"Service above self"

Rotary Club of Shetland

Rotary wheel outline 100 x 100

The Rotary Month

November / December 2012

The end of 2012 saw a new initiative for the Rotary Club of Shetland. The Club is very conscious that Christmas can be a lonely time for some of the older members of our community. It was also keen to try and spread a bit of cheer more widely across the islands and so the Club made funds available to all of the community councils to support a Christmas activity for older members of the community. Several of the community councils took up the offer, with the most common use being to help to fund Christmas lunches. With the Rotary Club being based in Lerwick, it is often too easy to focus on activities in the local area but one of the great things about this project was that community councils from far and wide took up the offer.

The Rotary Club meets each Wednesday evening, and, as well as dealing with issues such as organising fund-raising events like the Motor Show, each week’s meeting has a speaker. Our first speaker in November was club member Mark Robinson. Mark is a keen member of the Classic Car Club but chose, on this occasion, to speak about Shetland’s Forgotten Fleets, the fleets being the trucks that used to ply Shetland’s roads. There were plenty of pictures of trucks from the likes of Shetland Lime and Nicolson of Brindister but people’s attention was most taken by a section called Mishaps and Misanters. Shetland’s icy roads had caught a fair few people out over the years.

The subject for our next talk was a Shetland man who had made his fortune a long way from home. Near the shore at Weisdale is a ruined cottage with a plaque marking the birthplace of John Clunies-Ross, the self-styled King of the Cocos Islands. Club member John Groat gave members an entertaining history lesson about the Clunies-Ross dynasty and how they settled the islands and built up the business there. The telegraph station on the islands became even more important in war time and the islands were attacked by both the Germans and Japanese. The Clunies-Ross descendants continued to build up the plantation business but all good things must come to an end and, after five generations, the islands became part of Australia in 1978.

One of the great things about Rotary is that you get to meet a lot of people from all sorts of organisations. A good example of this was our last meeting in November when we were pleased to hear from Elaine Falconer and Val Watterson of Shetland Pre School Play. Shetland Pre-School Play is a voluntary organisation, which was founded in 1972 and is the representative body for Shetland voluntary sector pre-school groups. One the group’s biggest events in 2012 was Play, Talk and Read, part-funded by the Rotary Club of Shetland. A big double decker bus came up to promote reading and books, but there were also workshops for children and parents to give advice on healthy eating and teaching children how to cook.

December saw the focus turn towards Christmas. Everybody likes a party and Rotarians are no exception. The Club held its Christmas Dinner at the Lerwick Hotel and good time was had by all, due in no small part to an excellent quiz organised by John Boxwell.

There was still time for one more meeting in December and we had probably one of the most awe inspiring speakers of the year. Luke Holt wanted to raise money to help to train specialist nurses for patients with bowel conditions so, to raise the money, he decided to try and run cross country from Sumburgh Head to the top of Unst in under 24 hours. Bonxie attacks meant that the run had to take place in August rather than when there was maximum daylight in June. This meant that some of the route involved climbing and crossing the Shetland hills with only head torches to light the way. Luke was accompanied by friends for most of the route, some of whom were experienced fell runners from Scotland. Even these experienced runners were surprised at the difficulty of the terrain, with many places having no obvious paths to run on. Setting off on 23rd August, Luke ran a total of 72 miles, climbing over 7,000 metres along the route. It wasn’t all plain sailing though as delays en route meant that he missed his planned ferries to Yell and Unst. All was not lost, though, and he completed his run in 23 hours and 20 minutes. Members were very impressed with this modest young man’s fantastic achievement.

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