Sunday, 24 September 2017

Reports from meetings and activities of clubs and community groups

IN the past few weeks, the club has held a number of domestic meetings without the engagement of an outside speaker.

Early in May, Peter Thomson gave a two-part presentation on the Rotary Foundation, the movement’s international charity, highlighting the continuing commitment to eradicate polio and urging the recruitment of more “sustaining members” to the club who promise to donate at least $100 a year to the Foundation.

On May 23, the club held its annual meeting at which reports were given by the various committee chairmen on activities during the past year, including the annual bingo evening in November, a charity auction in March and the ever-popular jazz night at the Christ Church Centre in April.

This meeting was chaired by the president Lionel Scott.

On the subsequent weekend, a small party of members and partners flew to Denmark for a special visit to their link club Naestved, a venture which occurs every four years, with the Danish Rotarians coming here on the intervening two years.

An excellent weekend was spent enjoying the Danish Rotarians’ hospitality.

The trip was only marred by one or two of the party getting caught up in the British Airways software glitch on the way home.

At the “fifth Tuesday” partners’ evening the following week members and guests enjoyed a quiz devised by Maria Bunina.

On June 6, there was the annual club assembly at which the incoming officers detail their plans for the coming year.

Maria Bunina, who takes over as president on June 27, chaired the meeting, introducing her team of Peter Thomson (president-elect and membership services committee chairman), Philip Fletcher (secretary), David Rusman (treasurer), Lionel Scott (immediate past president) and Barry Prior (vice- president and international committee chairman).

The other incoming committee chairmen, Maurice Robins (community service), Denis Craggs (Foundation) and Mark Harling (youth service) also outlined their plans for 2017-2018 and will serve on the club council, together with club guru John Grout.

Joy Arnott, Rotary District 1090’s governor and a member of the Rotary Club of Henley Bridge, attended the assembly and congratulated the club on the wide variety of activities planned for such a small club.

Our speaker at the meeting on Tuesday last week was Catharine Darnton, headteacher of Gillotts School in Henley.

She is in her 10th year at the school and explained that it is a co-educational secondary for 11- to 16-year-olds and very much valued as a community school.

Its motto is Non Nobis Solum, which translates as “Not by Ourselves Alone”.

The school has 850 pupils and 110 staff, some of whom are part-time. Gillotts is a very old Henley name and the name of a girls’ boarding school in the Fifties. In the Sixties, however, the local secondary modern school moved in.

Catharine explained that on March 1, 2012, after protracted negotiations (and some much-valued legal advice), the school attained academy status.

This accorded Gillotts independence from local authority control, enabling it to have a degree of autonomy and, importantly, resulted in the school owning the freehold of its premises.

The school is now in the top 15 per cent of schools in the country for the academic progress made by its pupils after intake from successful local primary schools.

It engages in vertical tutoring for groups of pupils of different ages and has an increased focus on the continuing professional development of teaching staff.

Looking to the future, the school has an increased focus on IT and encourages pupils to bring their own devices into school.

It is also looking to rejuvenate the site and buildings but Catharine did caution that there are serious financial challenges ahead.

Roger Sayer proposed the vote of thanks, acknowledging that Catharine is clearly a committed headteacher, and thanked her for an informative and interesting insight into Gillotts School.

The club’s annual president’s night was held at Leander Club on Friday last week to celebrate Lionel Scott’s year of office, which ends this month.

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