Jim Dunn summarised the year in his farewell speech as President of Morpeth Rotary Club.
He had just returned from a Rotary North East District meeting where he had been given a Citation from the President of Rotary International in Great Britain as a commendation for the work carried out in Morpeth.
He confessed that he had not achieved his target of three or four new members, but he had managed to double the number of lady members with the welcoming of Morpeth Rotary’s second-ever lady. She joined from Seahouses Rotary Club, bringing the total to 31.
During the year, there had been official visits to five other clubs including Alnwick, Ashington, Wansbeck, and Till and Glendale.
Neighbouring club Alnwick had help from Morpeth with three events in support of the project to rebuild a school in Sri Lanka.
Ten members went with Mr Dunn to the Rotary national conference in Birmingham and six to the District conference at Scarborough. It was good to hear new ideas that could refresh the work in Morpeth. The Morpeth branch of Morrisons again supported the annual collection week that helped to set up a fund for the year. Most of this cash has been given away, with nine cheques recently presented by Mr Dunn to local charity representatives.
The Christmas concert by the Ellington Colliery Band, supported by Northumbrian Water, raised £1,100 for the charity WaterAid. A total of £700 was given to the Ellington Brass Academy’s junior band for a euphonium and tutors, with a donation from Gott Technical Services and matched funding from Rotary International.
The Rotary Christmas Message, addressed by the Reverend Simon White, Rector of Morpeth, was attended by 64 members and friends.
The annual four-way quiz with the Soroptimists, Lions and Inner Wheel took place, with the Soroptimists regaining the trophy.
The ladies won the annual indoor bowls contest, with a little help from the scorer. Kevin Dunlop won the photography contest, and Alan Beal won the chef’s award at the pudding-making event.
President’s Night was special and different with the Labour MP Ian Lavery as the keynote speaker.
He spoke very well as a local man passionate about the area and its people and it was followed by an excellent speech from the Rotary District Governor.
There was additional fund-raising and fellowship with a steak dinner, an Indian meal with the Lions and a Chinese meal. The club ran a book stall for the first time and it made a healthy profit.
Enough money was raised to contribute to the school in Sri Lanka, for flood-relief work on the Thames and to support the visit of the Chernobyl children to the area. The club helped with the Morpeth Gathering and the street collections for the Red Cross and Save the Children. Its first lady member, Rhona Dunn, took part in a zip-wire challenge across the Tyne from the Baltic and raised £1,100 for the Red Cross.
There were visits to the Longstone Lighthouse, Harnham Bhuddist Monastery, the Nissan car plant and Hillhead Farm. The family at Hillhead provided a wonderful buffet and the club made a contribution through them to the Great North Air Ambulance.
Mr Dunn praised the support from the Morpeth Herald in keeping people up-to-date with Rotary activities.
He thanked members for the many voluntary jobs they do in the community with support for the food bank, the talking newspaper, Barnabas Safe and Sound and others.
He mentioned highlights from the 30 interesting and informative speakers arranged by members during the year.
They included young people from King Edward VI School developing themselves through travel and projects in the USA and Thailand, Hulda’s story of attempts to escape from Germany by Fran Elson, the Rector of Rothbury on working at Windsor Castle and Alan Fendley on an air force without parachutes.
Among the subjects covered were developments at Sanderson Arcade, local links with Admiral Collingwood, the success of the Anarchy Brewery and the story of the Chevington men in the First World War.
Mr Dunn thanked members for their advice and commitment in serving on the various working committees.
As a present to the club, he had framed the historic old President’s collar with 49 name bars of famous local residents, right up to previous mayor Clive Temple, for display at future meetings.
Lastly, he said he had been accused of treating his wife, Rhona, badly in her role as his private secretary and, to much applause, presented her with a lovely bunch of flowers.
When he joined Rotary less than five years ago, he had expected a pleasant and restful culmination to a busy and hard-working 60 years, including voluntary youth work with the Boys’ Brigade.
The last year had not been restful, but had been enjoyable and very rewarding. He was greatly honoured to have led Morpeth Rotary Club as President for 2013/14.
Mr Dunn handed over the presidential chain of office to the new President, Professor Andrew Hamnett, and wished him well for his year in office.
Prof Hamnett is a graduate in Chemistry from Oxford, was Professor of Physical Chemistry, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Newcastle University and his last appointment was Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Strathclyde University.
His first duty was to hurry off to present a bouquet of flowers to the new President of Morpeth Inner Wheel.