Youth Showcase 11th September 2023

This evening President Les Haswell and Youth Team Lead, Maggie Hastie, welcomed many students and their families to share in our club Youth Showcase. Our two returning  GRSP students, Rob O’Connor and Nancy Meldrum, together with our next prospective GRSP student, Sara Yasin with her father, Saquib, were present, together with Rotary Young Filmmaker winner, Izzy Davis, with her parents, Young Writer prize winner, Hollie Tang accompanied by her aunt, Janice Wong, Young Musician prize winner, Erin Bolger and her mother, Corrine, also Scout Leader, Christine Holt, and last, but certainly not least, Thomas Bwambale, our student from Uganda.

As the business announcements drew to a close, Thomas Bwambale expressed his appreciation and gratitude for Winchester Rotary’s sponsorship which has enabled him to take up the Rotary Scholarship at Winchester University to read computer sciences. He then presented the club with the gift of a beautiful clock.

Rob O’Connor and Nancy each gave a presentation describing the highlights of their year in Georgia as GRSP students. What they both made so clear in their different ways was how hospitable their American host families were, how much they enjoyed meeting other young people from all parts of the world and above all how much they valued the friendships they had made, the greater understanding they had gained concerning other cultures  and the opportunity to broaden their minds through the education and many experiences they had shared with others.

They both expressed so eloquently their deep appreciation for the sponsorship they had enjoyed through the generosity of Winchester Rotary together with the support and encouragement from Steve Feeney.

Izzie Davies presented her atmospheric, haunting film which took her all the way to winning the Rotary Young Filmmaker National Award.

Hollie Tang’s Young Writer entry won an award at District level. She read her entry, called Peace to the club which met with much applause.

Young Musician winner, Erin Bolger, sang beautifully, again received with much applause.

Ian White then described to the club the mentoring of children at a local secondary school by a small team of club members. This is an ongoing project and more volunteers would be most welcome.

Last year the Youth team, led by Steve Feeney in his film making capacity, spent time with a group of children from the same local secondary school. The children spent several days at Worthy Down, where they had the opportunity to visit many areas of activity; the staff engaged brilliantly with them encouraging participation in many activities.  The aim was to build their confidence, social skills and finally, in small groups, at the end of the project, make a film. Steve did a fabulous job and, with no previous experience, the children made an excellent film which Steve showed the club. 

Maggie Hastie outlined our support for our local community, including disadvantaged children in local schools.  We have supported the Playhouse Foundation, a local charity which provides professionally administered therapy for autistic children, with the aim of enabling them to enter mainstream school. David Farthing ended by reminding the club of our ongoing support for the very successful Winchester Goalball Club.

Our thanks to Steve Feeney for his time and expertise in putting together an excellent presentation showcasing our Rotary Youth projects, together with the joy of seeing and hearing the  talented young people who grasped those opportunities.

Our young people are precious and vulnerable – we must care for them so they will, in turn, care for others.

Diana Brooks

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