There was a mood of optimism at the beginning of this Rotary year given that there was a possibility of being able to resume face-to-face meetings from the start (July 2020). But it was not to be, two more lockdowns lay ahead and Government Restrictions would remain in place for the entire year. The Covid-19 mass vaccination programme began in December and many local Rotarians volunteered to assist at Swindon’s vaccination centre at Steam. By July 2021 some 75% of the UK’s adult population had been inoculated and all restrictions in England were lifted.
The difficult job of leading the Club through a year without any in-person meetings or fund-raising events fell to Kathy Hobson, a member of just three and a half years standing. Meetings were held on Zoom, approximately once a fortnight. One advantage of having them online was that speakers from such faraway places as Cumbria, Durham, Lancashire, Solihull and Bristol could be invited to speak to us without any travelling involved.
Thanks to members’ efforts and generosity some funds were raised. A second Lockdown Fund was organised and the entire proceeds of £1625 were donated to Prospect Hospice. Phil Matthews responded to the Youth Adventure Trust’s Virtual Resilience Challenge: by running and cycling 100 miles he raised £600 for the Trust. Terry Williams sold the Christmas trees and daffodils grown on his land and raised £1295 and £660 respectively. The members’ 200 Club brought in £1027 and President Kathy collected £215 in the Purple 4 Polio Crocuses campaign. Four online quizzes for members and partners were organised and entry fees for one of them brought in £115. £545 was donated by members in lieu of sending Christmas cards to each other. Other charities supported were Wiltshire Search & Rescue (£2500), TWIGS (£1250) and Open Door (£750).
During the year Rotary International was proud to announce that the whole continent of Africa was now officially wild polio free. This milestone was the result of decades of effort by Rotary clubs and volunteers around the world, fundraising and campaigning ever since Rotary pledged to rid the world of polio some 30 years ago. Over the years, our Rotary Club has played its part in the End Polio Now campaign by organising fundraising events and awareness raising activities such as the purple crocus planting.
Government restrictions prevented any social events for members and partners from taking place until the very last week of the year when it was possible to have a pub meal together in the garden of the Red Lion in Castle Eaton.
In 2021 the Rotary Club of Swindon Thamesdown announced that it would be closing down on 30th June and it requested talks with Swindon North about a possible merger. Details between the two clubs were discussed and agreed, amongst which was a proposal to change the name of our club going forward. In future we would be the Rotary Club of Swindon North & Thamesdown.
This very unusual year had prevented President Kathy from carrying out almost all her objectives and so, in a departure from the normal practice, approval was given for her to continue in office for another year.
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