Speaking to the Rotary Club of Bangor in advance of introducing the new Council for the incoming year, President-Elect Stephen outlined his ambitions for the Club saying:
“We begin another Rotary year following what could have been a time when our Club at last folded its tents and silently walked away, becoming no more than a quaint memory of Bangor’s past. This didn’t happen, indeed quite the contrary; that it didn’t, testifies to our Club’s fundamental strength – the loyalty of its member Rotarians.
“Instead of hibernating, we had a vigorous and successful year with weekly meetings, outstanding speakers, possibly the best in my time, considerable sums of money raised, new members inducted and news of our continuing presence communicated to the Bangor public, all in the face of what could have been disabling restrictions.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to President Patrick and his Council, and we mustn’t forget PP Gavin Walker, who initiated and inducted us into the magic and the mystery of Zoom.
“We face the incoming year, therefore, not trying to revive a moribund institution, but, instead, aware of our strengths, ready to grasp the opportunity of renewal.
RI President Shekhar Mehta of India has clearly spelt out where our priorities should lie in his theme for the year, Serve to Change Lives. His belief in Rotary as a crucial agent for change in a fragmented world is profoundly inspirational, even to a hardened sceptic.
“Service is the rent I pay for the space I occupy, he says, a challenge to all of us who live comfortable and stable lives in a temperate, maritime climate. Also central in his vision for the year is membership, which he wishes to increase world-wide from 1.2 to 1.3 million. Do more, grow more, he says, by which he means that the more Rotary achieves, the more it will attract new members. And of course, the corollary is also true, that by growing more, we find ourselves able to do more.
So how is this strategy to be translated into our life as the Rotary Club of Bangor? First let me offer you our own very practical theme: Thrive to Survive; out of the successes and frustrations of this unprecedentedly difficult year, we intend to continue the nurture of a Club which is vibrant, active and growing.
“Our emergence from lock-down will be initially cautious, but I hope that, by this time next year, we will be able to look back with a sense of achievement and a realisation of significant progress.
Our priority therefore will be, must be, a response to RI President Shekhar’s theme, to renew and refresh our involvement in Service, the core of Rotary as an organisation, the primary reason both for its existence and for our own involvement; we have traditionally engaged in projects, which, over the years, have become precious to us, such as Croft Bowling, Youth Leadership and Lend with Care, but I also want to develop an engagement in three significant new service projects: one in the area of the environment, already initiated by President Patrick; one which is international in its focus, and one locally based, specifically designed to have an impact on our own community. Clearly, planning is at a very early stage, but I am hopeful that we will be able to engage the interest and encourage the participation of many members in these new areas.
All other areas of our Club will be designed to serve this central and vital priority:
- our fund-raising was one of the jewels in our crown in this year just past, thanks to the generosity of our own club members and the resourcefulness of PPs Robin and Bill, but it needs to expand once more beyond the Club, to take place in the public space;
- our club life will return in a phased way to face-to-face meetings, occasions which facilitate our fellowship. If Zoom has taught us nothing else, it is that the life-blood of our Club flows through the veins of friendly banter, bad jokes, sporting and cultural enthusiasms, idle chit-chat and the warp and weft of human intercourse; without all that, our lives as Rotarians are immeasurably impoverished;
- new members must remain a priority; we need them to contribute actively by providing fresh ideas, new perspectives, imaginative insights and, possibly, better jokes; PP James has ambitious plans in this area as you will hear, including an exploration of different forms of membership;
- charities, such as Rotary’s own Foundation, ShelterBox, St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army are close to our hearts and continue to require our support;
- thanks to Jack and David, the people of Bangor have been kept aware of our presence and our service through our website, the local press and word-of-mouth; this is of the utmost importance
These are separate strands of our life as a Club, but we are keenly aware that each one supports and enriches the others.
None of this will or can be achieved by Council alone: we need your support and participation and the willingness to say ‘yes’ to what is asked of you. We may be looked on as an ‘aging’ club, but age is fundamentally a state of mind.
We are coming out of this age of lockdown like people who have been living in the dark, our eyes blinking in the daylight, our bodies stiff through lack of movement, but surely still afire with enthusiasm in the excitement and challenge of liberation.
I will now hand over to my Council colleagues, whom I thank for responding to my invitation with exactly that kind of enthusiastic fire characteristic of our Club, to present our plans under four main heads.
The plans are inchoate, which I don’t need to remind you means ‘rudimentary, still in gestation’ and they will be developed and refined, but my hope is that you will be encouraged and enthused about our intentions and the direction in which we will be travelling.
Your Council for the year is
Administration: PP Paul Megarity
Service Projects: PP Ian Wilson
Fundraising: PP Denis Neill
Fun & Fellowship: Rtn Jane Morrice