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After the well-earned Christmas break, it was back to business this week with our first meeting of 2020. And it couldn’t have been more inspirational with the visit of Sarah Spurling.

Sarah is the Litter Free Coast and Sea Project Officer for Dorset Council and spoke to us about the various initiatives underway to remove, reduce and eliminate the amount of rubbish reaching our beaches and coasts.

Sarah explained the many ways in which waste reaches our beaches in the first place and the efforts being made to educate people, not only in the correct ways of disposing of their waste but also how to prevent it being created in the first place.

Local schools and other organisations such as Durlston Country Park are getting involved in the projects that are underway. And Sarah explained why, although it seems an enormous task to rid the world of single-use plastic, every little bit helps and every individual can make a difference.

As a result of the efforts that have been made with local businesses in reducing the amount of single-use plastic, Swanage has secured ‘Plastic Free Town’ status but Sarah doesn’t want to stop there and is continuing to encourage more business to embrace the initiative.

Following her talk, there were many questions from the floor and we could easily have spent several more hours discussing the ideas that came out of the talk.

On behalf of the club, Chris Wallis proposed a vote of thanks for a really thought-provoking talk. More details are available from :

Litter Free Coast and Sea

Sustainable Swanage

Love our Beach

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Club members joined together to celebrate another very successful festive season last week. A two course Christmas Dinner comprising Roast Turkey with all the trimmings and Christmas Pudding was served to over 40 Rotarians, partners and guests.

December fundraising has improved on what was a very successful season in 2018 and will enable Swanage Rotary to provide even more much needed funds for local good causes and some projects further afield.

We were joined at our festivities this year by Sam Whitton, making a welcome return to the club following his visit earlier in the year. This time he was able to show us his completed film about the Galápagos Islands and the threats to the indigenous flora and fauna of the islands.

Sam also showed a film that he has made about the Sea Turtles of Cephalonia in Greece and the threats to their way of life posed by the increase in tourism of that part of the Greek mainland.

Both films were fascinating and extremely professionally made, and everyone present agreed that in Sam there is definitely the next David Attenborough! On behalf of the club Past President Linda Winter proposed a vote of thanks to Sam for coming back and showing us his wonderful films.

From all of us to all of you, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous 2020 and we look forward to seeing many of you at our events over the coming months.

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The weather was fine for the annual Swanage Christmas Market and the public responded by coming out in their droves.

Over 60 stalls selling a variety of produce, gifts, leisurewear, mulled wine, spiced cider and many other items were available for those browsing to see and buy from. There were also children’s rides and musical entertainment ranging from Festive songs, to classic favourites and carols. Santa did not disappoint either, by turning up and handing gifts to hundreds of children in his grotto situated in the middle of the Market.

The following photos are just a small selection showcasing the fun people had:

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President Steve was delighted to welcome Martin Edwards, CEO of Julia’s House, to our latest meeting. The charity is the Presidential Charity for this Rotary year and the President is keen to do as much as possible to raise valuable funds for such a worthy cause.

In front of almost 30 members and guests, Martin gave a most innovative and interactive presentation, starting by handing out leaflets with different numbers on them. He then invited members, one by one, to call out the numbers, each of which was linked to a key fact about Julia’s House and the work that it undertakes.

It was an excellent way of getting everyone present to gain a thorough understanding of the charity. It also brought into sharp focus the challenges that the charity faces, some of which illustrate just how hard those who work for it have to work to continue to provide their services. Examples included:

  • that the charity only receives 5% of its funding from Government and is one of the least publically funded charities in the country;
  • that the vast majority of the people who work there are volunteers;
  • that if the rate of referrals in recent years continues at the same rate for the next 4 years numbers requiring their help will increase by 40%;
  • that their expenditure in the last 12 months has exceeded their income.

On behalf of the club, President Steve thanked Martin for sparing some of his valuable time to come and see us and asked the club to show their appreciation in the usual way.

More details about Julia’s House can be found on their website.

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Swanage & Purbeck Rotary and Wareham Rotary held a long overdue joint meeting at The Springfield Hotel in Wareham this week to learn all about Signing.

Our presenters for the evening were Ken Ebbens from the Rotary Club of Southsea Castle and Kris Burrows, a professional Signing Interpreter. Ken explained where his initial interest in learning to sign came from and how his local Rotary club were supporting an initiative to improve access to services.

He then handed over to Kris. She brought the subject to life, explaining how we all tend to make our first judgements about people based on appearance and, because hard of hearing and deafness is usually invisible, fail to appreciate the issues faced by those unable to hear well. Kris explained the background to sign language and how it has been around in various forms for longer than people would think. She also explained that there is no universal form of sign language and it differs by country. In the UK we use British Sign Language (BSL).

In Britain it has only been recognised as a proper language by Government since 2004. Shamefully, in the decades prior to that, people who were hard of hearing or deaf were encouraged to try to speak instead, sometimes using draconian methods to force that to happen.

Kris taught us all some of the basics of Signing – including the alphabet and some of the more commonly used phrases that save people from having to spell out every word. As a result, it is hoped that we may wish to take things further following this presentation and follow the lead set by Ken and his club In developing services to those who need it.

There were several questions from the floor and an impromptu informal discussion at the end of the meeting. All present felt that this had been a very valuable use of their time.

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Robin Walker was the speaker at our most recent club meeting.

These days a captain of the Sandbanks ferry, Robin spent part of the 1970s as a radio operator with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). He gave us a fascinating insight into life and conditions in the Antarctic then, which were vastly different to the relative luxury that those working down there these days enjoy.

Robin did two tours with BAS – a total of more than 2 1/2 years – and explained in wonderful detail how those working there coped with the extreme conditions and relatively basic equipment and facilities available.

Despite the harsh circumstances, the impression was that it was a happy time, with a real ‘Dunkirk Spirit’ amongst those sent down there. Robin obviously has happy memories of the experience and really brought it all to life.

On behalf of the club, President Steve said a few words of thanks to Robin. Steve has previously worked with BAS in their UK headquarters in Cambridge and could only marvel at the way people managed in the conditions back in the 1970s. He asked the club to show their appreciation for a really eye-opening presentation in the usual way.

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. . . is the strap line for the latest project to be undertaken at Durlston Country Park.

We were delighted to welcome Ben Tolley, who is one of the rangers up at Durlston, who came to talk to us about the history of the park and some of the latest developments taking place.

It’s history dates back to George Burt, nephew of builder John Mowlem, who was keen to develop an area where people could enjoy the natural environment. But as a well travelled man, he was also keen to introduce some of the things he discovered on his travels and the park is full of non-indigenous species.

The park is a recent recipient of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the ‘Durlston Pleasure Grounds’ project has been underway since 2018 to further develop the site. Already the ‘Shed’ has been refurbished and opened in May of this year, enabling people of different ages and abilities, both able bodied and those with restricted mobility, other disabilities or health problems, to share skills and come together through volunteering.

Other plans for the project include thinning out some of the tree coverage to allow more light to come in to the woodland areas, refurbishing the footpaths and rebuilding the dry stone walls.

Although familiar to most of the audience, Ben really brought the park to life during his talk and there were a number of questions from the floor. On behalf of the club, Rotarian Jenny Hynan proposed a vote of thanks to Ben for coming to see us.

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Rotarian Maggie Hardy reports on a very special occasion:

Club members and Friends gathered on the afternoon of Monday 12th August to celebrate the 95th Birthday of fellow Rotarian Hubert Pierce – a Rotarian of over 50 years’ experience. At a surprise party Hubert was accompanied by his daughter Nicki and friend Jackie. He was somewhat overwhelmed at the start to see so many present but thanked everyone for such kindness “in all my years in Rotary no one has ever done anything like this for me before“.

In a garden marquee at the home of Sue and Dave Whitton we all enjoyed a Ritz style tea and a very happy afternoon.

Jenny Huntley had kindly made a delicious cake decorated with a model Spitfire plane (flown by Hubert in the war).

Every member had paid £5 to attend the tea and after expenses Hubert was handed £175 to be donated to a charity of his choice, which he decided would be Swanage Dementia Friendly Community. He presented fellow Rotarian and Treasurer of Dementia Friendly, Mo Andrews, this generous donation towards local Dementia work.

Fellowship and Fun in celebration of Hubert’s 95 years – a well loved and respected Rotarian!

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The well-reported problems with the ferry proved no concern for the annual Swanage & Purbeck Rotary Summer Fête, supported by our Business Partners, as crowds flocked to Sandpit Field to see the numerous stalls, entertainment and activities on offer.

From our major charity for this year Julia’s House and other local charities and good causes, to the ‘Boutique in a Bus’, there was a multitude of things to see and do. In the craft tent, there was a wide variety of stalls selling jewellery, clothing, works of art and other crafts. As ever, the refreshment tent, selling sandwiches, ploughman’s lunches, tea, coffee and cakes, proved very popular as did the barbeque which had a steady queue for burgers, sausages, bacon baps and, new this year, Portobello mushrooms.

There was no shortage of entertainment either. Curley the Busker started proceedings with a couple of sets incorporating 50’s, 60’s and 70’s classics, following which Kevin Burke did his magic show to an enthusiastic reception from the gathered crowd. Jurassic Rock and Roll, all musicians local to the area, rocked the field in the early afternoon and Karen G completed the line up with a selection of familiar and classic tunes.

Later in the morning, the Novelty Dog Show was a very competitive affair with winners claiming prizes for titles including prettiest bitch and waggiest tail and in the afternoon, the children’s games took place with several competitions keeping the children active and entertained.

Towards the end of the afternoon, the Grand Draw took place, with more than twenty prizes, nearly all of which were kindly donated by local people and organisations, being handed out to the lucky winners.

The weather just about held for the event and Club President Steve Parsons thanked everyone for coming and supporting the event and the Grand Draw, all the proceeds from which will provide valuable funds for many local good causes. More photographs from the day are available on our Facebook page.

Next year’s event will take place on Thursday 6th August 2020. Make sure it’s in your diary!

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Our speaker at the very well attended first meeting of the new Rotary year was Sam Whitton.

Sam is a film maker and is currently completing a degree at Falmouth University with a view to becoming a wildlife photographer. He came to speak to us about his trip to the Galápagos Islands which he visited to better understand the diversity of the islands and the ecological challenges that they are facing.

It was a fascinating look at the islands and their wildlife, much of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Sam presented his subject extremely well and his passion for wildlife was abundantly clear. It was also an eye-opener to see how much research is taking place to try and protect what still exists and to prevent further erosion of both the indigenous wildlife population and the landscape itself.

Tourism clearly plays an important part in the economy of the islands but will need to be controlled to prevent long term damage to habitats.

There were numerous questions from the floor, all well answered, and there was great admiration for Sam’s presentation. We hope he will be able to return in the future when his film has been completed so that we can all have front row seats!

On behalf of the club, Sue Whitton have grateful thanks for a most interesting talk.

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