June has been a funny old month. The love hate relationship I have with technology has got no better. It started with my car breaking down and me having to wait almost five hours for the recovery service to arrive. (A long story) It followed with me dropping my mobile phone into the water butt on my allotment and ended with my computer crashing just after my return from the RI Convention in Lisbon resulting in me losing lots of data.
As I start to write this, my last newsletter, as District Governor at 5.50am on the last day of June and looking forward to the District Handover at lunchtime today, I have been reflecting on my year in office. I did not set out with a big shopping list of things that I wanted to achieve, but I did ask that Clubs should give attention to their local communities, as indeed DG Gordon had done the previous year. In that aim I am sure I have been successful.
I also wanted to improve the relationship between the District and the Clubs, something that I perceived as being lacking. To this extent I have attempted to improve the format of District Council meetings, with various changes being made over the year, introducing speakers from Clubs bringing forward projects they have been involved with etc. I have also tried wherever possible to reduce the formality of meetings, ensuring that they achieve their aims whilst at the same time creating a sense of togetherness. I hope I have achieved this, but that is for the membership to decide.
The year has been full of activity for myself and Gail. We have attended literally hundreds of meetings and events together and I have been to many more myself. We have been made extremely welcome by all the clubs in the District and to thank everyone involved for this.
There have been many highlights – The GSE Team exchange with Nepal, the District Conference, the Hospice to Hospice Walk, the club meetings and charters, the fund raising events, visits to the Inner Wheel, the social occasions etc etc. I could go on.
I would like to take the opportunity of thanking every Rotarian in the District and all our friends and supporters for all the friendship and support they have given and for their messages of goodwill to Gail and myself as we come to the end of our year in office.
Finally may I wish DGE Peter every success as he takes on the role as Governor of District 1220 for 2013/14 seeking to “Engage Rotary Change Lives.” I am confident that you will give him and his wife Carol the same level of support and encouragement that Gail and I have received.
Well, we did it. Andy Ledbetter (Dronfield), Kevin Brown (Sherwood Sunrisers), Owen Briggs (Ripley) and myself walked the whole route from Bluebell Wood to Rainbows. Phil Stone walked three days of it but in addition walked 26 kms whilst on holiday in Spain the week before – just so he could say he had done the full distance.
We were joined by members and supporters from at least fourteen Rotary Clubs. In addition my two daughters Nicola and Sarah with their four children Maddie, Francesca, Xanthe and Sebastian (together with quite a few family friuends) all came and joined the walk in the Belper area – with banners and baloons creating a real party atmosphere at a time when I was feeling very sore and tired. I’m not sure exactly how many people ended up walking a part of the route with us, but it was well over thirty. Thanks to all of you.
As well as the walkers, on the final day, my sons in law Craig McAughtrie and Chris Tatham, together with Chris’s brother John and a friend “Nog” rode their bikes from Belper to Bluebell Wood and then on to Rainbows – a total of 107 miles for the same cause. The hope was that they would arrive at Rainbows about the same time as the walkers.
As Gail and Carey Toplass leading in the support car and all the walkers reached a point about 100 yards away from Rainbows Steve Lawes said to me, “Wouldn’t it be great if the cyclists turned up now.” As they had been out of contact all day we had no idea where they were, but I happened at that moment to turn and look behind me – just in time to see all four of them come riding into view. We were then all able to enter Rainbows en mass.
Our reception there was great with bunting and lines of people, staff, supporters, residents and their families, all cheering us on as we arrived. We then enjoyed a cream tea reception which was a great way of rounding off the four days. Rainbows are also having a glass brick in their wall dedicated to the walk.
I want to take this opportunity to personally thank each and every one of the walkers, the cyclists, the support crew (Sean Murphy, Gail and Carey) and all the people and clubs that have contributed towards this project, for their invaluable contribution to the fund raising cause and also equally importantly to the sense of fellowship that developed during the walk. Apologies that I cannot name them all individually.
I am not able to give a precise amount we have raised just yet as contributions are still coming in. Suffice it to say that we have achieved and exceeded our target of £5,000. If you have any contributions still to make, please let me have them asap so that we can finalise the accounts.
Thank you – Thank you – Thank you
Yet another reminder – District Conference at Scarborough is fast approaching. The dates are Friday, 4th to Sunday 6th October. If you have not booked yet then do it now – don’t be left out. You are guaranteed a fantastic weekend of Rotary Fellowship, presentations, inspirational speakers and a fantastic House of Friendship.
Talking of Speakers, if you wish to hear Michael Portillo speak, then you MUST book for the lunch – it is a complete package. If you do not book the lunch you will not be able to hear Michael Portillo speak.
Earlier in the year, Rob reported that he would be taking on China’s “Great Wall Marathon”, one of the world’s toughest endurance races. It is a 26 mile race along this most famous landmark that was specifically built to be as inhospitable as possible! But, our Rob saw it as a wonderful opportunity to slot this into his studies in Ningbo, Shanghai in order to raise money and awareness for Rotary’s “End Polio Now” initiative.
Well – He has now done it!!!
Below is Rob’s own account of his feelings during the course of the race.
As my group was called up to begin the race I was experiencing one of the most severe cases of nerves I’ve ever had. Looking around at the other athletes, my heart sank as I noticed the majority of them were running the half marathon rather than the full. I overheard an Aussie, built like an Olympic athlete, talking to one of his friends: “The full marathon?! You’ve got to be kidding, I’m not a Muppet!” Although I had trained hard for this event, I don’t believe anything could have prepared me for a marathon that is considered in the top 10 most challenging in the world. To be honest, the closest I had come to a “super challenge” was when I failed miserably at a 72-ounce steak eating challenge in Texas! I felt like a fraud who was soon to be exposed.
The gun went off and… it had begun, 26 miles of what I anticipated to be pure pain. The first five km were a relatively simple climb on a tarmac road up to the Great Wall. This gave me the opportunity to get my head straight and remember why I had signed up to this event in the first place… It was about nine months ago when I heard about the Great Wall marathon race and I thought: “That sounds like fun, let’s go for it!”
But, as the road got steeper and I breached the austere wall, I developed a strong dislike to the naive part of my brain that had driven me to this decision and I was in the mindset of simply trying to finish the thing. Appreciating the majesty and magnificence of this amazing structure was definitely not on the agenda. Instead, all I could think was: “why on earth did they build a wall here? It’s just mountains, who would want to invade this place?!”
As I continued the run, however, I started to get into a flow. I was feeling pretty comfortable and I started looking around at the amazing scenery that surrounded me. What was even greater was the support given by the locals. People young and old lined the streets clapping, giving high-fives and shouting: “Jia You!” I even got into a water fight with a few cheeky kids who are hiding behind trees with water pistols.
I was really starting to enjoy myself and I was still feeling fit as the next trudge up another mountain began. I think a lot of credit for my positive state of mind can be given to some Japanese sweets a friend had given me. They were basically sugar-flavoured sugar, a perfect concoction for marathon race.
As I hit the 18-mile mark, despite my sugary state and the amazing support of the locals, I started to feel my legs slowing down. It was very tempting to go sit and chat with some of the spectators for a while. Fortunately at this point I recalled a totally unrelated phone conversation I had with my Nan a few weeks prior. I was congratulating her on the fact that at the age of 78 she is still working: “Well Rob,” she said, “if you stop you’ll never start again, so I’ll keep on going for now.”
These words resonated in my head until I got to the last five miles, which are considered the hardest not only because they’re the last but because there is an almost sheer vertical climb up steps, then along a cobbled section of the wall. The crescendo is a two-mile knee-shattering downhill run to finish line.
I looked down at my watch and noticed I had around 45 minutes to make the 5 1/2 hour finishing time, which is considered pretty decent for an amateur. It was then that my slightly ridiculous competitive streak came out. I ate my final Japanese sweet and pumped my way up the steps, past bewildered competitors who were clutching the side of the wall like drunken zombies. I was finally really appreciating the wall. I didn’t understand why they built it but I came to the conclusion that the ancient Chinese had had really good foresight and could predict people would use it for a race sometime in the future.
With 22 minutes left on my watch I let momentum take me down the hill hoping my legs kept moving. As I went across the finishing line I totally forgot to celebrate because I was fully focused on meeting my self-imposed deadline. Looking back I must have appeared like a total plonker as I ran down the 50m finishing straight with my eyes fixated on my stopwatch. But to my delight, I crossed the finishing line in five hours, 30 minutes and 22 seconds!
It was only when I got back to my hostel in Beijing that it really kicked in and I realised what an absolute honour it was to have had the opportunity to run on the Great Wall!
I am so pleased that I signed up “naively” to this race nine months ago. It goes to show that if you put your mind to it any challenge can be achieved no matter how big or little.
We are “this close” to eradicating Polio forever! Small donations go a long way, for example, the price of a beer can give several children a vaccination which halts the chance of them failing foul of this terrible condition.
Before the event, Rob made a video explaining why he did it:
Rotary District 1220 say: Very well done for your achievement of completing the Great Wall Marathon! You have the admiration of all of us for your quite remarkable project and your dedication to complete it!! Once again you are raising the bar and you deserve all the accolades for it.
Robert Avery-Phipps in China at the end of his Marathon for “End Polio Now”
Local charities are set to benefit from the ever popular Classic Car and Bike Show which will be held once again at Renishaw Hall, near Chesterfield (S21 3WB), on Wednesday 12 June 2013.
Hundreds of classic cars and bikes are expected for this annual rally which raises thousands of pounds for local charities. The event, which will be open from 3.00pm until 8.00pm, is attended by enthusiasts from all over the region and includes classic cars and bikes from all eras.
Organised each year by the Rotary Club of Chesterfield the three local charities to benefit will be Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity, Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice, and Chesterfield’s Ashgate Hospice.
Main organiser, Stuart Bradley of Stuart Bradley Ltd Jewellers, said: “Renishaw Hall is the perfect venue for this charitable event which we have run successfully for several years now in support of these important local charities.”
There will be musical entertainment from Direction Theatre Arts, and refreshments will also be available. Admission is £5 a vehicle. For more information contact organiser Rotary past president Stuart Bradley on 01246 222777. or go to www.chesterfieldrotary.co.uk .
The main sponsor of this charity event is Autoworld, one of the leading New and Used Car dealerships in Derbyshire and the Midlands.
Membership Note: If you would like to join the Rotary Club of Chesterfield, or one of the other 100-plus Rotary clubs across the Derbyshire, Nottingham, and South Yorkshire area, visit www.ribi.org .
The Southwell Races event proved once again to be an enjoyable evening with six of the seven races sponsored for Polio Eradiacation. The crowd seemed larger than last year but, in fact, we sold only half as many tickets due to a club Charter Dinner on the same evening and District Assembly being held on the following morning. However, a useful £4,785, including a 15 minute bucket collection of £300, has been sent to Polio Eradication.
Since starting life as a humble PE teacher, Valerie Leivers has become an iconic a beacon of hope for would-be women achievers in male dominated environments.
Her first success was promotion to Head of PE Faculty for both boys and girls – the first female in Nottinghamshire to achieve this.
Val went on to become Deputy Head at Redhill School in Arnold from where she retired due to spinal problems in 1998. After recuperation from four major spinal operations she returned to teaching male prisoners, initially as a volunteer, in Nottingham Prison. She was soon offered a contract and continued to teach literacy and numeracy plus Art for a further 5 years.
Since joining her local Rotary Club (Sherwood Sunrisers in Nottingham) some 19 years ago as a founder member, Val’s great desire to serve the community locally, nationally and internationally has blossomed. She has held many posts of responsibility, including all committee chairmanships, as well as serving as President during 2001 – 2002.
Not satisfied with that, Val went on to progress through numerous different positions, both within her Midlands based Rotary District and nationally. Val was hugely proud to serve as District Governor during 2010 – 2011, breaking no less than 58 years of male domination and becoming the first female to do so!
Val’s achievements within Rotary International have received recognition on many occasions (see below). However, her voluntary activities also extend to other walks of life, including schools and charitable work, both in the UK and abroad.
The crowning glory of Val’s illustrious track record of service is her most recent Rotary Award, “Service Above Self”, from Rotary International Directors for outstanding service, not only in Rotary service but in life in general. As Rotary’s highest honor for individual Rotarians, this award recognizes up to 150 Rotarians annually who have demonstrated exemplary humanitarian service, with an emphasis on personal volunteer efforts and active involvement in helping others through Rotary. Val is the only third female to receive the award in the UK.
PDG Val Leivers receiving her Service Above Self award
Val’s husband, Terry Leivers, comments, ‘Personally, I know exactly how Denis Thatcher felt!’
Well, it’s almost time for the start of the sponsored walk and cycle ride from Bluebell Wood to Rainbows a distance of about 65 to 70 miles in total. Up to about two dozen Rotarians and non Rotarians have signed up to walk or ride at least a part of the way, with about half that number hopefully doing the entire distance.
A number of clubs have already given me donations towards the walk and I know that others intend to do so. Personal sponsorships are also coming in. We do now have a “Just Giving” page on the internet where you may make donations direct. The website is http://www.justgiving.com/hospice2hospice By logging onto this website you can make a donation using a credit or debit card, in complete safety. It will go to Bluebell Wood direct, however, overall the total proceeds will be split evenly between the two hospices.
This week by the way is Childrens’ Hospice Week so there should be lots of publicity about hospices in the media. A good time to add our voice to it. I shall be putting something on my blog at least once a day if not more. Andy Ledbetter from Dronfield is doing Facebook page which he will update several times perday – no doubt reporting on the number of blisters!
I would like to thank everyone who has become involved in any way from planning, donating, walking, meeting us at the end of each day etc etc. I would particularly like to thank my two sons in law Craig McAughtrie and Chris Tatham together with a couple of their friends who are doing a 100 mile sponsored bike ride from Belper, to Bluebell Wood to Rainbows on Monday 6th May, to hopefully meet up with the walkers at the end of the walk. They are raising a lot of money in sponsorship.
If you have not done so already, please make a donation towards this event. Cheques can be sent to me and made payable to “The Rotary Club of Belper and Duffield”.
The District Handover lunch this year will be held at the Novotel, Bostocks Lane, Long Eaton on Sunday, 30th June. This is the occasion when I hand over the stewardship of the District into the very capable hands of Rtn Peter Moralee from Bretby Club. Awards etc are also presented to individuals and clubs on this occasion. Please make sure your club is represented. The cost is £16.00 per person.
I have just circulated all clubs & District Team with full details and a booking form. If you do not receive a booking form then please contact me direct.
Rotary & Inner Wheel Thanksgiving Service
The annual Rotary and Inner Wheel Thanksgiving Service has been arranged and will take place this year on Sunday, 16th June, 2013 at the Parish Church of All Saints, Church Street, Ripley, Derbyshire at 2.30pm.
I think you will find the service relevant and enjoyable. Refreshments will be served at the back of the church immediately after the service.
I would love to meet as many Rotarians and their families as possible at this service. It is in fact Father’s Day (so I am told) and it would be great to see lots of families present.
The church is more or less in the centre of Ripley and car parking is available either on the market place, which is very close by or there is a further car park on Moseley Street (adjacent to the church). Other car parks are located in various parts of the town centre. Payment unfortunately is required even on a Sunday.
Although it seems to me as if we have only just held the last District Conference, the time is fast approaching to be thinking about, if not booking for the next one. The 2013 Conference is being held in Scarborough and as you will know if you attended the recent District Assembly, during the weekend of the conference it is going to rain right across District 1220 and the sun is going to shine in Scarborough. The dates for Conference are Friday, 4th to Sunday 6th October.
I know that DGE Peter and his Conference Director have a lot of new ideas for this year. The entertainment and the speakers that have been booked are first rate and it looks like being a fantastic weekend away. If your club has not yet booked and sorted out its accommodation, then do it straight away.
RIBI – Reorganisation
For those of you who take an interest in national and international issues affecting Rotary, then you will no doubt recall that some time ago a resolution was passed at RIBI level to get rid of the General Council and to replace it with an RIBI Board and a District Governors’ Forum, subject to approval by RI. The vote has just been held at the Council on legislation and the proposal did not receive the necessary two thirds majority and so has been rejected. It is therefore now unlikely that the planned changes will proceed.
I hope to be in a position to give a fuller account of the situation at the next District Council meeting on 13th June.
3rd – 6th May
Sponsored Walk from Bluebell Wood to Rainbows by DG and Others (see above)
Sunday, 5th May
District Young Musician Concert at Derby Assembly Rooms
Thursday, 13th June
District Council at Novotel, Long Eaton at 7.30pm
Sunday, 16th June
Rotary and Inner Wheel Thanksgiving Service at All Saints Parish Church, Church Street, Ripley at 2.30pm. Light refreshments in the church afterwards. (see above)
Thanks to all the clubs and individuals, Rotarians and non-Rotarians, who have already sent me sponsorship for the forthcoming Hospice to Hospice Walk (3rd to 6th May 2013). Information Sheets and Sponsorship forms have been distributed to all Rotary Clubs recently both by email and on paper. I look forward to the team of walkers receiving as much support – financial and moral – as possible.
All proceeds will be devoted in equal parts to Bluebell Wood Hospice near Sheffield and Rainbows Hospice at Loughborough. My target is an ambitious £5,000 – please help us to achieve it.
There is a core team of about six or seven Rotarians (including one potential Rotarian ! ) doing the walk which is about 65 miles in length, but we welcome having anyone else come along to join us for any part of the trip. Offer to join us for part of the walk and offers of help are now coming in and we shall start looking for publicity for the event shortly.
Any cheques should be made payable please to “The Rotary Club of Belper and Duffield”. All queries about the walk should be directed to me please.
12th – 14th April
RIBI Conference at Harrogate
Friday, 19th April
District Race Night at Southwell
Saturday, 20th April
District Assembly, Nottingham Trent University
3rd – 6th May
Sponsored Walk from Bluebell Wood to Rainbows by DG and Others
Sunday, 5th May
District Young Musician Concert at Derby Assembly Rooms
Sunday, 16th June
Rotary and Inner Wheel Thanksgiving Service at All Saints Parish Church, Church Street, Ripley at 3pm. Refreshments afterwards. (This is Fathers Day so families are extremely welcome)
23rd – 26th June
RI Convention at Lisbon, Portugal
The finals of the District Quiz were Held at Horsley Lodge Golf Course, home of the Rotary Club of Heanor, on Tuesday, 26th March, with the Rotary Club of Bretby coming out as winners for the third year in succession. Many congratulations to Bretby on this achievement. Newark were in second place just one point behind with Sherwood Forest and West Bridgford sharing third place, again, just one point behind Newark.
Mike Storr, Rotary Club of Carlton worked really hard organising this event, writing the questions, preparing the question sheets etc, booking the venue and acting as the quizmaster on the night and he deserves a big “thank-you” for all his efforts. The quiz was a great success and a fantastic evening of Rotary fellowship. I would also like to thank the considerable number of members of the Rotary Club of Heanor and various other people for attending to offer support. It was a great social occassion and one that I shall make a point of going to next year. Congratulations to everyone concerned.
Any club that wishes its efforts during this Rotary year to be recognised by Rotary International by virtue of a Presidential Citation should send their completed “Presidential Citation” application form to me by no later than 15th April 2013. Forms were distributed to all Club Presidents prior to the start of the year, together with an explanatory leaflet. If you have mislaid your copy, you can download it from the RI Website. Just type in “Presidential Citation” in the search box and it will bring up all the necessary information.
I know from going round the clubs that many of them have achieved all that is necessary for the Citation. This is the best way of letting RI know that we are working hard in these islands for the good of our local and international communities.
If you have not yet applied, now is the time – Do it now!
The District Assembly will be held at the Clifton Campus of Nottingham Trent University on the morning of Saturday, 20th April 2013. Apart from the initial Plenary Session where we will hear from next year’s District Governor Peter, there are also individual sessions for all club officers (Incoming Presidents, Presidents Elect for 2013/14, Secretaries, Treasurers, Membership, MPRC, International, Community/Vocational, New Generations, Foundation) There is also a session for any new Rotarians, ie those that have joined in the last 12 months or so who would like to know how Rotary ticks.
In a change from previous years and in an effort to gain an insight into how many people will be attending each session, clubs this year are being asked to pre-register. Please make sure you complete the necessary form and return it well in advance of the Assembly and remember to sign in on the day.
John Barker and the Leadership Development and Training Team have been working really hard to make sure that the Assembly is a complete success, but I would just ask you to remember that the facilitators in the groups are just Rotarians like you and me – not necessarily in their comfort zone but doing their best to do a good job for you!
The final of the Chesterfield Schools’ Public Speaking Competition 2013 was the highlight of the club’s annual Ladies Day held at the Olde House, Newbold, Chesterfield on Friday 22 March 2013, with the three finalists judged by their audience.
The finalists were Laura Norman and Beatrice Soakell from Netherthorpe School, and Hannah Rodger from St Mary’s High School. Finalist Leroy Wagstaffe of Hasland Hall Community School was unable to attend due to illness. The speeches were amusing, original and delivered with impressive confidence.
Whilst the votes were counted, the former deputy head teacher of Netherthorpe School, Chris Townsend, but now retired, entertained with a witty talk on his involvement with this annual competition over the last 38 years. He revealed that he had originally been tasked with organising Netherthorpe entries following a request from former Chesterfield Rotary past president Ivor Chilcott, who at the time was also the local head of education in the area.
After much deliberation, Beatrice Soakwell, on the topic of grandparents, was awarded the first prize and trophy, but congratulations were given to the two runners-up for delivering well-prepared speeches in a closely fought competition of the highest calibre.
President Jim Haggarty thanked the schools and the teachers for their support and for their work in preparation for the competition. He also thanked Hasland Hall Community School for kindly hosting the preliminary finals on Tuesday 12 March 2013.
President of the Inner Wheel Club of Chesterfield, Adrienne Handley, thanked the Rotary Club on behalf of all ladies and guests present for an excellent event, and added her congratulations to the students taking part in the final.
Past president Bryan White of the club’s Vocational Service group, who had organised the event and introduced each contestant, was thanked for his fine efforts in organising yet another successful event by President Jim Haggarty.
In the picture from left to right:- Chesterfield Inner Wheel Club president Adrienne Handley, runner-up Laura Norman (Netherthorpe), competition winner Beatrice Soakell (Netherthorpe), Chesterfield Rotary Club president Jim Haggarty, runner-up Hannah Rodger (St Marys)