President Brian - Valedictory Address

A look back on the Rotary Year 2019-2020
Who could have predicted how it would have ended?



Now, just before I begin, Robert assures me that he has allowed sufficient time for this Valedictory, and we should be finished by 11.00 – just like Ken Dodd. Unfortunately unlike Ken Dodd, we cannot lock the doors.

Who could have predicted how the Rotary year 2019/20 would have ended?

The year began quite normally, with Past President John handing over the baton of presidency to me last June.

We started off softly after completing a rotary ride in June, and it took us until the start of the new Rotary year to dry out. In July we were able to enjoy a great Presidents BBQ at Fraser and Yvonne Greenwood’s house. We were made most welcome and our usual team of volunteer BBQ cooks and Brewers did us proud – well up to the usual standards – very well done.  The venue was immediately booked for this year.  This is the sort of event which pulls people together, so that they can work together when called upon to do so. No one is a stranger, but it has been said that some are strange – I leave you to judge.

We have enjoyed a full and varied program of events for members to participate in over the year namely:-

Lawn bowls
Japanese Garden Visits at Dollar
Ten pin Bowling
A night at the Alhambra for “The Nutcracker suite”
A Superb Xmas Festive night
A Burns Lite night

The always present Gavel Challenge – different format and some questionable arithmetic left us unable to progress to the next round

And of course a visit to an Ice Hockey Match (my particular passion) – where the rules are difficult to understand – the game moves fast, and you very often don’t know who’s done what to whom and by how much. Nevertheless all who went along did enjoy themselves.

So a great and varied program organised by Robin and his team with good Club participation.

Our youth program was again successfully led by Aileen. We were able to participate in the young writer competition and the young photographer, with commendations both at local level and national level – so very well done. The primary school Quiz again was a highly successful event, with great Club participation. This short mention does not do justice to all the hard work put in by Aileen and her team – so again very well done. This year’s program was unfortunately cut short by events.

Our fund raising committee has had to work hard this year as it is becoming more and more difficult to try and get the money together to support our various projects to benefit communities both at home and abroad.

We were able to run our Ultimate Quiz at East End Park and a music night in Crossford. We also just managed to run our Race night before the country went in to lockdown. Rotary suppers were ongoing before having to also stop abruptly, however the monthly draw quietly continued and made a welcome contribution to our funds. So many thanks to our Fund raising committee lead by Robert North, in what was a challenging year.

In summary our treasurer has reported that altogether, and remarkably, we raised around £11,000+, which has enabled us to support various projects and charitable entities. Monies have arrived from various sources, including “easy fund raising”, the Swimarathon, where we get half the sponsorship, gift aid, and even down to the Gala bucket collection which however this year only managed £93 mainly due to the weather and cancelled events.

Looking further afield our International team led by Donald have continued their very successful work in Cambodia in getting young people into work, by supporting English language teaching facilities and courses.  This is proving challenging but is having success and there is slow but steady progress in these difficult times. We must never underestimate the challenges in working in that part of the world. Well done to Donald and Alex in their efforts. The International team are also vigilant to natural disasters and are always ready to support aid programs when required, in particular by the purchase of shelter boxes.

Closer to home, Neil’s team, during the first half of the Rotary Year, worked hard on continuing the excellent work of the previous Committee in trying to make the Club as visible as possible within our local Community. To continue, the remainder of this summing up, is basically Neil’s report to the AGM, which is a superb account of the community service activity.

Assistance was provided to the 62nd Fife Scout Group, a local school pupil Erin Hodgson for her year with Project Trust India and the Fife Festival of Music.  In addition, the laying of Poppy Wreaths at 4 Remembrance Day ceremonies was repeated along with assistance with the Poppy Scotland appeal and once again we supported the Salvation Army Christmas Toy appeal.  Support was given to the Culross Community Garden project, following a very enjoyable and informative visit to the Garden, and very good feedback was received from the volunteers involved in the project.  A Dementia Friends session was held in Crossford Village Hall in March, following a talk on the subject at one of our weekly meetings. 

Like all avenues of Rotary service and organisations worldwide, the current and ongoing Covid 19 crisis has had a major and in just a short time a scarcely believable effect on Community and Vocational service during the latter part of this Rotary Year. 

The Covid 19 crisis has put paid to any involvement this year in local Galas, Fetes and Kids Out, but we are currently providing assistance to the Valleyfield Pantry Club and the Salvation Army while actively pursuing other local causes that we may be able to support eg the shield project and a Pantry Club in Blairhall.

 Many thanks to everyone who has helped with the Community and Vocational work this year, which is basically the whole Club, but with particular thanks to fellow Committee Members Ewan, Ken Cowe, Barry, Helen and Alan.

 Over the year our membership remained static at 37 until very recently with a rush of one. This raised us up to 38 and we were able to welcome Janice Sinclair in to our Club. We definitely need more lady members.  More recently personal pressure nearly saw us lose John Stirling, however it is very pleasing to note that John was persuaded to remain as an honorary member, and so a warm welcome to John as our newest honorary member.

Mark Todd has been able to complete a Club survey, and the results may help to guide us in shaping the Club for the future. Thanks for the effort you put in to this survey, Mark, including your analysis of the results – plenty to ponder over and debate going forward.

The Club’s outward looking profile has been very well served by Roger and Douglas, who have submitted articles and pictures to both press, including village publications, and to District. These inputs are vital in keeping The Rotary Club of west Fife on the map. Many thanks on behalf of the Club. And a quick word of thanks to Ewan, who quietly takes pictures of key events and slides them into the portfolio, for Club use.

The speaker’s team led by Morag have done a great job with a superb range of speakers. This is not an easy job and gets more and more difficult as individuals struggle to come up with new and refreshing speakers. However this current crisis has opened up new opportunities, which take advantage of technologies like Zoom. A whole new world of speakers is out there. Well done to Morag and her team for their efforts this past year.

Unfortunately the Lockdown has put paid to a number of activities such as outside visits, Rotary Ride for Prostate Cancer, the early summer Galas in Crossford and Cairneyhill and very unfortunately, Kid’s Out. Other casualties are, RYLA camps, Area Primary School quiz, the Kingsgate display and the Technology challenge. We have been unable to hold our Am Am golf, and a planned ceilidh with the Crossford Music Group has been put on hold.

This summer’s President’s BBQ is off and our Planned Charter Dinner has been put back till September, and even then, it may have to be further postponed. Hopefully some of this year’s cancellations, can proceed in the next rotary year under Roger’s leadership.

I would like to thank the members who made up the club council, for their input and hard work. The submitting of reports prior to council meeting meant that meetings were a bit slicker and did not drag on. It is important that these meeting are as brief as possible, but without being ineffective. When members are working full time, it is important that we respect their time. And just in passing a special mention of Stuart, whose knowledge of all things compliant, just keeps us reassured and right. Thanks Stuart.

I would especially like to thank our treasurer, Martin, for keeping us right, on all things financial and for the efficient way he deals with the Club’s money.  On a more personal note, I do hope that both you and Jane can finally get that knot tied successfully. Always remember that marriage is an institution, and it’s not very easy to get out of an institution.  Martin is not only our treasurer, but acts as primary school quizmaster, and often as our MC at other events – he’s good at it.  Martin also plays a pivotal role in the deployment of the defibrillators which we have supported and which are scattered around our local area. Well done Martin.

You’ll be glad to know that there’s not a lot to go now.

I’d like to thank our Secretary, for keeping me right, providing the weekly agenda, getting meeting minutes out most efficiently and latterly for being part of the Zoom hosting team along with Douglas and Martin. This has been quite a learning curve in the use of Zoom, but we’re all getting a little better. Robert’s steady manner, and the efficient way he produces notes and other notices are a great help, and on balance it makes it much easier to put up with the constant stream of poor jokes. Thanks from me and on behalf of the Club for a job well done.

Now last but by no means least – Roger from St Albans – I just had to get it in! Would you believe that St Albans was mentioned twice on the radio this afternoon, but unfortunately only for some traffic chaos in the area.

Roger has been a great support over the year, and especially in dealing with the Hotel and the seemingly never ending complaints and the variable service. Does anyone remember the macaroni soup which was meant to have cheese in it and a never ending supply of rocket to name but a couple. The Covid crisis has afforded a welcome respite, but no doubt this particularly thorny issue and others will be a challenge for you in your coming year. Let me thank you for your support and wish you every success in your year which is starting out as challenging as this year is finishing, and I also hope your printer gets well soon.  I need hardly add that I will give you all the support I can.

The way this Rotary year has ended is unprecedented, with the Covid crisis changing all of our lives in a way that we could not have imagined 12 months ago. New challenges await us and it looks like the effects of this crisis will be with us for some years to come.  So never waste a good crisis – stop briefly, consider, make a plan and rise to the challenges ahead – make haste slowly.



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