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St Crux Fundraising After a year's absence whilst their hall was being refurbished, we are back at St Crux with our fundraising stalls and cafe! Club members, partners and friends made September 4th a very successful fundraising event despite some chilly weather (but no rain!) Sales of "higher-quality" bric-a-brac and books were good, and the ladies' accessories especially successful from the handsome stall set up under the Rotary gazebo. Inside, the cafe did good business - mostly indoors, where it was warm! -under the eye of Diana and the crew all splendidly clad in yellow shirts and Rotary aprons. After much hard work in preparation beforehand and on the day, it was a fun day, and raised £1330 for the Club's Charity Fund. A brilliant result! Well done and thanks to Diana, Sheila and their teams and all who helped to make it happen.
Horticultural experience Vic Brookes reports...Ten green fingered enthusiasts joined organiser Frank at Johnson’s of Whixley at their wholesale horticultural nursery September 7th. We were ably guided by production manager Ian. As the largest nursery in the UK employing between 70-100 people in the offices and production areas, the company needs to keep that edge to maintain their position as the leading British plant producer. The answer is, apparently, robotics. A new area will be developed adjacent to the current production sites to fulfil this novel approach. The most profitable line? Holly bushes. Plants are grown for landscaping car parks, public spaces on building developments and motorway embankments. Brexit and biosecurity are two of the leading headaches for the company. A lot of the production staff are from the European mainland and are good workers on flexible work patterns. Johnsons export virtually no plants but will import stock to fulfil orders from customers. After too short a time we had to terminate the visit with still so much to see and ask questions on. Thanks to Frank for arranging such an excellent visit.
Rotarian in Borstal! On September 7th new member Jan Dash spoke to the Club. Jan is not really a new member, having been with us for over a year and having previously been a member of two other clubs, as well as a past president and a district assistant governor! Jan starting working as a 17 year old in the royal Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps and finished when she retired as a priest in the village of Darenth, in Kent, with many years as a civilian nurse in between. She was called to the church first as a lay reader and then to be ordained as a priest in 1993. There followed a number of interesting posting, not least of them to Borstal, the village near Rochester in Kent, which is the site of the original youth custody centre. Here she was the chaplain to HMP Cookham Wood. Jan joined Rotary in Darent Valley as its first female member and completed a very varied career by becoming its first female president and eventually the local district’s assistant governor. She will undoubtedly be a great asset to our own Club.
Glorious Northumberland! Around 40 members and partners travelled up to glorious Northumberland on September 11th for the Autumn Fellowship Break, organised by David Sweeney. Doxford Hall was a lovely building with comfortable accommodation and excellent food which was enjoyed by all; though the hotel service was sometimes a little “under-trained”!! But nothing spoilt the great fellowship enjoyed at various points during the 3 days – including a windy 9-hole round of links golf at Seahouses course, and a lovely walk along the coast from Craster, past the dramatic ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle and the serene beach of Embleton Bay, to Newton-by-the-sea, a walk rated in the top 10 in the country apparently. Then two excellent dinners, with fiendishly tricky quizzes thanks to Steve Burton and John Lacy where we failed to recognise most of our fellow diners (admittedly photographed many years ago!!) and the three station stops beginning with “D” on the line to Edinburgh – though Tom thought he had his own unique solution to this one… Coupled with independent visits to local sights such as Alnwick Gardens, the amazing Barter Books shop in the old Alnwick railway station building, Bamburgh Castle and Lindisfarne, it was an action-packed but most enjoyable break which everyone enjoyed. Many thanks to David for all his work in getting this organised. President Ian acknowledged the three years David has been organising these fellowship breaks with a card (signed by all) and a bottle of malt whisky backed by much applause from all.
There are more photos of the break on a special web page here
"Friends" Barbeque The recently-formed "Friends of York Rotary" group (FoYR) had a social barbeque event on September 16th very generously provided by Don and Sheelagh Salter. 20 attended including Elly Fiorentini, who is Patron of the FoYR. More info and photos can be seen on the "Friends" web page here. Further networking events are planned for later this year, and several Friends have volunteered to help out at the Marathon baggage handling event in support of the Club in a few weeks' time.
Ambling round Ampleforth Nigel reports... On September 20th 11 walkers gathered in Wass on a sunny autumn morning, and once kitted up, they were “shuttled” up Wass Bank in two cars, in order to avoid a steep slog up the road. The walk began at the top, opposite Stanbrook Abbey, a Benedictine Convent opened in 2009. The group followed a route for 6 miles along steeply undulating hills, passing Studfold Ring, a bronze age settlement, down into Ampleforth, then along the valley towards Byland Abbey, and back to Wass. Lunch was enjoyed in the delightful Stapylton Arms.
Rotarian walkers follow the letter of the law
The changing role of Yorkshire Cancer Research On September 28th we welcomed Andy Wilson, Research Engagement Manager for Yorkshire Cancer Research (YCR), as our speaker. His clear and professional presentation very obviously held members attention as he explained some of the shocking statistics about cancer in the Yorkshire region, and how YCR is striving to improve the situation. Founded in 1925, YCR was originally called the Yorkshire Council of the British Empire Cancer Campaign (a bit of a mouthful, as he admitted!) before taking its current persona in 1998. Initially set up as a body to fund local research, it had many successes particularly through Leeds University, in the development of cancer treatment drugs, most notably Tamoxifen, developed in the 1960’s and still one of the most commonly used breast cancer drugs across the world. Whilst justly proud of such developments, In 2014 YCR changed its approach and role in fighting cancer. They realised that Yorkshire people were not benefitting as much as they should from cancer research treatment, and statistics were alarming. 575 people per week are diagnosed with cancer across Yorkshire – one of the highest rates in the country. YCR challenged itself to reduce this rate (aiming to have 2000 fewer people dying from cancer by 2015) not by focussing on drug development but more by promoting awareness and striving to improve cancer mortality rates. Their focus now is on increasing prevention awareness (40% of cancers are actually preventable; e.g. smoking); by increasing the uptake of national screening programmes to catch cancers earlier; accessing clinical trials for patients in Yorkshire; and research partnerships.
A Positive outlook for the NHS We were delighted to welcome Mike Proctor, Chief Executive of York Teaching Hospital NHS Trust as our speaker on October 5th. Mike started in the NHS as a Critical Care Nurse in Sheffield before moving to York in 1993. With his deep knowledge of the workings of the care system, he rose quickly to become Chief Executive, and his down-to-earth, and often humorous, descriptions of the current state of the NHS were clearly based on a pragmatic and deeply caring view of what needs to be done. Despite huge challenges at the moment, it was refreshing, to many who listened, how positive Mike was about the overall future of the service, and he put over clear views of his priorities. With 9% of the Yorkshire area being over 75 years of age, and 800,000 people to cover in a local area of 3500 square miles, the NHS budget (currently £120Bn nationwide) will be further stretched and although huge cost savings have been made since 2010, to effectively counter the “new pressures” that Mike described, the “pips are squeaking” and there needs to be structural change and new attitudes, as well as additional funding, if medical and social care is to meet the challenges. Mike described his own role’s challenges and targets, and he felt that a joint, local, approach to medical, mental health and social care budgets and management are essential. It is on this point that Mike was optimistic that – eventually – this change will come, and the NHS – which he described as the most efficient and cost-effective service in the world in delivering consistent care to all its population – will be able to meet the challenges of the future. Mike himself is approaching his retirement, and told us that the average “tenure expectancy” of an NHS CEO was 18 months! But as Speakers Host Mike Wilson said in his vote of thanks, many of us would hope he (Mike Proctor) would stay on longer and help lead the changes he proposes.
A visitor from Iowa – and the Paul Harris connection Listening to Mike Proctor’s fascinating talk about the NHS on October 5th we were joined by a visitor from Iowa, USA. Mary Ellen Lewis is a member of Iowa City Noon Rotary Club, who have 300 members (and there are two other clubs in the city as well!). She explained to us that Iowa City is the home of the University of Iowa where Paul Harris studied law; and her Rotary Club was formed in 1915, recently celebrating its centenary in 2015. Another fact - Iowa City is also a UNESCO City of Literature.
(right) Archive photo of Paul Harris just after he graduated from Iowa University in 1891
Rotary Grant Scholar in York We welcome Grant Scholar Taelor Lewis whom our Club will be hosting until September 2019. She will be studying a Post-graduate course at the University of York in International Human Rights Law with a focus on Women, Citizenship and Conflict. Taelor’s Scholarship is sponsored by Rotary Club of Pleasanton North in California. She has spent the last two years teaching 7th Grade children in a low-income neighbourhood in her home city of Oakland. Taelor is interested in visiting our own Club, and other local clubs, and in taking part in some of our activities. We welcome her to York and wish her well with her studies!
Some Challenging Baggage With a very early (7am) Sunday morning start on October 14th, our team, made up of Rotarians and a good turnout of "Friends of York Rotary" as well, arrived at the University of York campus and prepared the Baggage Store at the Yorkshire Marathon to receive the runners' bags for safe keeping - all to be tagged in numerical order! The weather was atrocious, raining all day, so being under cover of the marquee was a blessing. Despite a few challanges (not enough space, and a somewhat chaotic numbering system provided by the organisers) the team managed the job - just! and it was pleasure once again to be involved with the community in this way. The organisers also contributed £440 to our Club's Charity Fund, so it was a worthwhile effort!
Rt Hon Julian Sturdy MP On October 12th the club welcomed Julian Sturdy MP, Conservative Member for York Outer, as our guest speaker. His visit followed the recent visit from Rachael Maskell, the Labour Member for York Central. Julian started by telling us how he came into politics. His intended career pattern was to go into the family business of farming and he had attended College to that purpose. Soon after he had started farming he was approached to be the conservative candidate in the local Harrogate elections. This was the start of the route that then led to him becoming the parliamentary candidate for the new constituency of York Outer in 2010 and winning the first of three elections. He steered his talk carefully around the confrontational politics that makes our news headlines nearly every day and told us something of the day to day work of a back bench MP. It was interesting to hear how colleagues from across the political spectrum discussed matters both positively and co-operatively in the select committees in which he participated. After his talk, Julian answered several questions, skilfully avoiding being too drawn on the burning Brexit issue of the moment, describing his weekly workload and his constituency duties.
District Conference Eileen reports... The Club was represented by 10 members and partners at this year’s conference in Scarborough on October 12-14th, which had a different style to previous years. Most of us just went for the Saturday and stayed overnight. David & Celia Impey and Don & Sheelagh Salter ran a very successful District Shop in the main Showcase area. There were some excellent presentations, including inspirational and amusing features from ski jumper Eddie (The Eagle) Edwards and former UN Intern Lydia Slack. Rotary GBI President Debbie Hodge spoke of the triangle of people & projects which bring publicity and added Polio and Peace to make the 5 Ps which Rotary will keep promoting. Our contingent treated itself to a superb meal at La Lanterna. The end of an informative and enjoyable day amongst friends.
Welcome to Tony At the Club's meeting on October 19th, we welcomed another new member to the Club. Tony Gillman's working life has been in the property industry, initially in estate agency until 1991. From that time he ran a property development company buying land to sell off for self-builders and those who wished to have their home designed and built for them. In the last 4 years or so Tony established a York-based estate agency called Austin Brooks with around 12 consultants. He sold and transferred this last year to another local agency to focus on other things in his life. Tony has already engaged in many Club activities and is clearly going to be a very active member. President Ian welcomed Tony to Rotary, as do we all.
Ensuring a continuous flow We enjoyed a very informative presentation by Granville Davies, Manager Asset Strategy for Yorkshire Water Services Ltd at our October 26th meeting. Every day the company provides 5 million customers in Yorkshire and Humberside with 1.3 billion litres of high quality water, recovers and treats 1 billion litres of waste water , processed through 62,000 miles of pipeworks and 671 water treatment works. Granville outlined the planning processes and pricing regimes required to meet the stringent requirements of the Water Industry Regulator OFWAT. Currently 23% of the available water supply is lost through leaks and key elements in the five year plan are initiatives to achieve a 40% reduction in the 320 million litres lost every day. Another desirable option is to increase meters to individual properties from the existing 55% - a win win solution to Yorkshire Water and the customer. An extremely interesting overview of the scale of activities and the forward planning processes needed in this essential industry to guarantee the continual supply of water for us all.
Success of District Shop At the same meeting President Ian congratulated David and Celia Impey, and John and Linda Lacy, for their time and efforts in running the Rotary Shop on behalf of our District (also Don and Sheelagh Salter who helped at the most recent event) This year the shop has raised £1000 for our Club's Charity Fund - a record amount and a great achievement. In addition, a further amount of £200 has been donated to Inner Wheel for Choose2Youth, the charity supported by its president, Linda. David Impey is pictured presenting the £200 cheque to Linda. Well done to all!
Happy Chappies and Leis! Diana reports... More than a few Rotarian gentlemen arrived at the Caribbean Night fundraiser on October 23rd wearing their best flowery shirts and one, who shall be nameless Russ, even had a swanky Rastafarian Hat and sunglasses (but without the dreadlocks). It took most of us a long time to recognize him! The ladies were a little less floral, although several misguidedly wore leis (from Hawaii, not The Caribbean!) around their necks. The mood was definitely set when the calypso jazz band, The Happy Chappies, played whilst people had their pre-dinner drinks. Veejay excelled himself with the likes of Jerk Chicken, Curried Goat, Ackee and Fish and Fried Plantain – and so much more – all absolutely delicious. When the band returned to play after the meal a number of intrepid souls even got up to dance – it must have been a good night! The Caribbean themed food raffle raised a record breaking £373 which, added to the 80 ticket sales and Barclays' generous donation (and after expenses) raised a very healthy net figure of £2,461 for our Charity Fund. Our heartfelt thanks go to manager Kai and the Novotel for their generosity in giving us this evening and to Hannah and the team for looking after us so well.