Club Dinner 12th September 2022

Dinner Meeting Monday 12th September 2022

This dinner meeting was one like no other and will never be repeated.  We were mourning the loss of our longest reigning monarch in British history – the death of Queen Elizabeth 11. We were also gathered, our dress sombre, to pay tribute, through the words of Rotarian Graham Topping, to her 70 years of selfless “Service Above Self”.  A 2 minute silence followed – we all stood in front of a most beautifully lit video image of her Majesty. I am sure many of our thoughts turned to the true meaning and responsibility of “Service Above Self”.

Our guests included Anne Smith, Past President of Salisbury Rotary, Iain Douglas, guest of Bruce Royston-Smith, and potential new member, Thomas Bwambale, (Uganda), and  our club-sponsored GRSP student for 2021-22, Isla Bone. We were deprived the pleasure of meeting her before she left for Georgia, due to Covid restrictions. 

Isla treated us to a lively, gracious and informative powerpoint presentation of her experiences as a GRSP student at Georgia University, USA. The Georgia Rotary Student Programme was founded in 1947 by a Georgia Rotarian to promote peace.  Students worldwide, between the ages of 18 to 25, are invited to apply for one academic year scholarships with tuition, books and on-campus accommodation all paid for through the generosity of Rotary Clubs in Georgia. Winchester Rotary encourages local students to apply for this unique scholarship opportunity; our sponsorship, (£1,000), gave Isla her return flight to Georgia plus her medical insurance.  Currently, we are sponsoring 2  more students from Peter Symonds College.

In addition to the academic opportunities offered, it was clear that of huge value to Isla, the only student from the UK,  were the  new friendships she made, a greater understanding of the culture and values of the 50 students from countries around the world, the very warm welcome and generosity of her host family and all the other Rotarians she met.  She travelled widely in the States, including New York, Chicago, Florida, and Miami. She didn’t feel homesick because her host family made life for Isla like “home from home” – as she mentioned, there was always someone to go back to.

Finally, with her lovely smile and sparkling eyes, she called on us all to recommend this great scheme to as many young people as possible. She opened her A Level results in the dark in Georgia and to her delight found that her GRSP Scholarship had helped her to gain the place she so wanted at Manchester University. 

Congratulations, Isla, from Winchester Rotary Club. We wish you every happiness and success for your future life. Thank you for your excellent presentation and for keeping in touch with your regular letters from Georgia.

This special occasion of thanksgiving and remembrance for our Queen Elizabeth concluded with the loyal toast to our new King Charles 111.

Diana Brooks

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