Thursday, December 14, 2006


I've just been to Prestwick Rotary Club Christmas Lunch. I hasten to add I was there in my capacity as a raiser of funds for the Gurkha Welfare Trust. As a result, I was collecting a very welcome £500, which is already winging it's way to our esteemed Treasurer.
What I had not realised was that the Rotary movement ( in the UK anyway) is almost entirely devoted to charity and good works. Although a large proportion of their work is local, they have tremendous outreach and training programmes worldwide.
I was enormously impressed with these particular people, largely retired, who now donated at least two days a week of their time to good works. I was forcibly struck by their complete lack of faith in either local, regional (= Scottish) or national government to deliver even minimum incremental improvements within communities. The message was loud and clear: if you want to get something down for a local community, do it yourselves.
One particular ( recent) project in the area was mentioned, whereby the local authority had undertaken a survey ( = consultants) had then produced a draft plan ( = more consultants) had then debated the issue ( = first direct involvement of local authority) and had concluded it was not worth while. I was quoted a cost of £35,000 to reach this stage. It was for a local drop-in club. The total cost was put at £500,000 capital cost and running it £150,000 pa.
There are 28 members of Prestwick Rotary. One of their number, incensed by a) the cost and b) the non- appearance of the centre, got his fellow members together. Over a ten day period, they a) sourced a suitable building b) put in a firm offer at £50,000 c) completed the purchase with a bank loan on the say-so of another member, and d) had a sign up asking for volunteers.
I hardly need to tell you the rest of the story. They got enough volunteers to do works required to bring it up to standard and staff the centre for the first year. During that period the centre made a profit and has already repaid some of the loan, and the rest has been repaid from their own fundraising.
And lots of children,young and old people use the centre every day.
So much for being not worth while.


In Actual Fact said...

I'm quite mean about Rotary club members, mostly because I think of them as Daily Mail/Telegraph reading old farts. Or "my father and his friends" as he'd prefer me to say.
Yes, there is a certain chumminess to it all that outsiders might find distasteful (see, for example: "completed the purchase with a bank loan on the say-so of another member") but I certainly respect what they achieve. We have a village hall and so on here, but for the past 15-odd years they've taken two 40 ton(ne) trucks of donations (per year) to a Belarus village near the Chernobyl area and paid for children of that area to come here for a break / to experience a different life / steal things from Woolworths.

And it's all achieved with will. It's a 'bloke with a haulage firm', 'some other 'blokes' with HGV licenses', 'wives with a bit of spare time to collect donated objects' - it doesn't, with co-operation for an accepted cause, cost that much - it just "gets done."

Of course, if it had to be properly costed, as opposed to small businessmen et al just offering services when available, it would be unaffordable. As it is, it 'gets done'

- I'm still not happy that they read the Daily Mail, though....

kinglear said...

I somewhat agree Actual - but this one is run by an American who is an ex-employee of Boeing. Usual story, here for more than 6 months, fell in love, then fell in love with a "girl" and married her.
As you say, properly costed it's quite a lot, but things do get done in the way they used to in Victorian times.
And this lot read the Ayr Chronicle