President Doug's review of the past year.
“D G Ross and Annette, D G Nominee Designate Neville and Rebecca, A G Ian and Heather, P E Roy and Annie, Charter President Terry, members, honorary members, partners and friends, it is with pleasure that I present this report for the year now ending.
Firstly, I would like to welcome new members who joined our Club during the year: Stuart Ellis (Jo), Sat Mishra (Jaisuree), Rob Hines (Tess) and Stella Avramopolous (Con Matsamakis). I trust all new members have a long and fulfilling time with the Club and their partners also enjoy that association. I also want to welcome Peter Duras and Sue. Peter will be joining the Club in a week or so, having been a member of RC Essendon for 41 years.
A significant and first event in our Club’s 28 years occurred in the latter part of the year, when our nomination of Neville John for District Governor in 2016/2017, was accepted by District. All members, partners and friends, wish Neville and Rebecca a great and successful journey over the next two years.
In looking at the year, I believe the extent and content of our projects and activities undertaken, illustrate that members of our Club have “Engaged Rotary and Changed Lives”. Certainly in my view, our voluntary efforts have been well planned, and executed in an effective and energetic manner. I hope you will agree with me.
I would like to mention a few specific programs we have undertaken, which I think demonstrate the capability of our Club. In mentioning a few projects, I do wish to point out there are many parts to the whole and so even the smallest activity remains important, even if not mentioned by me tonight. Those details will be in the various Committee Reports in our Annual Report available as you leave tonight.
One of the first activities I was involved in for the year was to act as joint MC for the launch, by Victoria Police, of the Leadership Mentoring Program. And our last breakfast meeting of the year was of course, our Club’s hosting of the Graduation Breakfast. Supported by the DG’s and mentors from all five Rotary Districts in Victoria, it is clear this program illustrates the capacity of the Club and highlights the esteem in which it is held. Neville John, Alan Seal, Justine Murphy and Richard Stone have ably represented our Club on the Steering Committee.
Another high profile signature event for the Club was the 21st Paul Harris Breakfast held in November. It was well supported by District and many Clubs in our District. Close to $10,000 was raised for Foundation Programs. And I should say that despite some initial miscommunication between DG Ross and myself, between our Club and District 9800 over $6,500 was sent off to the Philippines Disaster Relief Appeals. That was all in addition to the Paul Harris Breakfast outcomes.
Another major program is Community Village and again this year it provided successful outcomes for the community. The calming and safe environment of the Village continues to get high praise and support, particularly from Victoria Police. The “Rotary Respite Centre” conducted overnight for 12 hours during the White Night event in February, provided great exposure for Rotary and our Club in particular. Without trying, over $500 in donations to Rotary were received. Neil Salvano led the Community Village Sub-Committee with great enthusiasm and dedication.
Following a suggestion from Michael Bromby, who again this year carried out his Sergeant’s duties with aplomb, planning commenced early in 2013 and culminated in October 2013, when our Club presented the play “The Greatest is Love”, at the Melbourne Town Hall. With support from City of Melbourne, and the energy of the organising group under the Chair of Greg Cuthbert, this innovative and unique approach to fundraising, raised over $8,600. Would Michael Bromby please join me? Michael I would like you to accept a Certificate of Appreciation which reads as follows: For bringing us the fundraising play, “The Greatest is Love”, providing a meeting place for the many Fundraising Committee meetings and deftly handling the challenge of being over exposed as Sergeant for a second year.
Our Club has again decided to make a Royce Abbey Award. In receiving this Award, the Club has made a financial contribution to the Royce and Jean Abbey Endowed Fund within the Rotary Foundation. Throughout his life, Royce Abbey displayed enthusiasm and commitment to both Rotary and to the local and International Community. I would like to present this award to a person who has been both enthusiastic and committed. Would Greg Cuthbert please come forward? Greg is a worthy recipient of the award. The citation reads: “For his enthusiasm as Chair of the Fundraising Committee and in bringing project management and strategic planning skills to bear; general commitment to the Club through a number of support activities."
Our Club’s focussed international work to improve the education of children in villages near Luang Prabang in Laos continued under the International Committee chaired by Roy. The opening of the Hue Kang High School in November 2013 Project #3 was attended by members, partners and friends of the Club. The efforts of all were thankfully acknowledged by the local community. Work on Project #4 is now complete in the nearby village of Ban Houy Thao. Generous donations by our Club members have allowed Project #5, the provision of electricity and fans to the Hue Kang High School to commence.
At this point could D G Ross to join me, as I would like to present some P H Fellow Recognitions.
A Paul Harris Fellow is a Recognition that was introduced in 1957 by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International in honour of our Founder Paul Harris. To recognise the achievements of each recipient, our club has made a donation of $1,000 US dollars, in their name, to the Rotary Foundation. This enables it to carry out programmes that may improve conditions in the world such as increased food production, literacy, polio immunisation, goodwill and understanding.
- Firstly, could I ask Justine Murphy to come forward and join us?
Justine’s citation reads: “For her commitment and dedication to the promotion of Vocational Service through two years as Club Director and District Chair roles as well as her involvement, over a number of years with the Victoria Police Mentor ing project.”
- Could Neil Salvano please come forward? (2nd Sapphire).
Neil’s citation reads: “For his contribution to the club over a number of years, including two as Secretary, his support for the Community Village as Quartermaster and in this past year for Chairing the Sub-Committee and his extra-ordinary personal involvement in ensuring its continuing success; in organising White Night and as well as his support over the years for any hands–on volunteering. These many hours have also resulted in BHP Billiton making substantial financial contribution to our club”
- Would Roy Garrett please come forward?
Roy’s citation reads: “Who through his passion for South East Asia, has led the club to establish and deliver successful school projects in the area out of Luang Prabang in Laos, enabling the education of children that might otherwise not have that opportunity. These projects have provided a focus for our club’s International Committee and indeed member’s of our club, whilst also extending the club’s reach through many travelling supporters.”
A small new project that I believe has great potential involved working with the corporate, Tower Australia Ltd in supporting a “Christmas Tree of Joy”. Our Club placed tags on a decorated Christmas tree in the foyer of their office, suggesting the types of presents children needed. Staff donated the presents which were distributed by our Club to worthy charities with whom we have relationships. At a time when the Community Service Committee was focussed on our annual Christmas Hamper appeal, Roger Thornton and Marjorie Gerlinger saw this project to a successful conclusion. I have high hopes that the program can be extended over time, adding to our profile in the city and gaining access to corporates.
Midyear, I appreciated the immediate response from Roger Thornton who at short notice filled the vacant Chair of Community Service. If Roger were here I would ask him to join me and make a presentation to him as Rotarian of the Year. We will hold this over and make the presentation when he returns. The citation reads: ‘For his inability to say no to any requests for help including: Chairing the Membership Project Team, support of the BBQ at the Meehan’s, taking on the Chair of the Community Service Committee and involvement in many volunteer activities.’
I also appreciated Herb Greenwood immediately filling the role of Chair of the Foundation Committee and John Ilott volunteering to again take on the speaker program role; a critical one in our Club’s DNA.
Early in our year, a dinner at the Fortune Cookie restaurant generously funded by Yanpu, was an enjoyable social evening and raised $2,500. In addition, a dinner generously put on by Robyn and Alan Seale and a luncheon funded by Greg Cuthbert continued the social tradition and raised $2,250. A number of vocational visits arranged by the Vocational Committee under Chair Jillian Cavanagh and a very well attended BBQ at the home of Lorraine and John Meehan, also provided opportunities for enjoyable social interaction. Would John and Lorraine please come forward as we have a little memento of the day.
I would also like Yanpu to come forward. Whenever we had an activity going it was most likely we would see Yanpu and I would like to present Yanpu with a Certificate of Appreciation. It reads: ‘For providing the Club with a delightful social evening which raised significant funds, undertaking the Treasurer’s role with little experience in finance and participation in various Club activities.’
There are very few people that have the stamina and capability to achieve this next award and there can only be one in the Club each year. The award I would like to present is the “Avenues of Service Citation”. The citation commends the service carried out by an individual Rotarian in the club. The challenge is that the nominee must have consistently demonstrated support of the Object of Rotary through participation in service activities in each of the five Avenues of Service: Club, Vocational, Community, International, and New Generations. Over many years Alan Seale has more than fulfilled this requirement.
Two major projects were commenced during the year to address well known issues. They remain work in progress as the year concludes. The first is the Club’s Membership Project ably led by Roger Thornton with Neville Taylor and Neville John chairing Sub-Committees. The second is the work of the Fundraising Committee led by Greg Cuthbert in seeking a sustainable source of funds, which does not involve financial contributions from members. I have been heartened by the tenacious and enthusiastic effort put into these projects by numbers of our members. I am also confident that our Club will end up with positive outcomes from these projects over time. This is based on my assessment of the efforts of members, the outcomes thus far and the commitment expressed by the designated leaders of the Club over the next two years.
At the commencement of this year, strong member engagement was a matter I noted as an objective. I trust that after reading the reports of the various committees and reflecting on the year, you feel you have engaged and are proud of your efforts. I also wanted to ensure the Board processes were strong and I believe this has been achieved, even if the Chairman did allow some meetings to run too long!
Whilst the Club’s fundraising efforts did not quite achieve the targets originally set, some of the shortfall was made up through grants and generous donations. The Committee under Chair Greg operated very effectively. At the end of the year, the Club still retains a healthy corpus, and some provisions covering future expenditure have been made.
A strong Club Administration function led by Neville Taylor, with involvement of many members, was critical in the effective running of Club operations, communications and meetings. Youth Services under Chair George Mackey continued to develop long term relationships with our schools. It was also pleasing to note the resuscitation of the Silk Miller program. The efforts of the small Vocational team under the Chair of Jillian Cavanagh were most effective.
I would like to make a joint award this year for the Family of Rotary Award – both Margaret Thomas and Pippa Thornton are apologies tonight, but both made wonderful contributions in different ways. It was Margaret’s initiative to cost up the bulk purchase of spices for our Christmas Hampers. These were purchased, weighed, bagged and then made available to members at cost, making a significant improvement to the hampers for asylum seekers. And aromas of Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar did permeate the air on that last meeting in December. And I recognise Pippa for her involvement in a number of activities including providing significant help with the BBQ at the Meehan's, taking part in the working bee at Royal Talbot and helping prepare the friendship banners for digitising. I hope to make those presentations in person in the next few weeks.
There is one further Certificate of Appreciation that I would like to present. Barrie Tassell is an apology tonight unfortunately as well. The citation of this certificate reads: “For his regular attendance, acting as a greeter, participation in the Foundation Committee, bringing a smiling face and offering the odd quiet word of encouragement to the President”. I have appreciated Barrie’s support during the year. Could I now ask Bruce McBain to come forward? Bruce please accept this certificate to acknowledge your service during the year as Secretary.
Whilst we have acknowledged outstanding commitments with awards, there are very many actions and activities undertaken by members, partners and friends over the year, plenty of which I have observed and I am sure there are plenty that went unobserved. But I believe they were all undertaken because you have Engaged Rotary with a view that outcomes will Change Lives and I thank you all for your selfless contributions.
The oversight and planning that makes participation, achievement and enjoyment possible needs to be led by a Board that is supportive and united. I express my heartfelt thanks to each and every member of the Board. Alan Seale as an erudite and encouraging Vice President, Bruce McBain as Secretary and honorary legal counsel, Yanpu as Treasurer and keeper of the funds, Roy as a passionate chair of International, George as enthusiastic and strategic chair of Youth Services, Neville Taylor as an organised and efficient Chair of our Club Administration, Greg Cuthbert as I have already mentioned and Herb who came on part way through. And I acknowledge those Board members who contributed up until their resignations: Kay and Robin Stevens and Jillian Cavanagh.
I also want to acknowledge the assistance that has been provided over the year by our Assistant Governor Tony Wells who is an apology tonight, and our District Governor Ross Butterworth. Ross and Annette, it has been a pleasure to have served in the same year and Pamela and I are delighted that you are able to be here to share this evening.
Finally, I also thank my dear wife Pamela for her constant support and patience over the past year. Without that, I don’t think it would be possible to look back on the past year and say I enjoyed the journey; I enjoyed the year, which I have been able to do.
In concluding, I would like to wish PE Roy and Annie and the incoming Board, great success for the year ahead. And I belatedly thank Roy for introducing me to the Club six years ago.