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York’s Amazing Maze On October 27th we welcomed Tom Piercey the owner of York Maze who told us the fantastic story of how from little seeds on a small farm with 2 employees he has built a multi-million pound business now employing some 120 staff. On a farm above what is now a Park & Ride site he designed his first maze and opened in 2002 and attracted 9,000 visitors. The following year with a more advanced design he saw more than 25,000 people through the gate. In 2004 he met and employed a Partners Leisure consultant to assist with marketing the attraction, put up his prices by £1 and doubled his visitor numbers. Created from over 1 million living, growing maize plants York Maze is the largest in the UK and each new season brings with it a new maze design ready to baffle visitors. This together with a wide range of rides and other attractions saw more than 100,000 visitors this past summer. A great talk from an inspirational and energetic business man.
What’s in The Hut? Founded in 2011, and sited in a brick building opposite York Hospital that was converted from a Bowling Club Clubhouse ( “The Hut” was the name chosen by its members) The Hut is a small but amazing charity led by Emma Harris, who was our speaker on November 3rd. The Hut offers support, creative crafts, skills training and non-judgemental fellowship to 160 “members” who have varying degrees of enduring mental health challenges. Emma has been Manager there for over 2 years, and seen huge growth in the demand for their services which are provided from 10am until 3.30pm five days a week on a “drop-in” basis. There are now 3 staff and about 25 volunteers who provide a warm, safe space which enables their members to relax and have some “normality” in their lives – a critical function for them since they are often very lonely. Emma exuded compassion, empathy and a real emotional commitment to her work, which was heart-warming and held everyone’s attention. We hope to be able support “The Hut” in the future, a great example of a small local charity really making a difference to people’s lives.
Members interested in visiting "The Hut" may like to note that they are having a Christmas Fair on Saturday November 25th (11- 1pm) where items made by their members are on sale. Details here
Also at this meeting, President Brian handed over two cheques to local charities to support their critical work in the community.
Home Start, who provide help to struggling local families in York with small children, were represented by our guest Deborah Hilton.
Rotarian Andew Dunkinson a Salvation Army Major, collected the cheque for from the Club to help purchase toys for the Xmas Presents Appeal run by the Salvation Army in York
Spanish Fiesta Maravilloso ! This year's fundraiser courtesy of the generosity of the Novotel, was on a Spanish theme. On November 7th eighty members, partners and guests assembled for a wonderful evening reminiscent of a balmy night on Barcelona's shores, or in Madrid's city cafes (depending on your political preference) as, accompanied by a rolling musical slide-show of Spanish icons, people and places, a huge feast of Gazpacho, Chorizo, Tortilla, Paella and Spanish Chicken, amongst others, prepared by VJ and his chefs, was served and devoured with pleasure... El deleite era nuestro! We were then serenaded by our guest Mark Gaultier who played some sublime classical guitar pieces from Spanish composers. Finally the raffle organised by Janet Morley, with all Spanish items as prizes, was drawn. It was a memorable evening, and huge thanks go to Diana Naish and her hardworking team for making it such a success. And again our thanks go to the manager Kai, Julie, VJ and all the staff at Novotel for their generosity and superb service and friendliness. Best of all, the total amount raised for our Charity Fund on the night was £2500. Bravo!!
York Mind On November 10th Holly Bilton and Vicky Blakey-Archer from York Mind gave us a most professional talk about this very important organization and the great things they provide for our local community and wider afield. York Mind was formed in 2011 through the merger of the local mental health charities York & District Mind and Our Celebration. They are an independent local mental health charity which aims to empower individuals experiencing mental ill health to start on the pathway to recovery. Their mission is to empower individuals to recover from mental health issues - just as important as recovering from physical health issues; and they provide a wide range of services including Young People’s project, Mentoring, Befriending and Advocacy. They also focus on stress related problems and through education try to help individuals and organisations deal with this proactively. Great work from passionate people who do make a difference.
Supporting Refugees in York On the face of it, York may not seem much impacted by the refugee crises that afflict the world. But York is in fact a designated City of Sanctuary and has seen a modest but significant influx of refugees in recent years, particularly Turkish Kurds and other refugees from Kurdistan, Syria and Afghanistan. Refugee Action York (RAY), a charity set up 15 years ago to assist refugees, provides a weekly “Hub” each Sunday in Clifton Moor where over 80 refugees and asylum seekers have a safe sanctuary where they can receive advice, practical help, fellowship and free language tuition. RAY also run events and work to provide information for the public. On November 12th President Brian, Community Services Chair Keith Hayton, and Fred Anderson visited the “Hub” session led by RAY manager Carrie Wheater, spoke with trustees Sally Bourton and Daryl Walsh, and met many of the people being helped by RAY (known as “Service Users”). We were made very welcome. President Brian presented a cheque from the Club Charity Fund for £1000 to John Williamson who runs the RAY Men’s Club, a weekly get-together to provide support and relaxation for heads of household who often find it most difficult to re-adjust to their new cultural environment in the UK. Our contribution will support the Men's Club’s activities for a year. This is a new area where our club Community Service team have decided to help in the City, since incoming refugees are part of our local community and thus part of our focus. Indeed it was both enlightening and humbling to see the help provided to these needy families.
Dragon Boat 2017 Presentations A large attendance of over 50 gathered in the historic Merchant Adventurers’ Hall on November 14th for the awarding of trophies and cheques resulting from July’s highly successful event, including this year a special celebration of surpassing the £1m target for local charitable donations resulting from 15 years of the Club running the Dragon Boat Challenge in York. In the company of the Lord Mayor Barbara Boyce, and her Civic Party, Dragon Boat Chair David Fotheringham and President Brian thanked the four Sponsors of the event, the Rotarians who had made the day such a success, and especially the teams who had raised a near-record £80k sponsorship, resulting in the 5-year total exceeding £1.02m. The Mayor presented the trophies and charity cheques to the winners, and to two teams – Tom Rhodes & Sons, and William Birch & Sons - who had raised the most sponsorship (over £5k each). “First instalment” cheques of £12,500 each were presented to Alzheimer’s Society and Macmillan Cancer Support, the Rotary 2017 beneficiaries, and their representatives thanked the teams, and the Club, for their achievement. It was announced that the 2018 beneficiaries would be Citizens’ Advice York, and York Mind. With wine and nibbles and a wonderful positive atmosphere, it was an evening to remember.
Many thanks to Lewis Outing who was our special guest, and who took these photos.
Theatre Outing Keith reports... On November 4th the Community Service committee members and partners took 28 guests to see the matinee performance of the musical, ‘Barnum’, at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre. This has been done for many years by the committee and aims to take as many as possible, of those who do not find it easy to go out, to an entertainment. As many of our guests do not really like being out after dark then the matinee performance is ideal. This year we were treated to a superb performance by the young cast showing their ability, not only to sing and dance, but also to perform some circus tricks like juggling and even walking the tightrope. Altogether a lively and entertaining afternoon and one which was enjoyed by both Rotarians and their guests. It was also very heart-warming to receive many thanks of appreciation afterwards. A real ‘thank you’ to all those Rotarians and partners who helped by contacting our guests beforehand and transporting them to and from the theatre and generally made them feel welcome, even providing ice-creams at the interval in many cases.
Golf Presentations During our meeting on November 17th Golf organiser David Sweeney did a review of the summer's Golf activity in the Club, and particularly the two annual tournaments that took place between May and October, the Shouksmith Trophy and the associated Thompson Plate. The winners and runners-up were presented with their silverware, win and golf balls by President Brian. A tribute was paid to David for his many years of service in organising these and
many other golf events for the Club over the last
Welcome to Dave Also at this meeting, we were very pleased to welcome Dave Marchant into membership of the Club. Dave served in the RAF flying Vulcans and then becoming a flying instructor. He moved to York recently and will be a great addition to the Club.
Moors and Cornets Nineteen of us (plus Winnie) set off from Lastingham on the Club walk on November 16th, the "Lastingham Round" across the North York Moors to Hutton-le-Hole and back. After initial rain, it turned into a glorious day, so good that Graham, donned in his ubiquitous shorts, must have decided ice cream was the only way to stave off the heat at the rest-stop in Hutton. Just under 5 miles through woods and lovely moorland led us back at the Blacksmith's Arms in Lastingham for a welcome and delicious lunch.
Novotel celebrates their 50th year On November 19th , as Novotel across the world celebrated their 50th trading year "simultaneously", our Club were invited to join in and invite some of our charity partners and other guests along to a buffet lunch in their restaurant. President Brian, Community Service Chair Keith Hayton, Dragon Boat Treasurer Steve, and their wives, were joined by Ashley Jones from Door 84, Jim Wallace and Ashley Mason (respectively Chairman and Interim CEO of York Blind and Partially Sighted Society) and Hannah Jackson, recently of RNLI and now Fundraising Manager with English Heritage. It was an informal and relaxed affair, with lots of discussion about Rotary's work, objectives and "reaching out" plans thrown in too! Many thanks and congratulations to Kai, Julie and all at the York Novotel for the opportunity to help celebrate their achievement.
l-r Ashley Jones (Door 84), Hannah Jackson (RNLI) President Brian and Trish Joscelyne, Jim Wallace (YBPSS), Judy Burton, Ashley Mason (YBPSS), Janet and Keith Hayton, Steve Burton at the Novotel celebration
President’s Lunch The annual lunch to celebrate and appreciate the support given to Rotarians by their partners took place at the York Racecourse on November 24th. The sunlight and warmth streaming through the windows of the Dante Suite was matched by the fellowship and atmosphere inside, as 110 members and guests enjoyed a delicious lunch, followed by a surprise feature to celebrate the Club’s Dragon Boat success over the past 15 years, culminating in the raising of over £1.02m for local charities over that period. President Brian thanked all those who had helped in this achievement, both members, Inner Wheel, partners and friends; and mentioning in particular the original members of the organising committee, five of whom still serve in that capacity. Following this, two previous plus one current chairmen of the Dragon Boat committee, all of whom have also given exceptional service to the Club in other areas, were presented with Paul Harris Fellowships – David Impey, for his service also as 2005 President, Fellowship Committee Chair and Joint District Shop organiser; Mike Fieldsend for service also as 2015 President, project leader of Fundraising events, and Media Officer for the Club; and current chair David Fotheringham for 32 years service including acting as Club Secretary and his outstanding role in our special £1m year. Three members who, closely supported by their wives, have been exceptional examples of “Service above Self”.
The speaker at President’s Lunch was Wendy Mitchell. Wendy’s remarkable story started when she was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s three years ago. She set out on a remarkable mission to educate others about this condition and seek improvements in how it is dealt with, supported and understood by the public and particularly by housing and community planners. She is now an advisor to many government and local groups, is writing a book and is in the middle of preparing her second documentary film. She also writes a daily blog. whichmeamitoday.wordpress.comA remarkable lady. Her inspirational talk emphasised the positive and educated us all.
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Young Chefs in action at Millthorpe School Frank reports... Saturday afternoon December 2nd at Millthorpe School produced some excellent dishes from the five students who entered the Rotary Young Chef competition for the first time. The winner was Taylan Peacock with the beautifully presented menu shown below. Special thanks to the two judges Diane Naish and Graeme Robertson and to the committed, enthusiastic teacher Greg Dunn. Taylan will now compete in the York Area cook-off at York College on 15th January
A future for Rotaract in York? Following the recent closure of the York Rotaract Club at the University of York, Rebecca Mendoza has been looking at way we could support a new Club based in the City rather than on campus. She engaged a pro bono consulting group, YCC (York Community Consulting), who are made up of students at the University, to do some research and make recommendations. On November 29th at the Ron Cooke Hub, Rebecca, together with President Brian and Rotarians from other York Clubs and from RIBI, attended a very professional presentation by YCC of their findings. The outcome was a positive one, with excellent ideas and food for thought for us to move forward. For such young and inexperienced people, the YCC consultants were tremendously impressive in their maturity, depth of knowledge and grasp of the project - well done to them - and our thanks!
Visit to The Retreat A group of 20 members and partners were welcomed by the staff at The Retreat, a residential facility for particular mental health conditions in York, on December 8th. With about 50 beds, this charity was started originally in 1796, founded by Quaker William Tuke to provide humane and caring treatment of mental health patients, using principles of gainful activity and fresh air and exercise, rather than restraint as had been favoured prior to this time. Dr Kim Bevan, Director of Development explained that today about half the patients are older adults with dementia challenges, and other units cater for conditions such as eating disorders, personality disorders and the effects of trauma. There is a high ratio of staff to patients, and the caring environment was very evident. As part of her presentation, Kim included a video produced by the King's Fund which explained some of the complexities of mental health treatment options available today in the UK - not all of which are well co-ordinated or understood. The video can be seen by clicking here. Many thanks to Kim and to Jo Skinner for giving us their time and such a good insight into the wonderful work of The Retreat.
RYLA Reports At our meeting on December 8th we were delighted to welcome Phoebe Delamere and Charlotte Foster-Lill, both final-tear students at the Mount School, and both recent participants in the Rotary Youth Leadership Award programme at Hebdon Hey during the summer. Their entertaining presentation, slickly narrated by both of them in turn, gave members a good idea of the benefits, the challenges and the nightmare early-morning starts that were part of their experience. They both clearly developed skills and particularly confidence through this programme, as was evident from their presentation (their first ever). Congratulations to them both for their achievement and their excellent talk.
Salvation Army's Xmas Appeal Under the leadership of Rotarian Andrew Dunkinson, the local Salvation Army in York is ready to start distribution of the thousands of toys and dry foods stocks that have been donated by local residents, schools, supermakets and others (including a donation from our own Club) since September. Around 650 children from nearly 200 needy families will have a brighter Christmas as a result. Distribution will start on December 13th, mostly through Social workers.
The Cooking continues.. Frank reports... Six girls from All Saints School competed for the Rotary Young Chef award. Grace Marshall was selected to represent All Saints school in the Rotary East Group cook off at York College on 15th January. Judges Hazel Hart and Graeme Robertson were impressed with the wide range of flavours on offer. Grace’s menu of potato rosti ,bacon and poached egg followed by a dark chocolate mousse with profiteroles was the winner .
A record entry of 17 youngsters ,9 boys and 8 girls, for the Young Chef competition at Fulford School on 13th December
The two selected to represent the school in the York Area competition at York College were Ella Batty and Timothy Mills. Timothy’s main course of salmon with noodles was as tasty as it looks on the photo. Chief judge Steph Moon the celebrity food writer reckoned it was the best of the five competitions she has assessed at the school and congratulated teacher Sarah Urmston on enthusing so many young people.