My name is Robert Morphet. Welcome to my blog where I will update you on events during my year as District Governor in 2017/2018
Personal ethos and insight
I have been proud to be associated with Rotary since Oct. 1986, the old saying goes ‘that you don’t know what you are missing until it’s gone’ was certainly true of my experience during the five years I was unable to be a part it.
I have many interests and hobbies but none so deep as my involvement with Rotary. Rotarians are often critical of the fact that ‘Rotary doesn’t mean anything’ to outsiders and that ‘it’s difficult to get our message across’ because we are such a diverse organisation. For me personally, it is that diversity that continues to make it interesting and simulating. Even after all this time there are aspects of Rotary that I never knew and I am constantly learning.
Rotary, the organisation, is so diverse it attracts members of equal diversity, who have no other common interest. I am constantly surprised even in my club with the people who manage to get together, laugh and share a common goal, who would never normally meet or speak.
Throughout my Rotary life I have been content to work at the ‘grass roots’, whether it was taking up office in my own club, stood in a supermarket with collection box or organising event for local people; making a difference in my own small way.
In 2005/2006 I was proud to President of my own club and for the first and I got an insight into District activities as well as those of other clubs. I am the only member currently in our club to go through a full second full term in 2014/2015 and again I got involved with Rotary outside my own club.
Everything that Rotary is, what Rotary stands for and what Rotary achieves is as a result of individual members making a difference and giving ‘Service above Self’. Recruiting new members both to replace existing ones and ultimately to increase our numbers, is in my opinion the most important objective we should have.
The Rotary Club of Pickering reach out into their community and invite local people to recommend someone they believe should be recognised and, above all, to say “Thank you” for the work and the effort they put in. The Rotary of Pickering do this by presenting a Rotary ‘Service before Self’ award.
Left; Pres. RC of Pickering; Hugh Morgan. Centre; John Scoble. Right; DG
On 19th July I had the great pleasure of being present when John Scoble was presented with his ‘Service Before Self Award’ by the Rotary club President Hugh Morgan. John’s nomination was proposed by Heather Chaplin and the citation reads as follows;
“Since John’s retirement from his career in education as a head teacher and advisor in North Yorkshire, he has been very busy offering his knowledge and advice in a variety of ways, free of charge to the local community.
This includes being Chair of Governors for a number of years at Scalby School, Scarborough. Recently he has been assisting them in their transition to academy status. He also runs many clubs in local schools teaching both staff and pupils to play the ukulele.
John has been an accomplished guitar player and singer for many years. At one time he performed professionally, but in recent years has used his talents to raise money for a wide variety of charities.
In March 2013 John and David Swann (a local singer, song writer) gave a musical concert, in Thornton Dale Village Hall, which raised over £2,000 for the British Heart Foundation and Middlesborough Hospital Heart Unit.
Following the concert and having read somewhere that learning a new musical instrument may help to ward off Alzheimer’s, John invited 6 people to join him in learning to play the ukulele. The original 6 people made their first public appearance at another charity concert run by John in Thornton Dale Village Hall. This time over £2,000 was raised for Martin House Hospice. At the performance John invited the audience to join the ukulele group.
Many more concerts later the group of 6 players has grown considerably and there are now approximately 70 adults in the Ryedale area meeting regularly to learn to play the ukulele. John’s tuition is free and ukuleles are available for people to borrow when they first start to play.
John’s enthusiasm and policy of inclusion has encouraged many to join the various groups of learners, who meet in a variety of venues.
Many of the players have quite serious health issues, including Parkinson’s, MS, partial sight and diabetes. Many of us players are retired people whose retirement has been enriched by the music, companionship and friendship, which we find within the groups. Plus the fact that we are helping to raise thousands of pounds for charity.
John is providing a valuable service to our community, free of charge, which has enriched our lives. Meetings are always very jolly, happy and humorous occasions. The music stimulates our brains and the feeling we get when we play successfully is very fulfilling.
I have no hesitation in recommending John Scoble for your community award.”
Well done, John. You deserve the award. And well done too to the Rotary of Pickering for recognising the need to say “Thank you”.
If after reading this, you feel that John’s initiative with the ukulele could be extended further or you want to know more about it, please contact me and I will pass on your details.
After a busy few weeks I am now able to spend some time writing up my blog, So far, I have travelled over 1600 miles and spoken to 27 Rotary clubs at 15 separate meetings. In addition, I have attended 14 different functions or District meetings. Thank you to all the clubs that have helped me to fulfil my role by getting together to form joint meetings.
If any club would like me to attend, you can check my diary on the District website using the following link and you can email your request directly from there:
Way back in November, there I was, sat with Assistant District Governor Clive Warcup’s very own 1040 East South Group’s ‘President Elects Preparation’ get together with representatives from the Rotary Clubs of Beverley, Bridlington, Driffield, Filey, Malton & North, Pocklington & Market Weighton and Weighton Wolds. I suddenly realised that I had just agreed, not only to attend the Market Weighton Whacky Races, but actually to take part in their ‘Soapbox Challenge’!
How we all laughed, what a wonderful thing to do, then I got into my car and wondered what on earth I had let myself in for?
Self denial can only go on for so long and the ever smiling and often reassuring President elect Carol Watson would gently remind me of my promise from time to time. Each week Sunday 16th July seemed to come ever closer and still I refused to acknowledge that I had committed, not just life and reputation, but my sanity too. What exactly was I supposed to do I wondered… but not for long, the entry form and information pack arrived!
I read through it quickly; “Have fun”, “raise lots of money”, ” medals for the best dressed”, “the slowest team”; ‘I can do this’, I thought! I read on a bit further, “Soapbox should be fitted with roll bar’, 2 people must wear full faced crash helmets”, “the soapbox must have a braking system as they can reach high speeds!”
A sudden reality just dawned on me, I have volunteered to do something and I had no idea what I was supposed to do! Still I had become District Governor in exactly the same manner, what have I got to lose? “Make the best of it Robert”, I told myself reassuringly, “you just need some help, but where from and in what form?”
What should I call the cart? “Dead Cert” replied Carol helpfully!
District Governor Elect Nigel, said “I know someone who might be able to help you”
So I rang David Sugden from the Rotary Club of Cleckheaton “David” I said with as much authority as I could summon “I have a coffin and I need it converting into a vehicle I can race down a hill in a soap box challenge, can you help?”
To my surprise and without a moment’s hesitation he said “Yes, bring it to the workshop and let’s see what we need to do”.
I put the phone down and stared at the wall ‘stunned amazement’ doesn’t quite cover it!
David Sugden (left) with David Phillips with “Dead Cert”
David Sugden and Bill Stevenson from the Rotary Club of Cleckheaton and David’s motor racing son, Tim provided much needed expertise, enthusiasm and knowledge, they were prepared to back my stupidity with their time and skill. How lucky am I?
Time was against us and David had other commitments, we needed more help, I turned to District Community Chairman; David Phillips – he would know someone who could help. I didn’t need to look any further, “I can do that” he said.
The following day he turned up with a car boot full of tools and a seemingly endless supply of energy and ability. There was no going back now.
5.15am Sunday 16th July the alarm woke me after just 4 hours sleep following the Charity Ball the night before. What would the day bring?
I arrived in Market Weighton at 7.30am with a van, inside was a coffin suitably prepared to carry two people (That must be a first!) and carefully fitted to a racing cart chassis. I was greeted by the ever smiling Newly installed club President Carol and many of the RC of Weighton Wolds team. I gently made my way up and through the developing course; car tyres piled here and there, bales of straw carefully lining the route and with numerous tractors and farm machinery strategically parked or working away preparing for the day ahead.
A few minutes later David and Joan Phillips arrived with their daughter and her unsuspecting boyfriend Matthew. Matt was to be the ‘front man’, he would sit in the front of me, he had no control over any aspect of the vehicle. Having never met him before, I introduced myself, “Good morning Matt, I’m Robert, Do you trust me?” I said
He shook my hand; “yes’ he said almost inaudibly.
David Phillips (left), Robert (Inside “Dead Cert!”) and Matt
Two hours later we were at the start line, after several dummy runs, numerous photographs and much polite laughter at the same jokes from visitors to the pit lane; “I wouldn’t be seen dead in that” I heard a hundred times and still we pretended it was the most original joke ever.
There was no where to go now except down! (Another coffin Joke!) Could we get down that hill safely and over a ramp situated in the middle of the course. Not a large or a high jump by any stretch of the imagination, but I was sat in go cart chassis that was not designed to ‘jump’ and my bottom was less than one inch off the ground.
Should we try for the slowest time of the day, I wondered out loud? No chance of that! How could we return to the ‘constantly texting’ David Sugden and his professional racing driver son Tim and tell him that we aspired to win the trophy for the slowest competitor in the race? I resolved not to touch the brakes at all until I got to the bottom of the hill.
5. 4. 3. 2. 1.
David gave us the push start we needed and we were on our way. Nothing could stop us now?? Even with Matt sitting directly in front of me, the ramp soon came into view and still I refused to use the brakes. Bang, we hit the ramp and took off. Matthew came out of his seat and my head hit the roll bar, I opened my eyes and remarkably we were still going in a straight line.
How the crowd cheered when we got the bottom. Never before had a coffin travelled so fast with two occupants who could get out to tell the story!!!
Could we do it a second time, this time with a different configuration on the ramp and with a much higher ramp added at the bottom? We agreed not to, we might be in a coffin but there was no point putting it to its original and intended use!
The day was a great day, a fun day and the thousand or more people that came to watch must surely have taken home many great photographs, memories and stories to tell. I wonder how much money the Rotary Club of Weighton Wolds raised on the day? In so many ways it is probably incidental because the day was a tremendous occasion made all the more remarkable by the commitment of the Rotary Club, the Beverley motor club, the Young Farmers and the people of Market Weighton.
(See the coffin approx 1 min into this clip!)
My final words and sincere thanks must go to Rtn David and Tim Sugden, to Bill Stevenson for his ‘can do’ attitude, to Rtn Keith Halford for making the roll cage, also to David Smith for providing the a second seat and the ‘all important’ braking system at the last moment. I must not forget David Phillips and his family for making the journey to Market Weighton and for ‘being there’ when I needed them (and a piece freshly baked cake). Finally to Ken Robershaw for the loan of the helmet, leathers and camera – unfortunately the vibration ‘on reentering earths atmosphere’ caused it to work lose and it ended swinging freely at the finish line!
Without all these committed and dedicated people the humble coffin would not have made so many people laugh and help this District Governor keep his promise to President Carol Watson and everyone in the Rotary Club of Weighton Wolds for putting to together such a great day for all concerned
Suddenly after months of planning, consideration and negotiation, the Rotary Club of Bradford West Summer Ball in aid of Cancer Support Yorkshire has arrived.
The venue is the Midland Hotel, Bradford. This splendid former railway hotel is a jewel in Bradford’s Crown and provided a fitting venue for this ‘glittering’ occasion.
The honour and credit for the evening must go to President Allison Coates, not just for her determination to make it happen, but for the personal strength and commitment she showed by simply attending the event so soon after the death of her own father.
Allison’s stated ambition in her lead up to her year in office was to recognise and help Cancer Support Yorkshire, an organisation that had given her support during a past illness and who could deny her that?
Over 200 local people and representatives from 12 Rotary clubs including the RC of Leeds White Rose and the RC of Skipton came together on Saturday 15th July to raise £2,300 for this important local charity. A tremendous amount raised on the evening by very generous people.
I recently visited Linda Enderby and her team at Cancer Support Yorkshire and was immediately struck by the warmth and family feeling in this place, offering such wonderful support to anyone with cancer and to their families too, giving them the promise of comfort, friendship and hope during their illness.
So it is entirely appropriate that we were partying, dancing to Abba Tribute Band and celebrating the start of what promises to be a wonderful year in office for Allison and me. A superb evening that will be remembered for all the right reasons.
Well done Allison, your family will be very proud of you as we all are.
The Bradford School Drug Prevention Initiative (BSDPI)
The annual Charter presentation took place on Wednesday 5th July 2017 at the Hockney Conference Room Margaret McMillan Tower, Prince’s Way Bradford (Formerly the Central Library), for me it was special for two reasons; it was my first official visit at an organised event where I were representing Rotary as the District Governor, but significantly I was to address the BSDPI, an organisation that I have been part of since it started over 22 years ago.
The BSDPI is a unique organisation comprised of 5 Rotary Clubs, Soroptimist International, Police and the Schools in the Bradford Area. The aim of the Initiative is to motivate, reward and award schools which positively address the issues of drug, tobacco and alcohol misuse. The BSDPI Charter Award is extended to schools able to demonstrate an effective commitment to educating their pupils to a high level in drug prevention.
This year awards were presented by myself, Chief Superintendent Scott Bisset, Commander, Bradford District, West Yorkshire Police. Chris Clark. President Elect Yorkshire, Soroptimist International and Councillor Doreen Lee, Deputy Lord Mayor of Bradford.
The schools who received their awards include; Horton Grange Primary School, Hollingwood Primary School, Low Moor Primary School, St. Williams Catholic Primary School. Certificates of achievement in Peer Education were presented to Mr Jonathan Dean, a teacher at Dixons City Academy who received them on behalf of over 30 students at the Academy.
Well done to everyone involved and an especially proud day for BSDPI committee member and newly installed District Governor Robert.
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
9th Dragon Boat Challenge
Organised by the Rotary Clubs of Huddersfield and Wakefield Chantry.
8.30am Saturday 8th July and it was the most perfect morning at Pugneys Country Park Lake, Wakefield. Even the ducks took the opportunity to sleep for an extra hour in the warmth and peace of the early morning sun. Not far away was a neatly dressed lady crouched over a shiny metal dust pan. She smiled and reached out to greet me with a hand covered by a blue disposable glove. “Don’t worry”, she said reassuringly, “I’m picking up duck poo with my other hand!”
I shook the outstretched hand somewhat reluctantly and away she went looking for the next ‘object’! Such was the care and careful planning that will go unnoticed by most people; but not by the Rotary Clubs of Huddersfield and Wakefield Chantry.
For over nine and a half hours, perhaps as many as 5-6000 people either took part or relaxed and enjoyed what must be one of Wakefield’s greatest annual events. Every detail was organised by dedicated Rotary volunteers with seemingly boundless energy.
There cannot be a more proud District Governor anywhere in RIBI and dare I say, RI, than I was on that particular day. I asked if I could have a go at paddling in a Dragon Boat. Sure enough, having paid my way, there I was for the first time ever, proud to be one of 17 – 16 paddlers and a time keeping drummer, making up the numbers in the Wakefield Chantry boat; The Chantry Challenger. I think we ended up 10th out of 39 boats taking part in the 3 heat race.
It is often said that “it isn’t necessarily winning that matters , it’s the taking part!” I’m not quite sure about that, we took it seriously and the joy of winning the first heat against 2 other boats really lifted our spirits and it was such a joy to be part of it and the team. As the day went by our determination to do better increased at almost the same rate as the sunburn on those unsuspecting spectators. Such was the euphoria at the end of one heat, the winning team’s boat turned over and they were disqualified for their efforts – I wonder how many of those rowers in the water were shouting “it’s the taking part that counts!”?
Late in the day I took the opportunity to walk around the lakeside, where every team had set up a tent (team HQ), though not enough shelter to keep everyone from the unrelenting heat of the day. There were dry land rowing rehearsals, tombola stalls and make shift charity shops all mixed up with team BBQ’s. The noise and laughter often drowned out the PA system relaying the day’s events on the lake.
The Mayors of Kirklees and of Wakefield were in attendance, perhaps looking slightly out of place in formal attire and wearing chains of office in and amongst the semi clad crowd. it was nice to see them enjoying an ice cream and making use of the miniature railway to take in a wonderful community based spectacle.
The day culminated in medals and congratulations all round, non more-deserved than to the loyal and dedicated members that make up the Rotary Clubs of Huddersfield and Wakefield Chantry. Well done to everyone concerned.
Having received my District Governor’s chain of office on the Sunday I wanted to share the occasion with my good friend and fellow Bradford West Rotarian, David Broadbent and his wife Sylvia, making this my first official visit.
David isn’t too well at the moment and they could not attend the Handover at the Cedar Court Hotel. I know he would have done so if he possibly could.
So, clutching my newly acquired DG chain of office, a menu card from the event on Sunday and a ‘get well soon’ card, it gave me great pleasure on Monday 3rd July to visit David and Sylvia.
Thank you both for your Kindness and Support. Get well soon David.
My preparation for the role of District Governor was shorter than most due to me taking over part way through the usual cycle leading up to handover.
That said, the training, the endless reading, and preparatory meetings somehow don’t or cannot give you the insight into the moment when the calendar changes on the 1st July and you suddenly become the District Governor!
It must be akin to taking your first parachute jump; you know you can do it, you have rehearsed it many times mentally but the moment comes when there is no going back and suddenly You are ‘on your way’!!
The official handover at The Cedar Court Hotel, Bradford was my ‘on your way’ day.
A new chapter was about to start both in my life and and in Rotary. I would like to thank everyone who came to the event and I would like to thank my own club, the Rotary Club of Bradford West for organising it and hosting the event; I am very proud of you all.
Having joined Rotary for the first time in 1986 at just 22 years of age, it was both unimaginable and incomprehensible that I could be Distrct Governor of a great Rotary Distrct like 1040 – Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.
Even just a few short years ago I could not have believed that I would be in this position. It is a great honour and I am extremely proud, but there is a job to do. I believe the position of DG will provide a wonderful opportunity to lead the 103 Rotary Clubs as well as the Interact clubs, Rotaract Clubs and not forgetting the Rotakids groups in Primary Schools.
I have a vision of the future that will enable Rotary to grow and develop in the coming years. This vision is consistent with my predecessors and I am confident that it will continue with my successors, who are already in the learning cycle and getting ready for their turn as the District Governor.
“Whatever Rotary may mean to us, to the world it will be known by the results it achieves.”
Paul Harris was clear in his vision for Rotary, it is an organisation of action, of service to and for other people. That is why people joined Rotary in the beginning, in the last century and why people will want to join in the future.
As the District Governor for the Rotary year 2017 – 2018, I intend to lead by example. I want to get involved, provide good humoured service and inspire new members to join this great organisation.
I have never run a marathon before but to attempt the Edinburgh Marathon on 28th May was a great opportunity to help Past District Governor Phil Poole to achieve one of the goals for his year; to raise funds for Polio eradication. At the time of writing the total raised, including the Gates Foundation contribution, is £26,109.50p, an unimaginable amount and far beyond what I could have hoped for. I would like to say ‘Thank You’ to everyone who contributed to this magnificent total.