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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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Storm Ciara was not enough to stop our young musicians coming out to take part in the local heat of the Rotary Young Musician competition, held on Sunday 9th February at Swanage Methodist Church.

The competition was in two parts, with the key stage 2 candidates first to take to the stage. Competitors showed off their skills on violin, guitar and there was also a vocalist. The quality on display, even at that young age, was most impressive.

After a short break, it was the turn of the key stage 3, 4 and 5 competitors to take to the stage, and we heard a variety of genres of music played on the trumpet, saxophone and piano, which delighted the audience present.

We were extremely grateful to our adjudicators Dilys Thomas, Tom Davis, Philippa Topham and Simon Lole for their expert assessment of the candidates in the two classes, and special thanks as ever to accompanist Jay Buckle. We were also delighted that Swanage Town Mayor Mike Bonfield was able to attend to help present the prizes.

In the evening, their was a Celebration Concert, at which the prize winners took to the stage again and were joined by the Swanage Big Band and the Purbeck Youth Choir. During the concert MC Tim Arnold also highlighted the new Purbeck Youth Music Initiative which it is hoped will maintain and develop music in our area and encourage more young people to take up music.

The Rotary Young Musician competition now moves on to the District heat, which will take place at Bryanston School on Sunday 16th February. Winners from that will proceed to the South West Regional Finals in Taunton at the end of March.

More photos of yesterday’s event and some of the winners are available on the Swanage Rotary Facebook page.

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Swanage Rotary members enjoyed a more relaxed evening out this week, enjoying a break after the recent busy festive period.

We met up at the recently refurbished Village Inn at Ulwell to enjoy a lovely meal, good company and a proper introduction to the ‘Cornhole’ game, which was originally introduced at last year’s summer fete. We were also joined by our Assistant Governor Ros Nelmes from Blandford Rotary.

The game was brought back from the USA by Rotarian Chris Wallis and involves throwing small bags of corn or beans onto a board a few metres away. It Is apparently Incredibly popular in the states, where competitive tournaments take place. We suspect we’ve got a way to go before we achieve those heights but as a “starter for 10” this was an ideal opportunity to try it out.

Splitting into three teams, we each had two rounds to score as many points as possible. Scoring is straightforward with one point for landing a bag on the board and three for getting it in the hole. We’re not sure what a ‘good’ score is, but there were a couple of individual scores in the teens which we felt was probably not bad.

After everyone had had two goes, There was a clear winning team and then the two highest individual scores had a ‘throw-off’ to decide the winning player. Congratulations go to Rotarian John Thraves who was a convincing winner and collected the plaudits. Perhaps we should make this an annual competition? Or even propose it as an addition to the District Sports calendar!

Grateful thanks go to Rotarians Ali Arnold and Hilary Thraves for putting the evening together and to all those present for coming out on a cold and wet evening and making it such an enjoyable evening.

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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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