The District 1090 Conference for 2009 was held in Torquay, Devon, over the weekend of 20-22nd March 2009

As is normal, the Inner Wheel meeting started the proceedings, with a talk by Alastair Lack about his experiences with the World Service of the BBC, the places he had visited and the people he had met.

Conference was then opened by District Governor Malcolm, with a welcome from the Chairman of Torbay Council, Councillor Michael Hytche, and greetings from Inner Wheel (Dorothy Bell) and Rotaract (Eleanor Cracknell). RIBI President Ian Thomson gave an address in which he encouraged us to try to draw in Alumni of the Ambassadorial Scholars programme and former GSE team participants. He emphasised the need for us to show the world what we do, and that it is fun as well as being very worthwhile. We then had a talk on Climate Change and its impact on Agriculture by Tim Wheeler, professor of Crop Science at the University of Reading, before concluding with an informative but light-hearted discourse on “Fighting the French” – naval engagements of the early 16th century.

In the evening we were entertained by Barry Walker’s “Smackee”, a show group who performed songs from the shows, from Calamity Jane and the King and I through to Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables.

Saturday morning began with a presentation on RYLA by Robin Kellow, during which it was pointed out that as a district we only manage to fill 24 of the 32 places available for this very worthwhile week of activity. Jane Jones from the John Radcliffe hospital then explained the problems of malaria-induced deafness in children in Tanzania, which actually results from the lack of control of the drugs used to treat the malaria. At the end of her talk, DG Malcolm presented Jane with a Paul Harris Fellowship. Finally the Chief Constable of the Thames Valley Police, Sara Thornton, spoke of the issues of modern policing, from the neighbourhood level where problems such as antisocial behaviour, speeding, parking and environmental issues are address, through to national initiatives to combat terrorism.

Rotary Village at Coffee Time After the coffee break, RI President DK Lee’s representative, Brian Anderson, addressed the hall. He spoke of the need to change the ways we think and function if we want to engage with the younger potential Rotarians of today. Mike Cannon then introduced the Ambassadorial Scholars who each spoke briefly of their hopes and aspirations in relation to the courses they were pursuing. The incoming GSE team from District 5040 (British Columbia) spoke of their visit and what they hoped to achieve, and our outgoing GSE team followed on with their plans for their visit to Canada.

The stage was then set to welcome a presentation by Malcolm Wells of Canine Partners, demonstrating how dogs are being trained to perform many useful tasks for people with physical disabilities, including loading and unloading the washing machine! Finally Dr Eric Motley, formerly on the White House staff and now Vice President and Managing Director of the Henry Crown Fellowships programme within the Aspen Institute, gave an inspiring talk on his life, education and his Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to St Andrews in Scotland which led him from the backwaters of Alabama to the peak of his career.

Saturday evening was party time, starting with a Civic Reception hosted by Torbay Council and then into a Masked Ball, with the music of Todd Miller and the Joe Loss Orchestra.

The masked ball - most masks now removedSunday, for those who could face an early start, began with Thought for the Day, which featured music by Starmakers from Westland School, Torquay. After coffee, the final plenary session began with the presentation of awards, including a Paul Harris Fellowship for Valerie Boddington and the prizes for

  • Best attendance which went to RC Heathrow
  • Best Bulletin which went to Windsor St. George
  • Best Website which went to RC Haddenham

Jonathon Hoare introduced a video on the year of Rotaract in the district, after which RIBI President Ian Thomson and RI President’s Representative Brian Anderson made their farewell addresses, recognising that the D1090 conference is one of the largest in RIBI, with plenty of fun and fellowship through the weekend.

DGE Terry Kenyon with John Stevens then told us about Conference 2010 on 19th to 21st March in Eastbourne, after which DG Malcolm made his closing remarks, in which he praised the work of the Conference Committee in delivering a very successful conference.

Finally, to send everyone away with a smile, Peter Brown entertained us with his tales from life in the Crown Prosecution Service. And to close proceedings, DG Malcolm was given a cricket bat and bowled out and off the stage by Conference Chairman Martin Boyles.

IRV 23/03/2009