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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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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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