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Family Fund On January 30th our speaker was David Fergus, who has recently joined Family Fund as their fundraiser (or "professional beggar" as he described it!). David explained the charity's role, in helping families with severely disabled children or under 17's, who are already on benefits but need that little extra help. 99% government funded, Family Fund provide equipment (kitchen appliances, laptop computers etc), books, short breaks away, and increasingly, help for siblings who are carers. They helped 180 families in York in 2014, out of an estimated 4000 eligible families in this area.
Lighting Up.... We take “lighting up our face with a smile” for granted. But in her talk to the Club on February 6th Di Leal, representing the US-based charity Operation Smile, showed us how thousands of children in third-world countries who suffer from cleft lip or cleft palate (one born every 3 minutes), are unable to smile until the international team from their charity arrives to perform simple (45-minute) operations to correct these birth defects, using equipment and clinical standards that match those commonly used in the UK - though the facilities are often more challenging!. She described the twelve-day missions, illustrated with poignant photographs, which help around 120 children (selected from 300 who ask for the treatment) on each mission. Di, who practices nursing in Leeds, has recently volunteered on missions to Peru, Morocco and Cambodia amongst many others. Funds raised in the UK are used to support Operation Smile's UK volunteers’ expenses. Her talk was heart-warming and a true example of “making a difference” in young peoples’ lives.
Grant to York Theatre Royal In July YTR (York Theatre Royal), in conjunction with the National Railway Museum, will be presenting a newly written play about the history of the railways in York. This play, “In Fog and Falling Snow”, will be a ‘community production’ involving some 200 actors. The YTR has a number of thriving Young Person’s Theatre Groups. During the last year it has been working with a group of 15-20 young people from disadvantaged areas of the City who have not previously had any involvement in theatre. Several have been referred to the Theatre by local agencies. The work they have been undertaking includes both acting and backstage activities. YTR hoped to be able to involve this particular group of young people in the new Railway project. Our Club has provided a grant of £1,250 to cover the costs of providing the group with a Facilitator for the rehearsal period, plus costs associated with them progressing their Arts Award work. On January 27th President John and President-Elect Mike presented the grant cheque at the NRM, where the young people were auditioning for their involvement in the production.
Helping our Community with Service Grants In addition to the presentation to York Theatre Royal, reported below, the Club has recently also given financial help to several other local community initiatives. These include £1000 to Haxby and Wigginton Youth and Community Group, for outreach work; £500 to the National Centre for Early Music, York towards their Music for Life project; and £500 to York Blind & Partially Sighted Society, to purchase a special keyboard and associated percussion equipment.
Hope and Homes for Children Hope and Homes for Children (H&HC) was founded after the 1994 Bosnia conflict by Col. Mark Cook. In his presentation to the Club on February 13th, Rotarian Graham Jackson, from the Irlam Club and past DG of District 1280, who speaks all over the UK on behalf of H&HC, described their work and their main objective of closing down “Institutions” for children and enabling them to move to real homes with, ideally, members of the own family, or at least with loving foster homes (adoption), or sometime into H&HC homes. Their work is carried out in 9 countries across Eastern Europe and Africa, and has had some dramatic positive results, with the number of children in institutions there being reduced from 120,000 to 8000 (and in future to zero). Graham described some of the physical and mental conditions he had found in Romania, Moldova and other places which were quite harrowing and it was clear that H&HC, which our Club have supported for many years, is making a real difference to these deprived children across the world.
There she blows! “Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.”
Attr. Bob Marley
Despite the weather forecast, a record turnout of 20 members and partners arrived at Kirkby Overblow, just south of Harrogate on February 19th for our walk. And despite the rain starting - then pouring - not long after setting off, the group found the positive “feel the rain” spirit. Graham decided to cover up his shorts (!?) with waterproofs, and we all (well, nearly all) remained smiling. Cheerfully carryed on, with just a minor shortening of the planned route, we complete 5.1 miles back to the welcome, warm and dry Shoulder of Mutton. With its open fires and terrific food, the pub warmed us inside and out and the party agreed it had actually been a very good walk (thank you, Nigel) - and that Rotary can survive any conditions and challenges!!
We welcome another New Member We were delighted to welcome Hazel Hart to membership of the Club at the business meeting on February 20th. President John, during the formal proceedings, mentioned that Hazel is the 10th new member that Club has welcomed in the past twelve months (seven of them women) which is an indication of the continuing vibrancy of our Club as we look forward positively to the future. Hazel owns a local hotel in York, and has wide experience of catering and hotel management. She is involved in the development of local tourism, being a board member / governor of several York bodies such as York College, Visit York, York Food Festival, and many others. Welcome, Hazel!
Rotaract Charter Night Dinner About twenty members of our Club, and partners, attended the York Rotaract Club’s 5th Charter Night Dinner on February 25th, held at the Hilton Hotel. Rotaract President Constantin Voll welcomed everyone to the evening and ensured everything went smoothly, including a well-stocked raffle which raised further funds for their chosen charity “Young Minds”. Many of our Club members present remarked on the upbeat and intelligent conversations we all had with the Rotaractors present. It was a joy to see Rotaract thriving again in York! More photos can be seen on our Rotaract page here
York Mind At the Club meeting on February 27th Vicky Blakey and Holly Pollard, from York Mind, explained to the members the activities and work of this charity which has been closely associated with our Club for many years. Providing assistance for over 40 young people a year, recovering from mental health problems and re-assimilating back into work or training, York Mind helps with vocational skills training (such as computer skills), Young People’s projects, support groups, and “Wellbeing exercises”, including what was described as “Green Exercise” – probably better known to most of us as walking! Members were especially interested to hear about the three-year Young People’s project, which has recently been supported with a Community Services grant from the Club. This provides football coaching and skills development for over 20 youngsters.
Visit to City Archives Frank reports.. The newly restored City of York Explore Library was a real eye opener for the 17 members who enjoyed a conducted tour on February 27th. Many didn’t realise that the Library and Archive services separated from the local authority and are now a mutual benefit society with charitable status. This resulted in a Heritage Lottery grant and £1.6m has been spent on producing a state of the art depository for 800 years of documented York History starting with the original 1155 York charter. The archive vault has been built above the existing childrens library. The new facilities were opened in January and it is evident from the number of people using the whole range of activities that this investment is very worthwhile.
President's Evening In the splendid setting of The Dante Suite at York Racecourse on March 6th President John and Linda Lacy hosted the President's Dinner, with special guests the Lord Mayor and Mayoress, the Sherriff of York John Kenny and Jill Kenny, President of Inner Wheel Pat Anderson, with Fred Anderson, and the Presidents of Ainsty and Vikings Clubs. We also especially welcomed, as our speaker, Elly Fiorentini, or Radio York, with her partner Michael Speak. The food was excellent, the atmosphere extremely convivial, and humour abounded in the speeches of our President - on the general theme of "history" - followed by the Lord Mayor Cllr Ian Gillies, whose descriptions of his year of office and associated anecdotes proved to be hilarious. Elly followed suit by describing "bloopers" from Radio York on-air which she played to us from a cd, and describing her background and the special events in history that she had covered over the years. All in all it was another great example of Rotary fellowship for the 110 members, partners and guests that attended.
"Running a business" presentation On March 5th two of our club members, Brian Joscelyne and Lukasz Druzic, gave a talk to the York Rotaract Club at the University of York, about ""Running a business" Sharing their differing experiences of setting up a business from scratch, developing it and (in Brian's case) selling it, their presentation gave rise to a lot of discussion and questions from the eager young Rotaractors, several of whom are already thinking about setting up their own businesses.
Outreach Programme Donation President John and Graham Todd, chair of community services, this week presented a cheque for £1000 to Haxby and Wigginton youth and community group. Met by committee members Rtn Mike Miller and Pat Wilford (wife of Graham) the donation will allow their youth workers to reach out to young people in the area. The aim of the project is to provide equipment which will enable young people to develop their potential and be aware of such issues such as substance misuse, and develop in-depth understanding of the local community.
Archaeologist digs up his history On March 13th new member Peter Nicholson gave a talk to the Club about his background and career. An accountant by training, after spending time with Rowntree, Hepworth Plastics and York Waterworks, Peter eventually joined Yorkshire Archaeological Trust in 2001. He outlined to the Club the success of enerprises such as the DIG and Jorvik, who make sufficient returns to cover the other work that YAT need to do to help preserve York's history and develop places such as Micklegate Bar museum and the Richard III museum, both of which have had recent refurbishments. Peter also mentioned his other interests which include Jam making and walking - though presumably not at the same time.....
Uganda shipment from Physionet Several members helped load up another container on March 14th, full of medical aids, wheelchairs and the like, and destined this time for Uganda. Last January, Physionet despatched another loaded to The Gambia which included, in addition to the usual range of equipment, 700+ artificial limbs on behalf of the charity 'Legs 4 Africa' The second photo below shows a cheerful group of very grateful recipients, many waving the aforementioned limbs!
Budding Brunels build bridges! The annual York Rotary Clubs' Technology Tournament took place at the National Railway Museum on March 17th, where teams from schools from York and outlying districts competed by rising to the challenge of building a Bascule Bridge (better known as a "Tower Bridge") using the basic materials provided. The teams were fully engaged in this task and excitement mounted as testing was completed and the winners announced (see "Rotagraph for details of the winners) A large number of Club members were present as stewards, and also as judges. Three York Rotaract members, all engineering students, were also judges. They were delighted to be involved in helping the day be so successful. Isambard would have been proud!
Welcome to Don At the Club's Business Meeting on March 20th we were delighted to formally welcome new member Don Salter. Coming to York from Chester, where had (and still has) his own business, Don has already become very active in the Club, attending a number of events as a guest before confirming his membership. Not afraid to jump in to anything new, it is clear that Don will make an impact within the Club and participate fully - he was enthusiastically welcomed by President John, and by all members.
The Devil's Amphitheatre Local legend has it that it was formed when Wade the Giant scooped up a handful of earth to throw at his wife during an argument. But there was less drama on March 19th when 10 members embarked on our own circumnavigation of the Hole of Horcum on the March walk, led by the Club's new member (elect) Don and his wife Sheelagh. The conditions were dry, apart from some residual mud. The skies however were somewhat overcast. But the views were still fantastic as we made our way in a counterclockwise direction from Levisham, upstream through the valley and up the steep climb to the A169. Returning across the moor, and avoiding the flock of herded sheep, we then refreshed the soul and the body with a great lunch at the Horseshoe Inn.
Mayoral Visit On March 27th we were delighted to welcome the Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Ian Gillies, as our speaker. The club was treated to a very interesting and humourous description of the Mayor's year in office, which to date has included over 500 functions, handing out over 1,000 certificates (though none today) and a punishing daily schedule which he seems to manage with an easy style, good humour and an obvious sense of pride in his City. Cllr Gillies announced the succesful awarding of Heritage Lottery Funding for the further refurnishment of the Mansion House, to his obvious delight. His two Lord Mayor charities, York Against Cancer and York Teaching Hospital Charity, have benefitted greatly from his efforts, YAC (well known to all members) being able to buy outright the new minibus they have wanted for so long. The Mayor's talk ended with the exposition of his view that volunteers were the "oxygen of York" and Cllr Gillies, a good friend of our Club and our President, received warm applause from all present.
Theatrical Update There was a warm welcome back to Liam Evans-Ford, producer at York Theatre Royal, on his third visit to Club on April 10th to give an update on the theatre and its forthcoming productions. It coincided with the media stories of the "find" of a medieval well this week, during the excavations under the stage, as the theatre goes through a major and exciting £4m upgrade to its stage, facilities and a new bistro which - archaeology permitting! - should be completed this year. Despite the building closure, the theatre is continuing, with innovative stagings at the National Railway Museum of "The Railway Children", back for a return visit after it's huge success worldwide; and a new production, "In Fog and Falling Snow" which tells the story of "larger than life" York railway tycoon George Hudson (the 1840's version of Frank, apparently!!) Liam's dynamic presentation, enthusiasm and description of this multi-stage show, involving the 600 audience moving around the NRM, and live locomotives, kept members rapt with attention, and keen to get tickets (26 June - 11 July)