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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Peter Gammon - A life in the Police

Peter gave us an amusing run through of his career in the police force, stretching from his days as a Police Cadet in 1969, to a police constable in 1970 through to a Police Superintendent.

Peter was a member of the Special Patrol Group on duty for the Papal Visit to Canterbury in 1982 and gave us some amusing anecdotes of this visit, including the Pope’s hasty escape from Canterbury following a gas explosion in a drain.

Peter retired in 2001 but remained heavily involved in police and community work, serving as National President of the Police Superintendents Association and Chairman of the Kent Probation Board

He also served as a lay member of the Employment Tribunal and KCC Standards Committee.

He explained that he has appeared on TV a number of times including the Kilroy Show and being interviewed pretty much nonstop from 5am to midnight following the release of the Stephen Lawrence Report.

Peter passed round 3 truncheons, one of which he believes is one of the first ever issued for an official police force. He said he had used his truncheon on 3 occasions during his career. The first time was to break into a vending machine that had been damaged bu vandals, once to gain entry to a house and once to put a pheasant out of its misery when it had flown into his car and was fluttering helplessly on the road. In doing so, he hit the road and broke his truncheon.

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Prof. Stephen Clift - Singing for Health

Prof. Stephen Clift works at Canterbury Christ Church University in the Faculty of Health and Social Care.

His passion is the use of the Arts, especially music, mostly singing and as a scientist researching his subject.

He outlined the considerable benefits to health of singing, in particular to those with lung conditions.

The WHO defined health as a state of complete mental, physical, social and holistic engagement.

To show us that everyone can beneift from taking part in snging, Stephen had the all he members of the club on their feet to learn to sing Bella Mama

Stephen axplained that communal singing had great benefits for older people with long term health problems, COPD and dementia.

He showed us a video of one of his six singing groups with COPD in East Kent who were clearly having a great time.

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Tony Van Eldick - Bulding your own airplane

Our speaker, Tony Van Eldick, wanted to be a pilot from childhood but his need to wear glasses and his poor mathematics skills dictated that he would never be a commercial pilot. Nevertheless he obtained a private pilot’s licence at 16.

He has lived in the UK for 26 years and is a member of the flying community at Headcorn Airport. He thought ownership of an aircraft was out of his reach until he saw an advertisement for a DIY Europa Aeroplane kit that would fit into a single domestic garage, could be towed behind a car on its own transporter, could use leaded or unleaded ‘car’ petrol and promised a fine performance capability.

He then showed us the fascinating video of the construction of the ‘plane that was to take him 2000 hours to build. The cost was supposed to be about that of a medium sized car but ended up costing £35,000 without any labour costs.

Tony’s passion for flying and the love of his fine two seater aircraft was clear, even to his home being beside a local farmer’s grass landing strip.

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Sainsbury's Trolley Collection

Ashford Rotary Club's "Estimate the value of goods in the trolley" took place at Sainsburys on Friday 13th December.

The collection raised £392-83 for Rotary Charities

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The Trycycle Challenge

John Goodman and Alan Paterson described their summer expedition when they cycled from Ashford to Vlissingen in Holland and Amiens in France.

Alan set a very optimistic target figure of £10,000 to be raised which was successfully achieved.

A cheque for £5,450 was presented to Geoff Haworth on behalf of Pancreatic Cancer UK and the balance was allocated to the Sand Dams project.

Alan and John were presented with glass plaques in recognition of their achievement.

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Karen Warden - Eventful Times

Karen started her career as a bank cashier and moved on to Event Management for the banking sector.

To her people are the most important part in any event, especially the speaker, and she went on to list 31 ingredients that make an event successful starting with the ability to translate an idea into reality.

She showed us her chart of high profile speakers, from the world of banking, sport, politics and entertainment.

Karen has organised events in fabulous venues such as the Guildhall, Livery Halls, the Cabinet War Room, St Paul's Cathedral and the Dorchester Hotel.

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Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

Mary McKeown presented a cheque for £2,500 to Ashley and Darren Chappell on behalf of PSP.

Ashley, whose mother suffered from the disease which is part of the Parkinsons family, thanked Mary and the club for their support.

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Kennington - then and now.

Our speaker, Jenny Marshall gave a fascinating and very detailed description of the origins and development of Kennington from an agricultural village to its present status as a suburb of the town of Ashford.

In 1811 the population was just 363 in 61 families with the majority employed in agriculture and the balance in trade. She detailed the hierarchy of social standing and where the population lived.

The village grew substantially when, in 1842, the Railway works opened and took workers from the land in Kennington. The detail she presented of the notable properties and their owners and the community contribution to the gentle growth over the years to the present day was extraordinary.

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Phillipines Relief

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.

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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.

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Andrew Smith

"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

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Spencer Stone

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.

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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.

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'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.

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'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.

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'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.

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'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 Collins.
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:
Radio AHBS,
Pilgrim's Hospices,
Kent MS Therapy Centre,
Cancer Research,
Caldecott Community,
Kent Air Ambulance,
Pancreatic Cancer UK,
Diabetes UK,
Parkinson's UK,
Cystic Fibrosis Trust,
RSPCA,
Breathe On UK,
Rotary Foundation,
Demelza House Hospice,
Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme,
Parkinson's UK,
The Stroke Association,
Hope & Homes for children'
Rotary Charities.

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'Charity Donations'

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.

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'Foundation'

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.

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'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.

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'Presidential Citation'

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.

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'15th July - Cllr David Smith,

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.

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'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.

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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

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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.

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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.


Radio City


Jacqui McShee's Take Three


Henry Blofeld


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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Colette Watts

29th April

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.

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Ken Campbell

15th April

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.

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David Hatcher: Shelterbox

15th April

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

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Rotary Entertains

14th April

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.

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Ron Stainton: The Kent and East Sussex Railway

8th April

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.

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Quiz Night

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.

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Forthcoming Events

May 17 - 19 Amiens Rotary Club 75th Anniversary celebration.



Many thanks to our sponsors:


The Brett Group


Medash Signs


Linda's Florists


Ashford Bridal Cars


CWP Financial Advisors