We’ve made a difference in a remote part of Nepal where, in a project over several years, we’ve installed internet provision and helped to introduce Information Technology teaching in schools. We certainly made a difference to forty Nepalese children and their teachers when we brought them to Harrogate for two weeks. While here they showcased their national music and dance and sang with children from fourteen local schools in a specially-commissioned ‘Kids Aloud’ concert at Harrogate’s prestigious Royal Hall. We’ve helped to make a difference together with world-wide Rotary and the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation by virtually eradicating polio. Now it’s endemic in only two countries. We buy ShelterBoxes every year to make a difference to impoverished people across the world beset by national disasters such as floods or earthquakes.
We make a difference closer to home as well. We support a host of local charities including Yorkshire Air Ambulance, Dementia Forward, the Harrogate Homeless Project, and Young Carers. We raise money by various means including biennial Kids Aloud concerts, a Christmas Grotto at our local Asda Superstore, an annual golf tournament and a wishing well in Harrogate’s Valley Gardens. But it’s not all about money. We focus on young people by organising an annual Technology Tournament for local schools and by sending a sixth-former on a week’s leadership course and we remember the past by arranging each November a Remembrance Service at Harrogate’s Stonefall War Graves Cemetery.
And sometimes it’s just about us, about enjoying each other’s company, about making a difference to our own lives. We support each other in difficult times but we know how to enjoy ourselves as well. Apart from our regular meetings at Harrogate’s Crown Hotel, we have groups who play golf, cycle, walk in the glorious Yorkshire Dales – and we even have our own book club.
The Rotary motto is ‘Service Above Self’ which means we exist to help others. It’s rewarding – it’s also lively, it’s friendly and it’s fun – and it really does make a difference to so many people in so many ways.