Welcome to the Rotary Club of Ashford

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

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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Ashford Rotakids "Cakes, Cookies & Crocuses" sale

On 27th February 2015, Rotakids from Ashford St Mary’s Church of England Primary School in Western Avenue, held a “Cakes, Cookies and Crocuses” sale to raise money for the End Polio Now campaign.

During the day, Rotakids visited all 420 pupils at the school to paint their ‘pinkie’ finger-nail with purple nail varnish. This represents when children in countries affected by polio have their little finger dipped in purple dye to show they have had the vaccine. Rotakids used the “purple pinkie” to remind children to buy cakes at the cake sale held after school.

Click here to visit the Purple Pinkie website

Over £426 was raised and more is still coming in. Bill Gates will double every pound raised by Rotary & Rotakids making the grand total more than £1278.

Rotakids heard first-hand what polio is really like from Mrs McCallum, the grandmother of one of the Rotakids members. This helped the children understand the importance of the fundraising they were doing. Rotakid Member Caitlin thought it was very sad that Mrs McCallum couldn’t walk and when she was a child, she wasn’t able to see her parents because polio was so contagious. Richard, St Mary’s Rotakids president, said “It was excellent being able to help to end polio across the world. There are only 3 countries left in the world where polio still remains. The aim of the End Polio Now campaign is to eradicate polio by 2018. I hope that in the future no one in the world will have to worry about polio.”

Click here to visit the Rotary Crocus Campaign website

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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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Heather Grady - Rotakids with President Harry

Presidents Ian & Harry.

Heather gave us details of her background from her true Cockney beginning for the first 13 months of her life. She grew up in Surrey where she always pulled her weight with home chores, joined the Brownies, then Guides where she won the Baden Powell Award and the top award of becoming a Queen’s Guide.

She realised early in her life that not all children had the opportunities she had enjoyed, went on to run a Brownie Pack, walked the Great Wall of China, raising £3,000 for Charity, spent 18 months as a teacher in Uganda where she joined the Uganda Heritage Group getting young girls off the roads of Kampala. She continued with a long list of other charitable activities she had supported and was particularly touched by her contact with the many homeless people she met, often spending 50 weeks a year on the streets. She realised this could happen to anyone, and they came from all walks of life and for a multitude of reasons.

Heather, midway through her talk to the club.

She heard about RotaKids from two different networks and felt this was a great opportunity to help all children to reach their full potential. Although only formally officially recognised on 20 October 2014 the Club has already achieved much. We were delighted to welcome this year’s President and his Mum Nicola.

In the few months since its formation the club's numbers have increased and Heather has found a rise in the children's confidence and enthusiasm and is confident that the Club will continue to blossom.

St Mary's School is the first Ashford School with a RotaKids Club but following interest from other local schools there are moves underway to form others. Rotakids meetings run in a similar way to adult Rotary meeting with members elected as President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. They have even appointed a Press Officer and have light refreshments at their meeting!

Eleven year old Harry is proving himself to have all the qualities of a very good President, full of enthusiastic ideas and we look forward to great things from the Club under his leadership. He told us, amongst other things, of his support for Polio Plus and the End Polio Now Campaign, and his intention to work towards the total elimination of its devastating effects, in line with Rotary’s aims.

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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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Ashford Rotary Club gains younger members

Last Monday was an exciting day for the Rotary Club of Ashford as they welcomed 12 new members. But these were not your normal middle aged business and professional people but all primary school children!

St Marys C of E Primary School in Western Avenue had approached the Ashford Club as they were interested in developing a new after school group in the name of Rotary. The new members of Rotary are known as 'Rotakids'; a new initiative of Rotary International aimed at 7 to 12 year olds.

The special assembly held in school on Monday (20th October) in the presence of Rotary Assistant District Governor Don Soppitt and Ashford Club President Ian Alexander saw the 12 children in the Rotakids club officially recognised as being part of the Rotary family. The ceremony held in front of the whole school and the Rotakids' families saw each individual awarded a certificate of membership. The school also received a certificate of recognition from Rotary International.

All the children made the Rotakids pledge which is:

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

Rotakids meetings run in a similar way to a Rotary meeting with members elected as President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. They have even appointed a Press Officer, Jessica, who said " I am proud to be a Rotakid and to help other people by making their lives brighter. I am looking forward to coming up with lots of ideas of different ways to help other people." The club will meet once a week to discuss and plan projects. Their first project is a Rotary Shoebox scheme to fill shoeboxes as Christmas gifts for those less fortunate than themselves in Eastern Europe. They will also be active in fundraising for Children in Need with some of the Rotakids joining Rotary members at Ashford train station on 14 November.

Rotarian Martin Carter the Ashford clubs 'Rotakids' mentor said, " When I first met with the children I was really impressed with their enthusiasm and ideas but what really struck me was why they wanted to be Rotakids. They told me they wanted to; "Help children feel better", "To make a difference in their communities" and "To help people - and have fun"! Harry, St Mary's Rotakids President said " I feel great being President of Rotakids. I like to help poor people to be happier and to have fun. Maybe one day we will be on TV!" This is exactly what all Rotarians across the World aim to do with our motto of 'Service above Self'.

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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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Tony Clark – Motoring Art

Tony had set up an attractive and interesting display of some of his collection of motoring art.

He has been interested in motoring art since childhood and his interest over the years has been for traditional paintings, sculptures, trophies, ceramics, mascots, prints, cartoons, photographs, postcards, books and poetry although the ‘paper’ collection’ is his principle interest.

A significant painting by Guy Lipscombe that has surfaced in 2013.
Georges Boillot driving the Grand Prix Peugeot, winning the 1912 Mont Ventoux Hill Climb.

Many of his favourite pictures are by unrecognised technical artists and he has a website acknowledging about 400 artists.

Much of the art came from motoring magazines and manufacturers’ sales material going back as far as 1890’s.

Artwork from this era is only now becoming popular with collectors and much of it has sadly been lost although postcards are now proving popular.

Click here to visit Tony's website.

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David Race - Mildmay Hospital

David gave us the historic background of the 150 year old Mildmay hospital in Central London. The hospital was founded as a charity hospital to treat patients from the surrounding slums during the Cholera epidemic of 1866.

The hospital is now run as a charity for those suffering from Aids and HIV.

Although there is still no cure for HIV it can now be controlled by anti retro-viral drugs that must be taken for life.

Research continues into a cure. The number of people in the UK who are HIV positive exceeds 100,000 and is still growing. In East and South Africa 35 million people are infected with the virus.

Mildmay has just finished building a new hospital in Hackney.

Mildmay is a full training hospital offering many therapies and also looks after dementia sufferers, day care and community treatment.

Click here to visit the Mildmay website.

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Samaritans - Pat Morss

Pat gave us a brief history of how and why the Samaritans were started 60 years ago at a time when suicide was a criminal offence.

The telephone lines are manned 24 hours a day all year round to anyone who needs someone to talk to. The conversation is totally confidential and anonymous, no advice is given but a totally trustworthy sympathetic volunteer will listen to and give comfort to the caller for as long as needed.

A very thorough training and assessment programme is given before any volunteer is taken on and more suitable volunteers are always wanted.

Shifts are flexible and arranged to suit the volunteer’s availability with a stand- by in case of an emergency.

There are 55 volunteers at the Ashford and Tenterden Branch. There are always at least two volunteers available. support is provided for the volunteer within the branch and a de-briefing session is given at the end of the shift.

The number of distressed people seeking support has increased over the last ten years with last year being the highest ever.

Pat described how they respond to some very distressing calls without giving advice or intervening but giving support in what could be a very serious situation.

Click here to visit the Samaritans website.

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Ascot Night

Saturday 7th June 2014

We are having a test-run of a new Rotary Club of Ashford Fundraising idea at the Julie Rose Stadium on Saturday 7th June 2014 starting at 1845 hours and finishing by 2300 hours.

We've got the machines and the wooden horses. We've got the Rotarian volunteers. We've booked the venue and we've made up a race card. Now we need you.

We need horse owners - and for this trial run - £5 will buy you a horse.

We need - again for this trial run - female jockeys who are prepared to dress in jockey silks and a riding hat.

We need spectators who will dress as if for Ascot - there will be a prize for the best dressed man and woman.

We need a judge or judges to decide the best dressed.

Follow the links below for documents which you can download and print:-

A Flier

A brief outline of the evening;

The Race Card;

Pre-Booking form to purchase a horse for £5 and nominate your jockey.

(Each race will have a First place prize of £15 and second place prize of £7.50.)

Come along and join us for an inexpensive evening of fun and laughter.


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Sunday April 16th 2014 – Rotary Entertains

Members of the Rotary Club of Ashford hosted their 27th 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 and compere Rotarian Steve Hiscock who introduced the first act, Elvis Tribute Act Cliff Castle from Ashford, supported by wife 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 a full house of over 150 mostly elderly Ashford guests, most of whom have attended for many years.

Following tea Highworth School’s Mike Cheesman presented Highworth pupils, talented singing duo Sharnay and Tamsyn who accompanied themselves on guitars followed by equally talented Bethany who accompanied her beautiful voice on the piano.

"Love to Sing" Ashford Community Choir, set up by musical director Tessa Fineman, 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.

Steve Hiscock thanked Members of Inner Wheel, St John Ambulance, Norton Knatchbull caretaker John, Emma Harvey and her team of six helpers from Age UK, Ashford Rotarians, family and friends for all their help and support and Waitrose for their generous contribution of £220.

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Dr Richard Cook - Fracking

Geologist Dr Richard Cook told us about the process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of shale rock to recover oil or gas.

Fracking has becme a controversial practice since he publishing of the Green Party’s Gasland movie, which has been discredited by geological experts.

Richard covered the problems of climate change by the use of hydrocarbons giving us an insight into the many uses of them and how life as we know it would grind to a halt without their use.

He explained the how oil or gas can be recovered safely from shale rock by fracking and disputed the claims about earthquakes, fresh water and air pollution, lack of well integrity and the use of dangerous chemicals.

The recovery of oil or gas by fracking will require very detailed planning applications before being permitted and the first applications are likely in the next two years, followed by self-sufficiency of oil or gas production in about 10 years.

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New Member John Goodman

President Steve Hiscock had great pleasure in inducting John Goodman as a Member of our club.

We all remember with gratitude how John supported the Tri Rotary Cycle Challenge in aid of Sand Dams and subsequently also Pancreatic Cancer Research.

£10,000 was raised by his, Alan Paterson and the support team’s efforts.

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Laura Nye - Kent Young Carers

John Hobbs opened the meeting by introducing Laura Nye representing Kent Young Carers.

Laura told us a little about the charity’s work in supporting carers as young as 6 who take on responsibilities for fa mily members in a practical and/or emotional way on a day to day basis that would be the same as an adult carer.

The Charity provides Chill Clubs and Fun Days.

Click here to visit the Kent Young Carers website.

John then had pleasure in presenting a cheque to Laura for £2,270 raised with Earlybird and gave the vote of thanks to her for her excellent presentation.

The prizes for the ‘worst ties’ were awarded to PP Stuart McRae for his ‘hearts’...

...and Karen Ottewill for her ‘ducks’.

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Steve Auty - Chief Executive of the Pilgrims Hospices

Steve gave a very interesting account of the development of the Hospice Movement in East Kent following the inspiration and leadership of Anne Robertson, the founder.

He described the extraordinary amount of work that went into the opening of the three hospices that serve the east Kent area, and the daily challenge of funding their work.

There are three Pilgrims Hospices, in Ashford, Canterbury and Ramsgate.

Pilgrims Hospices is a charity and relies heavily on donations. To keep delivering care to those that need it the most, Pilgrims has to raise in excess of £10.5 million each year, with 75% of funding coming from the local community.

The NHS contributes around 25% annually.

Click here to visit the Pilgrims Hospice website.

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Richard Goodenough - In the Meadows of Trimworth:

A Kentish Country Diary

Our speaker Richard Goodenough talked to us about his Kentish county diary in the meadows of Trimworth.

Richard moved to Trimworth in the Stour Valley in 1995 and while walking his dog began noticing the many differing facets of the countryside through the seasonal changes throughout the year.

He started making notes and taking photos from which his book ‘A Year in Kent’ was written. His presentation gave us a beautiful and informative display of nature at its best from January to December, together with a sprinkling of history relating to the different habitats.

We learnt of the ‘Books of Hours’ with their illustrations of seasonal activities and learnt that the seasons are now earlier than shown in these historic books.

His knowledge of the unspoilt flora and fauna in their natural surroundings was a fascinating lesson in ecological survival.

He also touched upon the cruelty of nature that enables the survival chain to continue.

Anyone wishing to read more about Richard’s diary can purchase his book for £25 from Waterstones.

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Brian Davis - Paul Harris Fellow

President Steve Hiscock delighted us with the announcement that PP Brian Davis had been chosen for a well deserved Paul Harris award for his many years of service to the club. He has kept us on the ‘straight and narrow’ and been a dedicated Honorary Secretary for many years.

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Forthcoming Events:

19th April 2015
Rotary Entertains

7th May 2015
Silent Auction
The Elwick Club

5th June 2015
Annual Golf Day
Eastwell Manor

20th June 2015
Music Concert
St Mary's Revelations

13th September 2015
Rotary Ramble
Wye Village Hall

Many thanks to our sponsors:

The Brett Group

Medash Signs

Linda's Florist

Ashford Bridal Cars

CWP Financial Services

Our venue and caterers:

The Elwick Club

FFF Catering