Rotary Club of London-Lambeth

Posted on Jul 04, 2018
President Geoff Faul's report on the year and reorganization of our Club as well as naming the Rotarian of the Year and recognizing a community Paul Harris recipient. 

President Geoff Faul’s Message

The express purpose for tonight’s gathering is to mark the end of our club’s fiscal year and prepare for our fiscal New Year at the beginning of July. 

Our club will see its first regular club meeting for 2018/19 fiscal year on Tuesday evening, July 10th at the Village Pantry Restaurant.


You know, a year ago we stood on the edge of a new year that looked as much like a precipice as it did, a pinnacle.  For years, our club was recognized within the Rotary District and within the community as a vital contributing force for doing good.  Lambeth Rotary had left its mark on the Saturn Park splash-pad, at the reading library at the Southdale campus of London Community Chaplaincy, on the grounds of the Lambeth Community Cemetery and on every arterial entrance into Lambeth.  Lambeth Rotary’s name has appeared on Shelter Box tents, on Beds for Sleeping Children, on an ambulance in Argentina, a water pump in Honduras, a water tower at an experimental farm in Burkina Faso and in the minds of polio survivors who wheel to work every day rather than crawl in the dust as beggars.  This club has brought better, fuller lives to people halfway around the world and right here close to home.  But, actually, the club didn’t do it.  These accomplishments, and more, are the result of a team of friends who, late in the twentieth century decided they wanted to work together and do some good in the world.  Some of those original members are still here, still doing good, decades later.  To these original members, I say, thank you, thank you for starting this club and for inviting us newer members, to join you.


We are well into the 21st century now and at this time last year, we knew we would be entering a change year.  It was unavoidable. Members were aging out, moving along and moving out.  While all around us, people praised our work and our ethical approach to service, it seemed fewer and fewer saw themselves fitting into our twentieth century model.  New member applications dwindled just as seasoned members left.  Charles went to Ottawa; Jennifer went to Ridgetown; Hala went to Lebanon.  Others left as well and suddenly, by the end of last summer, this club that has done so much, has stood for so much and which means so much to us, was in existential peril.   Because a Rotary club has existed for a long time is not a guarantee that it cannot die.  Both London West Rotary Club and Rotary Club of Aylmer were older than our club and they have ended.  What keeps a Rotary club alive is its members deciding it will not die.  To that end you, my fellow Rotarians, my friends, during this past year of difficult conversations, of innovative decisions, of common purpose, have brought this club through.  Working with diminished numbers, you delivered on the Harvestfest Community Breakfast and Parade, you supported the Rotary Foundation and Polio Plus, you continued your support of the work of London Community Chaplaincy, budding scholars through a university bursary, through the work of Thames Valley District Science Fair, through the Dictionary program and sent young leadership candidates to the International Seminar for Tomorrow’s Leaders at Western University.  You gave of your time and talents to teach select groups of young people about financial literacy and ground-up entrepreneurship.  Students at Table Mountain, South Africa will soon have access to reliable potable water and to sanitary toilet facilities, because of your donations. 


You supported London Urban Services Organization and through your donation of socks to the Urban Haven Project last winter, homeless people got fresh, warm socks.


In the midst of all this world and community service, you talked and listened to each other and moved to remove barriers to new members.  Membership costs and traditions came under scrutiny all in the name of making our club more inviting to new members. 


We all know there is more yet to be done, but our club has been tested and it has stood.  New members will be inducted in July.  More new members will be considered by you, for invitation.  These new members will bring new skills, new talents, new perspectives and, guided by the immutable ethos of Service Above Self, in pursuit of a simple objective, doing good in the world, this rejuvenated club will thrive and, standing with our million-and-some Rotarian friends around the world, it will make a difference.  Tonight, I could not be more proud of being a Rotarian and of counting you, as my friends.  Thank you for a rollercoaster ride-year.


Rotarian of the Year

It is my great pleasure to announce Sheila Wilkes as my selection for Rotarian of the Year.  Sheila has been a constant force and consulting friend from the time that I was asked to take on the President role. Whether it was whining over wine or late night phone calls or over the internet, I could always count on Sheila’s advice, guidance, support and friendship. 


In the course of helping me chart a course to a renewed, reenergized club, Sheila broke tensions with her rapier-sharp wit and insightful observations on priorities and probable outcomes. Sheila was a keystone in the design, development and implementation of both our JA/Southdale projects happening. Without Bill and Sheila’s work, these projects would have been undeliverable.


Community Rotarian of the Year

One of the central tenets of Rotary is the appreciation of using one’s vocation to serve a community.  In past years we have honoured people who have applied their skills and knowledge in places where help is not readily available.  We have honoured people who have applied their skills and knowledge to improve the lives of those whom they are charged to serve.


Tonight, our club recognizes a person who, through her work right here in Lambeth, has given comfort, support, hope and encouragement through medical treatment not readily available elsewhere in this area.  Her business, her interest, her passion, and I will ask her to speak to it, briefly, is to help those who cannot communicate as well as you or I, to give them the tools and the confidence to become useful, dignified, contributing members of society, social and vocational.  In addition, she was witness to what nearly became the end of Lambeth Harvestfest.  A few years ago, Lambeth Harvestfest was stuck in a model that didn’t work well anymore.  The decline was hidden because the parade and the fireworks still went on, but we saw it ourselves in the declining numbers at our Community Breakfast, declining numbers at public dances and increasing costs of security. 


A few people were not only not willing to ‘let it go’, but indeed stood up to be counted.  Elizabeth MacKinnon was one of those.  Not having been involved in the organization and leadership, she nonetheless accepted a Director position and determined to learn ‘on-the-job’. 


Now, just a few years later, Harvestfest has weaned itself off alcohol revenues, has revamped popular events, has eliminated stale ones and has introduced new events, including more new ones for this year. 


Over the years working with Liz on Lambeth Community Association, with her Aphasia Community event and then with Harvestfest, I have come to respect her work ethic, her sense of humour, her caring for people and her dedication to every task and project she puts her mind to.  Sue Storie, our Assistant District Governor, will bestow upon Elizabeth MacKinnon, the Paul Harris Fellow Award.