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Stamp of Authority!

Our speaker this week was Eve from The English Stamp Company, based in Worth.

They don’t do postage stamps! That was made very clear right from the start. They actually make rubber stamps for stamping fabrics, business stamps, logo printing etc.

Some requests are stranger than others! And clients vary from individuals to local businesses to the rich and famous – the company counts Victoria Beckham amongst their clients.

At this time of year, the emphasis is on Christmas and there is a demand for stamping gift wrap, greetings cards and so on. Eve showed us how to create very effective designs simply by adding colours, powder and glitter onto a basic stamp design.

There were questions from the floor, particularly around how the stamps themselves are made and how the company gets the word out about what they do.

Rotarian Maggie Hardy thanked Eve for a most interesting talk and for enlightening us all. Then club members were invited to come up and try it for themselves.

Watch out for some interesting Christmas cards this year!!

Earlier in the evening we were delighted to welcome our latest new member to the club, Peter Davies, shown here being introduced to club members by Rotarian Hubert Pearce. President Ro conducted the induction ceremony for what is already our fourth new full member this Rotary year.

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Out on the Town

Swanage & Purbeck Rotarians demonstrated that they are just as good at the fellowship part of Rotary as the service and fundraising elements when they met up for a night out this week.

Over 20 Rotarians, Inner Wheelers, partners and guests descended on The Salt Pig Too in Station Road for an excellent meal and the opportunity to chat and socialise.

Those present enjoyed a two course meal, featuring a choice of venison, lamb, fish or risotto as a main course, followed by cheesecake, chocolate tart or sticky toffee pudding for dessert, and it was all washed down with a selection of beers wines and spirits from the well-stocked bar.

President Ro, fresh from her recent holiday in Malta, thanked everyone for coming out but in particular Jenny Hynan and Linda Winter for organising the evening.

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Thanks to Swanage & Purbeck Community

We were delighted to receive recognition from The Fire Fighters Charity, following the collection in Swanage following the Grenfell Tower Fire, thanking Swanage Rotary for the donation made to the charity.

Our thanks accordingly go to the whole community of Swanage and Purbeck for their generous donations which enabled us to make this donation. In addition to the money donated to The Fire Fighters Charity we were also able to make a sizeable donation to the Rotary Club of Kensington and Chelsea, who are the Club most local to the Tower, who are co-ordinating the funds raised.

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Where There’s A Will There’s A Way!

Our speaker this week was our very own Ann Corke, who as well as being a Swanage Rotarian is also a solicitor with local firm Humphries Kirk.

Ann talked to us in a most entertaining way about some of the unintended consequences around wills and why it is important to lay out in the form of a will exactly how you want your estate to be split up after death. It is clearly a complex area that is often not taken as seriously as it should be.

As important is making sure that wills are kept up to date, as siatuations change as do laws and what was right several years ago may have been affected by subsequent changes in legislation.

Ann also covered Powers of Attorney, whereby individuals can dictate who is able to manage their affairs should they become incapable of doing so themselves. The most common of these is Lasting Power of Attorney – property and financial affairs, which enables just those elements to be managed in the event of incapacity. It is also possible to include health and welfare, which enables all of an individuals affairs, for example financial; medical etc, to continue to be managed should they become unable to do so.

Ann fielded a number of questions from the floor, largely on some of the detail of people’s own arrangements, which generated considerable food for thought.

On behalf of the club, Rotarian John Babbage thanked Ann for clarifying what is a complicated area of law.

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From (Bela)Russia With Love!!

Our speaker this week was our very own Bernard Bettles, who spoke to us about his work with the Chernobyl Children of Belarus.

The children of Belarus were seriously affected by the nuclear cloud that was blown across the country after the Chernobyl nuclear reactor exploded in the 1980s. In the 1990s Bernard helped to co-ordinate visits from the children to the UK and he explained, in a touching and light-hearted way in equal measure, how the children benefitted from enjoying clear air and uncontaminated food for a few weeks and also how the people of our area got to know some of the children so well over several years.

Other work that Bernard got involved with included trying to provide better conditions for the children once they returned home, including clothing them with end of line stock from Animal (donated free of charge) and in particular The Seed Project – providing seeds so that they could grow their own produce. The seeds and equipment were all shipped out from the UK to one of the schools in Marina Gorka so that the local children could start to grow vegetables in uncontaminated soil that would not harm them further. Moreover, any surplus that they grew was sold to local people thus benefitting the wider community.

Another project that Bernard got involved with was in helping to provide furniture for another school in Minsk. The money was raised in the UK through local schools, churches, Swanage Rotary and Swanage Lions, but the furniture was bought locally in Belarus to benefit the local economy as well as the school.

On behalf of the club Rotarian Mick Beck proposed a vote of thanks to Bernard, not only for his presentation but for his years of service to Swanage Rotary on what is his farewell meeting. Happy ‘Retirement’ Bernard!

Earlier in the evening, President Ro Clark was delighted to present a Paul Harris Fellowship to Deirdre Selwyn for her many years of work with numerous charities and causes and her dedication to the health and welfare of the community. Deirdre was typically modest about her achievements but delighted to have received the honour.

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Right On Track!

Our speaker at this week’s meeting was Dr Mike Walshaw, an electrical engineer who volunteers as a signalman at the Corfe Castle signal box on the Swanage Railway. Mike came to talk to us about Project Wareham – the project to link Swanage back to the railway network.

Mike has been involved with the project since 2011. It was the Poole to Wool resignalling project that offered the “chance of a lifetime” possibility to recreate the link back to the network but over five million pounds had to be raised to give the project any chance of success. Network Rail did not contribute any money to Project Wareham but did fund the main line upgrades, eventually commissioned in 2014.

Amongst the challenges faced by the project was laying 6 1/2 miles of signalling cable from Corfe Castle to Wareham and the erection of a flat pack cabin at Norden Gates. Contractors were employed to undertake some of the works with volunteers assisting where they could. Mike himself was responsible for the design and installation of part of the signalling system – the token system, a system used on single track lines which dates back over 100 years to the early days of the railway.

Other challenges that had to be overcome were strengthening parts of the trackway itself (the embankments), replacing old and worn rail and creating a road/rail interchange and a new level crossing at Norden.

The talk was a fascinating insight into the efforts made to successfully enable the line to be reopened back to the main line at Wareham earlier this year, and Rotarian David Huntley thanked Dr Mike for coming to tell us all about it.

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The Return of Summer Heralds Successful Fête

Club President Ro Clark reports on a day of sunshine, laughter, fun and fundraising


After all the recent poor weather, Swanage Rotarians approached this week’s Summer Fête and Craft Fair with some trepidation, wondering even if the event would be able to go ahead at all.

We needn’t have worried. Although Sandpit Field was a little muddy to start with, the advance 7am party of Rotarians worked hard to get everyone on site to prepare for the opening of the event. They needed to chalk the lay out again as it had washed away (!) but after running around and unpacking endless boxes the site was ready for 10.30 and it looked great with all the stalls ready to go.

The Craft tent had many people manning their own stalls, selling their wares and what a pleasure it was to see many talented people. There were lots of entertainers ready to perform to the crowds young and old and they stopped people in their tracks to watch and listen.

As President I had the pleasure of opening the Fête, and gave thanks to a huge team of people that worked so hard to make the day possible. Particular grateful thanks go to our visitors, because without them it would not be a success at all and there would be no funds available to be able to do what Rotary does best – supporting the local community as well as International projects. Many thanks also go to our Business partners and local people who very generously supported the raffle by donating incredible prizes.

I tried very hard to go around and thank everyone in person for their contribution in making the day a great one. I also talked to lots of visitors and locals who come back year after year as they love the family feel that the event has, not to mention the wonderful food that is available too.


I drew the raffle (winning ticket numbers here) and awarded prizes for naming the Dalmatian, which will be called Buttons. There were also sports trophies for three age groups of football keepy-uppys. All the awardees were really pleased with their prizes.

At the end the clear up began, and again Rotarians put their shoulders to the wheel and worked hard in packing lots of heavy kit on to big tractors. In no time at all the field was once again cleared

It was a long and tiring day, but so worthwhile to see lots of smiling happy faces and to hear laughter and people clutching their precious purchases from the many stalls. Special thanks must go to the Fête Committee and also to the Treasurer and his trusty team, who will be counting out the money and paying the bills. We will know the final figure raised at some point in the near future. Then we can get down to the business of sharing it all out. That is what being a Rotarian is all about: the work and then the joy of helping others. It warms my heart.

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Support for the Victims of Grenfell Tower

Rotarian Maggie Hardy reports on a fantastic local response to a recent tragedy

On 21st June, a week after the Grenfell Tower blaze, the Swanage and Purbeck Rotary Club organised a street collection for those affected by the disaster.

The swift response to this tragedy was once again supported by our wonderful community who helped us to raise £1500.

The Swanage Town Band who held a concert at the bandstand on the same day helped to swell the amount by a further £500 making a total of £2000.

Swanage and Purbeck Rotary Club is working with the Kensington and Chelsea Rotary Club who have been asked by a Nursery, once held on the ground floor of Grenfell Tower, to replace equipment lost in the fire and Swanage Rotary will also be supporting London Fire Brigade workers who have been affected by the fire.

The money for the nursery will be sent to The Kensington Club once “bona fides” have been completed.

Organiser Rotarian Maggie Hardy would like to thank all those in the community who supported this collection and the members of Swanage Town Band for their fantastic support.

Swanage Rotary was also very grateful to past members of the Swanage Lions club who helped with the collection.

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Recognition for Model Young Citizen

Rotarian Hilary Thraves reports on a night of celebration at Swanage school.

The Clem Dennis Young Citizen Award was presented by Swanage & Purbeck Rotary to Yasmin Unsworth at The Swanage School’s Celebration of Learning Evening on 13 July. Clem Dennis was a much loved and respected Rotarian who was selfless, committed and passionate about Rotary and its motto “Service Above Self”. This award celebrates and acknowledges these qualities.

This year, ten students were nominated by their teachers and then interviewed individually by Swanage & Purbeck Rotary President Ro Clark, Chair of Youth Committee Linda Winter, and Young Citizen Lead Hilary Thraves.

Some of the qualities demonstrated in Yasmin’s nomination and interview, as follows, made her a very worthy winner:-

• She is an excellent, trusted “Big Sister”, listening carefully to students’ problems and acting as a mediator to resolve friendship issues
• She has coached and supervised pupils at after-school sports clubs and outreach activities with local primary schools; Yasmin herself plays badminton at County level
• She has been a role model for younger students taking part in the school production and plans to do the choreography for next year’s production
• She recently joined the team for the school’s Cancer in Children Support project and is already making a significant and positive contribution to arranging fundraising events
• Outside school, Yasmin supports the RNLI and has taken part in the Weldmar Hospice’s Bubble Rush and a 5k run for the Alzheimer’s Society

In their interviews, candidates showed enthusiasm & positivity, initiative, focus, leadership skills and potential and self-assurance and commitment, but often in a modest and unassuming way. What also shone through was the students’ pride in and love for The Swanage School. It was a privilege and a pleasure to be involved.

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Busy Start to the New Rotary Year

There was a packed agenda for new Club President Ro Clark’s first meeting.

Not only did we have Chris and Hannah from Swanage Gymnastics Club but Swanage Town Crier Andrew Fleming was also present, and two Paul Harris Fellowships were awarded.

To start with, President Ro was delighted to present Paul Harris Fellowships to Paddy Rideal and David Dean for many years of support and endeavour to Rotary and our club. They were extremely grateful to receive the recognition.

Chris and Hannah addressed the meeting next, explaining how they had established the gymnastics club at Swanage School from scratch without having any idea whether it would be a success or not. However, when over 100 people signed up before they even opened they knew that they had identified a much needed gap in the Swanage area. Previously the nearest similar club was either Wareham or Lychett. They now run several classes a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, including classes for adults, and have a waiting list of around 120! They also showed a short video to demonstrate what happens at the club. Swanage Rotary were delighted to present them for a cheque for £1000 which will go towards a new trampette and other equipment. Rotarian Steve Parsons offered a vote of thanks on behalf of the Club for telling and showing us the fruits of their efforts.

Lastly but by no means least, Andrew Fleming addressed the meeting. He explained the history of the role of the Town Crier, which actually dates back to Roman times. More recently, in the 17 and 18 hundreds, the Town Crier would disseminate information to the general public, most if whom couldn’t read, especially when taxes needed to be raised to pay for wars! He held a unique position, however, as the role was protected by the Monarch and it was illegal to interrupt or otherwise interfere with the messages that were being cried.

These days the role is largely ceremonial but there are competitions held up and down the country for town criers to demonstrate their prowess. Andrew has won the South of England competition three years in a row and has finished second and third twice in the National competition, so perhaps this year will be his year. The role is unpaid but is for life so Andrew is looking forward to continuing to do it for many years to come. On behalf of the Club Deirdre Selwyn offered a vote of thanks for a most informative and entertaining address.

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