Last year, the Covid restrictions caused the cancellation of the ever-popular Rotary Christmas Tree Festival, but planning was resumed, hesitantly, once again in September in the hope that the 2021 Festival would be possible. A new venue was needed as well, since St. Peter's was closed for major work to be carried out, but we were grateful that St. Gregory's church was made available. A smaller church meant fewer trees, but over 3,000 people came along and enjoyed the spectacle.
We were also able to contribute to the start of Christmas in Sudbury by providing an opportunity for youngsters to come and meet Santa once again, and on a cold November evening, many did.
Congratulations to Christine Boatwright, who has been honoured by Rotary International in Great Britain & Ireland with a prestigious Community Champion award after being nominated by Sudbury Rotary Club for her work in setting up and offering counselling in the Kernos Centre. The award recognises ‘unsung heroes’, whose volunteering efforts have had a huge impact on people’s lives.
A novel idea was tried during the dark days of ‘lock-down’ with a virtual dog show. The club is very grateful to Martin Brocklebank, creator of the Rotary e-Club, for creating a website to allow participants to enter. Despite widespread advertising, the competition failed to generate a lot of interest and only 36 entries were submitted into the various classes. The event has generated some much needed income in support of the President’s nominated charities. We would like to thank all those who took part.
Here are some of the items bought by the Sudbury Community Depot at the Christopher Centre for the disadvantaged citizens of Sudbury using money that was recently donated by members of the Sudbury Rotary Club.
Sudbury Community Depot provides household goods and furniture for those moving from homelessness into accommodation. It also provides for those fleeing from domestic violence and for families struggling to make ends meet. It always adds a starter pack of cleaning materials and a basic larder to get folk started. Rotary has supported the Depot from the beginning and it is so grateful for the generosity of Rotary's members.
It is with great regret that we will not be able to stage the annual Rotary Christmas Tree Festival in St. Peters this year due to the limitations imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Plans were under way to present the festival with a reduced number of trees while following Government restrictions and rules, but the November ‘lock-down’ and the liklihood of further restrictions in December has made this impossible.
Members of the Club enjoyed meeting together recently for the first time in many months to plant another 1,000 purple crocus. We were joined on the grass alongside Croft Road and Gregory Street by our local MP James Cartlidge and Sudbury Town Clerk Ciaran Griffin, who helped with the planting. For a more detailed account and for more pictures, take a look at our November Newsletter.
By next Spring you will see over 5,000 purple crocus in a variety of locations, including the entrances to the town, in Siam Gardens, at the railway station and the Health Centre. They will also be coming up in the grounds of our local schools and we hope they will not only provide a colourful environment but will also raise awareness of Rotary’s on-going campaign to eradicate polio.
Rotary Clubs world-wide have joined in the Rotary ‘Purple-4-Polio’ campaign to eradicate polio with great success as there are now only two countries where polio is still evident. Use the link above to find out more about the project.
Our President, a botanical artist, is raising funds to continue the good work by offering beautifully illustrated cards for sale featuring a Crocus Ruby Giant artwork - the colour of the crocus is similar to the colour of the dye into which a child’s finger is dipped to show that they have been vaccinated. You can help defeat polio and help us to support this venture by ordering the cards. Find out more and order the cards.
One of the major features of Sudbury Rotary Club is the opportunity to meet with fellow Rotarians and enjoy a social get-together, which the Covid restrictions have stopped. With each month passing though, there is a little more light at the end of the tunnel, and the easing of restrictions in July has been welcomed with a little normality returning to our lives.
The planned garden picnic at Phillip Richardson’s home was something we were all looking forward to as it has been so long since we were able to meet face to face. Thankfully, the weather held up and we enjoyed a delightful afternoon. Our thanks to Phillip for making this possible.
Although some of the club’s activities have had to be abandoned, a number of the Rotarians have found a way to get together on a Monday lunchtime via a weekly on-line meeting, with talks by a number of Rotarians, quizzes and other interactions.
The problems created by ‘furloughing’ many jobs in Sudbury has caused considerable hardship to many residents and so the club has worked with the local Citizen's Advice Bureau, which is one of the last President’s Charities, to provide food vouchers to clients genuinely in need. One recipient commented "I just want to say thank you so much for the Sainsbury's gift voucher. It was lovely of you to think of me and my child. Thank you. Really touched me.”
The work of the club continues despite the problems
Father Christmas had a long queue of youngsters waiting to see him and his elves at the switch on of Sudbury’s Christmas Lights before Christmas. Unfortunately we were unable to find a new home for his grotto and so this was his only visit to Sudbury.
Two weeks later, our annual Rotary Christmas Tree Festival was again held in St. Peter’s and this year, for the first time, a total of 100 trees were on display. The Church looked magical, with the decorated trees all individually dressed and lit. The event raised over £5,200 to support our Presidents’ Charities.
The environmental group of Sudbury Rotary Club contributed to the SVEN Fun Day by providing a ‘Pop Up’ painting table where children could paint a picture about nature.
This proved to be a great success and the table was constantly busy. Children eagerly queued for the chance to copy some great photos of flowers, butterflies and bees although many simply wanted to just paint and ‘do their own thing’. The paintings were displayed and hung in the gazebo and a team of club members including some from the newly formed Rotary Evening Group were kept busy providing paper and paints and making sure everyone had a chance - it was like a conveyor belt! We estimated that over a hundred children painted a picture and in the end we ran out of paints and paper. Definitely a successful day full of happy children. See a gallery of photos from the event.
Huw Edwards, Broadcaster and Lead Presenter for BBC News, was guest speaker at Sudbury Rotary Club's annual Charter Night dinner held at The Secret Garden Restaurant in Sudbury during April. Fifty guests were present at the birthday dinner – celebrating 69 years of Rotary in Sudbury and they were fascinated to know how the Club had managed to book Huw to be their guest speaker. Huw surprised the guests by addressing us as “Fellow Rotarians” - not only is he a Rotarian but he has also been awarded the major accolade in Rotary, a Paul Harris Fellowship.
Club President Tony Platt said “Huw ensured that Charter Night was a very enjoyable and successful evening, and one which will be talked about and remembered for a long time".
Sudbury Rotary Club welcomed another 754 Year-6 youngsters from 28 local schools during a week towards the end of March to its twentieth Crucial Crew, bringing the overall total of youngsters to around 32,000 since the activity was launched 20 years ago. Unlike other Crucial Crews in Suffolk, which are organised by the various District Councils, Sudbury Crucial Crew is funded, organised and run totally by Sudbury Rotary Club. This year saw the introduction of two new scenarios covering Making Friends and Caring for the Environment.
A record number of 98 decorated trees resulted in the 2018 Rotary Christmas Tree Festival being the biggest ever staged.
It is anticipated that around £4,500 will have been raised to support the President’s chosen charities this year – The Befriending Scheme, East Anglian Air Ambulance and The Richmond Fellowship.
A very tall “Tree of Memories” under the chancel arch gave visitors who wished an opportunity to leave a message of love and remembrance for those no longer with us, and more messages than ever were hung on the tree during the festival. The tree was sponsored by Co-operative Funeral Services.
Santa and his elves were also busy. Based in his grotto in Sudbury Library, Santa was visited by many children. All money donated will be added to the President’s charity fund.
As part of our support for schoolchildren, Sudbury Rotary Club has been distributing Usborne Illustrated Dictionaries to local primary schools. This year we have donated 256 copies of the dictionaries among schools in Sudbury and nearby villages. This is a tradition for us and we have previously given dictionaries to a number of schools in the Sudbury area.
President Lesley Ford-Platt, and President-elect Tony visited both Pot Kiln and St Gregory Primary Schools to present the dictionaries at their Celebration Assemblies. It was good to see how quickly children were looking through the new books and finding words and illustrations to inspire them in their learning.
Sudbury Rotary Club has contributed towards the costs of creating a Reflective Garden, which offers a space for quiet reflection for pupils of the school. Pupils contributed their ideas towards the design and have grown a number of plants to surround the garden. It offers a very peaceful space, sheltered by a giant walnut tree, alongside the main playground. An outdoor classroom will be added in a space beyond the garden later this year. Sudbury Rotary's support of the scheme is commemorated on a plaque near the entrance.
Our work in Youth and Environment has been recognised nationally with the Rodney Huggins Award. This is the first time a national award has been given to Sudbury Rotary Club in its 67 year history and follows the Rotary District 1080 Gold Environment Award in 2016.
Past President Gill Norton received the trophy on behalf of the club from Rotary International vice-President Jennifer Jones at the Rotary GB&I Conference in Manchester.
more Winners of the virtual Dog Show.
more Help support the Purple-4- Polio project by buying beautifully illustrated cards.
more The Christmas Tree Festival and Santa's visit to Sudbury
more Photographs from the event