Weekly Report  18 December 2008

The speaker at the Rotary Club of Hamilton last week was David Clark, a joiner who manages his family business in Caldercruix.  David spoke about his involvement with Tsunami victims through the Christian Missionary Charitable Trust (CMCT) and his church, the Ebenezer Church in Motherwell

He claimed that it all started when the minister of the Ebenezer Church visited India to determine if the money raised by the Church and various local charities was reaching the people in most need.  Having met a missionary when he visited Chunai in India, the minister returned and enthused about what was needed and could be achieved.  On his next visit to India he asked David to accompany him to Chunai.  This visit to be a life changing experience for David; the effect of the visit to Chunai was immediate and he expressed his feelings in a journal he maintained while he was there.  David revealed some of these feeling in moving quotations from the journal.

On his return to the UK David’s immediate response was to sponsor a child; for £20 per month a child can be fed, housed and educated in a newly constructed school  But David identified the urgent need for practical help where he could use his skills to assist whole villages.  The small fishing villages that he visited seemed to be in most need of help. 

The village that David has identified, like many of the coast villages, lost its school, houses and fishing boats in the Tsunami.  He has decided with some of skilled tradesmen friends to go to India in early January to build as many of the typical two apartment houses as they can.  Already 42 have been built and David is looking to double that number.  In the short time that he has been visiting these Tsunami stricken towns and villages, the costs of replacement schools and houses has increased at a rapid rate.  Utilising David’s and his party’s skills they hope to reduce the cost of £4,500 per house dramatically and thereby increase the number of houses that can be built for the same amount of money.

In a delightful and often moving talk, David displayed his commitment to the various projects his church and CMCT are involved in.  The expression of his concerns at the extent that these areas continue to be subject to flooding were alarming and convinces  David of the need for him to maintain his efforts to generate continued  interest in the plight of the poor people still affected by the December 2004 Tsunami.

Brian MacKenzie provided the vote of thanks.

Weekly Report     4 December 2008

The Rotary Club of Hamilton enjoyed a delightful presentation by Ian Scoullar and Stewart Dalgleish from the Boys Brigade.  As far back as 2006 BB companies were looking at ways of celebrating their 125th anniversary. The challenge the leaders gave to their companies’ was to “change peoples’ lives.  By coincidence Ian and Stewart met a lady missionary at that time.  The missionary had been in Kenya for 16 years and worked with the Presbyterian Church there.  She presented Ian and Stewart with a letter from a minister of one of the churches, Oloolah Parish Church.  The letter highlighted the plight of many children in Kenya who weren't receiving any education and the urgent need for schools not only in Nairobi but in the rest of the country.  Through the Kenyan church some children and members took matters into their own hands and collected money in the form of cash, gifts, loans and sponsorship in Nairobi.  Their progress was detailed in the letter.

The letter touched members of the Brigade and four of them decided to visit Nairobi and find out more. They returned to this country convinced that something had to be done.  They started on a small scale with a proposal to provide a feeder nursery that would represent an answer to the challenge to change other peoples’ lives.  Four BB companies set about raising funds and assisted planning the development.  But it didn’t stop there; having completed the land works on the site and provided water supply and sanitation to the site for the nursery school the initial challenge extended to providing a school and a disabled centre in Oloolah. The church took the lead role but Boys Brigade continued to raise funds for the project and continued to visit the development to monitor progress.

Ian and Stewart showed a video of the project that highlighted the progress and the benefits to the community.  The video provided a delightful record of the local children enjoying the benefits that the nursery and the new school offered. Both Ian and Stewart admitted that everyone involved in the project has been moved by the changes it has brought to the community.  They pointed out that the commitment of the Boys Brigade will continue to ensure the sustainability of the project.  Two additional classrooms are at the planning stage.  The funds raised by the Boys Brigade are also helping with the running of an orphanage that has been developed from a private house.  The orphanage accommodates 83 girls who sleep in triple bunks.  The Brigade raised £70,000 to assist developing and maintaining this necessary facility.

Past President, Bill Condie, who was a member of the Boys’ Brigade in his youth, provided a well deserved vote of thanks


Weekly Report -27 November 2008

In a talk called “The Boy from Eddlewood”, ex-teacher, ex burgh councillor and Justice of the Peace Harry Doyle told the Rotary Club of Hamilton about Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane. 

Thomas was born in “Annsfield”, the biggest house in Eddlewood in 1775.   The link to Hamilton came about when his father, the 9th Earl of Dundonald, married into the Hamilton family of Gilchrist.  Thomas’s mother-in-law was the daughter of the Earl of Earnock.  Thomas lived a long and full life and was one of the most daring and successful captains of the Napoleonic wars; the French nicknamed him The Sea Wolf.  He was also a parliamentarian and inventor. 

By the age of four Thomas was listed onto the books of four ships by his uncle Alexander.  This common, but unlawful, practice was a tactic to enhance length of service for someone seeking promotion to officer status.  He joined the Royal Navy in1793 and became a lieutenant in 1795 having served with his uncle in the Baltic and having passed the relevant exams. Cochrane had a chequered career caused by his inability to get along with superiors, subordinates and employers.  Nevertheless he was fearless and innovative and in his time captured many enemy ships and laid siege to many enemy ports.  He became captain in 1801 and was promoted to bigger warships.  Throughout his naval escapades he successfully used various ruses to succeed in his his plans and deceive the enemy.  He lost his way in the navy when he blamed Admiral Gambier for losing a sea battle.  The result was that Cochrane lost his command.

In 1814 cochrane was jailed for Stock Exchange fraud and was sent to prison; while not entirely blameless, historians regard him as his uncle’s pawn.  Notwithstanding, he was returned to parliament while in prison on a ticket for parliamentary reform.  Having served his term in prison, Cochrane reinvented himself as a sailor and served in the navies of Chile, Brazil and Greece in their wars of independence.  He was then reinstated into the Royal Navy as a Rear Admiral.  Out with the navy, Cochrane developed and patented with Brunel a ‘tunnel guard’ that was used in construction of the Thames Tunnel.  He was also was an early advocate of the use of steamships

So exciting was the life of ‘The Boy from Eddlewood’ that his exploits served as inspiration for the fictional novelists C S Forrester in his stories about Horatio Hornblower and Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey.  Despite his many exploits and his prominence he is better remembered by plaques and street names abroad than he is in Hamilton.  The Hamilton Civic Society is seeking to right this wrong and provide a plaque recording his birth at Annsfield.

Questions revealed many C. S. Forrester and Patrick O’Brian enthusiasts.  One of them, Past President Charles McBain, gave the vote of thanks

Weekly Report – 6 November 2008

The photograph shows four Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Hamilton collecting in Regent Way on Saturday to fund the purchase of some “ShelterBoxes”. 

President Mark Williams explained, “ShelterBoxes enable the Rotary organisation to provide humanitarian aid world wide.  Every one of these boxes contains items selected to give a family of ten the basis of survival – warmth, shelter and comfort.  The boxes are held centrally and are sent to victims caught up as a result of natural and other disaster”.

Mark advised “In just over six years the Rotary’s “ShelterBox” Charity has provided emergency aid for over 600,000 people in more than 40 countries, irrespective of race, religion or political affiliation.  The scheme receives no government funding and relies entirely on donations”.  Mark continued “this is the first occasion that the Club has had an opportunity to display a “ShelterBox” and explain to the interested public that, while the exact contents will depend on local conditions and what is most needed, this small rugged box will generally contain a ten-person tent and ancillary equipment that can include sleeping bags, groundsheets, blankets, a multi-fuel stove, cooking equipment, water containers and purification tablets, a basic tool kit and a children’s pack”.Each box costs £490.

John Downie, the Club’s International Committee Convenor, provided some interesting statistics; 227,000 boxes were sent to the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004 and 138,000 were sent to assist victims of the Kashmir earthquake in 2005.  While the number of boxes sent to other problem areas may not be quite so impressive, victims of monsoons, earthquakes and hurricanes in Java, Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar and China have all benefited recently.  The boxes are also part of the ongoing aid that is being sent to Africa.

Mark expressed his thanks to the Town Centre Management for allowing the Rotary Club to exhibit the tent and its contents and hoped that the Hamilton public would give generously.


Weekly Report – 30 October 2008

A tale of two cities was the subject chosen by Michael Dale at the Rotary Club of Hamilton last Thursday. Michael has an interesting background; born in Perth, lived in Cairo and attended boarding School.  On leaving university he wanted to enter the theatre, in any capacity.  He achieved this and found himself undertaking a multiplicity of roles that saw him eventually running the Edinburgh Festival.

Scots tend to take the Edinburgh Festival for granted because it always seems to have been there.  It was only towards the end of the war that Rudolph Bing, having escaped from Germany and being a performer, thought that Europe needed an event to bring the warring countries together as a “Statement of Unity through Culture”.  Many of Bing’s contacts had been international classical artists before the war and were unable to perform during the war years.  The festival brought many of them together. Edinburgh was agreed as the venue because it was untouched by the war, was suitably international and cultural, had a lot to offer by way of venues and boasted a supportive forward thinking local council.  The first Festival took place in 1947.

A major part of the Festival is the fringe.  This arose because Scots, like Russell Hunter and Richard Di Marco, invited themselves to the first festival.  The Scottish arts scene saw the Festival as an opportunity and hired venues to perform different kinds of shows and provide exhibitions that ran in parallel with the larger, at that time, International Festival.  The Film Festival started in 1947 and the Tattoo became a feature later.  The fringe remained unregulated until 1962 and Michael was Director of it from 1981 to 85.  He was able to tell his audience how the Fringe had developed and referred to the many stars who created their own shows to perform at the Fringe.

The second city of course was Glasgow, an industrial city quite different to the capital.  Since the 19th century Glasgow has had success at putting on large scale one-off exhibitions.  The differences of Glasgow to Edinburgh are that Glasgow has been more dependent on sponsorship, had less to offer and a lot of the Glasgow projects were to do with regeneration.  In 1985 Michael was invited to organise the successful Garden Festival and in 1996 he started the West End Festival.  He felt that the West End had a village appeal and, with the University and other facilities, had a lot to offer that strand of society. More importantly, if successful, it could be run annually.  During his wide ranging talk Michael told many anecdotes that amused his audience.

Ian Lawie provided the vote of thanks


Weekly Report – 16 October 2008

Flight Lieutenant Mike Denison visited the Rotary Club of Hamilton to provide an excellent talk on the RAF Base at Leuchars.  When explaining the Leuchars crest Mike delved into the history of the base which started off in 1911 as a base for the Royal engineers.  In 1917, towards the end of the First World War, the base became a centre for training naval pilots who could use the Tay and the St. Andrews beach for exercises.  It wasn’t until 1935 that the RAF took over the base as a training school. At the start of the Second World War it became part of Coastal Command using Liberators in anti U-boat missions and in the efforts to save Norway.

1950 saw the first jet at the base when Fighter Command took over Leuchars at the time of the cold war.  With the assistance of photos of the aircraft Mike explained how Phantoms replaced Hunters which were then replaced by Tornadoes.  He became excited when he started talking about the plane of the future, the £100m Typhoon which is expected to come to Leuchars in 2010 and to remain in service for 30 years thereafter.

Mike explained that the base has 1,700 servicemen and 300 civilian and with the demise of the paper works at Guardbidge the base is now the major employer in the area.  While having its own administration with finance, medics, engineers, personnel and catering the base’s prime function is to ensure that it can respond to “Quick Reaction Alert”, “Joint Rapid Reaction” and routine deployment. Nevertheless the base provides a home for the St Andrews University Air Squadron, assists in mountain rescue and acts as St Andrews International Airport at times of international golf tournaments at the “Grey Toon”.

Mike enthused about his career in the RAF and emphasised that, over and above the official tasks, the base has raised £250k for charity, runs an annual air show, which interestingly the base has to pay for, and provides personnel for parades.

Such an interesting, well presented and wide ranging talk prompted many varied questions with some of the older questioners volunteering their service number in the process.  Mike answered all the questions with authority and humour and deserved the vote of thanks from club member Alex Torrance.

During a break in the inclement weather twelve members of the Club gave the gardens at Udston Hospital their autumn tidy last Saturday.  Also, the Club agreed to collect ink cartridges and spectacles to raise money for CHAS.  The collection point will be Kenneth Wilson’s garage


Weekly Report – 9 October 2008

On Thursday the Rotary Club of Hamilton heard of the entrepreneurial progress of a local family business in Strathaven, Galmore, told by one its directors, Margaret Morton. The company was primarily involved in retail and maintenance of agricultural equipment until 1997 when a local farmer, who was a customer, decided to change direction from agriculture to planting trees in order to avoid inheritance tax.  Initially his tree planting scheme was unsuccessful because the farm equipment used by the farmer to plant the trees caused the furrows to be too deep for the young trees. The farmer lost most of the trees after the first year. Discussion between the farmer and Alistair Morton, Margaret’s husband, led to the development of special unit that rendered the tree planting task easier and quicker with little loss of the saplings. 

The reasons for the success of the invention was that Alistair’s machine created slits in the ground that were suitable to plant the young trees.  By using wheels or skids the machine was able to compact the soil around the roots.  The main advantages of the invention were that it can uniformly plant anything from bulbs up to plants of 1.5m at variable depths; the machine causes little scarring of the land, can plant both cell grown and open rooted trees, and only requires two operators.  After this initial success Alistair and Margaret exhibited the machine at the Royal Highland Show where they won first prize for innovation.  They then took the machine to the Royal Show in London where foresters were impressed with its simple concept, even though the company only had a static stand for display purposes.  In the early days of development there was considerable interest from individuals who weren’t interested in purchasing the machine but only wished to hire a machine capable of planting 10,000 trees in a day.  Alistair and his son carried out such planting at weekends.

Interest in the machine increased in the year 2000 because a lot of farm land was being transferred to forestry, particularly with the assistance of grants. Interest further increased after the 2001 foot and mouth epidemic.  Because of the dramatic increased demand for the product there was an urgent need for assistance to develop the business side of the project.  The Chamber of Commerce was very helpful to the company in this regard, Scottish Enterprise less so.  Even without the assistance of Scottish Enterprise, the company has now sold machines to Brazil, Argentina, the Philippines and many African countries.

This was a delightful story of the progress of a small, local, family business becoming an international concern without the assistance of the main funding authorities.  Regrettably Alistair senior died in 2002, but the business continues to progress through Margaret and her son, Alistair junior.  Past President Euan Stirrat gave the Vote of Thanks. 


Weekly Report – 25 September 2008

Scott Struthers, Secretary of Hamilton Academicals Football Club received a warm reception when he spoke to the Rotary Club of Hamilton.  Scott, while still a young man, has been connected to the football club for a quarter of its 134 year history. Over and above his duties with Accies Scott is on a number of SFA committees. His fanatical interest in Accies has given Scott an encyclopaedic knowledge of not only the ups and downs of Accies but also Scottish and English football clubs. At the Rotary club he was speaking to many Accies supporters.

Hamilton Academicals Football Club was formed by the headmaster and pupils of Hamilton Academy in 1874, the year after the formation of the SFA.  Without formal leagues matches were mainly friendlies and local cup ties. Queens Park was the premier club at that time.  Scott explained the formation of the Scottish League and the difficulties for Accies, and other teams, caused by the fact there was no promotion or relegation; teams had to be elected to the league.  Membership of the Scottish league eventually came to Hamilton Academicals in 1897, when Renton was forced to resign.

Hamilton Accies won the league in 1904 when the team played in Duke of Hamilton’s colours.  Hamilton Accies’ history has shown, however, that the club has not been able to sustain more than one season in the first and premier divisions or ever make an impact in the senior division.  Scott reckoned the thirties was their most sustained good period.  Season 1946/47 saw the club drop out of the first division and thereafter it tended to find its level in the middle division. Scott has many fine memories of his time with the club the most important being when John Lambie took the club into the Premier division, beating Rangers in the Scottish Cup and promotion last season.

Scott’s talk also embraced the changes in legislation that necessitated the demolition of the historic wooden stand and the terraces to make way for the construction of the new all-seated facilities. He made reference to the club’s involvement in the community that involves 1000 children each week in football and felt that the Club could have lost out having to move the all-weather pitch from New Douglas Park to the Bent playing fields.  He is confident that this hasn’t happened and the present policy of concentrating on youth development will be able to continue as before to the benefit of the club in the long term.  Already young players from the community programme have played in the team that gained promotion last year and contributed to the defeats of Dundee United, Aberdeen and Motherwell this season.  The average age of the team that took the field against Motherwell last week was twenty two. 

Scott’s responses to questions about funding, management, policing and the politics of football were impressive.  The vote of thanks was provided by Steve Brough



Weekly Report – 11 September 2008

There were two reasons for Jim Stewart attending the Rotary Club of Hamilton on Thursday; firstly he accepted on behalf of “Hamilton Sound” the Club’s Community Service Award; this Award recognises individuals or organisations that the Rotary Club considers to have given exceptional service to the community.  Secondly, Jim had been asked to talk to the Club about Hamilton Sound, a talking newspaper that puts the printed page into sound for blind and partially blind people. 

The idea stemmed from the American concept of talking books.  Originally in 1936 the readings were recorded onto 12” shellac discs. These discs were very bulky and heavy and these problems were not overcome until the 1960s when tapes started to be used.  Since the 90s CDs have been used increasingly for both talking books and newspapers.  The brainchild of talking newspapers started in Sweden in 1962 but didn’t reach Scotland until the 70s.  Talking Newspapers started in Hamilton in 1992 and was a community project of the Hamilton Branch of Junior Chamber of Commerce.  Jim was the convener of the committee that developed the idea and when Hamilton Sound became an independent charity Jim became its Director. 

Hamilton sound is manned entirely by volunteers from its operations base in the Forum for Disability Centre, Campbell Street Hamilton. When the charity started 25 years ago it issued 200 tapes a week.  Now the uptake is 30 copies on line and in excess of 130 tapes delivered by post.  Thursday is the Charity’s busy night; editors select 15 articles from the Advertiser, with the Advertisers approval. Cuttings of the articles are placed into folders that can be easily read by volunteer readers.  The editors are looking to provide for approximately 90 minutes listening, including announcements and intimations.  Jim played old tapes and explained the importance of the music at the beginning and end of the tapes and the style of reading.  The voluntary readers, three at each recording, record directly to a master tape that is then transferred to a high speed copier before being placed in special wrappers.  The packages are sent to the Royal Mail who delivery them at no cost to the service.

Jim stressed the importance of good sound quality and advised that tapes are becoming rarer and proceeded to demonstrate the difference in quality of sound between the old methods and the new digital technology.  He told his audience that the organisation was lucky in that, because everything is voluntary, there is little cost in running the service.  They also benefit from donations and bequests and this year Hamilton Sound received a grant of £2000 from the Lottery Fund to assist them go digital.  Jim was happy to report that the Local Authority recognised Hamilton Sound’s 25 years of service to the community by granting a civic reception.

Past President Hamish Wilson gave the vote of thanks.


Weekly Report – 3 September 2008

The speaker at the Rotary Club of Hamilton this week was Colin MacDougal, a retired policeman from Greenock.  Over and above Colin’s routine police duties he had the unusual task of being a negotiator for Strathclyde Police.  Colin’s talk was about his role as negotiator, a task that he found worrying, exciting and exhilarating when he was called upon to undertake it.

In the lead up to becoming a negotiator Colin was a policeman moving up the ranks which allowed him to humorously tell stories of his time as a young policeman in Greenock when he observed experienced senior officers dealing with difficult situations in different ways.  He provided by way of illustration instances where he witnessed the use of force, coercion and gentle persuasion, experiences that whetted his appetite to become a negotiator within the police service.  He applied to attend training courses to become a negotiator and was accepted.   

Colin sated unreservedly that he found the training courses that he attended to become a negotiator to be the best of their kind that he ever attended during his professional career.  While the quality of lecturers was outstanding, the methods and philosophy behind the methods were life changing for Colin.  For various reasons, many police officers didn’t survive the rigours of the training.  Others discovered early in the training process that they were not temperamentally suited to the role of negotiator; for Colin it changed his whole thinking process.

The role of negotiator was additional to Colin’s normal police duties but he always found that the call to negotiate gave him a rush of adrenalin.  He told stories of dealing with people wishing to commit suicide by jumping of bridges, roofs etc and criminals holding people hostage in houses, offices and factories.  Colin was a good story teller and made light of some of the scary situations this additional, and seldom spoken about, police role called on him to undertake.

After many question, Past President Bill Condie gave the vote of thanks.


Weekly Report – 19 August 2008

The Rotary Club of Hamilton enjoyed a delightful talk from Margaret Arthur on the subject of Hearing Dogs for the Deaf.  Previously having worked as a fund raiser for the charity, Margaret is now a beneficiary with Dennis, a Japanese Chin, acting as her ears.

Margaret explained that the idea of hearing dogs came from America and was started in this country by a retired police dog handler twenty six years ago.  The charity now has two centres and 1500 dogs.  Seventy per cent of the dogs are chosen from rescue centres, 15 % from dog owners and 15% from breeders.  Margaret’s Dennis came from a breeder because the dog didn’t have the markings required for showing.  All dogs are given a simple test that indicates during the selection process that they have sufficiently sensitive hearing and will react appropriately to sounds. German shepherd dogs and working collies are not used.

The process starts when the hard of hearing person first meets the dog.  Margaret amused her audience with stories of incidents that occur during this process where the dog might not like the person and the person might not like the dog.  It takes around six months to train a dog to recognise the many different sounds that the hard of hearing person wishes the dog to respond to; sometimes, however, the only sounds that require to be recognised are the telephone and door bell. Many deaf people cannot speak and some dogs are also trained to recognise signals.  Once the dog is trained, the new owner will spend a week with the dog to create the required relationship and allow the trainers to observe how the dog responds to the sounds and the new owner and dog react.

As a result of working with the charity and from her personal experience Margaret is aware these animals bring a lot of love and happiness to deaf people.  She admitted that having a hearing dog is not without its difficulties; while blind people are easily recognised and are permitted to take their guide dogs into shops, deaf people are less obvious and the facility to enter shops isn’t offered to hearing dogs.

Margaret provided a delightful talk that she illustrated with some charming and amusing stories.  She was aided by the delightful Dennis who goes with her everywhere.  Gordon Hart provided the vote of thanks.

On Thursday the Rotary Clubs of Hamilton and Strathaven enjoyed their annual bowling match at the Callie Bowling Club.  The members of both clubs responded to the friendly competition with a narrow victory going to the Hamilton club.


Weekly Report – 12 August 2008

The Rotary Club of Hamilton enjoyed a double act when Jimmy Mochan and Malcolm Dickie outlined the changing role of Strathclyde Fire and Rescue.  Both speakers have been temporarily taken out of their operational role in the service to undertake a training role.

Strathclyde Fire and Rescue covers nine local authorities including twenty three islands and covers 7,500 square miles.  The population is served by 39 full time stations, a number of retained stations, where the firemen are on call and carry pagers, and the likes of the islands where the service is provided by part-time local people.  There is a terrific competition to get into the service; the figure quoted was 450 applicants for every job. All fire fighters have to be thoroughly trained and the training starts with a twelve weeks residential course and thereafter 3 years probation during which the firemen are continually assessed.  Throughout their 30 year careers fire-fighters continue to be assessed in relation to their skills and fitness

The main role of the fire and rescue service continues to be fire fighting.  Increasingly, however, the service is involved with providing a rescue service with special training to deal with waterways, road traffic accidents and collapsed structure incidents.  Personnel are also now trained to provide immediate trauma care.  In recent time ever more specialist training is required to deal with chemical, biological and radiological incidents.  Contamination and mass decontamination also feature although scientific assistance is on call to assist the service at such incidents. 

Jimmy and Malcolm illustrated their talk with some very telling slides and punctuated it with humour.  The statistics they offered were in some cases frightening.  In 2005-06 South Lanarkshire dealt with 238 house fires; 41% of these houses had no fire alarms and the main cause of the fires was the abuse of drugs, alcohol and cooking.  In this connection the pair emphasised the support and advice that is available from Strathclyde Fire and Rescue.  These include home fire safety visits, use of smoke alarms, risk assessment, leaflets and talks.  The service is developing a very close relationship with the schools and they felt that this link is already paying dividends.

The excellent presentation prompted a lot of questions which were responded to with authority and sometimes humour.  Past President Ian Bell provided the vote of thanks


Weekly Report – 5 August 2008

Past President Alister Baird filled in as speaker at Tuesday’s meeting of the Rotary Club of Hamilton.  He chose as his subject “Memories of Africa”. He started his talk by referring to his trip to South Africa as observer to the country’s first democratic elections in 1994.

Having been briefed in Johannesburg, Alister was sent to East London in the Eastern Cape, previously Cape Province.  Cape Province had contained two significant homelands that were important in the elections because they were the homelands of the Xhosa and where Mandela, Mbeki, Biko and Coughlan were born,.  Alister explained the historical significance of the homelands.

The club shared his enthusiasm when he described Election Day and the significance felt by the black people of the townships, most of whom had never voted.  Celebrations started in the early hours of the morning with queues miles long and the ladies dressed in their wonderfully bright coloured dresses dancing to brass band music.  They maintained this atmosphere throughout the first day.  The enthusiasm of the voters then turned to frustration as the process started to fail; then the ingenuity of the polling staff kicked in.  Throughout the day the patience of the voters was there to be admired.  Other highlights Alister enjoyed were sharing with the crowds the magnetism of Nelson Mandela at rallies, meeting Thebo Mbeki at a dinner party and interviewing De Klek. 

Ghana painted a different picture.  While there was a lot to enjoy in this resource rich country, the concerns Alister had always felt about exploitation of African countries were realised.  The example that he used was a gold mine up country where mountains had been moved to mine the precious metal with no thought of reinstatement. Waste products were disposed of without regard to their polluting effects on the landscape and soil.

Sierra Leone in 2002 was an emotional trip.  Alister’s late father had been in the navy during the war and was part of an MTB flotilla based in Freetown.  The flotilla’s role was to attack U-boats waiting for ally convoys rounding the Cape.  Most of the base at King Tom Barracks remains, including some of the guns, the remnants of the pier, mess and sports field.  The actual barracks have now been taken over by the locals as housing accommodation but it was easy to imagine the order that had existed in his father’s time.  Hidden among the rundown elements of the old barracks was the orderly graveyard containing thousands of gravestones of men killed in action or by disease.  The very simple granite memorials recorded only the name of the serviceman, the ship he served on and the date of death.

In 2004 Alister revisited Malawi for the country’s elections.  Malawi is poor and has to deal with the terrible problem of AIDs, yet it is a lovely country with considerable Scottish history.  One of the gems is the Blantyre Mission.  Alister always found it a joy on Sundays to attend St Michael’s All Angel Church, a unique building designed by the minister and built by missionaries and local labour.  Particularly enjoyable was the uninhibited, harmonious singing of the congregation led by the church’s two excellent choirs.

The talk covered many topics that prompted many questions to which Alister responded.  The vote of thanks was given by Past President Bernie Crozier



Weekly Report 8 July 2008

At this week’s meeting past President Jim Love reminisced on a weekend in May when some of the members of the Rotary Club of Hamilton enjoyed a visit to Krakow.  Krakow is the medieval capital of Poland and, with a population of 750,000, is the third largest city in Poland.  Jim recorded how the members were impressed with not only the many beautiful buildings but with the lack of graffiti and litter.

The Grand Square in Krakow is the largest of all the European medieval cities and on the ground floor of the fine buildings that surround the square are dozens of exquisite cafes and restaurants that serve their customers outside under large colourful parasols.  The Square is dominated by the impressive Basilica of the Virgin Mary, a splendid ornate church dating back to before the 13th century, the 700 years old Cloth Hall, the world’s oldest shopping mall, and the Town Hall with its leaning clock tower.  Regrettably, when the club was in Krakow, Poland was enjoying a public holiday and we were unable to tour the impressive Royal Castle.  The Wawel Cathedral was, however, open and Rotarians were able to enjoy its opulence, visit the royal tombs and see and touch the massive Zygmunt Bell.

On the outskirts of Krakow is the famous Wieliczka Salt Mine which has been continuously worked since the middle ages. The tourist section is on the third level down, some 440 feet underground.  To visit it requires a descent of some 400 steps, a walk of one mile through the various chapels and past numerous carvings and an underground lake.  Rotarians were grateful for the lift that returned visitors to the surface.

Most Rotarians visited the infamous death camps at Auschwitz. An excellent guide emphasised the scale of the atrocities carried out in the camp.  It was difficult not to be moved as one viewed for oneself the accommodation and exhibits of human hair, artificial limbs, footwear spectacles etc. from the 1.5 million victims who were locked up, murdered in the gas chambers and then disposed of in the crematoria that were now so busy with visitors appalled at evidence before them.  The whole experience made nonsense of the inscription above the entrance, “ARBEIT MACHT FREI”, “Work will set you free”

In his vote of thanks, past President Alister Baird congratulated Jim on capturing, particularly for the members who didn’t make the trip, the various elements of an excellent weekend.


Weekly Report - 01 July 2008

Past President Charlie McBain was the speaker at the Rotary Club of Hamilton last Tuesday.  Always original and always amusing, Charlie took as the title for his talk an old headline, “Express Joins Stars in Battle for Justice”.  The subject referred to the proposal that medals be struck for the servicemen who served with Bomber Command in World War II.  This led Charlie to talk about heroes of his and he developed this theme to refer to heroes in his own family, his brothers Jack and Douglas.

His first hero is Jack, his older brother, who was in the Territorial Army before the war and joined the Royal Engineers two weeks before the start of hostilities.  He was immediately sent to France where it took the force two weeks to reach its destination and less than a week to flee to Cherbourg pursued by the German army.  On return to “Blighty”, army personnel were given an opportunity to join the Royal Air Force.  After manning the guns at the fortified island of Inchcolm in the Forth and preferring the uniform of the RAF, Jack sought a transfer to the RAF and became a Pathfinder Navigator in Bomber Command.  Jack and his fellow crew were involved in many bombing raids over enemy territory and were called on to drop spies into the occupied countries.  Jack often wondered what became of the brave young people the bombers parachuted in.  As the tide turned in the favour of the allies, Jack’s bomber crew were involved in towing in the gliders at Arnhem and at D-Day.  Almost 75% of the commandos involved in these raids were lost.  Towards the end of the war Jack had a more relaxed time in Norway.  He told Charlie that the highlight in Norway was driving with some of his mates round Oslo in the car of the Norwegian traitor, Vadkun Quizling, after the Norwegian puppet leader had been captured.

Charlie’s other brother Douglas’s time in the services was different and less demanding. After surviving a crash landing in Barra, Douglas was sent to India where the RAF discovered that he was a talented footballer.  Captain Tommy Walker (of Hearts FC fame) formed a football team of all stars.  The team travelled round India playing exhibition matches to entertain the troops.  The down part of his stay in India was all the killing that arose as a result of the build up to partition when there was serious unrest that led to serious skirmishes among the various religions in India and Pakistan.  On demob Douglas played for Queens Park FC and became Charlie’s football hero when he was selected for the last British football team to play in the Olympics.  He was the only Scot to play in all the games.

When giving his vote of thanks, Past President Bob Hamilton praised Charlie for his presentation.  As most of the members were not born at the time of the war they enjoyed the true and amusing stories of the time.  Bob reckoned it was like listening to something out of “Boys’ Own Paper” 


Weekly Report  24 June 2008

Club Assembly on Tuesday meant that it was all change at the Rotary Club of Hamilton.  When demitting office Bernie Crozier thanked the Club for the honour the members had bestowed on him.  He stated that he had enjoyed his year in office and thanked the members for their support.  He made particular mention of the conveners who he thought had been industrious and imaginative.  The highlight for him had been the sportsman’s Dinner when the Club raised over £8000 to distribute to its selected charities.  But he enjoyed when the members combined to maintain the gardens at Udston Hospital and run the book sale which gave the Rotarians an opportunity to meet the people of Hamilton in the Town Centre.  In presenting the chain of office to the new President, Mark Williams Bernie hoped that Mark enjoys his year as president as much as he had.

Mark is a chartered surveyor and a partner in the firm of D M Hall whose registered office is in Edinburgh.  D M Hall is one of the largest firms of chartered surveyors in the country with branches throughout the country with Mark based in its busy Lanarkshire office in Muir Street, Hamilton.  Mark is an East Kilbride boy who continues to live in the new town with his wife and two boys.  While now he maintains only a passive interest in rugby and cricket, he finds that, apart from work, his time is taken up providing a taxi service for the boys and attending the gym.  In his address to the Club he thanked the club for the honour the members had conferred on him, Bernie for the fun he had brought to the role of president and the new conveners for agreeing to assist him in the busy year that he plans.

The committee conveners for this year will be Eddie Hawke, Vice President and Club Service, Ian Brown, Community and Vocational Service, and John Downie, International.  As is customary at Club Assembly, the new conveners report to the club their vision for the coming year.  They confirmed that it looks like being a busy year; Eddie proposed a busy social calendar; John advised that projects like “Bikes for Africa”, “School 4 all in Africa” (a Rotary International project), Disaster and Shelter boxes and at least three fund raising functions are being examined by the International Committee and Ian is seeking to have a closer liaison with the schools, continue with popular Primary Schools Quiz as well as continuing to maintain the gardens at Udston.


WEEKLY REPORT--10 June 2008

Last week’s speaker at the Rotary Club of Hamilton was Roseanne Nixon.  Roseanne is an occupational health nurse her role now expands more into health & safety working NHS government funded service“Healthy Working Lives”    The project aims to assist employers, employees and individuals grapple with legislation and situations relative to the workplace.  It achieves this by providing free and confidential advice and guidance on legislation and best practice.  This may include telephone advice, visits, follow up visits, preparation of action plans and unlimited access to the organisation’s website.  The website offers useful advice, guidance and templates about risk assessment.

Roseanne advised the Rotarians that some of her work is dealing with contract appraisal when small employers are trying to get onto Approved Contractor Lists. Lanarkshire is unique in providing free access to occutional health advice and therapies should anyone with a Lanarkshire GP require this if they have any problems within their workplace.Tel 0800 019 22 11.   Roseanne is one of the Lanarkshire advisers who can carry out workplace visits to identify and give practical advice and guidance on occupational health, health promotion and safety needs to assist both employees and employers alike.  More and more the advisers are dealing with issues relating to health and safety legislation and implementation, occupational related disease and sickness and absence.  Roseanne provided examples of the types of cases that she has dealt with or is dealing with.

This was a wide ranging talk that prompted many questions that were answered by Roseanne with the authority that comes from the knowledge of her subject and broad experience.  Ken Miller gave the vote of thanks.

On Tuesday the Club agreed to distribute over £9,000 to various charities.  The main beneficiaries this year are, Prostate Cancer Research, Rotary Foundation UK (Rotary UK’s international wing), Maggie Centre and Africa Hope.  Smaller sums have been donated to a variety of local organisations like Scouts, Guides, Boys and Girls Brigades, Cruse Bereavement Care, Samaritans and others.  The Club is also sponsoring a team of youth golfers from the Hamilton Golf Club in a charity golf competition to be held at Dundonald Links.  The proceeds from the competition will go to Rotary’s battle to finally rid the world of polio by boosting the mass immunisation programme directed to those countries like Nigeria, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan where the virus persists.


WEEKLY REPORT --27 May 2008

The gardeners of the Rotary Club of Hamilton had an enjoyable night on Tuesday when Jan Dorricot visited the club to talk about gardens.  Jan was formerly a teacher and, while always interested in gardening, since retiring gardening has become almost a full time hobby.  Her theme was to emphasise the different kinds of garden that can be created no matter the size or type of land that is available.  She used slides to good effect to illustrate her theme by showing gardens of National Trust properties, the Scottish Gardening Scheme and winners of the Hamilton District/South Lanarkshire Councils’ garden competitions. 

Jan’s slides illustrated the formal gardens with their underlying philosophy of order that presents a strong simple statement of obvious control over nature.  They also showed informal gardens with their flowering curves and gentle contours that offer a more relaxed ambience in contrast to the hard edged geometry of the formal garden.   The formal garden is typified by the parterre.

Some of the gardens had colours as their theme, others had plants like alpines, heathers, azaleas and herbaceous as their themes; in a garden in Melrose the flowers were grown for the express purpose of drying.  Most of these gardens, no matter the theme, were able to provide ongoing colour in displays featuring water, rockeries, carpet bedding, trellises, walls and topiary.

The various slides local authority’s winning gardens illustrated all that Jan was saying but in a smaller scale than the big gardens owned by the National Trust.  Some of the winners of the competition were magnificent with the well known garden at Kirkfieldbank being a highlight.

Jan concluded her talk by showing to her engrossed audience different aspects of preparing and planting tubs.  While preparing the tubs she emphasised the importance of colour and size when selecting plants for this purpose.  The finished tubs were then raffled with the money raised going to local charities.  Past President John Downie, a keen gardener himself, provided the vote of thanks.

Rotarians were pleased to meet many of its supporters when they held their charity book sale at the Top Cross on Saturday.


WEEKLY REPORT  20 May 2008

The Rotary Club of Hamilton is fortunate in the speakers that visit the Club.  This Tuesday was no different.  From an unlikely title of Butterflies and Bumble Bees, Gilian Rae, a chartered accountant who lives in Hamilton and works in Glasgow enthusiastically explained the length that she and her husband go to see these insects.

While most of us knew that it was the female bee that does all the work collecting the pollen behind their rear legs, few of the Club knew that there are only five types of bee in this country, with the bumble bee being the hairiest, the biggest and lowest honey producer; the actual honey bee doesn’t have hairs is smaller, produces copious amounts of honey and tends to nest underground if not in a hive.  Gilian admitted that there is a lot that is not known about bees, particularly over the winter months.  Because of this amateur and professional naturalists are beginning to monitor bees, more so because it is thought that the numbers of bees are reducing because of the recent extremely wet winters.  A particularly interesting bee is the “cuckoo bee” that is designed to look like other bees, but, like the cuckoo, goes into other bees’ nests, kills the queen and gets the hive to raise its eggs.

Gilian waxed lyrically about butterflies, particularly the rare butterflies that can be observed locally.  She was full of interesting facts and with aid of excellent photographs she was able to describe butterflies, their specific habitats and where they can be found.  There are over 15,000 types of butterfly world wide and as many as 23 different species of butterfly on the Ayr Coastal Path.  Butterflies can travel up to 600 miles a day; the likes of the Red Admiral travels from South Africa to this country yet the “Small Blue”, that was thought to be extinct locally, may travel only 100 yards in its lifetime.  Apparently butterflies can lose 50% of their wing capacity and still fly,

She humorously explained some of the places she has visited to find rare species of butterflies and what she has had to do to view and photograph particular types. Gilian’s excellent photographs, taken by either herself or her husband, illustrated her talk wonderfully and her stimulating presentation enlightened the Rotarians.

Past President Ian Bell said that he had butterflies in his stomach when he stood up to give Gilian a well deserved vote of thanks on behalf of the Club.

It was a busy night for President Bernie Crozier.  He had the pleasure of inducting Brian Mackenzie into the fellowship of Rotary International.  Brian lives in Hamilton and is a freelance surveyor.  After the formalities of the club meeting Bernie oversaw a four man team from the Hamilton Club overwhelm a team from the Kilwinning Club at putting. The contest was a third round tie of the District Fellowship Challenge.


WEEKLY REPORT – 13 May 2008

The Rotary Club of Hamilton met at Hamilton Accies stadium on 13 May for its weekly meeting and the annual Primary Schools’ Quiz.  Visiting the Club for its meeting before the quiz was District Governor

Members of the Club were joined by teachers and pupils of the competing schools and and a good number of supporter from the families of the competitors.  This year seven primary schools participated in this popular event, Townhill, St Mark’s, St. Paul’s, St Elizabeth’s, Chatelherault, Woodhead and Woodside.  The contestants were all primary VII pupils and competed in teams of four, each team having to face 10 rounds of questions about history, through general knowledge to films put to them by question master Jim Provan, convener of the Club’s Vocational Committee. The knowledge of the participants was impressive and the leadership of the closely fought contest fluctuated throughout the evening with the participants remaining enthusiastic competitive and mannerly throughout, in spite of the stress of competition.  The eventual winner of the contest was Townhill Primary School with Woodside and Woodhead Primary Schools coming close in second and third places.  Chatelherault Primary School will now carry the flag for Hamilton in the District Final later in the year when the Club hopes tht they will qualify for the national competition.

In his address and vote of thanks to the large and appreciative audience President Bernie Crozier referred to the satisfaction that he and the members of the Rotary Club of Hamilton derive from this event.  He enthused about contribution and enthusiasm of the participants, the support the children had received from their schools, families and friends.  Everyone had enjoyed the atmosphere of the good natured competition.  He thanked particularly the Club’s Vocational Committee, under the leadership of Jim Provan, for the efficient running of the event and Hamilton Accies for the use of their first-rate facility.

The photograph shows Townhill Primary School’s winning team of Daniel Breen, Cairn Macgregor, Ross Hamilton and Peter Copland with President Bernie Crozier and Convener Jim Provan.

At the weekend a group of twenty Rotarians with their wives visited the Polish city of Krakow where they enjoyed the visiting beautiful sites of the historic city and experienced an emotional visit to the concentration camp at Auschwitz

The Club held its annual booksale in the Town Centre on Saturday 31st May.


Weekly Report – 10 April 2008

Two ladies from the Samaritans visited the Rotary Club of Hamilton on Thursday. Known only as Christine and Nancy they provided the Club with a telling insight into background, philosophy and practices of the organisation.

Rev. Chad Varra, the founder member of Samaritans, had been very moved by the story of a young girl whose funeral he had officiated.  The girl had no real problems but her worrying led to her committing suicide.  The reason for the tragedy was that she had no one to talk to or confide in.  The organisation started as “999 for the Suicidal”.  It met in the crypt of his church, St. Stephen’s Anglican Church, in London.  The crypt became extremely busy and he asked volunteers to provide tea and biscuits to the people while they were waiting.  He noticed that conversation with the volunteers helped them and many found no need to wait for the official consultation.  From this observation the Samaritans was developed to the extent that there are now 203 branches in the UK.  The Hamilton Branch started in 1973.

The organisation is entirely voluntary and it is important that the volunteers are non-political and non-religious when providing the emotional support to callers.  It was stressed that the Samaritans provide support, not advice.  Christine thought that emotional support in modern society has diminished over the years.  A short training film gave examples of situations where all that is required to assist some troubled person is an opportunity to unburden.  The Samaritans provide this.

The people who undertake the role of Samaritan come from all walks of life and are all caring and willing to listen without ever becoming frustrated.  Sometimes a phone call can last for three hours.  The interview procedure for becoming a Samaritan is rigorous and the subsequent training thorough and painstaking to ensure that Samaritans don’t overtly show any prejudices and do not judge, preach or give money.

Volunteers find that a lot of young people between the ages of 18 and 25 provide the highest risks of suicide because, for many, there is no one for them to talk to.  The Samaritans now spend a lot of time talking to schools and are committed to a programme of 65 talks to schools this year to advise pupils that the Samaritans can provide an ear to listen to their problems.  Because Samaritans are dealing with an increasing number of young people, the Samaritans can now be contacted by using text and e-mail over and above the customary face to face interview and phone call. 

This was an impressive presentation that generated a lot of interest and merited the generous vote of thanks provided by past President Jack Baillie.


Weekly Report – 27 March 2008

Linda Fabiani MSP provided a very interesting evening for the Rotarians of the Hamilton Club when she visited them on Thursday.  Linda, who originally hails from Glasgow but now lives in Strathaven is the Regional member of the parliament for Central Scotland and is the Scottish National Party’s Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture

Linda spoke enthusiastically about her broad remit and was happy to record that, while the opposition members in the Parliament thought that the SNP would fail because of their lack of experience in government, in her opinion and according to the polls this has been proved wrong.

Linda referred to the “National Conversation on Scotland’s Constitutional Future” and the importance of listening to what people have to say before determining policies on this and other important issues.  In this connection she also referred to Scotland’s place in Europe and recognising the innate value in Scotland’s people and what they have to offer Europe.  As Scottish Minister for Europe she recognises the importance of selling Scotland and taking greater advantage of what is available to us as a nation.

With External affairs included in her remit she praised the previous First Minister for the stand he took to enable the Scottish Government to contribute to international development.  She mentioned in particular Malawi because of the country’s strong historical, church and political links with Scotland.  The government’s policy will be to restrict the areas of interest to Health, education and economic development rather than the previous scatter gun approach.  This will enable the government to have more control over its contributions and encourage other donor organisations to match Scotland’s funding. She gave as an example the £130,000 donated by Scotland for Malawi’s Opportunity Bank; as a result of matching by other donors, including the EU, the bank benefited by £1m.

When she talked about promoting Scotland she spoke of the changes that are being made to Tartan Week in New York.  She explained that the approach will be broadened and Scottish ministers will separately visit New York, Chicago and Toronto and Alex Salmond has appointments with prestigious organisations and universities.

Linda, having responded to many broad ranging questions, accepted the deserved vote of thanks given by Past President Hamish Wilson.


Weekly Report - 20 March 2008

The Rotary Club of Hamilton sponsored John Doyle, a sixth year pupil of Holy Cross High School, to attend Rotary International’s Euroscolar Project.  On Thursday John visited the club to relate his experience.  When introducing John, President Bernie Crozier, explained to the visitors to the Club that the purpose of Euroscola is to develop European understanding in young people and encourage the participants to perform in a multi-lingual environment.

To qualify pupils had to have passed higher French and write a five hundred page essay.  John thought he had scuppered his chances of being chosen when he wrote his essay in French instead of English. He went on to explain that 31 pupils from different schools across Scotland were part of the 580 party of students from 23 different European countries who took part in the event.  He enthused about the whole experience.  From the start, the Scots contingent mixed well and as a result he has made many new friends. Bonding within the Scots delegation might have been assisted by the tiring eight hours bus journey through France to Strasbourg.

The weekend started with the Scots carrying out a survey to determine what the locals knew and thought about Scotland.  He was disappointed that many of the interviewees didn’t know where Scotland was located and gave their image of the Scots as a nation of people who wore kilts, played bagpipes, drank too much and “ate something called haggis”.  Throughout the weekend the debating chamber of the parliament was used and advantage was taken of multi-lingual translations that were made available. Contributors to the debate were not permitted to speak in their mother tongue. John showed a short video of him introducing the Scottish contingent in French to a packed audience in the Parliament’s debating chamber. 

He highlighted Euroscola Day when the students participated in a multilingual debate in the chamber of the Parliament. Once again the approach to Europe of the Brits was called into question.  The multi-lingual quiz that followed was approached enthusiastically by the contributors; some of the students found, however, that the facts were more important than language skills when responding to questions.

In his excellent presentation John stated that he found the whole experience stimulating.  He learned a lot about the working of the EU; made a lot of new friends; felt more European and was very impressed with the city of Strasbourg.  He thanked the Rotary Club of Hamilton for the unique opportunity offered to him. In his vote of thanks past President David Pettigrew expressed the view felt by the members that, on the basis of the evidence provided by John, Euroscola was a good project and worth investing in.



Weekly Report - 13 March 2008

At the joint meeting between the Rotary Clubs of Hamilton and Blantyre the members enjoyed an evening of whisky tasting with Jane Miller as the guest speaker. Jane lives in Hamilton and is a chemistry graduate who is employed by Grants Whisky on their technical team.  She works between the distilleries in Girvan and Dufftown which is in the heart of Speyside.

Aided by a PowerPoint Jane spoke enthusiastically and knowledgably about the Grants products that she is involved in.  She started by illustrating the different processes involved when manufacturing malt and grain whisky and referred particularly to the importance of the shape of the still, age of the whisky, where it comes from and the source of the water.  At each stage in the process very tight controls are essential to ensure a good product.  She also advised of the tight controls imposed by the government.

The quantities of whisky produced by Grants are staggering and it was interesting to note that Grants shill employ their own coopers and coppersmiths whereas many whisky manufacturers contract out these essential trades – one coppersmith will soon complete fifty years with the company.  The barrels are important in determining the taste of the whisky and Jane explained the importance of the trade between the States and the UK in bourbon barrels.  Bourbon is held only once in the barrel; the whisky industry will use the same barrel three times.

Grants manufacture various ranges of malt whisky at their Balvenie Distillery Dufftown and are one of only five producers of malt whisky that uses its own barley from their 1,000 acre farm, Balvenie Mains.  The company is therefore able to control its products from the very start of the process.  While the company is proud of its single malts, it is venturing into new markets of blended malts and gin  The evening came to a pleasant conclusion when, under Jane’s instruction, the audience was asked to nose and taste three Balvenie malts and judge their fragrance, smoothness, sweetness, colour and texture – a pleasant task.

Past President Alister Baird had the pleasure of thanking Janet for an excellent presentation.



Weekly Report - 6 March 2008

Rotary is an international organisation and the Rotary Club of Hamilton takes every opportunity to foster international relations. On Thursday the Club held an International evening when a number of staff and students from Malawi, who are currently attending the University of the West of Scotland, were invited to the club meeting.  In Malawi the students attend the Polytechnic of the University of Malawi and are in Scotland as part of a Scottish Government funded project to design and construct as a pilot scheme a fully equipped containerised clinic to provide health and care services in rural areas of Malawi.

Jack Margaret and Max explained that power to the unit will be a combination of battery, solar panels and wind turbines and the power generated by these methods will then pump water to the clinic from underground.  Once the prototype is completed it will be shipped to Malawi, and the students, who will take degrees in Engineering, will take back their acquired skills to continue production of the units in Malawi.

The Rotary Club is grateful to Jack, Margaret and Max for their presentation and were amused to hear their impressions on seeing snow for the first time during the recent snow storms.

The Club’s big fund raising event, the Sportsman’s Dinner, was held at the Banqueting Hall in Almada Street on Friday night.  The purpose of the event is to raise money for charity with the main charities this year being Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland Lanarkshire Branch, Maggies, who provide centres that cancer sufferers can turn to for help and Rotary’s Africa Hope which aims to help provide shelter, food and access to medicine for the most desperate families in Rwanda and South Africa. 

Those people who attended the evening enjoyed an excellent meal, good speakers and gave generously. While President Bernie presided over the night, the Master of Ceremonies was the excellent Sandy Penman who held the evening together with some wonderful humour.  Murdo McLeod the ex Scotland, Celtic and Bayern Munich footballer amusingly took us through his football career and provided anecdotal comment on some of the characters of the Scottish football scene in the process.  The evening was excellently brought to a close with Bill Barclay relating some wonderfully entertaining stories. President Elect Mark Williams provided the vote of thanks



Weekly Report – 6 February 2008

The Rotary Club of Hamilton was brought down to earth when Monica MacDonald spoke about “Place of Restoration”, a Christian care centre for babies located in Margate on the south coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Monica opened her talk with the quote “The unheeded cry of a child in crisis is an accusation against humanity”.  Thereafter, assisted by very telling slides, Monica spoke with conviction and knowledge of babies and children - the little people - who have been affected with AIDS which is pandemic in South Africa.  The figure of 70% of women on the south coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal being HIV/AIDS infected is unimaginable and some of her stories of the children were both frightening and touching.

“Place of Restoration” can accommodate up to 50 children at any one time. During their time there the accommodation becomes a home for the children whilst staff and volunteers work on the reunification process either with the child’s biological family or by recruiting a suitable foster family.  Regrettably there has been a sharp increase in the number of babies abandoned at birth; these children tend to be emotionally traumatised, often severely malnourished and sometimes show evidence of physical abuse.  All staff at the centre are severely challenged.

All rescued children are admitted to a full medical and emotional assessment with a team that comprises a social worker, nurse, teacher and carer who then combine to develop a “care plan” for each child.  Whilst in the shelter, toddlers and children are given age appropriate outcomes based education at their own “Happy Days School” within the grounds of the centre.  Child friendly counselling and therapy rooms allow for play therapy, group therapy and anger management.

Having regard to the maxim “It takes a village to grow a child”, the first priority for the centre is to reunify the children with their families.  When this isn’t possible a community programme recruits and rigorously screens foster parents.  Thereafter foster parent support groups and sustainability projects are developed to ensure the best possible long term outcome for the children.

This wonderful project receives little government funding.  90% of the project’s finance is raised through donations and fund-raising with all the money going directly to projects - none of it to administration.  The Club was moved by Monica’s excellent and frank presentation and were impressed by the project.  Questions and comment illustrated, however, the overall concern of the members for the future of countries so affected by Aids and HIV.  Past President Rev. Stanley Cook provided the vote of thanks.



Weekly Report – 31 January 08

Tom Urie, past President of the Rotary Club of Motherwell again visited the Hamilton Club to show one of his wonderful films.  This time the subject was Clyde Steamers.  Tom is an avid photographer and has been taking photos of these boats since 1932, even through the war.  The film that Tom showed was taken between 1965 and 1973 to record the variety of steamers that were on the Clyde and the Western Isles routes and also record the different methods of propulsion employed.  Tom showed the film using a digitally recorded CD provided by Scottish Screen Archive who has archived Tom’s original film on which he provided the background music and commentary by gluing magnetic tape onto the original film.  The CD was excellent.

Henry Bell’s Comet was the first steamship to ply the Clyde in 1912 but the star was likely the Jeanie Deans, a great favourite between the wars.  The Jeannie Deans was eventually sold and was made into a restaurant on the Thames.  As he mentioned the various steamers, he referred to changes in engineering and means of propulsion that were fired by oil, coal and diesel/electric.  These much admired old engines were shown on the screen as Tom provided the technical details.  Everyone in the audience could remember their dads taking them down to see the engines powering the paddles and propellers that drove the boats gracefully through the water.  The older the steamer was the more fondly Tom spoke about it.  The names of Queen Mary 11, Keppel, Talisman, Glen Sannox and Duchess of Hamilton revived memories of being taken holidays and day trips on these unique craft. The grace of these vessels was clear to see as they sailed seemingly effortlessly over the waters of the Clyde and various lochs with the Scottish islands and mountains providing beautiful backcloths. He enthused over the fine finishes on all the Clyde steamers of that time.  The finishes still look good on the Waverley and Sir Walter Scott even after 100 years.

The talk would not have been complete without reference to the more utilitarian, modern Clyde steamers.  As the number of cars increased the roll on/roll off type of ferry became essential in order to improve the turn-round time of the ferries at their various destinations.   All the old piers, recorded here on film, required to be changed to accommodate the new system.  Also discussed were the several unsuccessful attempts to use various types of hovercraft for some of the trips. 

Tom’s talk brought back many memories that were reflected in the comments and questions from his engrossed audience and in the enthusiastic vote of thanks provided by Lawrence Scott. 



Weekly Report – 24 January 08

John Burn, Past President of the Rotary Club of Hamilton, enthusiastically addressed the members of the club on his favourite subject, helicopters.  John has always been interested in flying and originally had a licence to fly fixed wing aircraft but 20 years ago he was attracted to flying helicopters.  Immediately catching his audience’s attention with a radio controlled model helicopter flying round the room, John proceeded to trace the history, development and uses of helicopters with the assistance of PowerPoint.

Using illustrations, John showed the variety of early attempts to fly using this type of engineering. The reason for the early attempts of helicopters failing was that the engineers couldn’t generate sufficient power to get the rudimentary machines off the ground.  The first successful flight took place in the 30s when Igor Sikorski, a name that exists today in the world of helicopters, successfully flew a prototype that was able to remain stable while off the ground.  Using his encyclopaedic knowledge and lots of fine photographs, John showed to the club members the variety of helicopters that are available now. John explained the engineering involved, why their speed was limited to just over 250 mph and the variety of tasks that helicopters undertake.  While military, Air Sea rescue, passenger transportation, traffic control and border control were uses that were well known to the members, electric cable maintenance, lighthouse maintenance, fish feeding and cattle herding in Australia maybe came as a surprise to them.

The photographs of the sophisticated military helicopters showed them to be sinister and extremely powerful machines. John explained some of the amazing technology and equipment that these machines possess and that cost the tax payer a lot of money.

John then took his audience inside the cockpit of a helicopter to illustrate and explain the controls.  He further explained the commitment and training required to gain a helicopter pilot’s licence and to thereafter retain the licence.  To illustrate this part of his talk John circulated his actual licence and meticulously maintained log book.

Malcolm Macintyre gave the vote of thanks on behalf of John’s engrossed audience.

Bob Hamilton provided a progress report on the Sportsman’s Dinner that will take place on Friday 7 March.  The main beneficiaries this year will be Maggies, Rotary Africa Hope and Lanarkshire Cruse Bereavement Care.



 Weekly Report – 17 January 08

The Rotary Club of Hamilton enjoyed celebrating the birth of Scotland’s national bard at its annual Burns Supper held at Hamilton Golf Club on Thursday.  The excellent evening started with a bagpipe selection from Fraser Porteus, son of one of the members of the club.  An amusing and informative Immortal Memory was given by the Club’s principle guest, Jack McKinney, a chartered surveyor from Larkhall.  Thereafter the entertainment was provided from within the club and members of Inner Wheel.  Ian Bell gave a witty, provocative and thoughtful toast to the lassies.  The ladies, however, got their own back when Ian’s wife Sheila, a past president of Inner Wheel, responded in kind, using recitations to enforce her various points.

The music was ably provided by Ian Macgregor who also led the company in singing the most popular of the bard’s songs.  Robin Wilkie read the “The Address to the Unco Guid” and Moira Condie performed the unfamiliar but amusing “Last May the Braw Wooer”.  Alister Baird entertained the company with one of the poet’s less well known poems when he read “The Calf” and Jim Love provided a robust “Address to the Haggis”.

This jolly evening was excellently presided over by the club’s resident Geordie, President Bernie Crozier.  The vote of thanks was given by vice President, Mark Williams



Weekly Report – 10 January 08

To bring in the New Year and new session the Rotary Club of Hamilton enjoyed an unusual musical quiz.  With the questions set by club member Jim Provan, who during the year sets the questions for the school quizzes, the members knew that they were in for a testing time, although Jim announced that it was a fun quiz.  The subject matter was music, grouped into sections headed Films, James Bond, Eurovision Song Contest and Pop.  Music was provided for all the questions and the teams had to provide the titles, singers and dates in their answers.  While Jim provided guidance, there was a lot of good banter and animated discussion as teams tried to provide answers relating to when Cliff Richards won the Eurovision Song contest and singers, title and dates of the various James Bond Films.  The ability of people to recall some of this useless information surprised the members.

Past president Jim Love provided the vote of thanks


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