Flowers, plants , runners and tractors

Not quite so busy the last two weeks of August  but perhaps a good job as I needed plenty of energy to undertake outdoor day-long events in support of Club projects.

Thursday, 17th I found myself on the way to Southport Flower Show.  I haven’t been for years – despite my love of flowers – always busy at work and something on at the weekend.   However this year, invited by the Rotary Clubs in Southport – determined to attend in support of the Clubs.

We decided to use the park and ride and you never know who you are going to meet when you are out and about.  Lots of Formby Squirrels,  Formby Rotarians & an Inner Wheel Member!

Having watched the build up of the Rotary Shelterbox Garden on facebook, I had followed its development but nothing prepared me for the pride I felt when I saw the garden depicting Alice in Wonderland surrounding the Shelter Box. This garden had been the inspiration of AG David Hartley and along with President Ged Whittle Southport Meols Rotary they had begged, stealed (well not quite) and borrowed to create this garden.   Its position – right at the main entrance of the showground and the story that it told was well admired by the general public and photographed – the teapot made out of tyres was world famous!

DG inspecting ‘the facilities’ with AG David & Yvonne Hartley

Tony and I were glad to be able to spend time promoting Rotary on the stand and Shelterbox. One young boy told the President of Sunrise Rotary that he was a scout and knew all about Shelterbox.

The excellent Rotary Shelterbox Garden, constructed by Rtns David Hartley & Pres.Ged Whittle

The stand was being manned each day by the four Clubs in Southport – Southport, Southport Links, Southport Meols and Southport Sunrise.     Certainly on Thursday it was blazing hot and I was very pleased to be hosted by President Michael and Di Harrison who welcomed us and showed us around the Show.

We enjoyed delicious ice cream but had to eat it rather quickly as it was melting so quickly in the heat.

Well done Southport Clubs – lets hope that Rotary in Southport and beyond was enhanced and there will be a membership awareness and dividend.     I was truly amazed to see the public very generously donating to Shelterbox.

The tradition of promoting Shetlerbox has been upheld for many years by PDG Gerry Hesislip.  Although Gerry has been unwell and is recovering from an operation, I believe he was visiting the garden later in the week and I am sure he would be very proud of what the Rotarians have created.

I was so excited to be visiting Tywyn to see the Rotary 34th year of Race the Train.   This signature project is mindblowing.

We arrived before the roads were all shut off and found Rtn. Elfed who directed us to our Marshalling Location.

They’re going well along the High Street

The start of the race is so exciting and for the 2 O’clock  race they had 1050 runners from all over the Country and indeed world-wide!     On your marks…….

Whilst the race was on, we were able to meet up with President Nancy and her husband Geroge who were serving behind the bar.   Good to chat with lots of the club members who were undertaking their different roles.

Smiling faces with President Nancy and husband George working behind the bar

At around 1 hr 25 minutes the runners started to arrive back in Tywyn.   We never actually saw the train but you can ride on it whilst the race is on.   Perhaps next time…..       The winners were arriving back pretty muddy and naturally exhausted.         It was good to be able to roll our sleeves up and give a hand behind the bar and this enabled us to speak to some of the runners.

This Rotary project is said to bring in £1 million of tourism into the Town and surrounding areas.

President Nancy was very proud to present two cheques to me as DG.
Both were for £1000: one for Our Rotary Foundation and the other for End Polio Now; so £2000 donated to our Rotary Foundation on a day of huge Community service by Tywyn Rotarians.  Well done you guys!  Your cheques have been forwarded onto Alcester.

We had a few crazy photographs taken (always mindful of RI Public Image Co-ordinator Mike Thorn saying he does not want to see loads of photos of line ups  with cheque presentations on facebook – so Nancy and myself pretended we were running after one of the runners.

Thank you Tywyn Rotary for your generous donation to our Foundation.

Just before we left for the long journey home, we spent a few minutes on the front at Tywyn to watch the waves bouncing in,  then started our long journey home but admiring the magnificent scenery of this stunning part of Mid Wales.

We stopped for a drink (well truthfully for a comfort break) at the George III Hotel – located at Penmaenpool on the River Mawddach.

Outside the George III Hotel, Penmaenpool

I felt very proud when a young lady same over: she had seen the Rotary polo shirts and wanted to thank ROTARY for putting on such a marvelous event. Of course, she got a Rotary leaflet!



Rtn. Gareth with our Honorary Rotary ‘Fairy Godmother’

Up early on Sunday morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed to attend City of St. Asaph Rotary’s 5th Country Fayre at Llannerch Park, St. Asaph.   We knew that if we arrived before the event opened we would be able to purchase a delicious bacon butty.

President Tom Yule at the Membership Stand

PP David Knight and his wife Eileen were staffing the hot food marquee.       President Tom and the hardworking members of the club were all busy undertaking their individual roles.   The event runs like a well oiled clock.

St Asaph Rotary newest member, Rtn. Tracy and her husband-both very involved with the Country fair

This is the fourth time I have visited the Country Fayre in support of St. Asaph Club.       I got promotion last year from taking the money for the burgers to Membership recruitment.   Indeed that was when  I met Tracey at this event and encouraged her to attend one of the club meetings.   Some months later she became the first lady member of St. Asaph Rotary and it was just marvelous to see her again, now married, and helping with membership recruitment.     Her partner had been helping the Rotarians set up and his involvement had been much appreciated – a scaffolder comes in very useful!!

IPP Roy and his wife June

This year we took more names from the public, interested in finding out more about Rotary/prospective members and we hope the Club will follow through on these contacts. Well done to IPP Roy Hamilton who looked after the stall holders and the membership tent – along with his wife June.

The club members work so very hard to make this community event such a success.   

Great to see a past St. Asaph Rotarian Alan Duke helping out and  taking photographs of the event – he was a star at getting publicity for the club.

DG Beryl taking army truck driving lessons

  I think they had a record turn out 2017 and the sun was shining most of the day.     It is truly a great day out for all the family with animals (fun dogs comp. working horses, birds of prey etc etc, ;   skills   (archery, hedge laying, crafts etc), Sports (tug of war, paint ball, assault course);   vehicles/machines (model airplanes, classic cars, tractors etc;   and entertainment (Batala band, Radio Galn Clwyd, Punch and Judy etc)

‘Hoseing down’ our brave firefighters

The event raises a healthy sum – which, naturally, goes back into the local community but also allows other local charities to promote themselves and raise funds.     A win win situation.

Once the public leave, the members then start to pull the marquees down, stack chairs and collect litter before a little get together to unwind.   Naturally, plenty of work to do on Monday as well – many hours put in, not just before the event but packing away.

I do hope that the Club will record the number of hours and success on Rotary Club Central.  Well done – yet again – members of St. Asaph Rotary.

Birds-eye view of the Country Fayre

Monday, 21st was a gathering of the Governor Continuity Group.  We meet once a month to discuss District  strategy.  On this occasion, we also met up with our Rotary Assistant Membership Co-ordinator Tony Cotton to discuss membership matters for D1180 – where we are, where we want to be and how we will get there.    We also, had a public image strategy presentation with RI Assistant Public Image  Coordinator Molly.   We are very fortunate to have their expertise and knowledge.


RYLA students successfully complete team-work exercise

Thursday, up bright eyed and bushy tailed again and off to Arthog to spend the day with the RYLA students.    This is a District project but led by Oswestry Borderland Rotarians.

Blue Team working together on the Canoe Slalom project

37 students were in attendance this year – the team leader is Rotarian Paul Crosby who welcomed us to the Outdoor Activity Centre and took us around the different parts of the day to see examples of teams red, green, blue and purple undertaking canoeing, raft building, abseiling, outdoor  problem solving.

Facilitator Ian sharing the days instructions with DG Beryl

We climbed right up to the quarry and saw where the leap of faith used to take place  (glad I did not have to do it!)

The ‘Leap of Faith’ (Left – out of bounds this year!)

All the facilitators give of their time freely and Rotary Clubs in our District sponsor students.     It is so important that the club selection processes ensure the right students are sent to RYLA – it is an awesome week and it brings out determination, trust,  and, of course,  leadership skills.     After supper they go through what they have gained in the day’s activities.      There was a presentation on volunteering.  Each evening they are given a presentation on Rotary.   On this being the last evening, I had the pleasure, as DG,  to address them all and praising them for their achievements.

Rtns Julien, Pres.Sheri, Dave, Pres.Norman, Pres. Ian, Elizabeth & John & Tony – visitors at RYLA with facilitator Ian

These students are the future of Rotary.     Wherever they go, whatever town, city or Country they decide to study and work in, they could well become future Rotarians.   I asked if they would take a slice of Rotary with them, wherever they went.     I told them a short story to demonstrate they should grasp at every opportunity – who knows where it might lead:   what they can achieve with teamwork;   some things are not important to us, but very important to others; and the value of £1 coin.  The RYLA course gives them confidence .

The RYLA ‘Class of 17’ discuss the day’s events

For me, these alumni need to be cultivated – in perhaps a year they could actually become Rotarians and join one of the newly formed clubs, or start a Rotaract Club at their University.         I also, urged them to consider the formation of an e-club to keep in touch – an Academy of the Class 2017 RYLA students.

The Toll Bridge at Penmaenpool Near Arthog

We did not arrive home until 12.30 a.m. – it was an action packed day but perhaps I could say “Rotary at its Best”.

As it is a Bank Holiday weekend, and I have no Rotary appointments, I am putting my feet up to recharge the batteries for the next Rotary adventure.

Perhaps a good long soak in the bath…….

DG preparing for next week’s round of D1180 events