Archive of some Meeting Reports, as sent to the Press in the second half of 2009

Report for End December 2009 - Santa Sleigh Collections.
Report for 14 December 2009 - Bio-Technology Update.
Report for 7 December 2009 - Discussion on Himalayan Help
Report for 6 December 2009 - Santa Fun Run - Haddo Country Park
Report for 30 November 2009 - Visit to Aberdeens Grains
Report for 25 November 2009 - Car Raffle at Bon-Accord Centre
Report for 23 November 2009 - Nepal Trust
Report for 16 November 2009 - Trip to India for Purple Pinkie Day
Report for 9 November 2009 - Creative Writer Winners
Report for 2 November 2009 - A Talk on Tea
Report for 26 October 2009 - Business Meeting & Baxter Bear
Report for 19 October 2009 - Discussion on Club Membership
Report for 12 October 2009 - Befriend a Child
Report for 10 October 2009 - Rotary "Day in a Life"
Report for 5 October 2009 - Nepal Water Project
Report for 30 September 2009 - Young Musician of the Year 2009
Report for 28 September 2009 - Swiss Rotarians Visit
Report for 21 September 2009 - Changes at Meldrum House
Report for 14 September 2009 - Genealogical Research at ALIS
Report for 7 September 2009 - Experiences at RYLA
Report for 4 September 2009 - 10th Anniversary Charter Dinner
Report for 31 August 2009 - BBQ at Forsyth Community Garden
Report for 24 August 2009 - Business Meeting
Report for 17 August 2009 - Silk Painting
Report for 10 August 2009 - Discovering the Discovery
Report for 3 August 2009 - Orcadian Visit
Report for 30 July 2009 - Meldrum Rotary Hosts Annual ‘Gavel’ Contest Final
Report for 20 July 2009 - Scotland to Canada Rotary Curling Tour
Report for 13 July 2009 - Danish Wedding Customs
Report for 6 July 2009 - Gelotology, no laughing matter
Report for 3 July 2009 - Local Youngsters to attend RYLA
Click on the relevant link above to go directly to the report for that date.

For the Reports Archive for 2013 click here.
For the Reports Archive for 2012 click here.
For the Reports Archive for the second half of 2011 click here.
For the Reports Archive for the first half of 2011 click here.
For the Reports Archive for the second half of 2010 click here.
For the Reports Archive for the first half of 2010 click here.
For the Reports Archive for the first half of 2009 click here.
For the Reports Archive for the second half of 2008 click here.
For the Reports Archive for the first half of 2008 click here.
For the Reports Archive from 2007 click here.

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End December 2009

Santa Sleigh Collections

Santa and his Elves in Meldrum SquareThe Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum gives its grateful thanks to everyone who supported its pre-Christmas Santa Sleigh collections, which this year managed to raise over £3,000 for charity.

Each year, the Club brings Santa and his Sleigh to the communities around Oldmeldrum in the days leading up to Christmas, giving children a chance to see Santa. However, while Santa waves to the children and hands out sweets from his musical sleigh, he makes sure that all his "Elves" are working very hard too, running from door to door to collect donations.

Club President Hilary Gordon said: "Santa's Sleigh has become something of an Oldmeldrum Rotary tradition. We all look forward to it immensely, as everyone in the club has great fun bringing Santa and his Elves to the area for a quick visit before Christmas!"
"The club would like to thank all the volunteers who took part, including Santa himself. However, we'd particularly like to thank everyone who made a donation, no matter how big or small. This year, even with the economic downturn, people have still given very generously to support our activities".
"As well as for providing funds for support of local community activities, the monies raised will go towards supporting projects which bring clean water to remote communities in the developing world; towards projects to promote literacy and of course, towards the Rotary campaign to eradicate polio worldwide".
"The generosity of folk in the area has once again been magnificent, and people can know that the monies raised will be used to make a big difference to the lives of people around the world less fortunate than ourselves".

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14 December 2009

Bio-Technology Update. - Meeting 14 December 2009

The Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum welcomed member Neville Jones as its guest speaker. Neville, an agricultural advisor with a scientific background, chose the subject of genetic modification, biofuels and stem cell research for his talk.
Expressing a personal view that these were topics which were often subject to a great amount of misinformation, Neville explained how through genetic modification, crop strains had been developed which were able to grow in adverse environmental conditions. For example, crops had been developed which required less water and which were therefore drought resistant. Others had been developed which were resistant to insects and disease, which therefore reduced the need to deploy pesticides.
Stem cells, the club was told, were those cells which had the potential to develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth, and which could serve to replenish other cells in the body. This held out the prospect of being able to use therapeutic treatments to tackle a range of debilitating human ailments.
In the Q&A session which followed, it was noted that regardless as to the potential benefits, there remained controversy over the use of cells from human embryos in this way. The impact of ethical arguments on the development of this branch of science was also discussed, before the meeting concluded with the club thanking Neville for a promoting a stimulating discussion.

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7 December 2009

Discussion on Himalayan Help - Meeting 7 December 2009

Hilary and Norman with Adopt a Minefield PuggingsAt last week's meeting, Oldmeldrum Rotary President Hilary Gordon led a discussion about the possibility of the club leading the rest of the rotary District in an overseas literacy project.

Hilary, who is the North of Scotland's Rotary "District Literacy Specialist", highlighted the possibility of working alongside an established charity called "First Steps Himalaya", a New Zealand based project which works in rural Nepal to improve the life chances of young children and their families.
Much of the knowledge that people in the west take for granted when it comes to child rearing and development has yet to reach rural Nepal. Consequently, there is a lack of awareness of the need to sterilise even basic medical equipment used for giving birth; an absence of post-natal checks and a lack of understanding as to the importance of good sanitation.
Due to the need of both parents to work, frequently, children are sent off to school at a very early age, or left unsupervised and without stimulation. This frequently results in behavioural problems and academic underachievement.
With 85% of brain development taking place in the first 3 years of life, the charity aims to teach mothers how they can provide the best care and nutrition for their children, as well as providing a stimulating environment for their children, leading to higher educational and social attainment. It is hoped that within the next five years, at least 10 more villages – equating to approximattely 30,000 people - will benefit from similar programmes.

The club agreed in principal that this would represent a worthwhile venture, and agreed that it was worth being examined in greater detail.

The photo shows President Hilary with Norman Brammer and a couple of the Xmas Puddings bought in aid of Rotary's "Adopt-A-Minefield" Appeal

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6 December 2009

Santa Fun Run / Walk Spectacular
Haddo Country Park, 6 December 2009

In conjunction with The Running Shop, Aberdeen, Oldmeldrum Rotary Club again organised a very successful 5 Km Fun Run and / or Walk Spectacular on Sunday 6th December 2009, in the grounds of Haddo House Country Park. This year, we also had a shorter run for the kids (9 years and under)

It had been very wet the previous night, and it was still a bit drizzly in the early motning. However, by 11am. it was dry and sunny. Despite there being another Santa Run organised on the same day in Aberdeen, some 70 odd competitiors braved the conditions and took part on the day. This year we had more walkers than runners, and all seemed to enjoy their run or walk in the park, and a good sum (money still coming in) was raised for PolioPlus and other charities nominated by the competitors.

Santa Run CompetitorsBelow are the results:-

1st Runner - Dave Scott - 18 Mins 39 Sec
2nd Runner - Nathan Ferguson - 18 Mins 50 Sec
3rd Runner - John Bonner - 19Mins 23Sec

1st Walker - Bebhinn Paterson
2nd Walker - Daisy Graham
3rd Walker - Ashleigh Grant

1st Child - Findlay Burgess - 12 Mins 9 Sec
2nd Child - Leon Petrie - 12 Mins 10 sec
3rd Child - James Blackadder - 19 mins 23Sec

They were welcomed at the finishing line with mulled wine (for the adults) and mince pies. Prizes of Christmas Trees were awarded to the first three back in each adult category, with sweet selections for the kids. There were also prizes for the best dressed competitor, best behaved dog, etc.


Our thanks to Haddo House and all our Sponsors for making this a successful event that can only grow in years to come.

For more photos of this year's Santa FunRun click here.

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30 November 2009

Visit to Aberdeens Grains - 30 November 2009

As 30th November was a fifth Monday, members of the Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum went on a visit to Aberdeen Grain at Whiterashes. The members were welcomed by the General Manager Bruce Ferguson, who gave them a very informative presentation regarding the history and development of Aberdeen Grains. This is a farmers' cooperative with approximately 180 members from around the North East of Scotland which currently markets over 65,000 tonnes of grain and Oil Seed Rape and can handle 7,000t wet feed grain and 2,800t Malting Barley per day. The facility has recently undergone an expansion programme; Phase one being the construction of a state-of-the-art new storage capacity, grain drying and cleaning facilities, which was officially opened by First Minister Alex Salmond. The next phase of the expansion starts in January 2010, when the new storage building built earlier this year will be extended. Bruce then took the members on a tour of the new facilities.

The members then repaired to the Redgarth Hotel for a meal. President Hilary Gordon reminded members of the Santa Fun Run on Sunday 6th December at Haddo Country Park. Martin Belshaw reiterated the upcoming Santa Sleigh routes: 8th December- Rothinorman, 9th-Tarves, 10th Methlick, 11th-Daviot, 15 and 16th Oldmeldrum and 17th Newmachar.

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25 November 2009

Rotarians at MINI One Car Raffle at Bon-Accord Centre

Andrew & Margaret McCartney at the Car Raffle standOldmeldrum Rotarian Andrew McCartney and his wife, Margaret, in Aberdeen's Bon Accord Centre, as they sell raffle tickets to shoppers for the chance to win a MINI One car. The Bon Accord Raffle is a joint venture between local Rotary clubs and the charity CLAN (Cancer Link Aberdeen and North). Rotarians from the local Rotary Clubs will be manning the stand every day between now and Christmas Eve. The winning ticket will be drawn on 24th December.

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23 November 2009

The Nepal Trust - Meeting 23 November 2009

Tony sharpe, Pres. Hilary and Jeroen v.d. BerghThe Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum was pleased to welcome Jeroen van der Bergh to its recent meeting as a guest speaker. Mr van der Bergh is Director of Operations for the Nepal Trust, and is at present visiting the UK on a speaking tour.

The Nepal Trust is a Scottish charity, founded in 1994, which works in a remote North West corner of Nepal. It is an Rotary International Britain and Ireland priority project, in which Mr van der Bergh is the only salaried staff member.

Mr van der Bergh, a naturalised Dutch citizen, was born in India of Indian parents but moved to the netherlands when he was just 6 months old. Educated in Economics, and Environment & Leisure Management, he is resident in the Netherlands, but spends at least 9 months of each year working in Nepal.

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world featuring only as 73 out of 75 in the basic human economic index. The topography is such that there is very little land for cultivation. The crop growing season lasts as little as 3 months each year. Mr van der Bergh's presentation concentrated on the province of Humla, one of the most remote regions of the country. He spoke of villages and towns without the essential elements of modern life - remote from what we would consider to be basic comforts such as health facilities, education, communications and mains power. The paucity of these facilities was snapped into sharp relief for club members when he spoke of heavily pregnant women, just days from birth, having to walk for as many as 5 days just to reach their nearest health facility.

The Trust's focus is to provide electricity through solar and micro hydro-electric, health and education facilities, preservation of historical heritage sites and the promotion of tourism. Mr van der Bergh was accompanied by Tony Sharpe from the Elgin club, who has been a supporter of the project since its inception in 1994.

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16 November 2009

Lara Anderson's trip to India for Purple Pinkie Day.

Lara Anderson with bearsA local Rotarian returned home last week from India, after helping take part in one of the largest ever mass vaccinations against polio.

Lara Anderson (34), a member of the Oldmeldrum Rotary Club, travelled at her own expense to Delhi to participate in "Purple Pinkie Day", so called because of the practice of marking the little fingers of newly vaccinated children with a violet marker pen. Lara was one of 90 Rotarian volunteers from around the UK, who joined a massive team of 35,000 people administering the vaccine solely in Delhi.

The Rotary volunteers packed their luggage with small gifts for the children and baby wear. While the day is widely advertised by Indian local government, one of the big incentives for local families to participate is the sudden appearance of foreign visitors bearing gifts, which are much appreciated by children and parents. Some young children bring their even younger siblings to have the vaccine.

After dealing with the thousands of children brought to the booths, the teams ventured into the communities to look for children without purple pinkies. At the end of a tiring day, Lara's team of 4 had managed to treat some 286 children, all of whom are now safe from the risk of polio.

Rotarians are involved in a number of ways before, during, and after an immunisation day. This includes providing funds for millions of drops of vaccine, promoting upcoming campaigns in the community, the distribution of the vaccines themselves to local health centres, serving as monitors, working with local officials to reach every child, and participating in disease surveillance efforts.

Speaking afterwards, Ms Anderson said: "The area of Delhi in which we worked was borderline in terms of poverty, which means we were shielded from some of the harsher realities experienced by some other groups.
People did have running water and stand pipes, although there were no toilet facilities as we would recognise them. The children we met were all also keen to learn, with the girls attending school in the mornings and the boys in the afternoons.
“Returning to India was an amazing and colourful experience. It's really life-affirming knowing that with each vaccine administered, you are helping many thousands of others in the fight to eradicate polio worldwide."

PolioPlus is the most ambitious program in Rotary's history, and represents the volunteer arm of a global partnership dedicated to eradicating polio. For more than 20 years, Rotary has led the private sector in the global effort to rid the world of this crippling disease. Today, PolioPlus and its role in the initiative is recognised worldwide as a model of public-private cooperation in pursuit of a humanitarian goal.
In addition to providing financial and volunteer support, Rotary works to urge support from other public and private sector partners. This includes the campaign to End Polio Now, inspired by "challenge" grants received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Lara has been raising funds to support the Rotary International Polio Plus campaign since the age of 10. She is currently Rotary's District "Polio Specialist" for the North of Scotland, with responsibility for mobilising a team drawn from around 90 clubs to join the overseas volunteers and help in raising funds.

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9 November 2009

Creative Writer Winners - Meeting 9 November 2009

Pres. Hilary with Caitlin Price,  Jessie Mathewson and Madeline BayleyMembers of the Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum were entertained by 3 young ladies from Meldrum Academy at last week's meeting, who had been invited to read their winning entries for the Creative Writing Award sponsored by the club.

The topic for this year was "Home", in recognition of the year of Homecoming. 1st prize winner Caitlin Price, 2nd prize winner Jessie Mathewson and 3rd prize winner Madeline Bayley were accompanied by their teacher, Kathryn Russell, as they read the opening paragraphs of their stories. By general acclaim, the standard of writing was excellent and the girls reading styles managed tp convey very well the mood of their stories.

The Creative Writing Competition has been sponsored by the Oldmeldrum Rotary Club for 3 years. The theme is chosen each year in negotiation between Rotary and the English department at the Academy. There are 2 categories - junior for S1-S3 and senior for S4- S6, from which the 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize winners each receive a book token. Everyone taking part is awarded a certificate, which is presented at the Academy's end of term prize giving.

The club is keen to do what it can to sponsor the youth in the community, and the creative writing contest aligns well with Rotary ideals of supporting literacy worldwide. However, the club does rely heavily on support from the English department, and over the last few years from Kathryn Russell in particular, who has been instrumental in encouraging pupils to enter.

Afterwards, Ms. Russell thanked the club and Rotarian Anne Shirran in particular, for her considerable personal contribution to the success of the initiative.
The winning entries can be read by visiting , (about half way down)

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2 November 2009

A Talk on Tea - Meeting 2 November 2009

Robil Falconer and Pres. Hilary Gordon President Hilary Gordon welcomed members to the evening's meeting.
David McLelland updated members on the Gavel; the club is away to Banchory on the 4th November and away to Aboyne on the 9th.
Martin Belshaw requested help with the cleaning of the Santa Sleigh prior to its seasonal outings.
Tom Gunn was pleased to report that he had attended Evelyn Cook’s quiz night in aid of the Embangweni hospital in Malawi which raised £275. Nicola Harvey reminded members that shoeboxes should be returned in the next two weeks.
Members were reminded that the Santa Fun run will take place on the afternoon of 6th December at Haddo, and requested that we try to attract as many participants as possible by directing them to our website or the running club website.

The speaker for the evening was Rotarian Robin Falconer who decided that a talk on the Human Rights Act might have been too exciting for members so instead decided to talk about something far more calming: tea.
Members were astounded to learn that over 154 million cups of tea are drunk in the UK daily.
Everyone has their own views on how tea should be made, but despite what purists say, there is no right or wrong process, it is all down to individual preference. You can even see demonstrations on the internet.
Robin challenged members to name the types of tea, and they were fascinated to learn that alongside green, white and black, there was also yellow and orange tea.
Additionally Robin gave a potted history of tea drinking from its accidental discovery by Emperor Shen Nung circa 2737 BC, through its usage in China, Tibet and Japan to its introduction in Europe in the sixteenth century, the early monopoly of the Dutch East India Company and its introduction into Scotland in the 1680’s, as well as its centrality in American Independence, and its cultivation in India which led to it changing from a luxury of the aristocracy to a beverage of the masses. Robin also enumerated the health benefits of drinking tea and debunked some of the myths surrounding it.

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26 October 2009

Business Meeting & Baxter Bear - Meeting 26 October 2009

Lara Anderson with Baxter BearsThe Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum held its regular business meeting last week. However, before the business commenced in earnest, members heard from fellow club member Lara Anderson.

Lara is due to head off to Delhi shortly to help with Rotary International's 'Polio Plus' campaign, a campaign which aims to eradicate the disease worldwide.
Presently, Rotary is aiming to raise some $200 million, in order to match $355 million in challenge grants received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The resulting funds will be used to support immunisation campaigns in developing countries.
As part of those fundraising efforts, Lara introduced the club to Baxter Bear, a loveable teddy bear with a remarkable story. He's a bear who has literally been in the wars, sporting a patched shoulder and a slightly torn ear from his time as a pilot in the RAF. After an exciting life which has seen him living in many exotic places all over the world, Baxter himself says that his greatest mission is to help people whenever and wherever by trying to stay positive, and by making a difference.
One of the ways that Baxter is making a difference is by helping his favourite charities, one of which is Rotary's 'Polio Plus' campaign. Available in good time for Christmas, £4 from the sale of every Baxter Bear will go towards Rotary's $200m fundraising target.
More information on Baxter Bear and his efforts for Rotary to eradicate polio can be found at More details on Rotary's campaign against polio is available at

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19 October 2009

Discussion on Club Membership - Meeting 19 October 2009

The Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum cast aside its normal meeting format last week. Rather than invite a guest speaker, Rotarians instead met to discuss how the club membership should develop in the years ahead.

Immediate Past President Anne Forster opened the discussion. While the club was strong, there had to be an overriding aim that this would remain the case in the future. A club which continued to be representative of the community at large would continue to make a positive impact locally and in the wider world, as well as offering valuable fun, friendship and networking opportunities.
Although it was recognised that becoming a Rotarian could seem like a big commitment, members reflected that nothing could be further from the truth. While it was certainly the case that what you got out of Rotary was generally commensurate with what you put in, Rotary offered a chance for individuals to come together to channel their energies in ways which gave something back to the community, while letting people be part of something much bigger than themselves.
Traditionally, the first step to membership of a club had been for an existing Rotarian to invite someone along to attend a club meeting. However, it was recognised that this process was not without limitations, and that it potentially overlooked a good many people who might like to get involved in some way.
For that reason, the club was keen to hear from people who might like to either help out at club events, or who would like to find out more about Rotary.

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12 October 2009

Befriend a Child - Meeting 12 October 2009

The Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum welcomed local man Duncan Peter as guest speaker at the club's most recent meeting. Duncan is the Communications and Funding Officer of 'Befriend a Child' – an organisation which runs a befriending project for young people in the city of Aberdeen.

Befriend a Child was established in 1975, under the auspices of the Children's Panel in Aberdeen, with just 2 part time staff and 6 volunteers. In 1991, Befriend A Child became a registered charity and in 2002, became independent of the Children’s Panel. Today, the charity has some 112 active befriending relationships, and managed to help 152 young people in the last year.

The charity aims to provide a positive adult role model to vulnerable young people, helping them to experience reliability, caring and trust in their relationships with adults. This in turn helps to improve their personal confidence and social skills. This gives the solid grounding required to grow into mature, responsible adults – experiences which for a whole variety of reasons these young people might otherwise miss out on at home. Popular activities with the volunteers and young people alike include nature walks, swimming, watching Aberdeen FC play (the club has supported the charity by making season tickets available) and visiting the golf driving range.

While the charity benefits from grants from trusts, it has in recent years built on its corporate support from the business community. Plans for the future include opening up a coffee shop as a means of securing a permanent revenue stream, the recruitment of more male volunteers, as well as expanding the scope of the charity's service beyond Aberdeen City, so as to cover the shire as well.

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10 October 2009

Rotary "Day in a Life" - 10 October 2009

Happy Rotarian Planters, and bunnyRotary International wanted to highlight all the activities both charitable and community-orientated that members undertake and to that end designated the 10th October to celebrate a day in the life of Rotary.

To mark this first "Day in a Life" of Rotary International, members of the Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum decided to hold a gardening party at the William Forsyth Community Garden.
This garden was the Club centenary project and was formally opened in September 2008. As the club had received spring bulbs courtesy of Aberdeenshire council, as well as plant donations from Rotarians and members of the public it was therefore decided to undertake this planting on the 10th October.
Hence, despite the miserable weather and well fortified with plenty of tea and cakes, Rotarians and members of the public gave up their time to ensure that the garden will be resplendent with colour in the spring and provide an attractive tranquil place to relax.
Rotary District 1010 Assistant Governor Andrew McCartney and garden stalwart Wattie Fowler, in keeping with the garden’s name planted a Forsythia bush, however we discovered it had a little extra compost; Andrew’s gardening glove! We hope it will come up in the spring with the bulbs!

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5 October 2009

Nepal Water Project - Meeting 5 October 2009

Members of Elgin Rotary with Pres. HilaryThe Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum was pleased to be able to welcome members of the Elgin Rotary Club to their most recent meeting as their guest speakers.

Elgin Rotarians have for many years been involved in projects designed to provide fresh water and to improve hygiene in rural Nepal , and have helped to co-ordinate the efforts of other clubs in the 1010 District when it comes to fundraising for this purpose. The club was told how Rotarians have worked with trusted partner agencies for many years in remote areas, where there is extreme poverty and health problems due to the isolation, hostile climate and terrain.

The Club was told of the effects that a lack of fresh water and basic latrine facilities had on people. The need to collect water for drinking, washing and cooking was tiring work which could take up several hours of the day. Simply adding a stand pump could liberate people from such a chore, while the addition of basic toilet facillities dramatically reduced the incidence of disease, since people no longer had to go to the toilet in the open air.

One such project, in the village of Nepane in the Gorkha district, had been costed at less than US$45,000. While this sounded like a lot, together with the support of other Rotary clubs in the North of Scotland 1010 District and with matched funding from the international Rotary Foundation, the monies had been raised. Despite this outside involvement, however, the emphasis in these projects was always very much on self-help, and on encouraging locals to adopt safer hygiene practices of their own free will.

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30 September 2009

Young Musician of the Year 2009 - 30 September 2009

A thoroughly musical evening took place in Meldrum Academy on Wednesday 30th September at the annual Young Musician of the Year competition sponsored by the Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum.
Pupils representing Oldmeldrum, Old Rayne, Rayne North and Tarves primary schools, and Meldrum and Dyce Academies delighted the audience with a diverse repertoire utilising a wide variety of instruments and voice.
The judging panel consisting of; Oldmeldrum Academy Principal Teacher for Performing Arts Sheila Robertson, music teacher Russell Fraser and Rotarian Richard Thomson found it incredibly difficult to decide on the winners due to the high standard of ability and performance.

The eventual winners were; P1-4: Daniel Osborne on piano, P5-7 Stuart Davidson on violin, S1-3 George Davidson on violin, S4-6 Gregor Bruce on bagpipes. Mikey Kotts on piano was adjudged to be the most promising musician, and was awarded the Brian Melville trophy. The overall winner prize was awarded to Gregor Allan on accordion. Oldmeldrum Rotary Club Vice-President Phil Duncan presented certificates to all the competitors and congratulated them on their performances

All the Competitors Overall Winner Gregor Allan Overall Winner Gregor Allan

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28 September 2009

Swiss Rotarians Visit - Meeting 28 September 2009

Swiss Rotarian VisitorsThe Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum were delighted to be able to welcome visitors from the Rotary Club of Büren an der Aare, Switzerland, to their most recent meeting.

The Rotary Club of Büren an der Aare, in the Canton of Bern, is a club with which Oldmeldrum has had many links in previous years, and which has seen many deep-lasting friendships formed over that time. In a short presentation, members of the Büren club brought the Oldmeldrum members up to speed with the recent activitites of their club, and detailed some of their regular social activities, such as ski-ing trips to nearby resorts and restaurant visits.

The Büren members also regaled those present with a grisly tale of their town from centuries past, regarding how still-born babies were not able to be baptised and were thus thought to be destined for a state of limbo rather than heaven. To avoid this spiritual fate, the unfortunate babies were heated up and a feather placed over their nose. The resulting updraft which lifted the feather was taken to be evidence of breathing and therefore a sign of life, which allowed baptism to proceed.

The meeting concluded with some Swiss chocolates being passed around the membership, and with an invitation for Oldmeldrum Rotarians to make a return trip to Switzerland at an early opportunity.

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21 September 2009

Changes at Meldrum House - Meeting 21 September 2009

Andy Burgess and Pres. HilaryOldmeldrum Rotarians were pleased to welcome Honorary Club member John Paton to their most recent meeting, along with Norman English, and Martin Forster from the Ellon Club.
Club President Hilary Gordon reported on the recent District Conference, where the club had received two awards, as well as a Presidential Citation. She also reported that over 100 jars of honey had been sold at the conference, the proceeds of which would help to benefit club projects.

The evening's guest speaker, Andy Burgess, Head of Operations & Development at the Meldrum House Hotel, was then introduced. Andy, who has enjoyed a long career in hotel management, explained the changes which had recently taken place at the hotel, in pursuit of achieving their aim of becoming the "foremost golf and hotel resort in the North East of Scotland".
Although the refurbishment of the hotel itself was due to end in December 2009, the golf course, clubhouse and practice range had been completed some time earlier. The hotel was also, the club was told, looking to build a 36 room extension, along with a spa and banqueting facility, which it was hoped would allow the hotel to capture a significant share of the North East corporate conference market. There were also plans to build 20 homes on site, which it was exected would operate on a 'fractional ownership' basis.
The presentation concluded with a Q&A session, and a slideshow of how the bedrooms and new conference suite would look once refurbishment was complete.

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14 September 2009

Genealogical Research at ALIS - Meeting 14 September 2009

David Catto and Pres. HilaryThe Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum was pleased to be able to welcome David Catto, of the Aberdeenshire Library & Information Service, as its guest speaker.

Mr Catto, from the ALIS Local Studies Dept., explained the services he and his team are able to offer, both to those resident in Aberdeenshire and further afield, as they research their family tree. He went on to give a whistle-stop tour of some of the resources which are available for genealogists at the library service facility at Meldrum Meg Way in Oldmeldrum. The library has details of the births, deaths and marriages for every parish in the present Aberdeenshire Council area, which also includes parts of historic Kincardineshire and Banffshire. Together with the census records which have been gathered in 1841 and, with one exception, every ten years since, these have been kept on microfilm and microfiche. The library also contains records of Aberdeenshire's graveyards, in order that people might track down the final resting places of their forebears.
While impressing with the comprehensive nature of the archive which was kept, Mr Catto also pointed out some of the limitations of the records. There was, for instance, no census conducted in 1941 due to WWII. One census, compiled painstakingly in the later part of the 19th century, was now in places almost illegible, due, the club was told, to economising at the time which led to the watering down of the ink being used.
Throughout the censuses, some people's ages, particularly those of ladies, did not always increase as you would expect in multiples of 10 when it came to their returns - something which highlighted that the surveyors could only ever record the information they were given.
The talk concluded with a rundown of some of the more modern internet tools available, which helped to narrow down the scope of people's researches and speed up their work when scanning many different sources.

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7 September 2009

Experiences at RYLA - Meeting 7 September 2009

Kerry Bennett, Pres. Hilary and Fraser RiddochPresident Hilary Gordon welcomed, as guests to the meeting, honorary member John Paton, Edwin Duncan and Edwin Duguid from the Rotary Club of Ellon, and RYLA candidates Kerry Bennett and Fraser Riddoch accompanied by parents Mary Ann and Kenny Bennett and Jeff Fraser.

Denis Emslie thanked the club members in general and the 10th charter team especially, for making the anniversary dinner such a great success. He added that he had received numerous e-mails from Rotarians who had attended giving favourable comments regarding the event. President Hilary echoed his sentiments and thanked Denis and his team for their hard work.
Phil Duncan then thanked Simon Kilkerr for making the barbeque last Monday a great success. He reminded members of the dinner dance with Ellon Rotary on 2nd October, and also requested assistance with hosting the five members from the Rotary Club of Buren, Switzerland who would be visiting us from 27th September.
Martin Belshaw, although he stopped short of reminding us how many days were left until Christmas, raised groans and remarks of being unseasonal when he brought up the Santa Sleigh routine for December. The Santa Fun Run will be organised on the 6th December to coincide with the Oldmeldrum lights-on ceremony.
Norman Brammer was pleased to announce the provisional total raised through the Ythan cycle Run was £2,600 (dependant on receipt of all pledged monies), of which £1,169 would be specifically for our designated charity: CHAS.
Andrew McCartney informed members that changes were proposed to the RIBI standing orders affecting District 1010 which would be voted on during the Conference in Avimore on the 18-20th September. The club gave Andrew discretion to vote on our behalf at the Conference.

The speakers for the evening were Kerry Bennett and Fraser Riddoch, the two Oldmeldrum Academy pupils who the Club sponsored to attend the RYLA (Rotary Young Leader Award) camps. Although the weather was extremely unkind resulting in the cancellation of some of the planned activities, they both had a fantastic time.
The activities were physically exhausting: hill-walking up the Cairngorms, orienteering, rock-climbing, mountain biking, kayaking and canoeing. Both of them enjoyed the raft building exercise and were proud that they managed to produce rafts that remained intact for the duration of the course. They both stressed the camaraderie and team-bonding that the activities engendered, and the confidence building that occurred when it was their turn to be team leader. Hilary then presented them with certificates on behalf of the club.

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4 September 2009

10th Anniversary Charter Dinner - 4 September 2009

Club Members Group Photo         Oldmeldrum Rotary Club Members Group Photo

Rotarians from all over Scotland, and from as far afield as the United States, helped the Oldmeldrum Rotary Club celebrate their 10th anniversary at a glittering black-tie dinner in the town recently.

The dinner, held at Lochter Outdoor Activity Centre, saw nearly 150 Rotarians attend from 26 separate clubs. Despite the formal aspect of the anniversary, the emphasis of the evening was very much on celebration and fun, as well as on recognising the considerable achievements of the Oldmeldrum club during its relatively short existence.

Club President Hilary Gordon welcomed guests, remarking on how gratifying it was to see so many people present who had helped the club to establish itself – notably those from thhe parent and grandparent clubs of Ellon and Inverurie.

President Hilary then introduced the evening's line-up of guest speakers. These included North of Scotland District Governor Bill Macfarlane-Smith; Past R.I.B.I. President and Rotary International Director Gordon McInally; Assistant Governor Andrew McCartney and Oldmeldrum Past President Robin Falconer, who replied on behalf of the guests.

Speaker after speaker entertained the guests after dinner with good humoured tall tales and anecdotes, but all had an underlying message about the enduring charitable work of Rotary and the contribution which the clubs and individual members themselves made in maintaining and building on those achievements. A quaich was passed around, containing Rotary's own 'Friendhip Malt' whisky - which was never allowed to touch the table. A thoroughly enjoyable evening was finished off with an international toast to "Rotary the world over", followed by a rendition of "Auld Lang Syne".

Head table group Fellowship Quaich Rotarian Guests

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31 August 2009

BBQ at Forsyth Community Garden - Meeting 31 August 2009

BBQ in the rainMembers of Oldmeldrum Rotary Club took advantage of last month's "5th Monday", not to visit other Rotary Clubs in the area as normal, but to hold a barbeque in the town's William Forsyth Community Garden.

The name of the garden is taken from William Forsyth, who was born in the Oldmeldrum in 1737. Forsyth, a botanist of considerable note, worked in the Apothecaries Garden in Chelsea, becoming Curator aged 34. He was also one of the founders of the Royal Horticultural Society.
The garden, opened by Beachgrove Gardener Jim McColl almost exactly a year ago on behalf of the Rotary Club, would with its views over Bennachie ordinarily have made a fine venue for a summer evening's barbeque. Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas, with high winds and intermittent rain doing their best to dampen proceedings.
Nonetheless, Oldmeldrum Rotarians are made of sterner stuff, and decided that it would take more than a wee bit of rain to put them off their sausages and burgers. Accordingly, nearly 40 Rotarians and their families and friends persevered, thoroughly enjoying the food and each others company, despite the best efforts of the weather.

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24 August 2009

Business Meeting - 24 August 2009

Tom Gunn and Hilary GordonPresident Hilary Gordon was delighted to be able to welcome Tom Gunn as the Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum's newest member at the club's meeting last week. Tom, who is employed in navigation services for the maritime sector, was previously a member of the Rotary Club of Buckie.

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17 August 2009

Silk Painting - Meeting 17 August 2009

Hilary Gordon and John HoggPresident Hilary Gordon welcomed guests Sylvia and Tony Rowe and Tom Gunn to the meeting.
Several upcoming events of interest were brought to the members attention; Huntly Rotary are holding their 55th anniversary dinner on 25th September, there is a break- through cancer event at Udny castle on 23rd August and Scottish National Trust are holding an illustrated talk on the "Men behind the Medals" on 9th September at Haddo House to co-incide with the anniversary of the Battle for Britain.
Hilary thanked everyone who attended her Pampered Chef fundraiser. Norman Brammer announced that it was once again time to order the shoeboxes. Jim Walker asked members to sign up to help with the Young Musician on 30th September in the Academy. David Mclleland thanked all the members who had made the recent Gavel final such a great success. Willie Sinclair reminded members that the meeting on the 31st August will be held in the community garden. Any plant donations would be gratefully received. Denis Emslie reiterated the organisational plans for the 10th charter night and announced that in respect of the Partners' evening being held simultaneously in the Redgarth Hotel, the owner and Rotary club member Stuart Singer intended to put on a special meal for them and urged members to invite their partners.

The speaker for the evening was John Hogg, who currently works in the construction industry, but whose passion is silk painting. John originally trained as a chef, but then moved into silk painting whilst living in London. First he studied European silk painting but then was lucky enough to study fine art silk painting under two renowned Chinese silk painters; Wan Jainan and Cia Xioli, and in the exhibition of work he won first prize with his cushions and second prize with his painting of chicks.
This type of painting is a long process; the paint has to be built up in layers which have to be allowed to dry before re-applying paint. Techniques vary; with? multi-coloured patterned fabrics gutta has to be applied before the paint to deliniate areas, and the cloth has to be steam-fixed on completion. John brought along samples of his artistry which attracted great admiration from the members present, and kindly donated a scarf to the Club. He hopes to set up a studio where he can hold classes to teach the art."

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10 August 2009

Discovering the Discovery - Meeting 10 August 2009

Pres. Hilary and Martin BelshawPresident Hilary Gordon was pleased to be able to welcome Greg Manning and David Black from the Rotary Club of Huntly to the most recent meeting of the Oldmeldrum Rotary Club.

The evening's guest speaker was club member Martin Belshaw. The theme of the evening's talk was "Discovering the Discovery" – an introduction to the NASA Space Shuttle and the advance work which went into preparing it for a mission, from high-technology to some of the very low-tech procedures and techniques which are necessary to allow the shuttle to launch.
While people might be familiar with the advances in computer and flight technology which had resulted from space related research, it was also the case that we owed everyday products like non-stick frying pans and ball point pens which can write upside down to space. However, it still took plastic owl decoys to keep shuttle fuel tanks free from Florida woodpeckers, which could cause great damage to the foam insulation surrounding the tanks.
Martin went on to describe the complexities of the launch, covering everything from the difficulties of fuelling up the rockets and attaching them to the shuttle, to physically transporting the vehicle to the launch site, all the while keeping an eye on the long-range weather forecasts. It was this sort of attention to detail, the club was told, that had reduced the probability of a catastrophic failure on a space mission from 50% on the early Apollo flights, to just 2% today.

After thanking Martin for his talk, President Hilary led the club in congratulating club member Rob Rothnie on celebrating his 70th birthday.

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3 August 2009

Orcadian Visit - Meeting 3 August 2009

Owen Ball and Anne ForsterThe Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum was happy to welcome at their most recent meeting visitor John Young from the Rotary Club of Ayr and his wife Betty. John and Betty were in the North East for the Turriff Show, where John had been judging cattle.
Past President Anne Forster presented the club with banners from the Rotary Clubs of Boulder Valley, California, and Rock Island , Illinois , which she had been sent following the recent Rotary International Convention in Birmingham . President Hilary Gordon reported on a successful girl's Rotary Youth Leadership camp at Coylumbridge, near Aviemore. Thanks were also passed on to those members who had been instrumental in ensuring that the club's recent hosting of the District ‘Gavel' final had been such a success.

The guest speaker for the evening was club member Owen Ball who spoke on the topic of a trip he had made to Orkney earlier in the year. An architect to trade, Owen has a particular interest in the built environment through the ages. As Orkney has perhaps a greatest concentration of prehistoric buildings than anywhere else in the world, it was a holiday where he was in his element.
Showing a series of slides, starting with St Magnus Cathedral, believed to be built by the same masons as Durham Cathedral, the club was told of how Magnus had been martyred. Owen went on to discuss Skara Brae, a Neolithic village which enjoys UNESCO World Heritage site status, and Mayshowe, a burial mound where the setting sun lights up the inner chamber for about six weeks around the winter solstice.

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30 July 2009

Meldrum Rotary Hosts Annual ‘Gavel’ Contest Final - 30 July 2009

Dyce Roraty, Gavel Winners 2009A team from the Rotary Club of Dyce emerged triumphant last Thursday evening, as Oldmeldrum Rotary Club played host to the final of the annual District 1010 (North of Scotland) ‘Gavel’ contest.

The Gavel is a hotly contested but friendly intra-mural series of traditional pub games, played between the participating Clubs in the 1010 Rotary district - an area which covers every part of Scotland north of a line from the River Forth to the Isle of Skye. The event, held at Oldmeldrum’s Lochter Activity Centre, was contested by three clubs, Dyce, Buckie and the Carse of Stirling. In keeping with the social spirit of the contest, the evening started with a barbeque and beer before the games began.

Throughout the contest, which began last August, hosts have been able to set the challenges for their visitors. As winners of the previous year’s contest, Oldmeldrum had this privilege, despite going out to near neighbours Dyce in this year’s semi-finals. This year’s final included golf pitching and laser trap shooting, as well as more traditional pub games such as dominoes and jenga.

Speaking afterwards, Oldmeldrum Gavel organiser David McLelland said: “Many congratulations to Dyce on their win this evening. The contest this evening was played in a great spirit, for which we thank Buckie and Carse of Stirling also.
"Most people know about Rotary's charitable fundraising for projects at home and abroad, and of course that's a big part of what we're about. However, as well as being about service to the community, Rotary is also about having fun. The great thing about the Gavel contest is that it gives an opportunity for Rotarians from across the North of Scotland to meet together socially, while enjoying some friendly inter-club competition.
“My thanks go to everyone at Lochter, and to everyone in the Oldmeldrum Club, who helped to make the evening run so smoothly. The Carse of Stirling Club finished as runners up, with Buckie taking the bronze medal position.

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20 July 2009

Scotland to Canada Rotary Curling Tour - Meeting 20 July 2009

Scotland Roatry TeamOldmeldrum Rotary Club was pleased to welcome Alastair Campbell from the Ellon club as a visitor to the meeting.
The guest speaker for the evening was club member Lara Anderson, who in 2008, made history as the first female to participate in the curling series which takes place between Scottish and Canadian Rotarians.
The Scots' tour of Canada took place between 31 October and 24 November 2008, and involved a grueling schedule of 16 matches, all played at rinks in Quebec and Ontario. Although the occasional night was spent in hotels, most accommodation was provided by Canadian hosts in their own homes. This gave the opportunity, together with the Rotary meetings attended, to make lasting friendships and to share fellowship.
Although the schedule was a congested one, there was still time for sightseeing, with particular highlights being visits to Niagara Falls and the Canadian Parliament. There was also a hectic social programme of dinners and parties, at which both sets of team members were frequently called upon to provide entertainment for those present.
Lara's presentation concluded with her serving small glasses of "icewine" – a sweet Canadian speciality wine made from grapes which have been allowed to freeze on the vine so as to increase their sugar content. Describing the tour, she remarked how in some respects, the Canadians were more Scottish than the Scots. As an experience, the tour had, she said, been "Exhilarating, but I'll never forget it".

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13 July 2009

Danish Wedding Customs - Meeting 13 July 2009

Hans and Susanna Ravn with SVP Phil duncanOldmeldrum Rotary Club was pleased to be able to welcome two guests to their meeting last week – Doug Westland, from the Ellon Club, and Bruce Ridland, a Past District Governor from the Rotary Club of Mount Gambier, South Australia,

The guest speaker for the evening was the Club's own Hans Ravn, who together with his wife Susannah shared with the club an account of their wedding, which had taken place recently in Denmark. As Danes living in Scotland, both Hans and Susannah had wanted a ceremony which reflected aspects of both Scottish and Danish tradition.
They married at the Lerup Kirke, near Fasdalen in North Jutland, which was built in 1196. Now a Lutherian church, the church still sported frescos from the 16th century, as well as a bell which dated from the 15th century, and which according to tradition is rung with particular speed as the bride arrives.
One of the most visible aspects of the Scottish tradition was Hans' decision as groom to wear the kilt. Similarities were also present with the tradition of the bride wearing something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue; with the throwing of rice after the ceremony; and with the bride's throwing of her bouquet afterwards.
One Danish wedding tradition not apparent in Scotland, to the great lamentation of the gentlemen Rotarians present, was the "kissing" tradition, whereby the groom was kissed by all the female guests, and the bride by all the male guests. It was agreed that this was certainly a Danish tradition which the Scots would do well to adopt.

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6 July 2009

Gelotology, no laughing matter - Meeting 6 July 2009

Sheena Watson and Phil DuncanSenior Vice President Phil Duncan was once more in the chair as Oldmeldrum Rotary Club held its meeting on 6 July. Phil was pleased to welcome Martin Forster from the Ellon club along to the meeting.

The guest speaker was former club secretary Sheena Watson, who chose to address the club on the subject of Gelotology - something which initially produced a sea of blank faces. After explaining that gelotology referred to the science of laughter and its effects on the human body, Sheena went on to discuss the psychological and medical benefits of laughter.

The philosopher Voltaire had described medicine as being ‘the art of keeping the patient amused while nature takes its course'. While a doctor's bedside manner had often been regarded as important, studies had shown that irrespective as to the psychological benefits of maintaining good humour as a patient, laughter helped to ‘shut off' stress hormones, raised the blood cell count and increased the flow of oxygen in the bloodstream', all of which aided the physical healing process.

In work and social situations, laughter also played its role. People who were able to laugh at work tended to enjoy lower stress levels, with those able to take work seriously but not themselves too seriously regularly proving to be amongst the most productive and effective workers. There were gender differences too, while men would laugh together to reinforce relationships, it had been found that women, on average, laughed a lot more than did men. Diplomatically, when questioned, the speaker declined to offer any theories on why this might be.

The evening closed with the club thanking Sheena for a highly entertaining and informative talk, which had succeeded in provoking a considerable amount of involuntary gelotological activity from all present.

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3 July 2009

Local Youngsters to attend Rotary Youth Leadership Course

A group of North-East youngsters are set to attend a camp for the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) course.

The group, Kerry Bennet and Fraser Riddoch from Oldmeldrum; Danielle Nicol, and Tai Jericvich from Inverurie; and Laura McIntosh and Fraser McWhirter from Ellon, will each take part in a week long course at the Abernethy Centre, Nethybridge, near Aviemore, which is set within a secluded twenty-five acre estate. They will join other youths from across the Rotary 1010 district, which covers everywhere in Scotland north of a line from the River Forth to Skye.

RYLA is a programme for young people which, was officially adopted by Rotary International in 1971. Participants are selected by their local Rotary Club, with the Inverurie, Ellon and Oldmeldrum clubs each picking a male and a female candidate for their respective camps. The Awards are designed to develop the leadership skills of young people with potential. This nurtures the skills of the future leaders of our community and helps those who may need some further encouragement to exploit their leadership skills.

Speaking in advance, Oldmeldrum Rotarian Hilary Gordon, who will lead the female camp, said:
“While the emphasis is very much on fun, the week is all about giving the participants a physical and mental challenge, as well as helping them find out more about themselves and others in the process. For some, it can be a truly life-changing experience."
“It's great that Rotary Clubs across the north of Scotland are able to support this venture. All we ask in return is that the participants give their best and come back to tell their local Rotary Clubs what they got out of the week.”

The week comprises various physical activities and competitions, together with daily speakers on leadership. Previous year's activities have included hill walking, swimming and sports competitions, gorge walking, rock climbing, abseiling, mountain biking and orienteering. Evening activities traditionally include a debate, a problem solving activity, a business game and a quiz.

The objective of the RYLA project is expressed by 6Cs - commitment, communication, character, competition, confidence, courage - all of which are basic requirements for strong, imaginative, involved leadership.

The girls' camp will be from Saturday 4th to Saturday 11th July, with the boy's camp taking place from 11th to 18th July.

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