Posted on Jul 03, 2018

My first blog as President of the Rotary Club of Perth... perhaps I should just reflect on the changeover we've just had. While wandering around the room that evening, these were my thoughts...


"Thanks to Jill, Kirstin, Minh and many others working in the shadow to make this a most enjoyable evening.  The Rotary Club Singers, as is now a Changeover Night tradition, is witty and entertaining as always. Thank you Rotars for the wonderful (& familiar) music and a very professional performance that added to the celebratory feel of the evening. Thanks to the chef and staff at the Parmelia Hilton for the attentive service, weaving between the tables with their usual casual professionalism that helped put us in a relaxed mood, a perfect way to end a hectic week. I was very happy to see our past member, Michael van de Zanden, offering his vocation as a photographer as a service to the Club, which he does every time we ask. The presentation of Paul Harris Fellowships to Jill, Michael and Barry is well deserved."


For members who were absent, here's a summary of my speech that evening, after presenting a video from Rotary International celebrating the End-of-Polio:

I was hoping to announce by Christmas this year that we’ve completed the first of 3 years towards declaring the world rid of polio. But that’s not to be. Sadly, a few days after that speech by Barry Raisin (incoming President of Rotary International), 2 volunteers in our immunisation team in Pakistan (a mother and daughter)  were killed by gunmen on a motorcycle while they were giving drops to children. Since then there have been 11 new cases reported.

This highlights to me the importance of seeing a project through to completion and not let up on our efforts as we near the objective.  Golfers and tennis players would call this “follow through”.  A few of us who are ex-army might describe it as “fighting through the objective” to secure a decisive victory. A mountain climber does not stop to enjoy the scenery just when he’s peering over the top, clinging onto a tiny precipice… risking the chance of falling back down.  We need to get over the top so that we can sit and rest and enjoy the scenery, safely together, for a little while.

All our projects running today will require persistent and determined effort to run to completion. Our homeless youths, victims of domestic violence, Passages, Path of Hope, The House that Jack Built, Cambodia Family Support, Nokor-Tep Hospital for Women...  They need us to keep going.   It may seem to some that most of these problems may never be solved.  The issues are way bigger than us. Who do we think we are?  Well, let me tell you this story.

There was a man strolling along the beach… bending down, picking up one star fish at a time… tossing them back into the surf.  The sand was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed up after the wild storm the night before.  Seeing the hopeless situation,  I said to the man, “why do you waste your time? You’re not going to make a difference.”  After bending, picking and tossing another into the sea, he turned and said “it made a difference to that one”.

You can make a difference. One at a time. Each Rotary Club in WA, together with friends seated amongst us, will make a bigger difference. Rotary International with a world-wide membership of 1.2 million makes a huge difference.

When inducted as a new member of Rotary, I remember Past President Don Mazzuccelli saying to me words to the effect… “Rotary values each person’s vocation as an opportunity for service”. That left a big impression with me, not only because he memorised the entire induction charge instead of reading it off a piece of paper like I would, but because I realised then that each person with me in that room is a leader or an expert in their own area; some in several areas, and not everyone in the same thing. I have seen over the past years how a few members… leaders… getting together were able to overcome unbelievable odds. In our team, you will make a difference. Join leaders, exchange ideas, take action.

While on the subject of taking action and Service to the community, I’d like you all to meet the person who taught me this from when I was first able to walk & talk (I pointed out my father who was present). My parents enrolled me in the Boys’ Brigade from the minute I was old enough to join (I was 9). That started me on my journey of service to my community… wherever I find myself. I haven’t stopped… and God willing, I never will.

I’d like to leave you with a quote by John Wesley that I reflect on at least once a year:

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.

Join Leaders, Exchange Ideas, Take Action.

Together, We Improve Lives!