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Thanks to the passion of Dr Elizabeth Sneyd QSM of Wellington, a 50 piece orchestra comprising children from the Porirua region is thriving and developing in our midst.

Speaking at Plimmerton Rotary on 24th May, Dr Sneyd explained her desire to encourage local children who may never have been exposed to classical music, to not only learn to play various instruments but to reach a standard where they were able to perform for discerning audiences. “We currently draw children from eleven local Decile 1 schools. From a handful of children just 3 years ago we now have over 100 participating children. Our goal is to create two outstanding children’s orchestras in this region.”

The basic philosophy of the orchestras’ future success was the pursuit of excellence. “Regardless of the background the child comes from, we believe strongly that in order to achieve our goal we must at all times encourage our musicians to strive to be the very best they can be. We want to provide several public concerts each year, not only to raise funds for our future development but also to enhance the quality of our performances.”

Central to the future success of the project was the creation of the Virtuoso Strings Orchestra Charitable Trust. “Already we have received many generous donations from various sources such as the Nikau Foundation, Zonta, Inner Wheel and Rotary. We have approached the music establishment in Wellington for support but their response has been underwhelming.”

One activity which Dr Sneyd was keen to develop in the future was to have the orchestra perform in other regions in New Zealand. Their recent South Island tour, financed from donations, was a huge success. “We performed in an amazing array of venues including two memorable concerts in Dunedin, one at Knox Church and the other at Larnach Castle on the Otago peninsula. The experience of performing in different places in front of different audiences was hugely beneficial for our young musicians.”

Dr Sneyd spoke of the camaraderie that had developed, not only among members of the orchestra but also their families, who were keen to see their children perform and to succeed. “Most of our musicians are aged 12, 13 and 14. Having the orchestra as their focus empowers them to stay out of trouble, unlike some of their peers. Many positive friendships have developed within the wider group.”

“When I was just starting out with this venture, someone said to me that what I was doing was just a drop in the ocean and would never make a meaningful difference. I replied with a quote from Mother Theresa: ‘That may be so, but without drops there would be no ocean.’ ”

The Virtuoso Strings Orchestra’s next performance is on Saturday 2nd July at Porirua College. Tickets are $15.00, and are obtainable from three outlets. You can find all the details here.


Special Event Advice - Mystery Guest
Enjoy this wonderfully tantalising invitation prepared by Phillip Reidy and bring your partners and friends along to enjoy the evening.


Rotary Police Vetting Forms
By now most members will have received the set of Rotary Police Vetting forms. If not, please contact Graeme Tongs who will have your copy at the next meeting.

It's easy to miss completing or signing a form. Two ‘applicant’ signatures are required as explained below.

  • D9940 Police Vetting Application Procedure May 16
  • D9940 Request-and-consent-form Rotary Member – Plimmerton (Enter your full name of page 1 and complete page 3. On page 4 ‘Section 2 continued’, please cross or tick both boxes and sign). Leave page 2 ‘Evidence of Identity’ for John Grigg to sign.
  • D9940 Consent form May 16 Plimmerton – Please complete and sign
  • D9940 Trusted Referee* form May 16 – Referee to sign. 

*Any person who meets the criteria as stated on the Police form may sign as referee and enter their details on the back of the photo.
Forms can either be given to Graeme Tongs to mail or mailed direct to the address on the consent form. Please let Graeme know if you have mailed direct. The only details kept by our club is the date on the Rotarian’s consent form in case mail is not received by John Grigg on behalf of Rotary District 9940.

Richard Anstice introduces himself
It is a club tradition that new members give an account of themselves a few weeks after they join. This week it was the turn of Richard Anstice, BA, LLM, who had no difficulty making himself heard and has already made his mark in the club.

Richard is a commercial lawyer who moved from Auckland to Porirua and works in the office of Maude and Miller. He prefers the more varied work here over the large corporate environment in Auckland.

Richard talked mainly about his early life. He was born in Auckland, but lived in Apia and then Fiji in the early nineties because of his father’s postings with IBM. Richard evidently enjoyed an idyllic boyhood in the Islands.

In 1999 Richard went to Colorado as a Rotary exchange student, of which he has vivid and fond memories.

Club notices

Julie McLagan reminded the club of the Rotary Best Speaker Awards on Saturday May 28th. All arrangements are now in place and club members are strongly urged to attend what should be an inspiring event. Julie thanked Roy Gilmour and Philip Reidy for donating the new teardrop banner.

Wendy Betteridge gave us advance notice of this year’s celebrity debate, to be run in August by ourselves and Mana Zonta. Wendy asked members to donate raffle prizes over the next few weeks.

Brian Waddle asked for volunteers for Saturday (28th) to bag kindling, weather permitting. The venue is on the left along Jones Deviation, and the timing is 0930 to 1230.

Peter Cox asked for names of those planning to attend the District Changeover, at Tawa Rotary on Sunday June 26th at 1.00 pm. Cost is $20 per head.

From Decile One to Virtuoso

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