Although the World is still grappling with the Covid pandemic it is amazing that as the Rotary Club of Bangor is only meeting by way of the Zoom platform that there has been around a 10% increase in membership since the first lockdown in March 2020 and some excellent speakers at the weekly meetings, writes Jack Watson.
The diversity of the present and past occupations of the new members is very rewarding and they should prove a real bonus to the Club when things start to return to normal and the Club again becomes more active.
Bangor Rotary welcomes new members
The new members are Mike Malone, a retired Dental Surgeon; Paul Kendrick and Barbara Boyle. The final person due to be inducted into the club is Andy Young, a retired American Army Major who is currently studying at University here in Northern Ireland. There is no doubt with the wide breadth of experience that these 4 persons bring to the Club their input will be very welcome.
Fantastic line-up of speakers
Past President James O’Fee has been able to recruit some excellent and interesting speakers to address the club over the last number of weeks. We had Stephen Jaffe who gave an excellent presentation on the Jewish Community in Belfast. The members were enthralled to hear of the part Jews from Belfast had played, and still do, in World Affairs. It had a local ring to it as Stephen talked about the Jewish Millisle Farm and the part it played in housing a large number of Jewish children who were sent there by their parents in the late 30s due to the Nazi persecution of their parents.
Another speaker with a local twist was Toby Edwards, the Area Ranger from Mount Stewart, who spoke at length on the problems assosiated with the increasing numbers of gray squirrels not only in the Estate but throughout the Island of Ireland and what action was being taken to combat this problem. The talk was punctuated with real time action pictures of red squirrels at play and feeding in Mount Stewart Estate. Seemingly there is a similar problem within the grounds of Bangor Castle and it is something that Council Officers are currently grappling with.
Working to eradicate Polio
The Club was privileged to have a fellow Rotarian, Judith Diment MBE of the Rotary Club of Maidenhead Thames and a former District Governor, speak on a subject which is very dear to all Rotarians and that is Polio Plus.
The International Rotary movement has been committed to the eradication of Polio throughout the World for many years and it was fantastic to hear Judith confirm that India and the African continent are now Polio free and the only recent outbreaks have been reported in Pakistan and Afganistan. And these were quite minor.
Judith is a tireless worker for Rotary and Polio Plus in particular, for over 20 years, and she came up with the slogan “Stop Polio Now” which has been adopted as the International slogan for the eradication of Polio worldwide.
She is currently the Coordinator of the Rotary International Polio Eradication Advocacy Task Force, a UK National Advocacy Adviser for Polio and a member of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee (IPPC). Judith Chairs the IPPC Grants Sub-Committee which recommends grants to WHO and Unicef up to $150million annually. She also reminded the Club that for every $ raised for PolioPlus Bill Gates triples this by donating $2.
There is no doubt that Judith is a shining example to us all within the Rotary Club of Bangor of what a truely committed Rotarian can achieve.
The international connection continues to grow
Our final speaker in March was another Rotarian, Gabriella Bracklo, this time from Germany and a close friend of one of our newest Rotarians Barbara Boyle.
However listening to the presentation of her involvement and commitment to the Rotary movement would leave one wondering how she finds time for her own business and family life in Germany. Her Rotary pathway started in the early 90s when she was a Rotary Ambasadorial Scholar studying Science Communication in Santa Cruz, California.
Since then she has been involved at club, district and international level and has attended a number of Rotary International Conferences and stressed the satisfaction she gained from attending these and listening to inspirational speakers. Surprisingly enough she, and the previous weeks speaker, Judith Diment MBE, are both close friends as Gabriella has also become involved in Stop Polio Now and as mentioned above, Judith is very much one of the drivers of this initiative.