Free Portland News entry by Keith Barnard Jones/ FPN entry February 2018

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FPN February 2018

I am writing this in the middle of winter – temperature 2 degrees Celsius outside at present - but the snowdrops and daffodils are out so Spring is on its way.

Spring of course means more visitors to the island, and that, in turn means more people putting donations in our Wishing Well at Portland Bill.  The well has now has its spring clean ready for the new season.  Interestingly I have totted up what has been collected since the well was built in 2006, and the total received so far is a massive £4000.   What is even better is that the majority of this has come from visitors to the island.   I am well aware (excuse the pun) that a number of local people also donate regularly to the well, as well as to all our appeals and I have to confess that, without their help we would be lost.  The problem is that, with a limited catchment area, we tend to come back time and time again to the Portlanders for their support. At least with the well we are widening that scope a little and drawing in money from outside the area.

Our thanks to all those who supported our table Top Sale on 10th  in spite of the inclement weather. As announced, the beneficiary of this event is Jackson Sweeting who will be going on the Dorset Expeditionary Society trip to India this summer.  Have a great trip Jackson.  The other Table Tops this year – for your diary - are on 10th. March, 14th. April, 12th. May, 9th. June and 14th. July.   We take a break in August and then return on Saturday15th. September, 13th. October and the 10th. November.   Once again there will be no TT Sale in December.  That is Santa time.

Just to prove that Rotary is not just a fund-raining organisation, the District Young Chef competition was won by a student from Thomas Hardye’s School and, while she was not sponsored by our club directly, she was mentored by a former member of our club.   Many congratulations Olivia, and the best of luck in the Regional Finals in Taunton and, hopefully, the National competition which follows soon afterwards.

Our intrepid explorers, who trekked up to Base Camp on Everest, are getting in training for their next trip to Nepal. This is in November and will give participants the opportunity to assess the projects on which we have helped as, by then, they should have been completed.   To this end they are indulging themselves in walking around Dorset – walks of different distances and varying degrees of difficulty.  Apart from the training, they have a thoroughly good day out in the fresh air, build greater friendships, and see some wonderful scenery.   If you want to see what this group of “missionaries” has achieved in Nepal, just look at the club website.   It is all there, pictures and all.

We have a visit from the President of Rotary International I Great Britain and Ireland – note, ALL Ireland – in April when Denis Spiller will be visiting the Rotary Club of Dorchester Casterbridge.    All the local clubs have been invited to go and listen to him and we are busy getting a party together for what should be a superb evening of entertainment and information gathering.

And, just to finish, there is a lot of information about what the club is doing on our club website.  If anyone is interested, have a look at that and you will be brought up to date.

More next month.

Harassment by Rotarians – No!!!

Over the last few days I have been asked by a number of people where Rotary stands in view of the recent scandals involving some of the other big charities. 

In Rotary International’s 110 year history there has never been such a situation involving Rotary staff as far as I know, and there are two reasons for this.

Yes, we do have a small staff running our UK & Ireland office.  Yes, we have a few more in Zurich running Rotary in Europe and Africa, and we have over 200 workers at our World Headquarters in Chicago.  However these staff do not get sent abroad on assignments – they stay at home and do all the administrative work for the Rotarians.   Some, including interpreters for obvious reasons, may go to International Conventions and other big Conferences, but all these trips are just for a few days and, having seen our staff at work on numerous occasions, they simply would not have the time nor energy to indulge in any extra-curricular activities – they work flat out all the time.

The projects that Rotary International undertakes globally involve just Rotarians.  I and many other Rotarians have travelled around the world working on, helping, and assessing whether projects are being carried out correctly, and ensuring that monies that have been given to us by members of the public are being spent wisely and correctly.   All these assignments only last a day or two.   Even when nurses,  dentists, surgeons or physicians go abroad to work in medical “camps”, or engineers help with large projects, the time scale is measured in days, not months.

Yes, I have been propositioned by a young ”lady” in an hotel in Accra while on my way to dinner, but the king prawns were big and juicy and I was hungry so I declined the offer.  I was also stopped a few years ago when I was walking on the promenade in Colombo by a “gentleman” who wanted to know if I wanted young girls.   When I told him I was not interested, he said he could offer young boys instead if I preferred!   Sadly, this is the way of the world, and one does not have to go abroad to know this is true.  I am not saying that all Rotarians are perfect, but our motto of Service Above Self says it all – we are here to help those in need, not to indulge our weaknesses.

Perhaps I may be allowed to make a final comment on finances.    Most Rotary projects are funded by our charity – the Rotary Foundation.   Historically the money that has been raised has been invested for three years and it is the interest earned on that investment over those three years that funds nearly all our projects.   So our overheads are minimal – what we are given is spent on helping others.  This is why we were voted the Number One Charity in the world last year by the Association of Fund-raising Professionals.

Keith Barnard-Jones