What a year! We now approach the Christmas period with severe restrictions on activities. Our District Secretary, Chrissie, has kindly updated us on Santa Sleigh but there is no doubt that important fundraising opportunities are compromised. However, I am heartened by the amount of community support that has been provided by Rotary volunteers over the last few months. Christmas is a time for celebration and the decision to make the major proportion of the December 12th forum a celebration affords an opportunity for us all to relax and have fun.
It’s an opportunity for us all to raise a glass and toast the enduring friendship focus of Rotary, and I am relying on those thespians and performers amongst you to volunteer to perform (a few minutes only – we won’t sit in judgement!) to make this a truly enjoyable forum, and it may even end with a Christmas carol or two.
District has been doing all it can to support clubs during the pandemic, including the allocation of £10,000 before July, and again since July to distribute funds to clubs to match-fund club support for community projects. I am delighted to report that, of the latest release, club grants totalling £9,750 have been made. We do not rest there though, and at District Exec last Friday we decided to critically review our reserves again to ensure we pass back to clubs any funds deemed in excess of our requirements going forward – more news of that early next year.
Lastly, I want to talk about conference. Unfortunately, for obvious reasons, we have had to cancel the postponed physical conference set for April next year, and instead we are moving forward with a virtual conference. This is likely to take place earlier in 2021, and speakers such as Eddie the Eagle have already confirmed interest in participating. It will use the existing conference web platform in order to save on costs which otherwise would have been wasted, and I assure you that it will be as professional an event as we can muster in these strange times! We will be using a young filmmaker and composer and, as intended with the original conference, it will be outward-facing to attract new members and – best of all – 100% free to attend! We will also have a legacy, in that most presentations will be free to view post-conference – a real showcase of what Rotary does in this district and internationally! So just giving you a heads-up: it will be easy to invite your friends and family to take part in the conference; you will be able to pick ‘n’ mix which sessions you attend – and believe me, there will be a great selection; and it won’t cost you a penny!
In the meantime, however, I wish you all a very merry Christmas. Please continue to stay safe and let’s look forward to the light at the end of the tunnel in 2021.