To any other organisation such a statement might seem like optimism beyond reality, but then again this is the Rotary Club of York and with 15 years of experience and a team of dedicated and committed Rotarians, who would bet against them? At the time of writing the total raised over the last 15 years is in excess of £900,000, the weather was perfect and the number of visitors seemed to be endless.
Jo and I arrived in York just before 9am on Sunday 9th July and Rotary logo’s, signs and tabards were seemingly everywhere in the centre of York. On arrival hardly anyone looked up or gave a second glance, everyone knew their jobs and were getting on with it and without distraction. We had only walked a matter of a few metres before I was offered the first of what seemed like 100 Dragon boat programmes proffered to me on the day by a perfectly attired Rotarian proudly wearing their yellow ‘team’ uniforms.
Then, as if from nowhere, came the newly installed Club President Brian Joscelyne serenely walking towards us with a large warm smile on his face. How could he not have? The ‘Swiss watch’ (or should that be the ‘Rotary Watch’) that is the Rotary Club of York was almost in the final seconds, of the last minute, in the year of preparation since the last successful Dragon boat Challenge. – “Everything is ready” he said confidently as he reached out and shook my hand. I had no reason to doubt him, the setting adjacent to Lendal bridge in the middle of York matched the weather – perfect.
President Brian confidently walked alongside us enthusiastically outlining the plans for the day, introducing Jo and I to one and another, who suddenly appeared with an update or guidance on a particular project somewhere along the River Ouse. His and my roles of responsibility, necessary duties, timings and where we needed to be, were revealed without reference to a single piece of paper. It didn’t take long for the conversation to move to our moment in the ‘spot light’ – Brian and I were to paddle in a Dragon Boat; the “Macmillian MacBoatface”.
I am very grateful to Macmillian Cancer Care for giving Brian and I this opportunity. It was an experience that I for one will not forget, not least because of the green wigs we were obliged to wear. Brian and I were only in the first of three heats, but our efforts did not go unrewarded. At a time of 1m,44secs and 66 milliseconds, our boat in that single heat was awarded “The Tailend Trophy” for the slowest time of the day. Not for the highest achievement I grant you, but it is a trophy non the less!
I am sure this is just what President Brian planned when he outlined his aims and objectives for the year – “I must be remembered for something” I heard him say at District Assembly!
I must share with you a concern I had on the day, whilst listening to a slightly distorted commentary I was sure I heard “… and boat 25; the ‘Northern Bowel Movements’ are just in front of boat 20, ‘Make it Float’” – Thank goodness MacBoatface didn’t have the pleasure of following those two! Boat 25 actually turned out to be “Northern Bow Movements” which must be very reassuring for the residents of York.
It was a great day in every respect and the setting in the middle of York on such a lovely summers day could not be better. The Rotary Club of York Dragon Boat race must be a contender for ‘Rotary International Event of the Year’ (if there is such a thing?) especially when you consider they did actually achieve their goal – to take their cumulative amount raised £1,000,000. Well Done to the whole team, that is the Rotary Club of York and every single person who helped them in some small way.
So, President Brian, you WILL actually be remembered for a unique achievement, the first time such a figure has ever been achieved by any President in over 90 years of Rotary in York – 1m,44secs and 66 milliseconds! Well done Brain, you and the District Governor of District 1040 have ensured that no other boat did as badly as we did and that is truly ‘Service above self’
DG Robert Morphet PHF and co-winner of the “Tailend Trophy 2017”j