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24 September 2020: District GovernorA smiling man wearing a chain of office

Like other Clubs, we are online only for the foreseeable future. This week we were joined by our District Governor.

He started saying some encouraging words about our Club before setting out his vision for the remainder of the Rotary year. One of his strong suggestions was that all Clubs should develop plans for the next three to five years. Decide where you want to be in five years time, he said, and then work backwards from there to here.

His own main focus is on membership. He wants to see at least eight new Clubs formed in the District this year, including a Rotaract Club. He mentioned our local Satellite Club and expressed the hope that we would support that Club so that it quickly became a full Club in its own right.

He mentioned two new forms of Rotary Club, namely Passport Clubs and Cause Clubs. Those in Passport Clubs are not members of a specific Club but instead have a “passport” entitling them to participate in the activities of a number of Clubs. Cause Clubs are designed to attract members with specific interests. (He mentioned gin as an example but no doubt there are many nonalcoholic interests that would gather new members!)

He also referred to Rotakids and Interact Clubs and mentioned that it was hoped to start a Rotakids Club in a village on the outskirts of our city. He felt it should be possible to form a Rotaract Club at the local agricultural college or among young farmers.

Whilst the Covid-19 restrictions have made it more difficult to attract new members, some Clubs in the District have done so.

The District Governor hoped that Rotary would make the most of its youth programmes. The young people involved could become the Rotarians of the future; he had been very impressed by the youngsters who had taken part in last year’s Rotakids Day organised by the District. He reminded us that Rotary youth events gave us all an opportunity to talk to the young people’s adult relatives about Rotary.

Keith envisaged that most Clubs would in future use a mixture of physical venues and Zoom for meetings. The increasing use of Zoom during lockdown has actually made it easier to join meetings worldwide, as both he and the Rotary International President, Holger Knaack, have done.

One of the District Governor’s initiatives for his Gubernatorial year is to promote Rotary’s fight against polio by introducing “Nessie”, a soft toy based on the mythical Loch Ness Monster. He has issued a challenge for children to write stories describing Nessie’s journey from Scotland to Essex, a journey he made himself when he moved from his native Scotland. Clubs can buy their own “Nessie” for £10.

The Covid-19 restrictions have made fund-raising more difficult. The District Governor recommended crowd funding, which has already raised thousands of pounds for some Clubs’ projects. He suggested that this year it might be possible to arrange “virtual Santa’s Grottoes” via Zoom.

All in all, he gave us a lot to think about. I have not mentioned it all here.

After his talk we became one of the Clubs to induct new members during lockdown when we welcomed someone new to the Club. Before coming to the UK in the 1990s, he was a member of the Rotary Club of Delhi Riverside. Having just retired as a consultant ophthalmologist he was keen to join Rotary again. We are delighted he chose to join our Club.