"Service above self"

Rotary Club of Shetland

Rotary wheel outline 100 x 100

The Rotary Month

April / May 2011

The latest report from the Rotary Club of Shetland starts with an appeal. Planning is now underway for the Ideal Homes Exhibition that will be held at the Clickimin on Fiday 16th to Sunday 18th September. If you are interested in exhibiting at the show and have not yet been in contact with the club then please ring Steve Benn on 01950 460048.

One of the founding principles of Rotary is that members meet frequently to develop the friendships and fellowships that are such a part of being a Rotarian. The club's weekly meetings also provide an opportunity for members to hear from other members about their interests or professional experiences or from representatives of local organisations about their activities in Shetland. April started with just such a talk from Hazel Anderson who is the project coordinator for Advocacy Shetland. She explained that the meaning of advocacy is “helping people to have a stronger voice and more control over their lives” and outlined the two main themes of the service. The first one is safeguarding individuals who are in situations where they are vulnerable. The second is speaking up for and with people who are not being heard and helping them to express their own views and make their own decisions. Hazel explained that the service continues to grow and gave a real-life example where a person with dementia was supported to go back home from hospital care. At his last review he was continuing to progress and remains at home with a care package around him. This has benefited him as he is in his own surroundings and can function to a certain level but, more importantly, he is at home.

Travel was the focus for the next meeting and members were immediately intrigued by the title of the talk, "Getting High in the Lake District". Club member Beatrice Wishart explained that this wasn't a reference to a very "relaxed" trip but to her experience climbing Helvellyn. Beatrice had gone down to the Lakes with some friends to climb Scafell but after a trip up Helvellyn she decided that another major climb was not what she needed so she took a trip to Hilltop Farm, to see the place where Beatrix Potter wrote many of her famous stories. Whilst she is most famous for books such as "The Tale of Peter Rabbit", members were interested to learn about the other major part of her life, which was the way that she used the money from her books to preserve the local landscape.

The club is always keen to hear from speakers that represent local bodies and so it was very interested to hear at the next meeting from Samantha Ranson of Victim Support Scotland. Samantha moved to Shetland at the end of 2010 and has taken up a position as the local coordinator for the Victim Support Service in Shetland. She explained how the service has two major functions. The victim support part of the service aims to give practical and emotional support to people who have been the victim of crimes. People who may be able to benefit from the service are referred automatically by the police and the service in Shetland saw 200 such referrals last year. The other part of the service is the witness support service that helps people through the often daunting process of giving evidence in court and the organisation helped 13 people in this situation last year.

As well as the club's usual meetings, the club's biggest fund raising event of the year so far, the Motor Show at the Clickimin, took place in the middle of April. The show was a great success for the club and the money raised will go to help both local organisations and also towards disaster relief projects such as ShelterBox.

May started with a talk from club president Martin Nicolson. Martin recently took a trip to Turkey to meet up with Shetland residents Alistair Tulloch and Linda Bannister who are taking a couple of years out to travel the world on their sailing boat. They had spent the winter in Turkey and Martin joined them at Antalya as they sailed along the Turkish coast. This was a part of Turkey that was full of Roman history with some remarkably preserved buildings, particularly the amphitheatres. After spending the last year in the Mediterranean, Alistair and Linda are now considering crossing the Atlantic for the next part of their voyage.

The speaker at our next meeting was member Steve Benn. Steve's background is in the construction industry and Steve told us about one of his more challenging assignments for Wimpey at the tender age of 19. Steve was suddenly sent down to the site of a half-built tower block in Leeds where it turned out that things were going very wrong. He arrived on site to find that the site foreman and engineer had both just been sacked because they had discovered that, after nine floors, one corner of the building was already six inches out and one end of the building was two inches higher than the other. Steve already had a reputation for being a quick, accurate measurer and he was tasked with working out what had gone wrong and how they could put it right. It didn't take long to work out how the engineer had managed to get his checks and measurements so wrong (a small error repeated on each floor) and fortunately the brick fascia of the building allowed a minor correction on each of the eight remaining floors to put it right. Although this building was “rescued”, this was going on at the exact same time as the Ronan Point incident where the corner of a 22 story block of flats collapsed in London and, whilst the methods of construction were very different, Steve explained how Ronan Point was a big factor in killing off the development of new tower blocks across the country.

The month finished with a talk from member Andrew Archer about new developments in technology and engineering. Andrew picked out several technology news stories from the last few months that he thought were of particular interest. The topic that was probably of most interest to members was the introduction of retinal implants that are starting to bring sight back to some blind people. These implants are being fitted to patients in the UK now and, if they develop at the same speed as similar devices, then the future should mean restored vision for many people.

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