It’s been an amazing 12 months at Maidenhead Bridge Rotary Club with numerous charity challenges, reindeer and health checks being just some of the many activities the club has been involved with.
On the 23rd November the club celebrated their sixth birthday, and there’s lots to celebrate as the group of young professionals and volunteers have somehow managed to fit in more than 190 events over the last 12 months ranging from hands-on volunteering such as supporting FoodShare and the Waterways Project, to socials including walks in the countryside and plenty of pub visits, to fundraising for local and international charities, to networking!
The club organises several key events each year including the Easter Family Fun Day in Grenfell Park which now attracts over 800 local families each year, as well as the annual Health Awareness Day in February which gives advice to Maidonians about blood pressure, healthy hearts, diabetes etc with the support of professional organisations.
The members of our club are an amazing group of people; they inspire me and motivate to help make the world a better place
The Rotary Club of Windsor St George were asked by the event organisers if they can provide volunteers to help with the marshalling at the above event, being a horse lover but a marshalling novice of course I was more than happy to take a day off work and take part.
For those that don’t know there are three races during the day:
The 120km riders have a maximum of 10 hours to complete the race, all horses are subjected to a 40 minute cool down after each leg, the vet will then check their heart rate etc. and decide whether the horse can continue. This is a true test of Endurance for both horse and rider.
Half of the 70 volunteers, made up of mostly Rotarians from the surrounding clubs, but also students from Bournemouth Uni, Local Riding Clubs and the Royal Vet College, attended the briefing on the Sunday before this event. I’m pleased that I attended the session on the Sunday as we had a very early start the following Friday.
I arrived on site at 5.40am to grab my breakfast and picnic lunch, along with radio and orange high-vis ready for the days action and I was not to be disappointed. I was partnered up with Howard Smith from Ascot Rotary and we headed off following Malcom Wallace and other Rotarians to Ascot Racecourse.
We were shown the dog leg of the roadway that we had to marshal; there were 10 plus people on that part of the course. The 120km and 80km racers arrive through the car park, come along the Ascot Racecourse roadway past the entrance to the Golf Club under the tunnel, around the racecourse, back through the tunnel and out through the car pack back to Windsor Great Park.
As well as shouting to each other when horses were coming, when it was clear and when cars could go I also needed to shout each riders number to Howard so that they could be recorded. Well... trying to read the numbers from a group of 26 cantering horses was a challenge, but how Howard managed to write them all down so quick I’ll never know. In under an hour circa 80 horses and riders had completed this part of the course.
We all headed back to the main hub to be relocated to other parts of the course. This is where I left Howard and his fellow Rotarian Raymond Cheung and joined Ella Nunn from the Suffolk Hunt. Ella and I then spent the remaining 6 hours on our picnic chairs at the bottom of the long walk chatting to passers-by, enjoying the scenery and of course recording the rider numbers as they passed us every now and then.
A fabulous way to spend the day and next year’s date, Friday 10 May 2019, is already firmly in my diary. I nearly forgot, the Rotary clubs also benefitted from £100 for each volunteer so if anyone else would like to take part next year let me know and I will collate all the details to advise Windsor St George Rotary.
What do you do for a living?
Job situation at the moment is a bit on the air as I am currently writing up my thesis. I, though, by qualification am an Engineer. Hopefully once all is clear with my submission I should be once again looking for a job within one of several fields that I am interested in; Aerospace, Automotive, Health and Forensics.
What do you do for fun?
Fun, well my idea of fun has changed dramatically over the last couple of years. Now that I am a father I take most pleasure in spending time with my family. But if conditions allow it (whether internal or external) I enjoy going on a boat trip or even better getting the motorcycle out for a spin just to blow the cobwebs off the helmet.
Where are you from?
As the name suggests I must be affiliated with some other part of the world. Well that is correct, I am originally Greek – Cypriot. I was born in Cyprus and once finished my military service I moved to the UK to commence studying. Funnily enough I may still be considered a student, as I am still studying.
Can you tell us something we may not know about you?
I love anything that has an engine on it, I will try and strip it and put It back together. Usually it works otherwise I end up buying a new one. What I enjoy the most I guess is restoring vehicles back to their former glory. It sometimes feels like something is too good (especially if the engineering behind making it is fascinating) to be left to rot or perish.
Where did you go on your last holiday?
That is a great question. I do not remember, although the last holiday I do remember is Orlando Florida with the family. Although it was following a conference, once that was done and dusted I was enjoying the sun and sea. I must admit, this was the first time across the Atlantic and it did take a while to get used to the lifestyle.
What is your favourite book/film and why?
Favourite book is the Count of Monte Cristo, which is now a good few years back when I last read it. As for a movie, I do not think I do have a favourite movie. What I do have is a favourite mini-series, Band Of Brothers. For anyone out there that enjoy factual WW2 documentaries/series then this is a must see. Tom Hanks is in the leading role as well as a director.
Why did you join Rotary?
I am here with my family, which is my son, wife and dog. Everyone else we have is scattered around the globe. I thus want my son to be brought up in a friendly and future-proof environment. This meaning that if we, as the current stakeholders of our community (both local and global) don’t look after each other and the future of our communities no one will. In addition, by spending time with likeminded people helping others almost puts you in a band of brothers, where you create a bond with the people around you that are all striving for a better future.
What have you enjoyed most in Rotary so far?
I think the diverse nature of the events we do has certainly kept meinterested. As for a favourite event I think the Swimathon and the Easter fun day. What is certainly most enjoyable though is seeing the amount of people that turn up every meeting, people that are willing to spend their time giving back to others.
Which Rotary events are you looking forward to?
I would really like to not just help organise, but also partake in two events this year, the Maidenhead boundary walk as well as the Cookham Regatta.
If you could describe our Rotary Club in 3 words what would they be?
Unique, Diverse, Welcoming
On Saturday 28th April, Mike, Neil, Shushi, Vic, Archana and Don went along to a quiz hosted by the Pinkneys Green Scout Group. They are raising funds to send a couple of their Scouts along to the World Jamboree in 2019 in West Virginia USA.
We don’t usually do too badly in quizzes and this lulled me into a false sense of confidence. I hadn’t given the quiz any thought at all before I arrived. On finding our table I was greeted by the first picture round, a sheet full of diagrams of knots. My heart sank. My mind went blank. It’s over 30 years since I was in the Brownies, and the only thing I really remembered was the pain of having to hike around Buckinghamshire with a 10 pence piece in my shoe for an emergency phone call. Thankfully, the others on my team seem to have better memories and miraculously managed to come up with a dozen knot names. We got a lot of the names right, but not necessarily against the right pictures. Oh well.
We were impressed by a few of the more innovative rounds. Guess the flavour of the crisps went down well, and Mike excelled himself at not only guessing flavours but brand names too! There was also a round which involved building a tall object with dried spaghetti and marshmallows. It got a bit messy and we ended up with a sticky spikey construction which fell over under its own weight before the judges even looked at our efforts.
The final outcome for us was that we can 7th, out of 9 teams. The one thing we did do very well was eat their cakes which ultimately helped them raise a fantastic £933 towards their fundraising target.
Dancers, singers, musicians and magicians were among the hundreds of young performers at the annual Maidenhead’s Got Talent showcase on Friday 27th April.
The annual event, organised by all of Maidenhead’s Rotary clubs, saw performers aged six to 22 appearing in a matinee and evening show at Taplow Court, in Cliveden Road. The event featured pupils from five of the area’s primary schools, solo artists and a number of performance academies.
The purpose of the event is to provide an opportunity for performers in schools and local groups to get experience of being on stage and performing to a large audience. There’s lots of talent in Maidenhead and it’s something we should be proud of.
Theatre students from BCA performed for the first time, pulling off a rendition of the Cell Block Tango from Chicago and it was absolutely fantastic to have them join us for the first time.
Other performances included Britpop from the Magic Potty Band and a song from Big Fish the Musical by Redroofs School for the Performing Arts.
Both shows were compered by Britain’s Got Talent finalist and Theatre Royal Windsor performer Kevin Cruise who did a fantastic job keeping the crowd going and really kept it all together.
Just over £6,000 was raised from the event, which will go towards all of the town’s Rotary clubs’'
charitable activities and we couldn’t be happier!
A massive thank you to all club members who gave up their time to help at this event, without you we simply could not run it!
The view from the Dark Side!
Not many people know this in our Rotary club but I’m a qualified sound engineer. I have completed a BSc (Hons) in Audio and Music Technology (got a 2:1 n all!), and a Masters in Sound Design for Moving Image. How I became a project manager from these qualifications is a LONG story!
Anyhoo – in the last 15 years I’ve also been lucky to volunteer with some brilliantly talented amateur dramatic societies in Ickenham, Chesham and Maidenhead.
This is how I met Matt Loughman (or “Herman” to me!). Matt and I have worked together on many productions, and it’s always a pleasure to have him part of the team. In the last few years, Matt’s daughter Sophie, and Thomas have sparked a wonderful relationship as they’re of similar ages. Add to this Joseph and Madison – we now have more in common than just being techies!
When Matt agreed to be Stage Manager for Maidenhead’s Got Talent (he still maintains he was volunteered rather than volunteering!) I was very excited at the prospect of working on this project. I had taken a break while Marthe & I got used to handling two little people, but 2018’s event seemed the right point to step back onto the saddle.
So, there we were, Friday 27th April – months of preparation, several conversations around kit from Henley Theatre Services - it all came down to this…
The two of us setting up on stage – Matt on lights, me on sound. First issue for me – trying to get noise out the desk. (I’ll keep this basic!) Turns out the flashy digital desk hadn’t been pre-configured as I’d requested. These things happen, and once I’d worked that out – we were ready to ROCK!
And ROCK we did! A fair few choirs, soloists, singer songwriters, a magician, and dance crews from across the borough. Maidenhead most certainly has talent!
The best thing about this event is that it’s not a competition. Rotary runs Youth Makes Music for the competitor in us, this is a pure showcase of local talent. Two performances of Maidenhead’s Got Talent, our wonderful compere Kevin Cruise, talented magician Patrick Ashe.
It was a long day, but really good fun. I’m President next year, if we do it again you won’t see me in the VIP area – I’ll be backstage as I was this year…in the thick of it!
A couple of Sunday’s ago we all met at a pub at 8am…yes, in true Maidenhead Bridge style we were starting early, and finishing at an establishment which sold alcohol! This was our “dry run” of the Maidenhead Boundary Walk, an event jointly run by Maidenhead Bridge and Maidenhead Rotary held in October.
Thankfully, it was April – so the weather was good, and the walk well – started off nice, got a bit painful about midway, and then nearly resulted in a certain very tall Vice President passing out in the pub (no alcohol involved – honest).
The views in the Maidenhead area, looking out over Wycombe, Furze Platt and along the river were stunning, it made the walk very enjoyable and worthwhile. 27,488 steps later (yes – I have a fitbit!), burning 4,245 calories and walking a total of 14 miles in roughly 4.5 hours (ish).
The Maidenhead Boundary Walk will be held on 7th October and is well worth having a look at. Both Maidenhead Rotary and Maidenhead Bridge Rotary organise the marshals along the route and we’d love to hear from any budding volunteers to get involved.
For more information, please go to www.maidenheadbridgerotary.org.uk/boundary-walk
RI President-elect Barry Rassin’s theme for 2018-19, Be the Inspiration, asks Rotarians to inspire change in the world and in each other. “I ask all of you to Be the Inspiration to help Rotary move from reaction to action — to take a hard look at the environmental issues that affect health and welfare around the world and do what we can to help.”
Since Rotary was founded 113 years ago, its role in the world and in the lives of its members has been in a state of continuous evolution. In its earliest days, Rotary offered its members a way to find fellowship and friendship and to build connections within their communities. Soon after, service found a place in Rotary, and as our organization expanded, so did its influence. In time, Rotary’s service, supported by our Rotary Foundation, would change the lives of families and communities across the world. We formed partnerships and focused our service to increase our impact. We launched the world’s largest public-private health initiative, partnering with governments, international organizations, and countless local and regional health agencies to eradicate polio. More and more, our members came to us seeking not just friendship but a way to take action for good.
Rotary still is, and always will be, the organization Paul Harris envisioned: a place where people from every corner of the earth can come together to become something greater than themselves. Yet Rotary today offers something of singular and enduring value: the chance to be part of a global network of people who have the talent and the drive to change the world. We are men and women who believe in the power of community action to make a global impact — and together, we have the capacity and the resources to achieve almost anything.
Globally, Rotary is more relevant than ever before, and its potential for good is vast. Unfortunately, not enough people fully understand what Rotary is and does. Even within our clubs, many Rotarians don’t know enough about Rotary to take full advantage of what Rotary membership offers.
Rotary service transforms lives and communities. To achieve even more of that truly transformational service, we need to think differently about our role in Rotary, and Rotary’s role in the world. We need to put more emphasis on our public image, using social media to build our membership and attract the partners that can help us scale up our service. We need to focus on larger projects that have a more lasting impact, taking the time to research and plan work that spans Rotary years and terms of office. Most important of all, we need to Be the Inspiration for positive change, inspiring our clubs, our communities, and our organization to face today’s challenges head on, with courage, optimism, and creativity.
As Paul Harris put it, “Rotary is a microcosm of a world at peace, a model which nations will do well to follow.” To me, Rotary is not only a model but an inspiration. It shows us what is possible, inspires us to reach for it, and gives us a path to act — and to Be the Inspiration to our world.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.