Get the latest news from our regular Club Meetings.
President Robert opened the meeting by greeting members after his holiday. He had recently enjoyed visiting Inner Wheel for the 82nd Dinner and had a very enjoyable time.
Robert introduced our special guest David Robinson, District Governor, who brought greetings from Coventry North Rotary Club.
Robert handed over the chair to Vice President Michael Hammon who invited each of the committee chairs to present their annual reports.
Martin Cooper, chair of the Community Service Committee, opened his remarks by thanking Past President Harold Smart for his long service with Coventry Sea Cadets and his work with them on behalf of Rotary. He was pleased with the success of Kare Adenegan who we had sponsored and he further thanked Past President John Hartley for his hard work. Martin announced that he was stepping down as chair and Tim Sawdon would be taking over. Martin would be continuing his sterling work with Santa's Sleigh.
The report from the Vocational Service Committee was presented by Bill Parkinson who would shortly be taking over as chair on the retirement of Past President Brian Winstanley. Bill was pleased to report a year of successful events: Youth Speaks had more teams than ever: 22 schools had taken part in the Design Technology Exhibition: President Kennedy Interact Club and Roteract at Coventry University were both still functioning and a new Interact Club is soon to be established at Blue Coat School. Past President Ray Thompson has offered a range of social and fellowship events which had been well attended and enjoyed by members and friends.
Past President Ken Holmes gave the report from the International Service Committee. The International children's Trust would be a focus for support in their vital work with children at risk from the root causes of poverty in Zimbabwe. The Festival of Christmas Trees had been bigger than ever and along with the grand concert had raised over £1500. Get ready for this year 10-15th December!!
The Foundation Committee report was delivered by Second Vice President Judy Ryan. Among other things the committee had organised a dinner in its efforts to raise £2500. Next year there were also plans for a dinner, a coffee morning at the Life Path Trust and a joint venture with the International Committee.
In his address Vice President Michael spoke of his dislike of change for changes sake. He was a traditionalist and when change was needed it should be steady. He was a team player. In considering our Charterhouse Project we must take into consideration viability. Michael felt strongly that charity should begin at home and we need to look near home for worthy local needs. Membership would be strong on his agenda next year and he aimed to increase membership to at least 45. We need to examine our activities, investigate Corporate Membership and target the recently retired. His ambition was to to serve the Rotary Club of Coventry to the best of his ability.
David Robinson spoke about his time as District Governor. He went on to congratulate the club on the range and strength of its activities.
Vive President Michael Hammon was in the chair and after making several announcements he welcomed our speaker Gurdev Singh who was representing Newlife - the charity for disabled children which is based in Cannock.
The charity supports disabled children and their families, campaigns for a better future the disabled, promotes research into improving child health.
The main focus of Newlife's work is the provision of specialist equipment for children with cancer, birth defects, accidents, diseases and infections.
Often children are in need of immediate help and while official channels can take a long while Newline can fast-track the process and ensure that whatever is needed to improve the quality of life of young people is provided within days.
Play therapy pods are loaned to families to help early years children by providing appropriate toys and activities to encourage play and aid development. The pods are categorised by age and sensory need.
The work of the charity is partly funded by three stores in Cannock which sell a range of goods from second hand to new items
donated by leading stores. Over 2500 children were helped last year.
Following a vote of thanks from Past President David Kershaw, Gurdev was presented with a cheque in support of Newlife's vital work. The money would go specifically towards helping children in Coventry and Warwickshire.
There is no meeting next week and Club Assembly will take place on Monday 14th May.
First Vice President Michael Hammon was in the chair as President Robert was on holiday.
In his opening remarks Michael reported on the recent coffee morning held by Kim Rees. While the event was enjoyed by those who attended, numbers were disappointingly low.
Michael had also attended the Dean's Breakfast which had also been attended by representatives of the City Council, Coventry University and Warwick University. Michael had taken the opportunity to talk with Ian Harrabin regarding Rotary involvement with The Charterhouse Project. It is becoming apparent that limited resources are being switched from various projects by the Local Authority to cater for the demands of the City of Culture preparations.
The formal part of the AGM was opened by the approval of the minutes of the 2017 AGM.
A series of reports from Council, Foundation, committees and the treasurer were presented.
Past President Brian Winstanley reported on behalf of Council and began by informing us that 5 of our number were no longer members. Council had sanctioned the Rotaract Cub based at Coventry University registering with the University in order that full access to membership was available more widely. Discussions about centenary projects are ongoing and the possibility of establishing a satellite club is being investigated with a view to boosting membership. Brian thanked various members for their work on behalf of Rotary.
Past President John Hartley reported on behalf of the Community Service Committee. The link and work with Outward Bound had now come to an end and bonds with Coventry Sea Scouts were strong and they had been offered help with various projects including the purchase of a Portakabin. The ongoing success of Kare Adenagan was celebrated, especially her three Olympic medals awarded in the Rio Games. As she moves on to her A Level studies we look forward to many future success.
There had been a coffee morning and three supermarket collections to help raise funds. Martin Cooper is stepping down as chair of the committee and a new appointment will be announced soon.
Past President Ken Holmes spoke on behalf of the International Service Committee. One of our principle objectives has been to support the International Children's Trust, in working with Children in Poverty and in work in Burkina Faso. Many of the children being supported are subject to multiple types of abuse, suffer from poor health and are exposed to HIV/Aids. We also supported the Chiedza Community in Zimbabwe. The third Festival of Christmas Trees and the grand concert in Holy Trinity Church was a great success raising over £1500. King Henry VIII School filled 60 shoe boxes which were destined for Eastern Europe.
Past President David Cule gave an erudite account of the work of the Youth Activities Committee. Youth speaks was very successful with Bablake proving the eventual winner of the debating competition. 21 secondary schools had taken part in the Design and Technology Exhibition which our club had organised with other Coventry clubs. This is a showcase for the talent of so many young people in Coventry. Interact at President Kennedy School continued to thrive and it is hoped to start a club at Bablake School in the future. There had been a treasure hunt and a skittles evening to which Nuneaton Rotary Club had been invited.
Second Vice President Judy Ryan gave a short presentation on behalf of the Foundation. This year our target is £1500. This was reached in 2017-18 with the two dinners organised, interest from our account and a share of the bucket collections. The Foundation Committee are planning 3 events for this coming year. The first is a joint venture with the International Committee and will be in the form of a Race Night. Dates to be arranged.
The second is a coffee morning to be held at Life Path Nurseries on Tuesday 4th December at 10am starting with mince pies and coffee. We hope guests will have the opportunity to purchase plants and trees for Christmas. The third will be our annual meal early next year. We should therefore meet our target for this year.
Rotarian Bob Kemble gave his treasures report. The Charity Fund stands at £4050 and the Reserve Fund is £4000. The Centenary Fund stands at £3580.50.
Bob's recommendation that the subscription for 2018/2019 should be £150, an increase of £10 on last year, was passed by the meeting.
The fee is made up as follows:
There followed the election of members to various positions. Michael thanked Secretary Brian for his work for the club over the years.
Following the singing of The Grace the meeting was opened by 1st Vice President Michael Hammon. The planned speaker had been unable to attend so Michael instigated a short discussion on membership and strategies to increase our numbers.
First to speak was Past President David Kershaw who saw the personal approach by current members to prospective members as a good way to encourage people to join our ranks. He and Michael had already made several approaches to people who had expressed an interest in the work of Rotary. There was a move among some national figures to increase the use of social media and while David saw this as a possible, he felt it did not fully reflect the strength of personal contacts and relationships which Rotary valued.
Past President Ray who is closely connected with the Interact Club at President Kennedy School is currently in discussions and is hoping to help set up a club at Blue Coat School.
Past President Brian felt strongly that corporate membership was the way forward as a way of adapting to the changing world and the changing needs of prospective members. He also advocated talking a more systematic approach to recruiting newly retired people in their 50s and 60s as members. He suggested that a local company could produce and distribute 5000 leaflets explaining what Rotary was and how it benefitted society. Brian posed the question: was Rotary in its current form viable for the future?
Past President Victor added his support to the personal approach and with also the idea of a leaflet campaign while Past President Harold felt that Rotary was sometimes guilty of hiding its light under a bushel. We should ensure that news of the impact of our work reaches the local press more often.
Drawing the discussion to a close Michael thanked all of those who had contributed. Next week is the AGM and the Club Assembly is being held on 14th May.
Following the sing of the Grace President Robert opened the meeting by thanking everyone who had attended the last evening meeting. He went on to invite members to support Serena's coffee morning to be held on 16th June.
Robert reported that one of his chosen charities, The Hummingbird Centre, was probably going to be wound up later this year, not through lack of funds but because the NHS was unwilling to refer people because it did not staff who worked there on a regular basis. This is true of several other valued charities.
The speaker for the day was Michael Featherstone-Dilke who gave a fascinating talk on the Perils and Pleasures of living in a 14th century castle in the 21st century.
The castle, better described as a moated manor house, was commissioned by William de Clinton in 1345 on land granted by Edward 111 following the 100 Years War. Michael's family bought the castle and land in 1599 and have lived there continuously since.
Over the centuries the castle has changed and major changes have been made including the addition of Georgian living quarters in 1762 following a fire. Over time the castle became run down and by the beginning of the 20th century was in a bad state.
During the 1st World War it was used as a convalescent hospital for injured soldiers returning from the front. It was also turned into a not very successful country club which failed to prosper and 'went bust'. The 2nd World War saw the castle used to store important elements, including engines, for Spitfires being built in Birmingham.
The 1970's saw an extensive renovation programme which was continued by Michael when he took over the castle from his father.
The castle is not open to the public on a regular basis but there are annual openings to raise money for charity and the local hospital.
A talk given by David Jamieson, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner.
Mr Jamieson began his talk by expressing the view that the role of Commissioner was best not preceded by a time of employment in the police force so that, as Commissioner, he could be seen (as he saw himself to be) and independent agency. In the West Midlands, there were three million people and 1.8 million voters to whom he saw himself as being responsible.
The Commissioner observed that society is losing the war on drugs. Gang fights, such as those happening in Erdington and Astom, are prevalent with 13 to 17 year olds using knives involved. Burglary and shop lifting occur regularly due to drug takers having to find money to satisfy their addiction. Every 3 days a young death happens, where knifing or drug-takings the immediate cause. The Commissioner's role was that of controlling the strategic direction of the police force. By way of example, the police could be said to be following a good strategy when, in a recent street march, the police controlled the crowd in such a way as to avoid any arrests being made. Likewise, with crime prevention and drug taking, a time of education and getting-to-know the young potential offenders has brought about a reduction in arrests.
The Commissioner has been instrumental in formulating a series of recommendations for the reduction in drug use*. These include prescribing heroin against a medical background to help to break dependence on the drug, advising at festivals (such as the Godiva Festival) and other occasions where drug use may be high, illustrating the dangers of taking unidentified drugs especially when bought on the street or on-line. Another recommendation is for police first responders in a drug case to be supported by the informed use of Naloxone, a substance that can reduce or reverse the effect of opioid drugs, which is safe to administer as it will have no deleterious effect where opioids are not present. This drug is especially important in enabling the police to bring around street drug takers from a dangerous state where the circumstances that caused the state cannot be discovered quickly. A different way of managing drug dealers is proposed; rather than putting a dealer into court an initial period of probation would be recommended with the aim of the dealer being given the opportunity of finding a job. A heartening example of positive assistance given to drug addicts is that of a woman with two children who was hooked on heroin, unable to manage her life or to obtain statutory benefits, receiving medically prescribed heroin and enabling her to avoid a court appearance with the possibility of prison.
Following his talk Mr Jamieson answered questions from the floor. In response to one such question he said that the police force was in good moral, that young officers of high standing were being recruited with a good proportion coming from the black and Asian communities. Of especial value to police first responders is the provision of portable computers that will record incidents that the police are dealing with as they happen.
Rotarian Robert Pargetter proposed a vote of thanks to David Jamieson for his clear, informative and interesting talk on a very important and worrying subject.
*'West Midlands Drug Policy Recommendations' published by David Jamieson in his capacity as West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner.
Inspirational, modest, unassuming and seemingly unflappable best describes Kate and her charity, 'Planting hope for Uganda' which she runs single-handedly. She retired early from teaching to look after her mother who sadly died, followed in quick succession by her stepfather and husband. Living in Staffordshire with her two children having 'emigrated' to Cornwall she was determined to do some voluntary work. A friend introduced her to a Ugandan charity and much to the horror of her children Kate, now nearly 70, set off to Africa armed with the names of two people who she'd never met and a PO box number. Since that day she's not looked back. Several years later she decided to set up her own charity to encourage self sufficiency in a remote village in the bush.
Most of the men had either died from AIDS or moved away and food was in short supply. Bewdley Rotary Club gave her £450 which enabled her to buy 27 acres of land, help the women form a cooperative and they now have 5000 hens, a smattering of pigs and grow tomatoes. Kate'salso provided treadle sewing machines and taught them to sew and the goods they make are sold to provide for their lamps. She also encourages young people from he UK and Europe to eschew the Xbox and see how the other half lives by volunteering to help with the project.
Kate spends at least two months at a time in the village, Tikiti, sometimes several times a year. Now in her mid 70s her enthusiasm is undiminished. 3 years ago the schoolmaster (there were only 5 students out of 180 children in the village) decided to pack it in and offered the school - about the size of the ladies loos at our lunch venue she told us - for sale for £5500. How did she raise it? Simple! She asked 11 of her volunteers to raise £500 each. The school now has 800 pupils who come from far and wide. Inspirational!
First Vice President Michael Hammon was in the chair.
After lunch as part of the club's discussion on celebrating our centenary, Past President Geoffrey Jackson submitted some proposals on how the club could mark the auspicious anniversary during the summer of 2021.
Geoffrey proposed the setting up of a Presidents' Events Committee comprising Presidents from 2018 up to and including 2022 to coordinate a timetable of events.
Among the proposals from Geoffrey were a Past Presidents Lunch on Sunday 23rd May, lunch on Monday 24th May with presentations of Centenary Certificate and Centenary Medals to members and a formal Black Tie dinner at a city venue with a speaker, a birthday cake and music.
Our club would present special chairs to the Charterhouse Renovation Project (with appropriate recognition of the gift through a permanently placed commemorative plaque/screen) from the 25K budget set aside for the members' levy, personal contributions, gift aid and Inner Wheel Presidents and Rotary Paul Harris holders financial support.
Approved committee events throughout centenary year will reflect community, vocational, Foundation and international interests, budgeted from within event projects.
Geoffrey presented a table of budget projections which included retention of up to 50% of Foundation subscriptions during the period up to the Centenary.
There was a lively discussion following the presentation. It was decided that the formation of the Presidents' Committee should be put to Council.
Two further lunchtime dates have been set aside on 4th and 11th June to allow for more suggestions and discussions on the centenary celebrations and events to take place.
After Past President Dennis Coombe led us in singing The Grace, President Robert opened the meeting by thanking 2nd Vice President Judy Ryan for the hard work she and her team had put into making the Foundation Dinner such a success. Robert reminded members that if they had booked to attend a Rotary dinner and for any reason could not attend they should call or email to cancel their place as often Rotary was left to pick up the bill.
Robert also commented on the success of the Peace Building Conference and it was especially pleasing to see almost 100 school children attending the event. The tree planting in the War Memorial Park had gone very well.
Past President John Hartley was able to confirm that an account of the tree planning was soon to appear in a Hiroshima newspaper in Japan.
Our speaker was Victoria Shelley, head teacher of Blue Coat C of E School and Music College. She chose to outline recent changes in the teaching of technology and how it fitted into the demands of potential employers.
Victoria spoke about how comfortable children and young people are with technology as they were brought up using many devices from an early age. In the last two years government changes to the curriculum has involved schools in teaching
more coding and problem solving using computers and technology. There is great emphasis on children using technology safely and in a responsible way, especially at home.
Computers are enabling schools and teachers to be much more interactive with children and parents in giving feedback, enabling peer mentoring and in tracking homework. However, there is a pressure to maintain the level of up to date equipment and infrastructure in schools which is very expensive and could be problematic as school budgets continue to shrink.