Presidents Report 2023-24

Another Rotary year has rapidly passed, and I thank the Club members for their on-going support through the year. It was a fast-learning curve for me, yet I had great start-up coaching from IPP Mark Wallis, with many discussions over coffee and along with various Q&A sessions. As well support the from our Club Board members, especially so the Secretarial support from Graeme Robinson and Assistant Secretary Dom Rabu, Treasurer Derek Andrew and many discussions had with Di McKenzie-Rabu. Added of course was the learning from the District President Elect training and other supportive on-line Rotary courses.

I express much gratitude to the Mosman Rotary Club members for accepting me, as a relatively new member, into the Presidents role.

I am a firm believer in Service Above Self. Honour non Honores. As a Rotary President the most satisfying achievement is to have a Rotary Club that enhances the life of others through our own activities. Our Club have given strong financial support to Refuges for Women and Children, at ‘Mary’s House’ and ‘Delvina’, ‘Women and Children First’. We have given and regularly support the Melanoma Institute Australia, for both treatment and research.

Our Soiree function and more have raised necessary dollars to assist the altruistic Vietnam Hand Surgery Team led by Dr Peter Scugall, (here with us this evening).

Money towards the global eradication of Polio. I recall as a child in a country NSW Primary school having a boy in my class wearing leg callipers to enable him to walk, albeit with difficulty. In that same year we all queued up for our mandatory vaccination, but for him it was too late. Rotary gift money to Polio and the Bill Gates Foundation double that.

We have supported an exceptional woman, Susie Agoston, with her ‘Oneland’ Arts and Sports Education to Indigenous children in Far North Western NSW.

A Rotary Foundation Project is in progress for 2024/25 to support the National Centre for Childhood Grief. Supporting bereaved children aged 3 to 17 and their families to rebuild their lives following the death of a parent, sibling or other close loved one.

With all of this and more, I do consider we have adhered to the call for this year by our Rotary International President, Gordon McInally, to ‘Create Hope in the World’.

In nearby Timor-Leste we have built a Primary School and soon the Children of the village of Hera will be able to attend a school in a more weather protected, educational and safe environment. This School Project has been completed not only on-time but also within a tight budget. A great achievement by our Team of Graeme Robinson, Richard Vahtrick, Barry Starr, Ward Pollard and Blair Leslie.

Now, just while on this subject, Richard had prepared and presented to Rotary District a magnificent application for an International District Award based on Mosman Rotary input with the Timor-Leste Hera School Project and inclusive of the long-term Vietnam Hand Surgery Project. Unfortunately, we were pipped at the post by another Rotary Clubs submission. Thank you, Richard, let’s give it a go next year!

Through our year Youth Director PP Halyna Koscharsky ensured contributions were made to support the Mosman Youth Art Award and the Mosman Youth Literature Award. As well, under Community Service, Ruth Thompson arranged our support to ‘The Humour Foundation’, (known as the hospital ‘Clown Doctors’), ‘Books in Homes’, Mosman Sea Scouts and ‘Taldumonde’, which supplies support to vulnerable and homeless children.

To support all of this we need income to our Project Account, raised via members service support, donations and the general public:

Christmas Raffle

Our Soiree Event

Balmoral Wishing Well (managed by Rotary for the Bluett family)

Domestic Terminal Collection

Jigsaw Puzzle & Tea Towel sales

Australia Day BBQ

Bunnings BBQ’s

Hunter Valley Uncorked event at Balmoral

Donations (especially from the Hotel Mosman)

Grants received: Federal, State and Mosman Council.

Our Mosman Jigsaw Project after 3 years is into its last legs, yet still making significant sales. (out of 1,500 we have under 100 game sets remaining).   A big thank you goes to Ross and Therese Webb for their ongoing support of the project and also particularly, their superb management of Mosman Rotary presence at the monthly Mosman Markets.

An offshoot from our Jigsaw is the Mosman Rotary Tea Towels, utilising the two Jigsaw maps. A new and growing project due to the initiative of PP’s Di McKenzie-Rabu and Dom Rabu and their ongoing project management.

With PP Di managing our Welfare and Engagement, our Club members had a very enjoyable and noisy end of Year, Christmas Dinner at a local Vietnamese restaurant. I am sure this excellent event can be replicated.

All of this Income and Expenditure requires close management and constant understanding of our fiscal position. I give a huge Bravo to our Treasurer PP Derek Andrew for undertaking such a brilliant role.

In addition to our finances, Derek superbly took on the weekly on-line editing and publishing of our Oozoo Bulletin, distributed not only to members but also to many in our community. A brilliant job undertaken, thanks Derek.

Now the Treasurer also needs to be kept into account and on behalf of Mosman Rotary I offer a huge thank you to past Mosman Rotarian Chris Gotham for the Honorary Auditing of our Accounts.

Early June PP Clare Stockdale was presented with a Mosman Council Award for 25 years volunteering in the Mosman area. Well done Clare.

A Project slowly getting underway is the upgrade of the Bicentennial Walk, from The Spit around the Bay and up around the Beauty Point Coast. Initially set up in 1988 with support from Mosman Council, Mosman Historical Society and Mosman Rotary, the trail is now in need of urgent repair and upgrading. Stephen Palmer from Mosman Historical Society brought this to our attention. Mosman Rotary support is from PP Mike Blakeney, PP Blair Leslie along with Ross and Therese Webb.  A presentation has been made to Council and hopefully we can get this Project fully underway in the next year.  

Our Student Exchange Program continues to be excellently managed by PP Barry Starr. We farewelled Marco to Brazil at Christmas and Kazushi has finished his time in Australia and yesterday departed for Japan. To fill the gap Barry has arranged for us to welcome in the New Year Christian from Germany for 12 months. Although it is now difficult for Mosman Club to manage, we will share with Lane Cove and other clubs, added four host families have already been set up and enrolment at Mosman High School will shortly be organised.

Just two weeks ago Barry also arranged for our sponsorship of two local area students to exchange to Japan and Germany. This will now give us two more local host families for our student. Shirley Beaumont Owles has kindly offered to be Club Co-ordinator.

PDG PP & PHF Danny Low, along with his wife Angeline, recently returned from a Rotary Conference in Bhutan, has represented Mosman Rotary at many overseas Rotary Club meetings and Rotary functions. Inclusive is Danny’s continued work with Wheelchairs for Kids into Southeast Asia. As well Hearing Aids into Asia.

One of the roles I had was representing our Club with the laying of wreaths in remembrance of those who gave their life.  Anzac Services, both Georges Heights and the earlier Mosman Cenotaph Service. As well we were present for the Vietnam Veterans Service on August 18th.  

In August 2023 Epidemiologist Professor Emeritus Mary-Louise McLaws AO sadly passed. Six months earlier, at our Cowra Rotary District Convention, Prof McLaws, having been nominated by Mosman Rotary Club, accepted our District Vocational Excellence Award for outstanding Community Service. Mark Wallis had the words, – “our most trusted, compassionate and calming voice through those terrible Covid months.” It was a sad time for us all.

Now despite a grand effort by Past Presidents Di McKenzie-Rabu and Mark Wallis, our Membership through the year has remained relatively steady.  This Membership result does not reflect the work input through the year, yet we need to maintain a strong momentum as new members are required for the health of our Club.  Our last new member, John Gessler, was inducted in February. (Prior to that, John with wife Helen wasted little time getting into service work with a full day activity at the Australia Day Balmoral BBQ).

Our District Governor Christine Owen championed our District campaign to ‘Say No to Domestic and Family Violence’, with Mosman Rotary joining with Mosman Council in the December Walk against Violence. We continue with our contribution to the support of victims and the raising of community awareness to this sadly growing need.

Lunchtime meetings at Hotel Mosman Upper Duck were kept interesting with outstanding, informative Guest Speakers. Thank you to President Elect Ruth Thompson for her guest speaker program. Last count I had 32 speakers through the year. A great effort, thank you Ruth.

I must again add thanks to Brendon Barry and the Hotel Mosman Team for the great lunchtime service that we enjoy Monday of each week.

A meeting highlight for me was our post humous Paul Harris Fellowship presentation to Sharon Kerr for her late husband David. (Sharon is with us this evening). It was a rather emotional yet happy event. I did not know David, who was wheelchair bound, yet talking with our members it was very clear that David was indeed a stalwart of Mosman Rotary.

Almost time for me to sign off, yet firstly I must thank District Governor Christine Owen for her leadership and vision with our District 9685. A lot of change underway with our Rationalisation Review.

Jenny May, our Club Cluster Assistant Governor. Thank you for your help and direction through the year and for chasing up monthly reports, which of course became a great reference. I must add a special thank you on behalf of our Club, for your helping out with hosting of our Exchange students, supporting our stand at the Mosman Markets and being rostered to Sell our Christmas Raffle Tickets.

Finally again to my Board members, without whose support I would not have managed the year: Mark Wallis for his Presidents knowledge and membership role, Derek Andrew – Treasury, Graeme Robinson – Secretarial, Sgt at Arms Blair Leslie kept members, inclusive of me, on their toes,  Dom Rabu Assistant Secretary, a non-Board role yet a great source of Rotary knowledge, Di McKenzie-Rabu Membership along with Welfare and Engagement, Barry Starr Exchange Students and International, Halyna Koscharsky for her Youth undertaking and Ruth Thompson for Community Service and Guest Speaker Program. Richard Vahtrick for managing the Foundation role and support with Timor-Leste.

It has been an honour to be President of the Rotary Club of Mosman. It is indeed a busy role, yet very rewarding in many ways,

Our Club is fortunate to have PP Halyna and Ruth coming together for their joint Presidency. This is a marvellous move spreading a busy load, as other clubs have very successfully undertaken. I know they will do a great job and my support is always available as their Immediate Past President.

James Humphery, President

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