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Changing of the Guard

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Six months later than usual, largely as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, Swanage & Purbeck Rotary welcomed in their new President at a ‘hybrid’ meeting at the end of December.

Outgoing President Steve Parsons handed over the chain of office to new President Deirdre Selwyn in front of a largely Zoom audience but with a few members physically present, strictly in accordance with Government guidelines for Tier 2, which Swanage was in at the time.

The evening was not really a time for speeches but, after Steve had said a few thank yous, in a few words of introduction Deirdre mentioned some of the initial objectives for her term, highlighting the fact that the group’s activities would continue to have to operate as they had been for the last nine months until such time that the COVID vaccination programme starts to enable us to resume some of our usual activities.

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Deirdre’s chosen charities for her term are Swanage Stroke Club and The Besom, and it is hoped that we will be able to raise important funds for these very worthy causes.

Also appointed during the evening was the new President Elect Chris Lefevre, who will take over from Deirdre at the end of her term.

Following the formalities those present both on Zoom and in person participated in a thought-provoking and challenging Christmas Quiz compiled by our very own Rotarian Dai Hounsell which was a fitting finale to the final gathering of 2020.

We welcome anyone interested in finding out more about Swanage & Purbeck Rotary, or who has any ideas or suggestions for our group, to contact our secretary for more information.

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Festive Cheer!

Festive Photo
Festive Photo

The festive season has proved to be a great success for Swanage Rotary again this year thanks to the enormous generosity of the people of Swanage, Studland, Langton, Corfe Castle and the surrounding area.

Although our usual activities had to be amended, restricted and in some cases cancelled, some lateral thinking enabled us to continue to escort Santa and deliver local Christmas cards around the area. And we were able to add the pop-up Charity shop, the Christmas Stockings initiative and preparation of the Friendly Food Club ‘Yule Log’ food bags to our programme of events, not to mention shoeboxes for less fortunate children in other parts of the world.

When Santa’s sleigh was on its travels, members of the public still came out in their droves, in a socially-distanced way of course, to see us go by and donations to good causes almost matched 2019.

The charity mail was very well supported as ever. We received, sorted and delivered over 4,000 cards to local addresses with hardly any errors (but apologies to anyone who did receive anything not addressed to them!).

The Christmas Pop-Up shop proved to be just what people were looking for in completing their Christmas shopping and we pretty much sold out in 10 days!

In the absence of the legendary Christmas Breakfast, which we simply couldn’t operate this year given the status of the pandemic, delivery of Christmas Stockings to those who would usually attend the breakfast was very well received.

And we funded and prepared fifty food bags for distribution to local families to enable them to make their own unique Friendly Food Club Yule logs in time for Christmas.

Lastly, but by no means least, even during the toughest of times, we have been able to assemble enough contents to fill 286 shoeboxes for transfer to Bournemouth Airport bound for children in Montenegro, Albania and the Philippines who would otherwise have virtually no Christmas at all.

We are extremely grateful to everyone who participated in any of our events this year. Your generosity has enabled us to raise thousands of pounds which will be distributed to many local good causes as well as to some International projects supported by the wider Rotary movement.

From all of us to all of you, we wish you a Happy New Year and hopefully a much better 2021.

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Pop In to our Pop Up

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Swanage & Purbeck Rotary have opened their very first ‘pop-up’ charity shop.

Situated in Station Road, Swanage, on the site of the former Mobility Shop, it will be open for the next two weeks (excluding Sundays) selling Christmas goodies and gift ideas.

Rotary President Steve Parsons (pictured above) was proud to officially open the shop on the morning of Thursday 3rd December. Also shown are Rotarians Maggie Hardy and Sue and Dave Whitton who look forward to welcoming everyone to the shop over the coming days.

The shop will be open from 9:30am to 2:30pm everyday except Sunday and can accept, cash, cheques, card and contactless including ApplyPay and AndroidPay.

We look forward to seeing you!

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Innovative Rotary

We used the opportunity of Zoom to re-run the presentation from Australian Rotarian Mark Huddleston, originally shown at the Virtual District Conference in October.

Mark is a renowned strategist, commentator, presenter and trainer in membership development and has very defined views on the future of Rotary, from the experience of his own club Seaford.

His views are of particular interest to Swanage & Purbeck, being, as it is, a seaside club within a similar population as our own. Mark was instrumental in the creation of the Seaford club as he couldn’t see the required level of change in his previous club and decided to create a new club.

it was comforting to see that many of the initiatives that Mark introduced have already been adopted by Swanage & Purbeck or are in the process of being adopted, including the concept of Business Partners, for which we are always grateful, including family and friends in our projects and activities and ensuring that our website and social media outlets are active.

There were many areas that we could embrace too, however, and we will be using the current situation where we are only able to undertake most of our activities online, to look at what we can do when we come out of the other side of the pandemic.

We are really interested in the views of those not yet members of our group, so if anyone has any ideas or suggestions on how we can innovate and change the way we do things we would warmly welcome them.

As always, anyone wishing to find out more about the Swanage & Purbeck Rotary group can contact our secretary for more information.

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Looking for Young Musical Talent

We are pleased to be able to announce that, despite all the current restrictions as a result of COVID-19, we will be running the Rotary Young Musician competition in 2021.

We look forward to seeing more amazing entries to this popular competition.

Full details will follow in the near future, but make sure that you’re ready by bookmarking the dedicated page at Purbeck Youth Music here.

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Christmas Market Cancelled


It is with huge regret that Swanage & Purbeck Rotary has decided to cancel this year’s Christmas Market, due to take place on 5 December. Plans were progressing well to extend stalls into Institute Road to keep them well-spaced and, working with the Carnival Committee, to provide fun and games in Shore Road. However, Rotary’s overriding priority is to ensure that guidelines are followed and public safety maintained. It was potentially going to be difficult to maintain social distancing if the market attracted large crowds, so the decision to cancel was made. 

However, Santa will still be visiting the streets as usual to bring festive cheer and hand out sweets to the children but, to keep everyone safe, his elves will not be knocking on doors. Rotary will still be collecting for local good causes but, as well as its normal buckets, will offer contactless donations on the night and the option for online donations too. 

It will not be possible to go ahead with the popular Christmas Breakfast this year but Rotary is looking at alternative ways of making contact with those who might normally attend. 

See our Christmas 2020 page for further information about all Rotary’s Christmas activities. This page will continue to be updated as information becomes available.

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This week we heard from Ella Beaumont, formerly a member of the Team GB wheelchair basketball team and now a producer of wheelchair-fit videos and a researcher for TV production company Whisper.

Ella has been paralysed from the chest down since birth but her ‘joie de vivre’ is inspirational. She explained how she had been encouraged by her parents to get involved with something active despite her disability. Wheelchair basketball was purely a leisure activity for her and some friends until she was spotted by a coach from the GB team who invited her to come along to a training session. This lead to her representing Great Britain at the World Championships in Canada and the European Championships in Germany amongst other events. She was also one of the torch bearers for the London Olympics in 2012.

At the same time, she was undertaking a Sports Coaching Science with Disability Studies degree at the University of Worcester and ultimately decided to focus on her studies rather than competing. On completing the degree she spent time coaching at her local club but has also moved into a career in television production, which has enabled her to travel around the world to events such as the Rio Olympics and Paralympics.

When the UK was put into lockdown in March 2020, Ella was disappointed to find out that there was very little available online for disabled people looking to maintain their fitness. So she launched her own YouTube channel and started making her own ‘Wheelchair Workouts’. These have proved extremely popular and lead to her featuring on BBC Newsbeat as well as being approached by disability charities and gyms from around the country.

On behalf of the club, Rotarian Ro Clark proposed a vote of thanks to Ella for a really uplifting talk and we hope that she will be able to come down and see us in person when we are all able to meet up again in the future.

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‘Hybrid’ Meeting Hears Shelterbox Update

In a first for our club, this week’s meeting was an experiment in combining a Zoom Meeting with a socially distanced physical one at our normal meeting venue of Swanage Conservative Club.

Just under half of the members met in person, with the venue ensuring that safety was paramount, people seated in accordance with Government guidelines and both food and drink served to us to avoid unnecessary movement around the venue. Then, after the meal, we started the Zoom meeting with other members joining us virtually via a laptop and projection onto the large screen in the club.

Our speaker, also joining us via Zoom, was Keith Lockett, who is our local Shelterbox co-ordinator. He gave us a superb presentation, screen shared via Zoom so that everyone could see it, on the work of Shelterbox since it’s inception, how many people it has provided assistance for, how our own club has made significant contributions over the years and how the organisation has had to adapt in the current COVID-19 circumstances.

After the presentation, Keith answered a number of questions from members on the various topics that had been presented. On behalf of the club Rotarian Dai Hounsell proposed a vote of thanks for an excellent update on the work of the charity.

Initial reaction to this experimental form of meeting was very positive and assuming that follow-up feedback is equally positive we are likely to conduct further meetings via this method, assuming the virus situation does not adversely affect plans.

As ever, anyone wishing to join us for future meetings is most welcome. Just contact the secretary for joining details.


Learning About Inheritance Tax

We were delighted to welcome one of our newest business partners to our Zoom meeting this week.

Chris LeFevre introduced Ian Futcher, who is a consultant with Quilter Financial Advisers and has many years experience in various roles in the sector.

But he spoke to us on this occasion specifically on the subject of Inheritance Tax (IHT). IHT is a minefield and so often people only encounter it when they have to i.e. on a loved one’s passing. Ian ran through the key aspects of the way that IHT works and gave us all some very useful tips on how to manage our finances to try to minimise the impact when the time comes.

There were a number of questions from those who had joined the meeting and Ian was only too happy to try and address them.

On behalf of the club Chris thanked Ian for taking time out to come and talk to us and we are all very much the wiser for hearing his sage advice.

For more information about Ian and Quilter, click here.

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Message from the New DG

For our first meeting of the new Rotary year, we were grateful to be able to grab some of our brand new District Governor Tim Mason’s time on Zoom, to give us an early steer of his plans for the year.

Tim has had a varied Rotary career with numerous clubs, mainly around the south and east of the UK and including two spells with the Rotary Club of Swindon, where current Swanage President Steve knew him from his previous club of Swindon Old Town.

He has always been determined to play an active role in all of those clubs, not content with hiding in the background, and was one of the founder members of the District 1100 eClub which has since attracted members from well outside its original catchment area.

But Tim felt that something was missing, and since moving from Wiltshire to Portsmouth a few years ago, he realised that the club he had joined was not dynamic enough for his ideas.

And so Rotary Social Innovation was born. This is billed as a different kind of Rotary which aims to harness the power of social media and the enthusiasm of social enterprise to encourage more engagement whilst maintaining the original ethos of the Rotary movement all those years ago in Chicago at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Based in the Portsmouth area, it aims to offer a more flexible and innovative way of doing Rotary, and Tim is bringing much of its objectives into his year as District Governor. Undoubtedly it won’t be something that everyone will embrace, but it will be interesting to see how the year develops.

Following Tim’s address there were a number of questions from club members. On behalf of the club, President Steve thanked the DG for taking time out of what must be a hectic schedule to come and speak to us.