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!)