Margaret Francey makes history at Bangor Rotary Club

| June 7, 2022

President-Elect Margaret Francey has made history by being the first woman to present plans for the coming year of the Club under her stewardship as President.

Outlining a dynamic programme for the year to include an event for International Women’s Day in 2023, Margaret impressed members with her enthusiasm.

Visiting the Club for the day, Assistant District Governor Steven Costello encouraged Margaret and her team to continue to make Rotary relevant to the local community.

Club Assembly Reports

Each of the new Council Members reported on their plans for the coming year as follows

President Elect Margaret Francey addresses the Club

ADG designate Stephen, fellow Rotarians, it is an honour and privilege for me to address you today as President for 2022/23. President Stephen will quite literally be a very hard act to follow. I have joked that I’m only here because nobody else wanted the job and, while that is still unfortunately true, borne out by the fact that we still have no Vice President, I recognise that Rotarians have placed their confidence in me and I will do my very utmost to deserve that confidence. My thanks go to all who worked so hard to keep the club alive during the last 2 difficult years. In taking up the baton I am hoping for no further catastrophes or new strains of Covid so that something resembling “normal service” can be resumed.

Before continuing with my aspirations for the coming year I would like to play you a little tune (Imagine)

If you have all been reading your Rotary magazines you will already know that “Imagine Rotary” is the motto chosen by incoming Rotary International President Jennifer Jones for her year.

On 1 July Canadian Jennifer Jones will become the first woman to be elected President of Rotary International. Her theme for the year is simply one word, “Imagine”. She says that she wants people to think about the things they want to achieve and then use Rotary as the vehicle to get there. She believes that “imagine” is an empowering word, giving people permission to seek ways of making our world better and doing it as part of the Rotary family. Bearing this in mind, It is my hope that our club will be able to come up with some imaginative new approaches to our activities. The logo Jennifer has chosen for her year is also quite unusual, being derived from Australian indigenous art. As you see, President Stephen has very cleverly already incorporated it into the header of our agenda for today. I will not take the time now to go into the detail of what it signifies but it’s worth looking it up. I would just point to one interesting fact – she has chosen 3 colours for the logo, green, white and purple, not a coincidence that these were the colours of the suffragette movement.

In preparation for the coming Rotary year I attended PETS, the District Conference and the District Assembly. It would be easy to feel completely overwhelmed by the amount of information and possible projects to be tackled. But at PETS a much wiser person than me said !Margaret, Bangor is a very good club, if it ain”t broke, don”t fix it”. You may or may not be happy to hear that I intend to take his advice.

In the end one has to realise that there is only so much one club can do and I believe we should concentrate on the things we do well, while trying to do them even better.

Thanks to the efforts of you all and with the help of Zoom we have managed to keep going during the pandemic and, while major events such as the Charity Breakfast have had to be postponed, we are now hopefully in a better position. It will probably be challenge enough to get all our usual activities up and running again, then hopefully adding a few new ones as we go along.

Of course, new ideas are always welcome – the club is so much more than its President and Council and input from all members keeps it alive and thriving.

There is one specific project I would like to add during my term. It is a privilege to be Bangor Rotary Club’s first female president and, as such, I believe it would be appropriate for me to suggest a special event for International Women’s Day on 8 March 2023. This is very much in gestation for the moment but my idea would be to stress the international element and invite a number of female speakers from other countries, living in NI. Conveniently International Women’s Day falls on a Wednesday next year. We will have to get on with organising this fairly soon as we will need people to commit to that date well in advance.

Above all, we are a service organisation and it is to be hoped that we can maintain our involvement in Youth Leadership and Lendwithcare, while also seeking new challenges. Karen was to look at how we might contribute to the Bikes for Africa project, though now that she is to be Mayor (on which many congratulations!) it may not be possible for her to do this after all. So step forward volunteers! PP Ian is in touch with Citizen Sea so hopefully we will find some opportunities there too, particularly in respect of environmental issues.

We should be able to be more active from now on as well on the fundraising front. We hope once again to be able to organise a Charity Breakfast during this term as well as undertaking our usual fundraising activities, such as the Christmas collections at Tescos and, of course, Robin’s Smartie boxes and Stanley’s wine draw.

Most of us will probably have had at least three, if not four, vaccinations by now, so we should be raring to participate in our customary social activities. Personally. I cannot wait for another quiz organised by Bill at which we will all be roundly thrashed by Robert no doubt, and it has been suggested that we might arrange a dinner with the other three clubs in our area, similar to the one organised by Mayor Mark Brooks in April this year. Not to mention our Remembrance Day service, our Christmas Dinner and St. Patrick’s Day event.

On a more sombre note, the coming months and even years are going to very hard for many people in our society and elsewhere so, while endeavouring to resume all our usual social and service activities, we must not lose sight of how privileged we are by comparison to so many who will be struggling to make ends meet. I hope we can devote some of our time and funds to helping those most affected by war and the cost of living crisis and I would welcome suggestions as to the best way to do this.

As we launch into this new Rotary year I know I can count on support from you all. I am relying on the “old hands” on my Council to keep me on track, e.g. P Stephen, Secretary PP John. Treasurer PP Paul H. I also know that I will make lots of mistakes for which I ask in advance for your understanding. In fact, I’m thinking of giving the Sergeant at Arms a cheque for £50 right away!

In conclusion, let us use our collective imagination to seek to improve how we work together and contribute to society, both local and international.

Rt Barbara Boyle – Fun and Fellowship

I thank the incoming President Margaret Francey for inviting me to help the Council and take on the role of organising the Fun & Fellowship for the next year.  To be solely responsible for the jollification of the dear members of this esteemed club is a daunting task for me and I was glad to hear that there already some excellent planners and organisers in this group, namely Richard, Bob and Raymond, who, I believe, traditionally organise the Christmas Party and St. Patrick’s Day.

Other possible events:

Inauguration Chair Supper Evening

I would like to suggest an evening introducing the ‘Inauguration Chair of Conn O’Neill of Clandeboye’ followed by a light supper.  Date and cost yet to be advised but this could be organised here in the Golf Club and my fellow Green Badge graduate Mark Docherty as speaker, who will bring the story of the chair to life – and more! This promises to be a merry event with the opportunity of a Game of Throne selfie. Costs will include club room hire, the dinner/supper and maybe a small fee towards travel expenses for the chair. Family and friends could be invited to this event.

Guided Visit to the Livingston Centre in Killinchy

The Livingston Centre at Killinchy Parish Church is a local heritage centre. It tells the transatlantic story of the Livingston family. Here we learn about the Eagle Wing and American history as the Livingston family has Presidents, a First Lady, Congressmen, Senators,

Governors, businessmen, entrepreneurs and military heroes in its family tree. The Centre also covers other periods of history including the Celtic period, the Viking invasion, the Norman Conquest, the Ulster Plantation, 1798 Rebellion, 1859 Revival and the Ulster Covenant 1912. There is a social space with coffee and tea facilities.

This visit could be arranged for a Friday afternoon or a Saturday midmorning, followed by tea & coffee / plus a meal at Balloo House.  Family & friends can be invited.

Black History Month

Black History Month began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. In the UK Black history Month is in October and  if the Club is interested, I could contact ACSONI, an organisation which provides support and representation to people from the African and Caribbean diaspora communities in Northern Ireland, to organise an evening of cultural learning. This could also contain entertainment elements, with drumming sessions, music & dance. Date in October 2022

 P Denis Neill – Fund Raising

Margaret has asked me to continue in my role of Fundraising Coordinator for the next Rotary year. Although being somewhat disappointed in not being able to be very successful in fulfilling my role last year ( and being very surprised that I did not get the sack!) I am only too pleased to try and give my full support to Margaret as she enters her year as incoming President. Margaret and I go back a long time with many happy memories of Hamilton Road Methodist Youth Guild in the 1960s and all the various activities.

Once again our main fund raising event, the Charity Breakfast, was hit on the nail due to the Covid pandemic, but hopefully we can try and hold the event some time next year but a lot will depend on the reaction of our sponsors and how they feel about having large numbers attending such an event. If we cannot hold it we may have to think of an alternative as our main fundraiser.

Our old stalwarts in the meantime will hopefully continue, such as the monthly ballot in the very capable hands of Stanley Smith as well as the Smartie Appeal run by Robin Mussen during the Lent period.

Last November we took part in the Jingle Collection for the NI Children’s Hospice at

Bloomfield shopping centre when a sum of just under £1000 was raised by Bangor

Rotarians and we would hope that a similar event will take place later this year.

We took part in a Christmas card End Polio Now event just before Christmas. This event was supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and, although the amount of money raised was small, it is still a worthwhile event.

Last year I proposed that a quiz night could take place in Bangor Golf Club at some time during the Rotary year. This did not happen but hopefully as things are now beginning to open up we could repeat this event. I can recall a very enjoyable evening when each Rotarian was asked to bring a prize for the ballot and the ballot produced a very useful amount.

A number of other ideas have entered my head:

  1. What about a sponsored abseil down the clock tower of Bangor Castle?
  2. A sponsored walk from Holywood to Bangor or see how many laps anyone can do of a circular walk around Castle Park?

Given the age profile in our club these ideas are probably unrealistic but there may be some takers.

Can I finally thank most sincerely all you Bangor Rotarians for your continued generosity in giving support to the various events and especially to Stanley Smith, Robin Mussen and to Bill Aiken, with his steady supply of weekly fines the most successful Sergeant at Arms in living memory. (I heard a rumour that Bill was seriously thinking of charging VAT on these fines, all the VAT going to the club).

 PP Ian Wilson – Service Projects

  • We will continue, guided by District, to run the Youth Leadership initiative, one of the most valuable aspects of Rotary. The fact that N Ireland has left the EU with the rest of the UK  does not appear to have threatened our participation.  Rotarians Gavin Walker and Stephen Connolly have agreed to assist. Fellow Rotarians will be invited to sit on the interview panels.
  • The club is optimistic about reviving the annual bowling night at the Dundonald Ice Bowl for our friends in the Croft Community, Bloomfield Road, Bangor. For obvious reasons, this has not been possible since 2019.  It is normally held in April each year.
  • The club will continue to participate in the splendid Lend With Care scheme, the Rotary initiative which supports small-scale business people , local entrepreneurs etc in less developed countries.  President Margaret has agreed to continue oversight of this.
  • We again look to liaise with local environmental groups, such as Citizen Sea the marine conservation charity operating from Belfast and Bangor harbours.  Planting crocus bulbs in co-operation with our local Council  will be another contribution to the environment which we can repeat.





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