President Ian’s Valedictory Address 2007

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President Ian's Valedictory Address 26th June 2007 

Fellow Rotarians – I am going to start off with some advice for you all. If you ever get a call from Donald Mackay when your wife is away for the weekend tell him to call back when she gets home. It was in December 2003 that I received a call from Donald asking if I would consider being President of the Club in 2006-7, I had been asked previously but always declined. I said that I was not keen, but his smooth talking, and Donald is a nice guy, and being a polite fellow myself, left me saying that I would think about it and get back to him. Well Jennifer arrived home on the Sunday evening and coincidently Donald called within five minutes of her arriving looking for an answer. Clearly I had not discussed it with her could only think of the positives and the honour of being asked again so I said yes. Now if he had called two hours later the answer might have been different we would both have had time to consider the positives also the negatives and as they say the rest is history.

Well being the sort of person that I am, and having accepted the honour with all its responsibilities before I new it the 2006 Club Assembly was approaching and I had to gather my team and their teams together. (Perhaps I should offer my help to Gordon Brown our PM elect now that I have this experience) However I set to the task.

It is normal for the Rotary International President to have a theme and this years President's is "LEAD THE WAY"   So I thought that I would jump on the bandwagon and have my own "LET`S MAKE A DIFFERENCE"

As you know Past President Ken myself and President Elect Ed sat down two years ago with a vision to alter the course that the club was taking (that is not a criticism of the past by the way) but we were trying to effect generational change and freshen up the focus of the club. Two years down the line have we achieved that? not quite yet, but new players and ideas need time to bed in and from where I sit it looks very promising and fills me full of confidence, remember it took" Fergie" at Man U a few years to get it right.

This year has been a year of many firsts for the club, it has always been my belief that the programme is vitally important and Alastair and his team have served us well with a good and stimulating variety of speakers. Who can forget the passion of Maureen Holmes and Alison Stedman talking about the Nyumbani Village project, how articulate and enthusiastic our Foundation scholar was, or the humour of George Grant a couple of weeks ago and many others. We had a first in this area with the Presidents Night Whisky Tasting those that were there I hope you enjoyed it, those that were not, you missed my final performance, Sorry!

Fundraising what can I say about that Lots of Firsts plus one tried and tested Oldie. John led his team from the front and was always involved, gave his team their heads, in case his head got too big with praise tonight being the shy and reserved guy he is he has gone off on holiday. You need to raise money to spend money and they certainly have done that.

The European Film Premiere of the Devil Wears Prada, what a great and unique night, well done Gerry and team raising around £2,400 for the Aberlour Children's Trust.

The Ultimate Quiz, we finally acted on Stephanie's suggestion and what a night that was, well organised, great fun and an event with even bigger potential. Perhaps a good lesson start of small and build and develop the concept Children in Need and Chas were the worthy recipients of the almost £4,500 raised. Well done Robert and team.

Burns Appreciation Night, not being a Burns fan myself I was a little wary but what a night that was organised by Jack, full of song and laughter a real winner. Not only was that a first but we had another first with the Duke and Duchess of Hamilton attending, not only is he Scotland's premier Duke but he is one of only five Dukes including the Royals to have two Dukedoms. £2,500 was raised towards our Nuymbani project. Well done Jack and team.

The AM-AM our trusty and regular bread winner, yet again largely organised by George, a super day of good company, fun and competition. Pound for pound compared to time and effort this has got to be the easiest money we make raising £3,400 for various charities. Well done George and team.

Two Capitals Cycle Ride another new one from a newer Rotarian who had the concept, vision and stamina to bring this event to a wet but successful conclusion last Sunday. It was clearly a massive task and very much required the participation of all the club members. I would be less than honest if I did not say that on occasion this event was very divisive within the club due to its size, complexity, communication issues and commitment required from the club members. From this negative standpoint I believe however that many positives came about. At last we had a big event that required a lot of member participation, a busy club is usually a happy club and it is by working together that friendships and relationships are built and endure which of course is what it is all about and as a result of that at this early stage we may make around £10/12,000.

Yes we thought that it was going to be an even bigger event than it turned out to be but as learning experience it was invaluable and should in my view be built on.

Well done Allan and the major players who contributed so much, I was always amazed that Dave Riddell could produce such accurate minutes, well done to everyone who was involved, we should be proud of what was achieved.  

The FTSE Competition yet another successful year raising in the end due to donations from prize winners and Standard Life our speaker on the night £ 800 for MAGGIES. Well done Cliff, a lot of effort but a lot of fun for those participating, strange how fortunes change last years Booby prize winner was easily this years winner, oh how I wished it was real money.

The Community Service committee had yet again another good year led by Robert having taken over from Bert Sinclair at short notice. We had the usual and greatly enjoyed Senior Citizens night, Kids Out, Stroke Awareness, Community Suppers some of them still to be held, essentially the usual solid performance from that committee. Well done Robert and team.

International projects have really been the main focus for our fund raising activities this year. We finally were able to commit to and donate £2,000 to the Alec Evan Wong project in Malawi to assist the medical staff by helping to provide an Analyser machine for their blood bank, this issue had been simmering for several years and I was determined that we should grasp the nettle.

We did our usual emergency boxes, held the annual Curry lunch in aid of Impact the medical train that travels around India .

Another big and hugely important first was our donation of £7,000 to purchase a house for the victims of Aids that is the children and parents of those who have Aids. We were the only club in District to take the bull by the horns and commit to a house we should be really proud of our commitment to this project, in all nearly £10,000 has been given to these projects. Well done Bob, Willie and team and everyone who supported their passionate proposals and efforts.

Vocational and Youth again at short notice taken over by Alan had a good year with the Primary Schools Quiz, good RYLA speakers, although sadly we are having difficulty this year getting candidates, having seen what the Naval, Army and Sea Cadets can do I think that we should consider going that route in future. Well done Alan

Rotary Foundation despite all the problems with matching grants Stephanie's enthusiasm for Foundation is terrific. We have had record returns from the Foundation box and monthly Draw. Had one project cancelled and our money returned but she has tried very hard to come up with suitable projects but is being stymied at the other end it seems that RI needs to get a grip of this area particularly as it is Rotary's charity. One of my most rewarding experiences this year has been going along with Stephanie to Fife Cares Valleyfield Centre where we presented a sensory rug for severely disabled children, they loved it a good £600 from Foundation. Well done Stephanie and team despite all the difficulties it is not for the want of trying.

Entertainment this year was again varied, with a Treasure Hunt and Barbecue organised by Greig and Ian on a lovely sunny day, on reflection it is just as well Willie was not there to do a risk assessment as our resident insurance man had the barbecue close by the Gas tank, however the Burgers were good and we all lived to tell the tale. This was followed by a super visit to the Fringe preceded by a Thai meal. These years Charter Dinner was another first we had a great speaker but also great entertainment provided by Greig and Strictly Songtime it was an excellent night of fun, fellowship and entertainment. Well done Greig and team.

In addition to all of the above we have had  Ladies Nights a gourmet night, caravan weekend sadly not a sporting extravaganza, although our golfers have done us proud winning the Scottish Area Championship but sadly not being able to attend the British Final due to other commitments but very generously they donated their £100 prize to the club.

Attendance and Membership has been an on going problem, this year despite council being very generous with LOA and relaxed about attendance in particular, frankly I think that in these changing times we will just have to live with that. We have lost four members and recruited one despite being complimented on the style and success of our recruitment methods.

It may be that numbers are not everything it is much more important to have quality, when I see the enthusiasm and commitment of our newer members I am greatly encouraged and am certain they can continue to develop and build on the clubs past activities and successes in this ever changing world.

Yet again Douglas has done a fantastic job with our website and ensured that our notable events have been publicised and in the Press with lots of photographic evidence. Prospective new member nights have been held but our crop has not been as profligate as in recent years although the quality was just as good. We definitely have the right formula perhaps our seeds were not watered sufficiently this year.

Our resident wine buff Cliff has narrated another wine manual he is retiring from this post after 12 years service, and we have had some outstanding wines with the prose to match over this period.

Stephanie has given us some superb Graces -  Charlie has been a mathematical genius with the attendance returns -  Willie has made sure that we always considered health, safety and the risk element in our activities - Derek has kept us on the straight and narrow with social legislation – Alex has kept us right with Gift Aid – David Moyes has galvanised the competitors in the Ken Forbes Quaich so that within this Presidential year we finally have a winner -Neil after a sticky start not his fault has ensured that we are watered and fed – George has counted the Baw Bees to ensure we were always in credit and Roger was Roger. But if you were really stuck and needed someone to do something, very often at short notice David Bruce was your man. Fellow Rotarians thank you all for that tremendous support.

For any member who feels that they deserve a mention and I have not done so, your omission is not intentional and I apologise, please believe me when I say that I am very grateful for your support and efforts.

This all sounds like a huge multinational corporation but it does give a flavour of what is involved in running a successful club these days. It is only when you get behind the scenes that you fully realise what is involved as President the issues and personalities with all their differing angles. Thankfully you have the Council for support and a number of elder statesmen for advice.  I must also thank PP Ken for his support, counsel and continued enthusiasm and President Elect Ed for his quiet support behind the scenes.

Over the past twelve months each and every one of you has played your part to ensure that the club has had a successful year. We have both raised and distributed record sums of money this year; personally I do not believe that is the real criteria for success or indeed raising the numbers in the club. It is my view that a happy and effective club is usually a working club and that it should be a broad church to cater for all the personalities and interests. By doing this we can maximise the good that we do in the local, national and international arena and at the same time have fun and build up rewarding relationships with each other, "Service Above Self" does mean something. During this time I have received numerous emails saying that for one reason or another a member has not been able to contribute and participate as fully as they would have wished. Please let me assure everyone that their contribution be it big or small has been much valued.

In summary I believe the club has had a very successful year thanks to you all. We have been very innovative with all our Firsts. Not only did we have our First Civic Reception but had Two, I don't think that we could have handled Two Cycle Rides though. Every one of these new ideas is capable of further development. I believe that the programme for next year building on what has been achieved this year along with new innovative ideas bodes well for a successful year under President Elect Ed's leadership.

Finally and most importantly to you the members of the Rotary Club of West Fife, it has been an honour, privilege and experience to be your President that you have afforded me, during my year I have tried to live up to the ideals of this club and Rotary. As I said at the beginning of this speech my theme was and Vision for the club was "Let us Make a Difference", I believe that we have this year for the Aberlour Children, CHAS, MAGGIES, the disabled children at the Valleyfield  Care Centre and of course the victims of Aids and poverty in Africa along with numerous other activities that we have supported. Not only have "We Made a Difference" but we have "Led the Way" with all our new ideas and shown what "Humanity in Motion" is all about. Thank you all for that.

As I prepare to hand over the Presidential Chain to Ed I am reminded of the Civic reception given to us in Edinburgh last Friday night. It was to be hosted by the Lord Provost; unfortunately he had to send a deputy as he was otherwise engaged with the Queen.

Traditionally when the Queen arrives in Edinburgh there is a ceremonial handing over of the key to the City by the Lord Provost to the Queen, she in turn hands it back to him. Ed you are not the Queen and I do not want it back.

Fellow Rotarians I commend to you Rotarian Ed Scott President of the Rotary Club of West Fife for 2007/8.

President Ed's inaugural speech