After some initial concerns over the terms and conditions and whether or not we would be accepted as volunteers, Saturday 13 th April finally arrived and a small but enthusiastic band of Furness Rotarians set off for the wilds of Cartmel to assist in a new and unknown project run by Grange Rotary.
We could not imagine how the day would unfold and we had no idea if or how our objective would or could be achieved. On arrival at Cartmel we were directed by numerous organised Rotary stewards to the car park and then pointed in the direction our destination, where we were joined by the great and the good, District Governor Mary , AGs, various presidents and Rotarians, including a number from Furness Peninsula.
In total 167 Rotarians and friends representing some 34 clubs drawn from 3 districts had come together, the largest gathering of Rotarians on any activity involving Rotary volunteers that I have ever been involved with. Our mission was to pack 60,000 meals in the day on behalf of "Rise against Hunger”, a global charity with Rotary origins, which would then be used to eradicate hunger and for disaster relief.
Registration and the issue of a hair net was the first order of the day followed by a cup of tea along with some Rotary networking (chit chat) with some like minded individuals helped to settle us and we were ready to begin.
We were ushered into the great hall to be faced with tables laid out with equipment and containers of food. One side of the room consisted of 9 tables with 12 places at each. This was the filling area, and the other side of the room was set out for approx 50 people and was the weighing sealing and packing area.
After a brief welcome from the President of Grange Rotary , the Mayor of Grange and the European Director of the “Rise against Hunger” charity, who enthusiastically thanked and welcomed us. He also introduced us to the American President of the charity, a fellow Rotarian and former District Governor. This was followed by a brief explanation of how to do the various tasks. It was then down to business.
The time was just after 10.20, the gong sounded and the mayhem and madness began.
Some of Furness Rotary were "fillers," some were on "weighing and sealing duties or packing and lifting " and I was designated a "sustainer " which meant I had to empty large bags of rice , maize or freeze dried granular vegetable mix into the containers that the " fillers " were using to fill the meal bags. These were then handed over to be weighed, sealed and packed, and the room was filled with loud music. Everywhere I looked all I could were happy smiling faces concentrating on the job in hand. Suddenly the gong sounded and it was announced that the first 2000 meals had been packed.
12 minutes had elapsed , the smiles got bigger the music got even louder and everybody started to relax and the work pace increased to a new level ,the gong sounded again , 7 minutes had passed and another 2000 meals had been packed, this incredible momentum continued with 2000 meals being packed every 5-6 minutes , the final gong of the morning sounded at 11.40, and it was announced to great cheering that through our efforts 32400 meals had been packed, job well done, pats on the back all round, and a realisation that we had done our bit and the great experience was over.
We all expressed our delight at our achievements, words such as amazing , incredible , fantastic , unbelievable , and humbling filled the air , and we were all able to reflect on the days achievements Another team of approx 140 people took over our places for the afternoon session and they managed to take the day's total of meals packed up to the target figure of 60000 .A big thank you to everybody involved
Reported by Rtn Peter Garwood PHF, Com Ser RC of Furness.
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