Author Archives: anything2013

Very much ‘Ade’s Day’ at Rotary conference


A shame, because there was a great deal of ‘good stuff’ at the Rotary District 1120 – ‘woops!’ I mean Rotary South East conference this weekend.  But the star of the show was, and possibly ‘had-to-be’  Ade Adepitan – wheelchair basketball gold medallist for team Britain, t.v. presenter, and extremely good communicator.

OK, he was talking about a subject he knew pretty well – himself – and he told the story very well.  Born in Nigeria, contracted polio aged two that affected both his legs, one totally; parents made decision to move to UK when he was three, insisted on him being in a mainstream (standard state school) school where they lived, Plaistow, East London, quite literally, ‘a hard schooling’.  Ade (pronounced ‘adi’) gained the support of his school-mates as a ‘tryer’ especially in sports.  Spotted by two physios with an ‘East End Project’ while being pushed on a sponsored supermarket trolley race who persuaded him to be involved in their programme.  Thanks to that, Frank Bruno raised money to buy him a lightweight self-propelled wheelchair.

Of his first visit to one of the Stoke Mandeville ‘Para-Olympics’ in the early days of paraplegic sport, and his vision at seeing high-end wheelchair basketball which ignited his take-off into the sport; he showed us that it was anything but ‘vertical take-off’, and his refusals for the team nearly led to us losing a para-olympian.  But it didn’t, he gritted his teeth, trained harder, completed in a scratch team in Cyprus that beat the favourites (the Germans – Ho, ho!).  And the rest, is history, or at least on BBC video footage.

But it doesn’t end there!  He has agreed to be a Rotary polio ambassador, and – thanks to Rotarian Christine Aktinson (RC West Wickham), who has persuaded him to work to publicise the polio endgame, as we should call it.  I hope to see him as a Rotarian himself, more than that, with his presentation skills –  incidentally, (on Saturday evening after Eastbourne he won ‘TV Presenter of the Year’ award at the MV Awards ceremony in London – yes folks, that evening!  It’s a tough life being a celeb.) promoting Rotary to his age-group and British professionals of African and Caribbean ethnicity.  Diversity is something Rotary – all over the UK, so badly needs more of!

And oh yes! I almost forgot, not only did he refuse his fee – but gave it to the Foundation Rotary fund, Adi not only do you have my respect, but now, too, my admiration.  He so richly deserved the standing ovation the hall gave him.  I look forward to seeing more of him, especially as he is (1120ers), ours!  ***  FH 31.10.16

Caption:   Ade Adepitan on stage at the Rotary South East conference on Saturday 29th. Oct. where he was one of the guest speakers.  Adi moved the audience and donated his £1,500 appearance fee to the Rotary Foundation polio eradication fund.

(pic. by FH . R Dist. 1120 PI)




“Let’s do this again!” Much pleasure at RC Sidcup’s Special Needs Bowls Day

sidcup - adam conie bowls in SN bowls cup

Sixteen teams entered for the First RC Sidcup Special Needs Bowls Competition held this month at the Swanley White Oak Bowls Centre.  This is Bowls as played on a green, not the Ten Pin variety! and 34 adults with learning special needs plus carers and helpers all combined for an integrated and inclusive competition.

The competing teams came from the Dodgers Boccia Club, Ken Boyce Day Centre, Smerdon Day Centre Bromley SN Ski Club and the Carers Support Service.  These were up for the Wheelchair and Severe Learning Difficulties Competition, won by Michael O’Toole and Liam Prosper (see pic. below), here being given their awards by RC S President Norman Hamblyn.

sidcup - Prosper & Michael are given their awards by Pres. Norm

Perhaps the real story is the co-operation between RC Sidcup who have a ‘Sports Interest Group’ – hey! and the Sports Development Team of Bexley Council.  If my memory serves me right Sidcup are rather good at co-operative projects – did they not run young adult training in co-operation with the local Job Centre?  (See Rotary 1120 blogs passim).  Sidcup Rotary members provided both coaching input and stewarding for a highly successful day.

Bromley Ski Club sound rather good at this sort of thing – two participants returned recently from the Los Angeles Special Olympics with gold and silver medals.  See pic. below of Karinna Beckett (left) and Laura Mitchell (right) proudly showing off their Olympic gongs!

The man in the middle?  That’s President Norm again, – he was delighted with the day, the message was:  “It’s been a great day, and well organised.  We must do it again.”    Well done RC Sidcup, and I feel sure you will.

sidcup - Karinna & Laura show their medals

PS – You’re all asking – “What’s Boccia?”   Well, it is a bowls-type sport specifically designed for wheelchair users.  It has coloured balls, mainly red and blue, and is played now at local, regional and national level.  Initially devised for people with cerebral palsy it is now played by a wide range of players with physical and learning special needs.

Hette Stainer – If you took a ‘selfie’ of District 1120 what would it show?

Rotarians – ‘Anything’ owes you an apology.  He has been away on planet “Яркая звезда” until recently, so my brain etc. has taken time to readjust to the atmosphere, 15 pounds per square inch on the old body etc. and getting round to see what has been troubling the Wonderful World of Rotary in the last few weeks.  I have to say that it is looking a bit on the thin side except for Tim Cowell, Press Officer for RC Folkestone Channel, who has been sending quite a few e-mails.  He is what one of my ex-employers used to say – “Made up”.  Is this a Sussexism I wonder…..   In plain English  he is pleased and proud, and with good reason.


Hette Stainer in Ecuador – a selfie

Hettie Stainer, A student from the Folkestone School for Girls she has with her portfolio of pictures has become the National Senior Winner of the RGBI ‘Young Photographer’ competition.  And of the pix I have seen they do her and her photographer’s eye much credit.  Her pictures were taken during a visit to Ecuador recently when she was undertaking charity work (unspecified in Tim Cowell’s press release) and thus the photos were right up the Rotary alley.  The one I liked best was the one I append below entitled  ‘Jess the Angel’ with Ecuadorian children.

If young Hette is not already in the movement either Interact or Rotaract – enrol her! somebody do so, quickly, we need young people with talent, badly.

If we were to take a ‘selfie’ of our work recently and how this District is faring what would it show?  Much good work, yes, most Rotary clubs in the area are committed to their communities, however, I do get the feeling that sometimes what we do is somewhat, how can I put it – ‘uninspired’.  Having worked ourselves  into a good groove, we are reluctant to stand up and shout and scream about our frustrations with the slowness of the Rotary system – the frustrations of getting grants out of TRF, and yes, the unwillingness of some (quite a few) members to spend time to give service – especially at short notice.

I was always at pains when talking to the press or putting out material to stress we were not ‘just a group of middle-aged men enjoying the dining aspect of Rotary but-not-much-else’.  But oh lordie, despite the recent changes and new clubs with younger members I am not sure if we can generate the energy and enthusiasm we need if we are going to get the new, young idealist members we so badly need.  Ho, hum, not a rant, but when you come back to earth you just wonder, where are we going?  A new Rotary year now only days away, let’s hope we will take a selfie that inspires us – please!


Jess the Angel plus young Ecuadorians

PS.  I did not mention that Hette’s trip was part funded by a contribution by RC Folkestone Channel.  Well done guys!

FH =- 24.6.15

What’s This? Rotary Central? Never heard of him….. You have now!

You know how it is, you wait all day for a blog to turn up about something you are interested in!, and then two turn up at once.     Partly because Richard Joy whose entry, ‘Rotary’s Best Kept secret’ was posted on Sunday.  On Saturday he was the moderator for a training seminar in Eastbourne, that is Eastbourne, East Sussex, in case there are any other ‘Eastbourne’s’ lurking about on this planet.

This was useful, partly because, as a seasoned observer of these things, I suspect Rotary Central   is going to become a great deal more central to us than most clubs, and certainly most members suspect.  Members, and clubs are always bleating about ‘lack of communication’.  You may have done so yourself, even well connected people on the District Executive don’t know everything, and even those members who, like myself, try to attend District Council Meetings and District Assemblies, conferences etc. only get a ‘snap-shot’ of what is passed on from the Rotary or Rotary GB assemblies.

Here, really for the first time, is a way that every member in every club (who cares to register on the RI – That is the  site,) can access their club’s details.  This however is just the start, and this, I suspect is where many club members will start to quarrel with the new system.

It is important because on the data your club secretary, (or whoever he delegates to be the ‘Club Executive Secretary’) – i.e. the person who is tasked with keeping the club data up-to-date, needs to be quick because all changes in, and out, of the club need to be notified within 30 days.  It is on these figures that RI will now levy the RI club contribution.  Thus if you don’t keep it current you may be charged for more members than you have.

However, it is the ‘goal setting’ part that members will find irksome.  Now, for everybody to see is how many new members you are going to try to recruit during the current Rotary year, and questions about you club ‘Diversity’ – how many women you are planning, or have already recruited as members.  How many members take part in fund raising and social activities.

Now, many clubs have got good records on most of the above, some haven’t.  Items like, ‘Foundation Giving’ which will show trends will throw light to others in the District – yes folks, anybody else can access your club’s details! So clubs will want to show that they are doing the Right Thing.  Won’t they?

So the benefits – well to RI, the men and women at the core of Rotary Central, will see who and where the achieving clubs are, and, naturally the converse the benefits are clear.  But for clubs too we will be able to see what it is that will earn us a ‘Citation’,  and no, the answer isn’t – “Whatever….”

So thank you Richard for getting up early last Saturday, and coming down to tell us about it.  I suspect you have just made yourself ‘Mr. Rotary Central’ for District 1120,  and next time, ah yes, next time, I shall remember to bring my Rotary dot org password with me.  PS. When I got home I logged on and, guess what,  my club has got fat round zeros for all the goal setting targets, I think I feel a club meeting devoted to the subject coming shortly…!

Hailsham newhaven & R central meeting 011

Richard Joy, assisting a puzzled Rotarian logging on to ‘Rotary dot org’ – a new experience for many I feel, still, old dogs, new tricks!

FH – 16.4.15

Thank you Sevenoaks – not modish or ‘trendy’, but you are what this District is about

Alan Waters is the editor for the .  He sends me a copy as ‘pdf’.  I read it!  I have never visited that club, and from the exalted heights it is easy to have a smile at some of the attitudes expressed, but wait!  Listen to this:

1.  A talk on ‘Water Aid’ with a commitment to give them money, and with RC Sevenoaks that will be a worthwhile sum.

2. Agreement to send a cheque for £1,000 to Demelza House –  (the childrens’ hospice) oh, it says ‘another’ £1,000, that means they have sent at least £1,000 already, probably more.

3. A collecting point for ‘Mercy Ships’ – not sure how that works, but sent £600 to the charity.  More than most clubs eh?

The Ladies Group is called here – ‘Spare Wheel’ – I like that, it mixes humour with an insouciance that some ‘right on’ Inner Wheel groups lack, – they raised another £200 odd for Alzheimer’s Society, and Kent Air Ambulance. Well done!

And the Big One?  they also organise a 10 km. race, with 500 runners, estimated benevolent amount – projected at £6,000.

As we all get older, we may not be able to be out cleaning up gardens, but raising and distributing money is service too.  And in other small ways – here’s one:

sevenoaks - war graves in burma

One member has been to Myanmar, he openly admits to him (and me) and many of us of our age it is still Burma (and why not!)  During this visit they persuaded the tour guide to divert them to the British and Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery, so they could pay their respects to the British and commonwealth war dead.  Yes, members, that is Rotary Service too! 

Also a charming piece about a visit to a conference in Hungary – and how things were managed (to the writer’s benefit) in them thar days before the wall came down.  Thank you Alan Waters, from the more esoteric heights of worrying about Rotary’s future you, are our present.  and for that, no sniggers, no irony, I salute you?!  FH 29.3.15

Indore – ‘Calmed’s target for 2015, not a pretty city, but glad to be chosen!

indore - holi pic with flowers 4.3.15

I am never quite sure how much my readers already know, and starting at base-line zero is often a bore!  But briefly, ‘Calmed’ is a medical training programme devised and promoted by our own PDG Himansu Basu.  With two already ‘under his belt’ he has with support from this District put in for a third to take place in a town in India called Indore, this is one of the major towns in a state (all Indian provinces are states) in Madhya Pradesh.  In the last few weeks Doctor Basu and PP Terry Kinsman, a Rotarian from RC Maidstone have been out there preparing for the training period.  This is a digest from what Terry has sent me about the town, the project, and the trip!

indore - town centre 2

Indore, not a pretty city,or famous for anything other than being very large and industrial, we didn’t see a real City Centre (if there is one) and the Training Centre is not picturesque, but here are some photos.

indore - NRHM offices

This – I believe is the NRHM office, which will be the base for the training, as you can see, it is a functional government building, but none the worse for that.  It controls 250 primary health care clinics in the state, which is vast, one of India’s largest, and the Maternal Mortality in the state is critical; this is why Indore is important as the next training centre.

indore - town centre 3

India runs on motor scooters , tuc-tuc motor rickshaws and mobile phones.  If you are Indian and don’t have or use these you are most unusual!  It is thriving, bubbling place, the Indians themselves and the Rotarians in particularly are mainly young, and extremely enthusiastic.  Picture at the head of this posting is some of the members of District 3040, and RC Indore Uptown.

As this programme continues I will add to the inputs, you can also read more on the ‘calmed’ blog on our D1120 website.  Seven obstetricians will take part, even so it will represent a mere drop in the bucket in comparison to the task, however, it works, it’s ours, and all are highly enthusiastic.  Watch this space!

If you were waiting for ‘Rotary Day’….. Sorry, You’ve missed it!

Rotary day 2015

I’m sorry RI and R-GBI, yes folks, that’s ‘RIBI’s new moniker.  Rotary Day is in my mind, and it seems to most of the ‘active Rotarians’ I know;  the biggest -non event – of the year.   When I was MPRC Chair, and with the active help and co-operation of some Rotarians in the Eastbourne area, mainly Chris Brenchley, (before he became an AG) we did, two year’s running, hold an Awareness Event in Eastbourne’s Arndale Centre.  We sold crocuses, had some poster panels on what the local clubs were doing.  OK, you’ve seen it before.

Then this year into my ever-open ‘Inbox’ popped, or dropped the above, with some text from RI’s Publicity Department focusing on the positive aspects of the Polio campaign. (Of course).  Now I know that most Rotarians do give their time to help at ‘awareness events’ both for their own club and for Rotary as a whole.  But Rotary, and here I am talking mainly to those wunnerful folks in old Evanston,  is February really the best time of year to talk to people about 1.  Our successes. 2. Our future, (no, I won’t make a funny).  Membership, Foundation, oh, and by the way  – WOULD YOU LIKE TO BECOME A MEMBER?

Now I don’t know what the weather is like in Chicago – cold and snowy I expect, here it is what the Scots call ‘dreek’.  It’s cold, its wet, people are feeling hard-up after Christmas New Year, and paying their January income tax.  And they are just hoping to survive until Spring comes round, possibly in late March or early April.   Do they even want to think about joining Rotary?   Well Americans, “You do the math – I’ll make the pizza!”

And my point is, February 23rd. is arguably one of the worst dates in the calendar anyone could choose for an awareness day.  So all you Clever Marketing People in Rotary One, oh, and Alcester office would care to have a word of advice – Mmm, thought not;  however, here it is: try sometime in June instead, it’s warm, so you can go outdoors, mostly, and people are open to new suggestions, they might even put a couple of quid in the Polio can too. Got it folks? NOT FEBRUARY – yeah!

Santa plays cupid in his grotto – Maidstone Rotarian Roger Hext has seen it all!

maidstone - santa & engagement

Rotarian Roger Hext, a member of RC Maidstone was doing ‘Santa duty’ at their grotto – (they don’t say exactly which store).  One of his visitors was Graham Jones and his partner Fiona Robertson and their children.

However,  Graham sprang a surprise by going down on one knee to Fiona – and proposing to her there and then.  Pleased to report that both:

The children had had their gifts, and that also, as you can see above, there happened to be a photographer present of Graham placing the ring on his betrothed’s finger – Arrr, nice!

Well done RC Maidstone, Maidstone’s ‘senior’ club, but sometimes appears to be slightly media shy, so nice to hear from them.  Also nice to read that this ‘story’ got good coverage in the ‘Kent Messenger’ and we assume all the other little Messengers too.

The couple plan to marry this year, and have invited Santa Roger as a guest.

Surprised? He nearly ate his beard!  You never know what will happen when you are on active service as a Rotarian – even in Maidstone.

Does ‘Rotary’ always have to be about food? Senlac honour the haggis – and their stomachs!

Perhaps ‘anything’ you are becoming dyspeptic yourself!  But why, fellow Rotarians does so much of what we do have to revolve around food?  Yes, yes, I know that fellowship is an important part of the Rotary mandate, whatever that may mean, but it seems to me that for many clubs, and I am not singling RC Senlac out for criticism in this regard.  They are an excellent club and have one of the truly most forward-thinking and independent overseas actions of perhaps any club in our District.

They also happen to be one of the best correspondents to the blog site, even following the sad death of Senlac Press Officer, Rtn. Wendy Cocker recently, and the picking up of her batten by Rtn. Colin Goldsack, without a pause.

I nearly missed it, but now on my Netbook, while deleting e-mails I pause, to look at the photos.  The Burns Night supper is a regular with Senlac, and they do a night for ‘The Bard’ too.  I mean William ‘Swan of Avon’ Shakespeare, on St. George’s Day.  But I repeat – Rotary is frequently, in my opinion, too frequently, more about taking on board far too many calories – Christmas Dinner, Ladies Night,  Triennial Bashes, you name it, clubs eat it, and not enough about our ‘core’ activity.  “What’s that Guv.?”  Well, unless I have got it all terribly wrong, it is about giving service to our community and others overseas, both by personal service and by financial donations on Club, District and National levels, and through TRF -Rotary Foundation.

So although this posting may be regarded by some as ‘unfair’, other Rotarians may say – perhaps ‘Anything’ old thing, you have a point, and horrors, perhaps ‘the meal’, the centre of the Rotary meeting, has become part of ‘the problem’, not part of the solution.

If we were to give more of what we spend as meal fees to er- the Yellow Men of Kadongdong, RC Senlac’s major action, we would be looking slightly less portly, and doing more good where it is needed.

Pic. Pres. of RCS Bob Wren and Pipe Major pipe in the haggis at The Highwoods Golf Club, E. Sussex late last month.

senlac - piper plus haggis

P.S.  As well as Scottish dancing – phew – so that’s where the calories went!  Also Mike Stewart, one of the co-ordinators of ‘The  Yellow Men’ was honoured as an Honorary Rotarian.  More power to his elbow!

Will the real Devin D. Thorpe please stand up?

January has been ‘a bit slow’ for D 1120 ‘stuff’, but there is at least one newsletter that reaches my Inbox with amazing regularity and that is RI’s ‘Polio Plus’ newsletter.  So?  So I followed one of the hyperlinks about a Rotarian who had accompanied other American Rotarians to Ethiopia.  Where they were holding a National Immunisation Day.

This ‘supernum’ on the NID was one Devin Thorpe, he is American with a Financial CEO pedigree and some rather large black glasses that he clearly doesn’t like wearing when his photo is taken.  He is also a Rotarian member of RC Salt Lake City, (does that make him a Mormon?), and he is clearly a Polio eradication enthusiast.  He writes a blog for the ‘Forbes’ financial magazine in New York (Forbes is a journal similar in content to our own ‘Economist’ magazine).  He is extremely prolific, half a dozen since Christmas, ‘enough, already!’ and as a journalist trades under the title of ‘The Social Entrepreneur’.

However Anything, enough of your pipe-laying! what’s the meat?  On 21st July last year he posted a piece with this heading:  World looks anxiously to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria to end polio,  – and it is a four pager with quite a good balance.  (Go to & put Pakistan into the ‘search’ box).  In this article he details a meeting at RI HQ where the heads of the Rotary Polio Committees of theses three countries had been called for ? a crisis meeting.  The Pakistani polio toll in the previous 12 months has been 236 and a total of 60 Rotarians and their bodyguards killed in action.  (His figures guv., not mine!).

Also the photos of the three men – Pakistan is Rtn. Aziz Memom, Chairman of an industrial conglomerate in Pakistan called ‘The King’s Group’.  Also a leading Rotarian of RC Karachi, where he is a resident.  He has been Rotary’s ‘Polio Honcho’ in Pakistan for the last five years.  The Rotarians were killed on his watch, I would like to have a Q & A with Aziz.


I find the above figures fascinating.  Devin also makes the point that the Rotary percentage towards the $6.5 billion estimated to be required to end polio is indeed quite small, the majority coming from national governments and other foundations.

Devin seems to have excellent access to the Rotary press machine.  I get the impression that RI paid for him to go to Ethiopia, but I hadn’t realised there was a problem with polio in Ethiopia.  So are the senior men in the Rotary Foundation being quite frank with us?  Perhaps Devin next time he ‘hops’ east about the globe he might like to pop in and talk to us.

Devin (with glasses)

with acknowledgement to Devin Thorpe, & ‘Forbes’ magazine