East Midlands Conference Centre
University of Nottingham
Friday 16th to Sunday 18th September 2016
District Governor John hopes that all participants over the weekend of our District Conference had an enjoyable, stimulating and thought provoking time. Certainly, those who didn’t come missed a wonderful weekend of Rotary fun, fellowship and service.
Our aim was to present a range of project and service ideas to delegates, some new ideas, some new twists on old ideas. This was achieved wonderfully by a succession of speakers who did us proud.
Our Rotary Foundation’s Centenary
On Friday evening we held a ‘Foundation Dinner’, highlighting the start of our weekend’s celebration of the centenary of our own charity, Our Rotary Foundation. 62 guests, primarily those closely associated in the district with Our Foundation, enjoyed a good meal in the Orchard Hotel, and heard about some of Our Foundation’s activities in Peace and Conflict resolution, scholarships and exchange programmes for young adults. The Bill Huntley Peace trophy, was on display. This beautiful glass bowl has been inherited by District 1070, following our expansion to combine with clubs in the former district 1270. The trophy, initially presented to their district 1270 by the Rotary Club of Alford & Mablethorpe in memory of RI President Bill Huntley, is to be presented annually to the club in the district with most impressive peace project in the year.
Saturday morning opened with a real wake-up call, a drum band called UV Beatz which DG John had initially seen at the Rotary Institute last November. They showed the power of teamwork, as well as rousing everyone, before a plenary packed with great talks and demonstrations.
After a welcome by DG John and the introduction of the Rotary theme for the Year – ROTARY SERVING HUMANITY – first on stage was Ray Burman, past president of Rotary in Britain and Ireland. He attended both as the representative of Rotary International President John Germ, and also to promote our own charity, Our Rotary Foundation, in its centenary year. Ray spoke passionately, persuasively and entertainingly about both John Germ’s aims for the year and the enormous value our charity brings to us all as Rotarians in supporting our service activities.
Dr Doug Skehan, senior cardiologist from the Leicester hospitals group spoke next. He talked movingly about the “chain of survival”, which dramatically improves the likely outcome for people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest.
Through his organisation HeartWize, he is promoting wide-spread training in CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) in schools as well as community groups. He hopes to develop a network of Rotary clubs helping HeartWize to access schools and facilitating training carried out by fully trained trainers. Some of those may be Rotarians who wish to develop the skills, others may be provided by HeartWize but supported by Rotary clubs. Dr Skehan’s assistants gave a short demonstration of CPR on stage.
Then all weekend this was backed up by HeartWize and the East Midlands Ambulance Service training a constant stream of Rotarians and friends in CPR techniques in the health awareness section of the House of Friendship.
Immediately after the CPR topic, Louise Knight of the Stroke Association, followed by Claire Western from the scanning firm Ultrasound Direct introduced two other health awareness activities taking place all weekend in the HoF: Blood pressure testing to minimise the chance of stroke caused by high BP, and ultrasound scanning to diagnose propensity to aortic aneurisms – a potentially fatal weakness in the body’s main blood vessel. Delegates were able to see how easily these tests are carried out, primarily so as to encourage clubs to set up these health awareness initiatives locally.
DG John has the contact details should any club wish to take this further – as he does for any of the project ideas featured at the conference.
Before we broke for coffee there was a surprise addition to the programme. We had a three minute slam – a performance poetry session written and dramatically acted by one of the students who had been a finalist in the Lincolnshire schools Slam Jam competition earlier in the year. This event, run by RC Lincoln Lindum, is a potential great addition to our repertoire of competitions for secondary school students.
Coffee break saw the HoF well attended, with lively discussion going on with all of the 46 different exhibitions, displays and demonstrations.
On return to the theatre, the lights went off, with the single spotlight revealing our second Slam, equally moving and poignant. To be sure everyone attending conference had the chance to experience the powerful and incisive thinking of our young generation, we started the Sunday morning with a third slam, followed by a short video from this year’s Slam Jam final at Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln.
Clubs are encouraged to find out more about Slam Jam, and consider adding it to our offering to schools. Lindum would be more than happy to visit any club to explain more.
Three further opportunities to experience the breadth of Rotary and to pick up new ideas and inspiration were covered at this District Conference:
- At our conference itself, we had excellent facilities for a superbly organised and laid out House of Friendship. With 46 separate external exhibitors, including the hands-on demonstrations in the health awareness area as mentioned above, and all the district teams providing interesting displays, everyone had plenty to see and do between plenaries. There was a constant buzz of animated conversation all weekend.
- Rotary in Britain and Ireland president Eve Conway reminded us all of the forthcoming RIBI conference, to be in Manchester this year, on 7th to 9th April. It promises to be a splendid conference, well worth attending.
- To celebrate the centenary of Our Rotary Foundation, the Rotary International Convention this year will run from 10th to 14th June, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. This was the city where the convention was held in 1917, the year that the formation of Our Foundation was announced by Arch C. Clump. We already have a sizeable party from our district planning to go. IPDG Geoff Blurton told us more of the event. He is the main contact to discuss thoughts you may have of joining us in a super week in Atlanta.
- Next year’s Rotary District 1070 Conference will be in Llandudno, North Wales, on 22nd to 24th September 2017, led by DGE Chris Davies. Chris showed us many of her plans for the venue, the programme and the speakers.
Partnership, 1 + 1 = 5
The value of teaming up with other organisations to achieve Rotary Service is often overlooked. Debbie Hodge, a PDG from Hertfordshire and currently RIBI President nominee, showed how teamwork with other organisations, especially through building on the Corporate Social Responsibility wishes of companies, can bring multiples of value to all we do. She had examples of how this is easily achieved, showing us all opportunities to do the same.
Grants from Our Foundation
The PDG of Rotary in Cumbria and Lancashire, Kevin Walsh, demonstrated the advantages that grants from our own charity can bring to projects in our own local communities. By teaming up with clubs in Canada and elsewhere overseas (including Scotland – RI already consider this a separate country from England!), his district has been able to provide massive help to mountain rescue and other health service in his locality.
What does the DG know?
An innovation this year was to hold two Question and Answer sessions during the plenaries, one each day. DG John was joined on stage on Saturday by Ray Burman and by new Rotarian Fiona Pimm from the Wreake Valley Rotary Club satellite group in Syston. On Sunday Eve Conway and Steve Howe, Immediate Past President of District 1070 E-Club, joined John. Over the two Q&A sessions they answered a wide variety of questions about Rotary including: – membership; the functioning of satellite groups and e-clubs; the relevance or otherwise of religious observance at conference and pre-dinner graces; women members in Rotary. It proved to be a popular part of the plenaries.
It is important that we enjoy what we do in Rotary. Why else would we be part of our great organisation and turn up for events every week? But it can be combined well with our concern for our communities.
The weekend had begun with the traditional golf competition, expertly organised by Rotarian Iain Martin (St. Ives). Sleaford Kesteven’s dominance of the event was not complete. Although their team, led by John Gibson, won the team competition and Liz Drayton won the ladies trophy, the men’s trophy went to Joe Carrington of Melton Mowbray. Well done to all. The rain storm at the start of the day had delayed things for a couple of hours, but stoic patience backed up by plentiful bacon rolls overcame that concern and everyone enjoyed the day.
Our last speaker on Saturday combined the two really well. Lars Tharp, of Antiques Road Show fame, amused us, regaled us with stories, but also informed us of the history of the care for foundling children – children abandoned by mothers too poor, unwell, or otherwise unable to look after their babies. He supports the Corum charity, and invited us to find out more, maybe by volunteering to help, or by visiting the Corum museum in London.
We were delighted that Lars offered to stay on after lunch, when he gave a small group of delegates a fascinating talk on antiques, with great illustrations, as well as a real insight into the background of the Antiques Roadshow. He talked about several items that delegates had brought with them, hopefully not disappointing too many that they had not found a lost masterpiece worth millions.
Then, of course, we had our Gala Dinner Dance on Saturday evening in the banqueting suite at the East Midlands Conference Centre. The food, service and entertainment were all perfect for the occasion. Bertie Pearce amused us over dinner with some table magic. The band, ex-Rotarian Tony Rifugiato’s ‘Raise the Roof’, had everyone up and dancing very quickly, right through to the close at midnight.
Our other entertainment in the plenaries was the final act, on Sunday. Bertie Pearce talked about the History of Magic, cleverly interweaving illusions of many sorts into his talk, mystifying our District Governor who failed to join up the rings – Bertie seemed to find it all too easy.
Sunday started with our first plenary presentation from Sean Day, from the Lake District-based Calvert Trust.
Many clubs have supported the Calvert Trust over the years, identifying disabled adults who could benefit from the experiences of a week’s “Outward Bound” type of course, experiencing the freedoms and independence so well engineered by the trust. Sean encouraged all delegates to redouble efforts to identify good candidates and help sponsor them to attend this coming April.
Our Rotary Partners
Rotaract was featured in a lively and engaging way by a member of the new Market Harborough Rotaract club, Chris Wells, encouraging Rotarians to support Rotaract and work together. Rotaract have fun, well evidenced by Chris, and support our communities very much in line with Rotary’s own aims.
The current President of Inner Wheel District 7, Dorothy Watson, spoke of Inner Wheel’s aim to ‘Touch a Heart’ this year, and discussed many examples where our two organisations can work together to the good of our communities across the year.
Challenge, Change, Motivation and Resilience.
Much of the programme over our conference will lead to Rotary clubs working on new projects, or projects incorporating changes in the way we do things. To serve humanity better we do all need to consider different ways of working.
Our next presenter, Joy Marsden, works as a speaker on the professional motivational seminar circuit. Her trade mark says: “Step Up, Step Out, Stand Out!”. Today as an influential change advocate, Joy teaches leaders, leadership teams and employees within multi-million dollar companies around the world, focusing on key areas that must be mastered in order to succeed when going through challenge and change.
She spoke of the variety of people in any organisation, encompassing the ‘knowers’, the ’emoticons’, the ‘worriers’, and the ‘warriors’. Joy encouraged us to be the warriors in our clubs, moving on to achieve great things using the full range of skills we all have.
No Rotary conference and few Rotary meetings could go by without talking about Rotary’s number one priority, the eradication of polio. We were delighted to have RIBI President Eve Conway and BBC reporter and presenter Konnie Huq talking to us on this subject. We are so close to finishing the job, with only (at the time of our conference) 24 cases of polio in the world all year, that we would be crazy to let the prize slip from our grasp.
Konnie spoke movingly of her visit to India and participating in the National Immunisation Day there. Then Eve showed videos and talked about the many activities going on under the banner of ‘Purple for Polio’ across the UK this year. 6.5 million purple crocus corms are being planted this autumn, 350,000 in our district alone. Purple crocus fabric lapel badges are being widely worn (and were on sale in the HoF). Teddy bears dressed in purple ‘End Polio Now” jumpers are crossing the land promoting the cause. We are all encouraged to continue to raise money and awareness, and to promote the continuation of the campaign.
All of that fitted into one weekend! We finished with past-RIBI President Ray Burman summing up the conference, recognising the strengths of Rotary in district 1070 and all the service we do for humanity, and wishing us well in the future.
DG John closed the conference at about 1:30 on Sunday, thanking all the team that had made the conference such a fulfilling and successful event, and all those who attended for taking such an active part. The East Midlands Conference Centre had proved to be an excellent venue, with facilities to match or beat any we had used over many years. The theatre was an ideal location for the plenaries, the area for the House of Friendship was spacious without being too large, and the hotel comfortable and ideally close by.
Just tell those who didn’t come what a great weekend of Rotary fun, fellowship and service they all missed!
Click on the following images for full gallery.