PRESIDENT’S REPORT 2020-2021
As I hand over the helm of The Endeavour, I look back over the year and contemplate what has been.
Without doubt there has never been a Rotary year before, like this one. I would never have believed 18 months ago that there would be a further six months (having already endured 3 months) of not actually seeing, face to face, my fellow members. The challenges to the Club by the extended lockdowns and the further understandable reticence of members with health issues to meet face to face appeared daunting.
Whilst in the early days, contrary to advice by some, I assumed meeting via Zoom would be over in two to three months, but how wrong I was. It was not until the Christmas party on 14th Dec 2020 that we were allowed, and then dared, to venture to a venue, to meet again. Over the year we ultimately went through four lockdowns and the club was faced, very early on, with a choice – Do we shut up shop and hopefully emerge at the lifting of stay at home rules with an intact, viable club or do we press on and meet electronically, no matter how undesirable to some that may have been? I saw my function at this point to be to ensure we still had a club post Covid. The decisions made are now history and the results of staying open and connected are obvious.
The club is still vibrant – yes, we lost some members, but the reasons were family and work related, not pandemic / Zoom related. Sadly long time valued member PHF Ray Thomas passed away and we remember him and his contributions, especially the relationship he forged with the Rotary Club of Taipei. Pleasingly we inducted one new member Jeff Pulling. Thanks to Leigh Wallace for introducing Jeff to Rotary.
As your President I must offer my heart-felt thanks to all members for “Staying the Course through fair weather and foul”. Your support of myself, and more particularly HMS RCH Endeavour, has left me humbled and gratified. Given my ill health with Covid the Black’s mate “Shingles” getting in a low blow in August and continuing to taunt me, and then partner Sandy contracting the big “C” in April, I must particularly thank ‘Caviar’ for stepping in and taking over.
So “HMS RCH Endeavour”- PP Noel (now to be known forever as Caviar) Sturgeon struck on the idea of “Captain Cook’s Endeavours” as a light-hearted beginning to the changeover Zoom meeting in 2020. My thanks at this point to choir master Jackie Chan for acting as MC, and preparing a ditty to pipe me into Presidency. Of course, Caviar did not realise that I would milk “Cook’s Endeavours” for all it was worth and exploit the seafaring theme right throughout the year. I trust it has bought some levity to the Club and in particular a small smile to ‘the crew’ with some of my weekly ramblings. ADG Emma commented, at our only cluster meeting, that she was bemused, having attended changeover Zoom meeting, that the theme had kept going.
Speaking of my ramblings (thanks Ed. Sturgeon for detailing them as such, rather than perhaps “noteworthy prose”) I cannot express enough gratitude to PP and Ed. ‘Caviar’ for the stupendous job he has done as bulletin editor during my term. In addition to proof reading and editing my language, his attention to detail and keeping ‘The COG’ informative, he has been able to add mirth like no other (whilst still managing to keep the Rotary Decorum Police at bay – mostly).
As president there are some notable pleasures that come as part of the position. I was able to award, for contributions to Foundation, a PHF with sapphire(s) to Richard Luke, Tony Bowlen, and Laurie Rose and PHF with Ruby to Peter Carr. Tom Payne, whom we don’t see a lot of at meetings these days, but who is still a staunch supporter of the club in many silent and unseen ways (and is our longest standing member) was also recognised for his contribution by the bestowing of a PHF. Non-Rotarian Kevin Larkin was, at the Charity Golf Day dinner, similarly recognised for his generosity in providing a huge amount of work, at no cost, in restoring the houses in Liberty Parade.
As mentioned meetings for the first half of the year were all via Zoom, which presented challenges in keeping meetings interesting. We averaged approximately 18 attendees face to face via zoom. The meetings were a mixture of outside speakers, messages from our own, and some convivial chatter and ‘beverage swilling’ at our fourth meeting each month.
We had presentations of:
|Calcutta to London in a Kombi||Bruce Nichols|
|Ethics in business life||Tony Bowlen|
|Banyule Council – Helping through Covid||Marc Giglio and Kath Bracket|
|Use of our Website||Peter Carr and Bruce Nichols|
|Causes of Strokes||Gideon Metzler and Kayla Viney|
|How to use email in Rotary||Peter Carr|
|Volunteering in the Juvenile Justice System||Rodger Tice|
|COVID –what is it – where are we going||Prof. Rob Moodie|
|Maintaining our health||Tonina Rizzo – Nutritionist|
|Australian Bantam Weight Boxing Champion||Mark Schleibs|
|Youth in Rotary and Child Protection||Linda Gidlund|
|Winds of Change in Rotary||PP Stuart Heale|
|Vaccination – history of and how it relates to COVID||Dr Jeremy Carr|
|2022 Rotary World President||Jennifer E Jones|
|Rotarian Behind the Badge||Jenny Mulholland|
During the first six months, two new fundraising projects were inaugurated: Coin in a jar, and the $150 over 3 months raffle. PP Noel also put together an ambitious project, which was marketed through Rotary Down Under, to sell wine at discounted prices through Cellarhand. Portion of the proceeds were to be returned to the Club and to Rotary Foundation. Some members have enjoyed the ‘taste of the vine’ in support of this great initiative.
The board decided at its first meeting, that due to lockdowns negatively impacting our capacity to fund raise, the club would defer any decisions on donations until our financial situation became clearer, towards the end of the Rotary Year.
As Christmas began to loom Caviar commenced making Bunnings aware of our expertise in the art of the BBQ. We were subsequently granted one Saturday, which raised $864. This was less than normal for a ‘Bunnings BBQ’ but COVID had forced Bunnings to amend BBQ positioning, which reduced our visibility. We continue to work with Bunnings offering our services as needed.
2021 closed with our Christmas party – our first face to face get together. It was held at Rosanna Golf Club. approximately 45 members and friends attended. Leigh Wallace led us all in Christmas Carols in between all imbibing in a great conversation, food and drinks.
Leigh Aitken and Viber Books donated approximately 300 books, with an estimated retail value of $3000, to the club. We distributed some of these for Christmas to Big Group Hug and Orange Door with the balance to be distributed shortly
2021 kicked off with our customary gathering in Banksia Park and thanks again to Wayne and Doreen for work in organising the food for this picnic.
The Federal Government decided late in 2020 that Australia Day should be celebrated more fully, with the hope to engage persons not born in Australia, and our First Nations People. To this end 15 nearby Rotary clubs were allocated $20,000 to run events. We partnered with 7 other clubs to run a fair and BBQ at Eltham Park on 26th January. Unfortunately even after a lot of hours of hard work and a great setup there was little patronage at the event.
With our return to face to face meetings, we were looking forward to returning to our home at Vasco. However due to fluctuating numbers it had no longer become viable for Vasco to open for us on a Monday at the pre-lockdown cost. The increased cost advised was not attractive for the club and we reluctantly advised them we would need to move on. Early in February we had our first meeting at the Sir Henry Barkly Hotel and this continues to be meeting home to date. We thank David and Vasko for hosting us so well and in such a friendly manner for many years.
The year commenced with a special evening meeting to celebrate International Women’s Day with an address being given by Brigid Meney (daughter-in-law of President Elect Jenny) who was a senior adviser for the Minerals Council of Australia.
We quickly moved into the preparation for, and the execution of, our Annual Charity Golf Day which was again held at Rosanna Golf Club. 38 players battled to win the team prize of having their names engraved on the Geoff Matthews Memorial Shield. PP Caviar Sturgeon had pressganged members of the Melbourne Savage Club (one of his other interests) to enter a team and they were rewarded with a win. The dinner numbers were swelled by non–golfers to 60 and we were treated to a talk by Assist Commissioner of Police Steve Frost who detailed his region’s involvement in bushfire relief through Gippsland. The Club expresses its gratitude to all sponsors, whether corporate, hole, team or single players, without whom this day would not exist. My thanks again to ‘Choir Master Jackie’ Chan for his ongoing efforts (20years +) in ensuring the paperwork and organising of the golf went as smooth as silk – yet again.
The day raised $6500 which was in line with the previous few years. The success enabled the club to start to move forward in the decision making process of who were to be recipients of donations in 2020/2021- a process that was looking decidedly bleak earlier in the year.
District Conference was held in Wangaratta between 19th– 21st March and 7 members, 6 spouses and 2.5 family members (thanks to PE Jenny) attended. The fellowship of those in attendance was second to none with us all getting together on both nights for dinner. Conference had many memorable presenters, including the Deputy PM. The project identified, and brought back to the Club was that of the ‘C Bag’, a bag containing a compilation of information for cancer patients. Members will remember that our Club, 15 years ago, was heavily involved in the early fundraising for the Olivia Newton John Cancer Centre so this project “struck a note”. The work of evaluating the need for, and possible use of, the C Bag in the Centre is ongoing.
The final quarter was busy with speakers from various walks of life:
|ROMAC projects undertaken by the Club||Neil Wilson and Geoff Cook|
|Addresses by our local politicians (2 meetings)||Kate Thwaites and candidate Keith Wolahan|
|Address on successful leadership and planning||Nola McDowell|
|The History of Hearing Aids||Anthony Plumb – Telex Hearing Aids|
|Rotarian Behind the Badge||Rodger Tice|
|RAWCS building Project in East Timor||Peter Carr|
|RAWCS building Project in the Solomon Islands||Bruce Nichols, Wayne Dunstan, Geoff Cook|
Our last meeting for the year was another partner night held at Rosanna Golf Club and President Geoff in recognition of “100 years of Rotary in Australia” précised a newly released 500-page book on that subject.
Given the enormous challenges posed by COVID, the club has come through the year well. Whilst projects under different avenues of service were almost impossible to carry out, our contribution to the community has been laudable. Donations were made as follows:
|International Women’s Council||$ 500|
|Marilyn Anderson ( DG Partner appeal)||$1,000|
|Very Special Kids||$2,000|
|Big Group Hug||$1,000|
|Donations in Kind||$1,000|
|Yarra Ranges Storm Relief||$2,000|
Barbara Winter, our Youth Director, was able to keep contact with some of our youth projects, particularly Macleod High School and the Santos Science Experience, to which we sponsored three students. Tony Bowlen, in one of our rare times of freedom, organised a Sunday night out at Curry Down Under for a group of curry lovers.
The restoration of the cattle yards project is still ongoing, however there was no opportunity to do anything this year.
Prior member of the Club, (and current member of R. C. Echuca) Mike Stansbury sought assistance in fund raising for MND by walking 50km, a big task for “big Mike”. Members contributed generously and Mike almost doubled the target he had set.
In closing, I again thank members for their support, and the board for the counselling and guidance offered me. I would be remiss however not to mention and single out the following for their help. To Bruce Nichols, whilst not wanting the stress of a Board role, did as much as anyone else on the Board in acting as pseudo-secretary, upon resignation of our secretary early in the year. PE Jenny prepared the minutes in addition to her PE responsibilities, but Bruce stepped up and handled many internal admin functions utilising his long-term expertise and experience. To Ken Norman who, without fail or fanfare, processes all meetings and event attendances and bookings each week and attends to the day-to-day payment of accounts. Thanks to Tony Bowlen for the provision of his boardroom (which we aroma with Pizza) for our monthly Board Meetings – and finally-
To PP Noel ‘Caviar’ Sturgeon, whose name came up so many times in this report – why – ‘cos he did so much. For your general support and guidance during the year, for your specific work in bringing projects (and executing them) to the club, your good humour and for stepping in when I couldn’t be there – thankyou
AND for his commitment and effort, District has appointed Noel ‘Caviar’ Sturgeon ADG for 2022-2023 – the Club congratulates you Caviar – your efforts have been most suitably rewarded.
I wish PE Jenny Mulholland a wonderful year as President. I am sure she will take the club to new heights.
So I now sink to Davey Jones Locker as the HMS RCH Endeavour goes into “Dry Dock” for refurbishment, from whence she will be re-launched and embark on new adventures and in all likelihood will not resemble her former self at all.
Captain ‘Biscuit’ Cook
Rotary Club of Heidelberg
(AKA HMS RCH Endeavour)