President hosts a wonderful evening

Guests at Morpeth Rotary Club's President's Night.'Front row: Kathleen Harrison, Barbara Pringle, Lady Joan Howard, Jill Clark, and Michelle Nelson.'Second row: Derek Harrison, Roger Clark, John Pringle, Jean Thompson, Andrew Hamnett and  Dr Nic Best.
Guests at Morpeth Rotary Club's President's Night.'Front row: Kathleen Harrison, Barbara Pringle, Lady Joan Howard, Jill Clark, and Michelle Nelson.'Second row: Derek Harrison, Roger Clark, John Pringle, Jean Thompson, Andrew Hamnett and Dr Nic Best.


Andrew Hamnett welcomed 65 members and guests to his President’s Night for a five-course meal and entertainment at Morpeth Golf Club.

The guests included Rotary District Governor for the North East Jean Thompson, Assistant District Governor Derek Harrison, President of Alnwick Rotary Jill Clark, Mayor of Morpeth Nic Best and Mayoress Joan Howard, President of Morpeth Inner Wheel Michelle Nelson, President of Morpeth Lions Stuart Lewis and President of Wansbeck Rotary Club Stephen Ling.

Following a toast to the club by Ms Thompson, Mr Hammett responded with the sort of speech you might hope for from a retired University Vice Chancellor. It was informative, learned, serious, amusing, inclusive and entertaining.

He thought the club was in good heart, with two new members already getting involved in the regular work and activities of Rotary.

The club had supported many local and international charities during the year, including the Mayor’s nominated charity the Samaritans, and the Mayor’s previous charity Henry Dancer Days.

It was doing what it could to demonstrate a strong commitment to the community where members live and that has given them so much. There is continued support for Barnabas Safe and Sound, Talking Newspapers, Age Concern lunches for the elderly, the Wansbeck Food Bank and many others.

While there is the hard work of organising events and raising funds through such activities as the annual collection at Morrisons, the aim is also to have fun and to give pleasure. A band concert is hosted every year to raise money for international and local charities, there is a bookstall at the Morpeth Gathering and there are fund-raising dinners and social events.

There is support for international travel by young people, especially where this has the purpose of social and personal development. Travel projects can be of immense value in increasing awareness of other cultures and ways of life. The club itself is even considering a special visit to Sunderland!

Always on the lookout for new ideas, next year’s President Rhona Dunn is starting to plan for a Tree of Light at Christmas at Sanderson Arcade. It will give people a chance to remember their loved ones while raising money for local charities.

There is recognition by the club of worldwide responsibilities, with significant amounts of money raised for ShelterBox, for the End Polio Now project, and for an orphanage in Bogota, Colombia. It is all part of a wider Rotary global fellowship dedicated to helping with international, as well as local need.

On a domestic note, Rotary District has been raising quality issues about the way Morpeth Rotary works. It has asked about our health and safety policies to protect the vulnerable. Bearing in mind the age of Rotarians, and how vulnerable they feel from time to time, this is probably a timely intervention. It would have been especially useful for our recent visit to a brewery. Happily, one of our members has been volunteered to ensure that we do the right thing.

Basically, we all wish to remain healthy and keep ourselves safe, however, it is understood that our policy is expected to be more thought out. As an experienced academic, Mr Hamnett quoted the words of a Tom Lehrer song, “Let no one else’s work escape your eyes, plagiarise, plagiarise, plagiarise” — but be sure to call it research. We are now ‘researching’ Health and Safety Policies from other Rotary Clubs.

Keeping ourselves healthy is a concern for all of us, although his own attitude to exercise has been similar to his approach to strange noises in the night, one of cautious non-interference. A doctor who once tested his joints said they were like those of a ten-year-old. He replied that it was because he put no stress on them. Many friends who took regular exercise are now in the great gym in the sky while he is enjoying a peaceful retirement.

One problem is the keenness of the Morpeth Rotary Club Sports Convenor. Unfortunately, events have conspired to make sure he has not had a lot of success. The darts tournament was abandoned when it was found that the darts board had been replaced by a TV set. The snooker has been difficult as each game has taken several days. The table tennis net disappeared at the start of the season, but it did turn up when we bought another one. Golf has gone quite well, but that is possibly because the President does not really play much.

The mental well-being of the club is regularly tested by running several well supported quizzes, organised by District and locally. The Team Captain Michael Duffy is skilled at losing by a fraction of a mark in the last round so we exit with honour and do not have to go to Berwick Rotary to play the next. Our own four-way quiz this year, with Inner Wheel, Lions and Soroptimists, had a nail-biting finish. It ended with three teams within a mark of each other.

These are small issues, but represent an important aspect of the club and that is the fellowship. At club meetings every Tuesday, there is an air of pure pleasure and enjoyment of a sort that is rarely encountered.

It is an honour to be a club member and an even greater honour to be President of Morpeth Rotary Club. Mr Hamnett thanked the District Governor for her kind remarks and fellow members for electing him to the position that has given him such great pleasure.

John Pringle, famous Morpeth optician and cyclist, gave a warm and witty toast to the guests, providing sufficient embarrassment for all.

Mayor Nic Best spoke in glowing terms of the work of Rotary in the community. Entertainment was provided by virtuoso guitarists Dr Reed Gamble and Graham Brotton from Cleveland Rotary Club, the ShelterBox Duo. They have a charity CD. Their name is taken from the disaster relief boxes of aid and equipment paid for by Rotary Clubs, including Morpeth, and sent out as needed.

This wonderful evening was brought to an end with the traditional toast by President Hamnett of ‘Rotary the World Over’.