Weekly Reports 2017

Week commencing 4th December 2017

This week’s meeting included a Special General Meeting to discuss the election of office bearers for the season 2018/19!  Needless to say, whilst it highlights the nature of our organisation with regard to forward and strategic planning, the reaction of some members (me included) was basically, wait a minute, why the big rush?  More importantly, the meeting was presented with the Financial Report for the period ended 30 June 2017. After discussion, the report was approved  by the membership with a round of applause to Treasurer Charlie Taylor and  auditor Graham McWilliam for a job well done.

Needless to say, the sourcing of funds was high on the interest list.  To be able to do what we do we must have money-raising ploys like for example, the Collection Cans which you see in retail establishments around the town. By collecting a few coppers at a time, in the year in question we collected just over £700 – given  gratuitously by the shoppers in the town who are due our warmest thanks as are the retailers who cooperate with us so willingly.  All of it used to help others less fortunate or indeed to fund schemes designed to improve opportunities for young people at home and abroad. The Glee Club was formed to entertain groups around the area, Rest Homes, Residential Homes, Old Folks Clubs and the like. We never ask for a penny- we regard it as providing a social service BUT, in appreciation of our efforts, inevitably the organisation will mark their thanks by offering a gift.  In the year in question, that amounted to over £800. Understandably the members of the group are ‘chuffed’ by the response, they themselves receiving no recompense for travelling expenses or indeed fish suppers on the way home!  This all comes under the Rotarian banner ‘Service above Self’. In danger of being accused of ‘blowing trumpets’, I must add that Treasurer Charlie reported that since they were formed the Glee Clubbers have raised over £15,000 for charitable causes – three cheers for the Loons and Quines.

A few years ago, our man George Ross put a notice up in the Highclere Centre inviting people to contribute books which were surplus to requirements. They would then be made available to the public for a small donation to Rotary Funds.  In the year in question, nearly £500 was raised to aid Rotary work!  Just one more example of how, through their generosity the people in town are helping us to help others.

To end on a salutary note, if we are to continue with our work, we do need to recruit  some younger people with that community spirit which drives us!  

Week commencing 27th November 2017

We celebrate the birth of our patron Saint Andrew on 30th November and on Tuesday evening, the Rotary Club of Inverurie did justice to the occasion. Invited to wear ‘a wee bit of tartan’, many responded willingly.  Sixty members, with wives, partners and guests, after an excellent meal, sat back to be entertained but first with a minimum of formality, President Stuart Watson presented two Paul Harris Fellowship (PHF) medals, the highest award that Rotary can give to anyone for service to the club and importantly, the wider community.

Firstly, the award was made to Fiona Cooper from Kintore, I covered that award several weeks ago. Remember? Among a host of other projects, Fiona is hugely involved in the Food Bank initiative. She was nominated for the award by Rotarian and Past President John Nicol who coincidentally was also awarded a PHF medal for a legacy of work on Rotary projects in which he was involved. One of the most notable being the assistance rendered to the Pitscurry Project, involving many hours of hard graft.  Listed amongst the projects in which John was involved was the re- decoration of a flat for an elderly lady! The bold boy invited wife Catherine to help as time was running out to get the job finished! Well done gal! It is called teamwork at which Rotary excels.

After a short interval, Rotarian Howard Hughes took over as MC firstly by introducing The Twa Quines frae Kemnay - Evie & Ethel (in real life Ishbel Imrie and Muriel Gration)  dressed up as ‘cleaning ladies’ with all their gear - buckets, dusters and mops, they entertained us for  20 minutes and more with songs, poems and  gossip!  The audience, many of whom had not been entertained by the ladies before, were in fits of laughter from beginning to end.

In contrast, our speaker was local loon and well-known broadcaster Mark Stephen who gave us a thought-provoking dissertation on St. Andrew, including the story of how our national flag came about!   You could have heard a pin drop! Honestly, you never know what you are going to get from Mark. People who listen to his Saturday morning programme on Radio Scotland will know how versatile he is – one moment in light-hearted banter about how the breakfast is coming along, (being cooked on a camping stove outside the BBC studios in Aberdeen as they broadcast) and next, dealing with some serious issue relating to the health of trees in our countryside

Like the twa quines before him, Mark received a very hearty round of applause

Before closing the evening’s event, President Stuart was in his element as he thanked Howard and the performers for a superb evening.  He referred back to Evie & Ethel and one of their topics, never to be forgotten – about the ozone layer.  They called it the Parazone Layer! 

Week commencing 20th November 2017

Apart from our speaker’s contribution, this week’s meeting turned out to be a bit of navel gazing. Conventionally this is ‘information week’, in other words, the week after the Club Council has deliberated. It is the week when the heid bummers explain themselves and the members hold them to account!  The meeting was chaired by Vice President Alan Robertson, President Stuart being smitten with the flu. We wish him a speedy recovery.

But first, to our speaker, a member of the club – Kay Diack, who gave us a very illuminating ‘my job’ talk as a Locality/Service Manager, Aberdeen City Council.  This infers that Kay is one of a number who operate under the banner ‘Shaping Aberdeen’, the remit being driven by professionalism, customer focus, respect, communications, future focussed, engagement and creative thinking! Quite something to live up to!

Kay’s team of 18, work on regeneration projects, relationships with the local community in the area which includes the Haudagin Roundabout re-structuring, basically working with everyone included in the wider surrounding area -  services like transport, green spaces, policing, access to and availability of the range and balance of retail outlets. They work closely with and for all age groups in the community. In attempting to create a more cohesive and content society they have a motto that says it all - One people/One place/One ethos/One technology!

That’s a very brief interpretation of how one of our municipal authorities work nowadays in an ever more complicated world! Robert Maitland offered our thanks to Kay.

The brevity of our speaker’s talk was occasioned by the need to spend a bit time on company business’! The regular stuff was summarily dealt with in order to review the ‘Visioning Experience’.  Way back in January, a wheen of us spent a Sunday afternoon discussing a whole set of new ideas to combat falling membership by first analysing the reasons for the fall and secondly what we should try to do about it. The ensuing report put together by Rotarian Jim Sommerville was circulated to other clubs and widely acclaimed.  It would be wrong to say we are in a crisis situation but the fact is – not a lot has happened since January BUT, an idea has been propounded that might well prove to be a winner and that is what absorbed the members on Tuesday night.

To summarise, younger people male and female with aspirations to serve the community and admire the Rotary principle of ‘Service above Self’ are not likely to join us because the organisation is thought to be old-fashioned, too formalised, too male dominated and expensive! Some of that is true.

The current option being discussed is the formation of Satellite Clubs, run on much less regulated lines but affiliated to the local Rotary Club and guided/advised by a serving Rotarian on matters like projects to support. The hope being that after a year or two some may join the Rotary Club itself which in the meantime is evolving to suit modern life styles but as one old geezer was heard to mutter ‘Aye min but evolution taks an afa lang time’!

Week commencing 13th November

From time to time the character and mood of our Rotary Meetings changes and there is nothing subtle about it – this week, in sombre mood, we took time from the outset to mourn the passing of our friend and colleague of so many years - John Blevins.

President Stuart Watson started the meeting with a Rotarian eulogy, in other words concentrating on John’s contribution to our club and the work we do at home and abroad. John joined the club in 1989 and went on to fulfil a range of roles including a term as Club President.  He also became involved in the Rotaract movement which encourages  young people to participate in Rotarian projects, this included organising and leading a trip to South Africa. John was a founder member of the Glee Club, a reflection of his lighter side, his poems were hilarious and in this context, some will remember his contribution to the annual town Christmas pantomimes! In 2008 John was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship in recognition of his contribution to Rotary aims and objectives. To close, President Stuart invited members and visitors to stand and to share a minute’s silence.

We had three guests at our meeting, all from Elgin. Firstly, there was a welcome return to Inverurie by Past President of the Elgin Club Bill Duncan and then co-incidentally President Stuart introduced our Principal Guest of the evening, District 1010 Governor Graeme Archibald who happens to be a member of the Elgin Club.  Graeme was accompanied by his wife Carol and whilst Graeme was a top table guest (cos he had a message to deliver!), Carol was warmly welcomed into the body of the kirk!

Before coming to Inverurie, Graeme had obviously done his homework because, as we all know, when the heidie addresses the school, he/she does the congratulatory bit first, quoting a few laudable performance statistics! It was not all negative and there was a serious message behind the figures. For instance, during the floods which affected our area 2 years ago, it has been calculated that 70,000 Rotarian hours were devoted to the recovery efforts.  In other words, publicity may be explicit when it comes to funds raised with pictures galore of the physical help given but how about highlighting the physical hours of commitment to helping others? In other words, as Graeme came to his main theme which was about falling numbers, his point was - to be seen to be a force for good in communities – WE DON’T SELL ourselves well enough! Fortunately, there are already moves afoot to redress the situation. Watch this space!

Turning to the international scene Graeme once again highlighted the End Polio Now project, started by Rotary and nowadays backed by the Gates Foundation. It would be wrong to say that the problem has been eradicated but we are getting very close.

Another cracking scheme is beginning to catch on, coming from head office I believe, and it relates to sustainability – of the planet!  The edict declares that the Rotary Movement should aim to plant a tree for every member of a Rotary club across the globe! That would be 1.2 million!  I have no doubt it will happen and from a selfish point of view, that will be good news for the growers who supply the trees but much more importantly it has to be good news for all of us.

District Governor Graeme was warmly thanked by President Stuart.

It was quite a night.

Week commencing 6th November

Quite recently our President Stuart Watson and Secretary Mike Barron made a  trip to Kintore with a special job on hand!   To present a Paul Harris Fellowship to a young Mum who works tirelessly to improve the lives of many in the community. Let me explain, Paul Harris was the Founder of Rotary.  The top award the movement can award for service above self is the PHF – a Paul Harris Fellowship. The recipient need not be a Rotarian  - the citation can apply to anyone deemed worthy of the honour.

With the endorsement of the members of the Kintore & Kemnay Club, Stuart and Mike knocked on the door of Fiona Cooper, in Ladywell Rd, Kintore to present her with a Paul Harris Fellowship in recognition of her efforts in and on behalf of the local community . To say Fiona was gob-smacked would be an understatement. “Why me? I just did what I felt was necessary.” The answer was just as basic “Because your voluntary efforts to help people in need  merits  recognition”.

The citation says .

“Fiona you have had a very active life in the community for a number of years, initially in support of activities in which your daughter was involved. You were Rainbow Guider for 10 years and built up the group which continues to flourish. In addition, for 10 years  you were heavily involved in supporting the Evolution School of Dancing. However, it is with recent events that you have become better known throughout the wider community as the Aberdeenshire North Foodbank Inverurie Centre Coordinator. This position necessitates that you ensure the foodbank is working correctly, that there are volunteers in place to staff the foodbank, that there is liaison between the warehouse, where donations of food are stored, and the availability of food at the collection centre in Inverurie. You are also the organiser of appeals, e.g. the Tesco collections, attending meetings with other organisations in your capacity as coordinator.

Your involvement in the above led  to you being  one of the initiators of the Inverurie and Garioch Flood Support Group which did sterling work during and after the flooding in early 2016.

This work is still ongoing locally and, on a national basis, you attend meetings of the Scottish Flood Forum. Recently you have been appointed secretary of Kintore Community Council. You are the current secretary of The Bothie, a charity  which was set up to provide a facility for young adults in Kintore to give them a place where they could go and meet socially, and to get them involved in the community. This is now expanding to include older members of the community. In addition to the above voluntary work, you are a very caring neighbour and friend to many”.

How’s that, eh? Congratulations , dear lady.

Week commencing 30th October

This week’s meeting landed on the fifth Tuesday of the month – an excuse for a party? Well not quite but customarily in the months of the year with a fifth Tuesday , partners are invited to join the members for the evening, just one of the traditions which we have adopted from square one!

It proved to be rather special because firstly, we had some trophies to hand out for the annual golf competition! Presenting the prizes was birthday lady Janet Duguid, herself one of our leading players. This year top lady was Doreen Donaldson and top man was Joe McDowall with Mike Hay collecting the runners-up prize. Previous to that, Janet herself received a Birthday cake which we all shared!  A real Rotary family touch!

Believe me that was all a precursor to a terrific presentation by Andy Hall from Stonehaven, a Teacher, Author and Photographer out of the top drawer. He took us on a magical photographic journey, the subject of his seventh book. The title - Aberdeenshire – A New Perspective.  It was a narrative accompanied by photographs  of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, ending with a sort résumé with music from Paul Anderson, the Tarland Fiddle maestro.

Och, it was more than that, each photograph was accompanied by a quote from some pretty famous people like Dennis Law, Jolomo, Sir Duncan Rice interspersed from time to time with tips on how to get the best results with your camera.  Best light one hour before and one hour after dawn, same for night fall and there was the proof of it before our very eyes. Patience pays – the two gannets with necks intertwined, just brilliant. Dedication – up in the morning at 3am  to get the rising  sun on north-west facing Pennan! It looked like it had been floodlit as the camera shutter clicked!

Whilst most were in colour, some of the black and white shots – of Footdee for example, were equally appealing.

After a most appreciative vote of thanks from President Stuart Watson, Andy remained to sell copies of this latest masterpiece and here is the match-winning tail- piece, 50% of the proceeds go to a charity supporting young people with learning difficulties.  Well done, Sir.

Week commencing 23rd October

Tuesday night’s meeting started well for me when I spotted the options for main course!  Salad (as usual) or Scampi & Chips with peas! Need I say more? On that note, for non-attendees who may read this piece, this coming weekend the clocks go BACK one hour and that signals a change in the menu format at our KA meetings!  In summertime our two course meal consists of main course and sweet or biscuits and cheese with coffee or tea. In wintertime we have soup and main course! Just one of these little idiosyncrasies that develop over time!

The evening was marked by the welcome return of Rotarian Howard Hughes after a long illness. Following words of welcome back by President Stuart, in his own inimitable way Mr Hughes replied, his remarks based on that Ronnie Barker masterpiece featuring FOUR CANDLES but included a Garden Fork forby, suffice to say that  brought the house down.  Yes, Hughes is back to his old self and we are all much the better of knowing that! 

Our guest speaker was Kenny Lawson who was introduced by his retired polisman colleague - Ken Duguid!   Kenny Lawson’s subject was Mountain Rescue.  Since being a young  police cadet in 1975, Kenny has served in the Police Mountain Rescue team, allied to the Braemar Rescue Team – to this day! How’s that for dedication and public service!? This year the Braemar team celebrate 50 years of action in the Cairngorm mountains but from time to time they may be called out to assist other groups in times of significant emergency, for example they travelled south to assist colleagues in the aftermath of the tragic Lockerbie disaster.

Notably Kenny also mentioned the tragedy of 5 young men setting off to rendez-vous with chums coming north from Glen Doll but they never got there! In the 1971 disaster, two groups of Edinburgh school children succumbed to the conditions with only 2 surviving to tell the tale.  Since then there has been developed a set of strict rules to be applied when planning to take children on to the mountains.

Backed up with a series of slides, Kenny highlighted many of the situations where the Team were heavily involved, all the while emphasising dedication and team spirit shared with members of the local communities. In the early days teams consisted mainly of police officers and local gamekeepers who knew the hills better than most.

Training  and the development of new facilities and equipment has gone on apace.  GPS, Helicopters, mobile phones (a curse and a benefit) and tracked vehicles have made a significant difference, the next to come on board is likely to be the use of drones.

To mark the 50th anniversary, a book has been produced entitled ‘Mostly Happy Returns’  (subtle eh?) costs £10 and is available at Craigdon.  Returns  from sales will ease the continuing problems of finance despite the fact that there is so much voluntary work encapsulated in this successful and vital public service!

Jim Hatter had the privilege of expressing our thanks to Kenny. 

Week commencing 16th October

It was a rather breathless President who opened our weekly meeting on Tuesday night for the simple reason that he was storm-bound on Monday on the west coast of Ireland where he and wife Norma were visiting family. They were unable to fly out until Tuesday morning. The trauma was accentuated because he had had a 5 am start!   Nevertheless he was in good form as he struck the gavel to get the Club proceedings under way.

Following the meal, we had regular reports on current projects. Requests were made for volunteers to help at a number of fund-raising events followed by an update on absentee members who are unwell at this time and finally a warm welcome was extended  to Ralph Webster a member of the Rotary Club of North Worcestershire. The spotlight was then turned on the subject for the week – Cystic Fibrosis.

In recent weeks we have been captivated by talks on a very wide range of topics and I have to say that this week’s was no exception. Well, in a sense it was because the message was delivered by one of our own members – Jim Hatter. This actually brought back memories of a tradition that has been lost in recent times. If, for any reason, your guest speaker has to call off, you do the job yourself! In most cases that might mean a change of subject but not this time!  The bold James delivered the message on Cystic Fibrosis rather well!  (I have to use that moderate phrase otherwise he would be impossible to work with!) 

The simple heading of the talk was ‘The Butterfly Trust’ a voluntary organisation started in Edinburgh to recruit work teams aiming to back-up homecare of sufferers of this debilitating condition simply to  overcome and  tolerate the difficulties of living!  In the process, to help make their life and that of family members more bearable.

This is an inherited debilitating condition affecting lungs and the digestive system. It demands daily vigorous physiotherapy, in some cases more than one session is necessary to keep the lungs functional. What if family members are not available or indeed not fit enough to perform that physio?  That’s where the Butterfly Trust teams can help. Sufferers may need drivers to move them around, they may need simple friendship, someone to talk with to keep them from becoming introverted and constantly depressed. This role may be required to help fellow family members too.

As to the future, it is to be hoped that modern medical science will be able to detect and deal with the gene which carries the threat of this dire condition.

In the meantime, the teams from the Butterfly Trust continue to provide that essential support service and being a charity, their time and expertise is FREE.  These fine public-spirited, caring people need our help, physical and financial! 

The vote of thanks was delivered by John Nicol.

Week commencing 9th October 2017

Our meeting this week is referred to as an ‘Information Meeting’. After the meal, the members are invited to raise any points included in the ensuing report from the monthly Council. Only 20 Rotarians were present, mind you we have a wheen on sick leave and one or two others on holiday.  The previous week was well attended  maybe because we had a cracking speaker lined up – George Niblock  currently Convenor of the Aberdeenshire Environmental Forum. His first topic however was ‘Fishing on the River Don’ which  took an interesting turn when President Stuart ‘waded’ in with the fact that  since 1308, residents of Inverurie  have had the right to fish the Don and the Urie!

This, from historian Watson – Following the Battle of Barra in that year King Robert The Bruce rewarded the inhabitants for their support both before and after the battle by creating the Town a Royal Burgh and the right in perpetuity to fish both rivers within the burgh boundaries.! Though the succeeding Councils (Inverurie through Gordon District now to Aberdeenshire Council) have administered the rivers over the years, the inhabitants of Inverurie actually own the fishings.

This was of interest to the speaker George because negotiations are currently  in progress regarding the transfer of the fishing “rights” to the local angling association!

Our speaker touched on the reduction in numbers of child anglers over the years here and throughout Scotland. Now parents are banning kids being frightened of the risk of falling in, potential drownings and particularly the lack of supervision. George confirmed that the Inverurie Angling Assoc. have safety equipment available which can be borrowed free of charge if youngsters want to have a go!

Another problem for both children and adults is the Giant Hogweed which is colonising the river banks and can cause serious irritation to skin when brushing against it. Sadly there is little evidence  of this menace being cleared all along the River Don and River Urie.

On the River Don, though the numbers of salmon have dropped over the years, there is still good numbers of sea trout and brown trout . Over 95% of all salmon caught are returned to the river on the Inverurie beats.

Fishing can also have many other benefits. While fishing, George has recently seen otters, kingfishers and osprey…a dream on a pleasant evening!

While angling is George’s hobby, as Convenor of Aberdeenshire Environmental Forum he has headed up a group of organisations concerned with the Council’s inability to carry out essential street cleaning duties, this initiative has received significant publicity in the Press. No doubt we will hear more of it as time goes on.

Suffice to say George was accorded a hearty vote of thanks by the members.

Week commencing 2nd October 2017

(The weekly reports of the Rotary Club of Inverurie)

As indicated a couple of weeks ago, the Inverurie Rotary Glee Club began their season of ‘gigs’ on 7 September travelling to Mintlaw to entertain the members of their Senior Citizens club.  We must have been a hit on our last visit because once again the hall was almost full.  Since that time there have been several changes to the line-up. Firstly, of course, our inspirational accompanist  (and teacher!) Linda Davidson has moved to Ballater where I do believe she is still inspiring and leading people wishing to make music! Another familiar face, missing from the front row is Jack Henry

Now, there isn’t much I can tell you about Jack that you don’t know already! Suffice to say that he has such a busy schedule and social life that he is unable to attend our practice sessions and as a result he has stood down from performing! We will miss his renditions of Doric poetry.  That said, he has been made well aware that there is a space for him any time he likes to return.  Also missing on a temporary basis  as he recovers from illness is our inspirational leader Howard Hughes.but he is still pulling the strings!  So, the line-up at the moment is George Ross, Stuart Watson, Joe McDowall, Jim Hatter, David Taylor and myself.

We have two accompanists who share the burden (I use the word advisedly) of keeping us in tune - Frances Mitchell and Dorothy Walker. We are indebted to both ladies for putting up with us.

Within the group, we have several instrumentalists which I have christened the FF+1 which translate as the Ficherin’ Four ( Stuart, Joe, Jim and myself) the plus 1 being the pianist – the only person who  knows what the right notes should be!

From a selfish angle I would suggest that we get much enjoyment and pleasure making music together but the most important feature is the opportunity we have to entertain other people and it would be true to say that our ‘fan base’ is in the  50 + age range. You will hear us talking about entertaining the ‘auld folk’ but gracious me,  our average age must be nearer 70 than 60!

Fun , fellowship and service to the community would be our motto.  The positive side to that is the usual response  - a donation to the Rotary Club Charity account, enabling us to help even more distressed and unfortunate people at home and abroad.  

Week commencing 25th September.

It turned out to be a busy night on Tuesday as we gathered for the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Inverurie. For a start, I was on duty along with Bill Murdoch. To explain, each member takes a turn at registering attendees and guests on arrival at the weekly meeting, whilst at the same time taking their dosh and noting their choice from the week’s menu! There is a deal of banter and back chat going on so we are always relieved when totting up, to see if numbers registered match the total sum of money paid!

We had one guest – good friend and a founding member of the Kintore and Kemnay Club, Kenny Thompson visiting us in his role as an Assistant District Governor. He was invited to report on some of the steps being taken around our Rotary District to counter the problem of dwindling membership. As you might imagine, there are many reasons why younger people may not consider joining and one obvious example is MONEY! Just how much does it cost to be a Rotarian before beginning to think about contributing financially to charitable efforts etc.?  Members of the Inverurie Club pay an annual membership fee of £100, some of which is a levy to support our worldwide organisation particularly the Rotary Foundation Charity. Each week members will pay £11 for a meal (this includes a small amount to be used to pay for hospitality offered to invited guests).

So, Kenny’s own club is trying out an alternative, given that an annual sub. is essential. If members want a meal they turn up in time and pay accordingly, if they don’t want a meal, they arrive 45 minutes later to join in the club business. How will that be perceived – time alone will tell.

Some other clubs are offering ‘Associate membership’ for groups who espouse  Rotary ideals but for all sorts of reasons are unable to participate in regular meetings, thus missing out on projects they might wish to support. One example being aired was an early afternoon get- together in a local café every fortnight or so taking on an acknowledged Rotary project which they will organise and run themselves with a Rotarian mentor. A nice bit of lateral thinking

Still thinking charity, John Nicol reported on the St Kizito Schools and Community Charity which is a project to renovate a school building in Monde located in  one of the poorest areas in Uganda. In early October some of our representatives, visiting Uganda, will have a meeting with the President of the Rotary Club of Kampala -Wandegeya, which is the Ugandan Club associated with the project. Progress is being made.

Still more good news Rotarian Graham McWilliam was congratulated for his participation in the Loch Ness Marathon, raising in excess of £2000 for the MacMillan Cancer Support ………………..and as we headed for the door Sandy Lamb reminded us to take our Christmas Boxes!  Yet another scheme to brighten the lives of deprived youngsters!

Week commencing 11th September.

One of the rules for the membership of Rotary when I first joined in the early eighties was about attendance!  You were expected to achieve a 60% attendance record or you were up in front of the beak (as we used to call our headmaster when I were a boy). If you happened to visit another Rotary Club on your weekly travels, you could count that towards the minimum total! Please note that I used the past tense when introducing the topic because the situation has  been relaxed somewhat but having said that, a bit of discipline  is no bad thing!  I never was a bad attendee, that only applies to my visits to the dentist!


As official Press Officer for the club, it is incumbent on me to report on the weekly meetings but of late my attendance level has slipped. Whist this week’s meeting was in progress, I was at Haddo House with the Beechgrove team for a question & answer session!  For continuity therefore, I have to rely on colleagues, on this occasion secretary Mike Barron reminds us of a meeting topic from a few weeks back.


Regular readers will have noted that we have covered  a wide range of speakers, some charity related, some inspirational  and occasionally, simply about how things which happen in our community. It could be called ‘keeping in touch’!



For over 10 years Ron Reid has run the Farmers Market, in front of the Town Hall in Inverurie. In all weathers the second Saturday sees the closure of the car park and from 9am until 1pm an average of 12 stalls offer for sale the finest of fresh produce. Each month a local charity is offered a stance.


The concept came about from Sandy Buchan, himself a farmer, but lacking expertise in finding his way around procedures for permission.  Ron processed the paper work at the turn of the Century and the Farmers Market was born.


While farm food was the principle operation, fish and fine trades have been introduced. He felt the ability of customer and stall holder to discuss the finer aspects of their potential purchases was very valuable e.g. the venison supplier was the man who was able to explain the finer parts of the deer….a service not possible in the larger supermarkets.


It provided income for the traders and a first class advertising opportunity for the traders at but £10 for their stall. Being Chairman of the Inverurie Community Council at that time, he did not get away with easy questions and there were many, including…being pushed on the need to influence Councillors to remedy  the lack of toilet facilities especially at play parks.


Ron was thanked by Ian Ewan who wished Ron success over the coming months with the local Farmers Market

Week commencing 4 Sept 2017

Our weekly meeting on Tuesday had a couple  of surprises for the members present! Firstly we drank a Toast to immediate past President Peter Donaldson and his wife Doreen who recently celebrated their Golden Wedding. Warmest congratulations were offered by the members.

Following the meal and the usual, but essential business of the club – up-date on colleagues suffering illness at this time, sports competitions within our Rotary District, greetings from other clubs which members have visited whilst on business trips or on holiday, club arrangements in coming weeks and news of this year’s Christmas car raffle in aid of  CLAN charity.  All the usual but essential guff – and then another real treat!

Last week we were enthralled to hear of the progress made in delivering the aims and objects of the ALEC charity by fellow Rotarian Henry Riddoch and colleague Amy. This week we had yet another cracking presentation by a young man called Vio Elko and he disnae come fae Birse! He bides in Meldrum!

Vio has lived in the UK now for  over 20 years and in that time following his dream, he has represented Scotland and GB in International Events such as Commonwealth Games, winning a Bronze medal for Scotland in the 2014 Commonwealth Games and despite the fact that he is now approaching 40yo he aims to have one more crack at the medals in 2018.  Oh yes, he has been seven times the British Wrestling Champion at Intermediate level (I take that to be a weight category )

His sporting passion has obviously not diminished but his real obsession is with  human fitness- from cradle to grave, as they say!  Yes, he and his wife Laura a qualified gymnast, run the ETKO Sports Academy at the Hoodles Play Barn, North Mains of Barra, Oldmeldrum .

They start with children aged 3 to 5, a bit early you might think but the evidence shows that by the time these children go to school they are fit and have learned to be inter-active with others, allowing them to integrate fully with teachers and fellow pupils alike from day one.

Vio, at this point paid tribute to the owners of the The Barn, Richard and Anna Stephens who backed the project development  by providing more space and  facilities. The business has extended to cater for all ages with Vio targetting fitness, well-being and ambition especially for the young people. This leads to the category headed ‘Fitness for All’ at which juncture I felt he was staring meaningfully at me!

Following several questions, notably about funding, a vote of thanks was delivered by Rotarian  Pat Walker.

(PS following last week’s comment about electronics, Vio wore a head mike and we could hear every word – well done chaps).

Week commencing 28th August

Our guests this week were Henry Riddoch and Amy Clark, their subject – an update on the project known as ALEC – Aberdeen Life Education Centres. In his introduction to our guests Rotarian Murray Matthew reminded us that the organisation was first formed  20 years ago and he should know because he was one of the founders!  What is ALEC, I hear you ask?

It is actually part of an international education charity working in partnership with schools, the business community and parents to provide healthy life choices including drug and nicotine education  to all nursery and primary school children.  I remember the first mobile classroom, a specially fitted out four wheeled monster trailer, the size of a 40 foot artic that had to be towed from school to school – a very specialist and expensive system and therein lies today’s story!

The newest of these mammoths was launched just a few years ago, but the costs of the operation have proved to be unsustainable. This well regarded initiative was under threat then along comes a chap called Henry Riddoch, a member of the Kintore/Kemnay Rotary Club and  now Chairman of the ALEC committee but more to the point - an engineer of significant standing! Maybe he should be described as an inventor.  On Tuesday night we were privileged to see the successor of that 40 ft mobile classroom!  All the essentials to continue this vital and successful initiative that were carted around on four wheels can now be transported in the back of a car in an over-sized suitcase designed by Henry!

There is enough kit and plenty surprises contained therein to transform an ordinary classroom into a space to excite and enthral nursery and primary children, including accommodation for the charity’s mascot Harold the Giraffe – aye, there was a fair bit of tittering went on among these  ‘mature’ Rotarians at his appearance, superbly handled by Amy Clark the Senior Educator. 

You will undoubtedly hear more about ALEC in coming weeks as the new equipment is launched. 

Bill Murdoch offered a very apt vote of thanks.

It seems a shame to end on a rather sour note but I have to say that the very interesting and important message was tainted by a mal-functioning electronics set-up!


Week commencing 14th August

Though Rotary business takes a bit of a breather during the holiday season, that does not mean to say that it stops! Plans for the coming season are being fashioned as I write!  The Rotary Glee Club is due to start rehearsals any day now for coming performances, refreshing the old favourites and trying out the many suggestions for newer material. This forward planning can all be seen to be a valuable part of our service to the local community.

You may remember, a few weeks back, my reference to the Rotary Youth Leader Award  offering young people the opportunity in a week-long camp at the Abernethy Outdoor Centre, Nethybridge  to participate in a programme of physical and intellectual activities, developing skills in Team working, Positive leadership, Communication, Problem Solving and Decision making. This week at our club meeting our two nominees, Eryn Duffus and Andrew Kitchin came to the club meeting to report on their experience. Both are pupils at Inverurie Academy but Alexander was actually selected, having been nominated by his BB Company.

Eryn Duffus (16 yo) had this to say “Thank you so much for all you did to make RYLA such a fantastic experience. A great experience and opportunity, great fun, a chance to find out about myself, eye-opening and challenging.”

Alexander Kitchin ( just turned 17 yo) reported likewise, as follows “What an experience, I learned so much, I also made new friends  who I will certainly keep in touch with. All of our team would love to return and would jump at the chance. I feel that we would put our leadership skills to better use after this initial experience.”

Coincidentally, it was good to hear that both are very musical Eryn plays violin and ukulele whilst Alexander plays drums.  A real talented pair worthy of our support.  Well done guys, we wish you a happy and successful future.

From on high (Rotary HQ in Evanton USA), comes a letter about the worldwide Rotary Foundation Charity which is headed ‘Because of You’ it reads as follows: ‘By giving to The Rotary Foundation during our centennial year, you joined more donors than ever in empowering our Foundation to take on larger projects with greater impact. From developing nationwide literacy programmes to training tomorrow’s peacemakers, to helping push polio to the brink of eradication, your donation is Doing Good in the World. Thank you for celebrating this tremendous milestone by giving. The Foundation’s second century and the future of all who depend on its work will be the brighter because of you’.

We Inverurie Rotarians in turn wish to thank all of you out there who help us to play our part in achieving these objectives at home and abroad.

Week commencing 24th July

Chaired for the first time by our newly elected President for 2017/18 J Stuart Watson, this week’s meeting was quite eventful in that we had as our guest speaker Steph Dowling who represents the CLAN charity in our area. At the end of the evening, Steph was presented with a cheque for £5000 our Club’s donation to the charity this year. Chairman of our Events committee JG Ross was also present - he and his team had organised the very successful fund-raising WAGS dinner, reported on at the time, which raised a total of £11,000. The balance will be distributed to a number of other projects which we support regularly.

I should add that we also support CLAN by participating in the Christmas Car Raffle held annually with the big ticket–selling finale in the Bon Accord Centre in Aberdeen in the run up to the draw on Christmas Eve. This is a case of Rotary workng together as all the Rotary clubs in the area participate.

In her very well presented talk, Steph gave us some idea of the working of CLAN in our area. It is, of course, a Charity organisation principally concerned with emotional and physical support of individuals and families suffering from the consequences of cancer illnesses. This particular charity covers the whole of the NE corner and the Northern Isles. It is quite a significant challenge when you consider that there are over 3000 diagnosed with the condition annually! As a result a wide range of support services have been developed – free of charge so, that’s where the money goes and they need something like £2.5 million per year!

Not only will they organise complementary treatments like physiotherapy and reflexology but they organise school holiday trips for children, a library service and regular meetings. Most will know of CLAN House on Westburn Road, Aberdeen a wonderful stopping off place for people travelling for treatment in hospital.

There are community bases throughout the area, including Inverurie where a move to to new premises will take place soon. Presently there are about 120 clients/patients attending in Inverurie with a quarterly increase of about 20!

This independent charity works hard to raise funds through Charity Shops and that novel Tempo Café provided by the Bon Accord Centre in Aberdeen which has a novel style. Go in for a coffee and make it yourself! You are logged as you go in and you pay for your stay by the minute! At least 10p per minute! We used it each day when on duty at the Car Raffle! Don’t pass it by, ALL the proceeds go to the charity, they dinna even hiv tae pey a rent! Well done Bon Accord Centre!

After answering questions, Steph was given a hearty round of applause.

 Rotary Matters w.c. 17 July 

We had another informal meeting of the club this week with the most pressing subject for discussion is our need to attract new members.  I was reminded of a poster outside a kirk somewhere, which carried the message ‘Carpenter from Nazareth needs Joiners’!   Rotary clubs across the nation need new members if they are to be able to continue the amazing work they do. Giving publicity to these activities somehow does not appear to register with the younger generation despite the fact that Rotary support activities for children and young people come high on the priority lists.

Do we have to be more aggressive in our advertising with banners everywhere, such as I featured a week or so ago?  It helps but it is not enough, I guess in the olden days the membership preferred to help ‘anonymously’ or at least discreetly to avoid embarrassment – on both sides! These days have gone now, we need to be a bit more up front.

On the way home in the car, still thinking about this subject, I took a different line! For all of these years, we have been willingly investing our time, our skills and our efforts in a whole range of activities.  What have we got to show for it other than self-satisfaction for being able to help and improve the lot of a huge number of people?  That’s fine but has the investment shown any bonus?  The fact is, we don’t know!

In recent weeks, I have reported on a range of activities – the landscaping at St James Place which incidentally was completed a couple of weeks ago by the team of Charlie Taylor, John Nicol and Eric Massie with meself acting as gaffer!   We planted a range of shrubs to enhance the entrance. All the plants and the pre-planting compost were donated FOC by Parkhill Nurseries, Dyce. Our thanks go to Gordon and Barry McGillivray for their generosity.

Our efforts on behalf of the Kids Out day at Craibstone , the end of season concert at Inverurie Academy and most recently an account of the RYLA camp, attended by two young people from the area have all been logged.  All of them costing time and money given, without strings. Lets take RYLA as an example of our investment - 2 young people annually for the last  30 years at £500 per head = £30,000.  We keep on doing it but where is the feed-back?  Our young folk this year will be invited to give their impressions at one of our evening meetings and I can tell you if past experiences are anything to go by, we won’t be disappointed. 

What I want to know is – where are the ones who benefited from their RYLA experiences 10 or 20 years ago? How many of them are Rotarians? Many will claim that it was a turning point in their lives. I’d love to hear from them. Where are they now,  I want to know if we spent our money wisely?

Week commencing 26th June 2017

Tuesday night’s meeting proved to be a bit special.

It was to be the last occasion when Peter Donaldson addressed the Club as President before he retires from the post. There were 25 members in attendance and after the regular programme – Grace, followed by the meal we had our annual interlude – the presentation of a gratuity to the hotel staff for the excellent job they do each week on our behalf.

It was time then for Peter to summarise his experience as our President. As well as finding it a rewarding year in that the team ‘done well’. He found it an enriching experience despite it being an onerous and time-consuming task. The level of co-operation with the membership led us to have a good year in serving our community in so many different ways. On the downside Peter made the point that if we are to continue to do good works we do need to recruit new, younger members. In order to help with that process maybe we have to change our image a bit – less staid, less formal, more relaxed. The funny thing is, if I may say so, we are significantly more relaxed and less formal than when I joined in the early eighties. As they say, evolution is a slow process, we all know that but without a doubt times they are a-changing they have to and we have to react rather more smartly!

 Peter’s valedictory address was very well acknowledged by the members. He then formally demitted office by placing the President’s Chain of Office round the shoulders of the incoming President J Stuart Watson acknowledged by yet another enthusiastic round of applause.

In his opening remarks Stuart alluded to the fact that the last time he had worn the President’s regalia was 29 years ago! (You may remember my report of the celebrations when Stuart passed the 50 year membership mark!) He did add that this is the era of re-cycling – even Rotary Presidents! He joined Rotary in1966 at a very young age! No surprise there either because his late Father was a founding member of the club.

Did you know that Rotary is one of the most powerful organisation for peace – in the whole world? The facts are indisputable and picking up on that our incoming President quoted this year’s Rotary motto ‘Rotary making a difference’. Continuing in historical vein , Stuart went on to contend that ‘The only thing you will be remembered for when you die is your contribution to society’! Deep thoughts maybe but, as we continue to enjoy the weekly camaraderie and friendly exchanges, the curling, the Glee Club , the special events we must be able to continue the work we do in our own community and for other troubled communities across the globe.

At this juncture, Stuart invited the other new members of the managing team to take their place beside him – Alan Robertson as Vice-President, Mike Barron as Secretary and Charlie Taylor a Treasurer.

In proposing the final toast to ‘Rotary the World Over’ it was evident that President Stuart’s motto was undoubtedly ‘ Now then guys and gals, lets have more of the same because Rotary matters’.

Week ending 19th May 2017

During a short business meeting on Tuesday Night, President Peter Donaldson brought to the attention of members the proposal for a new business/community initiative for Inverurie, referred to by the letters BIDThere were a few mutterings around my table but President Peter was ‘on the ball’ by going on to say that he had invited a member of the organising team to come along to inform the members fully. The big question to be debated will be ‘should the Rotary Club become involved?’ Time alone will tell!

Recently we had a fine talk about the Charity Shop in the town, highlighting the good work they do on behalf of charities in the town and almost as a follow-up we had another cracking talk given by Mhairi Philip , Senior Co-ordinator of Garioch Homestart, just one of the important charities supported by the Shop.

It was a bit of an eye-opener for some of us to hear of the work done by Homestart. We constantly hear tales of disadvantaged families and fleeing refugees who come to live in our communities. They need an enormous amount of back-up and support if they are to be able to lead a modest, quite ordinary life, obviously made quite acute when there are young children involved. Mhairi covered much of what is essential but also highlighted one factor which is nothing to do with physical needs, she discussed the problems caused by social isolation – I guess we take for granted that feeling of belonging, the ability to feel at home, to be able to nod and say hello to people we meet in the street, they needn’t be close friends or acquaintances, we might just meet them in a queue in the post office and have no hesitation in ‘passing the time of day’. It is a great comfort .

The families which Homestart Garioch support have precious little of that and the problem becomes more acute by the day. Four years ago, Homestart Garioch had 20 volunteers in their team, today it is over 60! To make matters worse whilst the numbers of disadvantaged families has grown as indicated by the number of volunteers, the funding from the Local Government bodies has remained static. This is not a small problem, over 100 families are being supported in Aberdeenshire.

Thousands of hours are devoted to this work by volunteers and the only remuneration they receive is travelling expenses! Nevertheless the volunteers are in there doing their bit and as Mhairi explained they try to help families with children under 5 years of age before their situation become critical , in other words they try to avoid having to take ‘fire brigade ‘ measures. To qualify for assistance families must have at least one child under 5 in the household. It is not easy to sum up the work other than to say the organisation aims to help families in distress to reach a standard of living that they can sustain for themselves – just a simple humanitarian objective – these volunteers deserve our admiration and support, thankfully something for which Rotary have a fair track record.

Mhairi received a well- merited vote of thanks from Joe McDowall and a round of appreciation from the members.


Week ending 28th April 2017

 It is that time again, said one of my colleagues as we sat down together on Tuesday night to enjoy our meal before starting the Rotary business of the week. He could have added – it is not long in coming round again! He was referring, of course, to our Annual General Meeting! These are throw away remarks we all use from time to time but when you think about it, such a lot has happened internationally, nationally, locally, personally in that time and when you are lucky enough to be busily engrossed in living life, time does seem to fly past.

In terms of clubs like Rotary, it is time to draw a line under the last 12 months, to assess our successes and failures and hopefully to end on a high note as we lay out the plans, under a new management team, to do at least as well next year. Committee by committee, convenors were invited to report on how targets were reached …or not! Happily the report card must end with the remarks that this pupil done well! That is not to say that members feel complacent because the other much quoted heidie remark applies ‘could have done better! I have no intention in listing the whole lot, but here are a few:

We finally solved the problems associated with communication! I have a bee in my bonnet about this one! Firstly, because I’m getting deaf and secondly I do quite a lot of speaking to people and realise how important it is they can hear what I have to say! We now have a Public Address system to be used at our meetings and it WORKS! Plans to provide another (second) Defibrillator for the community, are almost complete

The Rotarian End Polio Now campaign is going on apace with one of the publicity and fund-raising initiatives seeing 15,000 crocus bulbs planted around the area. Happily we can congratulate schools, clubs, community bodies and other charities for joining in with this project.

Raffles and other fund raising efforts of the Glee Club, Collection Boxes, Second hand Book sales have accumulated a significant sum to be distributed to Children in Need, Clan, Emergency Shelter Boxes and numerous others. Lastly but not least, again we have organised and run some very entertaining and stimulating competitions for young people such as the primary School Quiz, Young Musician of the Year, Young Photographer of the year and shortly we will be sending two young teenagers off to a weeklong Youth Leaders Camp. This is a testing but challenging time with others from the region, to help bring out latent leadership qualities. We talk about young people showing natural leadership qualities but this camp seeks to give a gentle shove to some who have theses qualities but maybe don’t realise it.

……and so to the year ahead under the leadership of J Stuart Watson , a man who has been President before as well as having a couple of spells as secretary. There’s loyalty and commitment for you! We look forward to a challenging year. Our top priority must be to reduce the average age (68 years)! I do realise that evolution is a slow process but it will happen. In the process we will recruit younger members to sustain the work of Rotary. With that in mind, if you have a bit of spare time on your hands, enjoy good company and have a mind to help others – give us a shout! We are getting short of golfers and curlers too!


Week ending 24th March, 2017

There is never a shortage of news and events to report in this weekly account of what is happening in the Rotary Club of Inverurie. In my remarks last week I did draw attention to the ageing nature of the membership and about the need to be better known in our community. On this latter point I would have to say that the present lot are heavily involved in a very wide range of activities in the community involving a very wide spectrum of our society.

For example, perhaps because I am part of it, I tend to leave the odd remark about the activities of the Glee Club as a one-liner but I know a lot of people who would argue that the team deserves a better write-up! Since last October, we have performed on 12 occasions in our area, mostly to Over 60’s groups, retirement homes etc and as often as not, as we leave the question asked is “when can you come back?” I have often compared music with gardening because you can be a spectator enjoying the efforts of others or get involved. There are no barriers – age, religion, colour, creed, ability but in both pastimes, the result is the same – enjoyment, satisfaction, social interaction, reminiscences all very therapeutic. They tick all the boxes and that is why as Rotarians, we lay great store by this activity. Our last gig of the season will be this week – an afternoon at the Inverurie Day Centre. The programme, as ever, will consist of a mix of songs ‘Ancient & Modern’! Well, modern up til aboot the late sixties (like George Ross’s stories)!

At the other end of the scale, I recently reported on the results of the primary School Quiz won this year by a team from Kellands School (Angela Fern’s picture of the team with Rotarian Cath Nash who organised the quiz and Peter Donaldson our President who presented the awards at the school on Friday 17th.Team L-R Alastair Maclean, Adam Downie, Cally Goodwin and Erin Minty)

Still with young people, The Young Photographer of the Year competition, organised by Rotary District 1010 (from Stirling northwards!) which has 88 clubs and now in it’s seventh year, has just been judged! The winning entries come from ……………….Kellands School! The theme was ‘Reflections’ which gave young people the opportunity to use their skills and technical ability to display their results to a wider, often critical audience.

Undeniably the use of digital cameras has revolutionised the photographic world. Its ability to produce instant images, gives a painless opportunity, especially for young people to test their skill.

The work of District winners in each age group will be submitted as entrants in the Rotary of Ireland and Gt. Britain Competition.

Nine years old Isla Wilson has won the trilogy competition, having won the local heat and has gone on to win the District final! Warmest Congratulations to Isla AND to two fellow pupils Emma Barclay (2nd) and Jasmin Mathers(3rd)

If you would like to see examples of their work and artistry, visit the Gordon Arts Exhibition in The Town Hall Inverurie, open until 26 March 2017.

Week ending 3rd March, 2017

On Tuesday, 27 Rotarians were present and after the meal and committee  reports, Rotarian Stephen Martin introduced Stephen Boddie who is a Community Service Representative and Coach for Aberdeen Football Club and let me tell you there is a great deal more to it  than football. Stephen and his associates are involved with people aged from 6 to sixty plus

The goals of this organisation are more inspirational than any Dennis Law ever scored! The organisation is actually a registered charity entirely separate from AFC with its own Board of Directors but of course football is used as one route to attract and engage with young people, hence the team work with Inverurie Locos, Colony Park, Schools  and  others.

Apart from helping to create pathways for boys and girls for their future, the team are encouraging them to integrate, respect all colours and creeds etc. It is about citizenship really. There is currently an initiative to encourage some of the young Saudi refugees, not only to play football but ALSO to learn to speak our language! Integration is the name of that game - sounds logical doesn’t it? 

These guys are true social workers in our community, making a difference to people’s lives, across the age spectrum! They are helping older people tackle a lack of fitness, loneliness and dementia with initiatives like fitness clubs and walking football, changing people’s lives for the better. One of their number has just been voted the Autistic Coach of the Year for Aberdeenshire, went on to win the Scottish title and the UK title. 

If you get the chance to help these guys in any way – grab it, you will not be sorry. 

Stuart Watson gave a very well constructed  and considerate vote of thanks.

Week ending 24th February, 2017

On Monday this week, Rotarian Jim Sommerville visited Strathburn School to collect a batch of 30 Shoeboxes destined for Eastern Europe in time for Easter. 

Primary 5 pupils at the school have been involved in this initiative. They organised posters, emails and notes, made presentations to fellow pupils in P4 , 6 and 7  to encourage them to bring in items to help fill up the boxes. Each pupil in P5 then filled and decorated a box, which was then filled with toiletries, toys, games etc suitable for their own age-group. 

When collecting the boxes, the pupils were quizzed about the scheme with a few relevant questions: 

Where are they destined for?  Ans. Out came a string of answers – Belarus, Ukraine, Bulgaria……They actually prepared a work sheet and route map for where they are destined. These projects surely make potentially boring subjects, come to life ? 

Why do we send them?  Ans. To less fortunate children who may have never received a personal gift before?  

What is the value of the gifts in each box? Ans. This is when the answers got a bit random! Anything from ‘A fiver’ to ‘fifty quid’!. 

So, if it was a fiver, what is the value of this consignment?  Ans. Quick as a flash - £150 !  

Haven’t they done well? The pupils of P5 at Strathburn Primary wish to thank everyone who helped this enterprising project, including pupils and parents who donated items…………….and so say all of us! 

We must also acknowledge the co-operation of class teacher  Donna Murray who obviously developed the project to become a very useful  educational exercise

Week ending 17th February, 2017

Starting this week with a postscript! Many of you will remember the CLAN raffle which Rotary Clubs in this corner support each year. You may have contributed at the time. The prize – a spanking new modern Mini with the draw being made on Christmas Eve. The 2015 winner lives in Inverurie so there was no bother in making the presentation. Not so easy this time – the 2016 winner just happened to be working overseas and as a result that handover had to be delayed until quit recently That is just one side of the story. Whilst we thank all the Rotarians who gave up their time to man the stand in the Bon Accord Centre selling tickets, we also thank the donors who forked out their hard won dosh and as a result a cheque for £38,000 was handed over to the CLAN charity! In addition, each club that participated receives a small sum to use for their own particular charity projects. Who said North Easters were skinflints? Rubbish, say I. Well done everyone.

Numbers were down at this week’s club meeting – midterm holidays and illness being the likely cause. The business of the day must go on but after the usual reports including greetings brought back by members who had visited other clubs, just another worthy tradition, we had an excellent presentation from retired Army Padre – Rev. Philip Clarke. To say that he is something of a keep fit fanatic would not be unkind. A cyclist of note, he still sets himself daunting challenges and by the way he has recently become an octogenarian – welcome to the club Philip!

In describing his array of bicycles, he even has a modest looking everyday bike for doing the shopping! He admitted that some others cost as much as a small car! When he tackles the hills, Philip has a strict rule – he does cycle all the way, not allowing himself to dismount and walk for a whilie! He will stop, rest a moment but then mounts up again from the same spot. The highlight of his talk came as he described, while in his seventies, cycling over the eight highest passes in Scotland measuring height and distance Aha, but that is not all, after a cup of coffee he then retraces his ride – yes indeed, he does it all over again in the opposite direction! These passes will be familiar to many, they include Cairn o’ Mount, Lecht, Glenshee, Ben Lawyers, the Mam Rattigan Pass, the Pass of the Cattle over to Ardnaurchan. As you picture these wonderful routes over which you may have driven many a time just think – on a bike there and back! Eight Passes x height above sea level x two = almost the height of Mount Everest! It is a stunning tale.

Secretary Jim Hatter gave the Vote of Thanks accompanied by very enthusiastic applause .

In the coming days, members will be stewarding and assisting at a Swimming Gala for young folk with learning difficulties and also running the annual Primary Schools quiz.

Week ending 10th February, 2017

 On a rather dreich night 25 Rotarians, joined by one guest - Steve Lynne from the Kintore Club, were to enjoy another excellent evening.  After the meal and business updates, secretary Jim Hatter introduced our guest speaker Scott Adams, a local Scout Leader in a much modernised organisation which I hardly recognised, mind you I moved on from being a Troop Leader circa 1954!  The first thing I noticed was that Scott never used the name troop!

We were reminded during Scott’s dissertation that our club played a large part in the restoration and modernisation  of the Scout HQ in Inverurie a few years ago, our work party being led by Eric Massie of course, a past master at acquiring necessary items just like the Great Houdini himself! In other words, Eric made full use of his contacts within the building industry to benefit the project.

At 24 years of age, Scott’s enthusiasm for Scouts and Scouting shone like a beacon.  After a few words about the local organisation and structure, he went on to highlight the projects and challenges that are set for the young people, segregated into groups by age. He never mentioned reef knots, semaphore or campfire cooking, come to think of it he never even mentioned British Bulldog either, a compulsory skill required if you ever think about playing Rugby!

The critical words that came through to me were Challenge, Energy and Commitment as it applies to themselves and the community. At a very early stage today’s Scouts are encouraged to plan and manage their own affairs – organisational matters are not left to the ‘Leaders’. They would be taking more of a back seat role as mentors. Needless to say, in this modern society, that is a very appealing prospect for quite assertive young people, indeed Scott himself is a classic product of the system, his style and attitude went down rather well with our members.

Several projects in the community were described, for example, in targeting mental health problems, a group, having researched some current simple therapeutic ideas, made bird boxes for a number of sufferers, this facility having been shown to be a benefit by providing a focus of interest.

The usual run of competitions are still popular as fundraisers but I was delighted to hear that camping trips are still popular, often to meet up with others from afar.

As well as being local Scout Leader, on his own behalf Scott aims to become a Queen’s Scout by the time he is 25yo – the highest qualification to be gained in the organisation meantime, he has a new, additional role to play as an Assistant District Commissioner for Young People’s Development  which basically serves to emphasise the ethos of helping young people to take responsibility for running the organisation.

Aye, he’s quite a guy is our Scott . The vote of thanks, fulsome in its praise was very ably delivered by Rotarian Cath Nash.

Week ending 3rd February, 2017

 On duty this week along with Joe McDowall, we clocked in 27 members and one guest. It was a return to normality after a busy week when a number of Rotarians  performed at a range of Burns celebration across this corner. That included a Glee Club date with Age Concern’ Scotch Nicht in the  KA – fit a rare nicht we had!

President Peter during his customary remarks took the opportunity to remind members of coming events when volunteer helpers will be required, these included the annual Primary School Quiz , Swimming Gala and Run Garioch! We have a busy time ahead of us.

Taking over the meeting at this point was immediate past president David Taylor who introduced our speaker this week, from the Blackburn Rotary Club, it was the one and only Barry Craigmile. His subject Guide Dogs for the Blind, yet another wonderful tale of commitment.  A week or two ago it was all about Mountain Rescue, highlighting the importance of the service and the dedication of teams of unpaid volunteers without which the service might not exist.  Here was another, Barry’s commitment to Guide Dogs is, with his wife, to train young puppies for the job!

Whilst it is not an every day experience, the chances are that you will see a guide dog in action from time to time on our busy streets giving that blind person a freedom that otherwise they would not have. The value of the work done by trainers must not be underestimated, the two words I have used already are worth repeating – their role requires commitment and dedication.

In Barry’s talk, he reminded us that the service started back in 1931 when 4 German Shepherd’s were trained. Two ladies – Muriel Crooke and Rosamund Bond , living in Wallasey Cheshire initiated the movement. Since then almost 30 thousand people have been helped to lead independent lives aided by a Guide Dog – an extraordinary tale!

At one time the Guide Dogs for the Blind were prepared to train puppies that were gifted by well- meaning owners but over the years, there was shown to be too high a failure rate it therefore became clear that the organisation would have to breed their own.  Various breeds have been used including Labradors, Labradoodles, Collies with the first-named being the most successful.  Strange, almost quirky characteristics may lead to some breeds being excluded. For example, collies are not so successful. Why? Have you noticed, I bet you haven’t – collies don’t like to walk slowly, they want to rush everywhere to get the job done. I’m sure many a shepherd would agree with that.  Not quite the temperament required to be a Guide Dog.

The basic obedience training of a young dog is about 14 weeks then it will go for special training to the likes of the Forfar facility, as indeed will the Blind person. Overall the cost is in region of £50,000 per dog and there are currently about 5000 dogs working in the UK. With a dog’s working life being 7 to 9 years, there is a constant need for replacements.

The vote of thanks on behalf of the club was delivered by Sandra Turnbull

Don’t turn a blind eye to requests for support!!

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Rotary Matters

back Summary of meetings with details of speakers and general Rotary matters.