Week 11- Rotary and the Power of Collaboration

Rotary Grants enable Rotary in Dorset to equip the new radiotherapy department at Dorchester Hospital, contributing to this great facility which Dorset residents will benefit from for years to come.  This is what we do!

It was in 2017 that Rotary clubs in Dorset started a project to raise £60K-£70K  to provide equipment for the new radiotherapy department at Dorchester hospital.  The plan was to use the Rotary matching  grants system to multiply the money we raised by a factor of four.  A year later and the target has almost been reached and pledges made will ensure that the target is reached before the end of 2018,

This is just one of the projects I heard about when I joined other Rotarians from Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire at our quarterly District Forum on Saturday at the Bath and West Showground near Shepton Mallet.

I am always amazed by the drive and enthusiasm of ordinary Rotarians who see a need to help improve lives and who then enlist the support of others in their clubs and third party organisations to achieve extraordinary results, often with the support of the global grant funding which is available at home and overseas.

Rotary in Wells is working with TEMWA, a Bristol based charity who are focused on providing sustainable development in the very poorest areas of Malawi.  The project for which Rotary will partner with TEMWA involves the provision of a solar irrigation scheme above lake Malawi, which will help to break the cycle of crop failures which leads to constant famine in the area.

Closer to home, a project instigated by Rotary in Taunton, working with the Somerset Community Foundation, is proposing sustainable long term community involvement to break the cycle of long term unemployment which brings poverty to a local community.

Wow …..makes  me proud to be a Rotarian!


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Week 10. Fun and Fellowship

Fun ……How many surnames can you think of which relate to the glove making business for which Yeovil is famous?  Just one of the questions we were asked to answer during our annual treasure hunt this week.

And now we all know many interesting facts about the villages between Sherborne and Yeovil, most of which we wont ever need to use again.  But great fun and so was the BBQ  afterwards.  Thank you Bob and Julie for allowing us all to invade your home, we had a really enjoyable evening.

Fellowship……. one of the many benefits of being a member of Rotary, is the opportunity to meet other Rotarians, and understand their lives, not only in this country but worldwide.

One of these opportunities is the Rotary Friendship Exchange.  In 2019 there are two exchanges, one in Maharashtra in India (February 2019) and one to New Jersey in USA (May 2019).

Some of our members have taken part in Rotary exchange visits in the past and describe these exchanges as a unique and exciting opportunity.  As with any exchange visit this is a two way opportunity, our members are hosted by the country being visited, and we then host their Rotarians in our homes, and show them how our world works and whats special in our area.

Polio immunisation in India

This is just one of many opportunities Rotary offers to experience everyday life in other countries and to enjoy the followship of Rotarians who live in a very different world than our own, not in a tourist bubble but as fellow Rotary members.  I have experenced this myself in India and in Zambia, and for me these were life enhancing experiences.

Of course to take part in any of these opportunities you need to be a member of Rotary.  All are welcome to join Rotary, just click here to contact us and find out more.

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Week 9 – What a Washout!

Months of planning, hours of organising – the organisation for this years Historic Vehicle Rally was the best for a long time ……. and then it rained ….. and it rained….. and it rained…….

So this was the 2018 Historic Vehicle Rally 

Report by Sue Thomas-Peter. ……….the logistics of the event went well and the Rotarians who pledged to be there did their usual supportive job but because of the weather it as virtually a wash out.

There was light rain from early morning but unfortunately by 10 am the rain had increased to a consistent and heavy downpour which clearly put off very many exhibitors, of the 120 booked in only about 40 actually turned up with only about 20 of them going on the rally’

By 2pm when things usually get going most of the few intrepid motor cyclists had gone as had some cars. As for visitors there were virtually none as by then until around 3.30 it tipped it down and people huddled under the archway.   The Mayor came at 2.30 ish but it was raining so hard that he stayed with me under cover for most of the time.

By 3.30 when the heavy downpour eased a little it was decided to do the prize giving and so he and I did the necessary in quite blustery conditions…… I dread to think what the photos will be like……..I hope she is a whizz at photoshop! The town band still turned out and played under the cover of the cloisters …………..at one stage it felt like the band on the Titanic!

It was so very unfortunate as everything was in place for an excellent event and the chaps who organised it had put such a lot of work into it…….a real shame.”

(I was travelling home from Cumbria (sorry but it didn’t rain that badly on the M5)

I can only thank everyone who helped with the organisation, the Rotarians and others who turned up on the day to help marshal the event, those who arrived in their classic cars and motorcycles, the Mayor of Sherborne who presented the prizes, and the town band who never gave up.


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Week 8 – Rotary in Action at home and overseas

We are launching “Friends of Rotary in Sherborne” to support us with our very busy schedule of activities.

If you are too busy to become a regular member of our club, but would like to support your local Rotary club and its activities,  you may like to consider being a Rotary Friend.

As a Friend of Rotary in Sherborne, you can support us in a variety of ways ranging from helping at a Rotary fund raising event, sponsoring an event, or collaborating with us to strengthen our community links.

This is my personal invitation to you to become a Friend of Rotary in Sherborne, and I would particularly like to hear from you if:

  • You are an ex-member of our club
  • You would like to help us at one of our events
  • You would like to sponsor a Rotary fundraising event
  • You belongs to an organisation in the Sherborne area and would like to collaborate with our club
  • You would like to make donations to Rotary or an activity we are involved with

As a “Friend” you will receive information from us from time to time to keep you up to date with our club’s activities.    Follow this link to email me and find out more.

Penny Underwood
Sherborne Castles Rotary

When disasters happen in the world then Rotary works with Rotarians in the country where the disaster has happened, not necessarily as first responders but working to re-build communities in the long term.

Floods in Kerala have displaced nearly one million people while 373 have lost their lives.  There has been an extensive rescue operation undertaken by the Indian Government and Rotarians in India but when the rains stops and the water recedes one of the most critical challenges will be the rebuilding of homes, schools and community centres.

RIBI has launched a “Kerala Flood Appeal”  The donations will be used to re-construct communities most in need of support working with local Rotary Clubs to identify projects.

Two more Earthquakes hit Lombok, Indonesia the second measuring 6.9 which triggered landslides and came hours after an earthquake of 6.3 magnitude.   Both earthquakes were on Sunday 19th August. 2018 with massive aftershocks following.

The Island has been hit by hundreds of aftershocks since the first 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit on the 5th August killing 460 people.  Shelterbox  confirms that thousands of people remain displaced on the Island.   The Shelterbox team in Lombok is safe and well and waiting for aid to arrive via trucks and ferries.


Shelterbox are making arrangements with Rotary on Lombok and the local government to make sure that they can get it to families as soon as possible.


Rotary in Somerset also has a first responder in Water Survival Box  which is shipping 400 boxes to Kerala.   These boxes provide rapid response for families who don’t have access to fresh water and who have lost their homes and all their possessions.  

If you wish to donate to help Rotary provide this urgent support then please click on the links above.

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Week 7 – Historic Vehicle Rally in Sherborne

Sherborne Voluntary Ambulance to benefit from Sherborne’s 44th Historic Vehicle Rally, which is on bank holiday weekend, Sunday 26th August 2018.

This popular event will be held as usual, in the historic Courts of Sherborne School.  The event starts with an optional Road Run which leaves at 11am and includes a village pub stop.  All entrants will be back at the School Courts by 2pm and their vehicles will be on display for you to come and view.  Cups and prizes are awarded at the end of the day.

This is the 25th time the HVR has been run by Rotary in Sherborne and Rotary charities also benefit from the proceeds of the event.   This kind of fund raising activity is very important to our club as we have a full programme of competitions and courses for the young people of Sherborne during the next 6 months, and we rely on these fund raising events to finance them.

History of the Historic Vehicle Rally

Like most of our members, I guess most people in Sherborne don’t actually know the origin of this event, which has become such a firm fixture in the town.  So here it is:

  • 1960’s the event started in Sherborne as the Cavalcade of Motoring and it was mostly motorbikes.
  • 1973  the event moved to Yeovil for one year only
  • 1974 the group who had been running the Sherborne Carnival took over the event and the Historic Vehicle Rally was born
  • 1993 The Rotary Club of Sherborne took over the running of the event
  • 1996 The Rotary Club of Sherborne Castles was formed and the HVR became a joint project between the two clubs
  • 2017 The Rotary Club of Sherborne closed and the event was run by the remaining club, Sherborne Castles Rotary.

And this year?

2018 the HVR team are delighted to be joined by Brian Chant who is not only an enthusiast but also has his own varied collection of vintage cars.  This new team have brought new and fresh ideas to the event and we are assured that that HVR is set to continue in Sherborne for years to come. 


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Week 6 – Success for one of our Olympic Bursary Winners

Since the  2012 Olympic Games in London, Rotary in Sherborne has each year awarded Olympic Bursaries worth £500 each, to two young people from the Gryphon School to help them achieve their sporting dreams for success.

Interested pupils are asked to apply giving details of their current level of performance, highest achievement in their sport, ambitions over the next five years and finally how the award would assist them in achieving success in their chosen sport.   Only pupils with County and/or national level participation are asked to apply.

It is always pleasing for  us to hear that these youngsters have gone on to achieve success in their chosen sport, so we were delighted to hear last week that young Amy Northam, one of our past bursary winners, has won bronze at the European Championships.

Congratulations Amy, and hopefully I will be able to tell you more about her achievement in a future blog post.

An evening walk, good company and a good meal – a great way to spend a summer evening.

Yarlington was our meeting place and the Stags Head provided  a great meal afterwards.  Now, I am aware that this is not in Sherborne, it is not even in Dorset, but it is just two miles from where I live and it was a real treat to have our members on my “home territory”.


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Week 5 -Picnic at Poyntington

It’s summer and the sun is shinning so it must be time for a picnic.  Members of Sherborne Castles Rotary headed off to Poyntington for a picnic with a difference, because it included history, music and dance in the wonderful setting of Poyntington Manor.

The village of Poyntington was celebrating some of it’s history.

The History  400 years ago, after Raleigh’s second and unsuccessful expedition to Guiana to explore the Orinoco and search for gold, he was summoned from Plymouth to London. He stopped in Sherborne to visit Sir John Digby who was of course the new owner of Raleigh’s onetime home. He moved on to Poyntington Manor, home of his old friend Sir Edward Parham. King James wanted to maintain the peace between England and Spain, and Raleigh had compromised it by attacking the Spanish.

After much London politicking,Raleigh was beheaded on 29 October 1618. His last words were to the executioner (who had hesitated): “What dost fear? Strike, man, strike!”

The picnic was enjoyed by our members in a field nearby, and the music and dance  was provided by the Wessex Morris Men who were great traditional entertainment in the courtyard.  ……  yes they really are all men ….. surely they should be Morris People?  Even Rotary has worked out that half the population is female and we have a lot to offer!

Homeless on Tuesday, re-homed by Thursday

That was us!  Very sadly our venue (and spiritual home), the Crown in Sherborne, advised us that they are closing down.  This was disappointing as they have been very supportive of our club since we moved back there earlier this year, providing us with a regular meeting place and a great buffet for our Rotary Awareness Event in April.

The good news is that Steve at the Carpenters Arms has stepped in at very short notice to fill the gap.  So with effect from 20th August, our home will be the Carpenters Arms and we will have our two regular Rotary meetings there each month.  Other social events will be at various locations in and around Sherborne.  Thank you Steve we appreciate your support.

If you are interested in Rotary in Sherborne, you are welcome to come to one of our meetings, but you do need to let us know in advance.  Just contact us and find out more.  

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Week 4 – Opportunities for youngsters in Sherborne

RYLA and Breakthrough, two Rotary projects with the potential to change the lives of four young people from Sherborne or the surrounding villages.

This week we had one of the two official Rotary meetings which we have each month.  This was our CDB meeting (Council / Dinner / Business).  There are 8 of us on our club council and this month we were planning our Youth activity for the coming Rotary year.  Rotary runs some fantastic youth projects and our club is involved in several of them.

In particular this year we plan to fund two youngsters on RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) and two on Breakthrough, a project which uses personal development and positive experiences to help secondary school students in danger of permanent exclusion to stay in education, overcome barriers to learning created by negative attitudes, and to reach their potential.

These courses are proven to provide life changing experiences, and we always hope that afterwards these youngsters will visit our club and tell us all about it.

Remembering a Special Rotarian.

This week I was reminded of one of our Rotarians who is no longer with us.  Michael Peart was a very good friend to me when I joined Rotary, we both joined in 2006/7 and back then I was the only female member of our club.  How things have changed!

Micheal became President in 2009 and it was a great loss to the club, and to Sherborne, when he sadly died in 2015.  Our club helped to raise funds to create a Memorial Garden in the central courtyard of the St Francis oncology Centre to commemorate the life and work of Michael Peart in Lithuania.

In May this year Michael’s family travelled to Lithuania to attend the official opening of the Garden, to which so many had so very kindly and generously contributed.  His wife Helena told us:
The proceedings started with some typical British songs being played followed by the Beatles All you need is love.  Aldona, 2nd on the left read Michael’s CV in Lithuanian, followed by Brother Benediktas reading, again in Lithuanian, the letter which Michael has written whilst in the hospice, followed by a short, probably incoherent speech by me as I was finding the occasion very emotional. .   

The plaque was then unveiled by Brother Benediktas and myself.  Brother ‘Asti’ then gave a short prayer followed by a blessing of the garden.

Amongst those attending was the Mayor of Klaipeda and David Holliday, Michael’s DA and  Vygaudas Usackas who we had known during our time in Lithuania, later became Lithuania’s Ambassador to the UK and is a Trustee of the Centre who were all also invited to say a few words by Brother Benediktas.

The garden is formal with, I am told, cream/white roses, the symbol of hope, lavender and box hedges.  There are also benches on one side of the garden. David Holliday has plans to soften the other wall with tubs and climbing plants.”

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Week 3 – It’s all about the Show!

Three weeks into my year and our first big event took place on Sunday 15th, Sherborne Classic & Supercars at Sherborne Castle.

I apologise for talking about this for three weeks running but this really is such a fun event  because of the passion and enthusiasm of everyone involved from the exhibitors, the visitors, our celebrity guests, and the Rotarian’s who work so hard on the day to make it a success.

I think this show is unique in our Rotary District in that it is 3 clubs all working together bringing the skills, knowledge and enthusiasm which is need to run an event like this.  Just getting over 2,000 vehicles into the right field, and in the right place before 9.30am is a challenge in itself, and that fact that it happened fairly seamlessly is a credit to all those involved.

There were actually 63 Rotarians from the 3 clubs, Sherborne Castles, Yeo Vale and Brue Valley, on our rota for marshalling this year, in addition to the scouts who came along and washed tables and chairs on Saturday, and did litter picking on the site throughout the day.

This kind of collaboration between clubs and other local organisations is whatgRotary is about for me.   It makes an event like this so special, as a local event raising funds for local charities.

On Monday a few of of met at the Crown, which is our home when we are not out and about and over a drink and some nibbles, we mulled over the day and the financial outcome.  We will know that in a few weeks, but we can be sure that over £40,000 will be distributed to to local charities within a 30 mile radius of Sherborne.

Want to know more about Rotary in Sherborne?  

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Week 2 – Join us at the Classic and Supercar Show!

Sherborne Classic and Supercar Show at Sherborne Castle is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year.  Not only that but it is one of the biggest events of its kind in the West Country.

This really is an event for the whole family, as well as over 2,000 classic and supercars on display, we have a Land Rover 70 years celebration parade, Pistonhead Members Tour, a rally car parade, and the Charterhouse Auction on site.   We have “Little Landies” for the children,  the Internationally famous ‘World Rally Car’ simulator, Slot car racing, a large catering village, live music and children’s entertainment, and over 150 – trade, craft and autojumble stands.

And in this lovely summer weather why not have a picnic on the East Lawn where, during the afternoon we will also be showing the Wimbledon Final and the World Cup Final on large screen TV’s.

Help Sherborne Charity Hidden Needs Trust become Sainsbury Charity of the Year.

This great little charity raises awareness of the vital work that the Opportunity Groups in Somerset and Dorset do for children with Special Educational Needs.  It is run by one of our members, Rachael Goodfellow, and this week Rachael tells us that:

“ I am really pleased to let you know that HNT has made it through to the last 3 to be Sainsburys Charity of the Year here in Sherborne. I am up against 2 BIG local charities and so need every help I can in voting!!! The local postcode to here is DT9
If you can, please ask all parents, friends, relatives, literally anyone you meet to get online…
Sainsbury’s Local Charity of the Year
The screen then asks for the postcode…and will then take you to various store options. I am under The SHERBORNE BRANCH in LUDBOURNE ROAD
Press on that and you will see HNT…have a look at the website and press VOTE PLEASE!”

Will we see the last case of polio this year?

Rotary has been at the forefront of the campaign to eradicate polio since 1988, and since 2013 the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given 2 USD for every 1USD which Rotarians give to the End Polio Now campaign.   This campaign has enabled 2.5 billion children to be vaccinated globally.    Funds raised in Sherborne from SHIFF 2017, our Sherborne International Film Festival, are being donated to this campaign as we are so close to eradicating polio from the world.    We don’t only give money to this campaign, Rotarians voluntarily given their time to take part in national immunisation days, and I myself went to India to Utter Pradesh to do just that. I learned so much and we helped to raise awareness of the important of vaccination in the population.

So what good has all this fundraising done?  So far there have only been 11 cases of wild polio in the whole world in 2018, but that is still 11 too many. The total for the whole of 2017 was just 22, and the high season for infections is passing. Could 2018 be the last year we will see polio anywhere in the world.   So close!

We will be in the information tent as the Sheborne Classic and Supercar Show so come along and find out about our club and which local charities will be benefiting from the show this year.  

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Week 1 – 2nd July 2018 – the beginning of the Rotary year……..

……and the day that I officially became President of the Rotary Club of Sherborne Castles – wow!

This is the presidential chain – there have been 22 Presidents before me. That’s a lot of footsteps to follow in.

Mmmm…….. blue and yellow……..not really my colours.    But I am not planning to wear it much so I have put it away in its box.

We are the only Rotary club in Sherborne, there used to be two, now there is just us. Rotary is a huge organisation with 1.2 million members in more than 32,000 Rotary clubs in 200 countries around the world and since it started in 1905 Rotarians have volunteered their skills and abilities to tackle the world’s most pressing humanitarian problems. While having fun and enjoying friendships, we share a commitment to improving lives both locally and internationally. Anyone who shares the Rotary values can be a Rotarian.

Our club meets twice a month for Rotary business meetings when we plan our activities and projects. We have other social meetings as well which, in the next couple of months, will involve walking, a BBQ and treasure hunt, a picnic at one of our local village events, and a meeting with a local poet. Many of these activities involve food as some point – Rotarians like food!

But my first week as President has been taken up with organising the Classic and Supercar Show at Sherborne Castle next weekend on Sunday 15th July. This is just one of several events which we are organising in Sherborne during the next few months, and this is a big one.

We work on this event with two other Rotary Clubs, Brue Valley and Yeo Vale, and this is the 5th year we have run it. Each year it gets better, and this year we have sold all the stand space and advance entries are higher than this time last year. The weather is set to be warm and sunny (just like it is now) and it is going to be a fantastic event.  Why do we do this? Well last year we raised over £42,000 for charity most of which was distributed to local charities in our area.

So that is our club, and if you want to know more about what we do in Sherborne and beyond, you can follow this blog and find out how my year evolves.

You are also welcome to come along and meet us at any of our meetings and you can contact us from our web site

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Ever wondered what Rotary in Sherborne does?

Now is your chance to find out! 
We are having a Rotary Awareness event on Monday 23rd April at the Crown Pub in Sherborne
between 6.30pm to 8.30pm.  

Why not come along and meet us, have some light refreshments and find out more about our activities in Sherborne, and what else Rotarians do.  

You can find out more about out club on our website http://www.rcsc.org.uk and on our Facebook page

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Our Annual Charity Golf Day Tuesday 26th June 2018

This year our annual Golf Day will be raising funds for the new cancer unit at Dorchester Hospital.  Why not get a team together and join us for this fun day at Sherborne Golf Club. 

You can find our more by downloading our announcement and a registration form here.

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Auction of Toy, Games, Childrens books

The entire contents of a local playschool are being auctioned in Sherborne this Saturday 25th November.

Approximately 200 items are being sold with proceeds going to Sherborne Castles Rotary Charities and the Hidden Needs Trust.  Come along on Saturday and buy your Xmas presents here. 

The Sale will be held at the former HSBC Bank at 10am (viewing Friday 24th November 10am to 12 noon. 


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Value of Rotary shared at the District Conference

Source: The value of Rotary shared at our District Conference

ACT LOCALLY, IMPACT GLOBALLY –  this was a theme celebrated by Rotarians from Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire at their annual conference in Wells on Saturday.

This phrase was repeated many times by the various partner organisations with whom Rotarians have worked to change lives on a global scale.  Speakers at the conference, expressed how important the relationship with Rotary is to their work, whether it is providing actual help, such as when building a heath centre in Nepal, by saving “ring pulls” which are the basic material for enabling families in the Philippines to run small businesses creating bags and jewellery, or taking part in abseil and zip wire challenges to raise funds to educate children in South African townships.

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