President's Remarks of the Week

Here are my thoughts on our Wednesday 28th June Meeting.

Meeting overview:

Well, what an amazing final week to my presidency I have had. The highlight, of course, was President’s Night last Friday, for which I will always be grateful to Lyn, who organised it so superbly. I arrived at the London Irish ground not knowing what to expect as I had been kept in the dark about all arrangements. It was a pleasant surprise to see how many members and Friends / partners had supported the evening, even more so to discover that the whole evening had a ‘birds’ theme. It started with the place names on the tables, created by Ken, which I gradually realised had a picture of a bird on them. I then discovered that everyone had a different picture, what a lot of hard work had been put into that! I managed to identify everyone’s bird on my table except my own, and Ken admitted later that he deliberately gave me the Dartford Warbler, knowing I would struggle with it. What a way to treat your president! Then Pauline made a presentation to me of a beautiful inscribed glass tankard, accompanied by a speech which included every possible ‘bird’ pun you could imagine, with pictures.

As the evening progressed I was aware of a man I didn’t know sitting at a table on the other side of the room. Nobody would tell me who he was, although Lyn hinted that we would be hearing from him later on. I convinced nyself that he must be a singer, particularly as he had brought lots of black boxes in with him, which I assumed were sound equipment. He was dressed in what I would describe as ‘country casuals’, which caused me to think he was probably a folk singer. I spent the rest of the dinner worrying that I would be dragged up on stage to join him in singing a song. Despite racking my brains, I struggled to think of a folk song that I knew the words to, although I reckoned I could probably get halfway through ‘Misty Moisty Morning’ by Steeleye Span.

Finally, it was time to introduce the mystery guest, and to my great relief and pleasure he started opening his black boxes to reveal birds inside them. Not just ordinary birds, but magnificent birds of prey, including an owl, peregrine falcon, kestrel, and a beautiful Gyrfalcon. Yes, it turned out he was a falconer, and what great entertainment we had, as he got each bird out in turn and told us its story. The birds were all bred in captivitry, so it is apparently illegal to release them into the wild. I was very impressed with the obvious affection he had for his birds, which seemed to be reciprocated. The gyrfalcon in particular is a very valuable bird, which he hopes to start breeding from next year. A clutch of 4 eggs can be worth £20,000 each to falconry enthusiasts, so the bird is a valuable investment. However, such was his fondness for his birds, I felt he would have kept them even if they were valueless. He did actually describe the breeding process, but I will spare you the details here. The star turn at the end of the show was a kookaburra, which would deliver its loud cackling, laughing call on command from his handler. I was lucky to be given a chance to hold the bird, and I want to thank Diana for filming it and sending me the clip, which I have attached above.

During the evening we also said farewell to John and Jean, who are leaving us and moving to Northumberland. We gave them both a memento to remember us by, and wished them well in their future life. John has been a stalwart member of this club since its chartering, has twice been President, and even District Governor, and is a Paul Harris Fellow. His experience, knowledge and hard work for the club will be hard to replace.

Last Thursday Lyn and Laurie accompanied me to Saxon School, where we presented the last of this years dictionaries to Year 5 pupils. As always it was a delight to see the enthusiasm with which the dictionaries were received by both children and teachers.

Yesterday (Tuesday) I joined Ken, Joe and Peter in sorting through our equipment in Norma’s garage. We found a lot of items which haven’t seen the light of day for several years. Some were kept, some went to a charity shop or were recycled elsewhere, and some went to the rubbish tip. The garage is still very full, and there is still more sorting out and cataloguing needed, but at least we feel that we can now find things when we need them.

At this morning’s meeting, my last as President, I was delighted that our speaker was Gill, giving us the second instalment of her epic trip to India for the National Immunisation Day earlier in the year. She spoke for 25 minutes without a break, and I sensed she could have continued for much longer if there was time. When Gill had finished in New Delhi, she travelled with a party of fellow Rotarians to the province of Assam in North Eastern India. The talk was interspersed with great photos illustrating what a beautiful area it was. I was fascinated with tales of the poor condition of roads, the poverty of many residents, and the animals seen on Safari. She rode on an elephant, saw some amazing birdlife (which made me jealous) and even a tiger in the wild. We were shown photos of large areas of elephant grass, where tigers frequented, and learnt that villagers lived in close proximity to these areas without any apparent protection from attack by tigers. Then of course, there were the tea plantations, for which Assam is world famous. In fact Gill provided our raffle prize this morning, which was a box of Assam tea. Unfortunately I didn’t win it.

So that’s all from me, on an eventful final week as President. I have no doubt that Lyn will be a great President for our Rotary Club, and I know she can count on your help and support. Can I just thank you all for your backing this year, particularly when I have taken us into some different areas. I can honestly say I have enjoyed the year far more than I ever thought I would, and that is all due to the encouragement and the positive attitude of our members. Thank you.


Staines Rotary President’s handover 9th July from 12.30
Our members are invited to this social occasion, which will be at the home one of Staines’ members, in Guildford. There will be an all-in cost of £20. Please let me know by the weekend if you wish to attend, and I will pass numbers to Staines club.

One year in Interact – a Celebration at Sunbury Manor school 13th July from 3.45 p.m.
Invitations to this event were issued recently. If you want to see how Rotary is viewed at the school, you must come along.

 Annual Boules match with Shepperton & Sunbury Club Weds 26th July
Thanks to Joe we have now booked this annual social occasion at the Bell in Old Charlton Road. Sandwiches and chips will be served as usual, at a price of £7 per head. A board will circulate soon, but please put in your diaries now.

 Prestige Lecture 27th September
Please note revised date for this event, which has now been confirmed with Halliford School and our speaker Alan Winn, CEO of Brooklands Museum. We are expecting a full house for this popular speaker, and it is important that we get manning levels right. Please let Chris know if you will be available on the night to help.

Next Meeting

Tues 27th June 3.15 – Interact Club meeting at Sunbury Manor School. Members welcome to attend
Weds 21st June –  weekly meeting – our own Gill Fawcett with Part 2 of her talk on her India trip ‘Food, Drink and Tigers’

Next events/dates:


Tue 4th July – Sunbury Manor Interact Meeting 3.15 p.m.
Wed 5th July – weekly meeting – Speakers Rev Ron Cross and Joya Pal  ‘Community Support locally’
Wed 12th July – weekly meeting – Club Visioning – Presentation of 12 month Action Plan
Wed 19th July – Weekly Meeting – Welcome your new president
Mon 24th July – Club Council meeting
Wed 26th July – Weekly Meeting – Richard Wilson ‘Stage Sets of Film and TV
Wed 26th July -  Annual Boules Match with Shepperton & Sunbury

 Next week’s stewards:
Stewards for July: Sylvia, Peter, Mike

NB: Please can I remind members that if you are not able to fulfil your stewarding duties, please find a replacement and notify your stewarding colleagues.

If there is anything you would like to see included as a topic on these emails, please let me know.