This month has shaped up to be one of the most exciting months in District 9670 Rotary! With a variety of events showcasing the diverse work that Rotary does, District Governor Gerard McMillan updates us on the excitement that has swept across District 9670 this month. With our District Conference looming there is even more fun in store this month...

 

It is literary month and it is with pleasure that I tell you about a book written by Past District Governor Bart Richardson. He tells the story of his time in the army from 1936 to 1945 and he will have his book for sale at the upcoming conference later this month.

It is great to know that a number of the clubs within our district go to schools to help with reading and they need to be applauded, especially this month.

We said farewell to Joy Walker last month. Joy had been the supervisor for the Club and District Support since 2006 and she sends this message to Rotarians: "I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you and farewell to all the wonderful Rotarians that I have had the pleasure of working with over the past eight years. It has been wonderful to see the great work that Rotary has done at the local and global level, through the efforts of individual Rotarians.

Rotary is an amazing organisation, but it needs to continue well into the future. The world would be a much more unpleasant place without it, and the work you all do as you put ‘Service Above Self’. It is also comforting to know that I am leaving you all in the capable hands of your CDS team at SPPO which will now be headed by PDG Jenny Coburn. I will be taking many fond memories with me."

The big function last month was the Lantern Walk. We had 206 volunteers working with 166 Rotarians and Rotaract members from 16 clubs assisting on the night. Thanks to Newcastle Club President, Graeme Clark and Maree Gleeson from this club who were the main coordinators of the event who were ably assisted by many, many Rotarians and other organisations.

The restaurants around Honeysuckle did a roaring trade with most doing two sittings and the Silo Restaurant doing three on the evening. Police congratulated the organisers on the crowd behaviour and were very complimentary in their feedback. There were 1500 people who took part in the walk from Nobbys to Honeysuckle with around 500 carrying lanterns.

The Marching Koalas came from Carrington into Honeysuckle with an-other large following of people. It was my honour to read a letter from Rotary International President Gary CK Huang with his message to "Light Up Rotary" at such a significant community event.

The feedback I received from some of the Rotarians was that Rotary was the winner on the night; which was one of fellowship with Rotarians walking side by side with families and children in a night filled with joy, peace and harmony. We certainly did "Light Up Newcastle" with my congratulations to everyone involved.

The Rotary Club of Lake Macquarie was chartered on March 7th and one of the most pleasurable tasks any District Governor can have is the chartering of a new club. This is a young club, a breakfast club, consisting of mainly young professionals and they are already planning some innovative community events. They plan to meet three times a month and on the last Friday of every month they will have a family meeting which will be a social gathering for families, which is what Rotary is all about.

Two other successful events over March have been the Paddlefest at Toronto, which Rotary Club of Toronto play a big part; and the other function was the ever successful Loop the Lake which is presented by a number of Rotary Clubs who work together to bring this spectacular event to Lake Macquarie.

I attended the Rotaract Club of Hunter Valley and it was pleasing to see 5 Rotaractors not only register for the District Conference but also offer assistance to the conference committee.

Yvonne and I had the pleasure to attend their AGM where we were in awe of their enthusiasm and energy. Three people nominated for president, three people nominated for vice president which reflects the spirit of this group. I wish I could bottle this energy and take a big swig – I think every Rotarian could take a dose of what they’ve got.

Speaking of the District Conference, I am looking forward to another wonderful event and thank the experienced organising committee for their diligence in putting together a valuable program. This is a wonderful opportunity for Rotarians and friends of Rotary to enjoy good fellowship, to be inspired by the formal program and interaction with other Rotarians and to celebrate the success of your District’s many activities and initiatives. Yvonne and I are looking forward to seeing you all there at Forster.

I have received a request from one of the Rotary Clubs for a resolution to discuss a Gap Year Exchange Program. This has come about because of changes to the long term youth exchange pro-gram (i.e. students are now required to go back to school after their exchange). The district will look at the possibility of Rotary sponsoring the gap year and District Governor Elect Adrian Roach will set up a small committee to explore the possibility for a gap year for school leavers. More on this later...

I am starting to receive dates for the Club Changeover Dinners in June and July. I ask clubs to notify me of these dates as soon as possible so I can coordinate a representative at their change-overs. I have been delighted to receive a number of invites from clubs already and I’ll will endeavour to get to as many of these changeovers as possible.

District Governor Elect Adrian is also arranging dates for his training and president elect training and also district assembly training. As I will be passing the baton onto Adrian at the end of this Rotary year, I encourage his team and clubs to attend these important club training days. Even if you have attended this training three or five years ago, it is worthwhile coming along again because there are new messages and innovative ideas, particularly around increasing membership and ensuring the sustainability of Rotary so that our communities are enriched by the work of Rotary into the future.

Notable dates are:

18 April – Presidents-Elect Training including district budget session – 9am to 4pm at Singleton.

19 April – District Assembly for Presidents Elect and Club Directors – 9am to 3pm Singleton.

2 May – Presidents-elect Training including District Budget session – 9am to 4pm at Dubbo.

3 May - District Assembly for Presidents –Elect and Club Directors – 9am to 3pm Dubbo.

For further details on these events contact wilmasimmons@hotmail.com

Yvonne and I would like to thank all the people who have continued to support us and, with just a few months to go, I reflect on the opportunities I have had as your District Governor. I hope you all have a great time at the conference and we will continue to engage with as many clubs as we can as we draw close to the June 30th end of the Rotary year. We have been made to feel very welcome everywhere we have gone and I thank you all for that.

And in the words of Rotary International President Gary CK Huang may you all "Use your hands to help, use your head to make sure you are helping in the right place and use your heart to make sure it’s sincere because without your heart, nothing else matters".

Yours in Rotary

Gerard McMillan