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“To Work We Go” – Memoirs from a Career in Local Government

Our very own John Thraves spoke to us this week, reflecting on his working life in Local Government.

After the obligatory photos from when John was very young (!), he decided at quite a young age that he wanted to go into horticulture. After not quite managing to get a place at Kew Gardens, he went to the University of Essex for three years, achieving a masters degree.

He found a job he liked the look of in London, and after a while took his first steps into Local Government at Richmond Upon Thames. But It wasn’t long before he was headhunted by business and joined a company called Surrey Landscapes.

But it wasn’t where his heart truly lay, and over the next few years he returned to the public sector, working for several London Boroughs. Mostly this was in the parks-related departments but also in the related area of recreation, and he was responsible for those authorities winning several awards.

John, by now with a young family, then decided he wanted to move out of London and joined Crawley Borough Council, where he spent more than twenty years both before and after some major restructuring of the Council itself, ultimately becoming the Director of Community Services, responsible for the council’s amenities including parks, recreation and the arts.

John’s presentation was a fascinating insight into the workings of those local authorities that provide us all with the services that we rely on. It also demonstrated the difficulties in arriving at some of the conflicting decisions that have to be taken to try and provide services for the whole community.

A number of questions were asked from the floor. On behalf of the club, Chris Wallis thanked John for entertaining members with his memories of a life in public office.

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Techniques for Restfulness

Charles Brettell came to Club this week to talk to us about Transcendental Meditation (TM).

Charles explained the origins and principles behind the techniques of TM, and went on to explain the many benefits that can be gained from learning how to meditate. He explained how modern technology can be used to measure brain activity during meditation and how that information can be used to improve mental efficiency, fluid intelligence and creativity. Studies also show that the techniques can be used to improve general health.

TM has been used in many different areas, including with members of the military following periods spent in war zones. It is also used in educational environments around the world.

The technique has also been shown to help personal and professional relationships. Studies have demonstrated significant improvements in terms of reduced stress, increased tolerance and better understanding of others.

The talk has certainly given club members food for thought, and on behalf of the club Rotarian Steve Parsons proposed a vote of thanks.

Those interested in finding out more can go to the TM website.

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A Conference to Inspire Success

Members of Swanage & Purbeck Rotary, together with over 650 members of the District 1110 clubs and their partners, converged on St Helier, Jersey for the Annual District 1110 Conference.

Only held on one of the Channel Islands every few years, the event is always a great opportunity to meet members of other clubs in the District, compare notes, socialise and enjoy great fellowship over a long weekend.

And what a weekend we had lined up for us – inspirational speakers, music, entertainment and even a 1940s-style dance, suitably themed and decorated.

Right from the start of the first plenary session on the Friday afternoon, when we were first addressed by the Bailiff of Jersey Sir William Bailhache and RIBI President Debbie Hodge, we heard fantastic presentations from Barnado’s, Tools for Self Reliance, Wessex Heartbeat and Purple Community Fund.

In the early evening there was a Vin d’Honneur hosted by the Constable of St Helier, followed by the Gala Dinner, uniquely held in three separate locations due to demand, providing an opportunity to network with other clubs and enjoy a large amount of ‘fellowship’!

On Saturday, the high quality of speakers continued – Lee Durrell from the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, The Jersey Good Companions Club, the Rotary Action Group for Clubfoot and Rotary Jaipur Limb – interspersed with presentation on Social Media and Southampton Rotary’s Centenary. And ‘Word on the Street’ played a medley of jazz numbers to make sure that the venue was rocking as we approached the end of the session. Colonel John Blandford-Snell, in his own unique way, ended the session with an hilarious look back at some of the highlights of his expeditions around the world.

Saturday afternoon was devoted to the Peacejam Slam, where Jersey’s youth, joined by some of the Rotarians attending the event, aired their views on how peace can be achieved in the world. In the evening, however, the main hall was transformed into Liberation Day 1945, with the ‘Optimistic Voices’, ‘The Lindyhop Dancers’ and the ‘Plus Fours’ providing entertainment reminding us all of the day the island was liberated from Nazi occupation.

Sunday morning was arguably the highlight of Conference itself. 52 Lives and Holiday for Heroes Jersey provided some genuinely emotional presentations and Bournemouth Rotary recapping their own 100 years of service. But it was after the coffee break that we were really spoilt, with award-winning author Peter James, writer of numerous crime thrillers including the Inspector Roy Grace series of books, thoroughly entertaining the audience. And as if that wasn’t enough, the final speaker was Steve Brown, Paralympian and former Captain of the Team GB Wheelchair Rugby team at London 2012, who truly inspired us all to strive to achieve as much as we could whatever our circumstances.

Although the weather was pretty good for most of the weekend, Saturday’s windy conditions sadly put paid to the planned ‘Aerosparx’ night flying pyrotechnics display and Sunday’s rain forced the cancellation of the beach clean.

All those who attended this year’s Conference weekend will be returning to their clubs with renewed vigour and plenty of food for thought. Next year’s Conference will be held over the same weekend in 2019 at the Warner Leisure Hotel on Hayling Island – get your bookings in now!

The Swanage & Purbeck contingent (less Neil!)

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‘Flying Visit’ from Little Birds

Our Club President’s Charity for this year is Little Birds Pre-School and Jodie and Jude from the charity came to speak to us this week.

Little Birds is based at St Mark’s School in Swanage and looks after up to 21 children aged 2 to 5 years old at each session. They look after a variety of children from different backgrounds, including those from families in poverty and on low income as well as children who are classed as vulnerable and with special needs.

The children receive 15 hours of schooling a week and this is partly funded by Government, but at age 3 the funding drops dramatically despite the fact that the children still need the same levels of funding and support.

The school provides everything that you would imagine children of that age should be entitled to, including proper meals, clean clothes and activities. The school also builds relationships with the families of the children that they are seeing.

The school has received an ‘Outstanding’ rating in its latest OFSTED visit which is a remarkable achievement.

Jodie and Jude are clearly passionate about their work and their dedication to the children that they are working with came across very clearly. The funding that they receive from Government and the County Council / Local Authority is no where near sufficient on its own to enable them to continue to provide the service that they do, so other fundraising is very important.

There were a lot of questions from the floor to what has been a very thought provoking presentation. On behalf of the club, Rotarian Deirdre Selwyn thanked Jodie and Jude for coming to see us and explaining how the pre-school works.

More information can be found on the charity’s website, via the link above.

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Coastwatching!

We were delighted to welcome Ross Martin from National Coastwatch Institution to this week’s meeting, who works at the the Peveril Point watch station.

National Coastwatch, whose strapline is “Eyes Along The Coast” are responsible for watching over our coastline, looking out for those in or on the water should they get into any trouble and trying to preserve life.

It started in 1994 at Bass Point on the Lizard in Cornwall. The lack of any coastguard in the area, resulting in a tragedy where two people died, highlighted the need for the service. There are now more than 50 around the British coastline, in both England and Wales although not in Scotland yet, and the number is increasing.

The service is there to prioritise vulnerable people, and Ross highlighted the dangers of the wide variety of inflatables that people bring to the sea which cause the service to spring into action. Jet Skis, Kite Surfers and sailboards also result in many call outs.

Ross showed us pictures of the various buildings that are used for the service, mainly former coastguard stations, and some of the items that they have found washed up on the beaches around the country. The service is so important these days because of the lack of other services that used to exist actually on the coast such as lighthouses and coastguards. The service is recognised formally as part of the search and rescue service. Emergency response is undertaken by all parts of the search and rescue services.

They provide training to their volunteer watchkeepers in areas such as spotting, plotting and reporting as well as watching experienced watchkeepers at work. Incidents are usually reporting via the 999 service but they do now have their own radio channel, channel 65, which has hugely helped and the service is trying to get the word out to all users of the coasts that this is available.

NCI costs thousands of pounds to keep going but is not funded and relies entirely on public donations to keep itself going. They fundraise at many events around the area. More details about their activities and how people can help are available on their website. The service has been granted royal patronage by Princess Anne and has won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services.

On behalf of the club, Rotarian John Thraves thanked Ross for a most informative and enlightening presentation.

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Fête a hit as it dodges the showers

The Annual Summer Fête took place on 9th August and despite an uncertain weather forecast, the showers held off to allow thousands of locals and visitors alike to enjoy everything that was on offer.

From staple activities such as the Trolley Ride and Hoop-la to new events including the Dog Show and Children’s Races, the day was filled  with things to do. There were plenty of craft stalls in the main tent for people to browse round, the bottle stall was very popular as was the
bric-a-brac stall, which had plenty of visitors all day. Wareham Lions giant skittles game attracted plenty of punters and Inner Wheel had plenty to interest visitors on their stall too.

Those interested in a rest and a bite to eat were well catered for, with the tea tent doing brisk business and the barbecue providing a variety of burgers, bacon and sausage rolls. And there was plenty of seating in the garden area for people to sit, eat and enjoy entertainment from Karen-G and our resident magician/stilt walker amongst others throughout the day.

The Grand Charity Draw had been well supported prior to Fête day as well as on the day, and the actual draw was made just after 4pm, with a first prize of £200 and 20 other prizes being handed out.

Swanage & Purbeck Rotary would like to thank everyone who supported the event through enjoying the activities on the day and by purchasing Draw tickets. And we are indebted to all those who helped to make the day such a success, including Rotarians, their partners, families and friends, who put many hours in both before and afterwards.

Lastly, but by no means least, we would like to thank our Business Partners for their ongoing support to the club.

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Meet the Governor!

We were delighted to welcome newly elected District Governor Allan Smith to our meeting this week. Allan lives in Jersey so he has a lot of travel to do to meet the majority of clubs in the District.

The DG highlighted the Rotary International theme for this year “Be the Inspiration” and how it can be adapted at a District and local level. His own target is to encourage clubs to increase community service  in their area and internationally and for all clubs to try and achieve two additional projects in the year.

Allan highlighted the importance of media, and how, if they will not help   we can make our own publicity in using local contacts as well as social media.  He also went into detail regarding the youth competitions that Rotary run and our club actively promotes and runs.

Above all, he urged all members to enjoy Rotary and Be Inspired.

On behalf of the club, Rotarian Steve Parsons proposed a vote of thanks to the DG for coming over to see us.

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Passing the Baton

At the end of a highly successful year it was time for President Ro Clark to hand over the Presidency of Swanage & Purbeck Rotary to New President Linda Winter.

On a glorious summer’s evening in the gardens of Dave & Mary Pike, over 60 Rotarians, Partners, friends and colleagues gathered to enjoy a splendid buffet prepared by our excellent caterers Bliss Food Co and witness the changing of the guard.

President Ro reflected on the many highlights of her year and the very positive increase in members that will help the club to continue to run and support the many events that it is involved in, before handing over the Presidential jewel. President Linda looked forward to maintaining the momentum of the past year and continuing to increase our profile and achievements.

She also passed the President Elect jewel over to Steve Parsons and welcomed Deirdre Selwyn as the new President Nominee

Earlier in the evening, there was still time to welcome two more new members of the club as Susan Treadwell and Mike Bonfield were inducted as full members, bringing the overall club membership up to 42.

There was also a special recognition award for Dave Whitton for his tireless efforts in supporting the events and activities of the club over many years.

Now it’s back to work as the Summer Fête is looming large on the horizon and preparations are well underway. Let’s hope the wonderful weather that we are enjoying continues!

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Fundraising Success!

Club members gathered with organisations who have been supported by Swanage Rotary, and organisations that have supported the club’s activities, on 13th June to commemorate another successful year of fundraising, with almost £21,000 raised up to the end of April 2018.

Over 65 people, including Swanage Town Mayor Mike Bonfield, crammed in to Swanage Conservative Club to enjoy a sumptuous buffet laid on by Rotarians Sue Whitton and David Pike.

This was followed by an on-screen presentation highlighting the events and activities of the year, including the Summer Fête, Santa Sleigh, Christmas Market, Young Musician and Young Chef competitions, Swanage Walks and the Purbeck Pirate Festival amongst many others. Even the ‘Beast from the East’ got a mention!

While a significant amount of our fundraising has already been distributed, we were able to present a number of cheques on the night amounting to over £4,000 to Swanage Foodbank, Barry Audley on behalf of Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, Swanage & Purbeck Development Trust aka The Centre and Admiral Nurses.

                    

We were also proud to be able to award a Paul Harris Fellowship to Kim Gallagher for her sterling efforts over many years to The Centre in particular and the youth of Swanage in general.

During the evening, Rotarian Hubert Pierce was presented with a certificate marking 50 years as a Rotarian.

The night concluded with a networking opportunity for those present to find out more about the various activities that Rotary is involved in, amongst which are Foundation, Community and International.

All agreed it was a most successful evening and a good showcase for Rotary’s contribution to the community

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Down on the Farm!

The club’s final meeting of May was an outing to Cedar Organic at Rempstone Farm in Corfe Castle. Rotarian Mo Andrews reports.

The farm is run by a couple of passionate organic farmers who have chosen to become organic as they believe it to be the only way of assuring environmental considerations and sustainability.

The visit was very successful, with clubs members hearing all about the background and principles of the farm and seeing many of the animals.

The visit included a trip round the farm in its purpose-built tour carriage. As you can see from the photograph, this was hugely enjoyed by everyone present and really helped to show the efforts that the farm have gone to in order to achieve their aims.

 

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