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Graeme Blick was asked to share his reflections during his membership of the Club. He has included the power point presentation that he would have shown as he spoke. 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner Reflections.pdf

Thank you, President Denise, for the opportunity to reflect on our time at Plimmerton Rotary.  

Our story starts 30 years ago when Christine, I, Cameron and Stephine were just completing 2 years working for the University of Colorado in Boulder Colorado.  On returning to Whitby, I found myself in a carpool with 
Simon Lillico, Peter Lillico’s son. Simon happened to mention that his father was a member of Rotary and if I was interested, I should talk to him.   And so began almost 30 years association with the Rotary Club of Plimmerton when through Peter and long time Toastmaster friend David Knight I was invited to join and was inducted into the Club on 1 August 1994 under Randall Shaw’s presidency (Slide 1).

When I joined one of the major fund raisers for the club was cash for cans, a project whereby we paid out for aluminum cans from the public and then on sold the cans for recycling for club funds.  A few weeks after joining I found myself on duty in Tawa along with Randall Shaw and Kevin Millard collecting and weighing cans before payment was made.  It was a great way to spend a Saturday morning getting to know fellow Rotarians.

I reflected on the many fund-raising projects the club has run but the one that stands out is the woodchopping project (Slide 2).  It started over 30 years ago when we helped clear some old trees at Randall and Jenny Shaw’s.  It then moved on to former member Margaret Henderson’s property in Pauatahanui where some large Macrocarpa trees had been felled and needed clearing.  There are many stories to be told about woodchopping over the years under Peter Lillico’s leadership but the one that stands out was the time that Ben Wilkinson, a former member, decided that we should use some black powder he had to blow up and spilt the trunks so that we could cut them up.  All went well until in one explosion a large piece of bark flew off a tree trunk hitting Ben in the forehead.  We rushed him to hospital and agreed that we would say that he had tripped and cut his head open on concrete rather than owning up to the fact that we were using explosives for fear of involving the police.   

Over the years there have been many other memorable projects: (Slide 3)
•    Building a school classroom in Vietnam
•    Funding Rotahomes in Fiji
•    Raising funds for Swee Tan
•    Building a skateboard track
•    Building the Te Ara Piko walkway
•    Establishing the MENZShed and Community Garden

Then there were the many social events: (Slide 4)
•    Attending the annual conferences and dressing on the Saturday nights
•    Guess who’s coming to dinner
•    The Annual Queens Birthday trip to Mt Ruapehu
•    The annual changeovers and dancing into the small hours of the morning

In 2001 I succeeded Wendy as Club President and continued Ted’s vision of cathedral building (Slide 5).  It was during this year that the club was approached by Jenny Pyatt from Pauatahanui who had the dream of a Food and Farm Festival at Battle Hill.    The idea was put to the club and received an enthusiastic response and after a little arm-twisting Randall Shaw agreed to take on the chair role of festival organizing committee.  And so, on 17 March 2002 we held our first Food and Farm Festival raising $8000.  (Slide 6)     This ran for a number of years and while a great fun event it failed to raise a lot of funds for the club and unfortunately it finally ceased.

Over the next few years, I became involved in a number of District roles including:
•    being AG for DGs Allan Birrell and Graham Douglas, 
•    sitting on the District Membership Committee
•    assisted with Rotary Institute presentations to clubs; and
•    sitting on the Group Study Exchange (GSE) committee with Christine.    

A highlight came in 2007 when after being prompted by Jim Dearsley, a former GSE team leader, I applied for and was appointed GSE Team leader for a team of 4 young professionals to upstate New York. (Slide 7).  This was a great opportunity to learn more about the internationally of Rotary and we still keep in contact team members and several of our hosts in the US.  It is a great pleasure to see our good friends Nan, David and their son Calder here tonight all the way from Millbrook upstate New York who hosted us while in the States.

However, our involvement in Rotary was about to take a dramatic turn when one Sunday evening in 2010 the then DG David Watt rang asking if he could come out home as he had something to discuss, and we arranged for him to come the following Monday evening.  Monday night arrived with a howling southerly blowing and at 7 o’clock on the dot the doorbell rang.  We invited him in, and Christine said she would disappear downstairs so that David and I could talk – he said that he wanted to speak to both of us which at the time seemed a bit strange.  We sat down in the lounge, and he said that the RCoP (in David Pines Presidential year) (Slide 8) had put my name forward to be considered for DG and that District had supported that nomination and he was here to invite me to be District Governor for 2012/13.  This came as a bolt out of the blue and Christine and I were both speechless, but we agreed that we would have a week to think about it.   I sought advice from Graeme Press who had been the clubs first DG back in 1997/98.  I remember Graeme saying that ‘his DG year was the best year of his life, but he would never do it again for a million dollars’.   After some further thought we agreed to the role and so began a new chapter in our Rotary journey that opened up a whole new aspect of Rotary Internationally.  I decided that I would continue to work during this year, and that Christine would retire to become my travelling secretary – it was a truly joint effort, and I couldn’t have done it without her support.  

We soon formed a very close bond with our fellow DGs (Slide 9) – a friendship that lasts today.  Under World President Sakuji Tanaka, whose moto for the year was ‘Peace Through Service’, we became known as the Peace Govs.   We had DG training in San Diego where we got to know our World President (Slide 10) and then it was District change over here in Te Rauparaha Arena (Slide 11) and we were on our way.

Christine and I are thankful of the club for the huge support that we received in our year as DG.  Good friend Allan Roberts was to be Club President during 2012/13, in our year as DG but sadly Allan passed away before this could happen.  Bob Austin stepped in as Club President that year and I have to thanks Bob and his team for all the support we were given.  Bob and Ross Garner (Slide 12) lead the District Conference Committee, and we agreed to hold one of the first joint District Conferences with District 9910 in Rotorua with 700 attendees. (Slide 13) The theme for the conference was Pushing Boundaries and some great costumes came out during the conference dinner.  There were many others in the club who supported us in our year as DG, Graham Craig who produced the monthly District newsletter and Adrianne Murray as District Secretary to name just a few.  A highlight of the year was our DGs visit back to this club (Slide14) – a night to dress up and one we won’t forget.  It was a great year and as Graeme Press had earlier noted, one of the best years of our lives.  

Involvement with District has continued and 10 years on we still have an involvement with District having been: 
•    Convention Promotion Chair
•    District Membership Chair, 
•    Risk and Finance Committee Member
•    Rotary Foundation Chair, and
•    D9940 Council of Legislation Rep (Slide 15)

However, Rotary has been all about our fellow Rotarians, their partners and families (Slide 16).  On our journey we have met some amazing and humbling people both here and overseas.  We have made great friendships in this club, across our District, across New Zealand and Internationally (Slide 17).

Rotary is changing slowly.    33 years after woman were first admitted into Rotary, we now have our first woman RI World President, Jennifer Jones, (Slide 18).    When I was DG 10 years ago there were 2000 Rotarians in our District and 60 clubs, today there are 1100 Rotarians and 45 clubs.  Carol Green has just been appointed DGN and she will likely be the last DG for D9940 as we look to merges across Districts in NZ due to falling membership.

When I joined Rotary nearly 30 years ago, I was one of the youngest members of the club and we had very few retired members, nearly 30 years on, dare I say it, I am probably still one of the younger members of the club and one of the few members that is still working.   

Rotary is as relevant today as it was 30 years ago supporting those in need here and overseas including eradicating Polio.  But to do that we are going to need to change and adapt to encourage a younger generation of Rotarians.

(Slide 19) We have had a lot of fun with fellow members of Plimmerton Rotary over the past 30 years, often involving some form of dressing up. 
(Slide 20) 30 years in Rotary has been a blast and we look back on those years with many fond memories.

(Slide 21) It has been a privilege to serve Plimmerton Rotary, District 9940, and Rotary International, and it has been great to share the journey with my best mate Christine. 

Reflections from Graeme Blick - 23 May 2023

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