"Service above self"

Rotary Club of Shetland

Rotary wheel outline 100 x 100

The Rotary Month

July / August 2012

Rotary is a worldwide organisation and, as a member, you are welcome at Rotary clubs around the world. That means that the summer months tend to bring visitors to the Rotary Club of Shetland and this year was no exception with visitors from across the world joining local members at their weekly meetings.

Most Rotary meetings have a speaker who will give a short talk on a subject of their choosing. The first speaker in July was member Andrew Archer who talked to members about the Isle of Man TT races. Andrew has family connections on the Isle of Man and several of his visits there have coincided with the TT. Members seemed keen to hear about the challenges and perils of the famous TT circuit. Being a long road circuit, it offers a rare opportunity to get right up close to the action.

Our next meeting saw a welcome return to the club from former member Larry Sutherland. Larry has a treasure trove of old photographs and films on Shetland’s past and his talk this time focused mainly on Scalloway. The seafarers amongst the members were particularly interested in the old fishing boats but there was plenty of other history in there as well, with photographs of an old ploughing match and what might have been the first car in Scalloway (it certainly seemed to have attracted lots of attention from the Scalloway residents, with people leaning out of all the windows to look at it!)
It’s always good to hear from speakers from outside of the club so members were interested to hear from Michael Polson, a lawyer with Dundas and Wilson in Edinburgh. As well as giving members an insight into some of his more interesting cases (particularly the football related ones), Michael talked to members about how the law profession is becoming much more of a business. Deregulation of the industry and the impact of new technology are making law firms become more responsive in a climate where every customer wants more for less.

Our first meeting in August saw another outside speaker but this time from a growing local business. Jay Hawkins runs Shetland Cheese Ltd. at Skeld and came to talk to members about cheese making in Shetland. Jay is probably not your average cheese maker. He had risen to the senior levels in the accountancy profession when he decided that it was time for a change. He was on holiday in Shetland in 2007 and, unable to buy any locally made cheese, spotted what he thought was a gap in the market. Jay moved up to Shetland in 2008 and spent 15 months planning his business. In 2010 the business moved into the former Skeld Smokehouse and production started later that year. The business is a small quantity, high quality operation but is expanding. Having started with a 50 litre vat, they got funding in 2011 to buy a 1000 litre vat and have been able to expand production. Exports to the south are now imminent.

Our next speaker was member John Boxwell who gave members a slide show of the 2011 Tall Ships visit to Shetland. Members were particularly impressed by John’s dedication, having been out in a small boat on a windy day to catch the ships’ departure. Our Swedish visitors to the meeting seemed to appreciate the Abba soundtrack.

New members to Rotary are always welcome and we have had a couple so far this year. One of these new members, Malcolm Bell, spoke at our next meeting about his time in the police. Malcolm was born and brought up in Shetland and was delighted to end his 30 years in the police service as Area Commander here. During his time he saw probably the complete range of challenges that face the police, from small village stations with the regular drunk, to larger operations such as the Lockerbie enquiry. The police certainly seemed to offer a wide range of opportunities. After working in CID, Malcolm developed a keen interest in forensics and ended up as head of the force’s forensic science service.

Our next meeting gave the opportunity for our other recent joiner, Danus Skene, to talk to members. Danus’s background is in education, both in Scotland and abroad, and he now runs a charity called Kabisa that supports schools in Kenya. One of the charity’s biggest projects has been to build and run a new primary school, the Tarnos school. The school now has 230 students who will stay there to the age of 13 and is producing excellent results. Through some rather innovative arrangements, the school has been able to widen the curriculum and has recently built an IT centre, equipped with old PCs from a Scottish insurance company. The charity is currently working on plans to provide a local secondary school as well.

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