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Samworth Church Academy Governor recognised by two separate organisations for humanitarian work
A Nottinghamshire woman has received awards from two different organisations in recognition of her tireless humanitarian work.
Val Leivers of Bestwood Country Park in Nottingham will receive the ‘Champions of Change’ award from Rotary International Great Britain and Ireland and has also been made an honorary member of The Townswomen’s Guilds, alongside two others this year, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE DL, and historian and writer Jane Robinson.
A retired Deputy Head Teacher, Val is currently an active Governor at Mansfield’s Samworth Church Academy which is a member of the Southwell & Nottinghamshire Multi Academy Trust. She has previously been a Trustee at Headway, the brain injury charity, and Chair of Governors at Roundwood Primary School. After teaching English as a volunteer for a few weeks at HMP Nottingham Val was asked to stay on a formal basis for six years with this income being used for the projects in India.
In 2010, Val changed the face of Rotary when she became the first female Rotary District Governor in the Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and Staffordshire district, ending a 65-year run of male only leaders. Val is the only female Rotarian in Great Britain & Ireland to receive both of Rotary International’s highest accolade, the “Service Above Self” award and the “Rotary Foundation’s Distinguished Service Award”
Now she dedicates herself to voluntary work in India, in orphanages and tribal villages with one of her main project being the transformation of a school in Secunderabad which has taken it from an under-resourced and ill-equipped school for 100 children, to a thriving and fit for purpose school for 1,390 children from some of the most disadvantaged families.
The ‘National Rotary Champions Awards for outstanding voluntary’ work was specifically awarded to Val for the £1.2 million pounds she has raised, and her unstinting work to improve conditions with many projects in India, mainly in the Hyderabad area of Telangana, and especially at the Sri Sai Vidyarthi School.
Val said that in the seven years she has been supporting the school, a difficult but ultimately successful transformation has taken place, not only to the school building, but to the life chances of its pupils. She said, “My involvement with the school began when my husband Terry and I were looking to sponsor some children throughout their education. We contacted our Indian friends in Rotary, and this eventually led to my husband and I sponsoring two boys after we had visited the school ourselves. When we arrived, it was one big room with an awful corrugated tin roof, in boiling heat and with a tree growing through the floor of the classroom where 100 children sat. The teachers were working extremely hard with little infrastructure or facilities and so we decided to see what more we could do to help.”
That is when Val’s life became a quest for funds and equipment to transform the school from an unsafe building with few resources, to a beacon of learning for its community. Now the school meets fire and safety regulations, has large, clean classrooms, a library, tables and seating, a science lab, computers, and ample learning resources for the 1,390 pupils. The school’s Principal, Dr Prasad has also been recognised as the “Best Principal of 2020” by the India Science Institute.
Val spends 5 weeks in Hyderabad each year, staying at friends’ homes, at an Ashram school in a tribal village and in the Secunderabad school with Dr Prasad’s family. On her return to the UK, Val fundraises by various means including gardening and decorating as well as speaking to many different organisations to seek their support. “I try to raise funds wherever I can, and I am always busy. The school can now operate at a high standard with committed and fully qualified teachers, with amazing children and in a community whose aspirations are rising. They understand that education offers their children better life chances than ever before. They inspire me to keep going. They never give up so why should I?”
It is this spirit and dedication to her charity work that led to Val’s invitation to speak to a large audience at The Townswomen’s Guilds’ International Women’s Day Conference in 2019 about her quest to improve education, particularly for underprivileged girls, in India. Subsequently the membership voted to make Val an honorary member with the following citation. “At the Townswomen’s Guild we are immensely proud of the outstanding women who through their actions and principles have had a positive impact in the fight for equality.”
Val said, “I was in India when my husband Terry contacted me to say ‘Val, you are famous at last!’ To be in such company as Jane Robinson and Tanni Grey-Thompson is amazing and I honestly had no idea that I had been nominated. I will wear my Townswomen’s Guild badge with pride!”
Now Val says she has more work to do. After providing every child at the school in India with a pair of shoes last year, all 1,390 of them, she says her shopping list is still full. “If I am hands on, I know precisely what is happening and exactly where every penny is spent. I do it for the children in India, not for me.
I taught those children, the song, ‘’You’ve got the power, I’ve got the power, nothing will silence my words, nothing will close my eyes. We are going to make it together.’
This has become the school song and I tell them every year that I’ll never give up on them.”
Val’s husband Terry said she is an unstoppable force, and until recently when ill health prevented it, he also worked with Val in India. He said, “Nothing daunts this unbelievable female dynamo and if only we could bottle her vitality, her drive and her enthusiasm to help others it would be a best seller. Val has endless energy and a profusion of qualities which enable her to achieve results in some of the most difficult circumstances. I am so proud of Val, not just for what she does, but who she is. If I could give her one thing in life it would be the ability to see herself through the eyes of others, then she would see what a special person she is to so many people. Life would be boring without her. I am content now being in Val’s shadow and I know how Denis Thatcher must have felt! She is simply the best!”
The Principal of Samworth Church Academy in Mansfield where Val is a Governor, said it comes as no surprise that Val is being recognised. “Val has served on Samworth Church Academy’s Board of Governors with the same energy and commitment she shows to everything she does. It is no surprise to us that she has been recognised for such awards and she thoroughly deserves the recognition for her service.” Donna Wallbank, President of Rotary International in Great Britain & Ireland, commented, “The Champions Awards is about giving those who pioneer, lead and support some amazing volunteering projects the recognition they deserve. The selfless and truly life-changing impact of our champions really demonstrates how we can make a difference and touch people’s lives. Rotary is certainly a place where people can turn their passion and ideas into lasting change. There are so many heroes out there and to them I say, ‘thank you and keep doing what you’re doing’. Val’s work is invaluable in helping those who continue to be affected by lack of educational facilities and equipment and she is a very worthy recipient of one of this year’s awards.”
Rotherham Man Seth Lilleker has been busy printing parts for protective face masks. He writes;
A few weeks ago I started designing some face shields that were aimed at using any available clear material as a screen whether it be a freezer bag or plastic cut from a 2L pop bottle among other things – my train of thought was make something simple that can be used with household items that anyone has access to. while I was designing this a couple of other designs were made available which had be accepted as suitable by medical boards in Czech and Sweden, these have become the standard for people to produce using 3D Printers as they are simple and fairly quick to print, So I set to work printing using a design based upon the Swedish design while still developing the one I had initially started. so knowing I wouldn’t really be able to spend my wages on much this month after our factory closed and we had to stay at home I spent them on getting materials to produce the face shields.
Then after speaking with very good friend of mine who is a paramedic, it was clear it we needed to produce as many as possible as quickly as possible, which meant I needed more printers and materials, knowing I could not fund it myself I decided to setup the Go Fund Me on the off chance a few people would help and raise a few hundred pounds to allow me to keep producing.
I never knew how generous and supportive people could be with all the donations that have been made. The donations made so far have allowed me to purchase 2 more printers and lots more materials allowing me to produce around 12 shields every 3 hours instead of 6 every 4.5 hours, this has made a massive difference to what I can produce and get delivered.
I am also looking into what other materials I can manufacture face shields and other PPE or useful items from, because as time goes on certain materials will be harder if not impossible to source for some time and we will still need to keep the NHS and front line emergency services protected the best we can.
I would be very grateful if you could share the Go Fund Me with any of your contacts, this is a link to it here.
RYLA at Castleton is for young people aged between 15 and 17 years old ( ie. not yet 18) as a leadership training course, where they take part in challenges throughout the 4 days.
They are split into teams and pick a team leader , very much like the apprentice programme but no one gets fired !!. They then complete the task and afterwards there is a debrief about; how did the team leader do, would you have lead the team differently, etc.
In February 2020 we had 26 boys and girls booked onto the course but only 23 actually turned up on the day and then one went home on the Sunday so only 22 actually completed the course, but it was still a huge success and great value at £150.00 per person for 4 days.
We have received some great feedback from the young people and hopefully they will have now been to their ‘sponsoring’ clubs to give a talk and show some of the pictures taken during the tasks. Please have a look at the film below.
The course will be run again in 2021 from 13th to 16th February.
The Centre is owned and operated by The Sheffield Rotary Charity with the management team made up from members of the Rotary Club of Sheffield.
One week after three new members joined Amber Valley as joint Presidents Glyn Allsop and Howard Doran welcomed Graham Sisson. Glyn said, “It’s always great to welcome new members but four in two weeks is a real pleasure.”
Graham whose background is engineering at Rolls Royce lives in Belper. Known to a number of Rotarians through his amateur musical career, he is also a keen golfer at Horsley Lodge Golf Club. Graham said, “I look forward to helping with the many Rotary projects and getting to know members better.”
Rotary Amber Valley recently installed three new members.
Joint Presidents Glyn Allsop and Howard Doran welcomes Chris and Keith Blackman along with Vera Dilks.
Vera Is a well know local Ripley woman having been a teacher at Ripley Academy, and Inner Wheel Chair, whilst Chris and Keith have recently moved to Derbyshire from the South.
Each were presented with Rotary membership certificates by President Howard.
Ravenshead & Blidworth
Jan 29th 2020 we were fortunate to welcome two new members to our club; Kamal and Lorraine. President Elect Richard performed the simple ceremony and presented each with a new member welcome pack and badges.
Being Rotarians Kamal and Lorraine are able to attend Rotary meetings and meet Rotarians throughout the world.
Well done and Thank You to each and every one of you for all your hard work and enthusiasm. I am so proud of all you have done to help others in your Local Communities and beyond. You have changed very many Lives and given them hope for the Future.
It was truly very difficult to select the Winners for Awards and Trophies as you all deserve them !!
It has been a Joy and a Privilege being DG . Thank You.
With every good wish for your success and happiness in this new Rotary Year
The Rotary Club of Chesterfield is delighted to support the ‘Three Bedded Bays Project’ at Ashgate Hospicecare, a £750k major upgrade of the in-patient bays to provide a more flexible, cost effective, pleasant environment. This donation of £2,750 is from part of the proceeds of Chesterfield Rotary’s 2018 Eckington Classic Car & Bike Show held at Renishaw Hall.
In the pic left to right, Chesterfield Rotary president Barry Thompson presents a cheque to Sarah Green, community fundraiser for Ashgate Hospicecare.