As we return to another exciting year or Rotary, District Governor Gerard McMillan updates us on some of the fantastic events and goals we have to look forward to over 2015.

 

I trust that you have all had a restful festive season – we are now back for the second half of the year as we take on the theme to "Light Up Rotary."

As clubs start to come back after the break, I hope you have all re-charged your batteries and look ahead with optimism for the future.

On February 23rd, Rotary will celebrate its 110th birthday so it is appropriate that we focus on the fantastic work of Rotary over the past 110 years.

We need to ensure that the legacy of that work continues as we carry on the good work that Rotary is doing in our local communities and on the international scene as well. It is great to see clubs working together towards a common good. They are not only working with other Rotary Clubs but are also working with other service clubs like Apex and Lions and all sorts of organisations that have a common goal to reach out to our communities.

I’d like to congratulate the Rotary Club of Newcastle on their "Light Up Newcastle" Project, particularly President Graham Clark and Maree Gleeson who is co-ordinating what will be an amazing night in Newcastle on February 21st. The Club has well and truly accepted the challenge of Rotary International President Gary Huang to "Light Up Rotary" – what better than to have a Chinese Lantern Walk? This event on the Newcastle foreshore is supported by a number of Rotary Clubs and I would encourage Rotarians, their families and their friends to get to Newcastle to Light Up Newcastle, to celebrate the Chinese New Year and to raise much needed funds for the Seafarers Mission.

This will be a fantastic opportunity to showcase what Rotary does both locally and internationally with our main humanitarian project of eradicating polio. It is also an opportunity for Clubs to spread information about their own clubs with the potential of attracting new members to join the ranks of Rotary.

Another example of clubs working together is the PaddleFest in March with Toronto Rotary Clubs. Loop the Lake is a cycle event organised by Warners Bay Club and supported by other Rotary Clubs in the area to make this another opportunity to "Light Up Rotary" to the broader community whilst continuing to raise funds for Rotary projects.

One of the most pleasing honours for any District Governor is the charter of a new club and I’m proud to say a

number of people have worked extremely hard to establish a new club in the Rotary Club of Lake Macquarie. I make mention of Charter President Duncan Burck, District Membership Chair AG Laurie McGrath, our District New Club Co-ordinator, District Governor Elect Adrian Roach and Past District Governor Brian Atkins for their hard work in making this happen. The charter night is on March 7th at Club Macquarie at 6.30pm. Tickets are available at $40.

Our District Conference will be held from March 20th to 22nd in Forster with the theme "Waves of Change – Oceans of Opportunities". I am pleased to announce that Rotary International President Gary Huang will be represented by PDG Kamal Sanghvi and his spouse Sonal.

Also in attendance will be two other current District Governors which is quite a rare scenario. We will have District Governor of our host District 9650, Greg Moran, who will speak at the Saturday morning breakfast. The other current District Governor is Hans von Dewall from District 1900 in Germany. Our current Group Study Exchange is with District 1900 and indeed it will be a tremendous honour for our District to have DG Hans von Dewall attend our conference. Past District Governor of 9650, Neville Parsons, will also speak on Sunday morning about membership.

Neville is also a director of Rotary Down Under and I will be honoured and privileged to have him in attendance.

Confirmation of a positive response from Forster Council has been received for the bridge walk which will be a spectacular sight with the in-bound Youth Exchange students carrying their National flags, wearing End Polio T-Shirts, followed by Rotarians. This will be another great opportunity to "Light Up Rotary" to the community.

Next month, the theme is about Peace and Conflict Prevention and Resolution – what a timely topic giv-en the current conflict around the world. We are now looking for Peace Scholarship recipients.

These are scholarships for post graduate scholars to apply to study peace and conflict resolution. Past President Alan Moir is seeking applications on behalf of this District. He will be seeking suitable candidates.

If you would like to know more about this opportunity, please go on the District or Rotary International website. Time is running out for the next group of applicants so don’t delay.

This new initiative for our District has been a Rotary International Programme for a number of years and is open to any post graduate from a legal, educational, medical, scientific or economic degree – anyone who wants to develop their knowledge and understanding and put that to good use to go out and help in the world. Past recipients have gone on to work for the United Nations and other organisations who do good in the world.

On that note I wish you all a wonderful 2015. May we continue to work towards the goals of Rotary to improve the lives of those around us.

Yours in Rotary

Gerard McMillan