One month in…

July was a busy month starting off with a fruitful meeting with the CEO of The Berkshire Community Foundation (BCF) Gerry Lejeune, who is keen to increase awareness of what the charity achieves across the county. Although some clubs are involved already I have asked our Assistant Governors (AG) to share what BCF is doing.

Enjoyed a great day as the guest of Banbury Cherwell at their “SPORTIV EVENT” at Broughton Castle. Cyclists signed up for “family” rides right up to 100k rides for the more serious cyclists. Delighted to give out so many medals and to see ROTARY CONNECTING WITH ITS COMMUNITY. Neighbours from Rotary Club of Banbury were on hand to help out.

Held meetings with John Simpson who is keen to host Membership Development Workshops. Further info on its way.

Attended Marius’s first President Elect Training Seminar (PETS) at Sindlesham, beginning to bring his President Elects (PE’s) together for their year ahead.

Visited The UXBRIDGE CHARITY AUTOSHOW hosted by Uxbridge R/C. Helped present Prizes to proud owners of classic vehicles. Again good to see neighbouring Clubs and Districts helping out and ROTARY CONNECTING WITH ITS COMMUNITY.

From Uxbridge to North Wales to meet Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) participants assisted by Rotarians.

Despite the weather being damp and overcast it was great to see the young people engage in the the tasks put before them.

Ros and I did a four hour shift baking jacket potatoes at “TRUCKFEST”, where over 20,000 people gathered to hear acts I‘ve never heard of! Goodness the music makes the crowed very hungry.! We were on Rotary Club of Didcot’s pitch and Faringdon R/C were doing well with their Pizzas and Oxford Isis sold Panninis.

As one of our Conference Speakers is a Brewer of fine ales, Tim Cowling and I were “forced” to enjoy his hospitality. After a tour of the West Berks Brewery it was our duty to taste the product over lunch! We also learned why David Bruce had devoted both money and time to create “BRUCES BARGES”.

In between the above, Club Visits continue apace. If the next 11 months are anything like July —— Bring ‘em on.

(Many thanks to Sarah Valentine in the press team @ Truck Festival for the photos)


Pass the baton, July is Rotary’s New Leadership Month!

In a change to our usual “programme” we’re now writing on behalf of our new District Governor – Frank Quinn. We hope in due course Frank will pluck up the courage to pen his own “Tales from Thames Valley”.

Frank is a member of the Rotary Club of Thatcham & District, lives with his wife Ros in Newbury. A retired business owner, he joined Rotary 22 years ago after being inspired by a business colleague.

( A big thank you to the Rotary Club of San Francisco West for letting us use their “Pass the baton” graphic! )

The annual handover event was held last week.

Bisham Abbey was the venue for District Handover when Gillian Pearce stepped down after a busy year and passed the chain of office on to Thatcham Rotarian Frank Quinn.

The hundred plus guests enjoyed presentations from Zanni Mason Chairman of Inner Wheel  District 9 . This was followed by Gillian,  giving  her resume of the past year including many of the events she witnessed across the District.

District Governor Frank then gave his brief interpretation of the RI theme “ROTARY CONNECTS THE WORLD” followed by his vision for growing Rotary in District 1090. He went on to explain his three goals of:-


Frank then gave a detailed explanation as to how the goals can be achieved. These will be explained by the full team of Assistant Governors during Club Visits.

The evening was rounded off by the very talented Jacob Cole with his vocal renditions of  Operatic Arias, Hits from The Musicals and some “Rat Pack’ favourites.

As Frank said “A great way to start a new Rotary Year”

The DG’s blog – final entry…

I would like to thank everyone for the support and encouragement that you have all given me. The work that the Rotary Clubs in 1090 do is “Inspiring”. You have all met the requirements of the theme “Be the Inspiration”.

There have been small ideas that have taken off. Such as OK Our Kids, this has passed the boundaries of our District. I am aware that 3 other Districts are using the information. Well done Burnham Beeches and Tony Churchill.

This project has fired up the enthusiasm and touched the local community in Marlow.

I was delighted to hear that the Reading Matins Global Grant has successfully built an operating theatre and built a maternity unit which will make a difference to the local population of Ngora.

The oxygen plant global grant done by RC Marlow and RC Monrovia has produced its first lot of oxygen and is now being fed into an operating theatre.

In the UK one expects to have oxygen supplied when it is required, who thinks about that it has to be manufactured and stored. This has provided a legacy of hope following the Ebola Crisis in Liberia. What an achievement.

So who is the District Rotarian of the Year well that will be revealed later (after the handover on Friday).

I have joined in your events and heard the pride that your club Rotarians have taken in the work that you do. I also heard what the public thought. The support and encouragement that you have given to all ages has been truly inspiring.

Attending Bisham Abbey and watch the disabled children actively participate was a humbling experience.

Thank you, District 1090 you have been an Inspiration to me. I wish you all the best.

Signing off

International Causes supported by Rotary in the Thames Valley

I have been impressed by the support the District has given in the times of need. This has been done in a variety of ways. A disaster occurs and Rotary Clubs swing into action and buy Shelterboxes and Aquaboxes. It was interesting hearing Shelterbox at District conference when they discussed how they assessed which equipment is required for the different situations. The same goes for the other disaster boxes.

So how does it work…?

A disaster occurs and a response team is sent out. Rotary plays a key role in the country affected as they highlight what support is available and work with them to provide relief to the local people. The information is fed back to Shelterbox for example and based on this they send out boxes or shelter kits.

Latest update from Rotary International Convention in Hamburg – there is a new Rotary Disaster Response Fund. Any area that is affected can get support up to $25,000.  Districts that have been affected by natural disasters can use Rotary disaster response grants to launch their own projects or work with established relief organizations to help their communities recover. Grant funds can be used to provide basic items such as water, food, medicine, and clothing.

Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland have a Donations Trust and there is money available to support projects in Nepal, areas affected by the hurricane in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique. The Donations Trust will do a matching Grant for any project under the 6 areas of focus, but they also include building.

Also, we do support people working in affected areas. Rotary Club of Marlow raised money for the people affected by the floods following the cyclone in Zimbabwe and sent it to Creating Better Futures  which is a charity run by Rotarian Dorothy Dix in Zimbabwe in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Harare.


International Projects

Oxygen Plant in Liberia

However I am delighted to hear that the Oxygen Plant in Liberia is completed. The impact on the country is significant. The oxygen plant will be capable of filling cylinders, and supplying oxygen for Operating Theatres, Emergency Room and treatment areas of the new ELWA hospital. The excess bottled oxygen not used by the hospital would be made available to other medical facilities in the Monrovia area at minimal cost. Just imagine if a patient requires oxygen and a hospital had to scramble around to get some or not as the case maybe. The support by Rotary Club of Marlow and their fundraising for the Ebola crisis made such a difference in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Monrovia.

Operating Theatre and Maternity Unit in Ngora Freda Carr

This is a project that is near to my heart as I lead a vocational training team to teach emergency birth skills. Imagine transferring a woman in labour who needs an emergency caesarean section on a trolley along a barely recognisable path. The work has been completed and the new operating theatre and maternity unit look stunning.

We will still be training staff in Uganda in how to deal with newborn life support which we have had positive reports on. Dealing with issues such as bleeding, breech deliveries and fitting in pregnancy. In October 2018 the team trained 248 health professionals in 4 days and we also had active engagement with one of the staff who supported us with training staff in newborn life support. 95% of babies born after 37 weeks are saved by using this technique if drying and wrapping a baby don’t work.





Gillians’ Update

Community and Vocation

Community is one of the things that Rotary does best. Rotarians strongly support local projects, and this has been evident from the discussions the District Governor has had with club Rotarians. The variety and extent that clubs work with communities makes such a difference. So, I thought I would cover a few different areas.


I attended a Know your Blood Pressure day with a difference. Maidenhead Bridge organised their event as Fit for February, this was advertised through social media and in the shopping centre. The event covered cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure check with mental health and look after your physical body thrown in. This event covered a wide variety of health issues and 90 people attended, many said that this was their annual check-up.

Fit for FebruaryThis was done in an empty shop. As a nurse and midwife this is one of the few occasions that I can give the full health message about how to look after yourself and improve your blood pressure without time constraints of appointment times. There was some useful literature from Stroke Awareness that supports this discussion. Some people said that they had been treated for high blood pressure following the event last year.


The Reading Clubs joined together to support the British Liver Trust and 111 people were seen and some were referred for further health care. This was the first time that event was held in our District.

Life Education

This is a charity supported by CORAM and educators with the support of puppets give messages on health, relationships and cyber bullying to primary school children either in a mobile classroom or in school classrooms. It is very interactive and supports the school agenda for Personal, Social and Health Education or PSHE. The impact of this is significant as it increases children’s knowledge on what is safe and how to say ‘No’. Rotarians do help by fundraising as this is an area that schools find difficult to fund as budgets are cut.

Big Society

coracle 8.jpgThe different club projects that deal with isolation. This goes from doing paired reading, senior citizen events and reducing it through foodbanks and Memory Cafes. The paired reading encourages children to read in a supportive atmosphere and it has been noted that this has had an impact on the child who goes on to get qualifications but also the school as it improves their results and OFSTED grading. I supported Pangbourne’s Senior Citizen’s party, it was a real social occasion where people met old friends and new. The music encouraged camaraderie as they joined in with the singing and the party was very well organised. It was noted from the last survey done by the Community and Vocation committee that a lot of people wanted to do more with dementia. Some clubs have supported Memory cafes and others have supported an Admiral Nurse.

Vocational Service is one of Rotary’s Avenues of Service.

So, what does this mean?  Rotary Clubs and Rotarians hold a unique set of skills which means that we can: –

  • Serve others by using our unique skills to address community needs
  • Empower others through training and skill development
  • Inspire others to act with integrity by following Rotary’s guiding principles

This is done in a variety of ways within the District. One example is the Vocational Training Team which teaches birth emergency skills in Uganda at Ngora and Kamuli. The team has trained over 900 health professionals and it has saved lives. Another example is the ‘Mock Interviews’ in schools which gives young adults information about how to present themselves to an employer. However, where Rotarian’s skills come to the fore is when you do club projects and you mentor members within the club to carry on the projects over the subsequent years.

Rotarians can also join Fellowships and Rotarian Action Groups, the information is located on the My Rotary website or This is a great opportunity to share information, increase fellowship and have fun.