"Service above self"

Rotary Club of Shetland

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The Rotary Month

October - December 2011

For the Rotary Club of Shetland, the last few months of 2011 were the usual mix of club meetings and fund raising. One of the aims of Rotary is to promote and develop fellowship and friendships and it is through the Club’s weekly meetings that these friendships are established.

Each meeting has a speaker and October’s first speaker was club member Gordon Reid who took us on a trip to Turkey. Gordon and his wife went on a sailing holiday on a Turkish gulet, a traditional broad-beamed coastal sailing boat. The Miriem Sophie looked like a very luxurious vessel, with six cabins and with five other couples from all over the world, they spent a very enjoyable week sailing round the islands and harbours of the Aegean.

Our next meeting was a complete change as members learned about “YouthBank Shetland”. Barry Meheut, Kirsty Utley and Martin Summers came to talk to the Club about the relaunch of this initiative, which aims to empower young people by giving them advice and financial support for projects that will have a wider impact on the community. YouthBank is a great idea as it helps and develops young people on many levels. The applications for grants are reviewed and decided on by young people who are members of Youth Voice. From the applicant’s perspective, they learn about how to structure an application and put forward their ideas for a project. One of the rules of the system is that the proposed projects must benefit not just the applicants; there must be a wider benefit to the community. The maximum grant available for a single project is £400. Club members were very impressed with the scheme.

For our last meeting in October we were delighted to hear from the trainees that the Club sponsored to take part in the Tall Ships Race from Lerwick to Stavanger. They had all clearly enjoyed their time on board the Swan and felt that it had given them greater confidence in other activities. The Club’s meetings are usually fairly quiet affairs so the other customers of the Lerwick Hotel must have wondered what was happening when the trainees finished their talk with a rendition of a sea shanty that they had sung as they came into port in Norway.

The Club’s main fund raising event during the period was the biannual cheese and wine evening at the Town Hall. As well as raising money, these events are when the Club hands over cheques to the organisations that are being supported. Following the very successful Ideal Homes Exhibition, Club President Peter Campbell was delighted to be able to present a cheque for £5,000 to Clan In The Community Shetland. Rotary Clubs make a difference both locally and internationally and the Club’s awards certainly reflected this, with cheques also going to Vision Aid Overseas, Bhopal Medical Appeal, Sandwick Camping Club, From Shetland With Love, Shetland InterFaith Group and YouthBank Shetland.

The Rotary Club of Shetland is keen to encourage personal development and service to the community among young people and October saw the presentation of this year’s Shetland Youth Volunteering Awards at a reception at the Town Hall. Following on from these awards, the Club itself was recognised for its efforts to promote youth volunteering and was delighted to receive a certificate recognising its efforts from the higher echelons of Rotary.

November started with a talk from member John Telford about Edward Charlton, a medical student who travelled to Shetland in 1832. The travails of recent Northlink passengers who had to spend over 24 hours on the ferry south were nothing compared to Charlton’s passage to Shetland on the packet boat Magnus Troil. After six days on the boat the passengers finally reached Lerwick only to discover that the ship would be quarantined for weeks due to a cholera scare. Conditions on board were hardly luxurious with the 9 gentlemen sharing a 12 foot by 8 foot cabin.

Our next speaker was Club member Beatrice Wishart who spoke about the history of shorthand. Shorthand and codes go back a long way and members were particularly intrigued by the Roman method where messengers had their heads shaved and the message tattooed on their heads. Once their hair had regrown, the messengers were sent on their way with the message completely concealed. Thankfully things have moved on and, although we now live in a digital age, shorthand still has its place. The National Union of Journalists still encourages its use as it is much easier to flick back through a notebook to find a quote from an interview than to have to rewind a recording.

Club member Andrew Archer spoke at the next meeting. Andrew is in the process of building a house on the Westside and is doing almost all the work himself. The project has meant learning lots of new skills and he took members through the year’s activities. The first part of the house is now built but there is lots left to do. Members can expect further updates over the next couple of years!

Our last speaker for November was Ben Williams, a regular visitor to Shetland through his work as an auditor. Ben recently took part in Rotary’s Youth Leadership Awards programme and was keen to take the opportunity to practice the public speaking skills that he had learned. The course is a very intensive seven day residential programme that consists of lectures, team exercises (indoors and out) and an overnight expeditions, all supported by mentors from local Rotary clubs. The programme is intended to develop leadership and confidence and Ben’s boss had already said that he had seen a difference in him.

Rotarians like a party as much as anyone else and the Rotary Christmas Dinner was a very enjoyable evening for members and their partners. The evening’s entertainment was a quiz organised by John Boxwell and his wife.
Our last speaker of the year was one of the Club’s newest members, Rhoda Watt. The meeting was held on the first day of the Jewish festival of Hannukkah and Rhoda took the opportunity to enlighten members about the Jewish festival of light. Although it has very different origins to Christmas (it celebrates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem), it has certain similarities with families exchanging gifts and eating special foods and seemed a very suitable topic to conclude the Rotary year.

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