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Weekly Report – 6 December 2007

The speaker at the joint meeting of the Rotary Clubs of Hamilton and Motherwell was Adam Ardrey, an advocate who was the first chairman of the Moira Anderson Foundation, a charity set up to combat the effects of child sex abuse.  His subject on Thursday however, was “Finding Merlin”, the title of his recently published first book.

The very name Merlin sums up images of the Wizard of Camelot – magician, prophet and counsellor to Arthur.  Adam put to the members that while the legend is famous the truth is less well known:  Merlin was a historical figure, a champion of the old way of the Druids, a British man who hailed not from England or Wales, as traditional wisdom would have it, but from Scotland.

Adam spoke about Merlin’s role in the battles between reason and religion of sixth century Britain.  He suggested that from the time of his death until the present day historical documents relating to Merlin have been suppressed or altered by Christian writers; his true provenance and importance has been obscured and his real power and influence undermined by slurs that he was a madman.  He suggested that the reasons for the development of the legends were that history was passed by word of mouth and, while Merlin, a Druid, and Arthur, Christian were on opposite sides a friendship existed.

In his research Adam re-examined old evidence and provided new evidence relating to where Merlin was born, lived, died and was buried.  He also identified many of the people who surrounded him including his nemesis, the fanatic Mungo, patron saint of Glasgow, Arthur of Roundtable legend and his twin sister, Languoreth, known as the Queen of Cadzow.  Other surprising facts were revealed; Merlin lived for a while in Partick and is buried in Dunipace; Merlin was defeated by Arthur at the Battle of Arderydd in the Scottish Borders.

In a superb, eloquent and persuasive presentation, Adam provided ample historical facts from his considerable research to justify his claims that those with the power to do so presented a history that suited them irrespective of its diversion from the evidence. He suggested that, if he is right, British history for the period from the late fifth to the early seventh century stands to be rewritten.  As one would expect, Adam’s theme promoted a lot of questions.  Vice President Mark Williams provided the vote of thanks.

Members of the Club thank the supporters who attended New Douglas Park on Saturday for their generous donations when £314.00 was collected for Udston Hospital



Weekly Report – 30 November 2007

The Reverend Elizabeth Waddell, minister at the West Parish Church, reminisced when she spoke to the Rotary Club of Hamilton on Thursday.

Always having wanted to work with people, Elizabeth started her working career as a nurse specialising in dealing with children.  She recalled her time as a young nurse and being subjected to the discipline of the matrons and having to live in nurses’ homes.  She was quickly promoted to the post of sister in a childrens’ ward and it was her experience working as a nurse with children that convinced her to later become a minister.  She was licensed in 1999 and ministered in Stewarton before coming to Hamilton’s West Parish Church.

Her talk was anecdotal but adhered to the theme of how people dealt with their lives.  When one holds a new baby in one’s arms there is no telling where the direction its life will take.  She reckoned that zest for life is inborn and regrettably many people are easily diminished by adversity.  She used many examples where seriously ill youngsters showed unbelievable spirit and will to survive all kinds of adversities.

Her talk was not all serious.  Laughter was prompted by her tales wedding organisers and brides and grooms. She also related a tale of when the manse in Stewarton flooded and she lost everything, even her daughter’s wedding presents that she was storing.  Jim Provan gave the vote of thanks for a talk that was both moving and humorous.

All Rotarians are celebrating Bill Gates’ generous $100m cash injection to Rotary’s Polio Plus campaign, which is part of the bigger Global Polio Eradication Initiative.   The Initiative will require to match this grant over a period of three years. Since 1985 Rotary International has made the eradication of polio its first priority and Rotarians world wide have contributed £305m to this project that aims to help wipe out this terrible disease that kills and paralyses young people.  While the campaign has achieved 99% success with its mass immunisation campaign, the virus persists in Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Problems of geographic isolation, armed conflict and cultural barriers persist in preventing the campaign reaching people where the disease continues to be endemic.  This investment by the Gates Trust will hopefully be the catalyst that will intensify the push to finally eradicate polio.

Rotarians were this week saddened to learn of the death of one its past presidents, Willie Orr.  Willie was a highly respect member of the club for many year and respected businessman in the town.


Weekly Report – 23 November 2007

John Sleith, Area Environmental Health Manager for Falkirk Council, spoke to the Rotary Club of Hamilton on the subjects of health and safety and food hygiene. John’s department comprises ten qualified environmental health officer with numerous technical assistants and specialists.  His team deals with 3500 premises of which 1200 are food premises.  All the premises are prioritised according to risk and the level of risk determines the frequency of inspections. 

In relation to food premises, John detailed the things that his officers look for when they inspect premises and, with the help of slides, illustrated some of the problems the officers come up against during their inspections.  The slides that showed the build up of debris and careless housekeeping were nauseating but he assured his audience that his officers have the power to close premises that are a risk to public health.  Within food premises the EHOs also enforce food standards legislation, which includes labelling and explained the procedures to deal with complaints and outbreaks of infectious disease.  He advised that outbreaks of E coli and Campylobacter are on the increase.

Health and safety enforcement is wide ranging and involves the officers in examining employee welfare and work practices.  Of particular interest at present are sun parlours especially unmanned parlours where there is risk of radiation damage to people who use the facilities without supervision and fail to adhere to the instructions.

John expanded on the wide ranging duties of environmental health departments. These include monitoring the quality of water supply and also the quality of water in swimming pools.  Over and above the public water supply, there are eight private water supplies in Falkirk. Also 28 swimming pools are included in their remit.  A particular problem that is proving troublesome in lochs and water courses is algal bloom.  This is caused by too much nutrient in the water causing the water to become toxic and dangerous to humans and animals.  New enforcement duties are occurring all the time.  The most recent is the legislation dealing with smoking in public places.  John reckoned there is 90% compliance but suggested that there is an undercurrent of non-compliance with taxi drivers possibly being the worst offenders.

John touched on many subjects during his presentation; all of them seemed to result in searching questions to which John responded admirably and was thanked on behalf of the club by past President Ian Bell.


Weekly Report – 16 November 2007

The Rotary club of Hamilton enjoyed listening to Kirsty Plummer recount her two visits to Brazil to help the “Street Children” of Sao Paulo.  Kirsty, a law student at Glasgow University, was part of the Casa Abba project that is sponsored by international churches.  Kirsty’s first visit t the Sao Paulo was in 2005 when she was sponsored by St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Hamilton.  She enjoyed building a relationship with the international volunteers and local helpers but particularly the children.  She promised the project and herself that she would return.  Having raised her own funding, she returned to Brazil this year during the holiday recess at University.

The slides Kirsty used amply displayed the contrasts in the centre of Brazil’s capital city with its population of 20 million people.  Aerial views of the city showed many impressive high rise offices that overtly displayed the wealth that exists in the centre.  Other slides showed a different aspect of Sao Paulo with children on the streets,  hundreds of the city’s estimated 2 million homeless people congregating at the entrance to the city’s beautiful Cathedral and shanty dwellings. 

The Casa Abba project targets children who are victims of abject poverty and who can be easily lured into the areas of drugs, prostitution and violence that exist in the centre of the city.  The project works closely with social services authority; Kirsty remarked that this is a service that is much improved since her last visit in 2005 but the enforcement services are removing the street children from the centre of the city to areas on the outskirts of the city.

Casa Abba provides accommodation separately for young boys and girls and accommodation for teenagers and works to get the children back on the rails and attend school.  Their days are well organised and follow a routine that provides education, therapy, bible study, play acting the bible stories and games.  Teaching the children to read and write and teamwork are high priorities.

Kirsty’s return to Scotland doesn’t mark the end of the link between Hamilton and Sao Paulo.  Kirsty feels emotionally involved with the project and the people involved.  Also, the project is growing and looking to purchase land so that it can build purpose built accommodation that will help to overcome the present accommodation difficulties..  After Kirsty had answered many questions, Ian Lawie provided the vote of thanks


Weekly Report – 07 November 2007

Ex-policeman Gordon Rankin was the speaker at the Rotary Club of Hamilton on Thursday. Gordon, now retired, spent most of his police career in the Traffic Department of Strathclyde Police and for the last 10 years of his service was part of Crash Investigation Unit.  Tom used slides that recorded many of the accidents where he had been involved in the investigation.

He opened his talk by simply stating that the job of the Crash Investigation Unit (previously the Accident Investigation Unit) was to establish the cause.  He then proceeded, with the aid of the slides to explain how the officers in the unit go about their investigations.  The principle that they follow is to try to reconstruct the incident.  Interestingly, the unit doesn’t rely on eye-witness accounts and, as he went on to illustrate, often the investigation and reconstruction of accidents disproved the evidence given by eye witnesses.

Initially it is the marks on the road that the officers examine; the marks tell the investigators whether the car was accelerating, breaking, swerving, whether the brakes were working and speed.  He also emphasised the importance of road surfaces as they affect stopping distances.  The investigators also try to match the damage to the cars or other objects and by doing so gradually build a picture of the incident.  The findings are often recorded on scale drawings and these along with other evidence are often used when matters go to court.  Gordon highlighted some of the punishments that have resulted from the evidence provided by the unit.

One of his regrets as an investigator is the number of times innocent parties are killed or badly injured as a result of the fool hardiness or downright carelessness of other drivers.  He also referred to the economic cost of closing trunk roads for long periods while the investigation is being carried out.  He justified this cost by stating that it is essential to establish the cause of all accidents where there are deaths.

The slides that Gordon used illustrated his talk excellently, albeit some of the very graphic material that was shown was not for the faint hearted.  The slides also demonstrated that there is risk of accidents on all roads and that accidents needn’t involve other vehicles.

After responding to many questions, Gordon Hart gave the vote of thanks on behalf of the Club for an excellent presentation.

The Rotary Club of Hamilton is grateful that Hamilton Accies have given permission for the Club to hold its annual collection for Udston Hospital on Saturday 15 December.


Weekly Report – 01 November 2007

Tom Urie, an octogenarian from the Rotary Club of Motherwell, provided an excellent presentation to the Club on the subject of the River Clyde.  Tom was a metallurgist with British Steel for 39 years and later taught for nine years.  He had always been interested in cameras, photography and film making and the film that Tom showed to the club had been taken by him in the early 60s in 8mm film. He provided apt background music and his measured commentary by adding a sound strip to the film.  The Scottish Film Archive (SFA) became aware of Tom’s excellent work and archived his films for their historic content and the technology he employed.  The SFA compensated Tom by giving him the copyright for his work and transferring the film to CD to allow their regular use without damage to the films.

This particular film journey started with the steamer cruising past the Ailsa Craig through the Kyles of Bute and then calling in at many of the Clyde holiday resorts.   The old film showed busy pier scenes of Dunoon with its statue of Highland Mary, Rothesay, Wemyss Bay unspoiled by the modern flats that have been built on the front, and other resorts. The views recalled fond memories of summer holidays to his interested audience. Gourock and Greenock were seen as industrious places back then. The Blue trains from Helensburgh sped along the coast past Dumbarton to Glasgow and the long disappeared Bowling Terminal and the Erskine Ferry provided for more nostalgia.  But it was the upper reaches of the Clyde that were most poignant.  The energetic shipbuilding industry and the majestic Queen Mary under construction in the blocks were recorded on this old film. George V Dock and the Broomielaw were busy and the Royal Ulsterman, the passenger steamer that sailed between Glasgow and Belfast, was tied up along side some of the Clyde steamers.  The old sailing ship the Carrick, now in ruins, reminded us of the days when it was a prominent feature and was used as a club and for functions.

Once into Lanarkshire, Tom took us into Bothwell with its castle and collegiate church unrecognisable because there were so few cars on the Main Street, Hamilton with the County Buildings prominent and the High Parks and Dalziel House in Motherwell. We saw Blantyre’s old footbridge in use and travelled down the Clyde valley with its assorted fruit and fruit trees and tomatoes at 3/6p a pound.  It is easy to forget how productive the Clyde Valley was back then.  Throughout the film Tom’s commentary provided background information about the various places of interest that we visited with him on his journey. 

The trip up the Clyde finished by visiting New Lanark before its transformation, Bonnington Power Station and Corrie Lyn.  The journey finished at the first bridge over the River at Clyde Law.  The film promoted many questions on both the content of the film and the technology that Tom used.  Club member Ken Miller provided the vote of thanks.


Weekly Report – 26 October 2007

The charity Dogs Trust was the subject of Vicki Kelly’s talk to the Rotary Club of Hamilton.  Vicki, a fund raiser for the charity provided a charming insight on the work the trust does caring for and finding homes for dogs.  She opened her talk by providing a history of the organisation and told the members about the financial difficulties that the charity experienced in the 80’s when it was known as the National Canine Defence League.  These difficulties were overcome by the appointment of a dynamic new Chief executive who changed the name of the charity to Dogs Trust and improved fund raising methods and the methods of caring for and treating dogs that came into their premises.

The philosophy of the organisation is simply to care for dogs. The organisation refuses to put a healthy dog down.  Dogs Trust has seventeen centres in the UK with two centres in Scotland, one at West Calder; the other is the beautiful new centre at Broomhouse.  This charity is able to look after over 12000 dogs per year but has to raise all the funds to enable it to provide the medical care, food and shelter for the dogs in its care and find new owners for its dogs.

The care that the centres provide is considerable and costly.  Vicki expressed her gratitude for the assistance that the Broomhouse Centre receives from the Glasgow Veterinary College.  As the newest centre, Broomhouse provides state of the art care, housing and exercise facilities and undertakes to care for and hopefully place all dogs that come their way.  There are dogs that are too old, ill or have personality problems that cannot be placed with new owners; Dogs Trust seeks to have sponsors for these dogs and the sponsorship helps to fund their care.

Also, because of the philosophy of never destroying a healthy dog, many of the Dogs Trust centres have waiting lists for its dogs.  An interesting feature of Vicki’s talk was the lengths that Dogs Trust takes and the trust’s attention to detail when it seeks to find responsible caring owners for dogs in their care.  Last year Dogs Trust placed 10,000 animals.  Sponsorship is only one method of helping the charity; she highlighted that many volunteers assist at Broomhouse and West Calder and that the organisation is often the beneficiary from legacies.  In spite of this, because Dogs Trust doesn’t receive Government assistance the organisation has to fund-raise and try to increase its membership.

Vicki’s talk prompted many questions which she responded to with the assurance and charm that she had displayed throughout her presentation. Stephen Brough gave the vote of thanks on behalf of the Rotary Club members.

The photograph shows some of the Rotarians who assisted Cancer Research on their fund raising run on 28 October.  The Rotarians are Stephen Brough, John Burn, Bernie Crozier President, Robin Wilkie and Graeme Porteous,


Weekly Report – 12 October 2007

The subject of Gordon Leckie’s talk to the Rotary Club of Hamilton on Thursday last was the “Sport of Kings”.  Gordon is the managing director in the well known Hamilton family firm Joseph Leckie and Sons.

Having been born in May Street Hamilton, Gordon regularly attended race meetings at Hamilton as a young man.  It was only 6 years ago, however, when he and friends were considering unfilled wishes, that the subject of actually owning a horse was first considered.   The first horse that the group owned was Dotty Digger.  The team soon realised that Dotty Digger wasn’t the fastest horse in Scotland, and that that they would have to move on to satisfy their ambitions.  One of the horses that Gordon purchased was Cherry’s Number who won six times.  A sad journey home from Wolverhampton after the sale of one of his magnificent animals showed some of his family had become emotionally involved with the animals.  The story of owning horses was, therefore, not only about winning

One of his horses, Appalachian Trail, was very successful and won on two occasions in handicap races in Dubai.  He claims that until now Dubai is the high point of his horse owning career.  It was in Dubai that Gordon witnessed the technology employed by the sheik and his aids to ensure that the horses aren’t stressed during their long journey from the UK.  Another wonderful memory was being an owner at Ascot when his horse came in second, beating the Queen’s horse into fourth place.

Gordon clearly enjoyed talking about his horses; their successes and failures, the thrill when his mares have foals, the racing venues he has visited, and the people he has met.  He related a story of an enjoyable and interesting race day’s filming for BBC when he appeared in the BBC television programme “Landmark”.  He talked generally about the more serious aspects of the sport, the money that is in horse racing, the Old Bailey Court Case, and the pricing of horses

While Gordon provided a lot of information during his talk, he was forthcoming when he responded to the many questions asked by the members.  Past Chairman Charlie McBain accorded the vote of thanks on a splendid talk on a topic that the members of the club were clearly interested in.

It was agreed by the Club that its main fund raiser, the Sportsman’s Dinner, will be held on Friday 7 March 2008.


Weekly Report - 05 October 2007

Alex McGowan was the speaker at the Rotary Club of Hamilton on Thursday.  While his subject was entitled “Fun in Philately”, Alex provided a wide ranging talk which covered the history of the postal service and the development of stamps before moving on to his other main interest of collecting postcards.

Alex has been president of the Lanarkshire Philatelic Society and the Scottish Association of Philatelic Societies.  He started his talk by referring to the organising of the postal service by Rowland Hill when the charges were based on weight and distance.  He then referred to the development of stamps, how he became involved in stamp collecting and how he, like most stamp collectors, began to specialise in the stamps he collected. He brought many examples of his stamp albums including his earliest albums, which reminded many of the Rotarians of their stamp collecting days. 

He explained that his interest in stamps led to him becoming interested in postcards where he concentrates on cards relating to Hamilton and Rugby.  These historic postcards showed Hamilton and the people Hamilton in a wonderful light and were often enhanced not only with very old penny stamps postcards but with interesting historical information provided by the sender.  One of the postcards celebrated the birth of the Duke of Hamilton in 1866; other postcards displayed the grandeur of Hamilton Palace and various elements of the palace grounds like the mausoleum and Cadzow Castle.  Postcards that illustrated old Hamilton raised a lot of discussion as Rotarian recalled old Hamilton.

One of Alex’s passions is rugby.  As a collector, he understandably has a considerable collection of stamps and postcards relating to this interest.  One of his earliest rugby stamps goes back to a Rumanian stamp of 1940.  His postcards provided a wonderful history of players and rugby events and gave Alex the opportunity to amuse with anecdotes as to how he came to possess such wonderful items.

He concluded his talk by encouraging Rotarians to promote collecting with their children and grandchildren because of the education and stimulation that collecting can provide, no matter the subject.  Past President Jim Love gave the vote of thank on behalf of the club for an excellent and enthusiastically delivered presentation.

The Tom Dickson Trophy, presented by the late Tom Dickson, a past president of the club, was won by the Rotary Club of Strathaven at Hamilton Golf club and a team from the Hamilton Club, comprising Ian Bell, Robin Douglas, Jack Baillie, won the District bowling competition.


Weekly Report - 13 September 2007

The speaker at this week’s meeting of the Rotary Club of Hamilton was Jacqueline Moore. Jacqueline’s designation is Liaison Officer for South Lanarkshire Senior Secondary Schools and she is employed by Morgan Ashurst, previously AMEC, who are the builders of the new Lanarkshire schools.

Skilfully avoiding the political arguments relating to the financing of the 15 new build and the two refurbishment projects, Jacqueline explained the philosophy behind the designs of the new schools from the time the guidelines are presented by the local authorities to the architects.  Supplemented by slides and a video, she explained that some of the tired and poorly repaired schools are too expensive to repair.  As a result, the local authority has taken the politically sensitive decision to merge schools and replace them with larger schools that provide for a different philosophy and environment for learning.   These new schools will accommodate up to 1900 pupils and will have three learning wings, each comprising three floors. Other wings provide for gymnastics, games, administration and a special needs facility.  All the class rooms are more spacious, brighter and better equipped than the traditional classrooms and the science labs have special air conditioning.  She suggested that schools can no longer be regarded as learning factories, but places to enjoy while learning.  Having said that, she advised the members that the access roads have been broadened and parking areas increased at many of the locations so that buses can drop the pupils within the school precincts.

Particularly interesting are social space areas that provide for more interaction between the pupils.  A central street theme, taken from an American idea, helps to provide this social space by locating the café, library and other elements there.  Plasma screens are located in the “Street” and act as information boards. 

School buildings have certainly changed but Jacqueline has established that the teachers feel they are getting more out of the pupils and the feedback from the pupils has been very positive about the new premises.

In his vote of thanks Past President Bob Hamilton, an architect by profession, expressed his personal interest in the subject and was eager to see how it developed.


Weekly Report - 06 September 2007

At the most recent meeting of the Rotary Club of Hamilton the members were privileged to be addressed by Professor Gerald Graham, a senior scientist at the University of Glasgow, who is a biologist specialising in cancer research, particularly leukaemia. 

Professor Graham spoke about the causes, effects and treatment of the dreadful disease.  He stated that while science has managed to eradicate a number of horrible diseases, cancer continues to increase at an alarming rate.  He intimated that cancer will affect one in three of us mainly because the disease affects older people; as the general population is living longer the number of cases will increase.  He also stated that cancer is the third largest killer of children.

He explained in very simple language that cancer occurs when one of the body’s cells become confused and fail to understand the body’s normal instructions.  The causes of cancer can be related to smoking, sunlight, radiation, alcohol, diet and genetics and while some can be preventable others are just bad luck.  He highlighted that there are over 200 types of cancer and this is what makes the disease so difficult to overcome.   He provided some comfort for his audience when he stated that many cancers can now be successfully treated.

To find a cure for a cancer the scientists have to first recognise the cause.   They do this by identifying the genes causing new cancer and thereafter tailoring the therapies accordingly.  Great success in identifying cancers has been achieved using molecular biology and the use of this branch of science will undoubtedly increase in the coming years.

Rotarians’ interest in the subject was reflected in the numerous questions asked of Dr. Graham.  An appropriate vote of thanks was provided by the Club’s own doctor, retired GP Sandy Wilson.


Weekly Report - 28 August 2007

The meeting of the Rotary Club of Hamilton saw another cheque for the sum of £3000.00 being presented; this time the cheque was presented to Janet Balcombe of Action Medical Research by Vice President Mark Williams.

In her sincere thanks to the club Janet explained her role in the organisation and the function of the charity of which the club’s past President, Hamish Wilson, is the Chairman of the Hamilton branch.  She stated that Action Medical Research is completely dependent on donations and that the £3,000 gift from the Rotary Club is a lot of money to them.  In its relatively short history the charity has achieved a lot without a great amount of publicity.  She commented that there are few hospitals in the country where there isn’t a piece of equipment that the charity hasn’t contributed to.  Janet advised the members that the £3,000 would be invested wisely; that the charity had a good track record and the benefits from the donations may be multiplied tenfold.

In the ‘50s the founder of the charity, Duncan Guthrie, had a daughter who was affected with polio.  The medical experts knew little about how to deal with polio at that time so Duncan and a few friends decided to fund research to find a vaccine that would help in the treatment of polio.  This vaccine was used by other charities, including Rotary, to virtually eliminate polio world wide. Other projects at that time included ultra scanners, infra red brain scanners and the rubella vaccine.  The charity also funded research into hip replacement with dramatic success.

In the past five years the charity’s interest has been directed toward body warming connected to breast cancer, pre and post surgery reduction in infections, botox and cerebral palsy.  A new experimental treatment of cerebral palsy that involves a brain cooling cap is meeting with great success.  This invention derives from Russian folklore and the custom of dunking brain damaged babies into icy waters.  Research shows that the cap arrests brain damage in newly born babies and may in some cases repair it.

Janet provided a litany of research projects into which the charity has invested.  Janet explained that the decision to invest in any research project is based on analysis of requests from research organisations for support; the analysis is carried out by an expert panel chosen from 20 eminent professors.  One so called research project is Touching Tiny Lives where it is hoped to significantly reduce the number of premature births; results so far are very positive.  Funding is at present also supporting research into how arthritis affects tendons, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy where the researchers have, in some cases, been able to eliminate the fits.

In the future the charity will do more of the same; too many scientists have ideas on how to resolve health problems without the funding to develop them.  There will, therefore, always be a role for charities like Action Medical Research.


Weekly Report - 21 August 2007

The various sub-committees of the Rotary Club of Hamilton set about the coming year’s business when they met on Tuesday.  Vice President Mark William outlined his Club Service programme which will include outings, Christmas Dance, Burns Supper, fellowship weekend and events still to be decided. 

The Community Service Committee under the guidance of Eddie announced its initial thoughts.   The committee starts its programme on Saturday when Rotarians will employ their gardening skills in an autumn clean up of the gardens at Udston Hospital.  While the Friends of Udston Hospital disbanded, it is the intention of the Club to continue with the annual collection for the hospital at a future Hamilton Academicals game.  The committee also intends to repeat the stroke awareness day.

Jim Provan and his vocational service team are looking to improve on last year’s success in relation to the Youth Speaks competition, when a team from John Ogilvie School won its way into the UK finals.  Arrangements are already being made for a repeat of the successful Primary School Quiz and the committee is looking for suitable candidates for the very worthwhile Euro Scholar Scheme

The international Committee and its convenor Jim Love will be working hard to obtain contributions to help the club in the international shoe box, emergency box and aqua box schemes.  The committee is already researching a scheme whereby the club can be directly involved in the construction of a school for girls in India; education for girls is not a high priority in India.  The means of raising funds is a high priority and the members of the Club looks forward to meeting the Hamilton public when it again has it books-sale in the Town Centre.

The meeting concluded with vice president Mark Williams presenting a gift of a standard rose to President Bernie Crozier and his fiancé on the event of their forthcoming wedding.


Weekly Report 13 August 2007

The Rotary Club of Hamilton had the pleasure of handing over a cheque for £3000 to Arlene Crockett, who represented Alzheimer’s Scotland.  After receiving the cheque Arlene explained to the club the role of Alzheimer’s Scotland how she anticipated the money would be used but assured the club that as the money was raised locally it would be used locally.

She advised the members that the organisation Alzheimer’s Scotland is a charity that was formed to act as a voice, provide support and act as a pressure group on behalf of sufferers of the disease.  The organisation is divided into seven regions, employs 250 – 400 staff, 400 special workers and 500 to 600 volunteers who combine to offer 60 different kinds of service, mainly different kinds of day-care.  In Lanarkshire the organisation works closely with North and South Lanarkshire Councils.  Alzheimer’s Scotland monitors the effectiveness of drugs, provides education and support to patients and carers and liaises with psychiatrists, GPs, and voluntary agencies. Also the organisations assist families in the management of deterioration and challenging behaviour.  A new service that is thriving is the “Early Onset Service”; the service that to provide trained workers, a flexible service for sufferers and carers, support in everyday tasks, including short breaks for carers and an information service. Included in this are meetings which allow sufferers to meet people who are similarly affected and practice social, intellectual and physical skills.

Arlene emphasised the need for the proper kind of care.  To this end her organisation trains carers to be aware of particular traits of patients and be able to provide the correct support for them.  The sensitive issue of the appropriate drugs being made available was not avoided.  The Alzheimer’s Group are applying a lot of pressure on the government in this regard but Arlene was of the view that in Lanarkshire the appropriate drugs are generally made available to patients and consultants adopt a flexible approach when prescribing drugs. Research, using volunteer sufferers, indicates significant delays in the deterioration can be achieved by the use of these specialist drugs but health boards and government have to measure the obvious benefits against costs to the service.

Arlene concluded her excellent talk by recommending various leaflets, referring to the importance of life style and exercising the brain to prevent, as far as is possible, the onset of this terrible disease.  She also thanked the club for what she regarded as a generous donation. 

In her response to many questions she advised that Alzheimer’s is the fourth largest killer in Scotland, again referred to the drugs issue and the services that are available to sufferers and their carers and to the Glasgow Memory Clinic where clinical trials are carried out.


Weekly Report 6 August 2007

For the first time since receiving his MBE, Past President Hamish Wilson told the Rotary Club of Hamilton the full story of the honour granted to him for services to hairdressing and his local community of Hamilton. 

Hamish’s story started when he received a letter from the Prime Minister’s office Downing Street. The possibility of receiving the honour was first intimated to Hamish in the May of 2005.  Having agreed to accept the MBE Hamish had then the difficulty of keeping the award secret until the lists were published in the June.  Hamish modestly told his story of the build up to the award ceremony and credited the honour to his involvement with the National Hairdressers Federation, Rotary and his work with the charity, Action Medical Research.  With the help of photographs, the Order of Ceremony and a DVD titled “Path to Honour” Hamish held the attention of club members with his interesting story.  The DVD told us that the concept of granting awards was established by George V in 1917 to recognise the heroes of the First World War. The awards have since gradually been extended to include the arts, science and the voluntary sector. While the number of ceremonies varies, there are generally about 20 each year when in excess of 100 people receive awards at each ceremony.  Everyone watching the DVD could feel the sense of occasion; the Yeomen of the Guard, established in 1485, had a large, colourful and disciplined presence; the rooms of Buckingham Palace, provided an imposing and regal backcloth and the music an imperial and atmospheric background to proceedings.

The whole event is well rehearsed and humorously and tightly controlled; yet the officials make everyone feel important.  Having been instructed and organised, the recipients wait in the Gallery surrounded by the Gallery’s wonderful and famous paintings before they move through a tapestry lined corridor to be called to the Ballroom for the investiture ceremony.  The Ballroom, which was built in the time of Queen Victoria, is one of the largest rooms of its kind in Europe and  its imposing scale is ideally suited to its use as a venue for concerts, pageants and state occasions.  Having been well rehearsed and asked to provide their names on at least four occasions, the recipients move singly into the Ballroom to be presented to the queen and receive the honour. With the benefit of the DVD club members were able to enjoy a smiling Hamish talk to the monarch and receive his award.

When answering questions, Hamish emphasised how impressed he and his family had been with the grandeur of the rooms in Buckingham Palace, the splendour of the paintings and furniture, the selection of music and the grace, style and efficiency of the occasion. Hamish also referred the pleasure he derived from meeting many interesting people from varied backgrounds some of whom had done great things. He particularly enjoyed meeting the queen and referred to the poise and charm with which she graced the occasion.

Ian Brown expressed the feelings of the members of the club in his vote of thanks when he said that he had been captivated witnessing and having explained to him the whole honours process.


Weekly Report  31 July 2007

The Rotary Club of Hamilton is in District1230 of Rotary International.  Within District 1230 there are 57 Clubs and during his year in office the District President will endeavour to visit all the clubs in his district – a considerable undertaking.  Last Tuesday District President Drew Hughes, who is a member of the Rotary Club of Barrhead , visited Hamilton to address the our club.

He opened his talk by highlighting the theme of the International President, Canadian Wilf Wilkinson - “Rotary Shares”. This led Drew into the subject of the recent floods in the midlands where four Rotary districts are affected. Rotarians in these districts are already assisting the people affected by the foods and the authorities dealing with the problems.  District 1270 is worst affected with over half of its 49 clubs based within the flood damaged areas.  This major natural disaster has translated into damaged communities, homelessness, and it has affected businesses. The victims live in the country, villages, towns and cities; some are insured some are not.  It is acknowledged that, even with help Rotary and many other voluntary organisations, it will take months before these areas will operate normally.  While the Rotarians in these areas are providing physical help at present, it will soon become clearer where Rotary help is most needed.  Already clubs in District 1230 have made a financial contribution to the district organisations of the affected areas.

Drew advised his audience that the national president would not be selecting any preferred international projects this year because he wanted clubs to donate directly to Rotary Foundation.  Rotary Foundation is a charitable trust through which contributions from clubs, districts and individuals can be channelled to assist with major international projects.  Rotary Foundation in turn distributes these funds by providing direct contributions, matching grants, simplified grants and funding scholarships and group study exchanges.  He commented that in 25 years Rotary Foundation had contributed over £700m to international charities and he drew attention to Rotary’s success in eliminating polio worldwide through its “Polio Plus” campaign using funds from Rotary Foundation and Rotarian volunteers.

Eddie Hawke, who recently joined the Hamilton club from the Bellshill club, where he was a past president, provided the vote of thanks.


Weekly Report  13 July 2007

Men like talking about cars.  On Tuesday last the members of the Rotary Club of Hamilton were enthralled by one of its members, Hamish Wilson, telling the story of renovating his 1912 “Renault Tourer” motor car.

Hamish, the proprietor of Kenneth Wilson (Motors) Ltd., purchased the car in 1966 having noticed the chassis on a tip and, using some astute detective work, established the owner. Hamish’s original intention was to purchase the barely recognisable heap for spares for a similar vehicle of the same vintage that he already owned.   The car, purchased for the sum of £10.00, was primarily a chassis that required some welding, an engine that needed to be freed, overhauled and rebuilt and wheels in need of replacing.  His purchase had no body, carburettor or exhaust and the springs and various control rods needed to be renewed.  Hamish’s talk was enhanced by his pictorial record of the restoration process and the development of the new skills that he and his friend George McCartney acquired while working on the vehicle one night per week.  They were not, however, able to gain all the skills; he had to travel to Skipton to find a wheelwright to manufacture the wooden, spoked wheels.  He also admitted that he received a lot of help, particularly from a local steel fabricator who cut the wings and provided some of the patterns that were required; others provided materials

One of the hardest challenges for Hamish was the manufacture of the bonnet. The two enthusiasts had to manufacture the uniquely shaped bonnet from aluminium rather than the original brass, by heating, bending and shaping the aluminium from a sheet of the material gifted by a friend.  Another skill acquired by the pair was making the studded, originally leather, seats.  Parts were not easily obtained; the search for a carburettor took Hamish to France.  While there is little of the body that is original, Hamish is consoled by the fact that very few of these cars ever looked the same because originally only the chassis were imported from France; the bodies were usually built by local body builders in this country.  The unique registration number D7786 is from Kent and, while the number plates are not original, Hamish discovered the original number plates with other useful parts on a return visit to the tip.

After many questions Hamish concluded his talk by explaining that the title of his talk, “The Milner’s Tale” was because of the Renault’s delightful blue bonnet.  Kenneth Miller gave the vote of thanks before Hamish led the members to the car park to see the old Renault standing proudly beside the sleek, modern mass produced vehicles parked beside it.  After imparting more information, Hamish drove this outstanding example of the application of skill, knowledge, perseverance and patience smoothly and quietly away from its parking place.


Weekly Report 6 July 2007

Another enjoyable and informative Job Talk was appreciated by the members of the Rotary Club of Hamilton last Tuesday.  The speaker was new member Graeme Porteous who spoke about the interesting and technical subject of wireless communications.  He explained to his audience that he had enjoyed preparing his talk because it had allowed him to reflect, not only on his career in the industry but on the massive changes and advances in technology that occurred during that time.

Graeme graduated from Paisley University in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. He obtained employment in 1984 with the Independent Broadcasting Authority at Blackhill Transmission Station which coincided with the week that black and white television system transmissions ended.  He jolted our memories with displays of the Black and White and Colour test cards of the time.  The Independent Broadcasting Authority’s main TV customer at that time was STV but, in the early stages, transmission was bedevilled with technological problems and even with thirty engineers it was a busy time maintaining the service.  Graham’s audience could all remember the apology captions shown by BBC and STV apologising for breakdowns in transmission. 

VHF radio was also becoming a growth area and programmes other than BBC, like Clyde and more recently Classic FM, took advantage of the new opportunities.  Programmers were soon able to take advantage of television being transmitted throughout the night; programmes like breakfast television then became more readily available to viewers.  Other developments included stereo (Nicam) TV broadcasting before digital radio appeared in the 90s.  Existing customers continued to develop and new customers took advantage of these and other advances in technology.

The development in mobile telephone technologies enabled broadcasters such as IBA to develop networks to support the distribution needs of the mobile Operators. These Networks could also carry the new Cable TV, telephony and Internet traffic of the late 90’s. The privatised IBA (National Transcommunications Ltd) was soon acquired by Cable-Tel to become NTL. 

Three years ago Graeme branched out to set-up his own local company, Scot Tel Ltd which offers Products and Services including wireless solutions whereby high quality, high speed data connections are provided to service industries and public authorities to accommodate modern wireless network requirements.

Past President Gordon Munro gave the vote of thanks for a very impressive presentation.


Weekly Report 26 June 2007

It was all change at the Rotary Club of Hamilton’s Club Assembly on Tuesday when President Alister Baird demitted office and handed over the reins to the incoming President, Bernie Crozier.  In his retiring remarks, Alister thanked the club for a good year and for the considerable support Rotarians had given him throughout his term in office.  He also appreciated the hard work of the Conveners and their committees. He There were many highlights during the year, but for Alister the events that pleased him most were the Sportsman’s Dinner which raised £9,000 for charity; also the Fellowship Weekend, when eleven Rotarians and their partners enjoyed a few sunny days break in Geneva.  Alister also highlighted the recent book sale in the town centre which raised money for international charities and let Rotarians meet the people of Hamilton.  Another enjoyable event was the wine tasting evening run by one of the club’s own members, Steve Williams.  Special thanks were given to Rev. Stan cook for his efforts in arranging an interesting programme of speakers and events that maintained the interest of Rotarians throughout the year.

The Club’s new president Bernie Crozier hails from Northumberland.  Having worked for a time in Dundee he now lives in Earnock with his family.  He is an independent financial adviser and will undoubtedly bring his own style and Geordie brand of humour to the role of President.  As is customary at Club Assembly, the new president introduced his new team of convenors who outlined there programmes for the forthcoming year.  Bernie’s team is Mark Williams - President elect and Club Service Convener, Eddie Hawke - Vice President and Community Service Convener, Gordon Hart - International Committee Convener and Jim Provan - Vocational Service Convener.  The projects and events that the members of the new team have planned indicate that the Club will be in for another busy year.


Weekly Report  19 June 2007

The Rotary Club of Hamilton allocated its charity funds on Tuesday last.  While money is raised throughout the year at various functions, the main fundraiser was the Sportsman’s Dinner in February when the Club raised £8500.  Again, the club wishes to thank all those people and firms that contributed in any way to the success of that entertaining evening and the handsome sum of money that was made available to the Club to distribute to its preferred charities. 

In total the Club will distribute £10,800 with £3000 going to each of the Club’s nominated charities for this year, Touching Tiny Lives and Alzheimer Lanarkshire. Donating to these two charities gives help to sufferers at both ends of the age spectrum. 

Every year around 70,000 babies need special medical care when they are born.  Tragically more than 3,000 die before they reach their first birthday, premature births being biggest cause.  Over and above the emotional upheaval of having a premature baby, there is a huge cost to the National Health Service.  Action Medical Research launched the Touching Tiny Lives Campaign in an effort to bring reduce premature births and to lobby the government to help more. 

Most families experience the tragedy of Alzheimer’s at sometime in their lives.   An increasing burden falls on the carers who are required to cope with the escalating needs of family members affected by this insidious and crippling disease of the mind.  This donation should help to ease some of this burden.  The Rotary Club of Hamilton considers both these charities very worthwhile.

The remainder of the funds will be distributed among local charities and organisations like the Parkinson’s Disease Self-help Group, McMillan Cancer Relief, the Scouts, the Boys Brigade etc. and worthwhile Rotary international charities like Rotary Foundation, Shelter Boxes, Water Aid and Sight Savers International.


Weekly Report  6 June  2007

Former teacher and Director of Education, Malcolm Macintyre, admitted to the Rotary Club of Hamilton that he didn’t follow the important advice that he regularly gave to his students and pupils when he failed to read correctly the assignment given to him by Programme Convenor, Stan Cook.  Stan asked Malcolm to start his talk with the words “It was at Wentworth”; Malcolm’s misguided interpretation of that phrase was “On my way to Wentworth”.  The confusion, however, allowed Malcolm to weave his thoughts on golf, golf courses, his favourite places and aspects of his career into a very interesting talk. 

Malcolm, like all golfers, has dreams of playing great golf when playing with the best golfers on the finest golf courses.  On his imaginary drive to Wentworth he broke his journey for a rest, fell asleep and dreamt that, because he had his clubs handy, he was called on to fill in for Terry Wogan at a pro-am at Wentworth.  His playing partners were Ernie Els, Sam Torrance and Paul Merton; a foursome that provided for great golf and good chat.  Of course Malcolm, partnering Sam Torrance, sank the winning putt.

When he wakened from his wonderful dream and continued his drive thro’ the Midlands, the delays caused by traffic jams allowed his thoughts to wander to  his career in education administration and particularly his time in Argyll.  He amused his audience with his anecdotes about educational policy debates, people and places; he enthused about the countryside, the colourful “headies” and the Gaelic speaking network that was developed among the teachers; he rejoiced in his memories of the fun and the enthusiasm that he enjoyed during his official visits to schools, local councils and at civic receptions and ceilidhs.

Obliged to return to his given theme “It happened at Wentworth”, Malcolm referred to a book on golf that he discovered at the Club’s recent book sale.  In this well thumbed book he was lucky to uncover were some chapters entitled “It happened at Wentworth”.  From these he highlighted the wonderful matches between Gary Player and Tony Lema when Player won having been seven holes down and when Sandy Lyle overcame Nick Faldo from a similar deficit.

Ian Brown gave the vote of thanks on behalf of the appreciative members.


Weekly Report 30 May 2007

Club member Archie Russell was given the task of addressing the Rotary Club of Hamilton with a talk that started “The teacher said to me”.  Archie completed the sentence by adding “Russell, why can’t you be more like your brother”.  While declaring that he never wanted to be like his brother, Archie continued on an enlightening, humorous and thought provoking dissertation on the identifiable and often predictable differences of the personalities of siblings. 

He first considered this matter at the age of 7 when he looked at changing his big brother. He remembered looking at his circle of friends and concluding that most of the first born children were “pains” and that second born children he quite liked because, like him, they were easygoing, pleasant and good company.

Years later he came across a book on the subject, “Born to Rebel” by Frank Sulloway. The thick and now well thumbed volume theorised on the dynamics of families, sibling rivalry and creative development through birth order.  Archie gave examples of people in history and reflected that first born children of families often show similar traits.  He gave various reasons for this; in the case of a first born, by definition, the parents have not had a child before so they are nervous, unsure what to do and make the child the centre of attention.  He reckoned that children are born clever and only get smarter; therefore, first born children quickly discover they are the centre of the universe and learn to manipulate the parents; first born children also feel threatened by the second born child and want to parent it.  Not so with the second child who has to deal with parents who are experienced and recognise the mistakes that they made previously; second born children, as a result, are often more independent, non conformist rebellious and less manipulative.

Archie developed this theme, again using characters in history as examples, even the Royal family.  Referring particularly to the Reformation, he stated that the vast majority of the people who accepted the new faith were second born; of the twenty four martyrs twenty three were second born; yet Martin Luther was first born.  He argued that the rebellious aspect of Luther’s actions, untypical for a first born, can be explained by the fact that Luther regarded his parishioners as his family.  When he resisted the excesses of the Catholic Church he was seen to be protecting his family and not rebelling. Luther was not inherently rebellious.  Further examples highlighted by Archie referred to the US Supreme Court and nominations by recent presidents.

Archie then applied the theories to the membership of the Rotary Club where, interestingly, nineteen out of the thirty four members attending were first born children.  He concluded his profound talk by stating that there is no single pre-disposition to personality but there are major influences; tonight’s talk addressed only one.

Past President Malcolm Macintyre gave the well deserved vote of thanks.

On Saturday The Club held its book sale at the top cross when it was good see many friends and supporters of the Cub.  The takings of nearly £300 will go towards international charities.


Weekly Report 15 May 2007

Past President Bill Condie recently retired from his role as Justice of the Peace.  On Thursday night he related stories to members of the Rotary Club of Hamilton of his thirty years on the bench in the various Lanarkshire courts.  His presentation was entitled “Rough Justice” and it contained tales of his experiences on the bench and a little of his bench philosophy. 

Bill’s career as a JP started when he was a councillor with Hamilton District Council and he was elected as an ex-officio justice.  Ex-officio justices were called magistrates in the burghs before the 1975 reorganisation.  He retired from Hamilton District Council in 1978 because as an architect he felt he would be unable to fulfil his obligations as an elected representative when the District Council decided to move from evening meetings to day time meetings. He was then appointed by the Secretary of State to serve as a lay justice and continued to serve on the bench until his retirement

During his time as a Justice of the Peace he operated mostly in the East Kilbride District Court and served on the justices committee there and on the justices committee in the reorganised South Lanarkshire.  Bill’s carefully structured talk provided quotations and stories, sometime serious and sometime humorous, covering incidents particularly relating to customers that appeared before him.  As part of justice training, justices are required to visit many of Scotland’s prisons; Bill gave his personal thoughts on the prison system and suggested that a disincentive to commit crime is to visit a prison.

For the Rotarians present, Bill gave an insight into a system of lay justice that has successfully operated in Scotland for centuries.  He is pleased that following the recent review by Summary Justice Review Board, the Scottish Executive recognised the important role of lay justices within the courts system.  A result of the review was that the Executive decided to unify the administration of summary courts and place district courts under the control of the Scottish Court Service thereby retaining District Courts and lay justices but removing them from the control of local government. 

Past President Hamish Wilson gave the vote of thanks.


Weekly Report 8 May 2007

The members of the Rotary Club of Hamilton enjoyed another fine Job Talk.  The speaker was Steve Brough and he spoke on the subject of Financial Management.  Steve, an agent for the American firm Edward Jones, is a qualified actuary and has been in the business of giving financial advice for nearly twenty years.  He briefly provided an outline of Messrs Edward Jones, who is long recognised as one of the top employers in the United States.  Having operated in this country for nine years, the company is now achieving the same reputation in the United Kingdom.  He argued that Messrs. Edward Jones had a very simple philosophy in relation to financial management - they buy good stock and hold onto it.  The firm also stresses the importance of building long term face to face relationships by helping their clients understand investment products and the services that are available today; also the importance of patience and discipline.

Steve briefly explained the range of sectors available to investors, what these sectors are capable of contributing to an overall portfolio and the importance of growth and income within them.  He briefly discussed the difference between local and global investments and suggested that the key to riding out market downturns lies in a balanced, well diversified portfolio of quality investments.

From the start of his talk Steve had asked questions of his audience.  Gradually, much to the satisfaction of the members, the presentation developed into a question and answer session embracing all the elements that Steve had mentioned during the earlier part of his presentation.  Steve handled the many and varied questions, some of them complicated, with perspicacity and with humour. Another new member, Steve Williams, provided a humorous and apposite vote of thanks. 

The weekend saw a squad of Rotarians start the work of weeding and tidying of the gardens at Udston Hospital; next weekend will see the preparation of the tubs and hanging baskets and some grass cutting.  On Saturday evening members and their wives enjoyed a Casino Night at Casino Westwood organised by President-elect Bernie Crosier. Roulette and Black Jack provided a lot of good fun and excitement for those who attended.



Weekly Report 2 May 2007

The Programme Convener of the Rotary Club of Hamilton, the Reverend Stanley Cook, gave this week’s speaker an interesting task. He asked one of the newer members, Steve Williams, to address the club on the subject “She gave the key to me to ….”. Steve rose to speak in an atmosphere of high expectancy.  The key that Steve spoke about was the key to organisation Rotaract and the lady who provided the means of entry the Windsor and Maidenhead Club of the organisation was Liz Parkinson.  She introduced Steve to an organisation that had lot of energy, provided the members with a lot of fun and did a lot of work for charity and raised money for charity on a massive scale.

Rotaract is an organisation promoted by Rotary for young persons under the age of thirty hopefully as precursor to the Rotaract members becoming Rotarians.

Steve highlighted various project organised by his club including one called the Beaujolais Run, which required the club to travel Beaujolais by car and bus or train to return with as much wine as they could carry.  This venture resulted in the Maidenhead and Windsor Club becoming, for a time, the largest UK importer of Beaujolais and at the same time enabled the club to raise £25,000 a year for charity from this one event.  Another big fund raiser was the Three Counties Cycle Ride, where the clubs in the district combined and raised £40,000 to £50,000 per annum for charity.  He also had cause to thank Rotaract for allowing him to realise a childhood ambition to play rugby.  Not being naturally sporty, Steve had never been involved in sport at school.  One of the club members was an ex county rugby player and he brought together, trained and coached a disparate group of members of Rotaract to form a team that played competitive rugby.  Never having played team sports previously, Steve relished the camaraderie that team sports bring and regrets that since coming to Scotland he hasn’t again become involved with rugby.

Steve enthused about the pleasure the key to Rotaract had brought to him and was grateful for the chance given to him by Liz Parkinson.  He highlighted the benefits he gained - the confidence to talk, mix, organise major projects and make lasting friendships.  He is saddened that the numbers in his Rotaract club are reducing because organisations like Rotaract provide great benefit to the young people involved in them.  President elect Mark Williams provided the vote of thanks.

The Club will now meet on Tuesday nights at Hamilton Golf Club at 6.45 pm until September.


Weekly Report 12 April 2007

The Rotary Club of Hamilton travelled to Motherwell for a joint meeting with the members of the Rotary Club of Motherwell.  The Hamilton Club extended the Rotary movement to form a Club in Motherwell in 1930.  Joint meetings between the two clubs have been held annually since 1983.
The guest speaker for this special meeting was Stephen Craigan, a central defender with Motherwell FC.  Stephen, an articulate young man, traced his football ambitions to the time he saw Norman Whiteside on television scoring the winning goal for Manchester United against Everton in the FA Cup.    Having then witnessed the celebrity status that Whiteside gained as a result of his achievements as a footballer, Stephen fancied some of it.  He told his interested audience that luck combined with a lot of hard work as a youth resulted in 1995, when he was only nineteen years of age, him being asked by Alex McLeish to leave the home comforts he enjoyed in Newtonards, Northern Ireland, to sign for Motherwell.  He highlighted some of his difficulties at that time and compared the management techniques of the managers he had worked under.  He highlighted the much personalised coaching style of John Lambie who was his coach during the three years he starred with Partick Thistle.

Stephen has been an integral part of the Motherwell side for the past three years and was rewarded for his performances with a call-up to the Northern Ireland squad.  He has played twenty nine times for his country and gives great credit to the Northern Ireland manager Lawrie Sanchez for the progress his national team has made.  He hopes that another of his ambitions will be realised if Northern Ireland reaches the finals of the European Championship and he is in the team.  One of the highlights of his career was the part he played in Northern Ireland’s stunning 1-0 victory over England.  Another is the pleasure of seeing so many youngsters in Northern Ireland now wearing the shirt of Northern Ireland rather than strips of prominent clubs of Scotland and England.

In his talk Stephen mentioned the difficult job of referees.  He suggested that their role was complicated by the lack of clear direction and interference with the rules by the football authorities.  He was against increasing the use of technology and logically gave his reasoning.

The questions that John had to respond to were many and varied and embraced the subjects of life after football, cheating, the Old Firm and their ambitions to be part  English Premier League, the offside rule and many others.  He responded to the questions authoritatively, knowledgably and with humour; this was acknowledged in excellent vote of thanks given by Hugh Graham from the Motherwell Club.


Weekly Report 5 April

Last week the Rotary Club of Hamilton was taken to China; this week our speaker, Julie Bon, took us to Kirkcudbright. Julie, a conservator with the National Trust for Scotland, spoke about the rejuvenated Broughton House, the home of the artist A.E. Hornel who was a founder member of the famous group of progressive artists who became known as the Glasgow Boys.  Hornal and his great friend George Henry led the “Boys” towards an experimental, decorative style of painting characterised by the use of brilliant colour and pattern with an interest in symbolism.

Julie is now the curator in charge of the Western Region of the National Trust but, until a year ago, was the conservator in charge of the project to conserve and preserve the original fabric of Broughton House.  The house was built in 1740 and was purchased by Hornel in 1901, when he had reached his peak as an artist.  Before Hornel died in 1933, he created a trust that gave his sister, who had been his constant companion, life rental of the property.  The trust deed also required that the house with all its furnishing, library, curios and works of art be preserved for the purpose of a Public Art Gallery.  When his sister died the house was conferred onto a body of trustees.  Increasing pressure on the finances of the trust, capped by a fire in the gallery in 1992, prompted the trust to invite the National Trust to help manage the house and its collections.  Finally in 1997 the National Trust assumed full ownership of the property.

Julie’s talk was punctuated with slides that allowed her to illustrate the extent of the work carried out to deal with the long standing dampness problems and water ingress, restore some of Hornel’s decorative schemes and overcome some structural defects. Rooms that had not previously been open to public view were revived and revealed to visitors.  Thereafter the building was improved to enhance access, a lift was introduced into an old staircase, a full fire suppression system installed and UV light filters were added.  Throughout the work, remedial conservation and repair of objects that had sustained damage were carried out.  Importantly, suitable storage was provided for the artist’s library that had spilled over into almost every room in the house.   The library had grown to over 15,000 volumes that relate mainly to the Dumfries and Galloway area and include an important body of work connected with Robert Burns.  Julie concluded her well received talk by referring to the National Trusts other interests in the western region, particularly one of its main projects, Burns Cottage in Alloway.

On behalf of the members, Past President David Pettigrew gave Julie a well deserved vote of thanks for her enthusiastically presented and informative contribution.


Weekly Report 29 March 2007 

The Rotary Club of Hamilton enjoyed a splendid talk on the history of China by Eleanor Macarthur at its meeting on Thursday.  Eleanor, a retired maths teacher, has been visiting China since 1988 and has developed an interest and encyclopaedic knowledge of the history of the country.  Displaying her able teaching skills and with the aid of some excellent slides she held the attention of the well attended meeting.

She explained how the ruler of the western state of Qin managed to subjugate the “Warring States” and thereafter declare himself Shi Huangdi, First Emperor, in 221 BC. China's name is derived from his short but seminal dynasty, Qin (pronounced Chin).

Using illustrations, she showed how Shi Huangdi extended the old fortification wall along north China to form what is now known as the Great Wall of China built to stop the Barbarians from the north invading the country.  While he was a cruel leader, he achieved a lot that continues in China to this day in that he standardised Chinese writing, bureaucracy, law, currency, weights and measures. He expanded the Chinese empire, built a capital in Xian, a system of roads to a standard specification, and massive fortifications and palaces. In 1974 thousands of life-sized terra cotta warriors and horses, that guard the Emperor's extravagant tomb, were unearthed in Xian.
Eleanor closed her engrossing talk with brief references to present day politics, Tiananmen Square and the massive engineering undertaking to develop and utilize the resources of the Three Gorges section of the Yangtze River. When the dam is complete, it will be capable of pumping out 18,200 megawatts of electricity from 26 generators, each equal to a medium-sized nuclear reactor.
Past president Euan Stirrat provided the vote of thanks on behalf of the members.
In his remarks the Club President Alister Baird referred to the recent death and funeral of Bobby Wilson.  Bobby, an ex- postman and an elder at Cadzow Parish Church, was the first well deserved recipient of the Club’s Community Service Award in 1992.



Weekly Report 23 March 2007

Before the speaker took the podium at the most recent meeting of the Rotary Club of Hamilton, Jim Provan, Chairman of the Vocational Service Committee, reported that three pupils from Blantyre High School represented the district at the regional finals of the Senior Youth Speaks Competition.  The final was held at Caledonian University last Tuesday 20 March. 

Against pupils from five other schools, who provided stiff and eloquent competition, the girls, Sarah Scott, Lynsey Brewster and Emma Forrest, performed extremely well.  Their theme was Mothers’ Day and they dealt with the subject both seriously and humorously and in a very polished manner.  The English Martyrs School from Hartlepool won the final, took the trophy south and will go forward to the National Final to be held at Loughborough University in April. 

On 13 March John Ogilvie High School represented Hamilton at the Scottish Final of the Intermediate Youth Speaks Competition; their subject was “Animals in Captivity”. The team comprising David Smith, Laura McCafferty and Angelle McCluskey won the contest against stiff competition and now go forward to the National Final to be held at Loughborough University on 21 April. This is the first time that a participating school from Lanarkshire has progressed so far in this UK wide contest

The speaker for the evening was George Espie.  George is managing Director of the Cooperage Division of the Eddington Group that manufactures The Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark, Highland Park and Macallan whiskies.  George’s illustrated talk told the story of whisky cask manufacture.  The lengthy and complex story starts when selected long straight oak trees, grown in the north of Spain, are cut down in the winter when the saps aren’t flowing. Having been left to dry for a few months the trunks are then cut to size and again stored to further dry the planks before being transported to the south of Spain where they are stored in specialised conditions that reduce the moisture content of the wood further to 12-16%.  The wood is then heated, bent and the casks constructed then toasted.  The completed and toasted casks then store sherry for two to three years before being brought to Scotland for the storage of our country’s national beverage.

The questions from club members were many and varied and George responded to them with ease, humour and considerable detail.  Keith Bryce provided the vote of thanks.


Weekly Report 8 March 2007

The speaker arranged for last Thursday night’s meeting of the Rotary Club of Hamilton had to call off because of a domestic emergency.  At short notice, one of the Club’s newer members, Ian Brown, filled the gap by giving his “Job Talk”. 

Ian is employed by AMEC with the job title of Construction Design and Management Manager. Ian was awarded the new grade of Fellowship of the Association of Planning Supervisors, one of only three in the country persons to achieve this.

Ian’s talk was wide ranging and referred to the lengths developers have to go to satisfy the demands of the Health and Safety Executive and the costs of tendering.  He also described to the uninitiated how PPF arrangements work. Ian punctuated his talk with examples of the lengths companies go to render the working environment safer.  At Almondvale, to avoid employees having to work at heights, the clock tower and another two towers were prefabricated and constructed at ground level before being lifted into place.  At Biggar Pumping Station the water table was lowered in order that the work could be carried out in dry conditions.  Further design features included fewer manholes and self-cleaning screens to render the scheme safer to maintain; the company gained the RoSPA Gold Award for this scheme.  He also referred to the changes in Health and Safety legislation and its effect on clients, designers and contractors.

The talk was supplemented with a power point presentation showing some of the schemes and including an example of a 3D virtual reality model of one of the company’s major projects.  Such models enable construction teams to view the completed scheme when it is in the early stages of construction.  Past President Ian Bell provided the vote of thanks for Ian’s splendid presentation.

Friday night was the Rotary Club of Hamilton’s Annual Sportsman’s dinner, the Club’s biggest fund raiser.  It was a splendid night, well attended with excellent speakers.  Having made the necessary introductions and referred to the selected charities, President Alister Baird handed over the chairmanship of the event to Sandy Strang.  Sandy, an ex cricketer and Cambridge Blue at football was well qualified for this task.  He introduced the fund raising events and speakers with considerable effectiveness punctuated with humour.  Willie Young, best known as a grade one football referee was extremely entertaining when talking about his career as a lawyer and providing insight to his time in football.  Willie Hunter, another lawyer and an ex Watsonian rugby star, completed the top table line up and concluded the evening with some entertaining anecdotes drolly told.  President Elect, Bernie Crozier, gave the vote of thanks.

The Club wishes to offer its sincere thank to all the businesses and people who contributed in any way to the success of the fundraising element of the night.


Weekly Report  1 March 2007

It was a busy meeting for the Rotary Club of Hamilton on Thursday last with 11 guests and three visiting Rotarians from the Rotary Club Blantyre.  We also had our speaker Denis Gardner to tell the Club about Mercy Ships.

Firstly, Past President Ian Bell explained to the guests the history and purpose of Rotary.  He then advised the company of major international projects that Rotary International through its world-wide Charity Foundation has supported and then explained some projects that the Club has been involved in locally.

The main speaker was ex-Rotarian, Denis Gardner who is originally from the West Midlands.  Having made a successful career in the hotel business, a lot of in Scotland, at the age of 50 he changed direction and settled in Perth, with his wife, to be near the grandchildren.  His subject “Mercy Ships” was one of Rotary International’s preferred charities and he emphasised the amount of assistance Rotary had given to the project in term of cash, volunteers and increased awareness.  Denis puts a lot of his time and energies into this project.

Having shown a short film explaining the background and illustrating some of the beneficiaries, he provided the history of this very simple concept of taking hospitals to people in the poorest countries that have a coast and where earnings can be less than $1 per day.  “Mercy Ships” has three ships in operation.  The oldest vessels are the Caribbean Mercy that operates in the Caribbean and the Anastasias that covers West Africa.  Both vessels are nearing the end of their useful lives.

The third mercy ship is the African Mercy.  This vessel was previously a Roll on-Roll off train ferry and is at present undergoing sea trials.  She will be commissioned before the 8 April this year.  The final costs of equipping this ship for service will be £30.5m.

Ann Gloag, the Scottish entrepreneur who is associated with Stagecoach, donated £4.5m toward the purchase of the ship and continues to give her money, time and professional expertise to the project. When completed, the new floating hospital will provide six operating theatres, eight wards, two isolation wards, four dental surgeries and schooling facilities.  Every person on board “Mercy Ships” is a volunteer and each volunteer has to pay to be on board, no matter their function.  These costs can often be assisted by sponsorship; Harvard University for instance sponsors 4 doctors every year. 

A by-product of this kind of charity has been witnessed in the aftermath of the New Orleans disaster. Professional volunteers, doctors, dentist and nurses, acquired experience of tropical diseases while they were fulfilling their voluntary role with the “Mercy Ships”.   The new knowledge and skills were applied to benefit the people affected with these same diseases, which were new to New Orleans, when they appeared after the flooding. 

Denis provided an excellent talk on a wonderful charity and was warmly thanked by Ian MacGregor on behalf of the Club.


Report - 7 February 2007

Following last week’s successful Primary Schools Quiz the Rotary Club of Hamilton returned to its usual venue at Hamilton Golf Club where the speaker was Archie McCunn.  Archie is a Past President of the Rotary Club of Motherwell, an engineer by profession and was involved in the construction of Ravenscraig.   Archie’s subject was Robert Burns and, having spoken about the poet’s upbringing, he then placed Scotland’s national poet in a historical context with all the other artistic, technical religious and philosophical activities that were happening in Scotland, Britain and America at the same time.  He humorously provided a different slant to the Burns story and it was interesting for the members to be told of Robert Burns’ place in the Scottish Enlightenment and how Scottish talent spread its knowledge expertise and genius throughout the world.
Past President Jack Baillie provided an enthusiastic vote of thanks on behalf of the very appreciative audience for Archie’s excellent presentation.
William B. Boyd, President, Rotary International was bestowed with the Companion of the Queen’s Service Order Award by the Queen last month. The award is given to New Zealand residents who have served as valuable volunteers to the community, whether in elected or public office. An awards ceremony will take place later in the year after he completes his term as President of Rotary International.
February is designated in the Rotary calendar as World Understanding Month when Rotarians world-wide celebrate the anniversary of the first meeting of Rotary held on February 23, 1905; that particular date is now designated World Understanding and Peace Day.


REPORT – 1 February 2007

The Rotary Club of Hamilton met at Hamilton Accies stadium on 1 February where members of the Club with teachers and the families of the competitors enjoyed the Primary Schools Quiz.  The competition was first held last year, but interest generated from that competition meant that this year seven schools participated, Chatelherault, Neilsland, St Elizabeths , St Johns, St Ninians, Townhill  and Woodside.  The contestants were in teams of four and had to face 10 rounds of questions covering subjects ranging  from History to Films. The leadership fluctuated through out the evening, the competition was always fierce and the contestants were always enthusiastic in spite of the stress of competition.  The eventual winner of the closely fought competition was Chatelherault Primary School with St. Johns and Townhill tying for second place after two play-off rounds.  Chatelherault Primary School will now carry the flag for Hamilton when they compete is the District Final later in the year.

District Governor Neil Fraser visited the Club and presented the trophy and the prizes. In his address to the audience he referred to the satisfaction he and the members of the Rotary Club had derived from this event because of the contribution and enthusiasm of the participants, the support the children had received from their schools and families and the atmosphere of good natured competition.  In his vote of thanks President Alister Baird endorsed the District Governor’s remarks and thanked the Club’s Vocational Committee, under the leadership of Jim Provan, for the efficient running of the event.



Report – 18 January 2007

Along with their wives and guests from the Probus, Soroptomists and Inner Wheel clubs of Hamilton, the Rotary Club of Hamilton celebrated the life and works of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, at its meeting last Thursday in Hamilton Golf Club.  The venue is ideally suited for this kind of function and the company enjoyed excellent fare before the formal celebrations of the poet’s birth took place.

The entertainment was mainly provided from within the Club.  An excellent Immortal Memory was given by Jack Baillie, a Past President of both the Rotary Club of Hamilton and the Hamilton Burns Club.  Jack reflected on his involvement with the works of the poet before discussing the life development and place in Scottish culture of the poet.  Jack’s splendid speech provided an excellent foretaste of the speeches of the husband and wife double-act of the Reverend Stan Cook and his wife Jean who both gave humorous and informative speeches.  Stan gave the Toast to the Lassies and Jean replied on behalf of the lassies.

Jim Orr, Past Captain of Hamilton Golf Club, provided the readings; the first was the moving and thought provoking “My Father was a Farmer”; he then gave an excellent atmospheric rendering of “Tam O Shanter” that was much appreciated by his attentive audience.  The musical entertainment was provided by club members Ian MacGregor, Gordon Munro and Alister Baird.  Past President Jim Love enthusiastically addressed the Haggis.


Report  05 January 2007

A well attended meeting saw an interesting start to the new season of meetings at the Rotary Club of Hamilton.  Programmes Convener and past President Rev. Stan Cook asked four of the members to explain what Hogmanay meant to them.  President Alister Baird opened the session by reflecting on past Hogmanays and explaining to the members the background to his rituals during the build-up to the New Year.  He recounted on how the celebration of the New Year had changed over the years but emphasised that it is an opportunity for a new start and the rituals he pursues allow him to approach it that way. 

Stan Cook reflected more on the year past. He enthused over many good things that had happened that gave him reasons for optimism for the coming year.  He was inspired by the introduction of Christmas Services to the wards at Udston Hospital and the enthusiastic involvement of the local community, churches and staff.  He enjoyed the introduction of new technology in the form of power point presentations that provided the participants with the words to the hymns.  He also recorded his and the hospital’s gratitude to Jack Glen of MacDonalds for the donation to the hospital of over £800.

The third speaker was Jack Glen.  Jack has the two MacDonald’s franchises in the town and he reviewed his year both in terms of the business and the company’s involvement with local and national charities.  He explained his thoughts for the future and projected where he saw the business going in 2007.  He is always impressed by the generosity of the people of Hamilton when they are asked to give to good causes.

The last speaker was Past President Ian Bell who appropriately and excellently lightened the tone by giving his impression of Rev I M Jolly and personalising his sermon towards the Club and its members.  Ian, with dog collar and all, was well received by the company and he brought to a close an excellent evening.


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