President Nick's September newsletter
A round-up of the events of another busy month
NEWSLETTER 7th September 2020.
As the year rolls on towards autumn, I recall the quote from Paul Harris, “This is a changing world we have to be prepared to change with it... The story of Rotary will have to be written again and again”, which I referred to in my July newsletter. Everything we have done since I became President has been against the backdrop of the COVID pandemic. Against that backdrop our Club's story is being ‘written again and again’.
We, along with everyone else, search for and try to adapt to ‘a new normal’. The Rotary club I joined met weekly, in person, around a meal, had a guest speaker and organised fund-raising events to support various charities. This was the Rotary way and of course, there was and is no problem with that. However, change was somewhat forced upon us with COVID. As with all change, comes a period of transition which can be uncomfortable as familiar and relied on practices are challenged, but out of it emerges growth, new ways of operating and our capacity to adapt is remarkable.
We have recognised and continue to celebrate our Emergency Food Parcel Scheme which ceased at the end of August as all children return to school in September. On Saturday 29th August, I was delighted to present certificates to Richard and James Manning for their kind generosity in providing us with premises at ‘The Shack’ for the duration of the scheme. This was a hive of activity with our goods being delivered and stacked, parcels being picked and packed, then collected and delivered by the drivers. Here, an atmosphere of good humour and productivity prevailed as all of the volunteers went about their business, sure in the knowledge that what they were doing was making a difference and valued by recipients of the parcels – “Service above self”.
These unprecedented times have provided unprecedented opportunities! One of which was an award of a Paul Harris Fellow to a non-Rotarian, Jim Kenyon. It was a pleasure to present the award to Jim who was absolutely fundamental in kick starting the scheme, including approaching the City Council and his business connections for support. It is also thanks to Level Peaks, that a large van was provided each week for Jim to make bulk deliveries of food parcels. A Rotary certificate was also presented to Ginny Spalding, who alongside Jim, dedicated much time and effort into the scheme. I am looking forward to presenting further Rotary certificates to the staff from The School Uniform Shop tomorrow, for their contribution, and later, to Robert Rogers, Lilibeth Rogers and Claire Storr.
With COVID and the resulting parcel scheme, we found a well of volunteering spirit, people wanting to make a contribution. As well as the weekly meetings and particularly the social events, which I know many of us miss, a ‘new normal’ for our Club must be to find a way to capture and build on this spirit of volunteering and to maintain a connection with those who may not be able to attend regular meetings but probably will be able to, and are willing to, to provide their time and effort if asked.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the scheme, Rotarians and non-Rotarians alike.
Next, I would like to welcome our newest members, Sarala and Margaret who were formally inducted into our Club on the 26th August. This was a particularly poignant event as it was the first time we were able to meet in person. A slightly adapted ceremony (to adhere to social distancing rules) took place in the Lady Arbour Garden at the Cathedral. The weather was good, the setting was beautiful and even the Cathedral organ could be heard in the background! Margaret and Sarala were introduced as members in a way that had not been done before, but we will certainly consider it again for future members. It is important to thank Bobbie Heavens for putting the programme together and organising the venue. Once Bobbie contacted the Cathedral things moved quickly!
Finally, thanks to Heather, we have continued to hear from a range of engaging speakers via Zoom. We are looking forward to hopefully meeting up soon and several members are currently exploring opportunities for us to do this and participate in some (COVID secure) social events in the coming weeks. Watch this space…