Press Cuttings 2009

Weekly Report - 3 December 2009

New member Sir Ken Collins addressed the Rotary Club of Hamilton on Thursday.  Sir Ken and his family live in East Kilbride although he is a Hamilton born and a former pupil of Hamilton Academy.
He declared at the outset of his talk that he had been interested in the environment since he was a lad and he accompanied his dad on long walks in the countryside surrounding Hamilton.  On leaving school Ken went to Glasgow University and gained a degree in Geography.  He gained a further degree at Strathclyde University and worked for a while lecturing in Town Planning at Paisley College of Technology and Glasgow School of Art.

Ken saw politics as a means of bringing about change and stood for election as a councillor in East Kilbride Town Council.  He eventually became involved in the works of the Environmental Health Committee and was able to encourage the Council to create policies to assist sustaining the environment.

His success in the rough and tumble of politics at that time resulted in him being asked to successfully stand for election to the European Parliament.  In 1979 he became Chairman of the powerful Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection in the European Parliament and was Chairman for fifteen years.  He decided not to stand for election to the European Parliament for a third term and retired in 1999.

He hadn’t been retired long when the post of Chairman of Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) was advertised.  His daughter encouraged him to make, what turned out to be, a successful application for the post – she even sent for the application form

Ken explained the workings of SEPA stating that its primary role is to implement the European environment policy as interpreted by the Scottish Government.  He also explained his role as Chairman. He served as Chairman of the SEPA Board from October 1999 to 31 December 2007. 

Never fearful of controversy, Ken was happy to report on what he regarded as the main achievements of the European Parliament in relation to car emissions, waste and water supply quality, pesticides, power plants and waste management standards.  He reminded the Rotarian audience that often countries can be over zealous in their application of the standards and can make sensible legislation look silly.

The subjects covered by Sir Ken encouraged many question which he answered with assurance. Past President Bernie Crozier provided the vote of thanks on behalf of the members.

With the death of Gordon Munro after a prolonged illness the Rotary Club of Hamilton has lost one of its longest serving and most loyal members.  Gordon was a former pupil of Hamilton Academy and a dentist by profession, being senior partner in a popular and busy practice in Motherwell.  He held many offices in the Rotary Club and was President in 1995-96.  Gordon was an elder and, until his illness, was a very dedicated member of St. John’s Church Hamilton.  He is fondly remembered for displaying his life long interest in music by running a series of lunchtime concerts at St John’s.  Gordon leaves his wife, Eleanor, and two children, Shona and Alastair.



Weekly Report – 26 November 2009

A St. Andrews Night Special was held when the Rotary Club of Hamilton invited twenty three pensioners to its celebration in The Hamilton Bowling Club, Hamilton.    President Eddie Hawke acted as master of ceremonies and amused his audience with introductions throughout the evening..

The star was local boy Peter Condie, an octogenarian who continues to sing in the choir of Hamilton Parish Church.  Peter delighted the company with a variety of toe tapping tunes on his harmonica to which the audience joined in.  Ian Macgregor and Alister Baird engaged the audience with a selection of well chosen Scots songs with past President James Borland providing the accompaniment.

An innovation for these nights where the Rotary Club invites pensioners was Bingo organised by past President Bernie Crozier and his wife Margaret.  Margaret acted as an efficient and charming caller.

The President Eddie provided the vote of thank at the end of an enjoyable evening. The appreciative guests were chauffeured home by their Rotarian hosts.




Weekly Report - 12 November 2009

The Rotary Club of Hamilton changed its venue on Thursday to the Hamilton Campus of the University of the West of Scotland to enjoy the local heat of Rotary’s “Youth Speaks” Competition.

The competition was split into two groups, the Intermediate for up to third year pupils and the Senior Competition for older pupils.  In the intermediate Section there were three competing teams, Calderside A, Calderside B and John Ogilvie High School.  Two schools competed in the senior competition, Hamilton College School and John Ogilvie High School.  The judges, on this entertaining evening, were John Di Mambro, a local businessman and Jim Browning, Head of English at Uddingston Grammar School.

Each team comprised three speakers with each speaker fulfilling a specific role within the team.  The roles are chairman, main speaker and vote of thanks.  All the pupils were well prepared and provided the audience with some wonderfully entertaining speeches.  Some of the subject matter of the main speakers was serious and thought provoking.  The quality of the speakers was commented on by the judges who congratulated them for the quality of their presentations and their teachers for the obvious hard work that had gone into the preparation of the teams for the competition.

The winners in the Intermediate Competition were John Ogilvie H.S. whose main speaker was Mathew Campbell. Mathew, a football enthusiast, challenged the high wages of professional footballers many of whom consistently provide an example to their admirers and supporters commensurate with their status.

Hamilton College School won the senior competition in a very close contest with John Ogilvie H.S.  The main speakers, Edwin Sheeran who spoke on “The Deterioration of Present Society” and Angelle McCluskey whose subject was “Reality Television” expertly presented well structured and well argued speeches.  Both winning teams will go forward to the Scottish Regional final and hopefully win through to the National Finals in the spring of next year.

President Eddie Hawke, when presenting the certificates and the prizes, congratulated the speakers, the teachers and the judges for the considerable input.  He hoped that more schools will participate in this excellent competition next year.



Weekly Report - 05 November 2009

Last Saturday the Rotary Club of Hamilton held a fund raising night at St. John’s Church, Hamilton. The large audience that attended was greatly entertained by Linda Ormiston. 

Linda is known as one of Scotland’s most versatile performers and is equally at home in opera or cabaret having sung with most of Britain’s opera companies. Her programme provided an attractive range of arias and songs that gave the audience a taste of her experiences in the world of music as a young mezzo-soprano in opera across Europe and North America; also in concert with friends when taking time out from major opera commitments and simply as a lass from Lanarkshire. 

Rotary member, Rev Arthur Barrie, had the responsibility of encouraging Ms Ormiston to share with the company a wide range of anecdotes that highlighted a fulfilling, interesting and enjoyable musical career. She also took questions from the audience.  Her responses uncovered new challenges which she hoped to undertake in the future.  President Eddie Hawke provided a vote of thanks on behalf of the enthusiastic audience

The purpose of this special event was to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support and Rotary International’s “End Polio Now” appeal. 

The Club has also agreed to assist Rotarian Nirmal Singh with construction of the girls’ school he is building in village of Bhanoki in the province of Jallander where Nirmal was born and brought-up.  The construction of the school is progressing apace and the money donated by the Rotary Club of Hamilton will be used to completely furbish one of the classrooms and provide some other items for the school.



Weekly Report - -22 October 2009

Joyce Brown, Museum Access Officer, provided an excellent talk on Old Hamilton.  Joyce started her talk by explaining that the museum service is responsible for three museums and the Mausoleum.  She explained that the John Hastie Museum in Strathaven is very much a local museum that has displays on Covenanters, the Radical Rising and Strathaven toffee. At present there is also a temporary display of “Changes Through the Seasons”.  Hunter House Museum East Kilbride is one of the oldest houses in East Kilbride and was the home of the Hunter family.  The museum tells the story of John and William Hunter who were pioneers in the medical world and covers the history of medicine from their time and the history of the new town of East Kilbride. Both are seasonal museums. 

The Mausoleum is reckoned to be one of the finest family tombs in Europe and can only be seen by appointment.

The Hamilton Low Parks Museum is housed in two A listed buildings. The house was built for John Crawford by the Duke of Hamilton in 1696 and was later used as a coaching house, factor’s office and more recently housed the Hamilton Museum.  The second building housed the 10th Duke’s riding school and most recently the Cameronian Museum.  In 1999 the two museums were merged and the combined museums are reckoned to be a 5 star local museum.

Joyce delved into the ancient history of Hamilton’s early settlements.  In 1548 the town received Royal Burgh status and benefited from the privileges that came with it.

The Palace and the influence the Dukes of Hamilton and Duchess Anne had on the town were stressed and her illustrations of the “grandest non-royal palace” in Britain were excellent.  Like many of her audience, she wondered what Hamilton would have been like had the palace still existed.  As every Hamiltonian knows the Palace was demolished in 1921 and took ten years to demolish.  The artifacts were sold to destinations all over the world but principally to America. The iconic black marble staircase remains in Hamilton and part of the railings can still be seen in front of Hamilton College School.

Her story embraced the development of the town and the introduction of trains and tramcars.  A publication of that time compared Hamilton with Richmond on the Thames.  She then traced the development of public housing; regrettably by 1931 Hamilton had changed and was recognized by the government as a “distressed area”.

Past President Bill Condie in his vote of thanks congratulated Joyce on the content of the talk, the illustrations and her knowledge and enthusiasm for her subject.

The International Convener, Steve Brough, reminded members of the forthcoming “Audience with Linda Ormiston”, a charity evening on Saturday 31 October at 7.30 pm at St. John’s Church Hamilton.  Tickets can be obtained from Glass Greengrocer in Quarry Place, Hamilton or any Rotarian or at the door.



Weekly Report - 15 October 2009

The committees of the Rotary Club of Hamilton met on Thursday.  At the end of the meeting it falls to the conveners to report on their respective committees’ programmes.  It was pleasing for President Eddie Hawke to hear of what has already been achieved and what is proposed for the rest of the year.

Applications for Euro Scholar have been received and interviews will be completed before the end of the month. The successful “Primary Schools Quiz” will be held in the spring.  Similarly pupils will be chosen for entry to Rotary International’s young speaker competition.

The International Committee reminded members of the success of the bicycle collection and of the forthcoming “Audience with Linda Ormiston”, a charity evening on Saturday 31 October at 7.30 pm at St. John’s Church Hamilton.  Tickets can be obtained from Glass Greengrocer in Quarry Place Hamilton or any Rotarian.

The autumn tidy-up to the gardens, hanging baskets and tubs at Udston Hospital are nearing completion.  The photograph shows club President Eddie Hawke and some of his fellow gardeners having completed a shift last Saturday.  It was reported that the work done by Rotarians to brighten the environs of the hospital was appreciated by visitors and staff.

Another item of note was that the Club intends to again include the Sportsman’s Dinner in its programme.  The date has been fixed as the 19 March 2010 and the venue will be the banqueting Hall in the Council Buildings at Almada Street Hamilton.  This will be the Club’s main fund raiser and the main charities that will benefit will be Polio Plus and Place of Restoration.





Weekly Report   - 1 October 2009

At the recent meeting of the Rotary Club of Hamilton, word went round that there had been change of speaker, and that Kenny Dalgleish would now address the club. The football pundits were overjoyed, but soon found out that this Kenny Dalgleish was a Dispensing Optician from Blantyre and would talk about the many lenses and frames that were now available for spectacles. Kenny’s business is unique in that he does not operate from a shop and will actually travel to clients homes and carry out their requirements from there.

Kenny told us the story of when he initially started up in business and ordered a box load of frames. Imagine his surprise when they arrived six months later, having been erroneously sent to Blantyre in Africa.
He told us about the Enhanced Reading Lenses which give far better focus in reading glasses allowing everything in the room to be in focus rather than the limited distance between the eye and the page.

He also had lenses which darken in the sunlight, but unlike the usual lenses supplied they will also darken in the car when driving. Rotarians had many questions for Kenny after which ex President John Burn gave much deserved vote of thanks.

The Rotary Club would like to thank readers for helping with the “Bikes for Africa” project when they donated a total of 24 bikes.


Weekly Report - 24 September 2009

This week the Rotary Club of Hamilton welcomed District Governor, Andrew Slater, along to address the Club

Andrew is a member of Irvine Seagate rotary Club and earlier this year, he was appointed Governor of District 1230

There 56 Rotary clubs in his area as far apart as Oban , Campbeltown and Girvan and Andrew intends to visit each club at least twice during his year of office

During his talk, Andrew stressed the need for clubs to increase their membership

He also stated that everyone in the world was entitled to clean pure water and that clubs should concentrate on supporting the various schemes that can provide this to deprived countries  

Of further concern was the level of illiteracy prevalent in many adults in this country. The District have appointed a Literacy Officer who will encourage clubs to carry out projects to tackle this problem

Rotary’s preferred charity this year is “Thanks for Life”. This is a major project to eradicate Polio from the world. Bill Gates of Microsoft fame has challenged the Rotary movement to raise US$220m which he will match from his Foundation.

After a very interesting talk, the vote of thanks was given by Rotarian Ian Brown

The Photograph shows District Governor Andrew Slater with Club President Eddie Hawke



Weekly Report – 17 September 2009

At their last meeting The Rotary Club of Hamilton invited Kelly Gillies to tell them why she wished to take part in the Group Study Exchange Project organised by Rotary.The purpose of this project is to send a group of young professionals to other countries to get cultural and work experience in that country.This year it would be to New Zealand.The young professionals would be under the supervision of Rotarians during their six week stay.At present this Rotary District 1230 in Scotland are hosting young professionals from New Zealand.

Kelly originated from a small village in the north of Scotland but moved to Glasgow to gain her University degree in Social work.At present she is employed by Glasgow City Council  as a social worker,within the Criminal Justice System and if successful in winning a place on the project she hopes to learn how New Zealanders operate in this way.

The photograph shows Kelly with Steve Brough,the international convenor and Eddie Hawke President of Rotary Club of Hamilton.


On Saturday 26th September there will be a bicycle collection at the car park of the old parish church in Hamilton between 10.00am and 12.00 noon.

These Bicycles are destined for Africa.If you want rid of an old bicycle,bring it along.We can arrange to uplift it if necessary and you can arrange this by calling Steve on 07766957132.




Weekly Report - 3 September 2009

Kenny Govan from Glasgow Toastmasters enlightened the Rotary Club of Hamilton on the history and benefits of being a member of the Toastmasters organisation.  Coincidently, Toastmasters originated in California and spread to the UK in 1930. 

The organisation, while tending to be shrinking, has well over 100,000 members in 10,000 clubs in over 100 countries.  Club membership usually number about thirty and meet every two weeks.  The format for meetings is the same the world over.  Also their purpose is the same – to learn to speak, listen and evaluate.  At every meeting members undertake roles like chairperson, timekeeper and evaluator while other members are required to make prepared speeches or provide off the cuff talks.   Evaluation includes reference to posture, mannerisms, language and delivery. 

Most of Kenny’s audience identified with his comment that most people learn to give speeches as they progress up the career ladder and are required to make presentations and give talks. They are seldom coached.  Toastmasters clubs recognise this and that some people are naturally better than others at delivering speeches. Kenny stated that Toastmasters clubs can help everyone by providing a discipline in relation to preparing talks and a structure for the various forms of presentations.  Following questions, Past President Alister Baird gave the vote of thanks.

Members of the Club acted as collectors at the Johnnie Walker Golf Championships at Gleneagles to raise funds for the Elizabeth Montgomery Foundation.  The photograph shows club members Mark Williams and Steve Brough in their collection gear.  Colin Montgomery’s mother, Elizabeth, died after a long and difficult battle with cancer.  Having witnessed her suffering, Colin decided to create the foundation to provide a centre for Maggie’s, a cancer charity with which the Hamilton club has long been associated.  The foundation requires £3m to provide the facility which will be located at Monklands Hospital.  The collections over the four days combined with a fund raising event on the Saturday evening helped to raise £46,000 for the Foundation.


The Rotary Club apologises for last session’s false intimation regarding the collection of bicycles.  It has now been agreed that the collection of bikes will take place at the car park of Hamilton Parish Church from 10 to 12 o-clock on Saturday 26 September 09.  The bicycles that are collected will be sent to families in Africa.



Weekly Report - 26 August 2009

It was with a great deal of pleasure that the Rotary Club of Hamilton welcomed Olivia Giles to receive a cheque for £700 to go towards her charity “500 miles”.  Olivia is an inspirational young lady in that having been affected by the worst strain of the meningococcal bacterium, she required to have her lower arms and both legs amputated, one above the knee, as a result of gangrene. 

The last time Olivia visited the Club she spoke of her battle with the disease and her struggle to overcome her disabilities.  Having won those battles, she made a life changing decision to retire from corporate law and throw herself into boosting awareness of meningitis and the symptoms of the disease, particularly among young people.  The success of her rehabilitation received a lot of publicity at the time.

With a fellow quad amputee she set up the charity “500 miles”, a young Scottish charity which supports the delivery of prosthetic and orthotic services to disabled people in deprived areas of the world to get them “on their feet”.

Included in her address was an update on the progress of the charity in Malawi and Zambia.  The workshop for the new limbs is located in Malawi and the staff employed there are now fully trained and able to deal with the large numbers of amputees that require assistance.  Malawi has logistical problems that don’t exist in Zambia in that the country is five times the size of the UK with a population of only 12 million.  The doctors and technicians have, therefore, to be flown to the 15 clinics spread over the country.  During her most recent trip she witnessed a mission doctor deal with 50 interviews, 14 operations and nine fittings.  One young man travelled over eight kilometres to queue for over a day for an appointment to fit his new legs.  His joy at being able to stand and his family witnessing him standing after ten years in a wheelchair was wonderful to see.  Another young man surprised Olivia by displaying such determination that he could walk using his new prosthetic limbs after only 45 minutes of struggle.

Olivia emphasised the disadvantages of the disabled in these poor African countries, where their only support is an impoverished family.  The provision of limbs is life changing in that the beneficiaries are able to work and attend school. She advised the members that the money raised from sponsorship by members walking the Ayrshire Coastal Path would go towards service delivery, an expensive element of the work of the charity.  In closing her thanks, she referred to other good projects and fund raiser.  New fund raisers are collecting shoes suitable for  artificial limbs and the “One Mile” in Edinburgh on 3 October 2009 when participants will be expected to walk the Conference and Festival Squares anyway they like as long as it is legal and decent.



Weekly Report -  11 August 2009

One of the Club’s own members, Brian MacKenzie, addressed the Rotary Club of Hamilton on Tuesday night on the Subject of Cairo. Brian advised the members that one of his sons, having moved to Cairo, has given his wife and himself an opportunity to see more of the city than they would have done as tourists. 

With a population of 16 million spread over 83  sq miles, Cairo is by far the largest city in Egypt as well as being one of the most densely populated cities in the world. It was the heat, humidity and the greyness caused by the air pollution that made an immediate impression on Brian and his wife.  The permanent haze that exists causes respiratory disease and eye irritation in the population.  Brian didn’t escape.

Brian advised that the population increases by 2m people every day with workers coming into the city from outlying areas by bus, car and horse drawn carts.  They travel on a seven lane highway that has no markings or much evidence of road discipline.  The skyline is impressive with seemingly hundreds of minarets and steeples of churches, some of them going back to the 6th century.  The city boasts the only metro system in Africa and the trains allocate two carriages solely to females.  But it is the pollution that hits the visitor.  The citizens produce 10,000 tonnes of waste per day with most of it seemingly strewn over the streets.
One area not regularly on the tourist route is the City of the Dead, a four mile long cemetry in eastern Cairo. Brian explained that this bustling grid of tombs and mausoleums is where people now live and work amongst their dead ancestors. While many residents live there to be near their loved ones, others were forced there from more crowded areas in Cairo or from their villages simply looking for work.   It is estimated that more than five million Egyptians live in these cemeteries and have even formed their own enterprises. The tombs are provided with electricity and residents adapt the rooms to meet their needs using the grave markers as desks, and shelves.  Cairo’s lack of satisfactory and affordable housing for its rapidly growing population necessitated the need for many poor Egyptians to make these rooms their permanent homes.
Nevertheless there are many fine restaurants offering a multitude of cuisines and Brian reckoned it is a safe place to tour.  It is likely that Brian and Marion will make regular visits because there is a lot to see in historic Cairo.
Past President Jack Baillie provided the vote of thanks.



Weekly Report - 4 August 2009

While Rotary Club of Hamilton looked to have a very pleasant start to its new session with the Club’s Citizen of the Year Award being presented to Moira Ramsay by South Lanarkshire’s Provost Cleary, the members were saddened to hear of the death of Past President David Pettigrew after a short illness.  David was a loyal and distinguished member of the Club with fixed views on the retaining the traditions and standards.  His early death at the age of 60 is a sad loss to the Club and an even greater loss to his wife Liz, two children and two grandchildren.  

Moira Ramsay has been on the local Cancer Research Committee since 1984 and has been President for the past 10 years.  When responding to the Provost’s presentation remarks Moira explained that she joined the committee after she had lost her mum, dad and brother to the terrible disease.  She desperately wanted to help other people affected with cancer and to assist finding a cure for the disease.  A thrilled Moira said that she accepted the handsome glass bowl on behalf of the whole, hard working and dedicated committee who are very committed to the charity.  She was optimistic that research is gradually making inroads into both the early diagnosis and treatments of cancer.  This progress is being assisted by the many centres of excellence in the UK.  She was proud to report that the local committee has gifted more than £1.3m towards cancer research and in its bid to increase income for the charity has introduced new fundraisers.  Particularly successful in recent time is a play about the committee written by local playwright Elizabeth Davidson which is playing in halls and theatres in North and South Lanarkshire.  The Committee also receives a lot of help from Hamilton Park Racecourse with its fund-raising.

Provost Cleary then addressed the Club.  Having emphasised the terrific honour it is for anyone to be elected Civic Head, he then stressed the importance of volunteers in any community. He asked a simple question “where would the country, the health service and local authorities be without volunteers?” He then proceeded to tell of his own background.  He was born and brought up in up in Cambuslang by an impressive Gran because his mother was looking after others in the family. He worked for forty years in Clyde Steel Works and has never moved from Cambuslang.  He highlighted some of the voluntary work he had been involved in since he was boy; some of the charities he is still involved with.  Provost Cleary spoke enthusiastically about the notable lists of volunteer groups in Lanarkshire and praised Rotary for the considerable work done locally, nationally and internationally.  Provost Cleary gave an excellent unscripted talk to the Club in which he told stories that, he advised, hadn’t been made public previously.

Vice President elect Ian Brown thanked Provost Cleary for his address and again congratulated Moira on behalf of the Club for her contribution to cancer research.



Weekly Report - 14 July 2009

Nirmal Singh, proprietor of the successful Bombay Cottage in Hamilton, recently returned from a visit to India where he is constructing a school at his village of Bhanoki in the province of Jallander.

Having purchased land to add to some of the land left to him by his family, in 2005 Nirmal decided to build a school for girls.  Nirmal explained to his audience that most schools in India are co-educational and while there are many boys’ schools there are few girls’ only schools.   There is a demand for all girls’ schools and Nirmal hopes to satisfy some of that demand. 

By means of DVD, Nirmal gave a tour of the school with a background commentary that was supplemented by comments from his six year old granddaughter Akhila.    Akhila was visiting India for the first time. The progress in the construction works since Nirmal’s last report is remarkable.  All 24 classrooms are now complete and to achieve completion target date of March 2010 water and electricity supply will have to be installed soon.  The water supply tank that is required for the school will be grant aided and will also serve the village of Bhanoki.

The beautifully finished classrooms will accommodate class sizes of up to thirty girls. The rooms have high ceilings with plain cornices and the walls have a tile finish to a height of 5 feet.  The windows are double glazed, unusual in India, and one-way glass.  Based on the evidence of the video this handsome building with all its facilities will provide a delightful learning environment for the girls.  Future plans for the school include the addition of another floor that will provide laboratories and other special facilities.  That is in the future, however.


Nirmal will fund the running of the school for the first two years of its operation; thereafter the government will step in to assist with the costs of running it.

After many questions Archie Russell gave a well deserved vote of thanks to Nirmal for explaining this remarkable undertaking by one of the Club’s own members. Archie stated that the project is an excellent illustration of the Rotary maxim of “ordinary people doing extraordinary things”.



Weekly Report - 7 July 2009

Eddie Hawke was given chains of Office by retiring President Mark Williams when he became President of the Rotary Club of Hamilton on Tuesday.  Eddie was born in Hamilton and still lives in the town with his wife Jean.  He is an architect by profession and his career history has given him experience of private practice, local government and Strathclyde University, where he was depute Director of Estates.  Eddie now is now self employed.  He states that his main interests, not in any particular order, are church, Rotary and fishing.

In looking forward to his year Eddie was impressed with the enthusiasm and the new ideas being brought forward by the Club’s new conveners.  He looked forward to his year in office and thanked retiring President Mark Williams for his very successful year as President.

The Rotary Club of Hamilton has been going since 1925 following a meeting of interested persons in the Commercial Hotel in the town.  The impressive chain of office shows the names of all the Club’s presidents. Since receiving its own Charter in February 1926 the Hamilton Club has been directly associated with the formation of Rotary Clubs in Motherwell and Wishaw, Ayr, Strathaven, Lanark, Bothwell and Uddingston and Blantyre.  These clubs in turn have encouraged other clubs to be chartered resulting in a remarkable kaleidoscope of Rotary service throughout the south west of Scotland. 

Anybody wishing to know more about Rotary or the Rotary Club of Hamilton should visit the Club’s web site at  Anyone wishing to join the Club should contact the Club’s secretary Kenneth Miller at 01698 828285




Weekly Report - 30 June 2009

The Rotary Club of Hamilton joined thirty Australian Rotarian Cricketers and their partners as guests of the Bothwell and Uddingston Rotary Club on Tuesday.  It was a full house that enjoyed the excellent facilities of Bothwell Castle Golf Club on a lovely balmy evening.  Typical of such nights was the very convivial company and some outrageous anecdotes of previous tours from the cricketers.

The touring party arrived at Heathrow on the 16 June and will visit Lincolnshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Kirriemuir, Uddingston, Leicester and Hampshire where they will play local sides.  The crunch match will take place when a Great Britain and Ireland team will take on the tourists at Harborne Cricket Club for Rotary’s version of the “Ashes”.  While some of the Australians will remain in the UK, the majority of the party will depart this country on the 17 July.

It was on 25th May 1993 that the formal launching of the International Fellowship of Cricket-Loving Rotarians - I.F.C.R. - took place in the Long Room of the Melbourne Cricket Club, courtesy of the Australian Cricket Board.  The Fellowship is a strong section of the Rotary family with Tours having taken place between Australia, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, United Kingdom and the West Indies. Hamilton member Euan Stirrat who has participated in a couple of tours states that incoming tourists are able to enjoy the delights of a new country seen through the eyes of their Rotarian hosts; even though one’s body may have declined, the enjoyment of the game does not diminish.

The Hamilton Club has to be grateful to past President Malcolm Macintyre for organising a visit for nine Hamilton Rotarians with their partners to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Glasgow to delight in a student performance of the opera Tales of Hoffman by Offenbach.  Glaswegians don’t often have an opportunity to enjoy this tangled tale of the loves of the poet Hoffman, but on Wednesday the capacity audience enjoyed an outstanding production of this lively and tuneful opera.  There were wonderful solo voices, mainly post graduate students, and superb singing from the student chorus supported by fine playing of the melodious score by the College orchestra.  The Academy provided a superb musical evening.


Weekly Report - 24 June 2009

Again the Rotary Club of Hamilton welcomed Bill Wilkie of the Strathaven Club to speak on his experiences in south west Australia.  Bill introduced his talk by showing a slide that superimposed a map of Australia onto a map of Europe just to impress on his audience the size of the country and emphasise the variety of landscapes, flora and fauna that exist.

Bill stated at the start of his talk that he is a fan of the country and the people.  He enhanced his talk with excellent photographs of the various elements of his subject and entertained the Club using his self effacing style of presentation.  Starting his tour in Perth, he first showed the housing styles that are pleasing to the eye because of the variety of styles and the amount of garden landscaping surrounding them. Most of the houses are single storey with verandas that provide shade.  The owners of some of the Bungalows “antiquate” their properties by using aluminium roofs as opposed to the more modern tiled roofing. 

Bill is an enthusiast for Australia’s modern townscapes and the excellent use that is made of modern building materials and techniques.  The slides showed many outstanding buildings, one, the Bell Tower, where the chimes were gifted by St. Martin in the Fields, London   He enjoyed Perth and everything about it and was impressed with one street that displays plaques recording the names of famous citizens of Perth while they are still alive. Another attractive feature is that, like most Australian cities, residents can escape very quickly to enjoy the wonderful beaches and surf.  The surf is reckoned to be the best in the world and he enjoyed watching the athletic surfers on most of the beaches he visited.  One of the slides showed Scarborough Beach where the Surfing World Championship will be held.  His slides also showed scenes from walks through the impressive woodlands that exist out with the cities and are in constant risk from fires in the hot dry climate.

He also visited Melbourne and showed the Club photos of the sites that most impressed him.   Included in the slides was a photo of “Ramsay Street” which is such a large feature in the popular TV series Neighbours.  Notwithstanding the reference to Neighbours, he found Melbourne to be a cultured city with numerous theatres and galleries and which could boast the tallest building in Australia, the Eureka Tower.

For those in the audience who didn’t know Australia Bill made it sound very attractive indeed.  Part President John Burn thanked Bill for his excellent talk.


Weekly Report - 10 June 2009

The speaker on Tuesday night at the Rotary Club of Hamilton was an ex member, Steve Williams.  Steve was always an enthusiastic and popular member of the Club but found it difficult to maintain his commitment due to his employment.  His subject was Rotaract, a youth organisation for 18 to 30 year olds that is aligned to the Rotary family and seen as a precursor to Rotaract members becoming Rotarians..

Steve started his talk by telling his audience that the UK was one of the few countries where membership of Rotaract is reducing.  He gave some statistics.  There are 7,732 clubs in 72 countries with 172,000 members.  There are now only 27 clubs in the UK and 9 in Scotland.

Steve highlighted various projects organised by his club including one called the Beaujolais Run, which required the club to travel to 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.  This one event enabled the club to raise £25,000 a year for charity.  Another big fund raiser was the Three Counties Cycle Ride, where the clubs in the district combined to raise £40,000 to £50,000 per annum for charity. 

Steve emphasised that his club, Windsor and Eton, had very close links with the Rotary Club and many function, like “Kids Out” and old folks events were run along the lines of similar Rotary events.  Events like cardboard canoe races and camping rallies were solely Rotaract were a lot of fun and enabled male and female members to combine to achieve their various targets.  Without going into detail he suggested that Rotaract was one of the world’s best dating agencies.

Steve enthused about the pleasure the key to Rotaract had brought to him.  He highlighted the benefits he had 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 Rotaract, and organisations like it, provide great benefit to the young people involved in them.  He misses Rotaract and he also misses the Rotary Club of Hamilton and hopes that he can return to the fold in the future. 

Past President Bob Hamilton in his vote of thanks emphasised the importance of the Club not losing touch with Steve.



Weekly Report - 03 June 2009

Tom McCallum, Deputy Director at Dungavel House Immigration Removal Centre, spoke to the Rotary Club on the operation at Dungavel House.  He started his talk by providing historical background of the house and showing photographs of some of the finer parts of the house, including the beautiful oak staircase and the Duke’s chapel, which is now used as a multi-faith room.  The photographs showed that the many fine carvings throughout the house are in excellent condition.

Located six miles from Strathaven, the house was built by the 13th Duke of Hamilton in 64 acres of ground.  Within the grounds was an airstrip, the airstrip that Nazi Rudolph Hess failed to find when he flew to this country in 1941 looking for the Duke of Hamilton.  Dungavel House’s later history includes being purchase by the National Coal Board and in 1991 by the Home Office for use as an open prison.

Tom acknowledges the media criticisms of the Dungavel House operation but suggested that most of the criticisms were by people who haven’t been near the place, never mind inside it.  Supported by photographs Tom showed the accommodation and facilities within the Centre.  Certainly, from the evidence of the photographs there seemed no cause for criticism. 

Albeit the Centre receives very few families, there are two family bedrooms and other one, two and three person rooms, all en suite.  There are a number of common areas like the school, where English is taught, cafes, dining rooms, a very popular internet café and a gym and sports hall. There are also outside playing areas where football and volleyball are the most popular games.

He advised the members that difficulties arise because the personnel who are sent to Dungavel come from many countries, are sent for different reasons and for varying lengths of stay; some just overnight.  Nevertheless there is a variety of cuisines and detainees have the facility to make there own food and a local doctor, dentist and optician provide health care.    

Tom’s talk prompted many questions on the both philosophy and practical elements of the detention centre to which he responded fully and frankly.  Jim Glass gave the vote of thanks.  

The Club members agreed to the distribution of its charity funds.  The main beneficiaries are the RNLl and DebRA, a charity that deals with Buttefly Children who are affected with a very troublesome skin disease. 


Weekly Report  26 May 2009

This week, Paul Matthews entertained the Rotary Club of Hamilton with a talk on Cornish gardens. Paul works at the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow.  Prior to moving north to live in Bridge of Weir Paul lived in the town of Looe in Cornwall where he made a hobby of visiting and photographing many of the large gardens in the County.

Cornwall gets 55 inches of rain a year, and this, coupled with the warm waters from the Gulf Stream, provides ideal conditions for growing plants, shrubs and trees from all over the world.

Paul showed slides of gardens at Ince Castle, Mount Edgecomb, Anthony House, Law Hydrock and Trebah. Law Hydrock is part of the National Trust and is the place where many apprentices are sent to be trained in horticulture.  All the other gardens are privately owned and many display unusual features.  For instance in Mount Edgecomb the highlight is an artificial geyser that has been installed; every few minutes the geyser erupts and throws its spout of water high into the air.  At Anthony House box hedges were laid out in magnificent and very ornate designs.

With the help of slides Paul showed some of the problems experienced in these gardens.  He explained how the Spanish Bluebell is invading this country and is gradually taking over and destroying our native variety of Bluebell.  He also explained that the nectar of the rhododendron flower is toxic and if a bee stays in the flower for too long, it will become intoxicated and may fly a rather unsteady path back to its hive.


After answering many questions from Rotarians, a well deserved vote of thanks was given by ex President Norman Batty.


Weekly Report -  19 May 2009

The Rotary Club of Hamilton had a busy week, particularly the Community and Vocational Committee.  The week started with the gardening squad of nine enthusiastic Rotarian gardeners completing the tidying of the garden at Udston Hospital.  Final touches were put to the weeding, plant pots, hanging baskets and seats with the hope that favourable weather during the summer will allow the residents to enjoy the garden.

On Monday at lunchtime the Club provided a successful “Kids Out Day” at the Bombay Cottage.  Twenty four children, mostly special needs children, were from the Early Learning Unit under the supervision of Jane Bell, the Deputy Head of Establishment, and another eleven members of staff.  Most of the children tasted Indian food for the first time and were enthusiastic about the variety and change in cuisine.  They were also pleased to meet the proprietor, Rotarian Nirmal Singh and his wife.  Coincidently the school had involved the children in a project on India over the past month.  The politeness and behaviour of the children was impressive.  The picture show Rotarians with the children, Teachers, Mr. and Mrs Singh and some staff of the helpful staff of the Bombay Cottage


Tuesday is now the summer meeting night for the Club.  While Hamilton Golf Club will continue to be the Club’s meeting place, on Tuesday the Club met at the New Douglas Park Stadium, the venue for the Club’s Primary Schools Quiz.  The Hamilton primary schools who take part in the quiz are always enthusiastic and the competition is usually closely contested. This year was no different. Rotarian Jim Provan asked the questions in a room filled with supporting parents, teachers and interested Rotarians all of whom enjoyed the closely fought contest.  Throughout there was a good competitive atmosphere in the room.

The quiz had ten rounds of six questions.  The rounds covered animals, books, sport, numbers, general knowledge, geography, music and Scotland.  At the end only one and half points split the top three teams with the eventual winner being the team from Townhill Primary School with St. Mary’s and Chatelherault, second and third respectively.  The other participating schools were Glenlee, St Elizabeth’s, St Paul’s and Udston.

The Primary Schools Quiz is a national competition and Tuesday night’s winners, Townhill Primary School, will go to the district finals in Clydebank Town Hall on 2 June 09.

The photo shows winners Connal Martin, Lauren Miller, Holly Grier and Luke McBridewith President Mark Williams




Weekly Report - 13 May 2009

Hamilton should be proud that it is a university town declared Ian Patrick, Campus Director of the University of the West of Scotland when he spoke to the Rotary Club of Hamilton on Tuesday.  In an interesting talk Ian traced the history of the campus from its start as Bell College to the present day. 

He told his audience that Bell College was designed to provide higher education in Lanarkshire for students who lacked the confidence or qualifications to go to University.  The original concentration was on HNC and HND courses.  The college became a higher education facility in 2001 but was too small and lacked University facilities to become a university.  To achieve its aim of becoming a university the college sought a partner and in 2007 there was a successful merger with the University of Paisley.  The combined campuses were renamed the University of the West of Scotland on 30 November 2007 to become Scotland’s largest university.  The new university is the first university in Lanarkshire and has unique geographical coverage in that its four campuses of the university are in Hamilton, Dumfries, Ayr and Paisley.

Ian explained that the university serves approximately 18,000 students, many of them part-time, and provides a new academic port folio with UWS validated degrees.  The Hamilton Campus has around 4,500 students who can study to honours level in business, computing, engineering, education, science and many other courses.  The target is to phase out sub degree provision.  The campus is also developing masters degrees in health and business and PhD studentships in health criminal justice and bioscience.

Alex Smith is the Business Development Officer at the Hamilton Campus and he spoke about the development of a centre of lifelong learning and his role in promoting the University and creating links with the schools and the business community.  He highlighted many of the part-time courses that are available and the university’s thoughts for the future development of courses.  He advised that the University has the capability to go into the workplace to provide some of the part-time courses.

Both speakers convinced Rotarians that South Lanarkshire and the town of Hamilton should be proud that it now has a university with an amazing capability to provide courses that are essential for business and industry in the area and developing its people.  Hamish Wilson provided the vote of thanks.-



Weekly Report - 5 May 2009

Anne Gordon was the speaker at the Rotary Club of Hamilton at the Club’s new time of 6.45 pm on Tuesdays.  Her subject was the Royal National Life Boat Society, a charity that is completely dependent on donations; this essential service receives no government support.

Anne provided a very detailed account of the service and in the process explained the relationship between the Coastguards, which is the government agency that organises all emergency action, and the RNLS.  The lifeboat service in Scotland last year had over 1000 emergency launches many of them arising from the leisure industry such as sailing.

All the lifeboats used by the Service are built in this country; in fact only two other countries can build boats to the Service’s high specification.  The RNLS employs its own naval architect who takes full advantage of the military technological advances when designing these very sophisticated craft.  Each ocean going boat now costs approximately £2.5m and is given a life of 20 years.  At the end of twenty years use the boats are often sold on to other countries.  Six were recently sold to China.  All boats are now self-righting.

The boats are manned by 2,500 volunteers and while in the 19th century the volunteers would be from a maritime background, only 1 in 10 now comes by that route.  All crew personnel require to be fit, learn quickly and fit into a team situation.  They all have to undertake 150 hours of training per year, some of it at the lifeboat college at Poole where survival is taught in sophisticated simulators. Only one member of the crew of each of the large boats is RNLS staff and he undertakes the role of mechanic and chief radio officer.

Anne briefly referred to the financing of the service and intimated that at the present time 70% of the Service’s funds are from legacies and the rest from donations and fund raising.  Anne concluded her talk by showing an excellent film that showed the perils that the lifeboat men experience when they are fulfilling their role and interviews of the beneficiaries of the work carried out by these brave men.  Past President Ian Bell gave the vote of thanks and included a reference to a local lady, Liz Muir, who is a member of the local RNLS branch and who is travelling to London to receive the Gold Award for her services to the RNLS.

Members of the Rotary Club were invited to the prize giving of the Hamilton and District Battalion of the Boys Brigade where Rotary President Mark Williams was pleased to receive two aqua boxes from Norman Batty, the Boys Brigade Vice President in Scotland, on behalf of the Battalion. 

Aqua boxes are plastic boxes that are used to transport useful goods and information to places requiring assistance.  Once the boxes have been emptied in the troubled areas they can be used for the purification and storage of water.  The Rotary Club of Hamilton is grateful that the Boys Brigade has become involved with the Rotary Club of Hamilton in this valuable and essential project.



Weekly Report 23 April 2009

This week, Paul Matthews entertained the Rotary Club of Hamilton with a talk on Cornish gardens. Paul works at the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow.  Prior to moving north to live in Bridge of Weir Paul lived in the town of Looe in Cornwall where he made a hobby of visiting and photographing many of the large gardens in the County.

Cornwall gets 55 inches of rain a year, and this, coupled with the warm waters from the Gulf Stream, provides ideal conditions for growing plants, shrubs and trees from all over the world.

Paul showed slides of gardens at Ince Castle, Mount Edgecomb, Anthony House, Law Hydrock and Trebah. Law Hydrock is part of the National Trust and is the place where many apprentices are sent to be trained in horticulture.  All the other gardens are privately owned and many display unusual features.  For instance in Mount Edgecomb the highlight is an artificial geyser that has been installed; every few minutes the geyser erupts and throws its spout of water high into the air.  At Anthony House box hedges were laid out in magnificent and very ornate designs.

With the help of slides Paul showed some of the problems experienced in these gardens.  He explained how the Spanish Bluebell is invading this country and is gradually taking over and destroying our native variety of Bluebell.  He also explained that the nectar of the rhododendron flower is toxic and if a bee stays in the flower for too long, it will become intoxicated and may fly a rather unsteady path back to its hive.

After answering many questions from Rotarians, a well deserved vote of thanks was given by ex President Norman Batty.



Weekly Report  - 7 April 2009

Club Member Gordon Hart provided an amusing and informative talk when he spoke to the Rotary Club of Hamilton about the vicissitudes of qualifying for his Ocean Skippers Certificate.  Gordon explained that he has been sailing for over thirty years and had climbed the qualification ladder of day skipper, coastal skipper to Yacht Master.  He had always avoided the last qualification because of the time commitment that it required.

He took advantage of an offer he felt that he couldn’t refuse.  He had to sail, under supervision, a 44’ Westerly from Southampton through the Bay of Biscay to Santiago Di Compostella.  Gordon used photographs to illustrate the various elements of the training and clothing that he had to become familiar with before the 44’ Westerly set sail.  In his own humorous way he described the equipment and its efficacy, opining that it was extremely difficult to board the emergency dinghies with the protective clothing on and if successful in getting into the dinghy and the water temperature, no matter the clothing being worn, would very quickly become a problem.  He explained the importance of thoroughness preparation required for ocean sailing particularly after the trainers had emphasised that many yachting disasters are as a result of poor preparation. 

Preparation of course included thorough examination of the weather forecasts.  The indications were that the weather would provide a real examination for the boat, the inexperienced crew and Gordon.  So it turned out.

The weather forecasts were accurate.  The voyage was tortuous, particularly in darkness.  The crew spent the first four days leaning at 40 degrees and being tossed about as the boat struggled in the huge waves of the 8-10 force winds, Sea sickness quickly became a major problem for one of the crew; another member of the crew fell victim to hypothermia while braving the elements on deck.    Having spent four days of this uncomfortable sailing, the storms subsided and the crew enjoyed the remainder of the trip in good sailing weather, sharing the Bay of Biscay with whales and dolphins.  To many of Gordon’s audience his examination didn’t seem like fun but he was pleased to report that he passed the test.

After many questions of Gordon, Past President Charlie McBain gave the vote of thanks .



Weekly Report - 26 March 2009

Thursday’s meeting of the Rotary Club Hamilton started with a presentation of a cheque for the sum of £1,200 to Yorkhill Hospital Children’s Trust.  The photograph shows Vice President Eddie Hawke and John Downie (right) presenting the cheque to Kirsten Sinclair on the Trust’s behalf.

The speaker for the evening was Euan Donaldson, manager at the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow.  His subject was the magnificent, recently restored A listed building known as Kibble Palace at the Glasgow Botanic Gardens.

The Victorian glass building has a fascinating history. Part of it originally formed a conservatory at John Kibble’s home at Coulport, Loch Long from the 1860s to the early 1870s.  In 1872 Kibble dismantled the glasshouse and transported it piece by piece up the Clyde by barge and horse-drawn cart to the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow’s west end.  The glasshouse was then reassembled and enlarged.  The reassembled glasshouse became a popular venue for concerts, public meetings flower shows, religious meetings and even the installation of both Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone as rectors of Glasgow University.  Towards the end of the century further modifications were carried out to allow the structure to be used as a glasshouse for the cultivation of exotic temperate plants, particularly the Australasian tree ferns.

The Kibble Palace is unique.  The structure of the building is of curvilinear wrought iron and glass supported by cast iron beams resting on ornate columns.  The whole building is mounted on masonry foundations.  The restoration involved the complete dismantling of the palace and its removal to South Yorkshire for repair. Kibble Palace is one of the last major iron and glass structures in Britain to be restored.  The project cost of £6.9m was met by the Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland and the Corporation of Glasgow.

Euan’s photos showed details of the amazing external and internal steel and iron ornamentation that was replaced and restored.  Every part was tagged before transportation.  It was estimated that the ironwork had received 28 layers of paint during it lifetime, all of which had to be carefully removed before the ironwork could be restored.  Fourteen thousand panes of glass were disposed of because of the lead content in the paint.  Euan illustrated some of the innovative technical features that are used to avoid disfiguring the building with cables etc.  The 120 year old trees and plants that were inhabitants of glasshouse were carefully dug up and stored at Bellahouston until they could be returned to Kibble Palace and again become a major tourist attraction within the City.

Alister Baird congratulated Euan on his splendid talk and his excellent illustrations of the technical aspects of his talk and the many temperate plants from around the world that are again on view.


Weekly Report -  19 March 2009

At the meeting of the Rotary Club of Hamilton, the proprietor of the Bombay Cottage Restaurant in the town, Nirmal Singh, intimated to the Club that he was travelling to India next week to witness the progress of the construction of the local school for girls that he is funding. 

Nirmal comes from a small village in India, sixty miles from the country’s border with Pakistan.  It was a poor village when he lived there with no roads or electricity.  While there are now roads and electricity, an aspect of Indian education in the remote parts of the country that annoys and disappoints Nirmal is the failure of the system to educate girls.  Nirmal has undertaken to build a school for girls on land allocated to him by his family.  Over and above providing an excellent educational facility for the area, the project has provided employment opportunities to local men, women and children in a very poor area of his home country.

Since Nirmal’s last report to the Club an additional floor has been constructed, mainly of glass.  At this visit he is hoping to determine a final completion date.  He will then plan for the administration of the school and the employment of its teachers.  The school will be independent, but Nirmal hopes that the many girls, whose parents can’t afford to school their children or don’t see the value in educating girls, will be able to attend the school with the aid of benefactors.  The club looks forward to hearing Nirmal’s report when he returns from India.

The committees met on Thursday night.  It was agreed that the “Kid’s Out Lunch” will be held on the 11th May and that work will start on the Udston Hospital Gardens on Saturday 16th May.  It was also agreed to hold a stroke awareness day.  In spite of many surgeries providing the necessary tests, previous Stroke Awareness events in the Town Centre have shown that there are a lot of Hamiltonians who are unaware they are at risk. 

There are also two projects that the Rotary Club of Hamilton is looking for the assistance from the Hamilton public.  The first relates to the collection of computer printing ink cartridges and mobile phones.  Collection point(s) will be publicised.

It is the time of the year when the Club is looking to present its Hamilton Citizen of the Year Trophy and is looking for the Hamilton public to help provide names of people they consider to be suitable recipients of this prestigious award.  Suggestions along with a brief summary of the reasons for proposing the person should be sent to the Club’s secretary Robin Wilkie, 45 Burnblea Street Hamilton ML3 6RF.


Weekly Report -  05 March 2009

The Rotary Club of Hamilton enjoyed an inspirational talk by Olivia Giles on Thursday.  Olivia was a high powered lawyer in Glasgow and described herself as workaholic who loved her job.  On the day she took unwell she felt the symptoms of flu and went home.  Her condition deteriorated quickly, to the point that she was struggling sit or walk, had a raging thirst, swollen neck glands and an itch.  She called for an ambulance and was admitted to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary where she lost consciousness and the doctors diagnosed the Group B strain of meningococcal septicaemia.  Her family were told to expect the worst.  Gangrene set in and in order to save her life and prevent the disease spreading, surgeons amputated her limbs.  She eloquently and movingly described the shock of this trauma, the rehabilitation, the process of having the prosthetics fitted and the painful process of learning to walk again.  It took 9 months for Olivia to become independent and she will never forget the joy and the relief of the moment she realised she could be independent.

She frankly described the prosthesis and demonstrated how it works and fits to her legs.  Having gained her mobility and independence she reviewed her prospects.  She decided to have a complete change.  She resigned from the legal firm and threw herself into boosting awareness of meningitis and raising awareness of the symptoms, particularly among young people.  The success of her rehabilitation received a lot of publicity.

With a fellow quad amputee she set up the charity “500 miles” a young Scottish charity which supports the delivery of prosthetic and orthotic services to disabled people in deprived areas of the world to get them moving.

The charity is trying to develop the capacity of these services for the benefit of future generations. “500 miles” is focusing initially on Malawi and Zambia because these are peaceful countries, so investment through training, construction and purchase of equipment is unlikely to be destroyed or dissipated by conflict. They are also among the poorest countries in the world whose national health systems are vastly under-funded and rehabilitation is a very low priority.  Less than 5% of people who could use prostheses and orthoses get them. The full cost of purchasing one adult below knee prosthesis and having it fitted is on average just £60 in Malawi and Zambia.

A new workshop has been established in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi to produce prostheses and orthoses. The charity is paying for the training of all of the new prosthetists/orthotists and will support the management and running costs of the workshop until it can become self sustaining.

The projects in Zambia are ZIOH, managed by a forceful Franciscan nun, and an airborne medical service called FlySpec.  FlySpec is run by a British orthopaedic surgeon called John Jellis (68) who takes orthopaedic and plastic/reconstructive surgery to disabled people in towns and rural communities where such services are not otherwise available. The surgeons fly the planes and carry out the operations. An operation to correct club feet on a child living in rural Zambia costs only about £100. 

Olivia provided a wonderfully uplifting and inspiring talk that understated her problems and amply displayed her drive and intelligence.  Nirmal Singh acknowledged this in his generous vote of thanks.


Weekly Report - 26 February 2009

The International Committee of the Rotary Club of Hamilton held an International Night on Thursday when they invited guests from Poland.  The main guests were Sylva Spooner and Anna Sokolowska.  Both speakers had completely different experiences since coming to Scotland.  Sylva already spoke English and came to work in the Polish Embassy in Edinburgh.  Anna came over to this country with her husband and son with absolutely no where to go and none of them able to speak a word of English.

Sylva explained the very strong links between the Poles and the Scots going back to the second world when many Polish men came to this country and contributed handsomely to Britain’s war effort.  Many of them remained in Scotland and brought their families to join them.  Links were further strengthened in 1988 when Britain overtly supported Solidarity and then the Polish transformation after 1989 led by Lech Walesa.  Poland entered a new phase of its history when the country acceded to Europe in 2004. Becoming part of the European Community prompted mass emigration from Poland to Britain.  The recent deteriorating value of sterling against the Euro has resulted in many immigrant families returning to their homeland.

Sylva advised the company that the links between Poles and Scots is strong and that many Poles are well integrated into society.  The consuls in Edinburgh, Manchester and Northern Ireland are kept very busy and it is reckoned that Polish is the fourth language in Scotland after English, Punjab and Urdu.  She praised the Scottish government and Scottish local authorities for the support Polish immigrants receive in respect of learning English, schooling and further education.  The provision of Saturday Schools has helped.  Also, the constantly improving “Welcome Packages” has rendered it easier for new arrivals.  All these elements have assisted integration.

When Anna arrived in this country the family had only one contact and no one spoke English.  Anna said that in her first year in Scotland she spent 20 hours a week learning English.  She then started doing voluntary work with the Citizens Advice Bureau where she was happy dealing with a variety of people with different problems and thereby improving her English.  She gained entry to university and has since graduated B.A. in Business Management.  It was more difficult for her husband who relied on picking up the language from workmates. He had to work so hard that he didn’t have the time to attend classes.  Anna admitted to liking Scotland and intends to remain here.  Past President John Downie gave the vote of thanks.  The photograph shows John with Vice President Eddie Hawke and guests Sylva, Anna and university lecturer Bob Smith.


On Saturday the International Committee organised bag filling at Morrison’s store.  Once again Rotarians were pleased to meet the people of Hamilton and thank them for their generosity that helped them raise £1,173 that will go towards Polio Plus and Shelter Boxes.

Rotary International’s campaign to eradicate polio was highlighted this week as buildings throughout Scotland were lit up with the Rotary wheel and the message ‘end polio now’. In 1986, when Rotary International started its campaign, there were more than 340,000 cases of polio a year throughout the world. Rotary’s campaign, helped by other agencies, has reduced that number to less than 2000.  Polio is now restricted to India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Rotary International has committed itself to raising 130 million dollars which will take its contribution to over a billion dollars.

Two weeks ago Bill Gates donated 250 million dollars to Rotary’s campaign; the British government donated 150 million dollars and the German government 130 million dollars. The District Governor of Rotary in the west of Scotland , Catherine Stewart, said last night: ‘Last year we lit up the Houses of Parliament. This year Rotary will be lighting up Sydney Opera House, the Coliseum in Rome and other important buildings throughout the world. In Scotland the messages will light up the Glasgow City Chambers, Culzean and the Municipal Buildings in Greenock.  As Rotarians we are committed to ending polio now’.


Weekly Report - 12 February 2009

The Rotary Club of Hamilton enjoyed a night with a difference when George Rodger addressed the Club as the “Musical Accountant”.  George related his life story with the thread of his passion for music running through it.  Having always been surrounded by various styles of music as a boy at home, George started performing at school, church and Youth Fellowship. He told his audience about his fist guitar that his mother broke over his head.  His mother relented and bought him a new instrument that allowed him to set up his first four-piece band.  Because the band was playing three to four times a week his studies suffered.  Eventually he took a grip of himself and after various jobs he decided to study accountancy.

Once qualified, George, an enthusiast in all that he does, threw himself into various accountancy roles all the time maintaining his interest in music and gradually making a name for himself playing with the “big bands” that played in the Albert, Majestic, Locarno, Metropole and Albert dance halls in Glasgow.  He even played in a backing band for Lulu.

He was Accounts Manager with Yarrows Shipbuilding when it was nationalised.  He didn’t like the new set up so moved to be an accountant with a legal firm.  While he enjoyed that work he decided twenty five years ago to go into private practice on his own.  He now boasts of clients all over the world.  Being self employed has allowed him to pursue his passion, playing the guitar, on his own terms.

George carries his guitar everywhere he goes.  He has played all over the world and, while he has not always been paid, he has never wanted for a drink.  A new career has taken off; he plays jazz with musicians from his past, does a lot of playing for charities and has started the Uddingston Jazz Club that meets once a month.

George openly admitted he just loves playing the guitar and performing.  True to his philosophy and earlier comments, he brought out his guitar and played tunes that formed a quiz and included some audience participation by way of singing.  Kenneth Miller thanked George on behalf of the club for an excellent and entertaining talk.



Weekly Report - 5 February 2009

Fundraising for Yorkhill Hospital through the Yorkhill Children’s’ Foundation was the subject Kirsten Sinclair spoke about at the Rotary Club of Hamilton last Thursday.  A truly excellent speaker, Kirsten stressed the importance of fundraising to the hospital and the children in its care.

Yorkhill is the main children’s hospital in the west of Scotland and is a recognised centre of excellence that receives children from all over Scotland.  Approximately 150,000 children were treated last year, some as out-patients but many as long stay patients. 

The Foundation was set up in 2001 with the aim of providing the extra services and equipment needed throughout Yorkhill which would otherwise not be available.  Since its beginning in excess of £3m has been raised and distributed throughout the hospital. As a recognised centre of excellence the Foundation recognises the need for research and development.  This year the Foundation awarded a package of £100,000 comprising £40,000 by way of small grants for start up projects, £40,000 for a fellowship and £20,000 for a studentship (PhD) 

It has also given donations to specific wards.  An interesting donation was for a DVD to put in the scanner to make the experience less traumatic for the children that need to be scanned and to help them to remain still throughout the process.  Very important in the scheme of things has been the construction of a fully functional cinema in the lecture theatre.  In partnership with Medicinema UK the hospital is able to provide the full cinema experience and thereby break the monotony for the children, particularly the long-stay patients. The benefits of this are already evident. She alluded to many other projects that these funds are used for.

In 2005 the Foundation provided capital funds to double the size of the intensive care unit and the accommodation suite.  The advantages of both these projects have been immense for patients and parents alike particularly as these facilities now have windows that provide scenic views of Glasgow and the River Clyde to enjoy.

The Foundation comprises 6/7 full members and three fund raisers.  Every year so far the Foundation has exceeded its fundraising targets and each year they wonder at what has been achieved to aid the children who experience Yorkhill Hospital.

Past President David Pettigrew gave the vote of thanks



Weekly Report - 24 January 2009

A well attended meeting of the Rotary Club of Hamilton enjoyed Nancy McGillvary talking about Credit Unions.  Originally from Livingston, Janet now lives in Blantyre and is General Manager of the South Lanarkshire Credit Union Network.

She provided the interesting history of Credit Unions which goes back to 1849 in Germany and was initiated in farming communities with the purpose of assisting people to help themselves out of debt and poverty.  The principle of Credit Unions spread quickly throughout Europe to the States, Australia and New Zealand.   The United Kingdom was one of the last countries to develop the present concept of Credit Unions because of its sophisticated banking system at the time. A Credit Union is a financial cooperative that is non-profit making and offers a convenient and low interest borrowing service to its members.    Credit Unions are strongest in America, the largest being the one run by US Navy

Nancy said that the principle has been adopted world wide and in Britain they provide valuable community led organisations that are friendly and sympathetic and which provide services for people who may not be able to get the services from the banking system, particularly at present.  Loans are limited to a percentage of the Union’s holdings but she feels that loans of the kind offered by Credit Unions are essential in the communities that they mostly function in.

In Lanarkshire there are 7 Credit Unions.  In 1990 the Lanarkshire organisations started working together and in 1999 they formalised this arrangement by forming a network.  Credit Unions in Lanarkshire continue to be run by a Board of Directors and other committees elected by their members at the Annual General Meeting.  All credit Unions are registered in Accordance with the Credit Unions Act 1979 and the Industrial and Provident Societies 1965-78.  Each organisation is safeguarded by being audited once a year and submit its accounts to its members and the Financial Services Authority.  New legislation will allow money from community groups to be held in current accounts where banks aren’t keen to provide them.

Nancy’s talk was wide ranging and emphasised the need for the services that Credit Unions offer in poorer areas where residents find the banking system less than user friendly.  The talk prompted many questions.  Reverend Arthur Barrie gave the vote of thanks.


Weekly Report -  17 January 2009

The Rotary Club of Hamilton enjoyed their 250th annual celebration of Robert Burns birth at Hamilton Golf Club on Thursday.  A large company of members and guests enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining evening organised by Ian Bell.  With President Mark Williams having enthusiastically welcomed the company, the haggis was piped in by Stewart Porteous, carried aloft by member John Burn, and robustly addressed by Jim Love.  An excellent and well researched Immortal Memory was proposed by new member Bryan McKenzie.

Past President Alister Baird gave a humorous and personal toast to the lassies and was maybe fortunate that there was no reply forthcoming from any of the lady guests. Sheila Bell got some of her own back when introducing the recitations which she shared with Moira Condie.  Both ladies are past Presidents of Hamilton’s Inner Wheel Club and were excellent in their presentations of some of the bard’s best loved poems

The entertainment was provided by soprano Carol Whitelaw, who chose her songs well and presented them beautifully, and Archie Cowie, who provided an amusing rendition of Holy Willie’s Prayer.  President-elect Eddie Hawke drew the whole evening to a close in a droll vote of thanks.



Weekly Report - 10 January 2009

At its first meeting of the New Year the members of the Rotary Club of Hamilton were taken on a trip round the world when Ian Park from Strathaven gave his illustrated talk entitled “Boots and Cameras”.  Ian explained that the boots were climbing boots.  He told the Club that he has been involved with the Scouting movement for over 50 years and that his interest in climbing started when he took a group of Venture Scouts up Ben Venue.  He was so enthused by the experience that he started the Strathaven Climbing Club in 1967.

Initially Ian tackled Grahams, mountains over 2000 feet high, then Corbetts which are over 2500 feet and graduating to Monros, which are over 3000 feet, individually and with the scouts.  He was able to show photographs taken in the early 60s that illustrated the primitive equipment that was used at that time and some of the climbs achieved without ropes.  Some of the photos of the Scottish peaks were breathtaking and some of the loch scenes outstandingly beautiful.

Scouting and climbing are Ian’s main interest and the enthusiasm he has for both has spread to some of the scouts; one of the scouts has graduated to be a world class climber who has been seen on television and has written a book on climbing

Having “done Scotland” Ian, his scouts and the climbing club were looking to increase their experience.  They started with Alpine climbing when the climbers had to rise in the early morning to ensure that the climb could be achieved when the snow was good.  Ian’s illustrated tour, enhanced by the quality of photographs of world peaks, was impressive.  He has been to America with the Scouts and the same group did a charity climb in Morocco.  Ian enjoyed Morocco because the climbers had porters.  He talked enthusiastically about climbs in South Africa and New Zealand before relating stories about Peru, India, the Himalyas, Canadian Rockies and Slovenia also amply illustrated by awe inspiring photographs and the dangerous elements in some of the climbs.

Ian concluded his talk by describing a charity trip he made with 12 Explorer Scouts to Chipenbele in Zambia.  While the group enjoyed some climbing a lot of their time was spent constructing two water towers and providing assistance and training to deprived youngsters.  As a result of his work with the scouts Ian has developed a huge respect for the youth of today. His trips require a lot of preparation and he has to go through many legal hoops which can prove to be an impediment to taking youngsters to these exciting and dangerous environments. The response he gets from these youngsters, however, makes it all worth while.  Jim Provan provided the vote of thanks



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