Welcome to the Rotary Club of Ashford

On behalf of all Rotarians in the Rotary Club of Ashford we welcome you to our website.

Diary Dates

Friday 24th February - Rotary Quiz - The Elwick Club

Monday 27th February - James Onions - Sand Dams

Monday 6th March - Aviation In North Kent - James Preston

Monday 13th March - School In The Outback - Colin Sykes

Monday 27th March - Underground Kent - Ron LeGear

Rotary International - Supporting The Global Eradication Of Polio

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Monday 6th February 2017

John Rowe - Westwell Wine

President Graeme Calver welcomed John

John Rowe spoke about his vineyard that he runs with his wife and a part time worker and he then employs extra pickers at harvest time. He started Westwell Wines in 2007, planted vines in 2008 and had the first wines in 2012.

They have 13 acres under vine and are situated on the Westwell / Charing boundary on the North Downs where there is chalk, and that is ideal for sparkling wines. They produce 2/3 sparkling wines and a 1/3 still and they have won several gold and silver awards for their wines. The UK has won the most International trophies for sparkling wine than any other country even though they have only half the yield of these countries.

John explained that his wines are so good because they are bottle fermented and that they press the grapes with their stalks left on The process is very time consuming but worth it for the flavour. John answered lots of questions for us and Alan Paterson gave the vote of thanks.

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Monday 30th January 2017

Brian & Michelle Hall - The Danny Hall Foundation

President Graeme Calver welcomed Michelle & Brian

Our Speaker, Brian Hall introduced himself and told us how the Danny Hall Foundation came about. Tragically his son Danny was killed in a road traffic accident in Austria in July 2015. He was a very popular young man and one of his friends, Richard Johnson, approached Brian about starting a charitable foundation in memory of Danny, the purpose of which was to support the small local charities who struggle to raise funds. The first event in a local pub was advertised on Facebook and resulted in 110 people turning up. This was followed by an Auction night organised by Richard and supported by Clive Emmerson that raised an amazing £4200.

More events followed resulting in an impressive number of donations to 15 small, deserving local charities last year, some of which have received support from us in the past. Michelle made sure the money was raised partly by visiting 600 local companies for donations, only two refused. More events are planned and Brian indicated that he would like to support our funds for Rotary Entertains as one of their plans to support the elderly, a much appreciated gesture. He will be liaising with Karen Ottewill. It was touching to hear how Brian and Michelle have used their tragic loss to such a good cause.

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Monday 16th January 2017

Tanith Brown - Big Cat Sanctuary

President Graeme Calver introduced our speaker Tanith

Tanith thanked us for inviting her to speak at our meeting. The Big Cat Sanctuary came about by accident following a TV appeal to rescue three lions. The aim from the outset of 32 acre Sanctuary in Smarden, which is a registered charity, is to create a Conservation and Breeding Centre of Excellence, it is not open to the public but you can book an exclusive ‘big cat experience’.

The Sanctuary houses 50 cats of 15 different species from the very tiny to the very large. They are kept in the 40 separate enclosures in 30 of the 32 acres of surrounding land. The cats are looked after by 30 employed staff of which 9 or10 are full time supported by a team of volunteers. The Sanctuary does not support keeping wild animals in captivity but their role is essential in the breeding some of the most endangered species on the planet as well as offering sanctuary to retired and homeless cats. They also support other wildlife charities across the world.

Tickets for the next big cat experience will be put on sale on 24th January and are likley to sell out very quickly. Money raised goes towards the cost of running the sanctuary that relies on private donations.

The cats love playing with old Christmas trees so anyone who still needs to dispose of theirs may find a use for it! There followed a very lively Q & A session.

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Monday 12th December

John Reuther - Battle Of Jutland

President Graeme Calver introduced our speaker John

Our speaker John Reuther explained that the Battle of Jutland was the only major naval battle of World War One and that it took place on May 31st 1916 and lasted only 12 hours. The battle witnessed the British Navy losing more men than the German Navy, but that they won the battle because the Germans were unable to put to sea again for 6 months and so were unable to get food supplies to their people John explained about the race to produce faster ships and Britains’ advantage with its Military Intelligence. Captain Round from Marconi, received the Military Cross for his work in tracking the whereabouts of the German Navy on the 31st May, and enabling the British Navy to set sail and engage in the battle. Our guest Angela Nodder is the granddaughter of Captain Round and Jim Nodder and Maggie Reuther are cousins and their grandfather was in the Battle of Jutland!

John gave a blow by blow account of the Battle involving Admiral John Jellicoe and Sir David Beatty and the German fleet led by Admiral Hipper and Admiral Reinhardt von Scheer. John then answered any questions and President Graeme gave the vote of thanks

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Monday 5th December

Sue Soan - Find A Voice

President Graeme Calver introduced our speaker Sue

Sue thanked us for inviting her. She told us that not everyone has a voice but most of us take this for granted. There are many causes for this, cancer, strokes, cerebral palsy, dementia, autism and dyspraxia to name just a few but there is a serious lack of available help and support. The local Find a Voice Charity was formed 20 years ago and has gradually helped to change policies to include help and support to people of all ages who have severe speech, language and communication needs. They provide access to life enhancing advice, equipment and training, a well informed and sympathetic advice service via telephone, email and personal contact for anyone with severe speech and communication difficulties, their families and carers, GPs and other practitioners.

They also provide specialist equipment on a no-cost trial basis to build basic communication skills, establish suitability of use and evidence of need advice and awareness training to public and private organisations to enable them to understand and communicate with those without a voice. They work with organisations involved in relevant medical research, providing case histories when appropriate, Some of the equipment is very expensive, as much as £5,000 a unit for some of the electronic aids.

They work with organisations involved in relevant medical research, providing case histories when appropriate, Some of the equipment is very expensive, as much as £5,000 a unit for some of the electronic aids. Other aids such as the switch toy and picture pads are less expensive but equally effective for some clients. Sue told us some heart-warming stories of people the charity had helped. MP Damian Green has been a patron for 20 years and supported them in matters of national policy.

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Monday 28th November

Chris Norman - FareShare Family Food Bank

President Graeme Calver introduced our speaker Chris Norman

Chris Norman is the Operations Manager for FareShare Kent and Family Food Bank. Their aim is to deal with food poverty and food waste. FareShare Kent acts as a wholesaler and receives food from producers and retailers and the Family Food Bank delivers the food to charities and community organisations. Both parts of the business work out of their warehouse just off the M20 junction 10. The food they receive is surplus ‘in date’ food from mainly Tesco warehouses and Brakes in Aylesford and the food would otherwise have gone to land fill or animal feed.

The volunteers (who come from the local community, work placement schemes and Sheppey Standford Hill Prison), sort the food and deliver it in their two chiller vans throughout Ashford, Swale, Maidstone and Thanet. It goes to hostels, hospices, day centres, children centres, churches and other pick up points and they work five days a week. They make a small affordable charge for the food.

Chris then went on to explain that before working at FareShare Kent he had worked in motor racing for 36 years and was a circuit manager at Silverstone and other circuits throughout the world. He had been involved in Formula One, 24 hour races and historic racing and had a lot of fascinating tales to tell. Chris answered many questions on both of his subjects and Bryan Strange gave the vote of thanks.

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Monday 7th November

Pat & Roger Marshall - Guide Dogs For The Blind

President Graeme Calver introduced our speakers Pat and Roger, with guide dog Chloe

Pat started her talk by describing the multiple conditions that had gradually left her totally blind and devastated. As a very active person she picked herself up and joined the Kent Association for the Blind. She showed us her present props, her guide dog Chloe and her cane with its aids. She applied for a guide dog and after nine months and lots of assessments including the trainer wearing the harness she was taught the instructions for her dog. In 2008 she started her extensive training with Chloe from the Maidstone Hilton where she qualified after 2 weeks, followed by training at home 3 times a week for 2 - 3 months. She then trained herself and Chloe to walk from Kennington to Ashford, about an hour's walk, in gradual sections with her husband Roger.

Over the following 6 - 9 months she and Chloe learnt 12 routes, using rewards, the reverse route being different. She learnt how to find her favourite shops and cafes, bus stops and the railway station from where, with Chloe she can travel independently . Chloe also helps her around the house but it is clear that the freedom Pat has gained in the outside world is the main benefit. Her talk was filled with interesting and often amusing anecdotes, including a 130ft fund raising abseil where she raised £800. One can only admire this remarkable lady who has such a brave zest for life. Chloe is worth £50,000 but her worth to Pat is priceless.

Chloe is soon to be retired and will live with a close friend. Pat will then embark on training another dog.

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Monday 24th October

Honorary Member - Jean Allan

The Samaritans - Pasty Morse & Mo Folum

President Graeme welcomed Jean

President Graeme Calver inducted Soroptimist President Jean Allan as an Honorary Member.

President Graeme Calver also welcomed our speakers, Patsy Morse and Mo Folum speaking about The Samaritans.

The Samaritans was started in the 1960's by clergyman Chad Vara following the suicide of a young girl because she had no-one to talk to about her fears. Today all major towns have a Samaritans' free phone, text and email facilities all aimed at reducing suicide rates that are still rising, borne out by current statistics; they show that male suicides are 76% against 24% for women.

They have aimed a new poster 'Big Boys Don't Cry' at the most vulnerable men aged between 45 and 55 years. Samaritans listen, they do not give advice, are non-judgemental and only ask questions to encourage callers to have someone they can trust to talk to, whatever the problem and assure them that all calls are confidential.

They cannot call for an ambulance but can ask if they want one. There is no age barrier for callers and they talk in schools. They have a very thorough training and there are always two Samaritans on duty. At the end of their shift they have a de-brief with the leader and a follow up the next day is available following a particularly traumatic call.

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Monday 3rd October

Cheque Presentation to Admiral Nurses

President Graeme Calver welcomed Wendy Widener from Dementia UK and Rebecca Sansom an Admiral Nurse. PP Maggie Reuther then had the great pleasure of presenting Dementia UK with a cheque for £5000 raised from her Presidential Charity last year. Rebecca was very grateful for the wonderful donation and went on to talk about their work.

Admiral Nurses are registered mental health nurses who provide help at home with their clinical input and also help the family cope with emotional support plus practical help with finance and care needs and put them in touch with other useful care services. Rebecca said that Dementia is a generic term for patients with short and then long term memory loss and there are physical signs as well. Alzheimer and vascular dementia are just two of the one hundred causes of dementia and so it not an easy disease to find a cure for.

Wendy then went on to explain that Dementia UK work in partnership with NHS Trusts, care homes and hospices, and they support the Admiral Nurses to help families stay together. There are 180 nurses throughout the UK, Kent have 14 nurses and the money raised in Kent will stay in Kent. Dementia Uk provide the nurses with monthly practical and developmental workshops giving lots of support to them. They also have a research and evaluation team to demonstrate the cost savings to the NHS, and they provide a National Helpline for families.

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Monday 26th September

Damian Green MP

President Graeme Calver welcomed Damian Green as a returning Honorary Member. Damian thanked us again for the honour, and as he is keen to help with the eradication of Polio he purchased a crocus to wear in his lapel to promote the appeal.

Damian then went on to answer a very popular question 'Did you know in advance what role you would have in the government?'. The short answer was no - Damian knew on the Monday that Teresa May would take over as Prime Minister on the Wednesday and that she would be choosing some of the main cabinet members on that day. Damian went into his office as usual and kept up to date by watching the internet. On Thursday he had a phone call asking him to go and see the Prime Minister and she offered him Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which he accepted. It all became a bit surreal and more like the TV programme 'Yes Minister' as the cameras were flashing and he walked to the limo which would drive him to his new office. When he arrived about 10 minutes later his secretary was there waiting for him, his photo and name plate were already in position plus a pile of folders for him to work through!

Damian answered questions for us and Amanda Cottrell gave the vote of thanks.

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Rotary Club Keeps Doctors Informed

When Ian Alexander became President of Ashford Rotary Club in 2014 he knew exactly which charities he wanted to support during his year. A good friend, Irene Green, suffered from Ehlers- Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a debilitating disease that can be difficult to diagnose, hard to treat and even harder to live with so that was an obvious choice. Club members rallied round and Ian (left in picture) was able to hand over a cheque for £2200 to Irene and Dr Philip Bull, consultant rheumatologist with a particular interest in EDS.

The money is being used to help educate the medical community to better understand the disease, which is also known as Hypermobility Syndrome, and be able to offer a quicker diagnosis and treatment.

Dr Bull knew exactly where the donation would work best for local patients. 'We are working with the Hypermobility Syndromes Association (HMSA) charity to develop the Kent Hypermobility Network from existing resources to save patients having to travel to London. Raising local awareness through education is an important part of this.' he stated.

'Patients may take many years to reach a diagnosis, going round in circles with multiple debilitating symptoms not recognised as part of a pattern. One good example is irritable bowel syndrome, where 40 percent of patients are actually hypermobile!' he added. 'This donation will enable us to extend education amongst medical professionals. Irene, a midwife, is helping with junior doctor teaching and also training as a volunteer with HMSA.'

Ian is delighted the donation is being put to good use: 'Knowing how difficult it has been for Irene living with EDS, I am pleased this will allow other patients to get the help they need quicker.'

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Monday 12th September

PDG Malcolm Stansfield

President Graeme welcomed Malcolm

President Graeme Calver introduced our speaker PDG Malcolm Stansfield. He started his passion for farming at 11 rearing a mixture of different farm animals and chickens. His parents owned the local butcher's shop and had instilled in him the ethic for hard work from a young age, it never left him. His maternal grandparents had raised 10 children and adopted more, he learnt from them the knack of inspiring children to work hard.

He went to Grammar school and was persuaded to stay on to progress to University to read agriculture. He lived with the foreman of an arable farm who taught him how to get his priorities right. He was a post graduate at Reading University and at the age of 23 became the manager of the University Farm. He went on to win a scholarship for a five month tour of farming methods in USA. He spent his life touring and lecturing on agriculture. He followed his father into Rotary where he passed on his passion for public speaking to children mentored in Rotary Clubs. He put down his success to the numerous people who had encouraged him so passionately when he was young.

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Sunday 11th September

Rotary Ramble

The sun shone on the Downs around Wye on Sunday as walkers in the annual Rotary Ramble raised thousands of pounds for their chosen charities. The main beneficiaries were Parkinson's and the MS Therapy Centre with large teams walking for both. But many other local charities benefitted as well, including the Rotary Club, organisers of the event, who donate widely on a local level.

First person to complete the course was Sue Gower and her dog, Jimmy, a veteran of charity walks, who was walking on behalf of the Rotary Club for their charitable work. 12 year old Olivia Hayward-Browne raised over £800 for Fight Bladder Cancer. Her grandfather was diagnosed with the disease recently and this spurred her on to walk for the third time.

Organiser Peter Gammon was happy that so many good causes had benefitted from the walk. 'Numbers were down on last year, probably due to the warm weather,' he said, 'but it is heartwarming that people are prepared to give up their Sunday to walk on behalf of those less fortunate than themselves. Thanks to everyone who walked and all Rotarians who worked so hard behind the scenes, including members of the Inner Wheel Club who kept the refreshments coming.'

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Monday 5th September

Honorary Member - Charles Clark

President Graeme welcomed Charles

President Graeme Calver inducted Charles Clark as an Honorary Member of our Club. Charles, on behalf of Bretts, has been a great supporter of the Rotary Ramble and Graeme was very pleased to be able to induct him to our Club.

President Graeme Calver also welcomed our speaker, Dr Basil Booth who is a retired Vulcanologist. He spoke about his many trips to live (active) volcanoes and showed us magnificent slides of the larva shooting out of the volcanoes and sliding down the mountains and the destruction it causes.

Basil would camp on the side of the volcano in order to study it and this was very dangerous due to the unpredictability of the eruptions. One of his colleagues lost his life and Basil has had huge blisters on his feet from the heat of the larva.

asil explained about the geology of the volcanoes, how they are formed, the different types, the excessive heat and speed of the larva and the destruction of farmland and buildings.

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Monday 29th August

Honorary Member - Jo James

President Graeme welcomed Jo

President Graeme re-inducted Jo as an Honorary Member. Jo thanked us and told us she supported us in our endeavours.

Jo told us how proud she is of her son Darren following the accident that resulted in the amputation of his leg from the knee down in June 2013. She described his journey through six operations, months in Kings College Hospital and his inspirational determination to walk again and get on with his life.

Darren moved to a specialist rehabilitation centre in Kennington London where he was walking in six weeks instead of the usual twelve weeks. Not only has his career as an architect gone from trainee to associate partner but he regularly takes part in charity walks, runs and cycle challenges, his first being a 3k charity walk in Canterbury on 22 October 2013.

He has progressed to a blade leg for his running and trained for the London to Paris bike ride by cycling to work from Ashford to Canterbury although he also drives a specially modified car. He celebrated his success by drinking beer on Eurostar from his leg! He also took part in a 12,000 ft. parachute jump.

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Ashford Rotary Club is supporting an initiative by the local Samaritans branch encouraging men to seek help when they believe there seems no reason to carry on living.

The Big Boys Do Cry campaign was launched by the Worshipful the Mayor of Ashford, George Kowaree, when he unveiled the first poster in the public toilets at the Civic Centre.

Pubs, clubs and public buildings are being targeted by the campaign to display the posters to raise awareness in light of the startling figures regarding suicide by men -

" Suicide kills more middle aged men than cancer, heart disease or traffic accidents

" A man kills himself every 2 hours of every day, every year

" Middle aged men account for over 55% of all suicides.

Ashford Rotary is pleased to support this campaign and if you would also like to offer support by displaying a poster email bigboysdocry@hotmail.com

Click below to visit the Smaritans Website.

Click here

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Monday 15th August

Rtn Steve Hanks - Rotary Youth Exchange

President Graeme welcomed Rtn Steve

Steve has been a youth worker for over 50 years and is very keen on the youth exchange as it aims to promote peace and understanding among young people in the world, and is great for character development. The exchanges are available for students between 15 - 25 years old and 8000 a year enjoy the experience. There are long term exchanges lasting a year, short term exchanges last for 2 -3 weeks during the summer holidays, camps and tours and also new generation exchanges

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Monday 11th July

His Worship the Mayor

President Graeme welcomed Cllr George Koowaree

Cllr Koowaree, who has served Ashford for many years as a Councillor and is now serving his second term as Mayor, has seen many good changes in Ashford over the years. Much has been promised but taken years to come to fruition but his vision of Ashford over the next 20 years is brighter than ever. He went on to outline the many successes achieved by the Borough Council and a long list of new projects approved and progressing well

George then went on to tell us a little about his life as a psychiatric nurse. He trained at Chartham Psychiatric Hospital and went on to tell us of the many amusing incidents with his patients over the years. It was his 82nd birthday on Saturday. There followed a lively Q & A session.

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Monday 27th June

Club Handover

President Maggie past the Presidency to Graeme Calver

President Maggie Reuther opened the final meeting of her year as President. She started by announcing that there would be a number of presentations. Your deputy Bulletin Editor was very pleasantly surprised to receive a beautiful engraved silver desk tidy and pen in recognition of her 10 year contribution to the weekly Bulletin.

President Maggie thanked ADG Mike Springett for all his support. PP Peter Stutchbury was remembered with affection and respect and is still sorely missed. President Maggie thanked the hardworking Club Officers and Chairmen of all our different Committees, individually highlighting their achievements in what had been a very successful and happy year, and thanking Members for their hard work and support.

Hon. Treasurer Stuart McRae was presented with a bottle of wine and PP Kitty Brook (Charity Account) received a bouquet of flowers.

Hon. Secretary Sue Sleet was presented with a bouquet of flowers, she thanked PP Bob Perry for his support.

New President Graeme Calver found himself un-expectantly speechless but quickly recovered to go on to tell us how proud and happy he was to be President and thanked Maggie for presiding over the past very successful year. His presidential charity is Action TB and we will learn all about it from next week's speaker.

President Graeme making his maiden speech

President Graeme keeps the members and guests entertained

Before handing over the Presidency Maggie presented Jackie Allen wih a gift for the work she has done in producing the weekly bultin over many years

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Phoenix Rotakids Club

Phoenix Rotakids Club sponsored by Ashford Rotary receiving their Presidential citation on 28 June from District Governor Ray Dixon in the presence of the school Rotakids staff - and you know who!

The Rotakids were awarded the citation in recognition of their activities during their first year supporting projects at home and overseas.

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St Mary's RotaKids Club

St Mary's RotaKids Club in their new Polo shirts

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Rotary Young Photographer

On Tuesday 28th June Jasmine Pope, a student at Norton Knatchbull School, was presented with prizes and certificates for the photographs she entered into the Rotary Young Photographer competition. In addition, the school was presented with a certificate for their involvement in the production of Jasmine's photographs. The presentation was given by the Rotary District Governor, Ray Dixon.

Jasmine's entry was sent in by the Rotary Club of Ashford and she not only won the Rotary District competition, covering all the Rotary clubs in the Kent, East Sussex and South London area, but came 2nd in the national Rotary Young Photographer competition, covering Rotary clubs throughout Great Britain and Ireland.

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Monday 13th June

Mark Jones - Challenges Of A Special School

President Maggie Reuther welcomed Mark

Mark Jones, is a fully qualified teacher and deputy head of Heath Farm School, Charing Heath, opened in 1993. It is part of Acorn Care and Education Group. The school is an independent, co-educational, day school currently catering for 70 pupils, 5 - 18 years in 11 classrooms who, for a wide variety of reasons, have not been able to sustain main stream education.

Pupils are referred to the school by Social Services and funded by Kent and Medway Local Authorities. Mark decided he wanted to work with children when, having left school at 17 with no qualifications and expecting to have a career as a County football player had his hopes dashed when, at 18, was injured and unable to play football again.

He clearly loves his job and gave us an interesting and moving account of the way the school works with the children involving parents, Social Services, main stream schools and fostering agencies.

The school works towards 5 GCSE's as a standard and has a high success rate with children progressing to local main stream schools.

To learn more about Heath Farm School please click on the link below

Click here

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Monday 6th June

Rotarians Bob Perry & Renate Beerling - Walking The Camino Santiago De Campostela

Bob and Renate have both walked the Camino Santiago de Campostela on different occasions. They spoke about the history of the routes which all converge at Santiago where the tomb of the patron Saint of Spain, St James, is found.

Thousands of pilgrims go there each year to worship and they can receive a certificate for completing the route. Traditionally they will have a scallop shell on their rucksacks and the route sign posts have a shell motif, the reason for this is not properly understood.

The journeys are very arduous and isolated and both Bob and Renate found being away from their normal busy lives gave them time for contemplation finding the experience a real pilgrimage. President Maggie gave the vote of thanks.

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Monday 23rd May

Sally Ward - Troubled Families

President Maggie Reuther welcomed Sally

Sally explained that since the Tottenham riots in 2011 the government realised that a family intervention programme was needed to turn around troubled families and so reduce the costs these families place on the public sector.

In 2012 the KCC have commissioned 'Salus' to deliver this programme which has 3 criteria - to get children back into school, reduce youth crime and anti-social behaviour, and, putting adults on the path back to work.

Sally is part of a team which works with the families. Each family has a key worker for 6-8months and by giving them achievable small steps they are able to change their behaviour and the programme has had a lot of success. Sally gave a very passionate talk and it was clear she loved overcoming the challenges her work produced.

Click below to visit the Salus Group Website.

Click here

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Monday 9th May

Rtn Sue Hoey - The Literacy In A Box Trust

President Maggie Reuther welcomed Sue

The Literacy Box Trust was set up by Ian Parker in the Plymouth Rotary Club ten years ago. It came about because of a Rwandan refugee called Alfred. He was taught in a make shift school without paper and pencils, the pupils wrote their work on their legs! As a teenager he began helping the younger children and it was noted that he was gifted and so he was sent to Plymouth to study A levels.

Alfred then studied at Liverpool University and became a lecturer. He married and was settled in the UK until one day the President of Rwanda, who he had known as a boy at the refugee camp, contacted him and asked him to return and become his presidential adviser, which he gladly did.

Ian Parker realised that literacy was a way out of poverty for many children in Africa. He set up the trust which sends boxes with everything the children need to be able to go to school and continue their education. The box is tracked in the same way as a Shelter box and costs £325.

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Tuesday 3rd May

Phoenix School RotaKids Cake Sale

On Tuesday 3rd May, the Rotakids club at Phoenix School held a cake sale in aid of School in a Bag.

Two tables filled with cakes and cookies, selling at between 20p and £3 for a whole cake, they almost sold out within 15 minutes. I've never seen cakes sold so fast!!

Sarah from the school said she was extremely pleased with how it went and said that over £50 had been raised. Phoenix and St Marys Rotakids are getting together on 18th May to fill School in a Bag rucksacks, when a representative from the charity will also be attending and giving a short presentation to the children.

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Monday 25th April

Rtn John Miles - The Guildford Rotary Eye Project

President Elect Graeme Calver welcomed John

Rotarian John Miles is a trustee of the Guildford Rotary Eye Project. The charity was founded in 1998 and their aim is to supply free cataract operations to patients in the India sub-continent and Africa. There is a great need for these operations that prevent blindness which is caused by poor diet and living standards.

By using the Rotary Foundation Global Grants the charity can afford to build an eye hospital or clinic and provide all the necessary equipment. The local Rotary Club is involved in overseeing the hospital which will be financially independent.

To date 600,000 people have been treated with many more needing treatments. The number of hospitals are increasing and they hope to have 50 more eye hospitals in 10 years.

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Monday 21st March

Gerry Skinner - RNLI

President Maggie Reuther welcomed Gerry

Gerry is an education volunteer for the RNLI. He teaches primary school children about the history of the brave men and women who rescued people from stormy seas in small rowing boats and how the RNLI was established to make it safer. The RNLI was founded in 1824 and its' moto is 'The Saving of Life at Sea'.

They aim to save more lives through education and awareness of the danger of water. Their role is changing as they supply lifeguards on beaches and flood rescue teams as well as sea rescues.

They have traditional lifeboats for sea rescues and smaller 'rubber boats' for inshore rescue and 4 hovercraft for the River Thames. The RNLI costs are funded completely by charity and bequests and Gerry thanked the Club for our donation.

Click here

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Regional Final of Young Musician

George Hoffman from Norton Knatchbull School, being presented with his certificate by D1145 District Governor Peter O'Keefe, for participating in the Regional Final of Young Musician at Bramley in Surrey. He played three pieces on the piano, one classical, one jazz and one from the shows. Even though he did not win, he performed to a very high standard in an exceptionally strong group of musicians. It was difficult to choose the winners and even the Adjudicators admitted they had a difficult job to separate the contestants.

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Monday 13th March

Rtn Karen Ottewill - My Story

Karen's talk was an entertaining and heart-warming account starting with a picture of her as a sweet toddler in a bonnet. She was born in Bethersden and educated locally, trained at Goldsmith College where she gained a BSc. degree in teaching. She gained valuable experience teaching many troubled children from disadvantaged backgrounds in schools in Lewisham, New Cross and Deptford. She realised how lucky she had been to grow up in a country village and be able to enjoy the fun at Bethersden C of E Primary school with inspiration from head teacher John Friedston.

She also enjoyed Brownies and Guides where she became a Queen's Guide under Mrs. Angela Stainton's guidance. She met husband-to-be Steve at school in a true 'Romeo and Juliet' romance with a happy ending. She juggled her time between teaching, which she loved, and caring for her husband their 2 children, now 18 and 20.

When Steve started his business as a Silversmith she changed her working direction to support him in the business. Steve is clearly a silversmith extraordinaire, Karen is the business administrator, still happily married after 23 years of working and family life together, no small achievement!

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The Crocuses Have Bloomed

The Crocuses planted by the RotaKids of Phoenix School in support of 'End Polio Now' have Bloomed

Crocuses were also planted around Ashford town centre

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St Mary's Primary School - Litter Pick

Rotakids from Ashford St Mary's Primary School organised a litter pick in Ashford town centre on 4th march 2016. We did it as part of "Clean for Queen" to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday

Rotakids recognise how important it is to actively contribute towards making the town they live in a better place and want to encourage the public to do the same.

Caitlin from Rotakids says " It is disgusting how the town is treated . There was lots of rubbish on the pavement like cigarette butts and food wrappers. However it is positive that this year there wasn't as much litter as there was last year when we did a litter pick."

She goes on to suggest "You can help us make a difference in the world. You can help by making sure you don't drop litter. There are many ways (including recycling) in which you can dispose of rubbish. We would like you to use bins at home and out and about to get rid of what you don't want. If ever you are out and you can not find a bin, we would advise you to take the rubbish home and put it in a bin."

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Monday 7th March

Jackie Davey from the Wyvern School - Learning Outside

President Maggie Reuther welcomed Jackie

Jackie Davey came to talk about the learning system that we donated to the School. First Jackie explained the Wyvern School is a Day Special School that was built in 2005, originally for secondary age children, but from 2012 it extended the ages from 3 to 19 years of age. There are 214 children and 140 staff. The average class has 9 children and 4 staff.

Jackie teaches the reception class and they use the Outside Learning System .It can be used indoors or out as it is a double sided magnetic white board surrounded by a sturdy wooden stand .It comes with magnetic shapes, numbers and story telling characters and can be written upon. There are lots of imaginative ways the system can be used and Jackie and the children are having great fun learning with it.

The Presidents of St Mary's and The Phoenix Schools RotaKids Clubs Poppi & Lopsang together with their parents and teachers were guests at the meeting. After dinner they both spoke about the recent fundraising events that the schools.

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Monday 29th February

Ann Barnes - Kent Police & Crime Commissioner

President Maggie Reuther welcomed Ann

Ann Barnes gave an informative talk about her main objectives as Police and Crime Commissioner. They were to decrease crime, to supply more community policing and victim support. Ann explained how she went about this and her many achievements and also the restrictions due to a lack of resources. Ann spoke also of her frustration with Operation Stack.

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Tuesday 23rd February

Phoenix School Rotakids Club Rotary Day - Charity Film Show

Rotarians & Inner Wheel members supported the Rotakids at their film show yesterday. The feature was Disney's Inside Out

40 children attended, each of whom paid for a ticket and were supplied with masses of popcorn and squash. Over £60 was raised, which will be going towards 'School in a Bag' - £60 equates to 4 Rucksacks.

Phoenix & St Marys Rotakids Clubs will be getting together to fill the Rucksacks and present them to a a representative of the 'School in a Bag' Charity.

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Monday 22nd February

Bernice Scott - Caudwell Children

Bernice Scott is the Area Manager of the Caudwell Children Charity Family Service. Part of her job is the training of the staff and volunteers.

The Charity was started in 2000 by John Caudwell who is the entrepreneur of 'Phones 4 You'. He covers the running costs so that every penny raised goes to the families that they help. Caudwell Children are passionate about improving the health of children and ensuring they have the equipment they require for their disability or illness.

They have supported children with over 500 different conditions so far and supplied £23 million worth of services. They supply mobility and sensory equipment and will give practical and emotional support to families in times of crisis.

Anyone can be referred to them although all applicants are means tested. For more information go to www.caudwellchildren.com or click on the link below

Click here

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Monday 8th February

President Maggie Reuther had the pleasure of presenting PP Mary McKeown with a Paul Harris Fellowship award

Mary joined the Club in 2005 and has been Secretary and Chair on many committees, President 2012 - 13 and has been a high profile member all the time with her work with Rotary Entertains and fund raising

Congratulations !

Paddy Langdown

'The Vulcan Bombers During The Cold War'

President Maggie Reuther welcomed Paddy

Paddy Langdown was a pilot between 1963 - 1976 and flew Vulcans during the Cold War. The Vulcan was used as a nuclear war deterrent and would have carried a Blue Danube nuclear weapon. They did practice runs with dummy weapons so they were ready for action. The Vulcans flew in groups of four and were stationed at airfields throughout the UK. There were many checks before they were airborne and even then there was still the opportunity for deferring the attack. The Vulcans would fly north and turn east at 8 degrees and fly low under the radar. They had safe areas in Poland in case they needed to bale out.

If they had ever released a nuclear weapon there was the possibility that the blast would have blown the plane up, but if they were safe, there were routes back to the UK through Norway and Cypress. Thankfully the Vulcan bombers and their brave pilots was a sufficient deterrent.

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Monday 1st February

Chris Longfield

'KSS Air Ambulance'

President Maggie Reuther welcomed Chris

Chris Longfield is a volunteer for the Kent, Surrey & Sussex (KSS) Air Ambulance Charity. There are 18 Air Ambulance services in England and Wales, KSS was the first and has been running for 25 years! They have 2 helicopters based at Redhill and Marden and will be getting a new bigger helicopter specially designed for its purpose, in the near future. KSS is the only air ambulance giving a 24 hour service, they attend 2500 patients a year, 75% being attended during the daytime.

The crews consist of one pilot (two at night),a doctor and a paramedic. The doctors are senior A&E doctors who have had extra training so that at the scene of the accident they can perform any procedure that is given in an A&E department. The air ambulance will be airborne in less than 4 minutes in response to a 999 call and they can reach any part of their area in 30 minutes.

The operational cost of running this service last year was £6.5 million and the majority is raised by the public. In all its' 25 years they have always covered their costs which shows how much the public appreciate them.

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RotaKids Clubs Crocuses

RotaKids Club members from St Mary's & Phoenix Schools planted Crocus bulbs in the Autumn of 2015 in aid of Polio eradication. This week Rtns Steve P, Martin C & Bob C finished the beds off with some new signage.

We look forward to seeing the beautiful results in the spring

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Ashford Rotary Clubs

Frugal Supper

Donation to The Ashford Family Food Bank

Rtn Kitty Brook presents the cheque

The Ashford Family Food bank is run from a warehouse in Ashford and exists to help families in Ashford, Swale, Maidstone and Thanet Districts of Kent. It provides basic foodstuffs in a box and this will help a family to eat proper meals for about a week.

There are distributions points at Children's Centres and some Churches across the four Districts.

Families, who need the service, are referred by various agencies; Social Services, Housing Departments, Job Centres, Community workers and Health Visitors.

The Food Bank comes now under the umbrella of FareShare and this is an award winning UK Charity that fights hunger and food waste.

Last year (2015) the Food Bank provided 1600 Food Boxes of which 750 were given out in the area of Ashford!

Our £200 donation raised at this year's Frugal Supper will go to items that are desperately needed and that are not always readily donated.

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Monday 25th January

Past Member Spencer Stone

'The History Of Airships'

President Maggie Reuther welcomed Spencer back and presented him with a service recognition Award for all he has done for Ashford Rotary and the Rotary movement.

Spencer talked about the different designs of Airships throughout their golden age which lasted from 1783 to1940.There was a rigid design such as the Zeppelin which had gas bags inside and the engines and gondola (carrying the crew and passengers) fixed underneath the main structure, called the envelope.

There were also some rigid designs, like the Graf Zeppelin built in 1925 that carried passengers inside and were as luxurious as an ocean liner.

The popularity of airships waned in the 1940's after the Hindenburg exploded.

Then there were non-rigid designs such as the Blimp that had no structure and changed shape as the gas pressure altered. The Goodyear Airship which was seen in the 1990's was developed from this design. It was used for advertising and for television recording of sporting events.

Spencer gave a very interesting history of the different airships that were built and their uses. There are many Airships under design.

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Monday 18th January

Charlie Russell

'Birds Of Prey'

President Maggie Reuther introduced Charlie

Charlie Russell is 16 years old and a pupil at Norton Knatchbull School. He became interested in birds of prey at the age of 10 and is so passionate about raptors that he wants a career in conservation for birds of prey.

Charlie told us about the decline of different raptors and how it is mainly due to the loss of habitat.

The problem is very serious in Asia as vultures are dying in the millions. This is due to the birds feeding on cattle carcasses which contain the anti-inflammatory Diclofenac.

The drug causes seriously damage to the vultures liver and can cause death within a very short period. Instead of the vultures cleaning the carcasses of the cattle, they are left to rot which is spreading disease and as a result there has been an increase in rabid dogs.

One success story has been the reintroduction of Red Kites into England & Wales over the last 10 to 15 years.

Charlie spends all his free time volunteering at the Hawk Conservancy Trust and Birds of Prey Centres plus the Kent Wild Life Trust. He enjoys the work and gets a chance at falconry, bird ringing and cleaning out the cages!

Charlie spent some time last summer looking after a baby Condor which needed lots of hugs. When Charlie returns to help again this year he is hoping that it will still remember him.

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Monday 11th January

Deanna & Robin Hartsthorne

'Funds For Charlotte'

President Maggie Reuther introduced Deanna & Robin

Deanna and Robins' daughter Charlotte was born with a genetic abnormality 8 years ago and is profoundly disabled. They are very proud of Charlottes' achievements and want her to live as full a life as possible along with her two elder brothers.

Robin gave up work to care for Charlotte and has found the biggest challenge is to find funding to support Charlottes' requirements. Charlotte needed a safe bed to sleep in and Robin built a bed for her, and now whenever possible he has built items for her. This gave Robin the idea of producing wooden goods from pallets and to sell them on the internet which has proved a good way of raising funds.

Other fund raising ideas have been a sponsored paddle from Seasalter to Sheppey, a mud run, and an 'Evening for Charlotte' which raised £5000.

Robin and Deanna are very grateful for all the money they have received and are also doing events for other charities in order to give back to worthy causes.

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Monday 4th January

Rtn Cliff Grieve

'My Mongolian Adventure'

President Maggie Reuther introduced Ashford's own Rtn Cliff Grieve

Cliff visited Mongolia after hearing about the suffering in the country and wanted to see if he could arrange any aid.

Mongolia was a communist country but 20 years ago it became Independent and many of the Russian businesses moved out leaving mass unemployment. Global warming has not helped as the summers are fiercely hot, killing 10% of the nomadic herds, and the winters reach -20 to -30 degrees at night.

There are 1.4 million people in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, with many living in shanty towns surviving off the rubbish dumps.

There are street children who live in the sewers at night to keep warm because they would die outside in the freezing cold. They have a hand to mouth existence begging, pick-pocketing or selling their bodies, and live in groups for safety. There are also other orphan children who live in small wooden shelters that hold 12 children. They have no water or sanitation but have a coal burner for heat and cooking. Bedding and food are very sparse.

Cliff would like to help the children in one of these shelters and has contacts with 2 Rotary Clubs in Mongolia. Cliff hopes to raise funds via Rotary Foundation Grants.

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Monday 7th December

Paul Richardson

'Serving on the Royal Yacht Britannia'

President Maggie Reuther introduced Paul Richardson

Paul served on the Royal Yacht Britannia as a member of the Royal Marines Band

The Band are highly trained and serving on the Royal Yacht was a privileged position with many perks, although they could be away from home for 8-9months at a time

The yacht would sail to different destinations all over the world and the Queen would fly in and spend a short time on board entertaining Monarchy and VIPs in her luxurious apartments

Paul showed slides of the yacht and told many anecdotes of his time on board. The Royal Yacht was launched in 1953 and after 44 years in service was decommissioned in 1997

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Steve Ottewill - Ottewill Silversmiths

Monday 23rd November

President Maggie Reuther introduced Steve Ottewill.

Steve explained how he studied to become a Silversmith at the Medway College of Art, and after 4 years as a workshop manager, opened his own workshop at Evegate in 1993.

Ottewills is a very traditional company, with the design of the objects starting with either a hand drawn picture or a CAD drawing. Then a sheet of silver is meticulously hammered or moulded into shape , engraved and decorated, then polished to give the finished object.

Ottewills have been awarded many different projects such as the Olympic Torch, Sport Trophies, Chains of Office and also Middle Eastern work including table centre pieces for a wedding, an 18ct Frankincense Tree covered in diamonds and a 5 metre tall cake stand for the Sultan of Omans' 40th Year Celebration!

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Rotakids - Phoenix School Ashford

On Monday 16th November a new Rotakids Club was chartered at the Phoenix School, Ashford. Rotakids is a new initiative of Rotary International aimed at 7 to 12 year olds.

All the new Rotakids members make a pledge, which is:

‘As a Rotakid I endeavour; to be fair to all, to serve my community and to show respect for others’

8 new members were chartered in the presence of (L to R) James Tibbles the Head Teacher, Maggie Reuther, President Ashford Rotary Club, Peter West, District Governor Elect for Rotary District 1120 (South East England), and The Mayor of Ashford, Geraldine Dyer.

Phoenix Rotakids president Lopsang Thapa (front) said “This is exciting as we have the chance to help other people to have a better life.”

The club will meet once a week to discuss and plan projects. Their first projects were to join Ashford Rotary Club and St Mary’s Rotakids members collecting money for Children in Need and planting crocus bulbs in the town centre area. St Mary’s, which was chartered last year, now has 25 members.

£1400 was collected for Children in Need.

The crocuses were planted in the shape of the Rotary logo at the school and in the Memorial gardens and the burial grounds in Vicarage Lane with the assistance of Ashford Borough Council.

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RotaKids Help Collect For Children In Need

A total of £1,400 was collected by Rotarians & RotaKids

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Rtn Robin Dodridge - Rotary Community Emergency Service

Rtn Robin Dodridge is the Community Officer appointed by the District to run this area's Emergency Service. Rotarians are asked to help at major disasters such as adverse weather (floods, snow), major fire, pandemic, plane crash, train derailment, refugee influx, operation stack – anywhere where there are large groups of people unable to get home.

Our help would be a low level category and we would help at the centre where the victims are staying. We would document their details, man the phones, fetch and carry, direct people, serve tea etc. For good support we need to be organised and PP Martin Carter has offered to be our CES officer. At an emergency he will contact volunteers who would need to turn up with a high vis tabard, Rotary name badge, mobile phone and wear warm clothing. The Emergency Service is covered by RIBI insurance. There was a good response from members signing up to help.

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Dr John Reuther - Trafalgar

John gave a fascinating talk about Trafalgar, he did a quick résumé about the Battle which took place on October 21st 1805, facts and figures were flying everywhere and then John explained what they did with Nelsons' body – they pickled it in a barrel of brandy ! We heard how the guard deserted his post when the gases in the barrel expanded lifting the lid and Nelsons' head popped out , right down to his state burial in St Pauls Cathedral – very entertaining and not one to have missed.

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Dr Rashid Zia – Ophthalmology and YAG Laser Scanner

President Maggie Reuther introduced our speaker Dr. Rashid Zia from the New Hayesbank Eye Clinic and Karen Browning the practice manager. It opened in 2008 and is a state of the art Glaucoma Clinic with general ophthalmology and oculo-plastic surgery (eye lid surgery). The Clinic has NHS practice based commissioning which means that whereas patients would only have been able to go to hospital for certain procedures they can now go to the clinic. This gives patients more choice and a quicker service. Dr Rashid would like to expand the service by offering YAG Laser which is used in certain types of glaucoma and after some cataract surgery. This would reduce the waiting time and give a better 'in house' service. Unfortunately the cost is around £20,000; or a 5 year lease of approx £350 a month which would need raising before this could happen.

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Paul Hughes – More Than Words Charity

Paul Hughes founded the More Than Words Charity after his daughter Gracie was born disabled and unable to communicate. Learning to sign has opened up Gracie's world and with more people signing with her, the happier she is.

The Charity supports children with communication difficulties by arranging Makaton signing courses and aims to supply aids such as the eye gaze systems for quadraplegics. They also use social media such as YouTube for signing videos.

Click here for more information on the charity.

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Damian Green MP

President Maggie Reuther inducted Damian Green as a Honorary member of our Club. Damian gave a light-hearted insight into parliament and after the events of the last few months says you can only expect the unexpected!

Damian sympathised with everyone in Kent who were affected by Operation Stack. The Summer chaos has made the Government accept this is a national problem and long term solutions are now being saught.

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Paddy Langdon - Vulcan Bomber Pilot

Paddy Langdon was an RAF Vulcan Bomber Pilot between 1963 and 1976. Paddy explained that the Vulcan Bomber had been designed to fulfil the role of a long range strategic bomber capable of carrying atomic weapons. The Vulcan prototype was first seen at Farnborough in 1955 and it had a revolutionary triangular shape.

Paddy had a film showing four Vulcans scrambling one after the other on a Quick Reaction Alert which was practised in case of a nuclear warning. The only time the Vulcan was used in anger was in 1982 at the Falklands. It came out of RAF service in 1986, and since 2005 has undergone restoration.

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PP Martin Carter- Shelterbox

PP Martin is a trained volunteer speaker for Shelterbox. He explained that Shelterbox started in 2001 and that 78000 boxes have been sent to disaster areas in that time. Our Club have supplied 40 boxes since 2001 raising £18,860 for the Charity.

Martin had set up the tent and showed us what else was included in the box such as a tool kit, cooking utensils, stove, solar light, water purification kit, blankets, plastic ponchos and drawing items for children. The equipment is continually being improved.

Click here and click on 'track a sponsored box', District 1120, to see where all our boxes have gone.

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Jim Watson - Restorative Justice

Our speaker, Jim Watson, who stepped in at very short notice gave his speech on Restorative Justice. Jim explained this is where the victim of the crime and the offender are brought together to discuss the crime and how it has affected the victim plus their family.

Often the offender has not realised the far reaching effects of their actions and are truly sorry. The victim is able to establish a sense of normalisation. Statistics have shown that offenders going through this process are much less likely to re-offend.

Click here for more information on Restorative Justice.

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Mayor Geraldine Dyer

President Maggie Reuther inducted Past President Denise Collins from the Ashford Earlybird Club as a new member of our Club. Denise has also worked with District on the Vocational Training Team.

Mayor Geraldine Dyer gave her talk, explaining she has lived in the Borough for 37 years and was a language teacher at the Towers and Highworth Schools. She is a Borough Councillor but the role of Mayor is non political. As a female Mayor she is addressed as Mayor, not Mayoress, and her husband is the escort or consort.

Geraldine told us about a few awkward moments where people didn't realise she was the Mayor, and also what the role of the Mayor involves. Geraldine has two fund raising charities which are Pilgrims Hospice and Find a Voice. She will be linking up with the Park Farm Tesco team on our Ramble and they are named as 'Gerry and the Voice Makers'!

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Rotarian Alan Jose - 'Behind the Curtains'

Firstly, President Maggie Reuther inducted Mary Anne Hughes, President of the Ashford Soroptomists, as an Honorary member of our Club.

Rtn Alan Jose then gave his job talk and enlightened us all on the workings in a crematorium 'behind the curtains'. Alan gave the history of cremation,beginning with the first crematorium opening in Woking in 1885.

Since 1967 over 70% of all deaths result in cremation. There are stringent rules and regulations that are required before a cremation can take place and great care is taken at the actual cremation.

Alan explained that special requests from the family were catered for wherever possible with different services and a wide range of music. The crematorium staff treat each cremation as an individual service, not just one of many.

Click here for more information on the Westerleigh Group.

We also welcomed Jamil Jaward from the Rotary Club of Karen, Kenya.

Click here for the Rotary Club of Karen, Kenya Facebook page.

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PP Malcolm Brook - Umtha Welanga

Our speaker, PP Malcolm Brook, who stood in at very short notice, gave a wonderful talk on Umtha Welanga. Malcolm and Kitty were in South Africa and met Elsie Menace who asked Malcolm (as he was wearing a Rotary badge) if he would be able to help with an AIDS project.

Malcolm returned and was hosted by Elsie who showed him a post-natal clinic in Khayelitsha where all the mums were HIV positive. He visited the township where the people were living in tiny shacks with problems with water and drainage.

Malcolm was so impressed by the people that he set about raising funds, in total £60,000, with the help from the Club members and other Rotary Clubs. An office was opened out there in April 2001 to give HIV counselling and to arrange foster care for the children .Quite a few of our members visited Khayelitsha and the project was supported for 10 years until the S. African government said they had to manage this themselves. As far as we know it is still carrying on.

Click here for more information on Umtha Welanga.

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Rebecca Sanderson - Admiral Nursing Services

Admiral Nurse, Rebecca Sanderson opened her talk with some sobering statistics. There are currently 850,000 people diagnosed with dementia of which 40,000 are under 65; by 2025 it is predicted that there will be 1 million of which 66% will be women. Dementia causes 60,000 deaths a year at a cost of £26 billion p.a., 66% are cared for in the community with the balance in care homes. The 670,000 family carers save the country £11 billion p.a.

Dementia is a general term for a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language when the brain is affected by specific diseases and conditions. There are different types of Dementia depending on which part of the brain is affected and the cause.

Admiral Nurses are registered Mental Health Nurses with a minimum of two year’s experience. Rebecca’s Admiral Nurse post is funded by Kent and Medway NHS funds. There were 151 Admiral Nurses in the UK but only 144 currently. They have a direct phone line from 9am to 5pm 5 days a week. An Admiral Nurse is a specialist nurse offering practical and emotional support to both patient and carer. Coping strategies are offered and each patient’s care is tailored to their specific needs with widely the differing effects of the disease on the patient. Some will be placid, usually contented but occasionally presenting a complete flip, others can be verbally and physically violent. Patients benefit from remaining in their own home in familiar surroundings for as long as possible.

Rebecca described the preferred chain of care but with nearly 1000 patients in her care volunteer support plays a big part in bridging some of the shortfall to the over-stretched professionals, like Rebecca, who are providing this wonderful, compassionate but qualified and professional vocational care to some of the most vulnerable and needy members of society, most of whom had previously lived full and useful lives until struck down indiscriminately by this most cruel of diseases.

Click here for more information on Admiral Nurses.

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New Education Resource at Wyvern School

The Rotary Club of Ashford has recently sponsored a new education resource at Wyvern School, Ashford. Called an 'Early Years Learning Outside System', it has been designed for schools to use out in the open or indoors. It is fully weather-proof and is made up of a sturdy wooden frame with a double-sided steel panel which allows children to attach magnetic shapes, puzzles, pictures to it. It is an excellent way of teaching children both numeracy and literacy skills, but is also good fun for them to use.

Within minutes of its presentation to the school, the children were crowding round it and making sense of the magnetic pieces, creating pictures and solving puzzles.

A source at the school said it will be a boon to the children and will give them something extra to work and play with during the day.

Four Ashford Rotarians the school attended on Monday 29th - incoming President Maggie Reuther, Malcolm and Kitty Brook and Steve Parkin, who instigated the purchase of the system by the Rotary Club. Also present, apart from Jackie Davey and her teaching staff, were the designers and manufacturers of the system, Roger Knight and Andrew Lamb, both Rotarians from Dover.

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Handover Night 2015

President Ian Alexander opened the meeting by presenting, with great pleasure, a framed certificate celebrating 40 years Membership to PP Frank Brake.

Ian went on to thank all Members for a great year throughout his Presidency, especially the hard working Chairmen who he listed, all of whom had worked hard to achieve considerable success in their differing projects; over £15,000 was raised for our charities.

He thanked all the Committee Chairmen by presenting the ladies with bouquets of flowers and the gentlemen with a bottle.

He thanked PP Stuart McRae and PP/Secretary Sue Sleet for all their support. There were four new Member inductions, three honorary Member inductions and a second Member, Ron Stainton who had earlier been congratulated on his 40 years Membership. He then thanked VP Maggie Reuther for her support throughout his year in office and wished her an equally happy and successful year as President. Handover then took place.

President Maggie thanked Ian for a most enjoyable and successful year and thanked PP Peter Stutchbury and PP Steve Hiscock for persuading her to be President. She is looking forward to another successful and enjoyable year, building on the past year’s successes and the continued encouragement and support of Secretary Sue.

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Rotarian Bill Sheret - Life Talk

Bill started his ‘Life Talk’ with a conventional PowerPoint presentation but that was the only conventional element of his talk.

He gave us a brief background of his family, his unremarkable academic achievements and his early time spent mostly with W H Smith in a variety digs with mostly, but not exclusively, good landladies, elaborating on the pink painted bath episode and other mishaps! The best bit revolved around a dance in Birmingham on 13/12/68 where he met the ‘love of his life’, his wife Dorothy.

Even his description of being called to a major fire at the distribution centre had us laughing. He went on to describe how the news was distributed and his steady rise in seniority and moves to larger and better distribution areas. He covered the troubled times during the 1986 revolution of the replacement of conventional print by new technology, the methods distributors used to find ways to avoid the picket lines, the fear of the ‘rent a mob’ and the moves from Fleet Street to Wapping by newspaper owners.

In 1992 he moved to Ashford working for Geerings tendering for distribution areas. Eventually the distribution became unviable for newspapers and the distribution of magazines took over. Two years ago he decided that there was a diminishing need for even magazines and decided to retire at the age of 64. His interests now mostly revolve around family, his classic car and Rotary.

We also welcomed current Ashford Rotakid President Alan (and his Mum) to the club.

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John Newman - Architectural splendours of Kent

Our speaker, John Newman, talked to us about 2,000 years of Kent Architecture. He showed us examples of magnificent Ecclesiastical architecture through the ages, pointing out the changes in structural form and some particularly magnificent features.

There were then pictures of parts of Dover Castle, the keep with its Medieval bands of flint and stone and the great size and complexity of the design of the Castle itself. Canterbury Cathedral was extensively featured, particularly the exquisite stained glass windows and, following a fire, the replacement new Gothic interior that was subsequently reproduced in other Ecclesiastical buildings. Residential houses were featured such as the very grandiose 1340’s Penshurst Place house. The two 1375 Towers and gateway at Westgate, Canterbury were shown.

John then moved on to the many spectacular Kentish timber framed hall houses from the 1380’s to the 1720’s, pointing out the differing features of architectural merit. There were also buildings with spectacular brickwork such as the 17c Broom Park. We were acquainted with the Gothic Revival design of The Grange at Ramsgate, moving to the 1880’s Great Hall of Cranbrook School and the 20c Norman Shaw Arts and Crafts style of country houses and finally to today’s modern architecture such as Saga’s Headquarters in Folkestone and the Turner Contemporary at Margate. This is just a brief snapshot of a few of the many memorable buildings showing differing features and styles covered by John.

Click here to read an article on John and his books.

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Ray Ashman - St John Ambulance

Ray Ashman is well known to us for the support he has given us at our events over many years with St John Ambulance. His talk was a very useful demonstration on resuscitation using dummy ‘Little Ann’ and a fully automatic AED defibrillator (The battery power supply to the device had been deactivated for demonstration purposes).

Ray went through the whole process of resuscitation, speaking to the patient, opening the airway, checking for breathing, if so putting in the recovery position. If not he demonstrated how lay the patient on his/her back on a firm, hard surface and give 30 firm but rapid compressions, then pinch the nose and breath twice into the mouth (there is a protective waterproof sheet between you and the patient provided!), known as 30 to 2. If there is still no sign of life the whole chest should be bared and the AED turned on, the electric pads applied to the chest and the AED, designed to be ‘idiot proof’ will talk you through the procedure.

Ray gave a list of tips on the safe way to check the patient such as removing metal objects from pockets, metal jewellery etc. No one was brave enough to follow Ray and revive ‘Little Ann’!

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2014 - 2015 Presidential Citation

Great news; we've received our 5th consecutive Presidential Citation!

Many thanks to Rotarian Colette O'Sullivan for all her hard work.

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Spencer Stone - Contemporary Paganism

Spencer opened his PowerPoint presentation on Contemporary Paganism; a group of contemporary religious movements influenced by, or claiming to be derived from the various historical pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe.

The talk gave particular reference to Wicca, a modern pagan witchcraft, and Heathenry, a reconstructionist/contemporary revival of historical Germanic paganism using surviving source materials.

Since the 2001 census first allowed individuals to specify their religious beliefs, Paganism has built a strong following up until and including the 2011 UK Census, with 85,435 respondents claiming pagan religion.

Spencer gave us a fascinating history of the first evidence of the practice of contemporary pagan witchcraft in England in the 1930’s and gave us the historical development of Heathenry from 1220 to the present time.

He went on to the Theology and Moral & Ethical views of Wicca followed by those of Heathenry. He told us of the Seasonal Festivals, worship and altars from the very simple to the highly personalised, followed by beliefs on afterlife/reincarnation. There followed a lively Q & A session.

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Amanda Cottrell – UK & Kent Tourism

Amanda Cottrell, head of Visit Kent, is responsible for promoting tourism in Kent which earns £3.5-£4.0bn a year from tourism in England; the 5th largest contributor to the economy.

Amanda described the vast range of options currently available to visitors and plans for additional attractions such as a Heritage theme park. Ebbsfleet Garden City is planned along with the new East Kent College offering training in tourism and second language skills.

Amanda’s enthusiasm and endless energy shone through in her description of the way promotion is multi-faceted throughout the tourist business involving the support of the humble right through the people chain to no less than members of the Royal family and HM the Queen.

Her monumental efforts take her all over the world; space does not allow a full report but one example of her unique skill was graphically displayed by the magnificent feathered American Indian headdress she donned, presented to her during a K.C.C.-backed visit with HM the Queen and Prince Phillip, to an Indian reservation.

Click here to visit the Visit Kent website.

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Kent MS Therapy Centre Opening

Past President Frank Brake about to cut the ribbon.

Some of our members were fortunate enough to be invited to the official opening of the Kent MS Therapy Centre on Friday (24th April 2015) afternoon.

The Centre was opened by their Patron, Ashford Rotary Club member and Past President Frank Brake.

The Centre is completely finished and fully functional with the exception of the Oxygen Chamber which should be up and running in a couple of weeks’ time.

It was mentioned several times during the speeches how grateful they are for all the fund raising our club helped with over the past few years and they will be organising guided tours of the centre for all the Rotary Clubs and Masonic Lodges that have been a part of this super project. A lot of people will benefit for many years to come.

Click here to visit the Kent MS Therapy Centre website.

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Rotary Entertains 2015

Members of the Rotary Club of Ashford hosted their 28th year of ‘Rotary Entertains’ for Ashford Senior Citizens and disadvantaged Ashford residents, when afternoon tea and musical entertainment was once again provided at Norton Knatchbull School.

The show was opened by President Ian Alexander who introduced the first act, Elvis Tribute Act Cliff Castle from Ashford, supported by Caz. A firm favourite with the audience, the performance of well known and popular Elvis songs soon had everyone joining in singing and clapping with enthusiasm.

Tea, organized and prepared by members of Inner Wheel supported by Rotarians, their families and friends was then enjoyed by about 140 mostly elderly Ashford guests, most of whom have attended for many years.

Following tea Norton Knatchbull School’s director of Music, Eryn Grady, presented one of their excellent jazz bands which was given an ovation by the guests.

"Love to Sing" Ashford Community Choir, led by Karen Hill, another favourite, was next on the programme. The now familiar rendition of Land of Hope and Glory, with enthusiastic support from everyone singing and waving Union flags, was followed by Ashford Rotary Members joining the choir on stage to sing ‘We’ll meet again’ with the audience, which concluded the entertainment.

Ian Alexander thanked Members of Inner Wheel, St. Marys School Rotakids, St John Ambulance, Norton Knatchbull caretaker John, the team of helpers from Age UK, Ashford Rotarians, family and friends for all their help and support and Asda for their generous contribution of £500. A special vote of thanks was given to Karen Ottewill, who organized this year’s event, and to Rotarian John Hobbs who organized the transport.

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Moya Ross - The Art of Homeopathy

Our speaker Moya Ross, a nurse, was introduced to homeopathy after a long period of unpleasant symptoms from the side effects of antibiotics on her immune system which became worse after the birth of her baby.

Initially she was sceptical but aware that the treatment could cause no harm decided to give it a go. When she developed yet another infection she tried homeopathic treatment and found it helped; her daughter also found it helped when she developed glandular fever. From then on Homeopathy took over and she decided to study at Regents College for the necessary qualifications to practice the art.

Homeopathy was discovered by German doctor Samuel Hahnemann, born in 1755 he was a brilliant chemist and linguist. His theory was that like cures like, whereby a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people will cure similar symptoms in sick people when administered in a vastly diluted state. There is no one remedy for specific symptoms and the body is treated as a whole, starting with the brain and working downwards and the treatment will have no unwanted side effects. Sceptics talk of a placebo effect but vets found that the treatment of animals worked e.g. mastitis in cows.

Moya does not recommend homeopathy as a total replacement for any recommended traditional medicine but all treatments can be safely used in support of more conventional medicine when cessation is not recommended. Specialist pharmacists make up the diluted treatments and Moya has had three of her own treatments officially approved. Homeopathy is supported by the NHS.

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Diana El Khazan - A very different holiday

Our speaker, architect Diana El Khazan explained that she took a two month holiday in Iran, travelling along the part of the Old Silk Road that crossed the Country in a basic truck with 15 other tourists of many nationalities and age range.

In Iran the lady travellers respected Iranian dress code by covering their heads and wearing modest clothing. Their Iranian guide spoke little English. Their first stop was to pick up supplies, they erected their own tents and formed groups of three to prepare and cook meals for the whole group in turn. Camping in the desert for the first three nights was hard with no facilities available.

Their next stop was Tabriz where they found the wide ethnic mix of people well integrated and friendly, something they experienced for the whole trip. Diana’s presentation was mainly of the spectacularly beautiful architecture and places of interest in the towns and villages the group visited.

Next was Azeri with its shops and famous park and kebabs or ‘burgers. In the large, bustling Capital of Tehran, they visited the main huge and attractive bazar that seemed to sell everything, then visited a Mosque and the 200 years old Khazar Palace, where the last Shah held his final official banquet and with pavilions round the garden now with a variety of displays. They spent the next three nights in the Unesco World Heritage Site of Esfahan and had dinner in an ancient building, now a hotel, saw a dried up river bed where the river had been diverted (high-jacked?), a beautiful Mosque, an historic bridge, the Armenian Quarter, the Cathedral and saw beautiful murals.

They visited Shiraz where they saw traditional teaching facilities, had wonderful food, saw spectacular friezes, the remains of a 2,500 year old tent city, more lovely gardens, another bazaar and a Mosque with spectacular blue tiles everywhere, tombs with unknown history carved into rocks and the Towers of Silence. Then it was Yazd, a mud/brick desert city with great historic interest open to visitors. They found beer at last in Turkmenistan, totally destroyed and rebuilt as a modern white marble city.

Then on to Muynak, once a Shipyard but now 180km from the sea and the ancient walled city of Kiva, another most enjoyable city where they had a meal and saw the summer palace of the last Khan, Samarkand with its shops, museums, observatory, avenue of mausoleums and exquisite tombs, the modern city of Tashkent, Kazakhastan with its national park where they camped, Kurdistan with its beaches and finally Caracol Spa Town in the mountains where yurts are still used.

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PP Colin Sykes – My special holiday

Past President Colin and Felicitie opened their talk about a few of the 65 Islands that range from just 3ft high to mountains, that they visited during their 35-day Pacific cruise on the 'Caledonian Sky'; Felicitie’s dream since childhood.

The cruise followed Cook’s exploration journey in 1776/7. We were given a brief history of the discoveries by explorers over the centuries.

They visited 27 islands, landing on 25 by Zodiac; hundreds of miles apart covering 5,000 nautical miles. We were shown some fascinating pictures of large carved rock statues on Easter Island where there is no vegetation, and interesting and widely differing details about many of the other islands they visited, such as Bounty, Henderson, Pitcairn Islands and more, too many to be covered here.

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Zena Belton - Visioning

Zena Belton, who hails from District and the Rotary Club of Westerham, told us that visioning is planning for the future and what we can achieve long term to help the club move forward.

This is not compulsory but suggested that if the club were to adopt this then start with the end in mind and work backwards.

Zena offered to facilitate a meeting of 3 to 4 hours at which at least 75% of Members are required to be present including the Presdent, President-Elect and Vice President.

Zena has a team of four trained facilitators who will oversee the club members individually writing their thoughts, followed by those thoughts being shared and voted on, then pruned and repeated until a prioritised action plan that is agreed for a three year plan, then a long-term five year plan.

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Hazel Southwell - MSF and Ebola

President Ian Alexander had pleasure in inducting Alan Jose, a Member of the Rotary Club of Durham for many years.

President Ian then had the pleasure of awarding Member Cliff Grieve with the Paul Harris Fellowship for his tireless contribution to the prevention of modern day slavery.

President Ian then introduced our speaker, Hazel Southwell, presenting her with a cheque to make our total donation £2,000.

Hazel only became a member of Medecins sans Frontieres, London, in December and was standing in at very short notice for Stephen Legg who was unwell. The charity was started in 1971 in France and now has offices all over the world. Each office operates independently but work together. They do not work with other organisations, are non-political, non-sectarian and accept funding from individuals but not governments. They carry out all their own humanitarian work, are on wire for urgent emergencies and use their own mostly local staff and work in areas where other organisations cannot gain access.

They employ 30,000 people of whom 25% are doctors, mostly local. They work in areas of war and conflict treating war wounds and other medical emergencies, refugee camps, areas of extreme poverty, natural and man-made disasters, epidemics, provide urgent primary health care, vaccinations and anywhere needing urgent medical care. Their principles include neutrality, impartiality and independence. They have an operation centre in Amsterdam where they stockpile drugs and vaccines. It was there that they ‘mocked up’ an Ebola Centre.

Hazel then gave us details of the brutal Ebola symptoms, how they responded to the recent epidemic, training all their own medical staff, providing protective clothing and temporary secure facilities in hospital tents. She gave us some staggering statistics including the real spend of £1.296bn worldwide to Ebola. Currently they have gone 42 days without a case but not all contacts have been traced and the outcome remains unpredictable. They now have a vaccine for at least one strain and are running down their operation.

Click here for more information on Médecins Sans Frontières.

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2015 Rotary Ramble Flyer

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Forthcoming Events

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Prof. Nick Russell - Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure

Ernest Shackleton was born in 1874 in County Kildare, the son of a doctor. He joined the merchant navy at 16 and was a Master Mariner at 24. He had a passion for world travel and especially wanted to explore the poles, focussing on the Antarctic.

He joined Scott’s Discovery Expedition where he learnt how severe the conditions were, but became so ill half way that he had to be invalided home. This made Shackleton even more determined to repeat the attempt but this time on his own terms. His Nimrod expedition in 1908 with three companions almost succeeded but he turned back just short of the South Pole as he feared for the lives of his companions.

Shackleton started preparing for a third attempt, the Endurance Expedition and they left Valsel Bay on 5th December 1914 fully aware of the exceptionally harsh conditions they would face.

Nick gave us a fascinating insight into the journey. Sailing through massive icebergs and finally being locked in the ice for 281 days before sinking in November 1915; the explorers made camp on the ice. In April 1916 they took 21 men two in lifeboats. They rowed 800 miles in the most atrocious conditions managing only one sextant reading to confirm their location. They walked the last part of the journey finally arriving at a whaling station. The last of the men were rescued on August 1916, not one man was lost despite the hardships suffered. Nick told us that Shackleton, whilst a disciplinarian always put the wellbeing of his men before everything else.

Click here to visit the James Caird Society website, an institution that exists to preserve the memory, honour the remarkable feats of discovery in the Antarctic and commend the outstanding qualities of leadership associated with the name of Sir Ernest Shackleton, KCVO (l874-l922), especially during the ill-fated but glorious Endurance expedition.

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Joint Silent Auction with The Elwick Club, Ashford

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John Goodman - My Story

John gave us a short history of his early life in Devon, and true to form a very amusing account of Lake Titikaka, the Titikaka Scrotum Frog and a number of other unusual scientific facts.

He attended Kelly College, a naval boarding school on Dartmoor (not the prison!), left school to become articled to a solicitors but found it was not to be his chosen career.

He spent time in London and Ashford with Sainsburys, Rank Xerox and finally with PPL/PPF/Quest/Givaudan where he met Dydianne his wife of 40 years. John gave us the impressive statistics of this now huge fragrance company who have a 25% share of the market.

Louis xv in 1710 used fragrances and gradually the use of them grew with Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine using vast amounts and later the Italian influence by Rene Le Florentin. The formulas of perfumes were guarded secret. We were entertained and educated by information on many well-known perfumes starting with the Au de Cologne 4711, the famous Chanel no.5 through to today’s celebrity perfumes.

We were treated to a ‘sniff’ of two perfumes. In addition to the wonderful perfumes sold in beautiful containers fragrances are also designed for use in a vast range commercial products.

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Irene Green, Jo Olagboyega & John Seaton - Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

Jo, who was the first to speak, is a midwife who met Irene, also a midwife, in 1977 while they were training. The syndrome was formally diagnosed by Drs. Ehlers and Danlos in the 20th Century. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is a genetic disorder in which the structure of the connective tissue is abnormally fragile due to a hereditary gene mutation. This can lead to a range of widespread, multi-systemic symptoms not limited to one body system. The initial diagnosis identified 10 types but this has now been reduced to 6, with some sufferers leading full and active lives, some suffering physical disability or even becoming life-limiting. The syndrome is very rare with some of the types extremely rare and is often not diagnosed.

Jo introduced Irene, who has the syndrome. She was well until her early thirties and was eventually diagnosed by Consultant John Seaton from The William Harvey Hospital, although the syndrome is not his speciality; he has looked after her ever since. Irene admitted that she lives from day to day with a range of painful and disabling symptoms but still works as a midwife.

John described how he is first ‘port of call’ if Irene needs treatment and he co-ordinates her treatment with a range of specialists. He explained that this is a chronic condition with chronic symptoms needing clear plans of management. EDS UK was set up in 1987 to support, advise and inform those with the syndrome. Irene made little of her day to day problems but it was clear she faces each day with stoic determination.

Click here to find further details on Ehlers-Danlos Support UK

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Sandra Noel - The 1924 ascent of Everest

Sandra Noel giving her presentation.

Sandra Noel's father was the freelance photographer who recorded the first mountaineering expedition with George Mallory in 1922 with the express aim of making the first ascent of Mount Everest. It was also the first expedition that attempted to climb Everest using bottled oxygen.They climbed from the northern side out of Tibet as the south side out of Nepal was closed to Western foreigners.

Sandra gave us the fascinating background of her father from extensive childhood travels with his army officer father to joining the English Army himself where he researched from a base in Northern India, took amazing photographs and in 1921 wrote papers for the Royal Geographical Society.We were privileged to see the beautiful glass film plates, taken in black and white and frequently coloured by hand painting.

Sandra also covered her father’s recollections of the 1924 attempt by a team of eight who were sadly lost in bad weather and never found. Her father fortunately was photographing the attempt from below using a camera with a telescopic lens. Her father spent the rest of his working life lecturing both nationally and internationally, wrote a book but never returned to Mount Everest. He retired to the listed Cloth Hall house in Smarden, which he renovated. He died in 1989 aged 99.

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Christmas Dinner Photos!

Rotarians Steve Hiscock, Steve Parkin and John Tatterfield in full voice.

Everyone looking content after dinner.

Rotarians John Hardie and Peter Gammon doing something...?

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Jo James - Chief Executive of K.I.C.C.

Jo James.

President Ian Alexander once again inducted Jo James, Chief Executive of Kent Invicita Chamber of Commerce, as an Honorary Member of Ashford Rotary Club.

Click here to find further details on the Kent Invicita Chamber of Commerce.

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Jamie Clifford - K.C.C.C.: past, present and future

Jamie Clifford.

Jamie Clifford's career with Kent Cricket has spanned a number of years culminating with him becoming C.E.O. five years ago.

Kent has a rich cricketing tradition and claims to have invented the game despite a similar claim from Sussex.

He gave us some interesting background of the rise of the game from the first match in 1709. From 1968 to 1979 the County won 13 trophies and he gave us a list of past famous Kent Cricketers.

The Club now has to be run as a well-oiled profitable business having lost £600,000 in his first year in charge. The Club had to attract sponsors, with Shepherd Neame heading the list and hospitality and the facilities offered were vastly improved by money raised by releasing some land for housing development.

The aim is to secure the best possible cricketing talent by a large community engagement, developing local talent from 68,000 recreational cricketers and coaching 16,000 school children. In the past there had been as many as ½ the players being South African, now the vast majority are ‘home grown’.

They now have a good fixture programme and in addition to Canterbury have grounds in Beckenham and other Kent towns.

There has been diversity with four day cricket fading and 20/20 becoming the core part. Team performance has been raised with the players now true athletes, community at the heart of the volunteers and Membership open to the public.

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Frugal supper at Stonegate with Ravi Holy

Local Legend Ravi Holy.

Rev. Ravi Holy. Ravi started his talk by explaining about his name and confessing to a distinctly un-holy past life as a drug taking, alcoholic, anarchistic and Satanist leader of a punk group.

He was born into a strict Pentecostal family of Indian/British parents and was an ex-Etonian who wanted to be an entertainer and also spent a little time as a private investigator.

His story was self-deprecating, humorous, honest and devoid of any self-promotion. His jokes had us all laughing and his message is that religion can be better spread with humour, understanding and lack of pomposity.

It seems that his unconventional approach has swelled attendance at Wye’s beautiful Church.

Thanks were given to PP Kitty Brook for once again providing a choice of two delicious soups, crusty bread, fruit jelly and custard and to husband Malcolm and her other ‘helpers’.

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Eileen Steinbock - Governmental influence on health & nutrition

Eileen has worked as a nutritionist for over 30 years and was speaking from a personal point of view.

Government legislation covers food safety, food composition and labelling; voluntary issues cover food consumption and nutritional intake.

Current problems include food poisoning with 500,000 cases and 500 deaths a year, heart disease and stroke with 173,000 deaths a year, and cancer with 162,000 deaths a year. Allergies are responsible for 5% of deaths. Obesity and lack of physical activity are rising but smoking has seen a huge reduction.

She gave us a fascinating history and account of the many efforts of government, through a variety of different departments, to control the health of the nation by food legislation from food standards started in the Boer war, school meals to celebrity chef intervention and schemes.

Despite all this legislation six out of ten men and five out of ten women are obese and there are virtually no ‘thin’ children; what is now considered ‘normal’ by the public? Despite all this the risks of obesity remain and the message of eat well, move more to live longer remains the best philosophy.

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Rotary Club of Ashford help for Rio for car seat

Rotarian John Hardie and Rio with a cheque for £250.

Rotary Club of Ashford Member John Hardie was approached by mother Claire Chalk, whose son Rio has the rare non-genetic condition Macrocephaly-capillary malformation (M-CM).

This syndrome causes multiple disabilities and Claire is desperate for a specialised car seat so Rio can travel safely in her car.

This is not available on the NHS and she has been fund raising in an attempt to raise the £2,100 to buy the seat.

John was touched by the plight of Claire and her delightful but severely handicapped son and Ashford Rotary Club immediately agreed to contribute £250 towards the purchase.

Click here to find further details (or if you wish to contribute) on Claire's facebook page.

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Tim Allen - Metal Matters; a cast of thousands

Tim Allen.

Tim gave us a brief history of the M J Allen Group from its humble beginnings in a stable in 1968 started by his father, a pattern maker by trade, to the present time.

The Group has freehold manufacturing sites in Ashford, Hothfield, Swanley and Alfreston and sales offices and warehousing in Chicago and Rotterdam.

Tim is Managing Director of the group with his brother Michael Manufacturing Director and his brother Jon responsible for the buying. His son and two nephews also work in the business.

The engineering site in Ashford runs a true “one-stop” shop manufacturing large parts in aluminium, bronze and cast iron, from the drawing board to the finished product and all stages in between. The company also manufactures sheet metal working machinery, their own all-wheel drive transmission assemblies used by Ford Motor Company and ornamental aluminium, bronze and ironwork for the construction industry at the Ashford and Hothfield sites.

Punch press and die tooling is manufactured at Swanley and the automotive after-market clutch and disc business is run from Alfreston in Derbyshire.

The group employs about 260 permanent staff and had a turnover of £30 million in 2013.

Tim is chairman of the Invicta Chamber of Commerce from 2014 to 2016.

Click here to visit the MJ Allen website.

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Dr. John Reuther - The plight of British and Alien civilians in the Great War

President Ian Alexander opened the meeting, having the pleasure of inducting Renate Beerling into our Club.

President Ian then introduced Dr. John Reuther, already well known to us as a very well informed, popular and politically incorrect speaker.

Dr. John Reuther.

John gave us the historic background leading up to the ‘Great War’ at a time when our Monarchy was of German extraction and spoke German and large numbers of our population were German or of German extraction and we had a close and warm relationship with Germany.

He told us of the 56,000 academic German men who brought musical entertainment to our shores and the many bakers, butchers, hairdressers and jewellers who had thriving businesses here as well setting up schools, hospitals and gymnasiums.

The Russian/Prussian conflict had sown the seeds for war and when unsubstantiated rumours about a German spy ring was circulated, spy fever resulted in the German population being persecuted and rounded up.

John gave us a detailed and graphic history of the escalation of the war across the world, mass internment camps and terrible loss of life.

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Special General Meeting

A packed dining room for the evening.

The cheque for money raised so far, for Children In Need.

25/11/2014 Update: Final total raised for Children In Need by Ashford Rotary Club and the Rotakids from St. Mary's C of E School, Ashford stands at £1784!

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Prof. Alan Colchester - BSE & Variant CJD

Professor Alan Colchester, has worked at East Kent Hospitals and Guys’ and St. Thomas’.

Alan told us about TSEs (Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy’s) that include BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) and CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease). These are incurable, transmittable or inherited diseases caused by an abnormal protein that accumulates and clogs up the cells and systems and cannot be broken down, killing cells in every element of the body.

It can progress over weeks, months or years causing dementia and is always fatal. It can be inherited, transmitted or, rarely, appear from no apparent cause.

The first known transmitted cause, found by Alan, came from a surgical electrode used on a patient with the disease and used again on a patient for a different operation. It was discovered that the instrument had been correctly sterilised but it was impossible to remove the abnormal prion. Much research was carried out to identify the source of the contamination in the entire nervous system (brain, spinal cord, nerve roots etc), spleen, lymphoid tissue, bone marrow and to a much lesser degree, blood.

Bodies with the disease were almost impossible to disinfect and there was little or no decay over time. What was the original source of the transmitted form of the disease? Were infected cattle responsible for infecting humans or was it the other way round? Scrapie in sheep was suspected but ruled out.

Alan has his own views on this and he gave us a fascinating and extraordinary history on animal food chains at this time. The rest of the story and the most unbelievable part has to remain under wraps and with those of us who were at the talk….. sorry!

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Children In Need 2014

Rotarians Peter Gammon, Ian Alexander and Liz Stuart-Smith.

Children In Need Pudsey Bear standup provided by Medash Signs.

Once again a rota of Members of the Rotary Club of Ashford collected money for Children in Need at Ashford International Station on Friday.

The generosity and good spirit of commuters resulted in the fantastic sum of over £1,500 being raised to date.

The collectors, who included 11 St Mary's School Rotakids, commented that they all had fun and it was great to see the children's reaction and smiles.

Ashford Rotary thank commuters and the people of Ashford who once again donated so generously, the Station for their continued support and co-operation and Rotarian John Hobbs, of Medash signs, who donated the two giant Pudseys.

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Amanda Cottrell - Canterbury Cathedral Windows

Amanda Cottrell.

Amanda gave us an information-packed history of the 84 magnificent stained glass windows from Canterbury Cathedral made 645 years ago.

Amanda took on the task of accompanying six of these priceless windows to the Getty Museum in California for display and some very successful fund raising. She was accompanied by the Dean and Archbishop of Canterbury.

Of even more significance was the meeting with leaders of other faiths creating new opportunities to understand each other in friendship and understanding.

Amanda urged us to visit Canterbury to see these magnificent windows in light boxes in the Crypt between April and September 2015.

P.E. Maggie Reuther presenting a further cheque for £1,000, making a total raised £6,000, to Geoff Howarth, the charity Pancreatic Cancer UK representative.

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Gabriella Leveridge & Ben Thompson - The Transcontinental Bike Race

Ben Thompson and Gabriella Leveridge.

The Transcontinental Bike Race is an unsupported race from London to Istanbul to be completed in 14 days.

The 86 competitors were each fitted with a live tracker device that emit pulses every three minutes so they cannot ‘cheat’ by using transport.

There is no compulsory route but they must check in to all the check points.

We were told what they carried with them, about food from only commercial outlets and sleeping arrangements must not be with friends.

Temperatures ranged from minus 7 to plus 40 degrees. The hardship was extreme, sleep minimal, enough food not always available and the roads dangerous.

Socialising was not on the agenda but they still encountered great kindness, but not from the wild dogs in the mountains!

They covered 3600 kilometres in 12 days 10 hours 39 minutes, an average of 22.5 mm/hour.

Ben arrived a very creditable 18th and Gabriella was the second lady, only beaten by a famous professional lady cyclist.

Only 57 competitors completed the race within the 14 days.

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Damian Green MP - Commons Touch

Damian Green writing about Ashford Rotary Club on his website. Click on the image to go to the article:

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Father Rodney Schofield - Quack Cures

Rodney opened his talk by telling us about some old fashioned ‘cures’ he had come across, putting a dead mouse, leaves or tree bark under your pillow, or worse, putting dung on your head!

He spoke of witch doctors and finders, medicine women as well as cures and treatment of true science. He also spoke of alternative medicines, spine kneading, bottles of homeopathic ‘medicine’, even charms around the neck to ward off illness. He told us a little about traditional herbal medicine where the practitioner has six years training. He had experienced the use of ‘holy water’.

He also covered the more serious problems encountered in the third world where poverty resulted in very poor hygiene standards, serious lack of medical staff because of emigration and where the black market thrived. He had also found that our own NHS was not always perfect!

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Rtn. Martin Carter - Life Talk

A rare photograph of Martin without a moustache.

Martin gave us brief history of his family background and his travels after he left his home in Willesborough in 1976 to his return in 2010.

He had wanted to join the Police Force but was unable to do so for medical reasons at the time. He was fortunately recovered enough to be able to join the R.A.F. Police in 1976 at the age of 18.

There then followed a colourful and very varied series of interesting and challenging secondments, mostly relating to security, all over the world.

He left the R.A.F. in 1987 when he finally achieved his ambition to join the Police Force where he was involved in crime reduction as a schools officer but once again his duties took on a varied role in which quite a lot of publicity was involved.

From 2009 to date he has worked as a self-employed safety education advisor which covers many topics.

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Damian Green MP

President Ian Alexander was delighted to induct Damian Green as an Honorary Member for another year.

Damian’s topic this year was on the Scottish Referendum for home rule and he was unsurprisingly delighted that ‘common sense prevailed’.

He discussed the pros and cons that emerged during the run up to the Referendum and the emerging issues from the result.

He told us that finding a fair system for England, Wales and N. Ireland would not be easy and that is the reason it hasn’t been answered to date.

He went through just some of the issues and changes that will have to be addressed. There followed a lively Q & A debate.

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2014 Rotary Ramble

Ashford Rotary Club’s Annual Ramble took place on Sunday 14th September starting at Wye Village Hall. At least £700 was donated for Ashford Rotary Club Charities and running costs by midday.

This year the Club again facilitated the opportunity to raise sponsorship money for any charity of choice and an indeterminate amount will be raised by the other walkers for their chosen charities. This year at least 15 charities* have benefitted from the event as well as the Ashford Rotary Charities. The event started at 8am in bright sunshine with participants entering the familiar 5 or 10 mile ramble across Wye Downs. A popular event for children was the treasure hunt, finding rural natural ‘treasures’ during the walk for which they received a small prize as well as a medal on completion of the walk. Dogs were again welcome making the whole event a healthy and enjoyable family activity.

First walker back was Ashford Rotarian Bob Perry walking for Ashford Rotary Charities closely followed by fellow Rotarian Colin Sykes walking for Cystic Fibrosis.

Colin was top individual fund raiser last year raising over £500, but Bob is hoping to beat him this year!

The first dog back was once again rescue dog, Lurcher Jimmy, with owner Sue Gower, also supporting Rotary Charities and on her third walk with Jimmy.

The first Children back were veterans at 10, Olivia Hayward-Browne and Jade Chittenden walking for Demelza House.

The largest group of walkers came from Ashford School who entered 180 pupils (6 groups of 30) walking the 10 mile route for their Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Rotary District Governor Don Soppitt from Dover raised £286 for Dover Rotary Club’s Presidential Charity.

Many additional individual walkers took advantage of the opportunity to raise money for their own unspecified charities.

The club thanks sponsors the Brett Group and Medash Signs, Inner Wheel Members for refreshments and St John Ambulance for First Aid support.

* PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals), Find a Voice, RNLI, Pink Ribbon Pilates, Parkinson’s UK, 1st Sellindge Guides, British Heart Foundation, Pilgrims Hospices, RSPCA (Ashford & Tenterden District branch), Demelza House Hospice, McMillan Nurses, Cystic Fibrosis Trust, RSPCA, Rotary Foundation, Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and Ashford Rotary Club Charity Fund.

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Dutch Themed Evening - Arnhem Remembered

Enjoying each other's company over dinner.

Menu board for the evening.

The Main Course.

The Dessert.

Our speaker, PP Kitty Brook.

Replica 60th Anniversiary souvenir ticket.

The evening started with a delicious Dutch themed meal of meatballs with red cabbage followed by pears poached in red wine on ice cream.

PP Kitty Brook opened her talk on the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem from 17th to 26th September 1944 and the 50th Anniversary of her own arrival in England.

The battle was known as Operation Market Garden. On 17th September 1944 12,000 British and Polish troops were dropped from planes and gliders on the city of Arnhem to capture and defend the bridge and carve a corridor through the German lines, over the bridge and into Germany.

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Rotary Foundation

The Rotary Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation that supports the efforts of Rotary International to achieve world understanding and peace through international humanitarian, educational, and cultural exchange programs, notably the End Polio Now program. It is one of the largest and most prestigious international fellowship programs in the world.

It is supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and friends of the Foundation who share its vision of a better world. A cheque for £1,060 has recently been sent off to the UK Rotary Foundation, representing this year’s contributions from Ashford Rotarians.

Click here for more information on Rotary's own charities.

Click here for the End Polio Now website.

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Rtn. Don Ingram SERV (Bloodrunners)

Our speakers, Rtn. Don and his wife June Ingram.

Our speakers, Rtn. Don and his wife June Ingram are controllers for ‘Service by Emergency Response Volunteers’ (SERV). The volunteers provide an immediate response delivery of vital medical substances, mostly blood but also breast milk, dialysis samples and other urgent requirements between the hours of 7pm and 6am, all year across the country.

Don’s group deliver to seven hospitals in Kent, air ambulances, hospices and hospitals using a membership of 149 volunteers.

In 2008 they had 12 calls a month, by 2011 this had risen to 110 and the year to June 2014 they had 1,346.

The Transfusion Service do not deliver after 7pm until 6am the following morning so without SERV hospitals would have to rely on collection and delivery by taxi.

Most riders provide their own bike and fuel covering about 2,500 miles pa. All riders have to be well qualified, trained and tested and be able to give first aid if first on scene. None receive any payment for their time.

This vital service costs £4,000 to £5,000 p/a to run saving the NHS tens of thousands of pounds every year.

Click here to visit the SERV (Kent) website.

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Betty Martindale - Ashford Dyslexia Centre

Our guest, Stefan Schulte exchanging banners with President Ian.

Stewards for the evening Ken and Malcolm making sure everything is in order.

Our speaker, Betty Martindale with President Ian.

Betty told us a little of her background in teaching and how she became involved and qualified in supporting children with dyslexia. Betty’s three children are all dyslexic so she had first-hand knowledge of its problems.

Dyslexia was identified first in U.S.A and took some time to be accepted as a condition in the UK.

The Ashford Dyslexia Centre (A.D.C.) opened in 1989 to offer assistance to adults and children with dyslexia, becoming a registered charity in June 2009. The Centre advises and offers support to schools, teachers, individuals, carers, companies and other voluntary organisations regarding dyslexia.

It offers sessions with qualified dyslexia teachers to enable the individual to develop strategies to manage the impact of dyslexia. Assessments are also undertaken with full written reports for private individuals, or for employees of companies. They provide an advice line for confidential advice and their free advice is provided for around 300 individuals, schools organisations a year.

The teachers work on a voluntary basis so the service is available to anyone regardless of ability to pay. They do rely on donations and have a recommended donation charge to cover their expenses.

Betty explained the difficulties dyslexic people have, it can be with sequencing, with words both written and/or spoken and numbers, the problems come in all shapes and sizes. She gave us some spoonerisms inadvertently spoken by famous dyslexic people, of whom there are many and she named a number of them.

Dyslexic people are frequently highly intelligent and have a variety exceptional individual strengths, in visual perception, auditory strengths, artistic flair and lateral thinking. They have to work hard to overcome their literary shortcomings but this often results in them developing exceptional skills in other areas to compensate.

Sadly, A.D.C. are losing the accommodation that had been freely provided by Ashford Borough Council and are now seeking new affordable space so they can continue their much needed work.

Click here to visit Ashford Dyslexia Centre website.

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Cliff Parsons - A.I.M.R.E.C.

A.I.M.R.E.C.: Ashford International Model Railway Excellence Centre.

Unfortunate positioning of a sheet of paper!

Rtn. John Hardie midway through entertaining his fellow table guests with a joke.

The presentation setup.

Our speaker, Cliff Parsons.

President Ian Alexander introduced our speakers Cliff Parsons and Albert Walter.

Cliff started his talk with a spectacular presentation of a model railway in Hamburg, Germany. The displays were stunning and impossible in some instances to distinguish from real life railways, airports and harbours to name but a few.

Cliff then gave a compelling talk in support of the benefits to Ashford for the proposed Ashford Model Railway Centre and the suitability of Ashford for its location.

Part of the cost will be supported by Heritage Lottery Funding and the project is supported by a long list of celebrities and organisations who have media access in promoting the centre or have promised useful equipment. However fund raising is continuing and more money is still needed.

The centre will be a great leisure activity but also of considerable educational value.

The displays will be authentic working models, and will be of historic accuracy.

It is planned to have a set day for children to visit where they can have a ‘hands on’ experience and learn about our railway heritage.

Given a choice of sites the building at the old railway were deemed the most suitable although the old building will be replaced by modern replica.

Although a team of permanent employees will be needed volunteer help will also be required.

Click here to visit the A.I.M.R.E.C. website.

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Rtn. Robin Taylor - Job Talk

Robin being entertained by the President at the meal before the main event.

Robin originates from Devon and gave us a fascinating insight into his family tree with roots from Jamaica, Hackney (London) and Dartmoor.

He was a long term member of Round Table when he organised and took part in the 3 Peaks Challenge in support of a friend with cancer of the oesophagus, aiming to raise £2,000 but finally reaching £15,000. He is also a keen cyclist.

He studied at Canterbury College of Technology where he gained BTEC qualifications in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

Robin currently works for Sneider Electrics who started in 1836 as iron founders but moved into electrical equipment manufacture in 1975.

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2013/14 Presidential Citation

Ashford Rotary Club are very proud of their award of a Presidential Citation for the Rotary year 2013/14.

Rotary clubs have to meet a number of criteria to qualify for the award.

Well done to Past President Steve Hiscock for this great achievement.

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Mayor of Ashford Cllr. John Link

Past President Ron Stainton was presented, by PP Frank Brake, with an award for his 40 years in Rotary.

Graeme Calver was presented, by President Elect Maggie Reuther, with the Vice President's badge.

The Mayor of Ashford, Cllr. John Link with current Ashford Rotary Club President Ian Alexander.

John told us a little of his background and work during the 44 years he has served as a Councillor.

He gave us an interesting history of Ashford and the surrounding area and finished his talk with details of the Mayor’s duties, rank, responsibilities and the support he receives in the course of those duties.

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District Governor Martin Williams

President Ian Alexander had pleasure in inducting Astra West, President of Ashford Soroptimists, as an Honorary Member.

Nice tie Ian :)

Ian then introduced Martin Carter and inducted him as a Member.

It was then Bill Sheret’s turn to be inducted.

President Ian then introduced District Governor Martin Williams from the Rotary Club of Sittingbourne Invicta. Martin thanked us for our hospitality and told us how proud he was to be District Governor and reminded us of the important Charities supported by Rotary Foundation. His Charity this year is the Lords Taverners.

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Handover Night

Frank Brake had great pleasure in presenting a cheque to Mary Daly and Steph Senior for the Canterbury MS Centre.

President Steve was then delighted to surprise PP Frank with our Club’s highest Award for Service to the Rotary Ideal and to the local community by a Member of the club, the Ken Geering Award, in particular for his support for the MS Therapy Centre.

President Steve thanked the Committee Chairmen and their Members, the Board Members and Club Officers who had contributed so much during his year as President. He picked out many Members who had worked so hard to make all the different elements of Service so successful during his Presidential Year.

He also thanked Inner Wheel Members for their continued support.

We remembered Tom Watts, a Member since 1976, a Paul Harris Fellow and still contributing fully to the club, who sadly died on 17th May after a short illness. RIP Tom, we will never forget you.

Tom Watts, M.B.E.

There then followed the handover of Insignia, after which new President Ian Alexander congratulated PP Steve on the very successful year and said it would be a hard act for him to follow.

President of Inner Wheel Val Paterson handed over her Insignia to incoming President Dee Hiscock, to be repeated at their official Handover meeting.

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Forthcoming Events:

Many thanks to our sponsors:

The Brett Group

Medash Signs

Linda's Florist

CWP Financial Services

Our venue and caterers:

The Elwick Club

FFF Catering