance, maintain activity with schools and young people, continue to support international projects such as the abolition of polio, continue to offer help to people who are old or infirm. In other words, use our skills and knowledge for the benefit of others less fortunate – whilst enjoying each other's company.

We had much to talk about this week; just as well we had no speaker!  Next week, we look forward to welcoming Stuart Winterburn, MD of Dynamic Edge, a relative of Kenny Duguid's. His subject is Internet Technology.  That will be a refreshing change from navel -gazing!

Week commencing 23rd July, 2018

The theme of this week’s meeting could have been 'Keeping in Touch' but more of that shortly.  President George Ross opened the meeting of a reduced number of members, holidays being the reason for low attendance and in a sense, there was a holiday attitude within the club. Most notably, probably because of the fine weather, the attire adopted by many members was rather casual! There were not so many 'jaikets and ties' evident!  I believe that to be a good sign in that it is not what we wear that counts, so long as the mode of dress is ‘respectable'! It is what we are about that matters and in that regard, we are as busy as ever.

To that theme however, firstly President George was able to tell us that Past President Cath Nash had been in touch.  Many will remember that Cath and husband Pete moved south several months ago and the welcome news was that Cath has joined the Rotary Club of Frampton & Longtown! Secondly, George was able to welcome into our midst Past President Ron Kelly who is now a member of the Lancaster Loyne Club.

It was great to see Ron again and to reminisce on his time with us, especially the early days of the Glee Club in which he was a very active participant.   

Included with some of the regular reports came news from Murray Matthew about the launch of a new Rotary initiative with the charity ALEC which was set up to teach primary age children about the dangers of drugs etc.  As many will know, the charity started by trundling a mobile classroom around the countryside to visit schools.  It was a very costly and time-consuming exercise. Then, along came Henry Riddoch a member of the Kintore Club.  Henry devised a very condensed version of the ‘classroom' which could fit in the boot of a modest sized private car. For those of us who saw a demonstration of the kit, there was only one word to describe it and that was ‘Brilliant’ but the mannie was not content with that!  Now referred to as the ‘Life Space 2’ project, the latest edition is about to be launched, probably in late August. Watch this space!  I have no doubt that there will be an opportunity to view the kit before it goes into service.

Week commencing 14th July, 2018

Playing catch-up this week and firstly I must return briefly to that WAGS Charity Dinner we held back in May.   Chairman of the organising committee George Ross asked me to include a word of thanks as follows: “The Rotary Events Committee would like to thank all who contributed to our recent fund-raising Wags Dinner. To Table Hosts, Sponsors, all who donated Raffle Prizes and Auction items and to all who attended the function on the night. Through your generosity we raised the magnificent sum of £13,500. This money will be divided between ‘Friends of Anchor’ and local charities supported by Rotary.”  Well done and so say all of us!

The mannie was back in the Rotary headlines last week when he assumed the Presidency of the Rotary Club of Inverurie for the second time (just like his predecessor!)  George held the Presidency way back in the Rotary year 1981/82.  His Vice President, referred to as the President Elect, is Iain Mathers with the rest of the Club Committee listed as follows: - Ian Ewan, Alex Lamb, Robert Maitland, John Nicol, Sandra Turnbull, Charlie Taylor, Stuart Watson and Secretary Mike Barron.  A powerful and experienced team indeed whom we wish well in their term in office.

In the meantime, the good work continues with a team of members supporting the Farmers’ Market in Inverurie last Saturday. It was, apparently, an enjoyable exercise with much to report!  The most important element was the potential recruitment of a new member or two! A chat with touring Rotarians from the far south, like Croydon for example.  As a result of handing out bottled water to those in dire need, £40 was raised for the Wateraid charity.  The fairy tale to end with concerned a lady of mature years coming face to face with George Ross for the first time having been buying his rowies weekly for the last 50 years!

It will soon be rehearsal time for the Glee Club!  We received a schedule this week from “Choirmaster and Organiser' Hughes to the effect that we have 16 gigs lined up for the coming season (with an additional list of reserves!) Cue for a song ‘Oh dear me..........!'

Week commencing 2nd July, 2018

Life is getting more complicated as the weeks go by. For example, I wonder how many of you have been deeved by these messages that come up on the electronic media about security and safety, requiring you to sign up to allow this and that - it is called Data Protection or something quite bewildering by the time you get to a certain age (unspecified!).

Due to an unforeseen circumstance (I wisnae feeling great) I did not attend the Rotary Club meeting on Tuesday night – I’m fine now by the way but I missed out on the proceedings which entailed our new management team going through the plans for 2018/19.  Before a blow can be struck, there is a list of obligations to be met, issued by the heid office!  That would be the Rotary International- British Isles, referred to thank goodness as RIBI. These obligations include: Equality & Diversity, Health and Safety, Safeguarding Children, Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults, Data Protection and Insurance.   What a complicated world we live in but the fact is, every Rotary Club in the land has to nominate a member to be answerable on each one of these matters on behalf of the club!  That is quite an onus.

That is followed by a report from each of the main committees on their plans for the coming year.  These will include – Admin, responsible for the general running of the club.  Events and Fundraising with dates for principal annual events some already decided. Youth Service – which includes many of the regular annual events like the Primary Schools Quiz, Young Photographer, Kids out etc.  Each activity has a preliminary budget assessment made.  The Foundation & International Committee will have listed their priorities which includes a levy from RIBI to help fund major worldwide efforts like End Polio Now. Finally, the Community Services committee will continue to have responsibility for the Christmas Raffle, the Collection Cans and one or two other local initiatives for example with the Inverurie Environmental Group.

……….. and then of course, there is the loose cannon - the Glee Club, a force to be reckoned with but difficult to categorise!

Looks like we are in for an exciting and busy year. 

Week commencing 25th June, 2018

It was another quiet night on Tuesday with quite a few members on holiday at this time.  Stuart Watson took the chair for the last time as next week he will hand over to our President for the 2018/19 year George Ross.

One of the low-key initiatives which has been developing over the last few months is the ‘Associate Member’ group. It is made up of people willing to assist with the objectives of Rotary without being full members. Last night from the body of the kirk came a suggestion that we invite them as guests to our inaugural meeting of the 'new' Rotary year. An excellent idea but some may think that a little premature, we mustn't rush our fences!

Secretary Mike Barron and Rotarian Ken Duguid had been  round the town gathering the takings from our Blue Collecting cans that you see in some of our retail outlets and believe it or not when the contents were counted a sum of £467 was reached.  A warm thank you is due to those of you who contribute the small change from a transaction rather than put it back in your pocket.  Quite a remarkable sum to boost one of our charity priorities.

As a tail piece to that, Rotarian Bill Murdoch was able to report that a bunch of pupils at Daviot School which his grandchildren attend, recently contributed £46 to the Wateraid Charity – what’s that old saying about starting them young!?  Well done you guys keep up the good work.

I’ll finish with another cracking story which came from ex-Rotarian Roger Langtree.  Dave Thomson working on behalf of the Banana Trust, arranges to collect redundant football strips from Colony Park FC, has them laundered, Roger gets a heap of cardboard boxes from Tesco to pack them in and delivers them to the Banana Trust in Dundee on Tuesday - they will be shipped to the Trust’s Malawi base this weekend. Nae bother! Just think of the joy that will bring to the young recipients! Explaining fit Colony Park is aw aboot micht tak a filie! They micht meet up in the World Cup in 10 years time!  

Where there’s a will there is always a way!  Good things do happen regularly in our communities.

Week commencing 18th June, 2018

Last week I reported on the Kids Out event at Craibstone run by the Rotary Clubs in our area for the benefit of youngsters attending St Andrews School here in Inverurie and from similar establishments in surrounding districts.  In total over 400 children took part. Chairman of the organising committee is our very own Graham McWilliam and on Tuesday night he gave us a full account of the event. On a personal note Graham was able to say that he had been involved in the event for 13 years! The good news is that following the early fears which I alluded to last week about the uncertainty surrounding the availability of the venue, Graham was able to report that  for the next two years, Craibstone will still be the chosen site.

Whilst the organising team consists principally of Rotarians, Graham was full of praise for the valuable support and physical efforts of others. Top of his list were the 17 'strapping lads’ from Sub Sea Seven, 10 from Anderson, Anderson and Brown and a wheen of senior school pupils  from Westhill Academy. On top of that, whilst Aberdeen FC Association couldn’t have a physical presence, they did present a pair of football shorts, suitably endorsed of course, for every child at the event!  Wait a minute though says their rep. – you better find room for these 20 footballs as well! Such is the generosity engendered by this project.

When the cause is just, the enthusiasm and support is there, a strong characteristic of our society.

Voted the best yet, the 2018 Kids Out, Chairman Graham was warmly congratulated for his enthusiasm and leadership. In turn before sitting down Graham thanked all the companies that helped in one way or other - our very own JG Ross making sure that the youngsters (and the helpers) had plenty to feed their enthusiasm!

……….and then there was the Bike Ride last Sunday!  Excellent weather and a full turn out of enthusiasts ensured that a successful day was had by all.  Only one accident was reported with the cyclist unhurt and with not a scratch on her bike! The troops manning the tent in Kellands Park had a busy time running the bottle stall and handing out leaflets to potential recruits for Rotary and they were keen to register how well they were kept fed and watered by Maeve McDowall! At the end of the day over £300, including a contribution from Aberdeenshire Council, was raised for the Prostate Cancer Charity.

Our next important ‘gig' will be at the Farmers’ Market in Inverurie on Saturday 14 July.  We hope you will stop by for a chat.

Week commencing 11th June, 2018

This week’s meeting had an end of term feel about it as we approach the 'hand over’ date when the new administration takes over.  We had no visitors and no speaker because  it was  also an Information evening when we discuss the goings-on at the last Council meeting.

Sounds all very drab but not so, there were reports from the team of guys who helped put out the floral displays around the town centre last weekend..  Eric Massie also reported on work he and John Nicol had been doing at Pitscurry on maintenance of the lovely decking which they with others built a year or two back.  Joe was on his bike again (the Bike Ride this coming weekend) and Graham McWilliam  gave us an up date on the Kids Out event at Craibstone which happened yesterday. Over 400 children were expected with a team from Inverurie Rotary accompanying the local children!  The very good news reported by Graham was that, with the generous help received from some of the major companies in the area, the continuation of the Kids Out initiative for the next several years has been  assured BUT there is a big problem  facing the organising Rotary clubs in the future. They will have to find a suitable venue to replace the Craibstone site that will no longer be available.

One of our members Jim Young has had a 'free transfer' to the Turriff Club due to a change in his personal circumstances – I never ask why but it could be as simple as moving house! The important thing is that Rotary will still benefit from his skills and experiences. We wish him well. Ken Duguid brought greetings from members of several other Rotary Clubs he met over a round of golf at Grantown -on-Spey.  This would have been an annual re-union to mark and remember a golf trip to Canada several years ago organised by the Canadian Rotary Clubs - a significant element illustrating the world-wide fraternity of Rotary. 

There is still some concern amongst club members about our inability to recruit new people and consequently there is a suggestion that we elect a small group, a 'membership committee’ to put their minds to the problem.

Finally, the Glee Club is alive and kicking though not available for gigs at the moment! Mind you, the gaffer (H Hughes Esq) tells us we have something like 15 engagements already on the books for next winter!  My reason for mentioning the Glee Club is to announce that we will meet later this week to test out a new sound system!  Will it make us sound better?  That's for me to know and you find out - in due time!

Week commencing 4th June, 2018

We had two young guests at our meeting this week. Sarah Davidson and Frazer Robertson had recently been chosen as our representatives at the annual RYLA camp to be held at Nethybridge, starting  after the end of the school term. All the Rotary clubs in the district can send delegates to the week-long camp run by Rotarians to encourage and benefit young people who have shown promise in their school careers. It takes them out of their comfort zone, meeting new people, undertaking challenging tasks, learning the value of teamwork, testing themselves in the outside world, perhaps overcoming shyness. Above all, building confidence in who they are and making new friends.  We wish them all the very best knowing from our own experience of RYLA that they will have a great time.

George Ross confirmed that the successful WAGS dinner had raised just over £13k for charity. Not content with that, Joe McDowall was on his feet again raising the profile of the Great Cycle run on Fathers' Day. Whilst our primary purpose for supporting this event is to raise funds to fight Prostate Cancer the hopeful dual side effects will be to explain a little more about Rotary and indeed recruit a new member or three!

Am I finished rabbiting on about charity?  NO! Would you believe it, we haven't reached the longest day yet but The Hatter was dishing out raffle tickets for us to sell for the CHRISTMAS raffle!  As they say down Glasgow way - gies a brek Jimmy!

All of that was soon forgotten (temporarily, of course) as our speaker for the night got underway.  There was a feeling of excitement in the room because this guy had spoken to us before, it was our very own Jim Sommerville.  On this occasion he gave a masterly presentation on the Genealogy of his own family!  In the process Jim was able to highlight the life of working families back to the 16th century!  Primarily, he was able to describe coal and iron mining from its beginning in the 18th century. As you would expect from a geologist (that in itself is an extraordinary coincidence), he showed maps of where the coalfields were to be found in certain rock stratas – stretching across lowland Scotland in a diagonal from Ayrshire to Fife   His family were coal miners!

Way back then families were large – 6 children were not uncommon, living in a 'single end' with no sanitary facilities and very little furniture!  Women and children worked down the pit! Women particularly laboured long hours hauling the hewn coal sometimes 200 yards along seams with just 2 ft headroom!  During the 1900’s the expectation was that there would be 1000 deaths every year from mine accidents.

Progress was made when ponies were introduced to do the hauling, at one time there were reckoned to be 70.000 pit ponies in Scotland!  Steam and electric power were eventually introduced and eventually specific safety regulations had to be formulated to cope with the most serious danger of all – the incidence of Firedamp, leading to explosions causing lethal  rock falls! Wee boys with flickering candles walked in to the unknown to test for the deadly gases!  Jim brought it home to us in a pretty dramatic fashion – basically, he said ‘I wouldn't have been here if my grandfather had been on the early shift on a specific day when there was a fire in the pit. On that fatal day, he was on the back shift!

It was a masterful presentation, enjoyed by all, Rotarian Kay Diack had the privilege of voicing our thanks.  

Week commencing 28th May, 2018

The main talking point amongst the Inverurie Rotarians this week was undoubtedly the fund-raising WAGS dinner held on Saturday night in the Town Hall. This is a night designed to raise as much money as possible for nominated charities, the principle recipient being ‘Friends of Anchor”.

When the assembled company were seated and top table guests introduced President Stuart Watson gave a warm welcome to all ending his brief remarks on the charitable challenges faced by Rotarians, then by saying Grace.  In a break with tradition, before the meal, we had a quick résumé of the work undertaken by the Friends of Anchor with an emphasis on the fact that ALL the money raised will be devoted to the cause, wages and running costs being covered by the charitable company set up by Jimmy Milne, one of Aberdeen’s extraordinarily generous business persons.

Good company, good food, once again provided by Harry Fraser Catering and a bar efficiently run by two volunteer Rotarians – Sandra Turnbull and Don Gordon ensured us of a splendid evening which at the outset was planned and organised by the events committee headed up by Mr J George Ross.

The fund raising started straight away – Heads and Tails and if you want to participate it costs you a tenner! The winner, of course, receives a handsome prize. If you know the drill you can skip the next bit – All stand, either put your hands on your head or behind your back- toss a coin heads for heads, tails for tails! Unfortunately if it comes down heads and that’s where your hands are you are politely asked to sit doon! Got the idea?  Peace reigns for a while as we enjoy the meal.  During this time, if you wish to participate in the raffle, you sign a chitty and put a fiver in the envelope. The prizes were drawn and delivered to the winners at their table. An excellent idea.

Chance then for a comfort break before the main event – four speakers vying for the top prize of the night, the winner being the speaker voted by the guests as The WAG of the night.  What a brilliant session we had. Given no more than 12 minutes each, the first in was well known local wag Raymond Whyte, whose topic was ‘The University of Life – a never ending learning curve – but who wants to end up round the bend?’ Raymond didnae win but he set a very high standard from the ‘off’. He was followed by Alistair Robertson, another well known local performer on ‘My advice is to get married, if you find a good wife you’ll be happy and if not you will became a philosopher’, then a visitor from Loch Ness side Willie Cameron known locally as Mr Loch Ness. His theme ‘Moving and Shaking in Highland Tourism – The truth is out there’. Sounds a bit dry but it was anything but, another cracking performance. Finally, we heard Jimmy Dick, a farmer from Echt. His theme ‘You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.’ Suffice to say Jimmy was the winner but it was a close-run contest thoroughly enjoyed by the company.

The final play of the night was the auction with some staggeringly good items, all donated. I have just room for a few: Dinner for 2 at Eat on the Green, Golf for 4 at Meldrum House, Radley Ladies Handbag, BrewDog Hamper. There were 12 in total. Huge thanks are due to the donors and indeed to all the good folk who supported the evening.

The total sum raised on the night was over £12,000.  Truly, a worthy outcome from a well organised evening.

Week commencing 21st May, 2018

This week I want to give you a flavour of the kind of overseas project which Rotary clubs get involved in.  This particular example is just one of the Inverurie Club’s efforts. Our convenor in charge of ‘Foreign Affairs’ John Nicol provided the information and photograph. We are off to Uganda using extracts from the most recent report!

Monde Primary School is located in a remote village in Luweero District in Uganda. The school runs from Primary one to Primary seven. Currently the school population is 170 children aged 4-14 years. For many years the pupils at Monde studied under trees and the classroom they had was a dilapidated building without windows and doors.  Monde Primary school lacks a store and a kitchen where lunches can be prepared. Currently, when it rains it is difficult to prepare lunch for the children. The toilet facilities are also very poor at the school. Most of the parents for this remote school are involved in subsistence agriculture. The community and the pupils of Monde Primary are very appreciative of the support from our Rotary club in helping them renovate their school. The first phase included the renovation of a three classroom block and the second phase will include the construction of a kitchen, store and toilets. So far, the renovation of the block has lasted for four months. The classrooms have been re-built, fitted with strong metallic doors and the windows are metallic fitted with glass. The whole block has been painted inside and out. The pupils are very excited because they now have a decent place to study.

The renovation of the school has been beneficial to the community in many aspects.  For example it has helped to build the bonds of togetherness and the spirit of working together. For example, the community of Monde has been collecting food and fire wood and preparing lunch for the builders, The rural road going to Monde Primary school was full of potholes but because of this project the community worked together to fill these potholes with stones so that the trucks ferrying construction material would access the school easily. Since the renovation of the school started the school has registered 25 new pupils and as the work is completed more children are expected to join.  The youth in the community have mobilized themselves to provide labour.

A good news story indeed. Interesting to note that they have pothole problems too!

Week commencing 14th May, 2018

Of late I have tended to rabbit on about the charity work we support but there is another side to the Rotary movement and that is friendship, camaraderie and companionship. We have a good example this week – a lower attendance of members at this week’s meeting because the ‘walking group’ were on their annual trip to the Lake District!  This group was formed about 10 years ago with a bunch of enthusiasts deciding to ‘do’ the West Highland Way!  They went on to tackle some of the others –like the Southern Upland Way and so on. Having conquered a number of these walks in Scotland the next move was south of the border to the Lake District – you note the transition with the passage of time, from the testing Scottish challenges to the slightly more douce slopes of Cumberland!  They will be back soon refreshed and full of stories of derring do! I jest of course because I’m just jealous!

Despite our numbers being reduced somewhat, our meeting on Tuesday, chaired in his inimitable style by incoming President J G Ross, turned out to be a cracker because our guest speaker was Alan Johnston, Acting Deputy Head of Inverurie Academy soon to be referred to as the Inverurie Community Campus! Part of Alan’s role is to monitor and keep in touch with the evolving new structure which is quite a complicated process.

The new facility is being built on what was the neighbouring playing field whilst the work of the day continues in the adjacent building as now.  Complicated – you bet, more like a minefield I would suggest. In a very accomplished and interesting way Alan took us through the process with the aid of excellent visual images.  One interesting point is the fact that the new building footprint is smaller than the present one but will accommodate more pupils!  Because it is a three-storey building!  I guess minimalising the disruption is going to be an on-going tough task.

There were, of course a whole host of plus-points, not least being the fact that the contractors have actually involved the current students in how the process works. Yet another clever move is to bring St Andrews School into the campus – with its own entrance and play facilities but cheek by jowl with the main school. The intention being of course to bring the students of both into contact, a familiarisation move, which ought to pay dividends in time.

As far as facilities go, you name it and there it is – 3 different pools, fitness and dance studios, performance space, gymnasia, meeting rooms.  The not so subtle point being that it will no longer be just ‘the big school’!  The new campus concept is for all the residents of Inverurie. I’m sure many of you will have opportunities in the coming months to learn more as the project develops. Final completion is timed for 2021.

After some questions, the vote of thanks was offered by Rotarian Joe McDowall which included a wee sermon of his own!  Well he is an educationalist himself, so we kind of expect that!

Week commencing 7th May, 2018

We had an ‘information’ night at Inverurie Rotary this week – it comes round every month to allow ordinary members to quiz the management on what they have been up to! Accounts are examined and secretarial reports analysed, I suppose it is what you call democracy, in other words the parliament is answerable to the people!  Works well at our level.

Chat round our table concerned the Home-Start Quiz Night on Friday in the Town Hall!  Whilst some of our chaps and chapesses are manning the bar, one brave fellow, who shall be nameless for the moment has entered a team in the competition! I will report accordingly next time.

Further details of the Great Inverurie Bike Ride were discussed. Apparently our team of volunteers are split –one lot will steward the Struie Hill section of the race whilst the others will man the start/finish tent wherein there will be further information on the charity ‘Prostate Cancer’ and maybe a wee fundraiser on their behalf – a bottle stall is the likely mechanism. Let’s pray for a fine day!

A plea came from Graham McWilliam for more volunteers to help with the Kids Day out at Craibstone in June.  Similarly, further support for our WAGS dinner fundraiser at the end of the month was voiced by Rotarian Howard Hughes.

Would you believe, mention was made of the Christmas Car Raffle 2018 – is that forward planning or wishing our lives away?  Much nearer at hand, with the said Mr Hughes, I’m taking the dosh at the door next week and our guest speaker is to be Acting Deputy Heidie at the Academy Alan Johnston.  

Week commencing 30th April, 2018

Charity! Charity! Charity!  I often stop to wonder what state this country would be in without the charitable work and giving of many in this land.  Whilst many would argue successfully that our Society is changing, indeed it must change to meet the challenges before us, that’s fine but God help us if we squander our ability to be charitable to those less fortunate than ourselves.  It is certainly one of the tenets of Rotary that first attracted me to the organisation way back in the early eighties.

No sooner had the meeting of the Rotary Club of Inverurie started on Tuesday night got down to brass tacks when up stood Joe McDowall to flag up the coming Great Inverurie Bike Ride on 17th June. Proceeds in aid of Prostate Cancer research and treatment.  The troops are needed to erect and man the Official Tent where competitors clock in and where further information on the condition can be obtained, stewards required to man some of the check-points around the route and so it goes on.  A few hours spent helping to raise funds to battle this awful disease is something that Rotary can and do do! 

In recent weeks, I have highlighted our involvement in the provision of another Defibrillator for the town, a childrens’ quiz, a childrens’ photography competition, Glee Club entertaining old folks in Dyce  (our last performance of the 2017/18 season!) Last Monday 3 of us spent time sizing up a wee landscaping job in the town.  Meanwhile, George Ross  and his team are working to make our WAGS dinner on 26 May, a success. It is our major fund-raising event for Charity.

I haven’t tried to add up the number of Rotarians involved in that little lot, the hours spent, the miles driven and it did not cost the community a PENNY.  To my mind, that is charity work at its best and there are so many other organisations who rightly claim to be making the same efforts – for our community, our society!  What do we get in return?  Satisfaction – yes, but just importantly we get to enjoy each other’s company and I reckon our enthusiasm spills over to affect the very people we are helping!

Further to that retrospective, I can report that we had a guest speaker with us on Tuesday. – Rona Millar joined us to describe the work of Charlie House.  This charity was formed in 2011 set up by a young Aberdeen mother who lost twin babies. She and her family needed specialist, expert, targeted support and maybe that was a difficult thing to find at that crucial time. Charlie House is there to assist families who have youngsters with complex disabilities some of which are life limiting! This is undoubtedly heart-wrenching stuff, I reckon everyone listening to Rona’s presentation was seriously affected by it. The organisation have plans to improve the facilities for affected families in Aberdeen and in the Shire. And that will cost a bob or three.

Without prejudging any discussion on the matter, I would expect our club to respond positively to any request for support, who wouldn’t?

Murray Matthew very effectively reflected the feelings of the club members when asked to offer a vote of thanks to Rona. 

Week commencing 23rd April, 2018

Inverurie Rotarians attended two meetings on Tuesday night! Before being called to order by President Stuart Watson for the Annual General Meeting of the club, we had our normal weekly meeting!  Quirky?  Yes!   A pain in the butt?  No, because we do respect tradition which, when once despatched may be lost for all time! That said, we are not thirled to the past, we must modernise and that is high on the agenda for most of us.

As part of the ordinary meeting, Sandy Lamb was able to report on the final of the Primary Schools Quiz held at Meldrum Academy. Twelve local schools took part the winner coming from Alford with Kintore runners-up.  The Inverurie team represented by Strathburn had an off day, coming 5th!  Interestingly, each team turn up for the event with a reserve who may not be required SO, the organisers created two extra competing teams from the 12 reserves. A brilliant move, because involvement by all is key.  What a sensible thing to do but on reflection, can you imagine the stushie if one of these ‘bounce’ teams had carried off the first prize!! 

Moving swiftly on to the matter of our AGM which follows a well-trodden path,  members had received the minutes of the previous AGM which were duly agreed and approved with no questions.  In fact, a feature of the whole meeting was  that all sub-committee reports had been circulated in advance by the secretary Mike Barron a move that was  applauded by the president and members because it saved a great deal of time. Even the matters arising were dealt with swiftly and efficiently.

The treasurer Charlie Taylor was cheered when he judged that membership fees would remain the same for another year, not only that but the 2018/19 budget would remain the same.  The official membership remains at 28.

The President’s review of activities was brief and to the point. He did add  wryly that since the last time he was ‘in the Chair’ (that would be  1988/89) there was a great deal more paperwork to contend with – a sign of the times dear boy, a sign of the times! He reminded us of the passing of John Blevins and David Keith during the year, noting the contributions both had made to the well-being of our club.

Looking forward, we then went on to confirm the management team for 2018/19. President - George Ross, Vice President  - Iain Mathers, Secretary - Mike Barron, Treasurer – Charlie Taylor. Convenors -  Robert Maitland, Howard Hughes, David Taylor, John Nicol, Eric Massie and Sandy Lamb.

In the any other business category, acknowledgement was made of the continuing activities of the Glee Club and the initiative to introduce new people to the aims and objectives of Rotary.

Week commencing 16th April, 2018

What a night we had on Tuesday!  The club met earlier than usual to see a display of photographs taken by school children in the area, entered into a competition organised by our very Rotarian and Past president Jim Hatter. Representatives were there from Port Elphinstone, Kellands, Chapel of Garioch, and Oyne schools.    The children  were accompanied by their parents, brothers and sisters.  President Stuart Watson presented the winners with their certificates, with special awards to the top entrant in each category.  Our photograph shows overall winner of the  intermediate  class, 11year old Eve Strachan from Oyne Primary school along with President Stuart and Mr Hatter himself. 

Votes of thanks abounded!  To Mr H for his work in organising a very successful competition, to the School authorities for endorsing the project , to the parents for their support and to all the children for their clever interpretation of the theme ‘A Different Perspective’.

There followed a report  from Jim Sommerville on the swimming gala which took place on Sunday with over 40 swimmers participating in 32 races, able bodied and less able battling for every winning place – another brilliant event though some of the referees and timekeepers took a while to recover their normal hearing!  A sign of the level of excitement enjoyed by all.

We enjoyed the company of three Banchory Rotarians, choosing to visit us in this their scatter week and finally the meeting ended on a rather sad note as we learned that our first ever lady member Cath Nash with husband Pete has moved on to live in Cumbria.  She had been our first Lady President and for a time acted as our treasurer.  We have happy memories of Cath and naturally we are sorry to see her move on. We wish her and Pete a happy life south of the border.

Week commencing 9th April, 2018

This being our ‘Information  meeting’ in other words a discussion on the monthly Board members report, there was no speaker but we did have a quiz!

Apart from the Treasurer’s  report, updates on members absent because of illness, the arrival of new grandchildren, in other words  the weekly elements affecting the Rotary family, the time was largely spent discussing the future!  Firstly we heard details of next week’s meeting when we will be able see the work of the young people involved in our Young Photographer of the Year competition organised by Rotarian Jim Hatter. The winners will receive their certificates on the night.

Next on the agenda was our WAGS Dinner, our most important fund-raising event of the year with proceeds going principally to Friends of Anchor.  Once again I feel bound to explain the term WAGS – it has nothing to do with sportsmen’s wives and girl friends!  The reference is to that old word  ‘wag’ meaning a bit of a story teller.  The event will be held in the Town Hall on the 26th of May.  At £50 a ticket, that might seem to be a bit expensive but and it is a big BUT there is no question that it is a value for money evening – a first class dinner followed by superb entertainment in the form of 4 excellent speakers each speaking for 10 minutes on a given a quote, the audience to vote on the most entertaining contribution!  These are a given, the optional extras include a raffle and an auction. OK, my challenge to those of you who think that it is an expensive night out is this - ask yourself how much will it cost to attend a top sporting event, with no guarantee that the outcome will please you? Put that to one side, the huge bonus in the case of our WAGS dinner has to be the final destination of the ‘profits’! Think of the charity and the sufferers, this could be your opportunity to improve their lot!  

I’m not finished!  Following the WAGS dinner, volunteers from the Inverurie Club will join members from the other 16  Rotary clubs in the area at Craibstone on 13 June for the annual KidsOut jamboree for children with additional support needs!  Something like 500 –600 children accompanied by over 300 teachers will be entertained and inspired by a whole chain of activities lined up by the Rotary Clubs.  An expensive exercise no doubt but already there is sponsorship in the kitty to the tune of £13k ! Well for a start there are over 1000 mouths to feed during a day filled with all manner of treats like the bouncy castles, puppet displays, a small animals zoo, crawling out, in, over a Fire Engine or a police car, riding in a pony and trap, face painting, dancing and countless other games and activities.  It could be described as a hectic day for one and all but by jingo it is worth it!

Everyone involved will be praying for a fine day!  We wish them all the best.

At the outset I mentioned a quiz! It was business all the way on Tuesday but to end the evening on a lighter note, Secretary Mike Barron came up with an interesting quiz to get the members involved before heading for home!

Week commencing 2nd April, 2018

It was my turn to have a seat at the top table on Tuesday!  Another simple Rotary courtesy – I was there to accompany my guest who was to be our speaker for the evening! 

The habit of having a top table is less precious than it once was. Nowadays it is seen to be a bit too formal – like the wearing of jackets and ties but to my mind the top table is there for a rather obvious and significant purpose.  If you go in to a concert hall to see and hear your favourite singer or watch a play, you want to be looking at the stage, don’t you?  That would be the top table equivalent then, would it not?  

Meal and business over, it was time to introduce our speaker and therein lays another tale. Regular readers will have heard me mention our Scatter Week, when Rotarians visit other clubs in the district in a gesture of friendship within the Rotary family. I took the easy route by visiting the Oldmeldrum Club, meantime I was conscious that I had still not arranged to find a speaker for 3rd April at my own club! Time was running out. Then out of the blue so to speak an Oldmeldrum member whom I had not met before quizzed me about our Glee Club activities.  He introduced himself as Andrew Mcpherson and though a Meldrum club member for two years, he still has strong links with Elgin Rotary Club and where he still  sings in the town’s male voice choir. To cut a long story short, someone in the company mentioned that he did a very good talk to club members entitled ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ at which juncture I pounced!

Doctor Andrew Mcpherson duly enthralled our members on Tuesday night. There was no electronic gadgetry to distract, just a pack of apples lying in front of him! Andy simply stood up and socked it to us.  A GP and a specialist in medical teaching , he discussed diets and the ‘10 portions a day’ stuff!  The things to do and not do to maintain a healthy lifestyle!   Cigarettes and alcohol came in for a mention and so too did simple things like ‘if you’re a entitled to a flu jab, you must get it!’  Why?  Quite a simple reply – if you get that flu jab you are not only protecting yourself but you are protecting ME , said Andy sticking a forefinger in his own ribs!

The importance of fitness and regular exercise was emphasised  ‘Always take the stairs’ he said and I cringed!  Talk to your doctor about concerns  after all ‘you are a partner in any treatment’ said Andy.  Talk to others suffering the same ailments. ‘Check things out with Dr Google’ was a surprising comment.  There were lots of questions and to end a very well received session, Rotarian Marie Simpson proposed the vote of thanks. 

Needless to say there was a queue waiting to have a ‘quiet word’ after the close of the meeting.

It’s time now for my knee bending session!

Week commencing 26th March, 2018

There was quite a buzz about the Rotary meeting this week as we all returned to base, so to speak, after our week away which we describe as our Scatter Week. Members visited the following neighbouring clubs Huntly, Aberdeen, St Fittick, Oldmeldrum, Banchory and Alford and needless to say brought back news and greetings.  The most notable story came from John Nicol who visited the Huntly club.  No doubt you will be aware of Rotary’s ‘EndPolioNow’ campaign?  Last year our efforts had the title Purple4Polio which led to thousands of purple crocus being planted across the country to draw attention to the appeal. Some of the Huntly Club members suggested they sell Purple Ice cream to boost the fund-raising, the town being rather famous for this delicacy!  As a result, a team of Huntly Rotarians have been invited to attend the world- famous Melrose Rugby Sevens Tournament this year!  NOT to take part in the rugby sevens but to SELL their famous ice cream!  Well done Huntly, the End Polio Now initiative is achieving a significant measure of success as a result of Rotary efforts like this.

Our guest speaker Laura Davison is a Complementary Therapist working with the charity CLAN that is significantly supported by Rotary Clubs in the area – The Christmas Car Raffle being the outstandingly successful fund raiser.  Laura was accompanied by Fiona Cormack from the charity who was able to assist in answering some of the questions for members.

The role of the therapist is vital in the care and treatment of cancer sufferers because they can act as a buffer/conduit/confidant for the sufferer and the family members who themselves are likely to be significantly stressed by the situation.  That trusted friend has a significant  and vital  role to play something which I for one hadn’t recognised.  This vital point was endorsed by one of our members who was able to confirm just how valuable the role is!

The members certainly accorded our guests a very hearty vote of thanks.

Week commencing 5th March, 2018

I didn’t manage to get to the Rotary meeting on Tuesday because of the weather conditions, As I said to a colleague I couldn’t swim a length of the swimming bath nowadays let alone try to doggie-paddle from Meldrum to Inverurie! Yes, it was that bad in several places.

These very same travel conditions affecting vehicles and pedestrians were what caused us to cancel a Gardeners Question Time due to be held this Thursday night in the Garioch Heritage Centre, in aid of Rotary Charities. Hopefully we will manage to find another suitable date ere long.  This brings me back to a favourite theme and that is the Rotary motto ‘Service above self’’. You don’t need to be a Rotarian to sign up to that, indeed many people do.  There is no doubt that our society is changing largely influenced by rampant commercialism and the modern media and in my view, which adversely affects many people here and abroad. Thankfully there are enough people around who still have a mind to help others worse off than themselves and that is where the charity organisations step i

In a sense, you might imagine that the charities including Rotary and the myriad of other good causes, are competing against each other, So what! Competition is a good thing and in many cases I believe that different initiatives appeal to different people, the vital point is that  doing nothing isn’t an option! Having been convinced of this approach over the years there is a vital key to the success of any appeal – giving both ways! I’m convinced that when you ask people for money you will be more successful if, in return you give something back! On the one hand it might be a gamble like the very popular Rotary organised Christmas Car Raffle. No matter the odds people will have a go!  Our much-appreciated Glee Club activities GIVE a bit of light relief without demanding a return but I can’t remember an occasion when we didn’t receive a donation. In that scenario, we set out to be the GIVERS but the ‘clients’ want to GIVE! The amount doesn’t matter it will all go into our charity fund. What does it cost?  A bit of time and a few quid on petrol, what did I say earlier ‘Service above self’. The proposed Question Time would GIVE a night of exchanging views, answering questions and giving enjoyment etc with the help of non-Rotarian colleagues also willing to GIVE.  Most people want to help, the skill is in finding a way to GIVE a quiet sense of self satisfaction.

As Rotarians, we will keep doing it.

Week commencing 26th February, 2018

Despite the inclement weather and dodgy travel conditions we had a good turn out at this week’s meeting. Twenty eight members and guests gathered in the KA  for supper and to hear one of our guests tell an interesting but bleak story of life in Nepal at this time.

After our meal, in his current dual role as President and Secretary, Stuart Watson moved on through the business part of the meeting, taking time to congratulate Sandy Lamb and his team for their efforts in organising another very successful Primary schools quiz last week.

From time to time I refer to Rotary being one very large family readily hosting members of that family from oot aboot!  One such this week was good friend and fellow Rotarian from the Banchory Club – Eddie Gillanders.  He was not the furthest travelled by far however, our main guests, invited by Rotarian Ian Mathers came all the way from the Kirriemuir Club! It was a delight to welcome Barbara Lovegrove and George Aitken, their purpose  being to bring us up to date on a project their club is involved in, it was entitled simply ‘A Trip to Nepal’.

Working mainly with a New Zealand charity called First Steps Himalaya and a Ghurka based charity in Nepal, the Kirriemuir Club have raised over £30k to aid the building of new school classrooms following the devastation wrought by an earthquake back in 2015. We saw plenty pictorial evidence that is still there.  In a sense, the scenes are not unlike the man-made chaos we see on our television screens at the moment, coming from Syria. Nonetheless, there is still help out there. The Kirriemuir Club are moving on to another phase, you don’t just need classrooms, for one thing you need ‘sanitation! The good folk from ‘Kirrie’ are looking to raise over £100k!

Following man made or natural disasters, the effect on the human population is catastrophic, young lives are ruined and whole societies destroyed. In so many cases, inept and dispirit governments fail to cope, so thank goodness, for the sake of humanity that more stable societies like ours want to better the lot of these poor individuals. Our governments and aid agencies do their bit but so many organisations like Rotary contribute immense amount of work too, targeting help direct to societies in dire need.

To help others worse off than ourselves, we have to raise a bit of dosh!  In this regard, The Rotary Club of Inverurie have organised a fundraising Gardeners Question Time, in the Garioch Heritage Centre on Thursday 8th March commencing at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £5 and are available from any JG Ross Shop. The panel on stage will be Carole Baxter, Susan Burgess, Colin Stirling and me!  We are delighted to announce that our Inquistor on the night will be the one and only Robbie Shepherd.

Week commencing 19th February, 2018

You know how it is when you have somewhere special to go but there are chores to be done first? Rotary was a bit like that this week, not that I am belittling our regular weekly meeting in any way – it is the key to our existence. Nevertheless President Stuart Watson had other things on his mind when he opened the proceedings.  It was a case of – greetings, meal, essential business reports, one or two announcements, the final toast to ‘Rotary the world o’er’ then oot the door! All done by about 7.15pm

The fact that there were quite a few empty seats at the meeting was the clue that something else was going on. In fact, another squad of Rotarians were already at the Hopeville Club setting up the stage for our annual Primary Schools Quiz.  I hurried there with the President and others, to join the team.  The quiz was due to start at 7.30pm  and when we arrived the place was buzzing, the stage was set – six primary schools were competing from Chapel of Garioch, Kellands, Oyne, Port Elphinstone, Strathburn and Uryside, the last named got a huge roar of welcome as they joined the throng for the first time!   The rest of the function suite was filled with relatives and friends and supporters.

After explaining the rules Rotarian Joe McDowall, acting as Question master kicked off with the first of 10 rounds of questions. The teams of 4 were faced with 6 questions in each round.  The range and level of questions had many of the adult supporters nodding their heads in puzzlement but these youngsters stuck to their task with little fuss. The rounds were headed – Alphabet, Geography, Natural World, Literature, Maths, Sport, History, Media, Pot Luck and Pictures.  I should add that the questions are set after discussions with  one or two primary school contacts  (NOT from competing schools) to ascertain their suitability and level  for Primary School  children)

The eventual winners were a team from Strathburn School and after some refreshments they were awarded the shield and individual miniatures (of the shields!) by President Stuart Watson.

Our thanks are due to the organising committee, headed up by Sandy Lamb. On duty were Jim Somerville, Jim Hatter, David Taylor, Murray Matthew, who did a terrific job  in setting the questions, organising the paper work and the visual presentations, it all worked a treat.  Rotarian Kay Diack also attended on behalf of the Events Committee and finally, once again, thanks to Joe McDowall the question master – his style and ad libs are much appreciated.

Rotary at work in the community once again – that’s what we are all about.

Week commencing 12th February, 2018

On Tuesday morning, I had a fleeting thought that there might be no-one turn up for Rotary at night – because of the weather! As it happened, 24 worthy souls signed in for our regular weekly get-together but for how long will that be the norm? This being the week after a Club Council meeting, we had no guest speaker, the time after the meal being allotted to discussion of the latest Council report!

Each committee leader is invited to comment on their particular projects and responsibilities, whilst the secretary winds up with other relevant matters including requests for help from individuals and from other clubs. Our President, Stuart Watson is the Acting Secretary whilst Secretary Mike Barron is on holiday and whilst never in danger of being over-worked, the President and Acting Secretary, an old hand at the game, is inclined to make the most of his current status! Hopefully you will detect an under-lying theme of humour regarding Stuart’s present situation because contrary to some of the feedback we get from time to time, we are not a bunch of po-faced old gits! There is plenty of time for banter and teasing! 

Announcements included a reminder that next week the Rotary-sponsored Primary School Quiz, with seven teams competing, will be held in the Hopeville Club. My experience of previous quiz nights is one of fun and enjoyment together with enthusiastic rivalry, to be enjoyed by children, parents and Rotarians.

We learned that Home Start Garioch are having a fund-raising quiz night in the Town Hall on 11th May with some of our members acting as stewards. I understand that at least one of our numbers has agreed to ‘take a table’ in other words they are keen to participate. Maybe some of you folks out there will be similarly motivated to support this excellent local help group?

I referred to the main topic for discussion in my opening paragraph.  We had 24 members in attendance but when I joined Rotary in the early eighties there were over forty members!  We need to recruit new members so what is stopping like-minded people from joining? Is it that thing about being too staid, too formal, too expensive?   If so we must be prepared to change. We need to rise above these criticisms because we know there are like-minded people out there willing to help others less fortunate than themselves. Hence the move to form Associate groups who will meet in a less formal fashion to develop their own help programmes under the Rotarian banner. I look forward to reporting regularly on this new initiative.

Week commencing 29th January, 2018

Whilst every Rotary Club in the land is allowed to ‘paddle it’s own canoe’ there is a regional, national and world wide structure that is constantly passing on edicts, themes and new initiatives to bring to the attention of individual clubs, some may be priorities identified and endorsed by the ‘heid-bummers’!  For example, I guess the ‘End Polio Now’ campaign must be seen to be the most outstanding success story – ever! We are almost there.  The system works pretty well but never more successfully than in the local scene.  On a quick count, for example, we have about 20 Rotary clubs within a 25 mile radius of Inverurie! We talk to each other; we visit each other from time to time.  That is almost mandatory because once a year each club will declare a  ‘Scatter Week’ when members, in groups or singly arrange to visit other clubs in the area. That club is ‘warned’ to expect them!  Some have been known to take it as challenge – going from Inverurie to Wick for example, or it might have been Ullapool! No matter, methinks there was an ulterior motive – it might have been the fish or, more likely - the beer!

Here’s a current example, President Stuart made it known that members would be made very welcome at next week’s meeting of the Huntly Club when guest speaker will be the local MP Colin Clark!  I guess a few of our local farmers might be quite keen to cross swords with him!

Moving swiftly on to a development much closer to home, our guest speaker this week was Ashley Wilson, managing secretary of BID, she was introduced by Rotarian Eric Massie.  This local business organisation, chaired by Mr Ian Sinclair became operational in August 2017.  The initials mean Business Improvement District which has a Board of 12, comprising members drawn from a wide range of commercial businesses in the town.  They are working to deliver a 5-year plan with a £500,000 budget to benefit the local economy, businesses and the community at large.

Ashley started with some quite startling statistics comparing the number of retail outlets in Inverurie in 1938 compared with the current number.  Many years ago Inverurie was quoted in the statistics as having the FEWEST high street vacancies across the land!

Whilst trying to help tackle that scenario, which must be like trying to stop the tide coming in, BID’s remit also allows them to go into partnership with community groups to help them achieve their objectives with advice and incentives. 

At one time Business Associations might have been in a position to effect changes to benefit the community but it would seem in these fast changing times that we have to change our ways and perhaps BID and similar organisations will succeed where others have failed.  They have a huge task ahead of them. After a short question session, Rotarian Don Gordon offered an appreciative vote of thanks.

PS  John Nicol’s Foundation sub-committee met to have a quick up date on plans for a Charity Fund- raising Gardeners Question Time  in early March! Watch this space

Week commencing 22nd January, 2018

 The Rotary members and guests gathered on Tuesday to celebrate the life and times of Robert Burns.  In all about 70 people sat down to the traditional meal  of cock-a-leekie soup, haggis, neeps and tatties and  a sweet entitled Tipsy Laird!  Before all that President Stuart Watson welcomed one and all then David Fraser, himself a Kintore Rotarian piped in the Haggis which was duly welcomed and addressed by Ian Mathers. This was followed by the Traditional Grace ‘Some hae meat…..’ delivered by the President.

After the meal and the Loyal Toast, President Stuart handed over to George Ross, convenor of our Events Committee who with Howard Hughes, introduced speakers and guest artists.  Assistant District Governor Kenny Thomson, another Kintore Rotarian kicked off the proceedings by proposing the principal toast of the evening – to ‘The Immortal Memory of Robert Burns and a rare job he made of it. I have been attending and participating in Burns Suppers for 50 years and more and I have never ceased to be amazed at the variety of style and content in which this task is tackled. A measure of the success is the attentiveness of the audience, the laughter engendered and the applause at the end. I can report that Kenny done good!  Next up – the Toast to the Lassies. The lucky lad given this task was Norman Shearer and straight away ye kent he had din this job afore! Praise one minute, a bit of humility the next, a wee cautious jibe here and there and lots of humour – well done Norman. 

On this occasion the ‘right to reply’ was shared, by two young ladies who proceeded to the job in song!  Moira Docherty and Gill Smith, accompanied by Graham Davidson did the job in grand style, starting with a little ditty directed to our Club and some of our members. Some might have wondered who had provided the ammunition, it was definitely an ‘inside job’.  Needless to say, ‘les girls’ were warmly applauded.

To the less formal part now – some more gorgeous singing from Moira, a recitation by George Ross of Tam o’Shanter, a wonderful tale told superbly once again by JG.  Then it was the turn of George, Stuart and yours truly to tell the tale of Willie brewing a peck o’ maut!

The entire company had their opportunity to let rip by singing together The Star o’ Rabbie Burns followed after thanks to the hotel for a splendid repast, to all those who bought raffle tickets and those who provided the prizes and especially to all the performers from President Stuart, by singing Auld Lang Syne.

Fit a grand nicht we had!  That’s Rotary enjoying itself! 

Week commencing 15th January, 2018

For only the second time in it’s 20-year history, the CLAN Christmas Car Raffle supported by Rotary Clubs across the region, was won by a Rotarian - a member of the Stonehaven Club!  This cancer charity does a terrific job and Rotary members are enthusiastic supporters of their work.   Hence, as well as selling tickets in their own areas, they man the kiosk set up featuring the Mini car, in the Bon Accord Centre, Aberdeen in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

At our meeting this week, we heard details of the outcome, the vital one being that over £35,000 was raised for the Charity. Well done everyone who made it happen and that includes you good folks who bought tickets.

Our evening started with President Stuart Watson welcoming one or two guests and welcoming back Pat Mitchell who has returned from a trip to NewZealand with wife Liz, to visit daughter Paula and family. Didn’t have a chance to chat but it looked as if they had some fine weather during their stay. Considering our recent weather and what is currently scheduled for the next few days, I bet they wish they had stayed a wee whilie longer!

It was a fairly short meeting but that allowed time for several sub-committees to catch-up with the business side of our club.  George Ross and his team were putting the final touches to the arrangements for next week when members, families and friends celebrate the life and works Robert Burns.  It promises to be another cracker!

Not surprisingly, perhaps, I am a member of the Admin/Service committee, chaired by Past  President Peter Donaldson.  We tackle stuff like Press relations; something called Face Book;Publications;Website and facilities.  This week we had quite a lengthy chat about microphones, loud speakers etc.

The Glee Cub are in the middle of quite an intensive programme of gigs and frankly our sound system is bulky to transport, time consuming in setting up (and dismantling) with lots of wires all over the place. We need to modernise it and that was the main item on our committee agenda.  Next week, on Burns Night to be exact, the Glee Club will lead the biggest sing-along in town when they entertain the Age Concern members in the KA. If it is anything like last year we are ‘going to have a ball’ but, the place will be packit foo wi nae room for jiggin’!

Week commencing 8th January, 2018

Following our festive season break, The Rotary Club of Inverurie members were back in business this week and wish everyone A Guid New Year and many of them.

It is quite appropriate for me to quote Robert Burns at this time because we will soon be celebrating his life and works around the anniversary of his birth on 25 January 1756. Sometimes ‘The best laid schemes o’ mice ging aft agley’  Why so, I hear you ask.  Our first meeting of the New Year on Tuesday 9th coincided with the Glee Club’s first gig of the season!  Whilst the choristers and comedians of the Glee Club were entertaining in Bridge of Don, the other members met in the KA.  One of our own, Sandra Turnbull was on the bill to give her ‘My Job’ talk

A bit of a computer whiz-kid, Sandra works with Computers and Integration SCIO here in Inverurie.  I hadn’t a clue what SCIO meant (until I asked!)  It means that Computers and Integration is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. They are delighted to announce that they have received a grant of just under £10,000 for a new project called “Be Connected”, it started on January 8th, 2018 and will continue through to the end of December.

The project will provide three free 1 ½ hr sessions, free child care if required and help with transport costs for anyone wishing to learn how to use information technology to access services and information on whatever each individual requires. You can call them now to book your place on Inverurie 01467 623600.

At the present time, Sandra is helping and tutoring 30 clients every week!  In this day and age of advanced communication techniques, it is brilliant to know that help exists for everyone, regardless of educational skills, to be able to keep pace in a fast -changing world!

Finally, the Glee Club returns to duty on Thursday to participate in the funeral service for Past President (2006/07) and Honorary member David Keith, who has passed away after a long and painful illness.  Our thoughts are with his wife Moira and the family. 

Week commencing 4th December 2017

This week’s meeting included a Special General Meeting to discuss the election of office bearers for the season 2018/19!  Needless to say, whilst it highlights the nature of our organisation with regard to forward and strategic planning, the reaction of some members (me included) was basically, wait a minute, why the big rush?  More importantly, the meeting was presented with the Financial Report for the period ended 30 June 2017. After discussion, the report was approved  by the membership with a round of applause to Treasurer Charlie Taylor and  auditor Graham McWilliam for a job well done.

Needless to say, the sourcing of funds was high on the interest list.  To be able to do what we do we must have money-raising ploys like for example, the Collection Cans which you see in retail establishments around the town. By collecting a few coppers at a time, in the year in question we collected just over £700 – given  gratuitously by the shoppers in the town who are due our warmest thanks as are the retailers who cooperate with us so willingly.  All of it used to help others less fortunate or indeed to fund schemes designed to improve opportunities for young people at home and abroad. The Glee Club was formed to entertain groups around the area, Rest Homes, Residential Homes, Old Folks Clubs and the like. We never ask for a penny- we regard it as providing a social service BUT, in appreciation of our efforts, inevitably the organisation will mark their thanks by offering a gift.  In the year in question, that amounted to over £800. Understandably the members of the group are ‘chuffed’ by the response, they themselves receiving no recompense for travelling expenses or indeed fish suppers on the way home!  This all comes under the Rotarian banner ‘Service above Self’. In danger of being accused of ‘blowing trumpets’, I must add that Treasurer Charlie reported that since they were formed the Glee Clubbers have raised over £15,000 for charitable causes – three cheers for the Loons and Quines.

A few years ago, our man George Ross put a notice up in the Highclere Centre inviting people to contribute books which were surplus to requirements. They would then be made available to the public for a small donation to Rotary Funds.  In the year in question, nearly £500 was raised to aid Rotary work!  Just one more example of how, through their generosity the people in town are helping us to help others.

To end on a salutary note, if we are to continue with our work, we do need to recruit  some younger people with that community spirit which drives us!  

Week commencing 27th November 2017

We celebrate the birth of our patron Saint Andrew on 30th November and on Tuesday evening, the Rotary Club of Inverurie did justice to the occasion. Invited to wear ‘a wee bit of tartan’, many responded willingly.  Sixty members, with wives, partners and guests, after an excellent meal, sat back to be entertained but first with a minimum of formality, President Stuart Watson presented two Paul Harris Fellowship (PHF) medals, the highest award that Rotary can give to anyone for service to the club and importantly, the wider community.

Firstly, the award was made to Fiona Cooper from Kintore, I covered that award several weeks ago. Remember? Among a host of other projects, Fiona is hugely involved in the Food Bank initiative. She was nominated for the award by Rotarian and Past President John Nicol who coincidentally was also awarded a PHF medal for a legacy of work on Rotary projects in which he was involved. One of the most notable being the assistance rendered to the Pitscurry Project, involving many hours of hard graft.  Listed amongst the projects in which John was involved was the re- decoration of a flat for an elderly lady! The bold boy invited wife Catherine to help as time was running out to get the job finished! Well done gal! It is called teamwork at which Rotary excels.

After a short interval, Rotarian Howard Hughes took over as MC firstly by introducing The Twa Quines frae Kemnay - Evie & Ethel (in real life Ishbel Imrie and Muriel Gration)  dressed up as ‘cleaning ladies’ with all their gear - buckets, dusters and mops, they entertained us for  20 minutes and more with songs, poems and  gossip!  The audience, many of whom had not been entertained by the ladies before, were in fits of laughter from beginning to end.

In contrast, our speaker was local loon and well-known broadcaster Mark Stephen who gave us a thought-provoking dissertation on St. Andrew, including the story of how our national flag came about!   You could have heard a pin drop! Honestly, you never know what you are going to get from Mark. People who listen to his Saturday morning programme on Radio Scotland will know how versatile he is – one moment in light-hearted banter about how the breakfast is coming along, (being cooked on a camping stove outside the BBC studios in Aberdeen as they broadcast) and next, dealing with some serious issue relating to the health of trees in our countryside

Like the twa quines before him, Mark received a very hearty round of applause

Before closing the evening’s event, President Stuart was in his element as he thanked Howard and the performers for a superb evening.  He referred back to Evie & Ethel and one of their topics, never to be forgotten – about the ozone layer.  They called it the Parazone Layer! 

Week commencing 20th November 2017

Apart from our speaker’s contribution, this week’s meeting turned out to be a bit of navel gazing. Conventionally this is ‘information week’, in other words, the week after the Club Council has deliberated. It is the week when the heid bummers explain themselves and the members hold them to account!  The meeting was chaired by Vice President Alan Robertson, President Stuart being smitten with the flu. We wish him a speedy recovery.

But first, to our speaker, a member of the club – Kay Diack, who gave us a very illuminating ‘my job’ talk as a Locality/Service Manager, Aberdeen City Council.  This infers that Kay is one of a number who operate under the banner ‘Shaping Aberdeen’, the remit being driven by professionalism, customer focus, respect, communications, future focussed, engagement and creative thinking! Quite something to live up to!

Kay’s team of 18, work on regeneration projects, relationships with the local community in the area which includes the Haudagin Roundabout re-structuring, basically working with everyone included in the wider surrounding area -  services like transport, green spaces, policing, access to and availability of the range and balance of retail outlets. They work closely with and for all age groups in the community. In attempting to create a more cohesive and content society they have a motto that says it all - One people/One place/One ethos/One technology!

That’s a very brief interpretation of how one of our municipal authorities work nowadays in an ever more complicated world! Robert Maitland offered our thanks to Kay.

The brevity of our speaker’s talk was occasioned by the need to spend a bit time on company business’! The regular stuff was summarily dealt with in order to review the ‘Visioning Experience’.  Way back in January, a wheen of us spent a Sunday afternoon discussing a whole set of new ideas to combat falling membership by first analysing the reasons for the fall and secondly what we should try to do about it. The ensuing report put together by Rotarian Jim Sommerville was circulated to other clubs and widely acclaimed.  It would be wrong to say we are in a crisis situation but the fact is – not a lot has happened since January BUT, an idea has been propounded that might well prove to be a winner and that is what absorbed the members on Tuesday night.

To summarise, younger people male and female with aspirations to serve the community and admire the Rotary principle of ‘Service above Self’ are not likely to join us because the organisation is thought to be old-fashioned, too formalised, too male dominated and expensive! Some of that is true.

The current option being discussed is the formation of Satellite Clubs, run on much less regulated lines but affiliated to the local Rotary Club and guided/advised by a serving Rotarian on matters like projects to support. The hope being that after a year or two some may join the Rotary Club itself which in the meantime is evolving to suit modern life styles but as one old geezer was heard to mutter ‘Aye min but evolution taks an afa lang time’!

Week commencing 13th November

From time to time the character and mood of our Rotary Meetings changes and there is nothing subtle about it – this week, in sombre mood, we took time from the outset to mourn the passing of our friend and colleague of so many years - John Blevins.

President Stuart Watson started the meeting with a Rotarian eulogy, in other words concentrating on John’s contribution to our club and the work we do at home and abroad. John joined the club in 1989 and went on to fulfil a range of roles including a term as Club President.  He also became involved in the Rotaract movement which encourages  young people to participate in Rotarian projects, this included organising and leading a trip to South Africa. John was a founder member of the Glee Club, a reflection of his lighter side, his poems were hilarious and in this context, some will remember his contribution to the annual town Christmas pantomimes! In 2008 John was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship in recognition of his contribution to Rotary aims and objectives. To close, President Stuart invited members and visitors to stand and to share a minute’s silence.

We had three guests at our meeting, all from Elgin. Firstly, there was a welcome return to Inverurie by Past President of the Elgin Club Bill Duncan and then co-incidentally President Stuart introduced our Principal Guest of the evening, District 1010 Governor Graeme Archibald who happens to be a member of the Elgin Club.  Graeme was accompanied by his wife Carol and whilst Graeme was a top table guest (cos he had a message to deliver!), Carol was warmly welcomed into the body of the kirk!

Before coming to Inverurie, Graeme had obviously done his homework because, as we all know, when the heidie addresses the school, he/she does the congratulatory bit first, quoting a few laudable performance statistics! It was not all negative and there was a serious message behind the figures. For instance, during the floods which affected our area 2 years ago, it has been calculated that 70,000 Rotarian hours were devoted to the recovery efforts.  In other words, publicity may be explicit when it comes to funds raised with pictures galore of the physical help given but how about highlighting the physical hours of commitment to helping others? In other words, as Graeme came to his main theme which was about falling numbers, his point was - to be seen to be a force for good in communities – WE DON’T SELL ourselves well enough! Fortunately, there are already moves afoot to redress the situation. Watch this space!

Turning to the international scene Graeme once again highlighted the End Polio Now project, started by Rotary and nowadays backed by the Gates Foundation. It would be wrong to say that the problem has been eradicated but we are getting very close.

Another cracking scheme is beginning to catch on, coming from head office I believe, and it relates to sustainability – of the planet!  The edict declares that the Rotary Movement should aim to plant a tree for every member of a Rotary club across the globe! That would be 1.2 million!  I have no doubt it will happen and from a selfish point of view, that will be good news for the growers who supply the trees but much more importantly it has to be good news for all of us.

District Governor Graeme was warmly thanked by President Stuart.

It was quite a night.

Week commencing 6th November

Quite recently our President Stuart Watson and Secretary Mike Barron made a  trip to Kintore with a special job on hand!   To present a Paul Harris Fellowship to a young Mum who works tirelessly to improve the lives of many in the community. Let me explain, Paul Harris was the Founder of Rotary.  The top award the movement can award for service above self is the PHF – a Paul Harris Fellowship. The recipient need not be a Rotarian  - the citation can apply to anyone deemed worthy of the honour.

With the endorsement of the members of the Kintore & Kemnay Club, Stuart and Mike knocked on the door of Fiona Cooper, in Ladywell Rd, Kintore to present her with a Paul Harris Fellowship in recognition of her efforts in and on behalf of the local community . To say Fiona was gob-smacked would be an understatement. “Why me? I just did what I felt was necessary.” The answer was just as basic “Because your voluntary efforts to help people in need  merits  recognition”.

The citation says .

“Fiona you have had a very active life in the community for a number of years, initially in support of activities in which your daughter was involved. You were Rainbow Guider for 10 years and built up the group which continues to flourish. In addition, for 10 years  you were heavily involved in supporting the Evolution School of Dancing. However, it is with recent events that you have become better known throughout the wider community as the Aberdeenshire North Foodbank Inverurie Centre Coordinator. This position necessitates that you ensure the foodbank is working correctly, that there are volunteers in place to staff the foodbank, that there is liaison between the warehouse, where donations of food are stored, and the availability of food at the collection centre in Inverurie. You are also the organiser of appeals, e.g. the Tesco collections, attending meetings with other organisations in your capacity as coordinator.

Your involvement in the above led  to you being  one of the initiators of the Inverurie and Garioch Flood Support Group which did sterling work during and after the flooding in early 2016.

This work is still ongoing locally and, on a national basis, you attend meetings of the Scottish Flood Forum. Recently you have been appointed secretary of Kintore Community Council. You are the current secretary of The Bothie, a charity  which was set up to provide a facility for young adults in Kintore to give them a place where they could go and meet socially, and to get them involved in the community. This is now expanding to include older members of the community. In addition to the above voluntary work, you are a very caring neighbour and friend to many”.

How’s that, eh? Congratulations , dear lady.

Week commencing 30th October

This week’s meeting landed on the fifth Tuesday of the month – an excuse for a party? Well not quite but customarily in the months of the year with a fifth Tuesday , partners are invited to join the members for the evening, just one of the traditions which we have adopted from square one!

It proved to be rather special because firstly, we had some trophies to hand out for the annual golf competition! Presenting the prizes was birthday lady Janet Duguid, herself one of our leading players. This year top lady was Doreen Donaldson and top man was Joe McDowall with Mike Hay collecting the runners-up prize. Previous to that, Janet herself received a Birthday cake which we all shared!  A real Rotary family touch!

Believe me that was all a precursor to a terrific presentation by Andy Hall from Stonehaven, a Teacher, Author and Photographer out of the top drawer. He took us on a magical photographic journey, the subject of his seventh book. The title - Aberdeenshire – A New Perspective.  It was a narrative accompanied by photographs  of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, ending with a sort résumé with music from Paul Anderson, the Tarland Fiddle maestro.

Och, it was more than that, each photograph was accompanied by a quote from some pretty famous people like Dennis Law, Jolomo, Sir Duncan Rice interspersed from time to time with tips on how to get the best results with your camera.  Best light one hour before and one hour after dawn, same for night fall and there was the proof of it before our very eyes. Patience pays – the two gannets with necks intertwined, just brilliant. Dedication – up in the morning at 3am  to get the rising  sun on north-west facing Pennan! It looked like it had been floodlit as the camera shutter clicked!

Whilst most were in colour, some of the black and white shots – of Footdee for example, were equally appealing.

After a most appreciative vote of thanks from President Stuart Watson, Andy remained to sell copies of this latest masterpiece and here is the match-winning tail- piece, 50% of the proceeds go to a charity supporting young people with learning difficulties.  Well done, Sir.

Week commencing 23rd October

Tuesday night’s meeting started well for me when I spotted the options for main course!  Salad (as usual) or Scampi & Chips with peas! Need I say more? On that note, for non-attendees who may read this piece, this coming weekend the clocks go BACK one hour and that signals a change in the menu format at our KA meetings!  In summertime our two course meal consists of main course and sweet or biscuits and cheese with coffee or tea. In wintertime we have soup and main course! Just one of these little idiosyncrasies that develop over time!

The evening was marked by the welcome return of Rotarian Howard Hughes after a long illness. Following words of welcome back by President Stuart, in his own inimitable way Mr Hughes replied, his remarks based on that Ronnie Barker masterpiece featuring FOUR CANDLES but included a Garden Fork forby, suffice to say that  brought the house down.  Yes, Hughes is back to his old self and we are all much the better of knowing that! 

Our guest speaker was Kenny Lawson who was introduced by his retired polisman colleague - Ken Duguid!   Kenny Lawson’s subject was Mountain Rescue.  Since being a young  police cadet in 1975, Kenny has served in the Police Mountain Rescue team, allied to the Braemar Rescue Team – to this day! How’s that for dedication and public service!? This year the Braemar team celebrate 50 years of action in the Cairngorm mountains but from time to time they may be called out to assist other groups in times of significant emergency, for example they travelled south to assist colleagues in the aftermath of the tragic Lockerbie disaster.

Notably Kenny also mentioned the tragedy of 5 young men setting off to rendez-vous with chums coming north from Glen Doll but they never got there! In the 1971 disaster, two groups of Edinburgh school children succumbed to the conditions with only 2 surviving to tell the tale.  Since then there has been developed a set of strict rules to be applied when planning to take children on to the mountains.

Backed up with a series of slides, Kenny highlighted many of the situations where the Team were heavily involved, all the while emphasising dedication and team spirit shared with members of the local communities. In the early days teams consisted mainly of police officers and local gamekeepers who knew the hills better than most.

Training  and the development of new facilities and equipment has gone on apace.  GPS, Helicopters, mobile phones (a curse and a benefit) and tracked vehicles have made a significant difference, the next to come on board is likely to be the use of drones.

To mark the 50th anniversary, a book has been produced entitled ‘Mostly Happy Returns’  (subtle eh?) costs £10 and is available at Craigdon.  Returns  from sales will ease the continuing problems of finance despite the fact that there is so much voluntary work encapsulated in this successful and vital public service!

Jim Hatter had the privilege of expressing our thanks to Kenny. 

Week commencing 16th October

It was a rather breathless President who opened our weekly meeting on Tuesday night for the simple reason that he was storm-bound on Monday on the west coast of Ireland where he and wife Norma were visiting family. They were unable to fly out until Tuesday morning. The trauma was accentuated because he had had a 5 am start!   Nevertheless he was in good form as he struck the gavel to get the Club proceedings under way.

Following the meal, we had regular reports on current projects. Requests were made for volunteers to help at a number of fund-raising events followed by an update on absentee members who are unwell at this time and finally a warm welcome was extended  to Ralph Webster a member of the Rotary Club of North Worcestershire. The spotlight was then turned on the subject for the week – Cystic Fibrosis.

In recent weeks we have been captivated by talks on a very wide range of topics and I have to say that this week’s was no exception. Well, in a sense it was because the message was delivered by one of our own members – Jim Hatter. This actually brought back memories of a tradition that has been lost in recent times. If, for any reason, your guest speaker has to call off, you do the job yourself! In most cases that might mean a change of subject but not this time!  The bold James delivered the message on Cystic Fibrosis rather well!  (I have to use that moderate phrase otherwise he would be impossible to work with!) 

The simple heading of the talk was ‘The Butterfly Trust’ a voluntary organisation started in Edinburgh to recruit work teams aiming to back-up homecare of sufferers of this debilitating condition simply to  overcome and  tolerate the difficulties of living!  In the process, to help make their life and that of family members more bearable.

This is an inherited debilitating condition affecting lungs and the digestive system. It demands daily vigorous physiotherapy, in some cases more than one session is necessary to keep the lungs functional. What if family members are not available or indeed not fit enough to perform that physio?  That’s where the Butterfly Trust teams can help. Sufferers may need drivers to move them around, they may need simple friendship, someone to talk with to keep them from becoming introverted and constantly depressed. This role may be required to help fellow family members too.

As to the future, it is to be hoped that modern medical science will be able to detect and deal with the gene which carries the threat of this dire condition.

In the meantime, the teams from the Butterfly Trust continue to provide that essential support service and being a charity, their time and expertise is FREE.  These fine public-spirited, caring people need our help, physical and financial! 

The vote of thanks was delivered by John Nicol.

Week commencing 9th October 2017

Our meeting this week is referred to as an ‘Information Meeting’. After the meal, the members are invited to raise any points included in the ensuing report from the monthly Council. Only 20 Rotarians were present, mind you we have a wheen on sick leave and one or two others on holiday.  The previous week was well attended  maybe because we had a cracking speaker lined up – George Niblock  currently Convenor of the Aberdeenshire Environmental Forum. His first topic however was ‘Fishing on the River Don’ which  took an interesting turn when President Stuart ‘waded’ in with the fact that  since 1308, residents of Inverurie  have had the right to fish the Don and the Urie!

This, from historian Watson – Following the Battle of Barra in that year King Robert The Bruce rewarded the inhabitants for their support both before and after the battle by creating the Town a Royal Burgh and the right in perpetuity to fish both rivers within the burgh boundaries.! Though the succeeding Councils (Inverurie through Gordon District now to Aberdeenshire Council) have administered the rivers over the years, the inhabitants of Inverurie actually own the fishings.

This was of interest to the speaker George because negotiations are currently  in progress regarding the transfer of the fishing “rights” to the local angling association!

Our speaker touched on the reduction in numbers of child anglers over the years here and throughout Scotland. Now parents are banning kids being frightened of the risk of falling in, potential drownings and particularly the lack of supervision. George confirmed that the Inverurie Angling Assoc. have safety equipment available which can be borrowed free of charge if youngsters want to have a go!

Another problem for both children and adults is the Giant Hogweed which is colonising the river banks and can cause serious irritation to skin when brushing against it. Sadly there is little evidence  of this menace being cleared all along the River Don and River Urie.

On the River Don, though the numbers of salmon have dropped over the years, there is still good numbers of sea trout and brown trout . Over 95% of all salmon caught are returned to the river on the Inverurie beats.

Fishing can also have many other benefits. While fishing, George has recently seen otters, kingfishers and osprey…a dream on a pleasant evening!

While angling is George’s hobby, as Convenor of Aberdeenshire Environmental Forum he has headed up a group of organisations concerned with the Council’s inability to carry out essential street cleaning duties, this initiative has received significant publicity in the Press. No doubt we will hear more of it as time goes on.

Suffice to say George was accorded a hearty vote of thanks by the members.

Week commencing 2nd October 2017

(The weekly reports of the Rotary Club of Inverurie)

As indicated a couple of weeks ago, the Inverurie Rotary Glee Club began their season of ‘gigs’ on 7 September travelling to Mintlaw to entertain the members of their Senior Citizens club.  We must have been a hit on our last visit because once again the hall was almost full.  Since that time there have been several changes to the line-up. Firstly, of course, our inspirational accompanist  (and teacher!) Linda Davidson has moved to Ballater where I do believe she is still inspiring and leading people wishing to make music! Another familiar face, missing from the front row is Jack Henry

Now, there isn’t much I can tell you about Jack that you don’t know already! Suffice to say that he has such a busy schedule and social life that he is unable to attend our practice sessions and as a result he has stood down from performing! We will miss his renditions of Doric poetry.  That said, he has been made well aware that there is a space for him any time he likes to return.  Also missing on a temporary basis  as he recovers from illness is our inspirational leader Howard Hughes.but he is still pulling the strings!  So, the line-up at the moment is George Ross, Stuart Watson, Joe McDowall, Jim Hatter, David Taylor and myself.

We have two accompanists who share the burden (I use the word advisedly) of keeping us in tune - Frances Mitchell and Dorothy Walker. We are indebted to both ladies for putting up with us.

Within the group, we have several instrumentalists which I have christened the FF+1 which translate as the Ficherin’ Four ( Stuart, Joe, Jim and myself) the plus 1 being the pianist – the only person who  knows what the right notes should be!

From a selfish angle I would suggest that we get much enjoyment and pleasure making music together but the most important feature is the opportunity we have to entertain other people and it would be true to say that our ‘fan base’ is in the  50 + age range. You will hear us talking about entertaining the ‘auld folk’ but gracious me,  our average age must be nearer 70 than 60!

Fun , fellowship and service to the community would be our motto.  The positive side to that is the usual response  - a donation to the Rotary Club Charity account, enabling us to help even more distressed and unfortunate people at home and abroad.  

Week commencing 25th September.

It turned out to be a busy night on Tuesday as we gathered for the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Inverurie. For a start, I was on duty along with Bill Murdoch. To explain, each member takes a turn at registering attendees and guests on arrival at the weekly meeting, whilst at the same time taking their dosh and noting their choice from the week’s menu! There is a deal of banter and back chat going on so we are always relieved when totting up, to see if numbers registered match the total sum of money paid!

We had one guest – good friend and a founding member of the Kintore and Kemnay Club, Kenny Thompson visiting us in his role as an Assistant District Governor. He was invited to report on some of the steps being taken around our Rotary District to counter the problem of dwindling membership. As you might imagine, there are many reasons why younger people may not consider joining and one obvious example is MONEY! Just how much does it cost to be a Rotarian before beginning to think about contributing financially to charitable efforts etc.?  Members of the Inverurie Club pay an annual membership fee of £100, some of which is a levy to support our worldwide organisation particularly the Rotary Foundation Charity. Each week members will pay £11 for a meal (this includes a small amount to be used to pay for hospitality offered to invited guests).

So, Kenny’s own club is trying out an alternative, given that an annual sub. is essential. If members want a meal they turn up in time and pay accordingly, if they don’t want a meal, they arrive 45 minutes later to join in the club business. How will that be perceived – time alone will tell.

Some other clubs are offering ‘Associate membership’ for groups who espouse  Rotary ideals but for all sorts of reasons are unable to participate in regular meetings, thus missing out on projects they might wish to support. One example being aired was an early afternoon get- together in a local café every fortnight or so taking on an acknowledged Rotary project which they will organise and run themselves with a Rotarian mentor. A nice bit of lateral thinking

Still thinking charity, John Nicol reported on the St Kizito Schools and Community Charity which is a project to renovate a school building in Monde located in  one of the poorest areas in Uganda. In early October some of our representatives, visiting Uganda, will have a meeting with the President of the Rotary Club of Kampala -Wandegeya, which is the Ugandan Club associated with the project. Progress is being made.

Still more good news Rotarian Graham McWilliam was congratulated for his participation in the Loch Ness Marathon, raising in excess of £2000 for the MacMillan Cancer Support ………………..and as we headed for the door Sandy Lamb reminded us to take our Christmas Boxes!  Yet another scheme to brighten the lives of deprived youngsters!

Week commencing 11th September.

One of the rules for the membership of Rotary when I first joined in the early eighties was about attendance!  You were expected to achieve a 60% attendance record or you were up in front of the beak (as we used to call our headmaster when I were a boy). If you happened to visit another Rotary Club on your weekly travels, you could count that towards the minimum total! Please note that I used the past tense when introducing the topic because the situation has  been relaxed somewhat but having said that, a bit of discipline  is no bad thing!  I never was a bad attendee, that only applies to my visits to the dentist!


As official Press Officer for the club, it is incumbent on me to report on the weekly meetings but of late my attendance level has slipped. Whist this week’s meeting was in progress, I was at Haddo House with the Beechgrove team for a question & answer session!  For continuity therefore, I have to rely on colleagues, on this occasion secretary Mike Barron reminds us of a meeting topic from a few weeks back.


Regular readers will have noted that we have covered  a wide range of speakers, some charity related, some inspirational  and occasionally, simply about how things which happen in our community. It could be called ‘keeping in touch’!



For over 10 years Ron Reid has run the Farmers Market, in front of the Town Hall in Inverurie. In all weathers the second Saturday sees the closure of the car park and from 9am until 1pm an average of 12 stalls offer for sale the finest of fresh produce. Each month a local charity is offered a stance.


The concept came about from Sandy Buchan, himself a farmer, but lacking expertise in finding his way around procedures for permission.  Ron processed the paper work at the turn of the Century and the Farmers Market was born.


While farm food was the principle operation, fish and fine trades have been introduced. He felt the ability of customer and stall holder to discuss the finer aspects of their potential purchases was very valuable e.g. the venison supplier was the man who was able to explain the finer parts of the deer….a service not possible in the larger supermarkets.


It provided income for the traders and a first class advertising opportunity for the traders at but £10 for their stall. Being Chairman of the Inverurie Community Council at that time, he did not get away with easy questions and there were many, including…being pushed on the need to influence Councillors to remedy  the lack of toilet facilities especially at play parks.


Ron was thanked by Ian Ewan who wished Ron success over the coming months with the local Farmers Market

Week commencing 4 Sept 2017

Our weekly meeting on Tuesday had a couple  of surprises for the members present! Firstly we drank a Toast to immediate past President Peter Donaldson and his wife Doreen who recently celebrated their Golden Wedding. Warmest congratulations were offered by the members.

Following the meal and the usual, but essential business of the club – up-date on colleagues suffering illness at this time, sports competitions within our Rotary District, greetings from other clubs which members have visited whilst on business trips or on holiday, club arrangements in coming weeks and news of this year’s Christmas car raffle in aid of  CLAN charity.  All the usual but essential guff – and then another real treat!

Last week we were enthralled to hear of the progress made in delivering the aims and objects of the ALEC charity by fellow Rotarian Henry Riddoch and colleague Amy. This week we had yet another cracking presentation by a young man called Vio Elko and he disnae come fae Birse! He bides in Meldrum!

Vio has lived in the UK now for  over 20 years and in that time following his dream, he has represented Scotland and GB in International Events such as Commonwealth Games, winning a Bronze medal for Scotland in the 2014 Commonwealth Games and despite the fact that he is now approaching 40yo he aims to have one more crack at the medals in 2018.  Oh yes, he has been seven times the British Wrestling Champion at Intermediate level (I take that to be a weight category )

His sporting passion has obviously not diminished but his real obsession is with  human fitness- from cradle to grave, as they say!  Yes, he and his wife Laura a qualified gymnast, run the ETKO Sports Academy at the Hoodles Play Barn, North Mains of Barra, Oldmeldrum .

They start with children aged 3 to 5, a bit early you might think but the evidence shows that by the time these children go to school they are fit and have learned to be inter-active with others, allowing them to integrate fully with teachers and fellow pupils alike from day one.

Vio, at this point paid tribute to the owners of the The Barn, Richard and Anna Stephens who backed the project development  by providing more space and  facilities. The business has extended to cater for all ages with Vio targetting fitness, well-being and ambition especially for the young people. This leads to the category headed ‘Fitness for All’ at which juncture I felt he was staring meaningfully at me!

Following several questions, notably about funding, a vote of thanks was delivered by Rotarian  Pat Walker.

(PS following last week’s comment about electronics, Vio wore a head mike and we could hear every word – well done chaps).

Week commencing 28th August

Our guests this week were Henry Riddoch and Amy Clark, their subject – an update on the project known as ALEC – Aberdeen Life Education Centres. In his introduction to our guests Rotarian Murray Matthew reminded us that the organisation was first formed  20 years ago and he should know because he was one of the founders!  What is ALEC, I hear you ask?

It is actually part of an international education charity working in partnership with schools, the business community and parents to provide healthy life choices including drug and nicotine education  to all nursery and primary school children.  I remember the first mobile classroom, a specially fitted out four wheeled monster trailer, the size of a 40 foot artic that had to be towed from school to school – a very specialist and expensive system and therein lies today’s story!

The newest of these mammoths was launched just a few years ago, but the costs of the operation have proved to be unsustainable. This well regarded initiative was under threat then along comes a chap called Henry Riddoch, a member of the Kintore/Kemnay Rotary Club and  now Chairman of the ALEC committee but more to the point - an engineer of significant standing! Maybe he should be described as an inventor.  On Tuesday night we were privileged to see the successor of that 40 ft mobile classroom!  All the essentials to continue this vital and successful initiative that were carted around on four wheels can now be transported in the back of a car in an over-sized suitcase designed by Henry!

There is enough kit and plenty surprises contained therein to transform an ordinary classroom into a space to excite and enthral nursery and primary children, including accommodation for the charity’s mascot Harold the Giraffe – aye, there was a fair bit of tittering went on among these  ‘mature’ Rotarians at his appearance, superbly handled by Amy Clark the Senior Educator. 

You will undoubtedly hear more about ALEC in coming weeks as the new equipment is launched. 

Bill Murdoch offered a very apt vote of thanks.

It seems a shame to end on a rather sour note but I have to say that the very interesting and important message was tainted by a mal-functioning electronics set-up!


Week commencing 14th August

Though Rotary business takes a bit of a breather during the holiday season, that does not mean to say that it stops! Plans for the coming season are being fashioned as I write!  The Rotary Glee Club is due to start rehearsals any day now for coming performances, refreshing the old favourites and trying out the many suggestions for newer material. This forward planning can all be seen to be a valuable part of our service to the local community.

You may remember, a few weeks back, my reference to the Rotary Youth Leader Award  offering young people the opportunity in a week-long camp at the Abernethy Outdoor Centre, Nethybridge  to participate in a programme of physical and intellectual activities, developing skills in Team working, Positive leadership, Communication, Problem Solving and Decision making. This week at our club meeting our two nominees, Eryn Duffus and Andrew Kitchin came to the club meeting to report on their experience. Both are pupils at Inverurie Academy but Alexander was actually selected, having been nominated by his BB Company.

Eryn Duffus (16 yo) had this to say “Thank you so much for all you did to make RYLA such a fantastic experience. A great experience and opportunity, great fun, a chance to find out about myself, eye-opening and challenging.”

Alexander Kitchin ( just turned 17 yo) reported likewise, as follows “What an experience, I learned so much, I also made new friends  who I will certainly keep in touch with. All of our team would love to return and would jump at the chance. I feel that we would put our leadership skills to better use after this initial experience.”

Coincidentally, it was good to hear that both are very musical Eryn plays violin and ukulele whilst Alexander plays drums.  A real talented pair worthy of our support.  Well done guys, we wish you a happy and successful future.

From on high (Rotary HQ in Evanton USA), comes a letter about the worldwide Rotary Foundation Charity which is headed ‘Because of You’ it reads as follows: ‘By giving to The Rotary Foundation during our centennial year, you joined more donors than ever in empowering our Foundation to take on larger projects with greater impact. From developing nationwide literacy programmes to training tomorrow’s peacemakers, to helping push polio to the brink of eradication, your donation is Doing Good in the World. Thank you for celebrating this tremendous milestone by giving. The Foundation’s second century and the future of all who depend on its work will be the brighter because of you’.

We Inverurie Rotarians in turn wish to thank all of you out there who help us to play our part in achieving these objectives at home and abroad.

Week commencing 24th July

Chaired for the first time by our newly elected President for 2017/18 J Stuart Watson, this week’s meeting was quite eventful in that we had as our guest speaker Steph Dowling who represents the CLAN charity in our area. At the end of the evening, Steph was presented with a cheque for £5000 our Club’s donation to the charity this year. Chairman of our Events committee JG Ross was also present - he and his team had organised the very successful fund-raising WAGS dinner, reported on at the time, which raised a total of £11,000. The balance will be distributed to a number of other projects which we support regularly.

I should add that we also support CLAN by participating in the Christmas Car Raffle held annually with the big ticket–selling finale in the Bon Accord Centre in Aberdeen in the run up to the draw on Christmas Eve. This is a case of Rotary workng together as all the Rotary clubs in the area participate.

In her very well presented talk, Steph gave us some idea of the working of CLAN in our area. It is, of course, a Charity organisation principally concerned with emotional and physical support of individuals and families suffering from the consequences of cancer illnesses. This particular charity covers the whole of the NE corner and the Northern Isles. It is quite a significant challenge when you consider that there are over 3000 diagnosed with the condition annually! As a result a wide range of support services have been developed – free of charge so, that’s where the money goes and they need something like £2.5 million per year!

Not only will they organise complementary treatments like physiotherapy and reflexology but they organise school holiday trips for children, a library service and regular meetings. Most will know of CLAN House on Westburn Road, Aberdeen a wonderful stopping off place for people travelling for treatment in hospital.

There are community bases throughout the area, including Inverurie where a move to to new premises will take place soon. Presently there are about 120 clients/patients attending in Inverurie with a quarterly increase of about 20!

This independent charity works hard to raise funds through Charity Shops and that novel Tempo Café provided by the Bon Accord Centre in Aberdeen which has a novel style. Go in for a coffee and make it yourself! You are logged as you go in and you pay for your stay by the minute! At least 10p per minute! We used it each day when on duty at the Car Raffle! Don’t pass it by, ALL the proceeds go to the charity, they dinna even hiv tae pey a rent! Well done Bon Accord Centre!

After answering questions, Steph was given a hearty round of applause.

 Rotary Matters w.c. 17 July 

We had another informal meeting of the club this week with the most pressing subject for discussion is our need to attract new members.  I was reminded of a poster outside a kirk somewhere, which carried the message ‘Carpenter from Nazareth needs Joiners’!   Rotary clubs across the nation need new members if they are to be able to continue the amazing work they do. Giving publicity to these activities somehow does not appear to register with the younger generation despite the fact that Rotary support activities for children and young people come high on the priority lists.

Do we have to be more aggressive in our advertising with banners everywhere, such as I featured a week or so ago?  It helps but it is not enough, I guess in the olden days the membership preferred to help ‘anonymously’ or at least discreetly to avoid embarrassment – on both sides! These days have gone now, we need to be a bit more up front.

On the way home in the car, still thinking about this subject, I took a different line! For all of these years, we have been willingly investing our time, our skills and our efforts in a whole range of activities.  What have we got to show for it other than self-satisfaction for being able to help and improve the lot of a huge number of people?  That’s fine but has the investment shown any bonus?  The fact is, we don’t know!

In recent weeks, I have reported on a range of activities – the landscaping at St James Place which incidentally was completed a couple of weeks ago by the team of Charlie Taylor, John Nicol and Eric Massie with meself acting as gaffer!   We planted a range of shrubs to enhance the entrance. All the plants and the pre-planting compost were donated FOC by Parkhill Nurseries, Dyce. Our thanks go to Gordon and Barry McGillivray for their generosity.

Our efforts on behalf of the Kids Out day at Craibstone , the end of season concert at Inverurie Academy and most recently an account of the RYLA camp, attended by two young people from the area have all been logged.  All of them costing time and money given, without strings. Lets take RYLA as an example of our investment - 2 young people annually for the last  30 years at £500 per head = £30,000.  We keep on doing it but where is the feed-back?  Our young folk this year will be invited to give their impressions at one of our evening meetings and I can tell you if past experiences are anything to go by, we won’t be disappointed. 

What I want to know is – where are the ones who benefited from their RYLA experiences 10 or 20 years ago? How many of them are Rotarians? Many will claim that it was a turning point in their lives. I’d love to hear from them. Where are they now,  I want to know if we spent our money wisely?

Week commencing 26th June 2017

Tuesday night’s meeting proved to be a bit special.

It was to be the last occasion when Peter Donaldson addressed the Club as President before he retires from the post. There were 25 members in attendance and after the regular programme – Grace, followed by the meal we had our annual interlude – the presentation of a gratuity to the hotel staff for the excellent job they do each week on our behalf.

It was time then for Peter to summarise his experience as our President. As well as finding it a rewarding year in that the team ‘done well’. He found it an enriching experience despite it being an onerous and time-consuming task. The level of co-operation with the membership led us to have a good year in serving our community in so many different ways. On the downside Peter made the point that if we are to continue to do good works we do need to recruit new, younger members. In order to help with that process maybe we have to change our image a bit – less staid, less formal, more relaxed. The funny thing is, if I may say so, we are significantly more relaxed and less formal than when I joined in the early eighties. As they say, evolution is a slow process, we all know that but without a doubt times they are a-changing they have to and we have to react rather more smartly!

 Peter’s valedictory address was very well acknowledged by the members. He then formally demitted office by placing the President’s Chain of Office round the shoulders of the incoming President J Stuart Watson acknowledged by yet another enthusiastic round of applause.

In his opening remarks Stuart alluded to the fact that the last time he had worn the President’s regalia was 29 years ago! (You may remember my report of the celebrations when Stuart passed the 50 year membership mark!) He did add that this is the era of re-cycling – even Rotary Presidents! He joined Rotary in1966 at a very young age! No surprise there either because his late Father was a founding member of the club.

Did you know that Rotary is one of the most powerful organisation for peace – in the whole world? The facts are indisputable and picking up on that our incoming President quoted this year’s Rotary motto ‘Rotary making a difference’. Continuing in historical vein , Stuart went on to contend that ‘The only thing you will be remembered for when you die is your contribution to society’! Deep thoughts maybe but, as we continue to enjoy the weekly camaraderie and friendly exchanges, the curling, the Glee Club , the special events we must be able to continue the work we do in our own community and for other troubled communities across the globe.

At this juncture, Stuart invited the other new members of the managing team to take their place beside him – Alan Robertson as Vice-President, Mike Barron as Secretary and Charlie Taylor a Treasurer.

In proposing the final toast to ‘Rotary the World Over’ it was evident that President Stuart’s motto was undoubtedly ‘ Now then guys and gals, lets have more of the same because Rotary matters’.

Week ending 19th May 2017

During a short business meeting on Tuesday Night, President Peter Donaldson brought to the attention of members the proposal for a new business/community initiative for Inverurie, referred to by the letters BID. There were a few mutterings around my table but President Peter was ‘on the ball’ by going on to say that he had invited a member of the organising team to come along to inform the members fully. The big question to be debated will be ‘should the Rotary Club become involved?’ Time alone will tell!

Recently we had a fine talk about the Charity Shop in the town, highlighting the good work they do on behalf of charities in the town and almost as a follow-up we had another cracking talk given by Mhairi Philip , Senior Co-ordinator of Garioch Homestart, just one of the important charities supported by the Shop.

It was a bit of an eye-opener for some of us to hear of the work done by Homestart. We constantly hear tales of disadvantaged families and fleeing refugees who come to live in our communities. They need an enormous amount of back-up and support if they are to be able to lead a modest, quite ordinary life, obviously made quite acute when there are young children involved. Mhairi covered much of what is essential but also highlighted one factor which is nothing to do with physical needs, she discussed the problems caused by social isolation – I guess we take for granted that feeling of belonging, the ability to feel at home, to be able to nod and say hello to people we meet in the street, they needn’t be close friends or acquaintances, we might just meet them in a queue in the post office and have no hesitation in ‘passing the time of day’. It is a great comfort .

The families which Homestart Garioch support have precious little of that and the problem becomes more acute by the day. Four years ago, Homestart Garioch had 20 volunteers in their team, today it is over 60! To make matters worse whilst the numbers of disadvantaged families has grown as indicated by the number of volunteers, the funding from the Local Government bodies has remained static. This is not a small problem, over 100 families are being supported in Aberdeenshire.

Thousands of hours are devoted to this work by volunteers and the only remuneration they receive is travelling expenses! Nevertheless the volunteers are in there doing their bit and as Mhairi explained they try to help families with children under 5 years of age before their situation become critical , in other words they try to avoid having to take ‘fire brigade ‘ measures. To qualify for assistance families must have at least one child under 5 in the household. It is not easy to sum up the work other than to say the organisation aims to help families in distress to reach a standard of living that they can sustain for themselves – just a simple humanitarian objective – these volunteers deserve our admiration and support, thankfully something for which Rotary have a fair track record.

Mhairi received a well- merited vote of thanks from Joe McDowall and a round of appreciation from the members.


Week ending 28th April 2017

 It is that time again, said one of my colleagues as we sat down together on Tuesday night to enjoy our meal before starting the Rotary business of the week. He could have added – it is not long in coming round again! He was referring, of course, to our Annual General Meeting! These are throw away remarks we all use from time to time but when you think about it, such a lot has happened internationally, nationally, locally, personally in that time and when you are lucky enough to be busily engrossed in living life, time does seem to fly past.

In terms of clubs like Rotary, it is time to draw a line under the last 12 months, to assess our successes and failures and hopefully to end on a high note as we lay out the plans, under a new management team, to do at least as well next year. Committee by committee, convenors were invited to report on how targets were reached …or not! Happily the report card must end with the remarks that this pupil done well! That is not to say that members feel complacent because the other much quoted heidie remark applies ‘could have done better! I have no intention in listing the whole lot, but here are a few:

We finally solved the problems associated with communication! I have a bee in my bonnet about this one! Firstly, because I’m getting deaf and secondly I do quite a lot of speaking to people and realise how important it is they can hear what I have to say! We now have a Public Address system to be used at our meetings and it WORKS! Plans to provide another (second) Defibrillator for the community, are almost complete

The Rotarian End Polio Now campaign is going on apace with one of the publicity and fund-raising initiatives seeing 15,000 crocus bulbs planted around the area. Happily we can congratulate schools, clubs, community bodies and other charities for joining in with this project.

Raffles and other fund raising efforts of the Glee Club, Collection Boxes, Second hand Book sales have accumulated a significant sum to be distributed to Children in Need, Clan, Emergency Shelter Boxes and numerous others. Lastly but not least, again we have organised and run some very entertaining and stimulating competitions for young people such as the primary School Quiz, Young Musician of the Year, Young Photographer of the year and shortly we will be sending two young teenagers off to a weeklong Youth Leaders Camp. This is a testing but challenging time with others from the region, to help bring out latent leadership qualities. We talk about young people showing natural leadership qualities but this camp seeks to give a gentle shove to some who have theses qualities but maybe don’t realise it.

……and so to the year ahead under the leadership of J Stuart Watson , a man who has been President before as well as having a couple of spells as secretary. There’s loyalty and commitment for you! We look forward to a challenging year. Our top priority must be to reduce the average age (68 years)! I do realise that evolution is a slow process but it will happen. In the process we will recruit younger members to sustain the work of Rotary. With that in mind, if you have a bit of spare time on your hands, enjoy good company and have a mind to help others – give us a shout! We are getting short of golfers and curlers too!


Week ending 24th March, 2017

There is never a shortage of news and events to report in this weekly account of what is happening in the Rotary Club of Inverurie. In my remarks last week I did draw attention to the ageing nature of the membership and about the need to be better known in our community. On this latter point I would have to say that the present lot are heavily involved in a very wide range of activities in the community involving a very wide spectrum of our society.

For example, perhaps because I am part of it, I tend to leave the odd remark about the activities of the Glee Club as a one-liner but I know a lot of people who would argue that the team deserves a better write-up! Since last October, we have performed on 12 occasions in our area, mostly to Over 60’s groups, retirement homes etc and as often as not, as we leave the question asked is “when can you come back?” I have often compared music with gardening because you can be a spectator enjoying the efforts of others or get involved. There are no barriers – age, religion, colour, creed, ability but in both pastimes, the result is the same – enjoyment, satisfaction, social interaction, reminiscences all very therapeutic. They tick all the boxes and that is why as Rotarians, we lay great store by this activity. Our last gig of the season will be this week – an afternoon at the Inverurie Day Centre. The programme, as ever, will consist of a mix of songs ‘Ancient & Modern’! Well, modern up til aboot the late sixties (like George Ross’s stories)!

At the other end of the scale, I recently reported on the results of the primary School Quiz won this year by a team from Kellands School (Angela Fern’s picture of the team with Rotarian Cath Nash who organised the quiz and Peter Donaldson our President who presented the awards at the school on Friday 17th.Team L-R Alastair Maclean, Adam Downie, Cally Goodwin and Erin Minty)

Still with young people, The Young Photographer of the Year competition, organised by Rotary District 1010 (from Stirling northwards!) which has 88 clubs and now in it’s seventh year, has just been judged! The winning entries come from ……………….Kellands School! The theme was ‘Reflections’ which gave young people the opportunity to use their skills and technical ability to display their results to a wider, often critical audience.

Undeniably the use of digital cameras has revolutionised the photographic world. Its ability to produce instant images, gives a painless opportunity, especially for young people to test their skill.

The work of District winners in each age group will be submitted as entrants in the Rotary of Ireland and Gt. Britain Competition.

Nine years old Isla Wilson has won the trilogy competition, having won the local heat and has gone on to win the District final! Warmest Congratulations to Isla AND to two fellow pupils Emma Barclay (2nd) and Jasmin Mathers(3rd)

If you would like to see examples of their work and artistry, visit the Gordon Arts Exhibition in The Town Hall Inverurie, open until 26 March 2017.

Week ending 3rd March, 2017

On Tuesday, 27 Rotarians were present and after the meal and committee  reports, Rotarian Stephen Martin introduced Stephen Boddie who is a Community Service Representative and Coach for Aberdeen Football Club and let me tell you there is a great deal more to it  than football. Stephen and his associates are involved with people aged from 6 to sixty plus

The goals of this organisation are more inspirational than any Dennis Law ever scored! The organisation is actually a registered charity entirely separate from AFC with its own Board of Directors but of course football is used as one route to attract and engage with young people, hence the team work with Inverurie Locos, Colony Park, Schools  and  others.

Apart from helping to create pathways for boys and girls for their future, the team are encouraging them to integrate, respect all colours and creeds etc. It is about citizenship really. There is currently an initiative to encourage some of the young Saudi refugees, not only to play football but ALSO to learn to speak our language! Integration is the name of that game - sounds logical doesn’t it? 

These guys are true social workers in our community, making a difference to people’s lives, across the age spectrum! They are helping older people tackle a lack of fitness, loneliness and dementia with initiatives like fitness clubs and walking football, changing people’s lives for the better. One of their number has just been voted the Autistic Coach of the Year for Aberdeenshire, went on to win the Scottish title and the UK title. 

If you get the chance to help these guys in any way – grab it, you will not be sorry. 

Stuart Watson gave a very well constructed  and considerate vote of thanks.

Week ending 24th February, 2017

On Monday this week, Rotarian Jim Sommerville visited Strathburn School to collect a batch of 30 Shoeboxes destined for Eastern Europe in time for Easter. 

Primary 5 pupils at the school have been involved in this initiative. They organised posters, emails and notes, made presentations to fellow pupils in P4 , 6 and 7  to encourage them to bring in items to help fill up the boxes. Each pupil in P5 then filled and decorated a box, which was then filled with toiletries, toys, games etc suitable for their own age-group. 

When collecting the boxes, the pupils were quizzed about the scheme with a few relevant questions: 

Where are they destined for?  Ans. Out came a string of answers – Belarus, Ukraine, Bulgaria……They actually prepared a work sheet and route map for where they are destined. These projects surely make potentially boring subjects, come to life ? 

Why do we send them?  Ans. To less fortunate children who may have never received a personal gift before?  

What is the value of the gifts in each box? Ans. This is when the answers got a bit random! Anything from ‘A fiver’ to ‘fifty quid’!. 

So, if it was a fiver, what is the value of this consignment?  Ans. Quick as a flash - £150 !  

Haven’t they done well? The pupils of P5 at Strathburn Primary wish to thank everyone who helped this enterprising project, including pupils and parents who donated items…………….and so say all of us! 

We must also acknowledge the co-operation of class teacher  Donna Murray who obviously developed the project to become a very useful  educational exercise

Week ending 17th February, 2017

Starting this week with a postscript! Many of you will remember the CLAN raffle which Rotary Clubs in this corner support each year. You may have contributed at the time. The prize – a spanking new modern Mini with the draw being made on Christmas Eve. The 2015 winner lives in Inverurie so there was no bother in making the presentation. Not so easy this time – the 2016 winner just happened to be working overseas and as a result that handover had to be delayed until quit recently That is just one side of the story. Whilst we thank all the Rotarians who gave up their time to man the stand in the Bon Accord Centre selling tickets, we also thank the donors who forked out their hard won dosh and as a result a cheque for £38,000 was handed over to the CLAN charity! In addition, each club that participated receives a small sum to use for their own particular charity projects. Who said North Easters were skinflints? Rubbish, say I. Well done everyone.

Numbers were down at this week’s club meeting – midterm holidays and illness being the likely cause. The business of the day must go on but after the usual reports including greetings brought back by members who had visited other clubs, just another worthy tradition, we had an excellent presentation from retired Army Padre – Rev. Philip Clarke. To say that he is something of a keep fit fanatic would not be unkind. A cyclist of note, he still sets himself daunting challenges and by the way he has recently become an octogenarian – welcome to the club Philip!

In describing his array of bicycles, he even has a modest looking everyday bike for doing the shopping! He admitted that some others cost as much as a small car! When he tackles the hills, Philip has a strict rule – he does cycle all the way, not allowing himself to dismount and walk for a whilie! He will stop, rest a moment but then mounts up again from the same spot. The highlight of his talk came as he described, while in his seventies, cycling over the eight highest passes in Scotland measuring height and distance Aha, but that is not all, after a cup of coffee he then retraces his ride – yes indeed, he does it all over again in the opposite direction! These passes will be familiar to many, they include Cairn o’ Mount, Lecht, Glenshee, Ben Lawyers, the Mam Rattigan Pass, the Pass of the Cattle over to Ardnaurchan. As you picture these wonderful routes over which you may have driven many a time just think – on a bike there and back! Eight Passes x height above sea level x two = almost the height of Mount Everest! It is a stunning tale.

Secretary Jim Hatter gave the Vote of Thanks accompanied by very enthusiastic applause .

In the coming days, members will be stewarding and assisting at a Swimming Gala for young folk with learning difficulties and also running the annual Primary Schools quiz.

Week ending 10th February, 2017

 On a rather dreich night 25 Rotarians, joined by one guest - Steve Lynne from the Kintore Club, were to enjoy another excellent evening.  After the meal and business updates, secretary Jim Hatter introduced our guest speaker Scott Adams, a local Scout Leader in a much modernised organisation which I hardly recognised, mind you I moved on from being a Troop Leader circa 1954!  The first thing I noticed was that Scott never used the name troop!

We were reminded during Scott’s dissertation that our club played a large part in the restoration and modernisation  of the Scout HQ in Inverurie a few years ago, our work party being led by Eric Massie of course, a past master at acquiring necessary items just like the Great Houdini himself! In other words, Eric made full use of his contacts within the building industry to benefit the project.

At 24 years of age, Scott’s enthusiasm for Scouts and Scouting shone like a beacon.  After a few words about the local organisation and structure, he went on to highlight the projects and challenges that are set for the young people, segregated into groups by age. He never mentioned reef knots, semaphore or campfire cooking, come to think of it he never even mentioned British Bulldog either, a compulsory skill required if you ever think about playing Rugby!

The critical words that came through to me were Challenge, Energy and Commitment as it applies to themselves and the community. At a very early stage today’s Scouts are encouraged to plan and manage their own affairs – organisational matters are not left to the ‘Leaders’. They would be taking more of a back seat role as mentors. Needless to say, in this modern society, that is a very appealing prospect for quite assertive young people, indeed Scott himself is a classic product of the system, his style and attitude went down rather well with our members.

Several projects in the community were described, for example, in targeting mental health problems, a group, having researched some current simple therapeutic ideas, made bird boxes for a number of sufferers, this facility having been shown to be a benefit by providing a focus of interest.

The usual run of competitions are still popular as fundraisers but I was delighted to hear that camping trips are still popular, often to meet up with others from afar.

As well as being local Scout Leader, on his own behalf Scott aims to become a Queen’s Scout by the time he is 25yo – the highest qualification to be gained in the organisation meantime, he has a new, additional role to play as an Assistant District Commissioner for Young People’s Development  which basically serves to emphasise the ethos of helping young people to take responsibility for running the organisation.

Aye, he’s quite a guy is our Scott . The vote of thanks, fulsome in its praise was very ably delivered by Rotarian Cath Nash.

Week ending 3rd February, 2017

 On duty this week along with Joe McDowall, we clocked in 27 members and one guest. It was a return to normality after a busy week when a number of Rotarians  performed at a range of Burns celebration across this corner. That included a Glee Club date with Age Concern’ Scotch Nicht in the  KA – fit a rare nicht we had!

President Peter during his customary remarks took the opportunity to remind members of coming events when volunteer helpers will be required, these included the annual Primary School Quiz , Swimming Gala and Run Garioch! We have a busy time ahead of us.

Taking over the meeting at this point was immediate past president David Taylor who introduced our speaker this week, from the Blackburn Rotary Club, it was the one and only Barry Craigmile. His subject Guide Dogs for the Blind, yet another wonderful tale of commitment.  A week or two ago it was all about Mountain Rescue, highlighting the importance of the service and the dedication of teams of unpaid volunteers without which the service might not exist.  Here was another, Barry’s commitment to Guide Dogs is, with his wife, to train young puppies for the job!

Whilst it is not an every day experience, the chances are that you will see a guide dog in action from time to time on our busy streets giving that blind person a freedom that otherwise they would not have. The value of the work done by trainers must not be underestimated, the two words I have used already are worth repeating – their role requires commitment and dedication.

In Barry’s talk, he reminded us that the service started back in 1931 when 4 German Shepherd’s were trained. Two ladies – Muriel Crooke and Rosamund Bond , living in Wallasey Cheshire initiated the movement. Since then almost 30 thousand people have been helped to lead independent lives aided by a Guide Dog – an extraordinary tale!

At one time the Guide Dogs for the Blind were prepared to train puppies that were gifted by well- meaning owners but over the years, there was shown to be too high a failure rate it therefore became clear that the organisation would have to breed their own.  Various breeds have been used including Labradors, Labradoodles, Collies with the first-named being the most successful.  Strange, almost quirky characteristics may lead to some breeds being excluded. For example, collies are not so successful. Why? Have you noticed, I bet you haven’t – collies don’t like to walk slowly, they want to rush everywhere to get the job done. I’m sure many a shepherd would agree with that.  Not quite the temperament required to be a Guide Dog.

The basic obedience training of a young dog is about 14 weeks then it will go for special training to the likes of the Forfar facility, as indeed will the Blind person. Overall the cost is in region of £50,000 per dog and there are currently about 5000 dogs working in the UK. With a dog’s working life being 7 to 9 years, there is a constant need for replacements.

The vote of thanks on behalf of the club was delivered by Sandra Turnbull

Don’t turn a blind eye to requests for support!!

Week ending December 23rd 2016

In the absence of our President Peter Donaldson (excused because of much more important family duties!), our weekly meeting was chaired by President Elect J Stuart Watson. It was, of course our Christmas Party night, attended by members, accompanied by wives/husbands/partners and friends. All but the essential formalities were suspended for the evening. Secretary Jim Hatter proposed the Grace before we were to enjoy another excellent meal presented by the KA team.

Following the loyal toast, Stuart handed over to the MC for the evening J G Ross who introduced the Club’s own bunch of thespian/musician entertainers - The Glee Club. As many will know, our original pianist Linda Davidson with husband Frank has moved on to live in Ballater. Such was the reputation of the Glee Club that we had two applicants for the job and we decided to appoint both! (If you believe that you’ll believe onything) George took the opportunity to welcome Mrs Frances Mitchell who drew the short straw for this gig!

Our fellow members and guests were royally entertained for the next hour with a selection of sing along favourites ending with a couple of Christmas Carols and some seasonal ditties, including White Christmas. Highlights were undoubtedly The Bold Gendarmes from Howard Hughes and David Taylor, Jack Henry reciting the Ian Middleton tale of ‘flechs and half eaten meals grouwin their ain pencillin!’, Mr Hughes again telling the story of the Lispin Leghorn aided and abetted by 3 feathered friends! JS Watson singing Hallelujah and the Fulton/Milroy favourite about Lah-dee-dah, and Mr Ross (jokes apart) with The Auld Meal Mill and of course the Ficherin Four plus One playing a wee selection including Ashokan Farewell, Wild Rose of the Mountain and The Dark Island.

The vote of thanks was proposed by Mike Hay and so for many, the seasonal festivities had begun!

Our next meeting will be on 10th January when the guest speaker will address the subject of Mountain Rescue – we look forward to that.

The members of the Rotary Club of Inverurie wish you all a Very Happy Christmas and Guid New Year.

Week ending December 16th 2016

The Rotary Club of Inverurie meeting on Tuesday night was not particularly well attended which is really not surprising at this time of year. Apart from other seasonal events taking place there seems to be quite a number of people struck down with heavy colds. In fact Philip Clarke who was to be our speaker was so afflicted but I tell you what, his ‘deputy’ was a revelation in his own right. More of that in a tick.

A group of 7 of our Rotarians travelled to Alford to attend the 20th Anniversary Charter Dinner of their Rotary Club on Friday last, just another tradition in the Rotary world. The report on the trip was brief and to the point – good to see some old pals again and the meal was a belter! Well that’s what it is all about, isn’t it?

As I indicated, we had a replacement speaker who was none other than Mr Bert Hosie and his subject was the Grampian Cardiac Rehab Association. As many who have benefited from the services offered will know, this organisation was formed back in 2002 when Grampian Region withdrew their services in this facility.

The organisation runs classes for people at risk of heart problems as well as those who have been treated for heart problems, hence the Rehab reference in the official title.

The GCRA is run by a board of volunteer directors and only have one part time employed person – their success is a testament to the skill and dedication of the team. The movement has expanded to provide classes from Forres to Laurencekirk and from Aberdeen to Aboyne. There are 14 classes in Aberdeen alone and 24 in 17 of the rural areas with a total of 740 members benefiting from the sessions. The expert instructors are trained and re-certified every three years, a device surely to maintain the highest standards of care and support.

How is the programme financed? In fact the board of volunteer directors are extremely assiduous in attracting monies to keep this extremely useful service going. Grant Aid forms a significant part of the funding together with donations and fund raising – this may be an invaluable, essential service to many in the community but at present, that is how it has to be sustained, it is the way of the world nowadays. Remember that when you have a bob or two to spare!

Clients who wish to ‘join the club’ pay a £10 membership fee and £4 per session.

The vote of thanks to Bert was proposed by Mike Barron to warm and sustained applause from the members.

Next week is the Christmas party – we look forward to that!

Week ending December 9th 2016

This week was an in-house session, there were no visitors and after the meal and the regular information slot the meeting was adjourned then a Special General Meeting (SGM) was convened!

Odd really but that is how it has always been! Firstly though we had the usual reports from the committees, the most notable being our St Andrews Night which I reported on last week. The convenor for events and fund-raising Past President JG Ross summed up the evening in his usual ebullient fashion! This is not punted as a fund-raising evening but we did have the usual raffle, prizes being donated by the members. The outcome was significant but the total was enhanced through the generosity of one of our members – having won top prize in another raffle consisting of a meal for two and an overnight stay in Meldrum House, he donated his prize, valued £250, to our St Andrews Night total. As a result, we were able to donate £567 to Children in Need.

Why have an SGM in the middle of the Rotary year? With a need for continuity it is essential that club leaders for the following year, in this case 2017/18, should be identified and if necessary voted in to office. In other words if there are several candidates for the various roles, there has to be time for a mini-election. With only one other item on the agenda, this proved to be a short meeting! No mini-election was necessary in other words, there was one candidate for each position as follows:

President – Past President and Paul Harris Fellow, J. Stuart Watson.

President Elect – Past President Alan J Robertson

Secretary – Paul Harris Fellow Michael C Barron

Treasurer – Past President Charles E Taylor

What does that posh man on the tele say – ‘We are in safe hands’!

The Glee Club are busy (two gigs this week, one in Kemnay and the other in Westhill). A week or two ago we performed to rapturous applause in front of about 30 American Lady Curlers and their hosts in Aberdeen. Our specially chosen programme of classic Scots ditties included Flower of Scotland and Ye cannae shove yer grannie af a bus, together with a solo or two, including The Lispin Leghorn and Jack Henry’s rendition of an Ian Middleton poem in 100% Doric went down well but how much they understood I cannot say, we are however waiting, on tenterhooks, for an invitation to tour – first stop Seattle perhaps!

Week ending December 2nd 2016

Our Scottish history and traditions are dear to most of the folk that I know and long may these feelings and expressions continue to be part of our lives. Mind you when idjits in distant offices try to ban a nation’s tradition of wearing the red poppy on the sports field or anywhere else for that matter, you have to ask yourself – what next?

That’s how I feel this morning, reporting on a Rotary night with a difference  - we celebrated St Andrew’s Night as we do every year around 30th November. A total of 64 members, relatives and friends enjoyed a convivial evening of stories, music and song, superbly organised by the redoubtable JG Ross and his committee.

With a busy evening ahead, President Peter Donaldson started off at a fair lick with updates of members who are or have been unwell – a regular feature, on to the Grace and the meal itself. A week or so ago I mentioned the initiative by the Rotary Club of Huntly with local retailer Rizza to produce a purple-coloured ice cream, proceeds from the sales going to the ‘end polio now’ campaign. We tasted the product at the end of the meal and I have to say ‘it went down well’!  Hopefully people will be encouraged to continue to buy the product to help that important Rotary initiative. 

 Mindful of other priorities, the proceeds of the evening’s raffle will go to Children in Need.

Then it was on with the entertainment provided by Craig Pike and friends, it was just sublime! As you know Craig is part of the Flying Pigs team but is also a Producer of stage shows including the Inverurie Pantomime whilst the day job is -  Lawyer!

We were entertained to a programme of songs remembering the days of the Somme,  American musicals and entertainers like Doris Day, a wee bit of Billy Connolly and of course some  Scotland the What favourites. A bit of  poetry by Flora Garry, beautifully recited by Craig but I didn’t get one word of it! My understanding of Doric is not as good as I thought it was! Our two American guests were equally bemused!

Being an accomplished performer in his own right, who better to give the vote of thanks than Alan Robertson and he did so enthusiastically.

Our lives were never meant to be a constant grind, these evenings of meeting together; ‘newsing’ and relaxing are great therapy.  

Week ending November 25th 2016

The highlight of the Rotary week just gone has to be the first round of the Rotary Young Musician of the Year competition, held in Inverurie Academy last Thursday night. Once again it was superbly organised by Rotarian Stephen Martin with assistance from a group of Rotary colleagues on the night and, of course the co-operation of the school authorities.

It is safe to say, we had a cracking concern.

The skills and versatility of the 15 competitors aged from seven to 16 was of the highest order, indeed the judges, professor Peter Stollery from the University of Aberdeen and our very own Rosie Milne were voluble in their praise of all the competitors.

To add to the unique nature of this competition, before announcing the winners, professor Stollery publicly congratulated each competitor on their performance, highlighting excellence, skill in technique and interpretation, offering words of encouragement to every one and from time to time adding a gentle word of advice though it may only be “don’t forget to smile!”

For some of the competitors, this would have been the first time they had performed in front of an audience, not just parents and friends but to complete strangers!

That is, in itself a daunting task as I know from personal experience!

Added to that, these young people have to perform giving it their best shot!

They all handled that challenge very well and as a result, everyone was a winner.

Rotary President Peter Donaldson presented each performer with a certificate then judge Rosie Milne announced the winners whilst adding her own congratulations and words of encouragement to every competitor.

Here are the winners : -

Primary School winner – pianist Alice Coutts, aged seven.

Most promising musician – violinist (fiddler) Chloe Barber aged 10.

Winning instrumentalist – acoustic guitarist Isaac Bacon aged 16.

Winning vocalist – Millie Chapman.

Overall competition winner – Isaac Bacon.

Isaac and Millie will progress now to the next stage of the competition – the regional finals to be held in Perth on February 25.

One last word of thanks go to the young people who entertained us while the judges were deliberating on the competition.

Celtacad (a group of young fiddlers) set the ball rolling with some fine playing, then we had budding actor Evan Reid who entertained us with a beautiful monologue piece, finally JP and Spencer O’Grady played us out with some fine singing, accompanying themselves on guitar.

A grand nicht wis enjoyed bi a’body!

Week ending November 18th 2016

Before getting in to the nitty gritty of this week’s meeting, let me return briefly to the story of the Shoebox team – you may recall this project whereby gift boxes, the size of a shoebox, with suitable contents for under-privileged children, teenagers and families are sent out by Rotary Clubs across the land.

Our President Peter Donaldson was involved in loading up a consignment for delivery to the collection point, over 100 in the first lot with another 40+ due from Inverurie Academy which will be delivered by Christmas.

Now then to this week’s ongoings and firstly, President Peter welcomed back Rotarian David Keith after a long absence due to ill-health. David received a warm welcome back to the fold by the members present.

There followed a fascinating talk by Donald Paterson on the island of St. Kilda.

Donald developed a passion for the place over a number of years during which he became a regular member of the NTS work parties.

His talk illustrated with numerous pictures, held the members spellbound for 40 minutes – at least!

He started by asserting that they are the St. Kilda Islands with Hirta being by far the largest. The elements that make St. Kilda so fascinating are firstly its isolation – 100 miles out in the Atlantic from the Scottish mainland and 40 miles from the Outer Hebrides, as such St. Kilda has its own climate!

That isolation meant that the evolution of the human population, measured in the late 1800s had reached the same stage as Mainland Scotland did in the 1750s!

The facts and figures just tumbled out – the highest sea cliffs in Western Europe, incredible landscapes and seascapes.

No flat ground to speak of and a quaint piece of advice for new visitors to the island – if you are traversing the land in torrential rain, well protected, the first thing you do is take off your waterproof trousers! Why? If you slip and fall, you may continue to slide on your posterior and you may end up in the ocean! Another danger were the dive-bombing Bronxies!

Diet was a real cracker – how about Gannets for their meat and eggs, Fulmars for essential oils and Puffins for afters!

Sheep were farmed and some cattle too, the latter supplying milk but not meat and being used as beasts of burden.

The islands being owned by the McLeods of Skye, the rent was paid in feathers! Surprisingly, another product which was sold to MacLeod at a fixed price was tweed.

Surprisingly the people of St. Kilda were not fishermen!

Undoubtedly this would be related to the sea conditions in the area coupled with the fact that they could only manipulate and cope with small boats.

The last residents evacuated in the early 1930s and in an answer to a question as to how they fared when they came to the mainland, Donald asserted that this was not a happy piece of social engineering.

A very fulsome vote of thanks was offered by Rotarian Charlie Taylor.

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We meet on Tuesdays at 18.00 for 18.15
Kintore Arms Hotel

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