President John Hansford:
My understanding of a Valedictory speech is that it should be reflective, give appropriate thanks and allow me to say goodbye.
Precisely 51 weeks ago it was my great privilege to become President of this Club and there is no doubt that it is a great honour.
I have one negative reflection on the year which I would like to get out of the way, and that is in 51 weeks I have not been able to get everyone to say good morning at the beginning of the meeting – Good luck Phil they are an unruly bunch!
You may recall from my speech at the Handover the RI President’s theme for the year of Engage Rotary-Change Lives and as we reflect on this year gone by I believe we will see that through the work within our Club and the Committees we have Engaged Rotary and in a variety of ways have changed lives.
I do not intend today to list items of the Club’s charitable giving, but I have been informed by the Hon Treasurer that the total is £49,978.02 of which over £16,000 has gone to Alan’s projects in Africa, £6,500 to Polio Eradication and nearly £4,400 to our own charity – The Rotary Foundation. There will also be about another £2,500 for Frank Wise for their European trip. I should point out that the £49,978.02 does not take into account the Gates Foundation effect which adds 200% to Polio Eradication donations which I think with the golf prize will amount to £16,000.00.
I would now like to review the year and perhaps highlight the work of the Club Engaging Rotary and Changing Lives.
My year started with the Banbury Symphony Orchestra concert at St Mary’s for Help the Heroes and by co-incidence it will end tomorrow with another concert at St Mary’s this time in aid of the Royal British Legion and the Army Benevolent Fund – I do hope that you have your tickets.
I remember attending one of Jonathan Meredith’s breakfast meetings and after, walking down the High Street with Fred Riches and he suggested the idea of the senior schools becoming involved with the Polio Eradication campaign, one of his initial ideas was for a flash mob concert, but this rapidly evolved into the Crocus Concerts as we now know them – but I will return to the Croci and Concerts later.
In August the foundation Committee held Stephen’s Summer streaming event – it is always good fun and fellowship and with good food – Thank you Stephen and Martin.
Early in the year Martin and I went to a meet the Scholars’ dinner – bad food but good company and Martin and Annie looked after Adonis for the year as he studied at Oxford.
As the year progressed the Club geared-up for the Children Singing for Children Concerts, a four evening event requiring considerable organization and hard work. This is an event that the children enjoy, is community based and brings Rotary to the attention of a wider audience. It also introduces to the children the idea of charitable giving both locally and internationally. I think this is Engaging Rotary on many levels and Changing Lives. Thank you Jonathan and Reg.
The first part of the Crocus Concerts took place in the Autumn – over 5000 crocus bulbs were planted at the Schools and at St Mary’s with the hope that they would flower in the spring at the time of the Concerts – Fred did you see any flowers?
Early in 2013 Simon was on one of his many holidays and I wanted to ask him to Chair the Community and Vocational Committee – so an email was necessary. He has quite often complained about the cost of his reply as he was on board a ship somewhere in the South Atlantic – I hope that I am now forgiven.
Anyway Simon took on the Committee and the considerable amount of work in organizing the street organ collection at Christmas. A considerable sum of money was collected which will change lives and he must have enjoyed it as there are more collection days at the end of this year.
Through the Community and Vocational Committee a donation of £1,000 was given to Lily Ilott for a new wheelchair. I met Lily at St Mary’s and I am sure that the new wheelchair will help improve her quality of life. Thank you Simon and the Committee.
Also at Christmas was the Family Christmas Festival of Music, part of the performance was the Snowman and I believe it was well received. John Bennett was the compare for the Concert and performed with his usual professionalism – Thank you John, Martin and the Foundation Committee.
We now move into 2014 with the heats and finals of Young Musician the 24th year of the event, I must say that we do have fantastically talented young people. I am aware how much work is involved in the organization of this event and thank you to all on the Youth Service Committee who were involved.
Back to the Crocus Concerts, two were held at St Mary’s church with four schools at each and the other at Tudor Hall School. They were all a great success which enabled us to give £5,000 to Polio Eradication. Sir Tony Baldry attended one of the Concerts and in turn reported the event to the Minister of State for Schools David Laws and I will read you his reply:
“I was very pleased to read of your pleasant experience attending the “Crocus Concert” at the St Mary’s Church in Banbury. I think this is a very positive initiative organised by the Banbury Rotary Club.
Projects such as these have an enormous impact on pupils and the entire community as a whole. As you mentioned in your letter, pupils and staff were able to participate in a positive and constructive learning environment with other schools in the Banbury area. I am sure the experience has left a great impression on all those who participated and helped build new and stronger relationships.
Thank you for writing to me on this important issue. I wish the Banbury Rotary Club the best of luck with its initiative.
Yours sincerely, David Laws MP”
In late March a group of us went to Torquay for the District Conference. There were a number of very interesting and emotional speakers including our own Alan who managed to reduce most of us to tears with the story of his work in Africa.
Alan has this year chaired the International Committee for which I must thank him, however I think you will agree over the years Alan has become an expert in building classrooms and toilet blocks and this year has been no exception. He also gathered together and sends a variety of things to Sierra Leone including clothing, football kits and water rollers. He has also this year achieved the status of being blacklisted worldwide as a money launderer and is now not allowed to transfer money. Seriously though Alan has done a splendid job and Changed Lives – Thank you Alan and your Committee.
An event that I am sorry I did not attend was the Party for the Blind, I am however aware it was well received, and those who attended were well entertained and well fed. Thank you Helen and the Community and Vocational Committee.
During the year we have inducted four new members, I do hope that you are all integrating well into the Club and enjoying membership. My thanks to John for taking on the Classification and Membership Committee I think you have had a really good year.
The Sports and Entertainment Committee who organize some of the social events of the Club, which are part of the social lifeblood of the Club, have had another good year. Thank you Nigel and your Committee.
Nearly two years ago I invited a small group, to be chaired by John Bennett to start the arrangements for the Contact Club visit. This is a very challenging event because you start not knowing where to go, how many people will be involved and what the costs will be.
For the event we had 58 guests from the four European clubs and 24 of our members plus partners and as you will have heard there was a surplus for the event, but more importantly someone said to me that it was the best Contact they had attended in 30 years. This was down to the meticulous planning of John, Phil, Martin and David. Thanks to all of you for your hard work, I do hope you were able to enjoy the weekend – I certainly did.
There are one or two others who I would like to thank Helen for all of the wonderful photographs and speakers, David H for cooking the books – a thankless task which he has done well. Mark who has acted as scribe for the Council and Ian R as immediate past President for his wise council.
My last thanks within the Club go to this chap sat next to me. Secretary is one of the hardest jobs in the Club and Paul has done a fantastic job, kept me on the right path and also put up with me for the year. Thank you Paul.
One other person who I wish to record my thanks is our District Governor John Greening. John has attended and supported all of our events, Children Singing for Children, Young Musician and a Crocus Concert and I am aware that he lives at the other end of our District which I am sure has always meant a very late night home. Our thanks to John.
There is a lot that I will miss in leaving Office but there is one aspect that I will be very pleased not to see and that is the 30 to 35 emails a day via the Club website all from the United States wanting to sell the President new vision, new windows, a new car, insurance, cure my tinnitus and diabetes or provide me with 4,000 plans for a garden shed – Ian, you will soon be receiving these as Vice President and Phil yours will carry on.
I am pleased to be able to confirm that we have the green light from Katharine House Hospice to progress to a detailed technical stage for the proposed green energy project for them, but more information at a later date.
I am aware that there are many things that have happened during the year that I have not mentioned – Practice Interviews, Young Chef, darts and golf competitions and Paul Harris Fellowships and many more and I would like to thank everyone who has become involved, by doing so you will have Engaged Rotary and Changed Lives.
In closing I would like to say that being involved and working together is the way that we achieve good things and that friendships are formed and I note with interest in the Rotary magazine that membership in Germany has increased by 27% and they believe this to be because of an emphasis on personal connections between members and their families. Please let’s not lose sight of this.
You may recall that I started this address stating that my understanding of a Valedictory speech was that it should be reflective and allow me to say goodbye.
I have enjoyed this year, it has been a great honour to represent the Club and I hope that you have also enjoyed the year and therefore all that remains is for me to say goodbye. – Goodbye