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July 2008 - June 2009
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In this section are held items that appeared on the News page of the web site during Mike Rowe's year as President, largely relating to club events and activities.


Presidential Handover 2008

On 7th July the new Melton Mowbray Rotary Club President Mike Rowe took office from Pam Wiggins, who became the Past President of the club in a hand over ceremony at Sysonby Knoll Hotel. Other notable incoming officers are President Elect David Ward, and Vice President Geoff Theobald.

In the photograph on the back row left to right are Geoff Theobald Vice President, David Ward President Elect, and Pam Wiggins Past President:
seated at the front is the new Melton Mowbray Rotary Club President Mike Rowe.  The second photo is of our new sergeant-at-arms, Pam Wiggins, really looking the part. Thank goodness husband James isn't a member of our club, otherwise, I am sure it would be a completely hopeless situation for him, with fines flying at him from all directions.

New OfficersSatA
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Kate Theobald - New Club Member July 2008

Kate Theobald was inducted into Melton Mowbray Rotary Club on Monday 14th July 2008 at Sysonby Knoll Hotel. Kate is the fourth new member this year, and joins the growing band of Lady members, who will now number twelve.

Melton Mowbray Rotary has a distinguished history dating back to 1928, and is still changing to meet the demands and challenges of the modern world. That is why the club is so attractive to forward thinking professional people like Kate who wish to put back into the community and make a real difference to the lives of the less fortunate, as well as providing opportunities for young people to improve and develop their skills.

President Mike Rowe invited professional people who would like to find out more about Melton?s oldest service club to attend a meeting and see for themselves why it is still going strong after 80 years. Michael Osborne is the Membership Chairman and should be contacted by phone in the first instance on 01664 564581.

 The  photograph shows, from left to right:  Geoff Theobald, Vice President; David Ward, President Elect; New Rotarian Kate Theobald; and Mike Rowe President. Kate's husband Geoff is the current Vice President of the Club.

Kate Theobald

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Rotary Young Designer
Congratulations to Rebecca Jenkin, daughter of Melton Rotarian Charles Jenkin, who has won the final of District 1070's Rotary Young Designer competition.  Rebecca, who is a pupil at King Edward VII school, was entered for the competition by the Rotary Club of Melton Mowbray Belvoir .  Her winning design was to create a board game to teach young children about the weather.  She was presented with a trophy and a cheque for 100 for her school.
Rebecca Jenkin

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District Governor Iain Vernon's Visit
On 1st September 2008 we had an inspiring presentation from the District Governor for District 1070 2008-2009, Iain Vernon.  He covered very clearly and concisely the topics of the Polio Challenge, child mortality, support for Leonard Cheshire Disability Education for All in Africa, the Rotary/MacMillan partnership, membership, and RI President DK Lee's citation to clubs.
Iain Vernon

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Visit to Braemar Games
30 members of the club, partners and friends spent the first weekend of September 2008 in Scotland, with the main activity supposedly being to visit the Highland Gathering at Braemar.  It was unfortunate that we were unable to do this until we had visited several distilleries and been forced to taste the various whiskies they produce.  But the club pulled together as usual, survived this ordeal, and had a splendid day at Braemar on the Saturday.

The games were as big a contrast as imaginable from the recent hyped-up Olympics, and all the more enjoyable for that.  There was always a variety of activities going on to hold the attention, and impressive feats of strength, endurance, speed and skill to enjoy.

By coincidence, yet more whisky was to hand when we met the Rotary Club of Banchory-Ternan.  They had the splendid idea of setting up stall at the Gathering and inviting any visiting Rotarians to join them for some fellowship during their visit - this fellowship included a certificate of attendance and a gift of a miniature of whisky with the Rotary wheel and club name.  They have followed this up with a news item on their club website; please have a look.  As noted by Dennis, "what a generous gesture; one that completely destroys the myth about Scottish tightness." Dennis also noticed that of the twenty photographs of visiting Rotarians on the website, eight are of Melton Mowbray Rotarians. It just goes to show what a scrounging lot we are!

We stayed at the Nethybridge hotel a few miles from Braemar, so the services of our chauffeurs, Bob and Duncan, were very welcome.  They did a great job ferrying us around over the weekend - thanks to them.  In particular, they took many of the party over to the west coast to visit the Kyle of Lochalsh and the Isle of Skye on the Sunday, where they found some beautiful sunny weather, much in contrast to the rest of the UK that weekend.  Some of the group traveled over to Kyle by train from Inverness.  Others took the slower rail journey on the steam train from near Nethybridge to Aviemore, combined with a forest walk on the journey home.  Walks local to the hotel - with sights of the red squirrels in the local woods - occupied the Monday morning before the flight back to the East Midlands.

It all made for an extremely enjoyable weekend.  Grateful thanks are due to Bob McCord who pulled the whole weekend together, resolved a number of problems that arose, and stayed sober (mostly) to drive us around as well.

Many pictures of the weekend were taken, a few of which follow.

The hotel and local sights:
The Highland Gathering:

Trip to Skye:

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Jenny Foreman - New Club Member, September 2008

Jenny Foreman was inducted into Melton Mowbray Rotary Club on Monday 15th September 2008. Jenny is the fifth new member this year, and joins the growing band of lady members, who will now number thirteen.  Jenny was introduced by Linda Moore, a long time friend and work colleague, having worked at Long Field High School until recently.  Jenny has a range of interests and hobbies, including walking and reading (presumably not at the same time).  We welcome her into the club, and look forward to much fellowship and friendship to come.


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Cancer Research Support

On 14th September 2008 members of the club were pleased to help Cancer Research UK with marshalling a fund-raising fun run at Belvoir Castle.

Cancer Research, Belvoir

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Gap Year Bursary News

In 2007-08 the club sponsored two local students with bursaries towards the cost of their gap year travels, during which they planned to do humanitarian work in the third world.  The following are copies of emails from them that illustrate ho worth while their visits have been:

Jessica Goff:
Dear Mr Powderly,
I am sorry it has taken me so long to write to you.  Everything was a bit manic before I left and before I knew it I was on a plane to South Africa! The plane journey was very long as we went via Dubai.  Walking out of the plane at half three in the morning in Dubai was like walking into a wall of heat, if it was that hot in the middle of the night I wouldn't like to experience the temperature in the middle of the day!
We spent three days in Johannesburg with all the volunteers, which was great as it gave us a chance to settle in and realise that we were actually here! We visited some of the museums, and also Soweto where the student uprisings of the 70's happened. It was interesting to see the huge difference between rich and poor, the rich living in western style housing whilst others were forced to live in shacks, waiting for housing.
On the Monday me and my partner, Lousie, were picked up by a member of the Cotlands staff.  Cotlands is the orphange I will be working in for the next year.  It looks after children who are aged between 0 and 14, it is extreamly well run and all the children are gorgeous.  The staff have all been very friendly and welcoming and I am setteling very well.  Me and louise live in a very comfortable flat above the flat where the 11 older children livewith their house mother.  They are all so much fun and are very good at keeping us entertained during the evenings.
We help out in all areas of Cotlands from changing the babies nappies to helping in the fund raising department.  I cannot decide what I enjoying doing the most, although I have already become very attached to some of the babies.  Last week we had two new arrivals, a six day old boy named Banag and a six month old boy nameThabiso.  Unfortunatly Thabiso did not make it, he was severly malnourished and very sick and after ten days with us he died.  The staff were very upset as due to the fantasic care here and the ARV program this was only the second death this year.  On a better note, Banag is doing very well, he is feeding well and is a healthy size.
I just want to thank you for supporting me and your generous contribution towards my trip. I am having the time of my life and truely believe this will be a year that I will never forget. I am trying hard to get the most out of everything and experience South Africa.
Once again thank you for your generosity and support.
Yours sincerely,
Jessica Goff

Tessa Svennevik:

Dear Mr Powderley
The Melton Rotary Club has been on my conscience as I know that in return for funding towards my gap year volunteering in Nicaragua I agreed to come and talk about the experience, which was truly fantastic. I was home for 4 days in April before starting a job in France and I have had just 5 days to get ready for starting my Law degree at Durham; I am now up there until December so I feel I have hardly been at home at all!
On the work siteMy host familyClean water
On the work site My host family Clean water flowing at last

Anyway I hope that we can arrange a time for me to come and talk after Christmas.

Best wishes


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Success (!) at the District Quiz

District 1070, Area B Quiz
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Courtesy of the Melton Times, 4th December 2008 (photo: Allan Grey):

Well done Richard.  Brilliant effort.

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Izaak Walton Weekend, December 2008

A group of 12 from the Rotary club, partners and friends enjoyed a super weekend of refreshing walks and good company during the club's annual visit to the Peak District, staying at the Izaak Walton hotel in Dove Dale.  Photos courtesy of James Wiggins.

Wine and Dine - it's party time

A room with a view

Bridge over the River Lathkill

Lining up for a wee dram...

... and here it comes

Moles on the march

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Christmas Card from the Philippines

Dear Rotarians and people at The Rotary Foundation
I am so blessed.
Now that I no longer suffer the pains of hunger because of your feeding program, I am ahead of 500 million people around the world, and the addicts in my neighborhood who have to sniff glue to forget their hunger.
Now that you have sent me to school, I am luckier than the 2 billion in the world who cannot read or count. Many kids in the neighborhood have never been to school, choosing to work the streets as beggars or scavengers to help their parents .
To be alive and in good health because of your Medical outreach programs, I no longer count among the 60% of the Filipino poor who die without ever getting to meet a doctor in their lifetime.
As I count my blessings this year end, I am amazed at how small my troubles seem. There are many people in my neighborhood worse off than I am. I pray that I will be able to share my blessings with those who can?t even hope for them.
Thank you for all that you have given me, and I pray that you be doubly blesed this Christmas and always

On behalf of all the poor kids in Cebu
Noeme G. Mabute
IV-B Abellana National High School

PS: Thank you for the Computer lessons at the Blessed Sacrament Parish E-Learning Center.

Xmas Card from PI
A Christmas Presentation of Sitio Crossing kids , Cebu, Dec. 11/08

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Medical Supplies to the Philippines

A dozen or so Rotarians from the Melton club turned out first thing on the 29th December 2008 to load a container with medical and other supplies destined for the Philippines.  We were pleased to be able to include:
We were delighted to receive so much equipment from generous organisations and individuals.

Tony Lord has asked for a big thank you to go to those who helped with the loading.  Of course an even bigger thank you is due to Tony and Sasha for their work and support in this project too.  Without their professional expertise it would not have been so readily possible.

The club visit to the Philippines in February is timed to arrive about the same time as the container, so we hope to be able to see the equipment being put to good use.

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Young Chef competition, December 2008
On 6 December the Melton Final of the Rotary Young Chef Competition 2008-09 took place at King Edward VII Upper School. During the previous four weeks, competitions had taken place at each of the three High Schools in Melton with a total of twenty eight students taking part. The first, second and third place winners from each school entered the final on 6 December.
The competition was to prepare a healthy two course meal for two people in two hours within a budget of 5 per meal. The food prepared by each of the contestants was fantastic!
The winners of the Melton Final were Esme Keyworth (1), Beth Warner (2), and Jess Greaves (3): all from John Ferneley High School
The judges for the Final were Steve Conway, Head Chef from Stapleford Park Country House Hotel, and one of his assistants David Ellams. They were very impressed at the standard of food prepared and said that they would never have produced anything remotely similar to what the contestants had produced when they were the same age. The judges invited the three winners from each school to spend half a day being shown around the kitchens at Stapleford Park. they also invited us to hold the Melton Final next year at Stapleford Park.
The first two winners, Esme and Beth, will now go to the District Final In Leicester in February. As this competition was  an expression of Rotary in Melton - i.e. two Clubs, each Club is permitted to enter one winning contestant for the District Final.

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Club Visit to The Philippines, February 2009

Eight members of the club and spouses visited the Philippines for two weeks in February 2009.  The visit covered:
-    A review of the existing projects we are supporting in the Philippines
-    Discussion of possibilities for future projects
-    Visits to local hospitals and health centres
-    Visits to local schools
-    Visits to the health centres and other areas affected by the Guinsaugon mud-slide
-    Review of preliminary arrangements for the GSE exchange between our districts in 2009-10
-    Visits to Cebu, Boljoon, Bohol, South Leyte

Anne Fisher's article below captures the essence of the trip.  To see Diana's diary click here (it's a large file, with pictures added, so it may take a while to download).

Anne's visit notes.

The Filipinos certainly put the flags out for us. From the Philippine flag waved during their national anthem and played on numerous occasions during our visit, the Rotary welcome banners hanging outside every project venue, through to the patrol flags of the newly formed scout troop for street children. Our group of 6 Rotarians and 2 spouses were given a rapturous welcome at every opportunity and our leader, John Dehnel, was promoted to "Sir" and afforded royal treatment. Abundant supplies of delicious food awaited us everywhere we went so our waistlines were under pressure the whole trip!..well it would have been rude to refuse, would it not?

After a brief stop in Manila to see the sights of Intramuros, we arrived in Cebu city, where we joined with representatives of District 3860 who were welcoming a GSE team from the USA. Beverley Hills Community Centre (yes there really is a Beverley Hills in Cebu) was an appropriate venue! The next morning we ignored our jet lag and visited Sister Anne at the Blessed Sacrament aid centre situated in the middle of the slums around the port area. We were humbled by this modest woman, who with the support of Rotary, a skeleton staff and some volunteers was running an amazing operation: feeding over 1200 malnourished children every day, caring for young children in a nursery so that their mothers could learn to sew and ultimately earn a living, providing therapy for severely disabled children and running not one but two schools covering classes for underprivileged children as well as children with autism and Downs syndrome. There was even a computer room for teenagers who had dropped out of school for alternative learning with a view to reintegrating them into the school system. Sister Anne seemed to take everything in her stride, even the ten muggings she has been subjected to. How could we not offer to help her?

Our deputation attended a lunch meeting for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between District 3860, PRISM (Private Sector Mobilisation for Family Health),Phil Health, US Aid and the Association of Midwives with the purpose of reducing infant and maternal mortality. Every day 12 mothers die in childbirth in the Philippines. Rotary Club of Melton Mowbray was asked to officially witness the agreement.

In keeping with the morning?s event we moved on to a midwives clinic in Lapu Lapu, Mactan Island. One of the two ultrasound machines we shipped from QMC Nottingham had been installed here the previous day with the help of Kathryn Manderson. After the handover ceremony, the first scan was attempted on a pregnant mother but after a brief glimpse of a healthy baby?s heart the machine shut down. We suspected problems with the heat and humidity (we weren?t functioning too well for the same reasons) and the rather dodgy electrical feed to the clinic (20 houses fed from a set of wires you would be reluctant to use for a reading lamp).

The second ultrasound machine had been shipped to Bohol Island and we followed it by ferry with some trepidation after the experience in Lapu Lapu. We needn?t have worried; the machine worked a treat and scans by sonographer Kathryn revealed two healthy babies. One was definitely a girl and the other kept his or her legs tightly together?. to be revealed at birth. The welcome given to us at Tubigon, Bohol, both by the newly formed Rotary club and the midwives, was second to none, and we witnessed a very tearful thank you speech from Corazon Paras, head of the midwives association, for the help given to the clinics by Melton Mowbray

The slowest ferry imaginable took us to our next stop, our third island, Southern Leyte. We were privileged to be invited to the 3rd. Anniversary Commemoration of the Guinsaugon landslide in which 2000 people were buried and died in 2006. After the memorial service many people crossed over the river, wading through the water to Ground Zero. Here a stainless steel monument inscribed with all 2000 names was blessed by the Archbishop of Maasin. The scarred landscape loomed as a backdrop to the ceremonies and served as a reminder of the harsh reality of what had taken place at that same moment exactly three years before. The fortitude of the people in the St. Bernard region in which the village of Guinsaugon once stood was very evident, and we were all struck by the fervent will to rebuild and move forward from the horror of what had happened. However nothing could have prepared us for the courage shown by a group of orphans from Guinsaugon who performed the finale of the day: an outdoor re-enactment of the landslide and the ensuing horrors of the aftermath and the two and a half years in the evacuation centre. We were in awe of these children and there wasn?t a dry eye in the group. We will do what we can to help them and the whole school system which has emerged run by a group of dedicated hard working women, very worthy of our support.

Visits to the midwives clinics and community hospital in St. Bernard brought our trip to a close. The staff at all of them were truly grateful for the beds and supplies which had been sent from Melton Mowbray previously, shortly after the disaster, and were proud to show us the beds from St. Mary?s hospital being fully utilised. They had prepared simple hand written lists of the most basic supplies which they couldn?t get, and which hopefully we can do something about.


A very memorable trip, charged with emotion, and a truly humbling experience.

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Young Musician  - northern semi-finals, March 2009

On Saturday 7th March 2009 almost seventy talented young musicians from across the East Midlands gathered in Melton?s Baptist Church to take part in the Northern District semi final of this prestigious, Rotary sponsored, annual competition.  Each one had successfully come through their local heat.

A wide range of musical skills represented the time and dedication not only of the young musicians but also of their schools and teachers.  The musical talent, so professionally presented, included not only impressive vocal skills but impressive instrumental skills from piano and violin to clarinet, cello and saxophone.  There were soloists, ensembles, choirs and a jazz band.

The difficult role of adjudicator was taken on by James Norden whose playing career as a trumpeter includes working with the London Festival Ballet, CBSO, Royal Shakespeare Company, D?Oyly Carte, Welsh National Opera and the Orchestra de Camera.

Presentations were made to all winners and participants by Assistant Governor Rotarian Chris Knight.
The pictures show:
Georgina Roberts:    Winner of the Senior Vocal section who sang ?I?d Give my Life for You? - Boublil & Schonberg and ?Adelaide?s Lament? ? Loesser.

Emily Fionda, Danielle Grange and Sara Hall who together perform as ?Clariti? a clarinet ensemble.  They participated in the Senior Ensemble instrumental section ('Serenade to the Holy Family' - Berlioz and 'Leaps and Bounds' from the Nutcracker suite - Tchaikovsky)

Ellie Slorach:        Plays piano and entered the Senior Instrumental section
('Notturno Op54-4' - Grieg and 'Sonate II' - Soler).
Lucas Ward:        Solo vocalist who participated in the Junior Solo Vocal section
('Food, Glorious Food' - Bart and 'here is Love?' - Bart).
Flora Slorach:    Solo vocalist who also participated in the Junior Solo Vocal section
('Doll on a Musical Box' - Sherman and Sherman and 'Chim Chim Cheree' - Sherman and Sherman).
Jennifer Greene:    Solo Vocalist who p
articipated in the Senior Solo Vocal section ('Oh, Mr. Porter!' - Le Brunn and Le Brunn and 'The Wizard and I' - Schwartz).

Gaddesby School Choir:
    Participants in the Junior Choir section ('Hey, Mr. Miller' - Machell and 'Many Shads of Blue' - Williams).

Georgina Roberts
Georgina Roberts
Ellie Slorach
Ellie Slorach
Lucas Ward
Lucas Ward
Flora Slorach
Flora Slorach
Jennifer Greene
Jennifer Greene
Gaddesby School Choir
Gaddesby School Choir

The winners of each section, including Georgina Roberts representing the Rotary Clubs in Melton Mowbray, will go on to the final of the Young Musician Festival for Rotary District 1070 (which covers broadly
the East Midlands), on Sunday 3rd May at the Melton Theatre.

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Young Musician Final, 2009

The final of Rotary District 1070's Young Musician of the Year Festival took place on the 3rd May at the Melton Theatre. The audience was treated to a feast of good music across the age ranges, with all the musicians performing showing amazing talent.

Congratulations to Georgina Roberts, who won the Senior Solo Vocal section and also took the title as overall solo vocalist.  Georgina will now go on to represent Rotary District 1070 (broadly, the East Midlands) at the Britain and Ireland multi-district final in Chelmsford Cathedral on 30th May.

Georgina Roberts

Entrants  to the District 1070 final each played in front of an audience numbering up to 360.  They each performed at least two pieces of varied style, and of a length depending on their age group (Junior 4 minutes, Intermediate 6 minutes, and Senior 8 minutes). They were judged by expert adjudicator Alijch Blackett-Howe.  When the results were announced the Melton Mowbray Rotary Club was delighted that Georgina , one of the competitors entered by the club, did so well. She sang Boublil and Shonberg's "I'd Give My Life For You" and  Loesser's "Adelaide's Lament" - both songs that the adjudicator pointed out are difficult songs to sing so well.

Well done Georgina.

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 Rotary and Round Table Charity Golf Day 

On 15th May the Rotary Club of Melton Mowbray and the Melton Round Table came together for the first time for an event of this nature, Melton Rotary Club being the oldest and the reconstituted Round Table the youngest service clubs in the area.

In spite of the adverse weather conditions, particularly in the morning, the event was a success with over 80 golfers from across the county taking part in a Betterball Stapleford competition for teams of two for the Keith Shortland trophy.  The competition was extremely close with three teams on 40 points vying for first place.  The winners, on count back, were Hugh Middleton and Marcus Twidale from Melton Round Table.  They were presented with the trophy by Mrs Janet Shortland.  In second place were Sean Keegan and Tim Redman, both from Stoke Rochford Golf Club.  Third placed were Suri Gudka and Ramesh Solanki from the Humberstone Golf Club.  The fourth place went to Pramod Shah and Dhiru Popat again from Humberstone Golf Club. 

The funds raised as a result of this event will be shared between the two Clubs and will support both local and international Charities.

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International Federation of Flying Rotarians

Visit to Lee-on-Solent, May 2009

Four members and friends of the club took the opportunity of a fly-in to Lee-on-Solent organised by the International Federation of Flying Rotarians (IFFR) in May.  Lee-on-Solent is the base for the Hampshire Police air surveillance plane and the coast guard rescue helicopter for the south coast from Brighton to Weymouth.  It is the site of a museum housing hovercraft of all sizes.  The airfield also hosts an active gliding club.

Flying from Leicester on a superb sunny day the flight to the Solent took just over an hour, flying around Portsmouth harbour and town, seeing the naval base, HMS Victory, and the (in)famous spinnaker tower on the final approach into the Lee-on-Solent airfield.  Once there we had a traditional all-day breakfast at the gliding club, then on to the police base.  
LoS Police 1LoS Police 2

The police crew were enthusiastic to tell us of the way they operate, covering all of Hampshire and beyond, providing surveillance services in the pursuit of law and order.  They gave us several intriguing insights into the benefits of aerial surveillance - law-breakers beware!  Hampshire is one of very few police aerial units that use a fixed-wing aircraft, and it was interesting to hear about the benefits and drawbacks compared to the more usual use of helicopters.  

The coastguard rescue crews were equally keen to tell us of the work they do, and showed us over the helicopter in some detail, including the maintenance work on a second machine.  All fascinating to see, and reassuring to those of us who sail in and around the Solent to see such professional and well-equipped rescue services.  

The hovercraft museum held examples of the cross-channel  Hoverspeed machines, long out of service now, of course, and many, many machines down to the smallest, specified for "one small adult".  Although somewhat randomly displayed, there was plenty to marvel at in this part of transport history.  Housed in one of the buildings of the museum was a well-presented display by the Gosport Aviation Society of the history of aviation on the Gosport peninsula, dating back to the first World War and with a long-standing link particularly to the naval air services.

In the meantime one of our party went back to the gliding club and had two glider flights (with an instructor) all courtesy of the Lee Gliding Club.

Thanks are owed to Rotarian Malcolm Barton who organised the whole splendid day out for the crew and passengers of the 10 planes that joined the fly-in - a busy day, but well worth the effort.  Thank you Malcolm.

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2009 Convention Hosting Event at Rutland Water

As part of Rotary International's Convention 2009, held at the Birmingham NEC, on 22nd June 2009 several Rotary clubs in the Midlands hosted various events to greet and meet our visitors from around the world.  The Melton Mowbray club, in conjunction with 9 others from district 1070 invited Rotarians and friends to join us at Rutland Water, near Oakham, for an evening of fellowship and entertainment.  As well as a great hog roast, there was a variety of musical entertainment, including the Ono Band from Grantham Rotary club and the Leicester City Male Voice Choir.  
GuestsGuestsHog Roast
Male Voice ChoirMorris DancersOno Band

The Event was sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Rutland, Uppingham, Stamford Burghley, Stamford St Martins, Melton Mowbray, Melton Mowbray Belvoir, Grantham, Grantham Kesteven, Spalding Welland Centenary and Boston.  Members of other Rotary Clubs in the immediate area who attended also came from Stamford, Oundle,  South Holland, Loughborough Beacon and Peterborough Werrington.

A total of 354 persons attended the Event.  There were 84 guests from 52 Rotary Clubs in 11 countries: United States, Canada, India, Ethiopia, Australia, Japan, France, South Africa, Finland, Denmark and Egypt.

Other guests from less far afield came from Torquay, Richmond, Exeter, West Wirral and Llanfairfechan in Wales.

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International Federation of Flying Rotarians

Post-Convention Fly-Around of the UK, June-July 2009

Following the Birmingham Rotary Convention in June 2009 several of the International Fellowships of Rotarians arranged get-togethers of their members.  The International Fellowship of Flying Rotarians organised a fly-around of England and  Wales.

and IFFR member John Dehnel describes the event:

What a wonderful example of Rotary Fellowship!  As a new member of IFFR and a relatively new pilot I was delighted at the immediate friendship and support that prevailed throughout the IFFR group at the post-convention fly-around of the UK.

Firstly we all met up for dinner at the Motorcycle Museum on the Sunday before the flying began.  This was my first opportunity to meet Tom Johnston, who was to be my close companion for the flying tour.  I had been pleased to hear earlier in the year of Tom?s wish to join me in the fly-around, hoping both to enjoy his company and to benefit from his considerable experience.  These were both well borne out.

We next met on Thursday 25th June in Coventry airport and (as was to be the case several times during the fly-around) drank several coffees while waiting for the skies at our destination to clear.  Eventually we were on our way and, being in my local area, I was able to route overhead my home in Saxby and show Tom some of the classic English countryside around that area.


A straightforward flight up the River Trent to the Humber and towards York kept us out of the Doncaster airspace, into the Church Fenton MATZ, and we had plenty of the 3000m runway to spare as we landed at Elvington AD.  The base was home to RAF Halifax bombers and the Free French Air Force in the Second World War, and was designated by NASA in its list of possible landing sites for the space shuttle ? so we felt in good company.

Elvington  Victor

We were last to arrive, but found as the days progressed that was to be a common occurrence.  Tom seemed to be coping with my flying ability, and was pleased to start getting the feel of the plane.  We both were enjoying seeing the sights and flew, whenever reasonable, at low levels.

The event was not just about flying from A to B.  At every opportunity the IFFR committee had made sure that there was interest on the ground too.  At Elvington we visited the aircraft museum, with a wide mix of war-birds and aviation history.  And by now it was late final for lunch in the NAAFI.

Bus, hotel, dinner, prepare for tomorrow's flying.

On Friday the weather over the Pennines up to the Lake District in the north-west looked flyable, so we set off, initially at about 1500 feet.  It soon became clear that passing close to the eastern edges of the RAF stations at Linton, Dishforth and Leeming we would be better at higher levels.  I was able to make use of the unique British IMC rating to climb above cloud for the transit over the Pennines.  There was much discussion in the plane and in the bar later about this sub-IR rating - not designed for take-off, flight and landing entirely in cloud, but certainly allowing us Brits to do any of those legally where safer flying is the result (albeit with more conservative minima than with a full IR rating).

The clouds cleared as we broke into what we were later informed by incoming IFFR president James Alexander is "God?s own country", and Tom and I were both able to see the delights of Lakeland flying (my first time, although I have tried and been defeated by the weather a number of times before).

Windermere  Kendal

 I was most impressed by the idea of parking the planes in the pub car park.


I concluded later that afternoon that it was our good fortune that the weather closed in.  We all had such enormous lunches that we would all have challenged our weight and balance calculations on take off.  The coach back to York was the safer option, and allowed a few Lakeland beers to be sampled before departure.

 I'll leave our visitors from overseas to comment on the delights of York that we saw on the Saturday - the Minster, the Jorvik Centre and the railway museum each showed some of what Britain's heritage has to offer.

York  York Minster

By Sunday the flyers were ready for some more, and coached back to Kilbride.  Again the weather cleared just as we broached the top of the Pennines into Cumbria, much to James' delight.  As there was no fuel at Kilbride (other than some very dirty-looking diesel at the truck pull taking place on the edge of the airfield) hasty calculations led many to plan re-fuelling stops; the next leg to Caernarfon and Gloucester looked a challenge.  Tom and I planned a stop at Manchester Barton, but 20 miles north of there the strength of the Grob team's thinking skills came through.  We realised, and double-checked each other's calculations, that we could make it to Caernarfon with just one hour's fuel to spare.  So a quick right turn took us over the Liverpool docks - again a first for the "local" boy (I will admit I've never even been to Liverpool on the ground) - and a flight along the north coast of Wales into Caernarfon.

Lunch here was rather late, but it was good to see everyone getting in to the AD safely having had good flights.  Again we were last in!  But we still had time to enjoy lunch and have a look around the small aviation museum there.  Saturday evening saw a beautiful flight down the Welsh coast and round to Gloucester.  The changing character of the British countryside held Tom in awe.  There's no prairie farming in this part of the world!

Welsh coast  Welsh coast

Guess what Monday morning brought us.  That's right: "Let's wait and see if the weather will clear".  And boy, did it clear.  But not until we approached Bodmin moor in a descending cloud base and ascending ground.  "Let's get over this" - my IMC rating again came to the fore.  At FL50, just when thinking about how to let down for Perranporth I suddenly saw a break in the cloud and a large airport through the very first hole; we were overhead Newquay.  Within two minutes the clouds completely disappeared and we had a straight in approach from 5 miles into Perranporth.

The next part of our journey was the highlight of the fly-around for me and, I think, Tom.  The assembled crews piled into the coach for a visit to the Eden Centre horticultural displays.  Splendid though they are, Tom and I felt a flight over Land's End and on to the Scilly Isles 25nm further on was a more attractive option.  So, although Perranporth had no fuel we realised we had enough for the flight.  The Scilly Isles comprise about 18 islands with one fixed wing AD, one heliport, and a number of harbours.  We had lunch in the sun overlooking the old town harbour on St. Mary's, then a couple of hours to walk around the main island, round the headlands, into the town centre, and back to the plane.

Scilly Isles  Scilly Isles

 Scilly Isles  Scilly Isles

A short flight back to Land's End saw us overfly Svend Andersen's plane rounding the headland below us after he had returned from the Eden Centre.  The stop for fuel had only one drawback - they refused to discount a hefty landing fee even though we took on a minimum-to-full-tanks load of fuel.

The south coast east from Land's End is glorious, so we could not miss the opportunity to fly, often at some quite low levels, to see the beauties of the Cornish coast, Dartmouth, the Jurassic Coast, and many others.  A quick diversion inland by couple of miles allowed us to overfly the Eden Centre, so we didn't miss out entirely. 

Eden Centre  Dartmouth

Things were rather quiet on our arrival back at Gloucester, other than my mobile phone beeping to tell me Rodney was looking for assurance we were safely back (we were very last this time!).  A feature of the whole event was the care for a safe fly-around shown by all the organisers.

Tuesday was a second break day from flying, and we took the coaches to Bristol.  The SS Great Britain display has developed way beyond how it was when I saw it 20 years ago, and remains as impressive as ever.  Having professional guides to various sites such as the Clifton suspension bridge adds a lot of colour even to those who've seen it all before.

Wednesday dawned bright enough for no major delays, so we all got away for the flight to Chichester/Goodwood.  Our routing was due south, past the white horse at Westbury, via a helpful Bournemouth CTR, and out towards the Needles.  Both Tom and I are sailors, so the Solent and its many harbours and racing buoys were of real interest. 

Needles  Portsmouth

After sightseeing at Portsmouth, a landing at Goodwood took us to another lunch in the sun.

From Goodwood eastwards there seemed to be a stack of IFFR aircraft at about 5 different levels at one stage, all heading over Shoreham AD and towards Beachy Head.  We took the route from the Detling beacon up the Thames past the QE2 Bridge, with sights of Canary Wharf before we had to skirt around the City and Stansted Airport zones, overhead Duxford into Cambridge.  We weren't last this time (but those we beat did try to claim they'd stopped for tea with friends on the way).

By this time we were all getting a bit bored of our aircraft, so the IFFR team arranged for us all to fly up to Gamston, near Nottingham, to place orders for our club fleet of Diamond DA40s.  I trust everyone did sign the order forms before departure? The next IFFR fly-in will be an impressive sight if so.  Various routes were taken home; Michael Graves and I (Tom had deserted me in favour of spending his 49th wedding anniversary with Anna) took in the famous English seaside resort of Skegness, over the Wash (carefully avoiding the bombing range danger areas), and overhead the north Norfolk coast before heading south to Cambridge.  I had been doing well with the radio calls to then, but was glad to have an interpreter when we flew over Lakenheath - a US airbase.  I absolutely could not tell whether the instruction was to remain clear of their MATZ, or that MATZ penetration had been approved.  Michael came to my assistance, and we were able to descend into Cambridge through their MATZ.

Friday the 3rd was the third and last day off from flying.  We all went into Cambridge where guided tours had been laid on in the morning; even those who had connections in Cambridge learnt much from the guides.  We managed to avoid having anyone fall into the Cam during the punting in the afternoon.

Cambridge  Cambridge

The whole event was brought to a splendid close on the Friday evening when those participating in the fly-around, many who had been at the first Sunday dinner, and several more members and friends of the IFFR met for dinner at Jesus College.  The fellowship was great after so many exploits together.  Herman Hassinger reminded us of the highlights if the tour in what I understand is a traditional poetic offering.  And of course thanks were given by all to the organisers, primarily by Colin, Ian, Rodney and John, but assisted by a good number of others at the various points on route.  I should like to add my thanks, as the newbie, for a truly memorable 10 days.  All we need now is some even newer members (but don't tell them until the end that it is down to them to write up the trip for the bulletin!)

On the Saturday coaches and planes departed in all directions, with friendships made and renewed.

John Dehnel

[Photos all courtesy of Tom Johnston]

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