Using the wonders of Zoom technology, members of the Wirksworth Rotary Club enjoyed an excellent evening of joint fellowship with the Rotary Club of Valreas Nyons in France on Thursday 25th March. During the meeting, we heard presentations on the activities of our respective clubs. It was interesting to learn that our two clubs shared many common projects, for example we have both been supporting our local foodbanks during the Covid pandemic.
We were joined by Roz Adamson, Aquabox Trustee and Bakewell Rotarian, who gave a very informative talk about Aquabox, which generated much interest from the members of the French club.
Their President, Sarah Cook, is a former colleague of Wirksworth Rotarian Roger Cassidy from their time as members of Marlow Thames RC, hence the connection. Having spent 5 years living in France, Sarah is bilingual and was able to translate between French and English for everyone. She is also an Aquabox Ambassador in her adopted country.
When the pandemic first hit, Jigsaw Foodbank was flooded with offers of help from volunteers and support from supermarkets and local Rotary Clubs. But now, with six new referrals in one single day recently, the Jigsaw team has real concerns about what this winter holds for struggling families in the region.
Requests for help doubled in the first couple of weeks of lockdown back in March. At the same time many of Jigsaw’s elderly volunteers were reluctantly having to step down and self-isolate.
“Pre-Covid we were supporting around 40 families or households each week. Within three weeks that had increased to 75 households,” says former teacher Ruth Longfellow, one of the coordinators of Jigsaw foodbank which operates through Church in the Peak, Matlock.
Ruth put out a call for help via the Wirksworth Rotary Club & Town Council and within 24 hours over 80 new volunteers had come forward. With impressive efficiency Ruth and husband Richard quickly organised new packing and delivery teams to provide crisis parcels of food and supplies to homes in their patch – the A6 corridor between Wirksworth and Bakewell and all the neighbouring villages.
“Demand levelled off for a while over the summer but now, with a new wave of job losses, we are seeing the numbers rise again. We’ve increased capacity to be able to support up to 100 households each week in the coming months but are mindful that this may not be sufficient over the winter,” she says.
Supplies from supermarket donation bins fell off at the start of the pandemic but Ruth praises people’s generosity. “When they couldn’t give food they have given money. Again the local Rotary Clubs stepped in, teaming up with a local wholesale supplier to provide fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the summer.”
Rotary has also provided another much-needed lifeline through its Rotary4foodbanks scheme, a major regional initiative which buys food in bulk and distributes it free to around 50 foodbanks across the East Midlands and South Yorkshire.
“The Rotary4foodbanks scheme has delivered pallet-loads of staple items we sometimes find it hard to come by – coffee, tinned fruit, tuna & tinned meat – in volume to stock our shelves for the coming months. That, coupled with the excellent support we receive from local supermarkets and organisations like FareShare provides the supplies we need to ensure no-one goes hungry in our area as the recession bites.”
Ruth says the rural nature of the community they serve brings its own particular problems of isolation, on top of all the problems of furlough, reduced working hours and redundancies that are increasing due to the current pandemic.
“Families, especially single-parent families, can feel a real sense of isolation. Hungry and hard up, that can lead to real despair,” she explains. “The very fact that someone comes to their door with vital supplies and unconditional support is really helping struggling families get by.”
She cites the example of a low income local family with four children where one parent had been laid off and the other had had their working hours reduced. “Our volunteers arrive on the doorstep with much-needed food supplies – tins, fresh fruit and veg and ready meals. And, thanks to the surplus stock donated by M&S, the package was also topped off with a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers. It provided a real boost for a family struggling to survive and with no resources to treat themselves to the kind of luxuries we all need to keep our spirits up.”
“For the whole team at Jigsaw, our mission is to help people who find themselves in difficulty through no fault of their own. With the continued support of others in the local community as well as the supermarkets and Rotary4foodbanks, we won’t stop striving to make life better for families in need as the winter bites.”
Rotary4foodbanks has set up a justgiving page to make it easy for people to donate. Because the scheme is run entirely by volunteers it has no overheads. That means every penny given goes directly to buying food at discounted prices for delivery to local foodbanks.
Wirksworth Rotary is determined to continue to support a range of good causes and charities in our local community, across the UK and around the world. Like all Rotary Clubs though, our usual fundraising activities have been very much restricted during the current pandemic, so we are looking to raise much-needed money through a Virtual Balloon Race.
The race has a Halloween theme and starts from Dracula’s Castle on 31st October 2020. It’s 100% eco-friendly – no animals or birds are killed and there’s no litter.
We are delighted to partner with the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (DWT) in this race to help them continue their invaluable work promoting the natural world and educating and enhancing the lives of Derbyshire residents and visitors of all ages. DWT has been leading nature’s recovery across the county for over 55 years, inspiring people and communities to care and mobilising people to act, protecting and enhancing wildlife and wild places. From surveying bumblebee numbers out in the field to taking toddlers on their first ever mini-beast hunt – their work spans from conservation at its most scientific right through to a child’s first experience.
You can visit our page on the Ecoracing website at the link below to buy balloons. Each balloon costs just £3 and you can buy as many as you like. You can also buy them as gift codes to give to family and friends. It’s lots of fun and you can track the progress of your balloons throughout the race.
Wirksworth Rotary Club has recognised more than 25 local shops, which remained open throughout the COVID-19 lockdown period to keep supporting our community, with a special Thank You certificate on behalf of our Club and the Rotary organisation.
Many of these shops are quite small, which means the staff have been putting themselves at risk to keep serving the community. In fact a number of them have actually increased the level of service they provided, by making more deliveries to the homes of people having to self-isolate or shield.
We know that the staff in these shops have been very appreciative of this gesture and in many cases have pinned up our certificate in their shop windows for all to see.
In some of the outlying villages, where the local village shop has long since closed down, volunteers stepped in to help with shopping and delivery of essential food and medicine supplies and we have been pleased to acknowledge all their support too.
For many years the Wirksworth Rotary Club has run a plant sale in May to raise money for local good causes. A few years ago we teamed up with the Transition Wirksworth Community Growers in order to expand our offering to include vegetables and herbs as well as traditional bedding plants and perennials.
This collaboration has proved to be a great success and we were looking forward to holding this year’s plant sale, when we were to be also to be joined by the Wirksworth U3A Gardening Group. Everything changed of course as the Covid-19 virus started to spread across the world and the country went into lockdown.
As seasoned plants people, we had all our seeds and seedlings overwintering in greenhouses and on windowsills and the idea of throwing all these young plants onto the compost heap was unthinkable. We all agreed that the sale MUST GO ON – the big question was how to make it happen without breaching lockdown and social distancing guidelines.
Out of this the ‘virtual’ plant sale was born. Lists and the descriptions of all the plants for sale were collected from our wonderful team of growers and using social media platforms and public noticeboards we started to spread the word. Timed collections of orders were scheduled at a number of locations and for customers in self-isolation we arranged personal deliveries.
In view of these unprecedented times and the difficulties which so many people in our community are facing as a result of the shutdown of many businesses, it was agreed that all the money from the proceeds of the Plant Sale would be donated to the Jigsaw Foodbank in Matlock.
As a result of the fantastic support of so many people over £2,900 was raised. Out of this total, £750 has already been paid into the Rotary4Foodbanks fund. The Jigsaw Foodbank, nominated by the Bakewell, Matlock and Wirksworth Rotary Clubs in Rotary4Foodbanks, has already received several consignments of extremely valuable staple items for their food bags through this scheme.
Ruth Longfellow from the Jigsaw Foodbank commented, “This is such a generous donation and very much appreciated! It will help us to keep supporting the vulnerable in our community for some time to come.” “We are very grateful for all the generous donations of tinned and packet food we receive from individuals and organisations in the local community, as well as financial donations which enable us to purchase any items we are short of and also the ability to provide fresh fruit and vegetables for our clients. The donations we receive enable us to continue to support these vulnerable, needy families who find themselves in the most desperate of circumstances.”
The Rotary Club of Wirksworth is organising this event for the eighth year and, with the help of our friends and supporters, are hoping it will be the most successful yet.
It’s a seven and a half mile walk around Carsington Water, starting at the Visitor Centre between 9.30 and 10.30 am. After 6 miles there’s a service point where water is available and transport back to the Visitor Centre for any who find the full circuit a bit too much.
It’s an opportunity for walkers to have a leisurely walk and enjoy the wonderful views, wild flowers and wildlife at their best in late April. There’s an information sheet for all walkers identifying points of interest to look out for during the walk.
This is a family event so bring your children who will be presented with a medal when they complete the walk. The weather has varied from lovely and sunny to wintry in past years but walkers have always enjoyed themselves.
We hope this year’s, weather will be marvellous so please make a note of the date and come along to support us and help raise much needed money for this important charity.
You can just turn up on the day and make a donation but we hope that you will get friends, family and neighbours to sponsor you.
Money raised by the walk this year will go to Polio Plus and any money raised by Rotary Clubs taking part can be treated as their own contribution to this fund provided they let us know how much has been raised so we can assess the success of the event.
Image of Carsington Water by http://beyondxthexeyes.deviantart.com/art/Carsington-Water-290769170 Used with restrictions under Creative Commons rights
Rotarians in Wirksworth, the Aquabox mother-club, are giving their full support and practical help to two Peak District men undertaking a gruelling New Year Challenge.
Long-distance cyclists David Cook and Paul Cave have embarked on the most challenging expedition of their lives, a 9000 mile gruelling charity ride through nine countries in South East Asia, to highlight the plight of some of the world’s poorest people and the efforts being made by international aid agencies to improve their quality of life.
Both recent Honours graduates, the pair met while studying at Sheffield University.The expedition will take the team from Singapore to Mumbai though Malaysia. Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal and India.
“It is going to be a tremendous challenge but we have been planning this expedition for some time and are confident we shall succeed,” said Dave who, with Paul, has already undertaken long-distance charity rides in the UK, Europe and Australia.
Primary objective of the expedition is to document, on film and in the social media, life in the countries through which they travel and the work being undertaken by international aid agencies to improve the lot of local people, many of whom eke out a miserable living in the most basic of conditions.
A secondary aim is to raise funds for UNICEF and the Rotary Club of Wirksworth’s internationally-acclaimed Aquabox project which provides clean water for communities affected by man-made or natural disasters.
“The expedition will give us a unique opportunity to raise money for Aquabox and help to promote positively the work of some charities whose humanitarian activities often go unnoticed,” said Dave.
Former Lady Manners School student Dave is the only team member who will ride the entire route. With him and Paul on the expedition as drivers and support specialists are Sheffield creative media student Joseph O-Connor from Norton College in Sheffield who will co-ordinate film production, Herefordshire marathon runner and rower Chris Jones, and Arja Grenager Soermo from Lagesund in Norway who will also act as media communications officer.
The team have now arrived in Singapore where it collected its support vehicle and other vital equipment, before the expedition proper sets off later in January.
Though the major costs of the expedition are being funded by individual team members and specialist supporters, the group will have the backing of Rotary International throughout the ride.