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More than 30 local groups, charities and good causes joined Swanage & Purbeck Rotary in King George’s Field this weekend to raise awareness of all the fantastic activities that are available to our community.

Coupled with the Swanage Classic Car Rally, taking place in the adjacent Main Beach Car Park, hundreds of local residents, and some visitors to the town, came to take a look at the various stalls, activities, fun and games taking place.

The weather was dry and largely fine, allowing people to circulate around the the range of organisations represented. Interspersing the day was an interactive display from Herston Hall Zumba, Swanage Town Band and the group Singing for Pleasure in the performance area, which attracted good audiences during their performances.

A Treasure Hunt attracted many children of all ages, who explored the field for clues to a list of questions and were rewarded for their efforts with prizes of sweets, drinks, pens and baseball caps.

Rotary Community and Vocation Chair Maggie Hardy declared the day a huge success and it is hoped that this can become a regular event. Rotarian Dai Hounsell from the Community and Vocational Committee was delighted with the response from Swanage residents to this initiative.

Grateful thanks goes to Swanage Town Council and Swanage Development Trust for their help and support in enabling this event to take place.

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The Rotary Foundation celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2017

Our speaker this week was Rotarian Maurice Turner from the Wareham club. Maurice came to speak to us about The Rotary Foundation (“TRF”), our very own charity.

The Rotary Foundation was founded in 1917, twelve years after the start of Rotary with a meagre $12 or so. To date it has provided in excess of $3 billion worth of grant aid.

TRF has five areas of focus under which all its work operates:

  • Peace and Conflict Prevention and Resolution, under which Rotary Peace Centers have been established and train scholars in peace studies. These scholars now work across the globe in many different vocations;
  • Disease Prevention and Treatment, under which the eradication of Polio Wordwide is the most high profile project;
  • Water and Sanitation, where the emphasis is on ensuring a clean water supply for all by providing pumps to remote villages, building sand dams in hot countries to store vast amounts of water and providing proper toilets;
  • Maternal and Child Health, aiming to train and educate mothers in bringing up their children and look after children from war torn communities;
  • Education and Literacy, where efforts have been made to build schools in poorer countries, provide tools such as literacy boxes and assist people with disability to gain an education.

But TRF does so much more. A lot of work is going on with economic and community development, including the use of modern technology. Sustainability is also key, to ensure that what Rotary puts in will still be there many years from now.

Much of the funding for the TRF comes from Rotarians, either through donations to the Annual Programmes Fund or specific donations to some of the specialist areas that are supported such as End Polio Now or Rotary Scholarships. Around $70 million is returned to club projects from TRF every year.

Questions were asked from the floor, following which Rotarian David Chalcraft gave a vote of thanks to Maurice for his superb presentation and for reminding us all of the importance of our own charity, The Rotary Foundation.

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President Linda introduced Sue Davison from Livability to our meeting this week.

Sue looks after the southern region of the charity, which may not be a familiar name to many but was born from the merger of two other more familiar names – The Shaftesbury Centre and John Grooms – in 2007.

The charity operates nationally but has a number of centres in and around Dorset, including Victoria Education Centre in Poole which is a school and also has a children’s home.

Holton Lee is another local centre that the organisation runs, in Holton Heath, where the ‘Flourish’ programme is run – a horticultural therapy project focussing in particular on disability and involving participants in gardening and conservation, working together in the grounds to develop valuable life skills, become more physically active and build self-confidence and motivation.

The charity welcomes people who would be interested in volunteering help. Details are available via their website (linked above).

Rotarian Mo Andrews proposed a vote of thanks to Sue on behalf of the club.

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Our speaker this week was Mark Elling from The Lewis Manning Trust, who came to tell us about the Open Gardens scheme.

Lewis Manning was opened in 1992, originally in the house of the late Marjorie Lewis-Manning, a local business woman, who left it to three trustees to establish a day hospice. A facility for the public, it provides help to people suffering from cancer, as well as offering physiotherapy and better breathing clinics. As the trust has grown, it outgrew the original house and additional facilities have been added to the original site, which has an inpatient unit as well as welcoming outpatients.

It is free to patients and always will be, thanks to the deeds under which it was set up, but it is hugely expensive to run and only receives a small amount of income from the NHS.

The idea of Open Gardens is to ask people with really interesting gardens to open them to the public, and donate money which generates income for Lewis Manning. Currently there are five gardens in Studland that have signed up to the scheme, but more are needed. Promotion would be done on social media in the main, to reduce expensive printing costs, and the trust will also assist with insurance.

On behalf of the club, Rotarian David Pike thanked Mark for coming over from Salisbury to speak to us.

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The great and the good from Swanage and Purbeck, including Club members, Business Partners, Friends of Rotary, Past members and other Rotary clubs assembled at the Knoll House Hotel on Wednesday 20th March to celebrate the Club’s 60th Charter.

Amongst those present to commemorate all those years of fun, fellowship and service to the local community were our mother club Bournemouth, our daughter club Wareham and representatives of seven other Rotary clubs. We were honoured to also welcome RIBI National President Debbie Hodge and District 1110 Governor Allan Smith to the event as well as Swanage Town Mayor Mike Bonfield.

President Elect Steve Parsons and Teresa with Roy & Jill Parkinson and Dick & Julie Mattick from Swindon Old Town (Steve’s former club)

RIBI President Debbie, proposing a toast to the club, spoke warmly about the Club’s history and achievements. In response, PDG David Pike further detailed some of the more memorable events from the club’s past. Then Club President Linda Winter, proposing a toast to the guests, explained how important the local community and visitors to our community are to the club’s ongoing success.

District Governor Allan Smith responded on behalf of the guests and highlighted the important place that Swanage & Purbeck Rotary holds in the life of District 1110.

The event was a joyous occasion and we were delighted to welcome so many people to join our celebration. More photographs are available on our Facebook page

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Our very own Rotarian Chris spoke to us this week about his career and charitable work.

Chris started work as a sponsored apprentice with British Rail in 1971, studying at Portsmouth Polytechnic. Since then, he has enjoyed a number of employments, Shell and Transco amongst them, before setting up his own consultancy in 2002 following redundancy.

In his career he has lived all around the world, including Sarawak, Athens, The Netherlands and Elmers End in Kent, where he was Station Master! Chris joined Rotary in 2006 – apparently the second best decision he has ever made (no prizes for guessing which was the first!).

A few years ago, Chris took the chair of the trustees of a charity called Action for Children in Conflict, based around the Oxford area. Set up as a relatively small organisation, it raised several thousand pounds to help children affected by various conflicts around the world, including the aftermath of the break up of Yugoslavia.

As is often the case with many smaller charities, however, it has not had a completely smooth ride. Some fairly serious issues have proved challenging at times, but the charity has overcome these and Chris highlighted some of the key lessons learned as a good guide to anyone thinking of getting involved in anything similar. These include ensuring that trustees are fully aware of their responsibilities and that they understand the objectives of the charity.

The charity has subsequently merged with another organisation and been rebranded as Acacia UK, and is thriving.

Chris fielded a number of questions from the floor. On behalf of the club, Rotarian John Thraves thanked Chris for a very interesting talk.

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Bill Coombes visited our club last week to tell us all about the International Space Station (ISS). Bill is a NASA Education Ambassador and has spoken on many occasions to groups including schools on the subject.

At more than 400 tonnes and travelling at over 17,000 miles an hour, it is quite a feat of human endeavour. It experiences 16 sunrises and sunsets every day and for the astronauts who spend 6 months at a time operating it, it is an experience like no other.

Bill explained the history of the station, how is has been assembled from its original very small space over a number of years, and the sort of work that astronauts undertake whilst on the station. There was also a fairly graphic explanation via a video made by a previous female astronaut of how the ‘residents’ undertake some of their personal requirements (which I won’t repeat here!).

The station was supposed to be decommissioned in the early 2020s but its life is being extended and we can expect many more missions to take place before it is finally replaced by whatever comes next. Topically, of course, the American Space X module is currently being trialled to enable the USA to once again launch missions to the ISS and we will now watch these developments with increased interest.

On behalf of the club, Rotarian John Babbage gave a very grateful vote of thanks for an extremely interesting presentation.

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In unusually fine and warm weather for late February, Swanage & Purbeck Rotary held their annual Silver Saturday afternoon tea at the Emmanuel Church.

Programmed to coincide with Rotary’s birthday, more than 60 of our community’s more senior citizens joined many of our club members to enjoy sandwiches, cakes and tea, all the while being entertained by a selection of musical favourites from the keyboard of our resident singer Dave Arnold.

Club President Linda Winter, Community and Vocational Committee Chair Maggie Hardy and Town Mayor Mike Bonfield made short speeches, welcoming everyone and thanked those responsible for helping to lay on the event. Maggie also thanked club members very much for their help and support, adding “I have received positive feedback from grateful guests who thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon. A great team effort!”.

More photos are available on our Facebook page.

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Rotarian Mo Andrews spoke to the club this week to give us an update on our Purbeck Admiral Nurse, partly supported by Swanage & Purbeck Rotary, who came to speak to us at a meeting in 2018 and has now been in post for 18 months.

Most appointed Admiral Nurses are associated with care homes and healthcare institutions, but Rachel Murray is the first community Admiral Nurse in the UK. Rachel works with more than 50 families through casework, but that is only part of the job as, amongst other things, she provides help, support, consultancy and supervisory duties within her very busy schedule.

There are as estimated 13,653 people suffering with dementia in Dorset, the vast majority of which are over 65, but 548 are between 30 and 64 years old. Rachel works with multiple family members in many cases and between 18 and 37 families at any one time.

The service has an average of 10 new referrals per month. The vast majority of these come from GP practices and social services.

On behalf of the club, Rotarian Susan Treadwell thanked Mo sincerely for a very uplifting and thought provoking address.

More information can be found at the Dementia Action Alliance Swanage Dementia Friendly Community website.