The District Chairman’s Reflections on Conference 2013

The theme of the Conference was ‘Be a Friend’, linked to showcasing all the work the Inner Wheel undertakes. It would be all too easy to write that the Conference had been interesting and a chance to meet and make new friends and say the presentations had been inspiring. That would present the wrong impression of what has been an inspirational two days.

The Celebration of Service and Friendship was just that. The Venerable Peggy Jackson smiled throughout and made us all feel so much part of the service. The hymns and readings reflected the friendship theme as did Peggy’s address. Using a mobile phone to talk to the assurance company about a crowd removing the roof to allow a sick man to be healed by Jesus was humorous and brought the point home of the reading from St Mark’s Chapter 2 Verse 4.

The President of the International Inner Wheel, Carole Young, spoke about three key issues that we can all relate to:

(1) Not being able to find members willing to take office, something all Clubs and District are experiencing, an ageing membership and the need to attract new members.

(2) The need to publicise our Inner Wheel events at all levels of the organisation. We are not a Coffee Club, we have the power to bring about change, and in publicising our activities we can attract new members.

(3) The need to change the format of the International Governing Body and reduce the membership from 16 and 5 and the Executive members to 10 elected members; of which one would be from the UK and the other from India as we have the largest number of Inner Wheel members. The other 8 would be elected from across the world and have a more proactive role.

Carole’s concluding remarks were that Inner Wheel needs to remember its core values and focus on our original objectives of service and friendship.

The last session of the morning was Lars Tharp of the Antiques Road Show, who captivated us all with his stories about the show. Lars specialism is in Chinese ceramics, because after leaving university with a degree in Paleolithic Archaeology, he realised he could not earn a living in archaeology. We now all know the average visitor to the Road Show takes 10 items in a plastic bag, which in some cases can result in more than 10 pieces by the time they get to the table to ask the experts advice. Richard Sanderson has the best techniques for letting visitors down gently and that their prize possession is not what they thought it was. Lars made the point about how many people change their mind about an object when they know its value and how often they then go on to sell the item after stating they will not. The one item that affected him greatly was the valueless broken china vase with the runny glaze. A man brought it in and said his father had picked it up when he had been in Hiroshima in 1945, and the glaze had re-run because of the 1300c temperature. Now a priceless object because it was a testament to an act of war.

The afternoon started with a very moving update on the work of Brainwave and a presentation to HRH The Countess of Wessex who had been involved with the charity for the last 10 years. The Countess spent a long time looking at the Inner Wheel stall, promoting all the charities we support and talking to members. Inner Wheel members were thanked for all their hard work in raising funds for the charity.

The President of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland, Rotarian John Minhinic, expressed the need for change and to stop talking about it and do it. He explained about the new districts in Rotary and the possibility of have joint Conferences.

Chris Moon’s talk was entitled ‘Brightside of the Street’. There really are no words that I can use to express what Chris had experienced in his life, but how at all times he had turned the negative into the positive. He talked about how we all bring change into our lives but often it was too much bother, we all have choices and we can focus on what we have lost or built on that loss and then move on. After a variety of careers, Chris joined the army, suffered capture at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, who free him and caused a whole section of their army to defect. Eventually he worked in the Bomb Disposal unit in Mozambique, and after an unexploded landmine detonated on the job, he lost the lower part of his right leg and an arm. He could, he told us, have given up due to the pain, but then thought he would not see his family, so he turned the negative into the positive and decided to work hard at recovering. He set himself the target or running the 1996 London Marathon, and since then he has been running to raising money for charity. Chris ended by saying we all have a choice and need to take ownership of our lives, to bring about changes not only in our own lives but in how we help other people bring about change in theirs. His philosophy in life is not to give in to the power of negativity and face the challenges of change with a positive attitude.

On Wednesday, the AGM was attended by 1.867 members, and greetings were read from the Queen. The Treasurer informed the Conference that there was a £37,149 surplus for the year 2012, although there had been drop in membership. The Editor read the Home Service report, detailing all the Inner Wheel activities to raise funds for the various charities and to date for this year Inner Wheel have raised the staggering sum of £1,269,113! The Overseas Chairman detailed all the amounts raised for overseas charities but did not give a final total. It will be in the next Newsletter.

The Open Forum prompted discussion on various topics. (1) ‘Whether the Inner Wheel should appoint a PR consultant’-the overwhelming feeling of the meeting was that word of mouth was the best way to attract new and non-Rotary members. (2) ‘Walk in showers should be installed in hotels to conserve water’ – there was mixed feelings about this suggestion and no overall decision was reached. (3) ‘That the emphasis be placed on members taking office need only
serve for two years and not three as at the moment’ – this would allow an increase in members standing for office for District and Association. The reason behind this discussion was that the skills gained whilst in office are lost, especially when a fallow year is taken into account. There is a need to make members feel that it is not compulsory to serve three years. (4) The meeting was asked what were the qualities required in the ideal Inner Wheel member – this was turned on its head and the meeting thought we are all unique and that it is the Clubs that need to change and adapt and be open to new ideas.

The afternoon guest speaker was Gail Stuart, Eric Morcambe’s daughter, who kept the meeting in fits of laughter, telling stories about life in the Morcambe house when she was growing up.

The Association President, Sheila Halliday-Pegg, then addressed the meeting. She spoke of the good that Inner Wheel members do and the legacy we leave behind, that often we never know about. Within the Clubs we need to care for our members as everyone has something to offer, and be aware of the needs of others and ‘Be a Friend’ at all times. The need to use all form of communications to spread the word of Inner Wheel was highlighted, from word of mouth to Facebook. Clubs and District need to evolve new ways of working and running their meetings to keep long-standing members and attract new members. We can all increase the profile of Inner Wheel by an act of service to the local and international community, whilst having fun at the same time.

The new officers for 2013/2014 will be:

Association President – Gill Rowley
Assistant Vice Chairman – Thelma Pacsoo
Treasurer – Elizabeth Thomas
Overseas – Trish Douglas
Publications – Pauline Dogulas
Constitution – Zena Coles
Conference Committee Chairman – Doreen Peach

The 2014 Conference will be held in Telford on 7 to 9 April

Jill Cobley, District Chairman

News from Sidmouth Inner Wheel …

Our Annual Sale and Coffee morning on Saturday, 20 April  was well attended and raised over £560 for our various Inner Wheel charities. Having changed it from our usual November date, it was good to see so many of our regular customers and it was encouraging to have our District Chairman Jill Cobley there.

Our next event will be Veronica Wood’s  “OPEN GARDEN” in aid of Hospisecare, 2 – 5 pm on 22 and 23 June, (entry £3, tea £2.50), at Runnymede, Orchard Close, off Manor Road, Sidmouth   –  very near Manor Road Car Park.  All welcome.
We will be playing skittles on 3 June at our annual ‘in-club’ match for the “Foote” plate which is in memory of former member Jean Foote who was a keen skittler.

South Zone Rally held by Totnes Inner Wheel …

The South Zone Rally was on Thursday, 11 April at Totnes Boating Association. Jill Cobley, District Chairman, Lesley Roberts, District Overseas Organiser and Heather Harvey, Club Overseas Officer welcomed a speaker from Water Aid who gave an inspirational talk on the countries who need help in improving their water supply.

The infamous ‘piddle pot’ (an under the bed potty) has been used for several years by Totnes to raise funds for Water Aid. This was inspired by Water Aid’s Spend a Penny project many years ago. The ‘piddle pot’ is usually decorated at Christmas and passed around The Royal Seven Stars Hotel while our Rotary Club is meeting! At the Zone Rally it was decorated with flowers and ivy and spare change collected. It is always an item of fun and ladies are very generous in filling it.

President Wenda is seen here holding the ‘piddle pot’. Over £400 was raised by raffle and lunch supplied by Totnes members. Thanks go to all those Clubs who came – a good day had by all.
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Teignmouth Seniors – can any other Club beat this?

Teignmouth Seniors

At a gathering to celebrate The Inner Wheel of Teignmouth’s Sixty Seventh Anniversary, a Birthday Dinner was held at Teignmouth Golf Club. President Kate Neville presented bouquets to Elsie Blinko and Meg Dowsing who have both completed more than SIXTY years in Inner Wheel. The other four stalwarts have each completed over FORTY years. The seven ladies have a joint total service approaching nearly THREE HUNDRED YEARS!!

Back row L to R: Rita Bond, Elsie Blinko and Joan Thornton

Front row L to R: Joyce Marston, Meg Dowsing, Cathy Keech and Barbara Roberts.

Check your Conference Hotel Booking …

I received this from Association today.  I do hope it doesn’t affect anyone from District 17.

“We have been advised that the Astor Hotel in Plymouth has gone into liquidation.  It has been brought to my attention that the hotel has not contacted members who have booked at this hotel. This is to forewarn you and your members in case others have booked there as they will need to make alternative arrangements”


Sidmouth Inner Wheel Coffee Morning and Sale …

Sidmouth Inner Wheel are to hold a Coffee Morning and Sale on Saturday, 20 April 2013 from 10 am – 12 noon. The venue is St Johns Hall, Sidmouth and will include the sale of cakes, books, bags, scarves, jewellery and nearly new items. All welcome. Please support us if you can.

Joan Titley, Club Correspondent

The simplest ideas are always the best …

Within Inner Wheel we are always thinking of ways to engender fun and friendship and the sharing of these with fellow members of other clubs – hence the Inter Club meetings.  I received the following from Barbara Sturgess, Secretary of Axminster Inner Wheel and thought it should be shared with you all.  As they say, “Big oaks from little acorns grow”.

“I thought I would let you know about some “Scatter Activities” that we have initiated, which I really believe will grow into a permanent sharing of meetings and events between certain of our district clubs, and in our case beyond!

On behalf of Axminster Inner Wheel, I contacted four other Clubs: Seaton, Chard, Otter Valley and Sidmouth  to ask if they would be interested in joining us for one of our meetings and then inviting us back on a reciprocal basis. Our invitation was taken up enthusiastically by Otter Valley and 3 of their members joined us on 2 April for our normal meeting followed by an inter-active session on Tai Chi, after which we all sat down  for a bar snack lunch at the Golf Club where we meet  and were able to exchange ideas and views about fund raising events, speakers, District Meetings and generally putting the world to rights. Two of our members will make the return visit to Otter Valley, to their meeting on 13 May.

Sidmouth have invited us to their meeting on 14 May, when the speaker will talk on  the ‘History of the Harp’. Two of our members will attend and hopefully we shall be able to welcome some Sidmouth members to a future meeting in return. Six Axminster Club members will visit Chard Inner wheel on 8 April, for a meal and a talk on ‘The Modern Prison System’. Obviously Chard is out of District 17 but it is geographically the nearest to us! We hope to have a return visit by their members in the Summer. I am still hoping to get a scatter visit organised with Seaton Club. All the above mentioned Clubs will be invited to our fundraising Cream Tea on 10 July.”

If you think this is a good idea, why not discuss it at your next meeting and start arranging visits – it sounds like fun.

Teignmouth Inner Wheel – Overseas Charity …

My Overseas charity this year is Families for Children (Zambia). The Chairperson for FFCZ,  Wendy Machin, from Bishopsteignton, Devon  and her colleague, Helen,  have just returned from Zambia a few days ago, after a very full visit, which went well.   Wendy and Helen hand carried knitted teddies out for all of the children at the Umwana Kasembe project in Freedom township, Chilanga, just south of Lusaka.

The children were absolutely delighted with the teddies. They seldom get anything new and certainly no new toys, so it was a real treat for them (see photos).

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Teignmouth Club Overseas Organiser, District 17



Inner Wheel District Golf Competition …

Julie Turner receiving the Almay Cup from Jill Cobley

Yesterday, on a very cold and windy day, 6 members of Inner Wheel District 17 competed for the Almay Golf Cup. The course had a lot of obstacles, mainly trees, and lots of water in the form of streams and lakes where balls just kept landing and the nets would just not reach far enough to retrieve them, including yellow balls.

The winner was our Vice Chairman, Julie Turner from Bideford Club. What an amazing display with a birdie (one under par for all non-golfers) and an eagle (2 under par) to help her win by a large margin.

L-R Sanda Shefford (Axminster), Glenys Phillips (Axminster), Julie Turner (Bideford), Sheila Box (Okehampton), Pam Salisbury (Axminster), Joan Essex (Okehampton)

So congratulations to Julie and to everybody who played. This event is always a fun day, and I am sure there are many more golfers in District 17 who could come and enjoy the day.

Thanks also to Sheila Box of our Okehapton Club for organising such a well-run event.  Julie’s turn next year.

Report by Jill Cobley