Archive of some Meeting Reports, as sent to the Press in the second half of 2010

Report for 6 December 2010 - Children's Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS)
Report for 5 December 2010 - Santa Fun Run at Haddo
Report for 8 November 2010 - Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar Visit
Report for 1 November 2010 - The oldest Swinger in town
Report for 18 October 2010 - Arms Without Legs
Report for 11 October 2010 - Ho Ho Lonach
Report for 4 October 2010 - Pictish monastery at Portmahomack
Report for 13 September 2010 - Turriff Space Programme
Report for 7 September 2010 - Pre-publicity for the "Young Musical of the Year" competition
Report for 6 September 2010 - Oldmeldrum Rotary secures funding for 5 new projects for Himalayan kids.
Report for 30 August 2010 - Pampered Chef for Himalaya
Report for 23 August 2010 - Pakistan Disaster Response
Report for 9 August 2010 - Artist Blacksmithing
Report for 27 July 2010 - Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA)
Report for 12 July 2010 - Community Garden, Volunteers Sought
Report for 5 July 2010 - Books Abroad

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 first half of 2010 click here.
For the Reports Archive for the second half of 2009 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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6 December 2010

Children's Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS) - Meeting 6 December 2010

David Strathearn and Pres. Phil DuncanThe Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum welcomed David Strathearn, the North East Regional Fundraiser for the Children's Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS), as its most recent guest speaker.
David, who stays in Barthol Chapel, spoke of his work with the charity, which is celebrating its 18th year of operation. In an informative and moving talk to the club, David outlined the progress that CHAS had made over that time as the only organisation in Scotland providing respite and end of life care for families with terminally ill children, ranging in age from the new born to young adults.

Scotland's first dedicated children's hospice opened in 1996 at Rachel House, near Kinross, with 8 beds and a suite in which visiting families are able to stay. This was followed by a further, similar facility at Robin House near Balloch, Loch Lomond, which serves families in the West of the country.
Caring for a child or young person with a life-shortening condition, David explained, can place extreme demands on a family, both physically and emotionally. CHAS tries to lighten that burden, and has the flexibility to respond to the individual needs of family members by providing professional care, practical help and emotional support.
While many people made the assumption that the primary role of CHAS was to provide care for youngsters with life shortening conditions, David explained that the charity also played an important role in providing care for the whole of the family, especially for the siblings. As an example, he told the club of one little boy who as the brother of a terminally ill child, told staff how much he looked forward to visiting Rachel House with his family, as it was the "only place where mum doesn't have to say 'just a minute' when you speak to her".

Despite the impression that people might have of a hospice as a sombre place, David told the club that the staff ensured that it was a place of fun and laughter too. The staff and volunteers worked very hard to ensure that a full range of activities was available for families. For some of the older children, visits had been arranged to attend the 'T in the Park' music festival, while together with the local Ferrari Owners Club, a visit had been arranged to the nearby Knockhill Racing Circuit, where after seeing the cars perform, the hospice minibus had also been put through its paces around the track.
Staff at the hospice worked hard to ensure that together with carers, social workers and other external agencies, a range of support could also be made available to families outside the hospice environment. Outreach work to families was an important part of what CHAS now offered, and support teams based in Kinross, Balloch and Inverness were now able to offer a 'Chas at Home' service, which provided care and assistance to families in their own homes at times when they needed it most.

Fundraising, as well as communicating to the public the ongoing work of the organisation, was also a big part of CHAS day to day activities. The running costs for CHAS were almost £7 million each year, of which approximately £1m came from central and local government, with the remainder coming from charitable donations and legacies. Although it was seldom very difficult to secure funding for particular capital projects, it was, David explained, meeting these ongoing funding requirements which often presented the greatest challenge for fundraisers.
Further information on CHAS, as well as on how to dontate or volunteer to help the charity in its activities is available at

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5 December 2010

Santa Fun Run at Haddo - 5 December 2010

Runners and walkers from all over the North East braved the snowy conditions underfoot last Sunday to take part in a charity Santa Fun Run at Haddo House.  The snowfalls over the previous 2 weeks had nearly led to its cancellation, but the organisers were very glad to be able to run the event despite the conditions, and everyone who took part seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.

The event, which was organised by the Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum, saw runners and walkers of all ages having fun while doing their bit to raise money for their chosen charities, as well as to support Rotary's efforts to eradicate polio around the world. The 2km run for under 12s and the adult 5km run enticed a good number of competitors to the estate, which had been transformed into a winter wonderland by the snow.

Speaking afterwards, event organiser Hilary Gordon from Oldmeldrum Rotary Club said:-
"I think we were all a bit concerned about how the weather might affect the Santa Fun Run. In the end, it was a beautiful, bright clear day, and while the snow made conditions underfoot a little more challenging than normal, everyone who took part seemed to have a great time."
"Haddo is a wonderful setting at any time of year, but with the blanket of snow, it gave us a backdrop for our event which was really special. The estate workers deserve special mention for keeping the paths and access roads clear for the public. Without their help, it's doubtful whether we'd have been able to go ahead."
"The club would like to thank everyone who helped to make this event a success, from the Running Shop in Aberdeen who helped promote the event to all of the many local businesses who contributed prizes. We'd also like to thank everyone who came along to support the event, either as participant or spectator, for playing their part in raising the money to help eradicate polio around the world once and for all".

Prize winners were :-
Kids:- 1. Logan Burgess, 2. Findlay Burgess, 3. James Blackadder
Adults:- 1. Richard Ingram, 2. Katerina Najmanova, 3. Martin Kirk

Start of the Kids' Race Start of the Adults' Race Running through the woods Running through the woods Running down the Mile Xmas tree prize for the Winner

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8 November 2010

Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar Visit - Meeting 8 November 2010

Pres. Phil, Sarah Perry and Ron McKailThe Rotary Club Of Oldmeldrum welcomed Sarah Perry as guest speaker at its most recent meeting. Sarah, from Morgantown in West Virginia, is being sponsored by her local Rotary Club in the USA as part of the Ambassadorial Scholarship programme, while she studies at Aberdeen's Robert Gordon University for a Masters Degree in International Marketing.

Sarah, who is being hosted in the North East by the Aberdeen St Nicholas Rotary Club, told club members a little about the town she comes from. Together with a photo presentation, she painted a vivid and engaging picture of her home town, of her family life and her earlier studies at the University of West Virginia. Explaining that she aimed to work in international marketing, she went on to tell the club that eventually, she wanted to qualify with a doctorate in international business and return to university in a teaching role. She also expressed a desire to join her home Rotary Club, which was, she said, the reason that she had been given the opporunity to come to Scotland in the first place.
She delighted the club by sharing her experiences of living in Aberdeen, as well as her future travel plans while she is living in Europe. A keen runner, she recently completed her first marathon and would like to compete in a proper triathlon. When asked towards the end how she found the Aberdeenshire weather, she answered with commendable candour that even though the weather 'wasn't great', she still loved the area and in particular, the flower displays that are found all over the city and shire.

Founded in 1947, Ambassadorial Scholarships are probably the Rotary Foundation's oldest and best-known program. Since then, more than 40,000 men and women from about 100 nations have studied abroad under its auspices and today, it is one of the world's largest privately funded international scholarships programs. Nearly 700 scholarships were awarded for study in 2009-10. Through grants totaling approximately US$16.2 million, recipients from about 70 countries studied in more than 80 nations.
The purpose of the Ambassadorial Scholarships program is to further international understanding and friendly relations among people of different countries and geographical areas. The program sponsors academic year scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students as well as for qualified professionals pursuing vocational studies. While abroad, scholars serve as goodwill ambassadors to the host country and give presentations about their homelands to Rotary clubs and other groups. Upon returning home, scholars share with Rotarians and others the experiences that led to a greater understanding of their host country

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1 November 2010

The oldest Swinger in town - Meeting 1 November 2010

Tom Gunn and Pres. Phil DuncanThe Rotary Club Of Oldmeldrum welcomed club member Tom Gunn as guest speaker at its recent meeting. Tom is well known throughout the North East as the owner of Aberdeen-based Thomas Gunn Navigational Services, which provides Admiralty navigational data and navigational aids to the fishing industry and to shipping around the world.

Tom, originally from Tyneside, spoke on his maritime background, explaining to the club that it had been the case that most of the men in his family had either gone to sea with the merchant navy or worked in the Tyne shipyards. It was a route which he followed himself, applying to become a draughtsman at Swan Hunter, before taking a job at nautical instrument maker Lilley & Gillie in North Shields.
During his time at Lilley & Gillie, Tom studied marine engineering at Newcastle Polytechnic, before going on to the marine college at South Shields. His time at the company saw him work in a number of departments, as well as spending several months at the Hydrographic Office in Taunton.
Tom explained that compasses, when installed on ships made out of steel, do not point naturally towards the magnetic north. As such, they require adjustment by a specialist engineer. Having trained under his boss at Lilley & Gillie, Tom eventually himself qualified as a compass adjuster, frequently going to sea to calibrate the compasses on board large vessels.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency demands that compasses be calibrated every two years, irrespective as to whether or not a vessel has satnav or other navigational aids, the reason being that even in the event of a power or systems failure, a compass will continue to work. Today, Tom is the member of an exclusive club of only 25 compass adjusters in the UK, or 'swingers', as they are affectionately known when employed by the Admiralty.

It was while adjusting a compass on board a bulk carrier off the coast of Redcar that Tom was given a nudge towards relocating to the North East of Scotland. The ship's captain was from Inverurie, and on Tom explaining that he was thinking of setting up business in the North East, the skipper offered him lodgings in Aberdeen while he got himself established and made arrangements for his family to move north.
Since then, Tom explained that he had built up a close relationship with the fishing communities which had been maintained as the business had grown. Today, in addition to his base in Aberdeen, Tom's company has offices in Turkey and Greece, with partners in several navigational businesses based around the world.

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18 October 2010

Arms Without Legs - Meeting 18 October 2010

The Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum welcomed Lorraine Hesketh-Campbell as a guest speaker to its most recent meeting.
Lorraine has been involved in the project to restore the stone coat of arms above the entrance to Oldmeldrum Town Hall. In her talk, titled 'Arms Without Legs', she explained to the club the history behind the coat of arms, as well as discussing the current project to restore the stonework as far as possible to its original condition.
Meldrum House had passed through the hands of the Seaton, Urquhart and Duff families and had been the home of William Urquhart during the eighteenth century. As the coat of arms was that of William Urquhart, there was, Lorraine said, a strong possibility that they had at some stage been removed from Meldrum House. However, it was hard to confirm this or to place a date on when this may have happened, as there were no traces of these particular arms in any paintings made of the house. While a coat of arms was visible in a photograph taken of the house from the 1930's, this differed from the arms on the Town Hall today.
The stonework on the arms is today in need of repair. The legs of one of the greyhounds have broken off, while the colours presently displayed are thought to be quite different to those of its original state. The arms have now been examined by a stone conservator, and it is hoped that repair works can begin within the year, as soon as a tendering process for the work has been completed.
More information on the arms and the project to restore them to their former condition can be found online at

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11 October 2010

Ho Ho Lonach - Meeting 11 October 2010

Gordon Casely with Pres. Phil DuncanThe Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum was very pleased to welcome Gordon Caseley as its guest speaker. Gordon, a kenspeckle figure in the North East, is a freelance journalist from Aberdeen. He is also a leading light in the Lonach Gathering, having just served as the Honorary Vice President of the 169th Games, which take place annually in the Donside village. It was Gordon's experiences of Lonach which formed the basis of a highly entertaining talk.

While it had always been the expectation that to take part in the Lonach procession - an 8 mile march from the village of Bellabeg - a person should have been born in the parish, Gordon, first took part in 1973 as a young journalist to report for the Aberdeen Evening Express. Gordon has retained an involvement ever since and recounted those very first experiences warmly. In particular, he recalled the generous hospitality the marchers had encountered along the way, and how they had been led purposefully around the route, if perhaps towards the end a little unsteadily, by a member of the local constabulary on his bike.

The Lonach men, Gordon told the club, had gathered for the first time in 1822 to celebrate the coming of age of the heir of Charles Forbes. The Lonach Society was founded the following year as a mutual, friendly society, with the triple aims of fostering amity and social spirit; preserving Higland language and culture; and to help the widows and orphans of the parish.
Although the Lonach had traditionally been seen as an all male affair, unlike many other local gatherings around Scotland, there had never been any prohibition upon women taking part. Jennifer Stewart had served as Secretary in the previous year, and Gordon predicted that it perhaps wouldn't be too long before women were marching alongside men with pikes.

Although the march had traditionally stayed within Strathdon, there had been some notable exceptions. The first was when Queen Victoria, rather than summons the men, had let it be known that she would be grateful to inspect them – an occasion which resulted in a march over the hills to Balmoral. While this was recreated more recently in 1994, two years later in 1996, the men had visited Hungary in order to help with the country's centenary celebrations.

Gordon then shared a number of entertaining tales about his experiences of the gathering down the years, before concluding by leading the club in a resounding traditional toast to the gathering of "Ho, ho, Lonach!"

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4 October 2010

Pictish monastery at Portmahomack - Meeting 4 October 2010

Rev Alison Jaffrey with Pres. Phil DuncanThe Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum was pleased to be able to welcome Reverend Alison Jaffrey, Minister for the Meldrum and Bourtie Parish, to the club's most recent meeting. The club also extended warm greetings to fellow Rotarians Kenny Thomas and President Roddy Duncan from the Kintore Club as visiting guests.

Before beginning her talk to the club, Rev Jaffrey passed around a bag of pan drops, as this was, she said, the traditional form of sustenance when listening to a Minster delivering their 'sermon'. However, after setting the mood for her talk by reciting a favourite Norman McCaig poem, Characteristics, Rev Jaffrey turned her thoughts to archaeology, which was her academic discipline at university before studying divinity and entering the ministry.

In particular, she concentrated on the Pictish monastery at Portmahomack, near Tain, which had burned down in the 9th century, possibly as a result of a Viking raid. Monasteries, she said, had been extremely influential in Scotland's development, as in their day, they had been the main, indeed perhaps the only, places of education, as well as producing kingmakers and peacemakers.

There was a danger, she said, that the museum at the monastery site would soon need to close due to a lack of funds. Inviting personal support, she explained how detrimental such a closure would be to our understanding of the past, echoing Pope Benedict on his recent visit to Scotland when he urged people to 'hold on to their Christian past, as without the past, we lose the future.' Further details of the Tarbat Discovery Centre at Portmahomack, the Pictish and Local Heritage Museum, which is faced with imminent closure, can be found at

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13 September 2010

Turriff Space Programme - Meeting 13 September 2010

Pres. Phil with Martin Belshaw and rocketsThe Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum was pleased to welcome Martin Belshaw as its most recent guest speaker. Martin, a local engineer, is well-known for the support he gives to local school science projects, and has delivered a number of talks to local groups of all ages on the US space programme.
This time, however, Martin was on a topic closer to home, as he described, only slightly tongue in cheek, his efforts as a 'Commander' in the previously top-secret Turriff Space Program.

The space program had started life as a spin-off from what was an otherwise fairly routine schools science project. This had seen pupils building and racing model cars, which were powered by water being forcibly expelled from a chamber under pressure of air.
While this had been a fairly effective form of propulsion, Martin, to the delight of the pupils present, then decided to up the ante somewhat. By using compressed air at up to 90psi, pupils learned that not only did the resulting thrust of the toy cars mean they experienced great difficulty sticking to the track, some took involuntarily to the skies, hurtling towards the horizon at speeds in excess of 300mph!
Clearly, this supercharged version of air and water propulsion could be put to other uses, and so it was that a group from Turriff Air Cadets had a rendezvous with Martin at the Turriff Show Ground, which was to become their launch site for a new generation of bottle rockets. These ordinary plastic drinks bottles were equipped with fins to aid their direction, filled Ύ full with water and pumped up with air to extremely high pressures, before then being released to launch themselves skywards.
The rockets themselves are capable of reaching altitudes of around 1500 feet, and once out of thrust, will return to earth a few seconds later at speeds of up to 150 mph. Early successes led to more complex rockets being trialled, including 'multi stage' efforts involving two or more bottles. Another dimension was introduced, in that the rockets were used to transport eggs skywards, with the challenge set that they should be able to return to earth with the cargo intact!
Martin reported with sadness that not many eggs have yet made it back in one piece, with those which survived the initial forces of take-off tending to succumb to a combination of gravity and hard ground on the return leg of the journey. Undaunted, the Turriff Space Programme endeavours to find a solution, and is looking to start deploying timed parachute systems in their multi-stage rockets, which it is hoped will allow the eggs to return to earth unscrambled.

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7 September 2010

Pre-publicity for the "Young Musical of the Year" competition - 14 September 2010

The Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum is preparing to hold its annual 'Young Musical of the Year' competition, and once more, invites young musicians from the area to put themselves forward for the accolade.
The competition – the local heat of a Rotary District contest for the North of Scotland - will be held on Wednesday 22 September at 7pm in Meldrum Academy, with all local singers and instrumentalists of school age eligible to take part.

Gregor Allan with accordionThe contest has been a springboard to success for last year's overall winner, Tarves accordionist Gregor Allan. Fourteen year old Gregor, who was selected following his triumph to represent the club at the Rotary District final at Strathallan, has gone on to enjoy a year of significant achievement, something which he attributes in part to the performance experience the contest helped him to develop.
In the past year, Gregor has achieved first places in competitions at the Strichen and Banchory festivals, winning the Buchan Heritage Society's 'Young Entertainer of the Year' award along the way. Enjoying success in the National Burns Federation competition where he was crowned overall winner, he also went on to record creditable finishes at the Perth and Musselburgh festivals against older performers in the 'intermediate' age category.
In addition to his competitive successes, his talent has drawn attention from across the Atlantic, where he was interviewed by Canada's 'Blue Water' Radio, based in Hanover, Ontario. He has also raised over £10,000 for leukaemia charities – a large portion of which was raised thanks to the generosity of shoppers at the Tesco stores in Ellon and Inverurie while he performed outside.

Gregor, a pupil at Dyce Acedemy and a student of John Bone, recently gained a distinction award in his Grade 6 music exams. Yet despite his tremendous successes in the past twelve months, he remains modest about his achievements. Speaking in advance of the contest, he said:
"I really enjoyed having the chance to take part in the Rotary Young Musician contests last year. Although it was nerve wracking, the setting at Strathallan was really nice, and it was a great experience being able to compete against other young musicians playing different styles of music."
"Over the next year, my aim is to secure a finish in the top 3 at the Perth and Musselburgh Festivals. I also hope to continue raising money for charity through my music".

Chair of this year's judging panel, local Rotarian Richard Thomson, said:
"The Young Musician of the Year competition provides a great opportunity for local talent to shine on a bigger stage. "
"However, the competitive aspect, whilst important, is not the be all and end all. For me, the best thing about the competition is the opportunity which it gives young musicians to experience performing in public".
"The standard of performances last year across all the age groups really impressed the judges, and as Gregor's experience shows, it can really give a boost to young musicians, no matter how long they have been playing for. I'd encourage all our local young musicians of all ages and stages to get registered so they too can take part in this year's competition."

Any young musician hoping to take part in the competition can register by downloading the application form available on the Oldmeldrum Rotary Club's Website at:
There will be 4 Categories open to contestants living in the Meldrum Academy catchment area or attending the associated primary schools or academy. These groups are:
Primary 1- 4
Primary 5 - 7
S1- S3
S4 – S6
Awards will also be made for the most promising musician, as well as the overall winner, who will be crowned as the "Young Musician of the Year 2010".
Completed application forms should be returned to Performing Arts Department, Meldrum Academy. Colpy Road, Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire. Further information is also available from Jim Walker on 01651 872281.

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6 September 2010

Oldmeldrum Rotary secures funding for 5 new projects for Himalayan kids.
6 September 2010

Over a hundred Himalayan children will soon have access to quality early childhood education, thanks to Rotary Clubs in the North and East of Scotland.

Leela reading to Nepali kidsThe Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum, together with the support of other clubs in the North of Scotland District and Rotary International, has raised £8,260 to help fund five satellite early childhood education projects in villages four hours drive north east of Nepal's capital, Kathmandu.
The projects, run by the charity First Steps Himalaya, will provide quality play-based early childhood education for children under 5 years and their families. Parents will be encouraged to attend with their children to learn about better care, nutrition, health and hygiene. In Nepal, 50% of children under 5 are chronically undernourished and 1 in 15 children do not live to their first birthday. As a result of poor early childhood development, the majority of children enter school inadequately prepared. This results in poor ability in class, failed exams and high drop-out rates from school, thus perpetuating the continuous cycle of poverty.

Durga Aran of First Steps Himalaya, who founded the trust together with Scotswoman Fionna Heiton, said that he wanted Nepali children to have a proper childhood. "I had no real childhood and was out of school caring for siblings at the age of 6", he said.
First Steps Himalaya supports Nepali parents to raise healthier, better educated children. Trained early childhood teachers create a child-friendly atmosphere conducive to learning which prepares the children for their future education. In just over a year,

First Steps Himalaya has constructed a purpose built Early Childhood Centre and has run classes for over 70 children. "The new projects enable us to reach more families in need of our support", said Fionna, who is delighted with the support from Rotary Clubs in Scotland. "The villages have a population of 10,000 people and lack basic health and education amenities. Schools lack resources or trained teachers and there is no reliable health post."
Hilary Gordon of the Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum said:
"From the moment we learned about the work of First Steps Himalaya, our club and its partners have been very enthusiastic about doing everything possible to try to support the charity. There can be no better start in life for a child than to receive proper pre-school care. While that's something we're able to take for granted in Scotland, sadly, that's not an experience which is universal. To be able to make even a small difference, in one of the most remote parts of Nepal, is something that we are delighted to be involved in."
First Steps Himalaya encourages visitors to the project at its village tourism programme and fundraising treks in the Nepal Himalaya. From 2011, First Steps Himalaya will be offering "Leadership training courses" for executives, youth groups and individuals.
Further information is available at or

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30 August 2010

Pampered Chef for Himalaya - 30 August 2010

Pampered Chef participantsThe Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum this week raised £70 this week for their project to help the charity First Steps Himalaya, by organising a 'Pampered Chef' cookery show. The show, run by Hilary Gordon of Methlick, saw those attending making a number of recipes including mini carrot cake cups and prawn crostini.

The event was the latest in a series of fundraising events being held in aid of the charity, which seeks to help provide basic pre-school education for children in rural Nepal as a means of dramatically improving their life chances. Oldmeldrum and other Rotary Clubs in the North of Scotland are committed to raising £2000 for the next phase of the project, which is to provide 5 satellite projects to build on the successful work of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) pilot project in Sangachok.

The main beneficiaries will be children under 5 years old, their mothers and extended families. At least a hundred children at any one time will benefit from pre-school classes and mother and baby/toddler groups at the 5 centres. The entire community of approximately 6,000 people will benefit from the health advice programme throughout all 6 project areas.
Young children in rural Nepal are disadvantaged even before they are born and then their development is slowed by poor nutrition, immature motherhood and ignorance. According to UNICEF, 50% of children under 5 are chronically undernourished and 1 in 15 children do not live to their first birthday. The problem begins in pregnancy as 41% of girls give birth before the age of 19. Only 13% of women are attended by a skilled birth attendant and one woman dies in child birth every two hours.
Child rearing practices in Nepal often do not involve any stimulation or play based learning. A survey found that only 4% of fathers felt that it was part of their role to assist their wife with child rearing. It is generally assumed that child development happens on its own and there are few opportunities for caregivers to learn better parenting skills.
As a result of poor early childhood development, the majority of children enter school without adequate preparation. The consequence is poor ability in class, failed exams and drop out from school, thus perpetuating the continuous cycle of poverty. In fact, 24% of children do not complete primary school and only 29% of children attend secondary school.
Over the next few weeks, the charity will be meeting with representatives in Nepal to see where these satellite projects might best be based. The charity will also be seeking to find suitable premises for its new satellite operations, as well as getting on with the important task of recruiting the staff needed to look after the children who will be taking part. It is hoped that teacher training will be completed by early October, with the first health and parenthood advice becoming available shortly afterwards. Parent and under 2 classes are expected to begin in November.

More information on the project is available on the charity website at , or from Hilary Gordon (01651 806283), who can also offer advice on holding fundraising events. Individual donations can be sent to First Steps Himalaya via The Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum c/o The Redgarth Hotel, Oldmeldrum.

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23 August 2010

Pakistan Disaster Response - 23 August 2010

The Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum has responded to the recent flooding disaster in Pakistan by providing water purification equipment to help aid the relief effort.

The floods – thee worst in the country for for 80 years - have devastated large areas of Pakistan along the Indus River. The official death toll is estimated as 1,500 by the United Nations, although the actual figure may be much higher. Overall, an estimated 20 million people have been directly affected, with an estimated 8 million people left homeless.

Along with other Rotary Clubs from around the world, local Rotarians have helped to buy "Aquaboxes" and "Lifestraws" to help meet the urgent need for drinking water and help prevent the spread of disease.
Aquaboxes come filled with a selection of warm clothing, useful hardware and hygiene items. They also contain a filter cartridge and a matching supply of water-treatment tablets. Each box can be used to purify up to 1100 litres of polluted water, making it safe and pleasant to drink - enough for a family of four people for about four months.
Lifestraws come as personal, portable water purifiers. Using a system of filters and membranes, they remove dirt, debris and bacteria, making even the poorest quality water as safe to drink as if it had been boiled or treated through chlorination.Aquaboxes unloaded in Islamabad "Lifestraw" in action
The above photos show Aquaboxes being unloaded in the Pakistan capital, Islamabad, and a Lifestraw being used by a child

Club International Committee Convener Tom Gunn said:
"The devastating scenes from the Pakistan floods have spurred Rotarians from around the world to respond."
"The need to provide clean drinking water is urgent. By providing simple equipment like aquaboxes and life straws, we can help to reduce dramatically the risk of diseases like cholera diarrhoea and dysentery, especially in children who are already weak and vulnerable."

Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland (RIBI) has launched an appeal to help the people affected by the Pakistan floods. Donations to the RIBI Donations Trust Pakistan Flood Appeal will be used to aid the long-term rebuilding of communities in the affected areas.
Donations towards Rotary efforts in Pakistan can be made by cheque, payable to "RIBI Donations Trust" in envelopes marked "Pakistan Flood Appeal" and sent to RIBI Donations Trust c/o RIBI, Kinwarton Road, Alcester B49 6PB

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9 August 2010

Artist Blacksmithing - Meeting 9 August 2010

Norman Brammer, Denis Power-Neads and Pres. Phil DuncanOldmeldrum Rotary was delighted to welcome Denis Power-Neads, President of the Rotary Club of Newark, Nottinghamshire, to its latest meeting. Club member Norman Brammer also made a return as guest speaker this week, and chose as his topic the subject of blacksmithing, which has become a hobby of his since retiring from the oil industry.

Blacksmithing as a craft had been in existence since 3500 BC, with iron first being smelted and forged from around this period, Norman told the club. Since iron was harder than bronze, war had acted as one of the main drivers in increasing demand for the metal. Iron tools also became highly prized for working wood, stone, metals as well as for the manufacture of tools for industry and the home.
Threatened in the 20th century by increased mechanisation, the craft received a new lease of life in the 1950's, in the form of "artist blacksmithing". The UK is now at the forefront of this craft, with the British Artists Blacksmiths Association able to count on several hundred members across the UK.
Norman has his own smiddy at home in Fyvie, and was able to pass round a number of examples of his own work, to great acclaim. Although he has produced traditional items such as house signs and weather veins, Norman explained that he particularly enjoyed the challenge of imitating the natural world, and often incorporated leaves, bullrushes and arum lilies in his work.
Normal concluded his talk by recalling how he had been involved recently, alongside a number of fellow members of the Artists Blacksmiths Association, in producing a piece of public sculpture in King's Lynn. To symbolise the town's part in the Hanseatic League, which controlled trade in the Baltic and North Sea between the 13th and 17th Centuries, blacksmiths had produced fish racks for the town's riverside.
Some 80 "fish" had been made by blacksmiths from around the country, four of them by Norman himself. He concluded by showing pictures of his contributions to the sculpture, which included a cod, a skate and a codling.

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27 July 2010

Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) - 27 July 2010

Local youngsters have returned home from a camp in the Highlands, where they took part in a Youth Leadership Awards scheme organised by Rotary Clubs from across the North of Scotland.

RYLA activities 2010The Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) camp, which took place at the Abernethy Centre at Nethybridge, near Aviemore, saw local representatives join with over 70 other girls from across the Rotary 1010 district, which covers everywhere in Scotland north of a line from the River Forth to the Isle of Skye.
RYLA is a programme for young people, which was adopted officially by Rotary International in 1971. The Awards are designed to develop the leadership skills of young people with potential. This nurtures the skills of young people who will go on to become the future leaders of our community, and helps particularly those who may need some further encouragement to exploit their leadership skills.

Led by Hilary Gordon from Methlick, along with 8 other mentors, all participants had been selected by their local Rotary Club because they had shown leadership qualities. The RYLA week was designed to develop those qualities by providing an intensive and challenging programme, with all girls having the chance to take the lead at some point during the week.
A typical day at the camp would begin with the girls eating breakfast, before being joined by a speaker holding a prominent position in their community. The speakers, who each covered a different topic, had a common theme of talking about their own experiences with particular reference to leadership, before making themselves open to what were often some probing questions from the participants.
Afterwards, the physical activities began in earnest, with campers taking part in hill walking, gorge walking, rock climbing, abseiling, mountain biking and raft building. The now traditional "Abernethy Challenge" also took place, which saw the girls take part in a sports competition followed by the swimming competition. Speaking afterwards, Oldmeldrum Rotarian Hilary Gordon, who led the camp, said:
"While the emphasis at RYLA is always very much on fun, the week is all about giving the participants a physical and mental challenge."
"While everyone who comes on the course benefits, for some, the experience can be genuinely life-changing, and allows them to discover, perhaps for the first time, exactly what they are capable of when working together with others."
"It's great to see the personal growth that the participants experience during their time away here. All we ask in return is that they give their best, and come back to tell their local Rotary Clubs what they got out of the week."

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.

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12 July 2010

Community Garden, Volunteers Sought - Meeting 12 July 2010

Norman Brammer with Pres. Phil.The Rotary Club of Oldmeldrum is on the lookout for people to come and join the team of volunteers who help look after the town's Community Garden.
The William Forsyth Memorial Garden opened to the public in September 2008. Since then, with its uninterrupted views over the Garioch towards Bennachie, it has become a popular attraction in the town.
Taking its name from one of Oldmeldrum's most famous sons, the garden was designed and built by local Rotarians, who have also taken responsibility for looking after the garden. However, with the final clearing and planting works in the garden due to be completed by this autumn, local Rotarians are keen to hear from anyone who would like to get involved in helping to keep the garden well maintained for the future.

Fyvie man Norman Brammer, who chairs the committee in charge of looking after the garden, took the chance to make his appeal for helpers in a talk to the Oldmeldrum Rotary club on the garden last week.
Speaking afterwards, he said: "The William Forsyth Garden project has, from the outset, enjoyed outstanding support from the local community. It will be very satisfying for a lot of people to see the final part of the garden cleared and planted later this year."
"However, gardens are always "works in progress", and Oldmeldrum's is no exception. Although the Rotary Club is proud to have the leading role in maintaining the garden, the overall workload does, at present, fall on a relatively small number of people."
"That's why we'd like to make it clear that the opportunity to help in the garden is open to everyone. It's very sociable, and there's a range of light and heavier tasks to suit anyone who can give a little time to assist, even if it's just for an hour or two."
"As the final parts of the garden are put in place later this year, it would be nice to know that the future of the garden is in as many good pairs of hands as possible."

Born in Oldmeldrum in 1737, William Forsyth was a botanist of considerable note, who worked in the Apothecaries Garden in Chelsea. He became Chief Superintendent of the Royal gardens at Kensington and St James's, and was a founder of the Royal Horticultural Society. He is also an ancestor of the popular TV entertainer and host of "Strictly Come Dancing", Bruce Forsyth.

People can arrange to help out in the garden, which is on the corner of the A947 and the B9170, at a time which suits them. Anyone interested in getting involved should contact Norman Brammer on 01651 891878.

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5 July 2010

Books Abroad - Meeting 5 July 2010

Pres. Phil with Steve Reid and John CalderPresident Phil Duncan welcomed members to the meeting. Andrew McCartney was pleased to announce that he had been presented with a cheque for £300 from the pupils of Meldrum Primary School as a result of their "Purple Pinkie" fundraising.

The speakers for the evening were John Calder from the Rotary Club of Banff and Steve Reid, who spoke passionately about the charity Books Abroad, which is based in Rhynie. Their aim is to help educate children through taking donated books and shipping them to schools and other organisations abroad, and they currently reach 80 countries worldwide.

Since inception in 1982 they have sent 3 million books abroad, which might otherwise have ended up as landfill. The scheme is very much demand-driven; they don’t send books just for the sake of it, the schools request what they require for their pupils. They also supply overseas libraries with appropriate novels.

Transporting the items to the schools engenders a great deal of hard work, time and organisation. The receiving school does not pay the costs so this has to be covered by Books Abroad. The books are parcelled and transported by whatever method: road or sea which is the most cost-effective. The charity relies on volunteers and John and Steve invited members to visit the base in Rhynie at any time, or find out more from their website -

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