PE James O’Fee outlines his ambitions for Club in coming year

| June 1, 2017

PE James O'FeeAt the recent Club Assembly, PE James O’Fee outlined his ambitious plans for the coming year.

Here is his address in full:



Fellow Rotarians, may I firstly welcome to our club Assistant District Governor, Roland Bailie, as well as any other guests. May I express my thanks, personal and as a Club, to Roland for his support over the past year, including his willingness to accept phone calls from me at various unsocial hours of the day or night.

Secondly, may I express my appreciation to outgoing President Cllr Gavin Walker for all his skill and hard work in steering our club through past year, despite the other pressing calls on his time. I will look forward  in the incoming year to leaning on Gavin for his wise advice and support, while building on his success.

Finally, may I thank as well the other members of the Club Council for their unfailing co-operation.

Theme: Stronger to Make a Difference

The incoming President of Rotary International is Australian Ian Riseley, who has chosen as his theme for the year, Rotary: Making a Difference.

Last week we welcomed to our club representatives from various local charities. Each of these charities has been Making a Difference in our local community. By supporting these charities financially and in other ways, our club has been Making a Difference too – to add to Making a positive Difference to our community in other ways. Furthermore, through the Rotary Network, the club has been Making a Difference internationally and through Rotary Ireland.

My theme for the Rotary Club of Bangor this year will be Stronger to Make a Difference.

With the help of the Council and Members, I plan to strengthen our Club in various ways, so that we make even more of a difference both in our community and more widely.

Stronger in Membership

Without members we can do nothing. Under President Gavin, we have happily recruited several able new members who can, I feel sure, make a valuable contribution to our work. As Club President, my aim will be to ensure further growth.

  • Our membership drive will continue in order to place the club on an upward pathway of sustained growth.

Rotary International is committed to gender balance and ethnic diversity. New member, Sarah Havlin, produced a most successful International Women’s Day event earlier this year – an event which we plan to repeat and improve in the coming year. It’s pleasing that, taking new members already inducted with others in the pipeline, our new recruits display a balance between men and women.

Stronger within the Rotary Network

The power of Rotary lies in our network, a set of inter-personal contacts. These motivate us, inspire us, develop team spirit and give us new ideas for service. Increased contact with fellow Rotarians will further strengthen the club.

Bangor lies within District 1160, otherwise known as Rotary Ireland. Society is changing, and Rotary must change with it. We will be best placed to meet the challenge of the future by strengthening links within our District and participating more fully in its affairs.  This year the District Annual Conference will be held in La Mon House Hotel – it could hardly be closer. And the District Governor Elect, Garth Arnold, is a near neighbour of ours from Donaghadee.

  • More club members will attend
  • District functions, particularly the annual District Conference at La Mon, where we need a good turn-out from Bangor.

Our neighbouring clubs, Donaghadee, North Down, Comber and Belfast East provide other local Rotary links.

  • I will schedule a “Scatter Week” sometime within the year. Instead of our normal weekly meeting, we will send out groups of members to each of our 4 neighbouring clubs to attend their meetings and learn from them. The following week each group will report back on its findings.

We have revived our link with our daughter club, Dublin North, which the Bangor club helped to establish in the 1960s, with Past District Governor Edwin Dunlop and Honorary Rotarian Wilson Ferguson both involved, I believe.

  • I propose at least one club outing to Dublin North to meet our southern friends.

Stronger in Outreach

Nowadays lunchtimes are not always convenient times for business people to meet.

  • I will seek to establish a Satellite Breakfast Group in Bangor, open to both non-Rotarians and Rotarians, to meet on a morning other than Wednesday, under the tutelage of our club. This will start small to begin with, but we may hope that some Breakfasters may come to join the club as full Members.
  • After consultation with those who expressed interest at the Schools’ Concert, we shall seek to establish a local Interact group

Stronger within our Community

Our club is already heavily involved in supporting our local community in projects such as Kids Out, Croft Bowling, the Remembrance Tree, and in providing finance to local charities.

  • This work will continue.
  • Furthermore, we will seek to expand our community involvement in liaison with the North Down Community Network, which has a base in the Flagship Centre.


Stronger involvement with Youth and Age

It’s said of our Youth Leadership Competition, led so ably by Stephen Connolly, that, if Bangor Rotary did nothing else, it would have justified its existence. The Leadership Competition has been a remarkable success, which has indeed changed some young lives.

  • Our involvement in the successful Youth Leadership Competition will continue.

Yet only a handful can win the glittering prize of a trip to the Strasbourg Parliament.

This summer we have one school pupil hoping to take part in a Rotary Camp in Europe, an exchange programme from which many more can benefit.

  • Next year we hope to open this opportunity to many more young Bangor school pupils.


  • In the coming year I hope to roll out locally a Rotary project to combat Youth Suicide and Self harm project, a project which, we hope, will attract funding from the Rotary Foundation (see leaflets).

President Gavin’s Schools’ Concert proved a remarkable success. It will not be possible to repeat this in the coming year, but

  • we will remain alive to any opportunity to work with our local schools.

At the other end of the age spectrum, we should recognise the fine work, which continues to this day, done by our senior members, Past District Governor Edwin Dunlop and Past President Wilson Ferguson, in bringing Probus Clubs to Ireland. Today Bangor has 6 Probus Clubs, overseen by several of our Rotary Members.

  • Club oversight of Probus Clubs in Bangor will continue.

Stronger Internationally

  • The ‘Lend with Care’ international microfinance project has been approved and we look forward to its success.

Stronger links with Rotary Foundation

Rotary has but one charity, Rotary Foundation, founded 100 years ago in 1917 – this is its centenary year. We will continue to promote awareness of the Foundation’s End Polio Now campaign.

  • We will continue to promote sales of Purple Crocus buttonholes; and
  • The club will ask Ards & North Down Borough Council to plant purple crocus bulbs in a prominent location, so as to promote the work of Rotary.

In his May Newsletter, our District Governor, Gerry Kierans, has appealed to all Rotarians throughout Ireland to become “Sustaining Members “of the Foundation, at least for the duration of the centenary.

  • We will aim to increase the number of Sustaining Members of Rotary Foundation from the club.

Strong with Business

The club already enjoys a strong relationship with local business.

  • The Rotary Charity Breakfast to be held in October will entertain a prominent local speaker. The aim will be to ensure that the function maintains its place as a leading event in the local business calendar.

Links with the local Chamber will continue furthermore.

  • There will be a continuation of the series of evening Business Talks, begun by President Gavin.

A Stronger Organisation

There will be reviews;

  • Firstly, of lunch arrangements with a view to more regularly ending meetings before 2.00 pm; and
  • Secondly, of the sound system with a view to its improvement – which may need some expenditure on new equipment.

Stronger through Modern Technology

The club website will continue as a prime method of informing Members, and others, of the Club’s activities. Furthermore, under President Gavin, we have revived the club’s Facebook page, which is receiving pleasing attention from Joe and Jill Public to increase local awareness of the club.

> The Club website and Facebook pages will continue and, ideally, be improved;

Rotary Club Central

In the current year, Rotary Ireland has introduced Rotary Club Central to its website, a powerful online management tool. Each club has its own pages where it may list its objectives.

> the Bangor club will set down our goals and objectives on Rotary Club Central, where each Club Member can log in to monitor how fully the club is meeting aspirations.

More Conscious of our past

While fixing our eyes on the future, we should not neglect the club’s proud past. The recent “Archives Day” uncovered a set of wooden boards recording the names of Club Presidents, prominent Bangorians all, from our inception in 1935 to 2000, boards hidden away in a Past President’s garage.

  • negotiations with the Golf Club will open or continue with a view to placing these boards on public display. Furthermore we will consider creating a new board to bring the register up to date.


  • we will examine ways whereby we may display on Club days the various banners from other clubs around the world which have been given to us.


  • We will revive publication of a Club Directory.
  • We will seek to update and modernise the club’s branding.

Communal club singing is a popular feature at many Rotary clubs in North America. These clubs enjoy it, find it fun, while it strengthens team spirit.

  • I will seek to bring such singing to the Bangor club, on a trial basis. This could be my most controversial innovation!


The coming year promises to be full of challenges. Through teamwork, and with the support of Members, we can succeed in so many ways.

Together let us strengthen our club for another 80 years of service.

James O’Fee

President Elect

29 May 2017



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Some say devastatingly good looking, others simply Matinee Idol, but whichever you prefer, PP Gavin keeps an eye on what appears on the website!

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