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For our first meeting of the new Rotary year, we were grateful to be able to grab some of our brand new District Governor Tim Mason’s time on Zoom, to give us an early steer of his plans for the year.

Tim has had a varied Rotary career with numerous clubs, mainly around the south and east of the UK and including two spells with the Rotary Club of Swindon, where current Swanage President Steve knew him from his previous club of Swindon Old Town.

He has always been determined to play an active role in all of those clubs, not content with hiding in the background, and was one of the founder members of the District 1100 eClub which has since attracted members from well outside its original catchment area.

But Tim felt that something was missing, and since moving from Wiltshire to Portsmouth a few years ago, he realised that the club he had joined was not dynamic enough for his ideas.

And so Rotary Social Innovation was born. This is billed as a different kind of Rotary which aims to harness the power of social media and the enthusiasm of social enterprise to encourage more engagement whilst maintaining the original ethos of the Rotary movement all those years ago in Chicago at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Based in the Portsmouth area, it aims to offer a more flexible and innovative way of doing Rotary, and Tim is bringing much of its objectives into his year as District Governor. Undoubtedly it won’t be something that everyone will embrace, but it will be interesting to see how the year develops.

Following Tim’s address there were a number of questions from club members. On behalf of the club, President Steve thanked the DG for taking time out of what must be a hectic schedule to come and speak to us.

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Swanage & Purbeck Rotary raises considerable funds from our lovely local community every year, and much of it goes to very well known local organisations and projects.

However, a substantial amount goes to very local small good causes who don’t always get the publicity that they richly deserve. One such case in point has happened this week with a donation from the funds that were raised last December from Santa’s Sleigh.

This donation went to Tyler’s Friends, which supports bereaved parents to enable them to have the funeral and memorial of their wishes for their precious baby or child. More details are available via the link above.

We are delighted to be able to support causes such as this and endeavour to provide as much of our funding as possible to local projects. Even in these times of crisis, where our fundraising activities are being severly hampered, we will continue to strive to achieve these ends.

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Our speaker at our recent Zoom meeting was our very own Hubert Pierce.

Hubert’s Rotary service goes back more than 50 years and he was a member of Blackpool North and Lytham clubs prior to coming down south to join us all. Now in his nineties he is showing no signs of slowing down either!

In this online Q&A, asking the questions was President Nominee Chris Lefevre and he started with Hubert’s background growing up and his distinguished service during World War Two. Hubert has so many fascinating stories and there is certainly nothing wrong with his memory as he reeled the gathering with entertaining and amusing tales from his early years.

Moving forward to his Rotary career, Hubert’s first experience of a Rotary club was not a particularly positive one as a member of the club he first went along to (not named to protect the guilty!) rather took exception to him sitting in what he considered to be ‘his seat’. Undeterred Hubert found a much more positive attitude at the next club that he visited, and he spent many years at two clubs in the north west, becoming both Club President and District Governor in the process.

It was retirement in the 1980s that eventually brought Hubert down south, and he has spent many happy years at our club in more recent years. His knowledge of all things Rotary is vast and we may well have to have a second and even a third meeting to try and cover even some of what he has picked up over the years.

Needless to say, all those present thoroughly enjoyed hearing about Hubert’s life and Rotary career. We’re sure that there will be time for plenty more in the coming months too!

On behalf of the club, President Steve was delighted to propose a vote of thanks to Hubert for sharing some of his very active life with us, and we look forward to more when the situation allows.

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The Rotary ‘Bag Creation’ team, from left to right: Steve & Teresa Parsons, Robin Hargraves, Maggie Hardy, Deirdre Selwyn and Sarah Randall

The lockdown brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic has forced plenty of people to make enormous changes to their lives. Here in our own community it has also presented some wonderful opportunities.

One of those is the expansion of the Friendly Food Club. Dorset-based, it is a not-for-profit organisation which aims to get as many people as possible to care about what they eat and enjoy the process of cooking and eating together. The workshops are free are a chance for people to make new friends within their community as well as learning some basic cooking skills whilst preparing, cooking and eating a meal together.

But we’re currently in the middle of a pandemic lockdown so the workshops can’t take place as normal. Undeterred, the organisation has modified its model to continue to provide some of the benefits of the club by providing the ingredients for a different meal every week, which are bagged up and instead distributed to the homes of local families.

It has now opened an operation in Swanage, supported by the Swanage and Purbeck Development Trust and Swanage & Purbeck Rotary and co-ordinated by Kim Gallagher. The service started this week, and members of Swanage Rotary have just created the first 44 bags of ingredients, at all times observing strict social distancing rules of course, which will be distributed to people’s homes by staff and pupils at Swanage School, St Mark’s and Swanage First School.

It is intended that this will continue at least until lockdown rules are relaxed but it may well continue beyond that.

More details about the Friendly Food Club can be found on their Facebook page.

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Swanage Rotary held its first ‘virtual’ speaker meeting this week, since the start of the lockdown, and we were delighted to welcome District Governor Nominee Paul Steele from Guernsey Rotary to join our Zoom meeting and tell us all about his plans for the next couple of years.

One of the advantages of meeting online is that we can invite speakers from virtually anywhere, which would not be possible with a face-to-face meeting, so although Paul, like the rest of us, is not able to travel currently he was able to speak to the club directly as if we were all in the same room. In addition, members of Wareham Rotary were also able to join the meeting.

Paul is a very experienced Rotarian having joined in the early 1980s, and it certainly sounds like he will be bringing that wealth of experience to his time as the leader of District 1110. He put forward many interesting ideas about how he would like the District to move forward so that we can remain relevant to our local communities and encourage ever more people to join the Rotary movement. This will require significant change, however, if we are to attract younger members and it might be the the current crisis gives us all the opportunity to do just that.

A number of attendees asked questions and raised points in response to Paul’s address. On behalf of both clubs, President Steve thanked Paul for taking some time out to join our meeting.

Anyone who is interested in finding our more about Rotary in Swanage and Purbeck is welcome to join one of the Zoom meetings that we have planned in the coming weeks. Please contact secretary@swanagerotary.org for more details.

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With deep regret we are very sad to announce that the Swanage Rotary Fête, planned for Thursday 6th August, has had to be cancelled.

We have been waiting as long as possible for clarification on the feasibility of running the event but it is clear from the Government advice on social distancing this week (11th May) that public activities will not be able to proceed in a format that would allow us to put this event on. In addition, local Government very strongly advise that visitors should not come to our area during the pandemic.

But we will be back, bigger and better in 2021!! The date for your diaries is Thursday 12th August 2021 and we look forward to seeing you all there.
Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives.

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In spite of the ongoing crisis surrounding the Coronavirus outbreak, it was decided that President’s Night should continue as planned, and a merry band assembled at the superb Kingston Country Courtyard for an event rather different to the norm.

Joined by members of our daughter club Wareham, and visitors from Swindon Old Town Rotary, Ashford (Kent) Rotary, Swanage Rotarians partners and guests, Medieval Night saw a wide variety of knights, peasants, “men of the cloth” and other outfits start the evening with a mead cocktail before being called through to the dining hall for the feast by none other than Swanage Town Crier Andrew Fleming.

And what a feast it was. Starting with a locally sourced vegetable soup, ladelled from large pots by waiting staff equally bedecked in medieval costume, the meal progressed to whole chickens and large pork joints carved at the table with a variety of vegetables and rich gravy in large brown jugs. We then progressed to ‘Britain’s Oldest Dessert’ – custard tart with a fresh rhubarb topping.

Entertainment followed the meal, provided by ‘Kevin The Court Jester’, who entertained everyone with medieval dancing, illusion, some magic and feats of bravery such as the bed of nails.

Huge thanks must go to Rotarian Deirdre Selwyn for her selfless dedication to ensuring that the event still went ahead and to Tony Edwards, the chef and all the staff at Kingston Country Courtyard for putting on a magnificent evening.

In these uneasy times, and with no certainty about anything that might be happening over the coming weeks, this was a welcome distraction and was well received by all present. More photos are available on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

As advised on our home page, Swanage Rotary will now go into lockdown for the next few weeks. Further details regarding our future activities will be provided via our social media pages so please return to them regularly for updates.

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Our annual Silver Saturday event took place at Emmanuel Church this weekend, celebrating the more senior members of our community.

Over 50 guests joined Rotarians, partners of Rotarians and friends for an afternoon of fun, fellowship and, most importantly, a wonderful afternoon tea with sandwiches, cakes and other goodies!

Rotarian Maggie Hardy started proceedings by welcoming everyone to the event and explaining what it was all about. She then invited President Steve Parsons to say a few words. The event coincides with Rotary’s birthday, 115 years old this year, so the President then cut a cake to mark the occasion and everyone sang Happy Birthday!

We were then treated to some music by Dave Arnold who played many old favourites, with many of the assembled audience joining in. Then the main business of the afternoon started, with trays of meat, cheese, egg and vegetarian sandwiches and beautifully adorned cake stands being brought to tables. Conversation was flowing well as everyone tucked in to their tea.

After everyone had had their fill, Dave Arnold again provided further entertainment and there was no stopping some from getting up to dance. The final few words were afforded to Mayor of Swanage Mike Bonfield, himself a member of Swanage Rotary, who highlighted the contribution that our senior citizens make to the local community.

A most enjoyable afternoon was had by all and Swanage Rotary very much looks forward to the next occasion.

More photos are available on our Facebook page.

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Storm Dennis may have wreaked havoc across the country but it still didn’t deter our young musicians from ensuring that they performed at the District Young Musician final.

Held once again at the excellent facilities of Bryanston School in Blandford, instrumentalists and singers from across our District performed for a decent sized audience to try and win a place in the regional final. Our very own Tim Arnold hosted proceedings as a very high standard of solo singers, flautists, violinists and pianists competed for the prizes.

Our adjudicators for the day were :

  • Philippa Topham, who has been Director of Music at schools in Dubai and England and has examined for ABRSM for 14 years;
  • Hannah Rose Innes, a multiple music prize winner and member of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra;
  • Peter Leete, a member of the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and the Bach Choir for 30 years.

They certainly had their work cut out but ultimately there have to be winners and the first placed voice competitor was Katie Conquest from Basingstoke, with Jessica Gill, also from Basingstoke, picking up the best instrumentalist and overall first place prizes. They will both now go forward to the South West Region final, to be held at Queen’s College in Taunton on 29th March.

Grateful thanks go to all the competitors and their families, accompanist Chris Dowie and the members of Swanage & Purbeck Rotary who turned up in good numbers to help the day run smoothly. And, of course, to Sue Whitton and Jenny Huntley who provided wonderful refreshments for everyone there.

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Bob Foster and Kim Gallagher came to see us this week to tell us all about the Swanage and Purbeck Development Trust.

The Trust was born out of an urgent need for community support arising from decisions made by the former Dorset County Council to withdraw support for urgently needed community facilities. It is an umbrella organisation that co-ordinates and support initiatives aimed at improving local amenities for the benefit of the area.

Kim and Bob went into more detail about some of the initiatives that had already taken place. Most notable is The Centre which has taken over the building formerly used by the youth club, refurbished it and made it somewhere that people want to visit and use again.

There are new projects in the pipeline, including the refurbishment of Herston Village Hall, which needs new insulation and repairs to its roof to make it somewhere that the community can get much more use from. The largest project, however, is the plan to upgrade Swanage Football Club and rebuild the clubhouse to make it a multi-purpose facility that the whole community can benefit from. This is a £10 million project but plans are already well advanced and it is hoped that they will be able to apply for grants to contribute to the costs.

Bob is a former member of Swanage and Purbeck Rotary and Kim is a long time supporter and friend who received a Paul Harris Fellowship a couple of years ago. We were delighted to welcome them both back to the club and on behalf of the club Maggie Hardy proposed a vote of thanks for their most informative presentation.

More details about the Swanage and Purbeck Development Trust are available via this link.

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