Rotarians in Ashford have been busy this weekend raising money for the Phillipines Relief Fund.
The total collected so far comes to a staggering £3836.00, with more money pledged.
Many thanks to the generosity of the people of Ashford for their contributions to this emergency fund.
Dr Stuart McRae
"Life at Wye College - and away from it"
Stuart said he has been lucky in the choices he has made in life.
Stuart was born is Scotland to parents of modest means who always encouraged him to do the best he could. He made a good start by gaining a scholarship to Robert Gordon's School and later graduated with a degree in geology from the University of Aberdeen.
His intention to go into oil exploration in Antarctica was cut short when he met Hazel and changed to soil science, regretting neither decision.
His luck continued when Professor Tinsley who knew him from his time at Aberdeen University recommended him to Professor Wayne at Wye College. His life at Wye was so good that his ambition to move to bigger things was blunted and he turned down other offers with no regrets.
He was at Wye College in the golden years and made good use of his time there. He retired early well equipped to use his expert knowledge of soil science as a Consultant which he does to this day.
His other great interest is in genealogy where he continues to research his family tree.
"Tales from the burrow: tarantulas, toads and a dolly lizard"
Freelance zoologist, Andrew Smith talked of the interest of children in the wonder of natural history starting with snails that inhabited earth 300 million years ago and are the ultimate survivors. We cannot win against them and he showed us a giant live snail.
He is delighted that evolution is now taught in classrooms and entertained us with his fascinating talk on common ancestors and the means of survival of species through the ages, illustrating his talk with some live animals he had brought with him.
He showed us a tortoise, a not housetrained turtle, a large moderately harmless scorpion and a very small deadly one.
He also showed us a lizard and a corn snake which is a constrictor and makes a good child's pet.
The star of the evening was a very large and hairy tarantula female spider that we were permitted to stroke.
Click here to visit Andrew's website
President Steve Hiscock expressed great pleasure when he re-inducted past Member Spencer Stone.
Spencer was warmly welcomed by everyone. He told us he was looking forward to working with us again.
Prof John Mansfield
"Fungi -The good, the bad and the ugly"
Prof. Mansfield had with him a basket full of Fungi collected from Kings Wood which included examples of the good, bad and ugly.
There were ones that were good to eat, others that were not but not dangerous, those that were hallucinogenic and those that could kill.
Apart from the samples from his basket that were passed round he gave us a slide show of many others.
He gave us many examples of fungi not generally known as edible including honey fungus which is deadly to trees but harmless if eaten. The one everyone has heard about is Deadly Amanita (death cap), a small piece in a stew can kill a family.
Another to look out for is one that closely resembles an edible field mushroom but when picked a yellow stain develops at the bottom of the stem and also on the skin. It will probably not kill you but you would feel very poorly after eating it.
'Damian Green, MP'
Damian thanked us for re-electing him as an Honorary Member and told us that since he spoke to us last year he has been appointed Minister of Police and Criminal Justice and the first who had been arrested!
Whilst acknowledging that there had been the occasional 'bad egg' within Police ranks, giving us some past examples, he had the greatest respect and sympathy for the 130,000 men and women Police Officers who daily put their lives on the line answering calls to protect the public.
He actively supports the increasing use of modern technology and told us of some of the exciting new innovations he hoped would be used in the near future. We need top brains for a top profession that is on a par with those in medicine and law etc.
He is convinced that the reputation that our Police can be the best in the world is achievable and our Country is amazingly safe in comparison to other countries and being one of the best Police Forces is worth going for.
There followed a lively Q & A debate.
'Syrian Refugee Shelter Box Appeal'
Over 2 million refugees have fled Syria and over 4 million people remain displaced within the country. The majority are in desperate need of shelter and other vital aid, leaving their homes with just the few possessions they can carry.
So far ShelterBox has sent aid to support over 4,500 families who have fled the fighting. The coming of winter means further aid is desperately needed.
The Rotary Club of Ashford were in County Square on Saturday 28 September collecting money from the generous Ashford Public.
Just over £300 was collected towards the £600 needed for a fully equipped Box containing a durable winterised tent and all the necessary items for everyday living.
The Club's Members will continue fund raising until they have enough money to buy at least one Shelter Box.
'Kent MS Therapy Centre'
Past Presidents Mary McKeown and Frank Brake were delighted to present a cheque for £2,500 to fund raiser Mary Daly for the Kent MS Centre at Canterbury.
The MS Therapy Centre has been trying to raise £1.3 million. Fund raising started in 2012 and has now reached the amazing figure of £1 million.
'Sun shines on Ramblers'
Ashford Rotary Club's Annual Ramble took place on Sunday 15th September in brilliant sunshine. The ramble started at Wye Village Hall with walks of five or ten miles over Wye Downs.
There were 150 registered entrants with over 200 people taking part raising at least £3,600 for their chosen charities and a further £700 for Ashford Rotary Club Charities.
First walker back was Jim Small who was sponsored by workmates from Network Rail and raised £350 for Breathe On UK, a support Charity for families with children suffering with breathing difficulties.
The first dog back was Lurcher Jimmy with owner Sue Gower, also supporting Rotary Charities. Next back was regular Rotary Ramble walker Anne Spain who supported Rotary charities.
Carolyn Banham and Anne Spain with Bonnie and Crystal
Top individual fund raiser was Rotarian Colin Sykes who raised £504 for Cystic Fibrosis Trust, closely followed by Rotarian Colette Watts with £475 for Rotary Charities.
Top Team was the RSPCA team led by Ian Jubb who expected to raise £500.
A special mention for Olivia Hayward-Browne aged just 9 and on her third Rotary Ramble who completed the 10 mile walk to raise £200 for her own chosen charity Demelza House Hospice.
A team from Tesco Park Farm were walking to raise money for Diabetes.
Rotary supporter and Ashford Hospital Broadcasting Service presenter John "Webbo" Webster walked to raise money for AHBS.
Webbo with Jenny and Janet
William Morris - our youngest rambler this year
William's team were raising money for The Pilgrims' Hospice.
Regular walker Gordon Brownhill, who has supported the ramble for 30 years, with granddaughter Rebecca Porter.
Rory's family were raising funds for AHBS.
Susan Whybrow raised funds for Kent Air Ambulance.
Pupils from Ashford School led by Caroline Morris used the walk as a practice for their Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition and raised £200 for Pilgrims Hospices.
Regular walker Penny Knatchbull, with daughter Savannah and friend Kitty Jordan walked to raise funds for
the Caldecott Community.
Kitty and Savannah with Mushroom and Mitzi
Many additional individual walkers took advantage of the opportunity to raise money for their own unspecified charities.
As always, the event could not take place without the support of the unsung heroes behind the scenes.
St John Ambulance team Herbie Baker, Zoe Baker and Paul Mellowship
Inner Wheel keeping walkers supplied with tea and coffee.
Masterchefs John Hardie and Derek Thorogood at work
The club thanks sponsors the Brett Group, Medash Signs and AHBS Radio for their very generous contributions.
Many other individuals and groups helped support the Ramble this year, including Rotary Assistant District Governor Don Soppitt from Dover who raised £150 for Rotary Foundation, together with his wife and Inner wheel Member who raised £150 for The Stroke Association and Hope and Homes for Children.
Charities supported include:
Kent MS Therapy Centre,
Kent Air Ambulance,
Pancreatic Cancer UK,
Cystic Fibrosis Trust,
Breathe On UK,
Demelza House Hospice,
Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme,
The Stroke Association,
Hope & Homes for children'
Past President Mary McKeown presented the final accounts for the charity donations during her presidential year, which ended in June.
During Mary's term of office, the club donated:
£6025:08 to Mary's Presidential charities;
£4212:17 to the Sand dams Project;
£4452:21 to Pancreatic cancer.
Mary thanked all club members for their support during her presidential year, with a special mention for Alan Paterson and his team involved in the International Bike Ride.
On the 12th August Brian Davis and Derek Thorogood gave a power point presentation on Foundation and Rotary grants.
Derek explained that Foundation is the way Rotary raises money for global charity work. Each Rotarian is asked to donate £20.
Brian told us that it was possible for Rotary clubs to access grants from District and Rotary International headquarters to support our charitable efforts.
'Gillian Bull - Digital Property'
On the 5th August Gillian Bull spoke to us about the law and digital property.
She took us through the minefield of the law which is complex and continually evolving but is still based on historic common law.
Gillian described the pitfalls and problems with digital material and its relationship to existing legal concepts.
She explained about copyright and data and what can and cannot be patented.
Some of her examples of the complexity of the law covered photographs, the Stock Exchange, tide tables and street directories,
Intellectual data is protected but facts are not, to name just a few. The minefield of fascinating issues resulted in no shortage of questions on the subject following her colourful talk.
Ashford Rotary Club are very proud of their award of a Presidential Citation for the Rotary year 2012/3
Rotary clubs have to meet a number of criteria to qualify for the award, and Ashford was one of only nine clubs in the district to receive it.
Well done to Past President Mary McKeown for this great achievement.
'15th July - Cllr
His Worship the Mayor of Ashford'
David explained that his interest in the local community started from a book given to him by his grandmother.
He spent his working life as an accountant in Local Government. When he retired, he became a freelance financial advisor.
David became the second Independent Councillor for South Willesborough Ward, following his wife's interest in a local street meeting.
David enjoys working with a variety of Conservative, LibDem, Labour Councillors and the Ashford Independent Group of Councillors, though he has no political bias.
He was nominated as Deputy Mayor and subsequently became Ashford's 40th elected Mayor.
David loves meeting people and thoroughly enjoys attending the many and wide variety of different functions. He applauds the vast resource of willing volunteers who now replace an increasing number of the reduced Council services.
His 'badge' as Mayor is worn with honour but his 'day job' is still that of Councillor representing the people of South Willesborough.
'8th July - Chris Barnett'
Ashford Rotary were pleased to welcome new District Governor Chris Barnett on the first club visit of his governorship.
Chris talked with great enthusiasm about his hopes for his coming year, and the possibility that finally polio might be eradicated across the world.
Chris also helped President Steve with the induction of two new members of the club. Amanda Cottrell and Turloo Parret were inducted together, after two years of honorary membership.
President Steve and sponsor Frank Brake congratulate the two joining members.
1st July: 'John 'Webbo' Webster - AHBS'
Ashford Rotary were pleased to welcome, John 'Webbo' Webster from Ashford Hospital Broadcasting Service, who has contributed so much valuable air time on AHBS radio to our events and activities.
Webbo (John to his Mum) also took part in last year's Rotary Ramble, raising funds for charity and helping publicise the event through his radio show.
Describing himself as an Ashford lad, despite being born in Bermondsey, his family moved to Stanhope in 1967. He gave a delightful and humourous account of his eventful career in broadcasting, working with celebrities like Anneka Rice and Chris Evans, with whom he worked for a considerable time and became a great friend.
Webbo's broadcasts can be heard on 107.1 FM.
Click here to visit the AHBS website
23rd June: 'Charity Garden Party'
Ashford Rotary enjoyed a delightful Garden Party at Laurenden Forstal in Challock, courtesy of Honorary Member Amanda Cottrell.
The overcast skies and occasional showers did nothing to dampen the spirits of the hundred guests who enjoyed a delicious afternoon tea in the barn.
We were entertained by local harpist Mary Morley
and ventured into the garden after the showers disappeared late in the afternoon.
President Mary drew the raffle and thanked everyone for their contribution to the event, which is expected to raise over a thousand pounds for charity.
10th June: 'Shared Space at St. Mary's a Year On'
Rev. Colin Preece, the Vicar of Revelation St. Mary's, and Ashford Borough Council's Arts and Cultural Industries Manager, Chris Dixon talked to an enthusiastic audience about the developments at Revelation St Mary's over the last two years.
Jacqui McShee's Take Three
Highworth School Jazz Band
Ashford Rotary are keen supporters of the venue, holding a Jazz Concert there last year.
Since then, the venue has become much busier and more popular with some well known bands and personalities performing.
Click here to visit Revelation St. Mary's website
7th June: Golf Day
The Presidential Charity Golf Day at Eastwell Manor was a hugely enjoyable event. Almost forty golfers took part in a friendly competition on the Eastwell Manor nine hole course in very windy conditions. Partners and friends joined the golfers for dinner afterwards in the something dining room. Frank Brake won the individual prize.
President Mary presents Frank with his prize.
The entry fees for the golf and the raffle helped organiser Colin Sykes raise over £1000 for the President's charities. Our thanks go once again to Turloo Parrett, who donated the golf course fees to the club, and all the staff at Eastwell Manor for helping us create such an enjoyable day.
Click here to visit Eastwell Manor's website
3rd June: Jae Mather
"Towards a Carbon Neutral Future"
Jae Mather, Director of Sustainability at the Carbon Free Group gave us some sobering statistics on the effects of global warming and the speed of ecological change. He predicted a 50% loss in biodiversity in the next 100 years.
Temperatures have already risen by 2 degrees with a predicted rise of 6 degrees by the end of the century.
The rising demand for energy, food and raw materials from the rising populations, particularly in Africa and the Far East, was only likely to accelerate our existing problems.
There were serious concerns about the level of self sufficiency of the UK and the security of its energy and food stocks, with only two weeks of stored oil and food and three weeks of natural gas.
However, everything was not doom and gloom. Alternative technology could be used to reduce the effect of climate change, and changes in government policy could help safeguard our food and energy supplies, provided there was a political willingness to tackle this issue.
From the Archive
Whilst going through some archive material recently, the club archivist came across the original certificate of membership of The British Association of Rotary Clubs, dated 29th March 1922.
There is more informaton in the archive section of the website, which is still under construction.
Charity Cycle Ride
Charity Cycle Ride Update
The Ashford Rotary cyclists have raised over £8000.
Click here to visit Virgin Money Giving to add your donation.
Some weeks ago the Chairman of Ashford Rotary Club's International Committee Peter Stutchbury, a keen cyclist, had a great fund-raising idea - a triangular bike ride over 7 days to their twin clubs, Amiens in France and Vlissingen in Holland.
The estimated distance of 350 miles ended up as 460 miles! Rotarian Alan Paterson agreed to join Peter in raising funds to build a Sand Dam in Africa, through the UK charity Excellent Development. Click here to visit their website
Having started planning they were shocked when Peter was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. After surgery he is making good progress but must undergo six months chemotherapy, which renders him unfit for the cycle challenge - but he is keen to remain involved to the extent that he can.
Peter & Alan at the start.
They had already raised about £1,000 for the Sand Dam, but it has now been decided that they will split future funds with the UK charity researching pancreatic cancer. Click here to visit their website.
Ready for the off.
A local friend John Goodman, with huge cycling experience, had helpfully agreed to accompany Alan on the trip together with Rotarians John Hardie and Bob Perry with the support vehicle.
The whole team in front of The Five Burghers of Calais.
As an aged gentlemen in his late sixties, who couldn't think of a way to delegate this project, Alan gritted his teeth and decided that the necessary training would be good for him. He has set a target of raising £10,000.
Day 1 - The adventure started at 4.30am on Sunday May 5th heading for Eurotunnel and Calais where the occupants of a camper van generously donated £10. On arrival in Calais their first day's leg was an estimated, (but optimistic as they got lost!) 56 miles south to Bethune. Again a chance encounter with an English couple resulted in a £20 donation.
Day 2 - Bethune to Amiens, their French contact club. Again the trip was not without incident but the warm welcome from their hosts from Amiens Rotary Club put them in good stead.It was hinted that there would be a donation from their club and we now have the promise of a €1,000 contribution
Day 3 - Amiens to Cambrai along the Somme Valley with constant reminders of the sacrifices made during the First World War. The hotel was reached after a moderately hard day's ride amid some apprehension given the severe weather forecast for the following day.
Day 4 - Cambrai to Roeselare for the journey through Belgium. Around 4pm the severe weather hit them with lightning and torrential rain. The non-PC description of their exploits en route and arrival and welcome in Roeselare is another chapter!
Day 5 - Roeselare to Breskens/Vlissingen. The 55 mile ride to the Ferry terminal at Breskens was overcast but dry with a favourable wind and the ferry crossing surrounded by 90% fellow cyclists. They were met by their Vlissingen Rotary hosts where they enjoyed a delightful evening.
Day 6 - Breskens to Poperinge and the longest day with 82 miles against merciless headwinds and a ride lasting eleven hours. The sublime experience of dinner at an 'Irish' pub on arrival was very welcome.
John & Alan getting directions from Poperinge from helpful locals.
Day 7 - Poperinge to Calais and the final 54 miles, 30 miles of long hard slog the final 24 miles ended riding through the Saturday afternoon Calais traffic, a total of 460 miles. At the Town Hall, a small but distinguished reception party waited for them including Peter Stutchbury, the man for whom this project had been the brainchild and dream and whose illness had prevented him taking part on this occasion.
They were welcomed home at the Farriers Arms in Mersham and the Club remembered that the Rotary motto 'Service before Self' had once again been served.
The latest estimate of money raised is £7,000.
Donations with gift aid can be made by clicking here to visit the Virgin Giving website.
Charity Cycle Ride
Two members of Ashford Rotary Club approaching 70, together with a younger friend, are to cycle from Ashford to our two twin Clubs, Amiens in France thence to Vlissingen in Holland then home. Both twin clubs are being very supportive in offering overnight hospitality.
John Goodman, Alan Paterson and Paddy Miller are ready for the off.
The riders have set a target of £10,000 to be raised for charity. The two charities are Pancreatic Cancer UK and Excellent Developments, who fund Sand Dams in arid regions.
The cyclists are launching their project with a Fund Raising Dinner at the Farriers Arms, Lower Mersham and had agreed that the date would be the night before departure, Friday 3rd May.
Colette spoke to us about her journey from a small village in Ireland to establishing her own dental practice in Headcorn.
She spoke of the quiet life in rural Ireland, and her education, which fed her desire to seek new experiences in the UK.
Colette shocked and amused us with her graphic examples of dental problems that she faced on a daily basis, and we were all grateful that the talk followed the meal, rather than preceded it.
Vice President Ian Alexander introduced us to Ken Campbell who he has known for many years and is certain will make a really good Rotarian.
President Mary McKeown then inducted Ken who told us a little about himself.
He lives in Brook with his wife Carol and two daughters and one son. He thanked Ian, who is his mentor, for introducing him to Rotary.
David Hatcher: Shelterbox
David is a Member of the elite Shelter Box Response Team.
David Hatcher helps to erect another home for orphans at the House of Smiles Orphanage in Leogane, Haiti.
Members of the team are very carefully vetted and trained to deliver and erect Shelter Boxes in major disaster areas. All Members are volunteers who work non-stop to achieve the shelter desperately needed following the disaster which are mostly caused by nature but also can be conflict driven.
David with 17 day old Gessna - who lost his dad in the earthquake before he was born and now receives care in a ShelterBox tented clinic.
David told us of the high quality of the product and its importance in saving human lives. He also told us a little of the operational strategies, working with other organisations with a common aim and that they always remembered they were guests in any country they were helping.
David recounted several well publicised disasters in which he had been involved with Shelter Box and showed us his video taken in Haiti following the disaster in 2010. It showed the spirit of the people and the positive response to the shelter offered by the Shelter Boxes and could not have failed to move everyone.
Click here to visit the Shelterbox website
Members of the Rotary Club of Ashford hosted their 26th 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 Elect and compere Rotarian Steve Hiscock who introduced the first act, singer Kim Boeje with her 'Dreamboats and Petticoats' selection of songs. The performance of popular 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 a full house of over 150 mostly elderly Ashford guests, most of whom have attended for many years.
This was followed by entertainment by Ashford group The East Kent Chorus singing unaccompanied barber shop songs led by musical director David Holloway. They also soon had the audience participating in the music and laughing at their jokes.
"Love to Sing" Ashford Community Choir, set up by musical director Tessa Fineman, 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.
Amanda Cottrell OBE, Honorary Member of Ashford Rotary Club, Chairman of Visit Kent and many other worthy organizations, collected guests from and back to their homes and commented that it had been a terrific day and a great way to start spring on the warmest day this year.
Alma Jacobs, 84, who had been a nurse at the William Harvey hospital, retiring only last year, said it had been a lovely enjoyable day with gorgeous food, where she had been made very welcome.
Ron Stainton: The Kent and East Sussex Railway
President Mary McKeown introduced our longest serving Member, PP Ron Stainton.
To get us in the mood Ron donned his railway signalman's hat and took us on the fascinating journey of the history and workings of the Kent and East Sussex Railway authorised in 1896 and started in 1898 from Tenterden to Bodiam and gradually extended.
1927 was the last year of profit and in 1932 it went bankrupt but the creditors carried it on. Volunteers persevered despite objections from the Dept. of Transport and it was officially re-opened in 1974, extended to Northiam in 1990 and to Bodiam in 2000.
Ron spent some years as a signalman following extensive training and an exam when he was awarded his 'duster'. He took us through the signalling procedures and the fascinating bell codes; he admitted that he had never heard 4 4 4, 'clear for Royal Train'!
A safety rule book developed as a result of accidents and, to this day, there is always an inquiry following an accident which is inevitably the result of human error.
Ron gave us a fascinating insight into the workings of a railway leaving us all wanting to take a trip on the Kent & East Sussex Railway.
Saturday 23rd March
Ashford Rotary held a very successful Quiz at the Elwick Club to raise money for Young Carers. The Elwick Club kindly donated the use of the hall. 70 people attended with each team hoping to win the prize of £50. The Teams consisted of Rotarians with their families and friends and members of the Elwick Club
The Quiz Master, who also set the questions, opened the Quiz and stated that if there were any disputes regarding the answers that he was always right! There were 9 rounds of various topics with a lot of banter and fun.
The Quiz raised a total of about £500 which was greatly helped by an excellent raffle which included prizes of a Tea for 2 at Boys Hall, a £50 Tesco voucher and a silver pendant from Otterwills.
It was a very good evening with the winning team being Rotary members, very closely followed by a team from the Elwick Club.
The winning team kindly donated most of the winning money back to Young Carers.
Barry Gurteen and Chris Johnston
Catering for the Olympics
Barry Gurteen, from Brakes, and Chris Johnston, from Sodexo, were our guest speakers on the 11th of March. They described the practical and logistical problems of catering for the Olympic Games in the summer.
They explained the complexities of the procedure for becoming an approved Locog supplier, and the security measures that had to be followed to ensure their procedures were secure and terrorist proof.
Barry models the latest Olympic Torch
With 90 hour working weeks for colleagues, and crucial problems with the supply of chips, the companies had a demanding and exciting Olympic experience.
Sadly, neither Barry nor Chris managed to see any of the events, despite being in the main arena helping with the catering.
Paul Harris Fellows
Paul Harris fellowships are presented to Rotarians for outstanding service to Rotary over a period of years.
Past Presidents Kitty Brook and Sue Sleet were made Paul Harris fellows by President Mary.
President Mary presents the ribbon and insignia to Kitty Brook.
Past President Sue Sleet receives her honour from President Mary.
4th March - Jenny Lovell
Historical Cities from Fake to Real
Researcher Jenny Lovell gave us a tour through history and the tourist industry in her analysis of the sites that tourists find attractive.
Focusing to a large extent on Canterbury, Jenny showed that our perception of historical sites can be clouded by restoration or the deliberate faking of history through architecture.
Jenny showed photos that participants in her research had taken of their favourite visitor sites. Whilst many were very traditional, such as the Friars and the Christ Church gate, others focussed on the odd and quirky aspects of the city.
18th February - Brigadier John Meardon
Receiver General Canterbury Cathedral
Enthroning an Archbishop
John outlined his illustrious career which included 34 years in the Royal Marines and 14 years as a senior member of Canterbury Cathedral staff where he is now the second administrator in this new important position of Receiver General.
There are 300 paid staff and 800 volunteers looking after the Cathedral and John gave us a fascinating insight into the many different responsibilities that need constant attention.
Just one of the many issues currently needing urgent attention is the restoration of the great South Window.
John also gave us an outline of the structure of the Church of England from its formation to the present day. He went on to explain the immensely complex legal process that leads up to the choosing and eventual Enthronement of the new Archbishop of Canterbury and the allocation of the 2000 seats at the Enthronement.
11th February - Honorary Member Jo James
Chief Executive of the Kent Invicta Chamber.
The Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce is the largest Chamber in the County.
Jo highlighted the continued growth of the Chamber. Initially, the Chamber represented the Ashford area, but now covered Ashford, Canterbury, Maidstone and the Thames Gateway.
The Board has sixteen directors and a Chairman, Vice-chairman, President and eighteen staff in three offices.
The priorities for 2012 to 2015 are Membership Growth, Business training and Events, Business Support Services and International Services and Representation.
Jo explained that despite the difficult economic circumstances, the Chamber had 1200 Members and an additional 2,300 customers buying their services.
Jo also spoke about Local Enterprise Partnerships. The Kent partnership covered three Counties and Jo gave us her views on the practicalities and pros and cons of working within such a large area.
4th February - Sir Edward Clay
Excellent Development - the Sand Dams Project.
Excellent Development is an innovative and practical charity that works to solve the problems of drought through the use of sand dams.
The sand dams are built by local people.
The dams provide a way of storing seasonal rainfall, reducing evaporation through the use of saturated sand.
In the rainy season, the excess water runs over the dam, so that other projects can be developed further down the river.
Sir Edward gave us a fascinating insight into the simple but highly effective sand dam projects, built by and for local communities.
He highlighted how water is the catalyst for everything and how access to clean safe water is a critical first step to poverty relief in dry rural areas. Sand dams are the world's cheapest method of capturing rainwater at £8,000 - £12,000 each. Excellent provides the cement and technical advice but the community provides the labour.
Rotarians help to fund projects and raise awareness about the incredible benefits of sand dams and can have their own project where funds are allocated to a specific sand dam in Kenya with the club's name on the sand dam.
Click here to visit Excellent Developments website.
14th January - Jim Boot, freelance Community Planner.
Jim explained that a freelance community planner covers a wide range of planning issues some of which included Parish Plans. The differences between different neighbourhoods creates a range of widely differing issues.
The recent introduction of Neighbourhood Plans are designed to give the public more say about development in their area through their Parish or Town Councils. However, the new arrangements are much more complex and challenging undertaking for anyone without a degree and experience in planning as the plans have to be scrutinised by a Government Planning Inspector.
Jim is currently advising Wye and expects that many Parishes will be seeking help if they wish to have their own Neighbourhood Plan.
7th January 2013 - Frugal Supper
After a two week break over the Christmas period, Ashford Rotary Club met at Stonegate, Wye, for a Frugal Supper.
We dined on Chicken Soup and Jelly, to remind ourselves that many people across the world exist on a much more frugal diet than we are accustomed to, especially over the Christmas period.
Club members pay the normal charge for their lunch and the profit from the simple fare is donated to charity.
After the meal, members watched a presentation by Bruce Aylwood on the progress of the campaign to eradicate Polio across the world.
Despite the worldwide success of the vaccination programme across most countries of the world, the virus is still endemic "in the wild" in three countries, each in a war torn area of international conflict. Volunteer staff working in these areas risk their lives. Some have been killed by Taliban sympathisers who see the immunisation programme as a Western plot.
Unfortunately, in these days of rapid international travel, the virus can easily spread through infected but immune adults to other parts of the world.