In June 2020, as I started my year as President, I set out six
priorities which reflected:
*the impact of COVID19 at the time, but with some optimism that COVID19 problems would quickly ease,
*the need to complete the restructuring of the
Club’s operating practices aiming to give the club a sustainable future, and
*preparing for our centenary year.
The optimism about COVID19 proved not to be the case and the impact was instead significantly greater and more prolonged than envisaged in June 2020. Key restrictions continue to today, a year later. It has limited the Club in all its traditional activities of fellowship, fund raising and charitable giving. The outcome on my 6 priorities has been mixed.
Priority 1) was about maintaining and developing member contacts and fellowship, producing a menu of fellowship activities that offered something for all members old and new.
The new Fellowship Committee was created, how ever continuing COVID restrictions prevented it from putting on any events or organize any activities. Without face to face meetings and the long period of lock-down, keeping members informed, connected and engaged with the Club became important. Great efforts have been made to keep the Club members in touch with the regular production of the Bulletin and HUB together with the work of the Club Almoner. There has been a quick circulation to all members of what has happened in the meetings of the Club and zoom used to facilitate meetings giving all members some limited contact with other Club members. Who would have thought so many members could so quickly learn how to use zoom? The extensive use of zoom has enabled us to meet regularly and keep the Club functioning albeit with limitations. Also, Zoom has given us access to a range of interesting speakers from around the UK and the World.
We have had our daily lives dominated by the virus. A whole range of new concepts have been introduced such as social distancing, single person shopping, lockdown, furlough, the R number and endless charts on how we are doing in our battle with the virus. The adverse impact on individuals and families has been extensive which leads onto my priority 2.
Priority 2) was making best use of our limited charitable giving capacity.
Fundraising was much reduced due to the restrictions imposed by the Government to try and stop the spread of the virus. This has obviously limited our capacity to fund help for those facing an increased need resulting from the impact of the virus. Spending Committees had to use their limited budgets carefully ensuring value for money was obtained and help went to the neediest.
Youth and Community services activities saw help go to Haven, the Toy Box appeal for children in homes at Christmas and the new small grants scheme helping 21 local organizations who are providing services and support to local individuals and families. The scheme being boosted by a £5000 donation from the JBCTrust.
International activities saw a large response to shoebox collections and continuing support for projects in Africa and India which benefited disabled people, school children and families. Lend with Care helped many families with small loans creating financial
independence for families and economic growth leading to prosperity in underdeveloped countries.
Our support continued for the ending of polio.
Also, members from across the club responded to the need of families with donations and the giving of their time, a few examples are:
*Help the Helpers saw £2000 go to the Good Shepherd Ministry, £2000 to the Haven and the provision of PPE Visors for volunteers and NHS workers.
*Recycle a coat for the homeless drew support from the other local clubs.
*James Beattie Charitable Trust provided funding for the 5 local Clubs to use to support local organisations mitigating the impact of COVID19, £10,000 in July and a further £10,000 in November 2020.
*JBCT also supported the Club’s new Small Grants Scheme with a £5000 grant matching the Club’s £5,000.
*Causes identified by Rotarians led to
donations of a £100 to the Kanyama Free Baptist Community School and £300 to Feeding Dreams Cambodia.
*Crocus planting at Bantock Park supporting RI’s campaign to eliminate polio.
*Christmas Appeal for donations to be used to support local organisations helping the homeless and people in refuges.
*Children in need – Pudsey raffle
*The use of crowd funding to raise funds for the Samaritans using a signed Wolves shirt.
Behind each activity there is s
omeone from the Club giving their time and skills to organise the activity and ensure donations go to the neediest and are used effectively. Their efforts are much appreciated.
Priority 3) was exploring new fundraising ideas to add to our established three major events.
Two of our three major fund raising activities could not be staged. The Tree of Remembrance was the only one proceeding. A big thanks to Mike Colley who overcame significant difficulties to still run the fund raiser with a rebadged “The Memories live on” and raised £4675
However, despite the difficulties, members have worked hard at fund-raising initiatives to support our charity giving activities as already described. This has produced very positive outcomes with a range of organisations and people benefitting from
Priority 4) was about Implementing the changes in Club structure and operating practices necessary to reduce the bureaucracy and keep members better informed and engaged. Trying to ensure we have a sustainable Club for future Rotarians
As we all know the Club is changing and I am the third president following Paul Lockley and Richard Horrell who has pushed changes through. The Club approved the restructure of the Clubs Committees and operating practices, but all the agreed changes are yet to be fully implemented due to the ongoing restrictions on m
eetings. Not everyone wants the changes and compromises have had to be made to build the consensus required to move the Club forward. However, over the last few years much has been achieved. The formality has been reduced, the structure of the Club streamlined, procedures and operating practices made more efficient. This will become more obvious when we have the COVID19 restrictions lifted.
Priority 5) was about supporting the establishment of the arrangements for our Centenary in 2021/22.
Incoming President Richard has chaired a working party to assist with the preparations and good progress has been made in terms of a Centenary Dinner and major overseas project. The Club is well positioned for its Centenary.
Priority 6) was ensuring new members are made welcome and given an opportunity to contribute their skills and experience.
Membership Development Committee has worked hard at membership retention and seeking new members under Sylvia Morgan’s leadership with positive results. New members have made significant contributions during the year supporting the small grants scheme, connecting us with some needy causes, and the promotion of the Club. Several potential new members are likely in the new year.
The President only succeeds with the support of members and I have received much help generously given during the last 12 months.
A number of initiatives have been used to keep the Club functioning many only achievable because of the efforts of a Club member. Some members have made exceptional contributions in this difficult year:
Paul Lockley in continuing to produce The Bulletin on a regular basis and the management of the roll over raffle in a zoom environment.
Mike Boyce has always been ready to help organ
ise and make something happen whether it is filling shoeboxes or finding time to improve the Club’s website.
Stewart Williams for his work on keeping Hub going.
Sylvia Morgan for her great success with membership.
Mike Colley for putting on Tree of Reembrace.
Richard Green for his work in many areas but the breathing machines for India were a great success. I think many of us would hav
e put this in the too difficult box and not made it happen.
Geoff Lowndes and Gerry Peters for doing the things that keep the Club functioning and getting all our necessary administration done largely using zoom. And for the support and guidance they gave me ensuring I did not forget or miss things a President is expected to do.
Jeremy Walters for his expanded role of Almoner putting in significant time and effort in keeping in touch with members who have health problems, or who are isolated.
Stewart Ross and Robin Tyler Morris for giving so much time to the job of managing the Club’s
financial affairs which changed substantially with the COVID restrictions.
The ordinary members for their efforts in supporting the Club’s initiatives.
It was very pleasing to see Peter Williams recognised for his many years of service above self with his MBE.
A well done to those members that learnt to zoom.
Sadly, we lost a number of good Rotarians during the year who were and are missed – John Baker, John Bloxham, Fraser Dukes, and David King They leave us with very good memories of enjoying fellowship together over many years.
I now come to the end of my year. What do I hope you as members will say in my end of year assessment?
A challenging year for Brian and he tried hard with some success, caretaking the Club through a period of significant disruption
, but positioning it so it can quickly get back to what rotary is about once restrictions are eased – fund raising, helping those who are disadvantaged and fellowship.
Thank you for your patience and support.
I wish Richard well in his Year