I joined the Rotary Club of Swindon Old Town in 1994, sponsored by Rtn Martin Vandervelde. My career then was a senior logistics manager with BT, having moved to Swindon in 1976, as part of a dispersal exercise of the Civil Service from London (sounds familiar?). Working for BT took me all around the UK, and globally, but I had realised I really didn’t know much about Swindon and was keen to learn.
Service above self
The Club met for breakfast, as now, at the Kings in Old Town Swindon, and my first meeting had a great impact on me. Firstly it was the fellowship, but also the sheer range and scope of both the Club’s work and Rotary. I thought then: this is for me, and have never wavered since in my support for the Rotary movement. As a result I have been very fortunate in meeting and making friends with all the great personalities who have been club members in those years. I served as Club Secretary and Chair of various Club Committees and had a fabulous year as President in 2003/2004.
Travelling the world
Rotary is a global, and local, charitable movement. It has been successful in achieving, with others, the virtual eradication of polio, and helping disadvantaged communities across the world. In my subsequent career in academia, I travelled internationally and made a point of visiting Rotary Clubs whenever I could. I was able to visit clubs in such places as Ethiopia, Finland, South Sudan, Serbia, Indonesia, and Macedonia. Each visit my experience was similar: to be warmly greeted and made to feel at home in the family of Rotary.
Members and friends too
Of course, membership of our Club has waxed and waned and waxed over my time in Rotary. Women have joined and have helped shape Rotary to be more holistic and representative of the community we serve. Having bumped along for a while, we are now recruiting great new members like Junab Ali and Neil Hopkins. Along with our brand new satellite group at Goddard Park, we must support Rotary as it navigates the COVID, and post COVID environment.
Fundraising faces difficulties
Historically, the Club’s fundraising with events such as the Swindon’s Famous Duck Race, Sporting Dinners, and sports events has been very successful but we are not sure exactly what this future landscape will look like.
What is clear is that the need for the Rotary movement is greater now than ever.
Mike has been committed to Rotary and in particular Old Town Rotary in lots of ways he’s too modest to mention. Throughout the lockdown he’s shared not one but two Where am I quizzes introducing us to often forgotten parts of Swindon. We plan to share the quiz here soon. He’s provided a series of very clever cartoons about COVID and kept in close touch with isolated members and encouraged two new members to join us.
Mike has now decided to enter his very first half marathon at the age of 70 to raise funds for Brighter Futures. It will hopefully be happening on 20 September in and around Swindon. Mike needs your support please look up his sponsor page to donate.