The Conference is all over. They say it’s not over until the fat lady sings; in this case the fat lady has well and truly sung her swan song!
What can I say? We had a great MC in PDG Brian Beesley; a great RIPPR in Bill Boyd; some wonderful inspiring keynote speakers; fantastic entertainment; great food both nights and a terrific team of support people. And on top of that, all went to time and I believe we all enjoyed ourselves.
What more could one ask? Well, the most important thing of all was that you came, and you came in your hundreds to join the celebration. Friday night’s dinner dance was spectacular; I’ve never seen so many Rotarian in one place having such a good time – and you danced. Wow, there were some dazzling dancers on the floor as well. And band leader and production manager, Russell Bauer, assured me that the band had just as good a time as you did! Rob’s last man standing trophy went to Taree! Saturday’s parade of Governors was heralded by the fanfare from The Man from Snowy River played by a live orchestra led by Russell, and then came the exchange students with their flags, and Russell played an excerpt from each student’s National Anthem. How good was that? Our RIPPR, Bill Boyd, sat on his famous ‘stool’ to deliver his opening speech, and he didn’t disappoint. Not too many districts get a former RI President at their conference; we were so lucky. In introducing him, I let him know that Dennis and I were at his Convention in Salt Lake City in 2007. That too highlighted music in the celebrations. I joked that it took us 3 days to find a bottle of wine in the Mormon City. Bill joked back that we didn’t ask the right people. We found this restaurant one night, which had ‘wine available’ outside their establishment. Inside, we asked for a wine list. “Well,” they said, “We have red wine and we have white wine – which one would you like?” I can’t count how many times we’ve told this story. Greg Ross, Chair of ARH, told us of the wonderful work being done in research – particularly in Mental Health with their ‘Lift the Lid’ campaign. Then came Stephanie Woollard with her wonderful story of her ‘Seven Women’ journey in Nepal; how she got started, and where she is today. CEO of the New England Conservatorium, Russell Bauer was next, and he talked to us about how to train our minds to improve our memory (he won the Australian Memory Championships in 2002). And then his ‘impromptu’ interactive performance was next, ably assisted by Sam Doyle, Nicolas Hafey, Debbie Loveday, John Bevan, Ashleigh Hickman, Darrell Tiemems, Marilyn Brien, Li Meng Wong, Hugh Raadgever, Dee Stack and Garry Slocombe. What a hoot! They used sound tubes; their feet, and a few ‘bells and whistles’ to keep up with Russell’s performance of “Riding along on my pushbike honey” on his ukulele! It was hard to tell who was having more fun; the participants or the audience who were watching their antics.
Armidale man, Will Winter, told us about the Minimbah Project helping people who have never had a birth certificate, to attain one. They also had a ‘sign up day’ at Drummond School on Friday to coincide with our conference. The Public Speaking Competition is always a highlight of our conferences, and this year’s finalists didn’t disappoint. The Moree on Gwydir club almost lifted the roof with their cheers when their candidate, Elka Devney, was announced as the winner. Interestingly, Elka wasn’t included in the final four at the semis in Walcha. It was only when our Laurieton candidate pulled out that Elka was included, and she absolutely nailed it on the day. We were so lucky that Dr Ray Hodgson was able to fly from Sydney, fresh from the launch of his book, Heartbreak in the Himalayas, to give us a first-hand report of where his team is up to with the building of the Mothers and Babies hospital in Nepal. They are now excitingly close, and the design of the building looks great, with the whole of the top floor devoted to the training of doctors, nurses and midwives. Dr Ray was given a standing ovation, and sold lots of his books. Thanks to all who bought them! On Saturday evening, we squeezed a touch under 300 people into the dinner, and we heard Darrell and Reg give us a report on the drought that is biting so hard in our western regions. Except for the applause, you could have heard a pin drop in the hall as Voci Stupende lifted the roof with their beautiful voices. A few in the audience admitted to me that they had never heard a live operatic performance before – they were surprised and said they really enjoyed the performance. On Sunday morning, after breakfast, we had the Ecumenical Service and Candle ceremony. It was wonderful to be able to remember those we have lost during the year. Despite our best endeavours, a few were missed. Long serving member of Inverell East, Derrick Yee, passed about three weeks ago, and Lyn Schliebs, wife of Jim Schliebs, passed during the year as well. I’m told there was also a long serving member of Dorrigo that was missed as well; he passed at the grand old age of 98. My apologies to those clubs. Our Rotaractors were first up with their presentation, with their usual lively performance. These young people are inspiring with their energy and their passion for Rotaract. Rotaract Representative, Laura Telford, actually stepped in as our MC late on Saturday afternoon – a well-orchestrated performance, when Brian Beesley had to ‘skip off’ for another engagement. Professor Dominic Rowe gave us an extremely stark description of Motor Neurone Disease, and showed us how the body’s neurones come under attack in those who have the disease. You would know that our Partner’s Project is to fund a 3 year Research Scholarship into this disease that took my niece’s life. It is a scary prospect that this disease is on the increase. Some people inherit the disease (and we had one of Dominic’s patients and her family and friends in the audience to hear him – she inherited it) and great progress has been made to prevent the gene being passed on in this way. With others, the disease is spontaneous.
Below : The interactive performance with Russell Bauer
Below Left: Bill Boyd (RIPPR) Keynote Speakers Stephanie Woollard and Gregory Ross with Steph’s book. Below Right: The Danish GSE team with Laurieton President, Barbara Jackson
Below: Rotaract Rep Laura Telford, showing off her ‘power’ MC vest
So, please make sure your club has contributed to our Partner’s Project by buying tickets or just making a donation. Our District treasurer reports that we have raised $19,247.76 to date, so we are only about half way there. There are though, still 60 books of tickets still to come in, so please get these in to Graeme Andrews as soon as you can. All the deposit details, and where to send the tickets are at the bottom of the Inspirator each week.
Our final speaker was DG of 9670, Brian Coffey, who gave us a first -hand account of how he came to be involved with ROMAC and how a young boy called Charlie came into his life. What he and his wife Carol endured in the process of putting this young boy back on his feet, was little short of horrific, but they endured, and Charlie is today happy and healthy and back on his Island home in Vanuatu.
Our next Conference is in South West Rocks, and DGE Phil Hafey gave us a preview of what to expect. Please make plans now to attend your District’s conference. They are such wonderful events, and speaking from experience, your District Governor and the conference team make every effort to make sure that it is an inspiring and enjoyable experience. I’m told we had 360 registrations this year; let’s see if we can beat this next year!
An update on our Nepal Project Our District project to outfit the hospital with the equipment they require is going well. I reported last week about how my cohort, David Hare in District 7680, had contributed $20,000 in DDF and a further $1,100 US. David has also been able to bring other districts on board, and the following shows the districts, and what they have committed in District Designated Funds:-
District 7670 $2,000 US
District 7570 $2,000 US
District 7770 $1,000 US
District 1360 $15,000 US (This district is in Iceland)
District 6920 $10,000 US
District 7890 $5,000 US
District 7680 $20,000 US (David Hare’s district)
District 7680 $1,100 cash US
This converts to a massive $110,550 US (when we add what the world fund will contribute) that has come from our partner districts for this wonderful project. Well done David Hare. The power of Rotarians when we reach out to each other around the world never ceases to amaze me. Our District will contribute $50,000 US in District designated funds, which will convert to $100,000 and we may have to seek further funds from the district to reach our goal of a little over $250,000 but how good is that Rotarians, to know we are so close to our goal?
Below Left: President of Kempsey West, Robin Norton, receives a Certificate marking 50 years, signed by RI President, Barry Rassin. Below Right: Russell Bauer on his Tuba.
District Conference - Wowee what a weekend!
Myself, fellow Hastings Rotaractor Erika Savage and youngest Rotarian in the district Brittani Michelle (she has the award to prove it!) roadtripped over the mountain to attend the 2019 district conference over the weekend. It was a first for all three of us to attend the whole conference and boy oh boy we are glad we did.
The inspirational speakers and networking opportunities we were afforded made the trip alone with it but it was also the chance to see the district awards and celebrate in the achievements of Rotary Clubs across the district that was really special - A big shoutout to Cluster 3 for all the awards they picked up!! For all three of us the best speakers of the weekend were Dr Ray Hodgson and Professor Dominic Rowe who are both doing extraordinary work in different fields.
I don't think there was a dry eye in the auditorium when Professor Dominic spoke about his teams work with trying to find a cure for MND and when Dr Ray spoke about his first hand experience seeing the need for a Mothers and Babies hospital in Nepal we all felt the pull to do more to help.
I think the other great thing about the weekend was the fact Erika and I spoke to dozens of Rotarians who were interested in the work we are doing to get more Rotaract Clubs off the ground. I am well aware of the challenges faced by smaller towns to find young people to form and start clubs but it is also about promoting the great youth programs Rotary offer to engage young people even before they leave school.
I also had a number of Rotarians ask me if we would consider coming and talking to their clubs about Rotaract which let me tell you excited and saddened me.
Since I started writing this column I have always written at the bottom we welcome people reaching out and getting in contact about a Rotaract visit so I am not sure if people don't think we would come or don't read to the end of my words BUT If you would like a visit or more information about Rotaract please, please, PLEASE get in touch with me via email firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone 0428 151 551 and I would be delighted to set something up. This is not an empty promise - we really do want to come for a visit!!
D9650 District Rotaract Representative
Hastings Rotaract Communications Director
ACT/NSW Board Training Chair
Our Partner’s Project deposit details
Rotary International DG Partner’s A/c
BSB: 721000 a/c: 100143137 Please forward copy to email@example.com
Cheques can be made to: DG Partner’s Project 2018-19 Please send cheques and ticket stubs to:
District 9650 Treasurer,
PO BOX 217 Armidale NSW 2350
I thank you most sincerely for your support. Dennis
'Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create a lasting change—across the globe, in our community and in ourselves.'