Droitwich Christmas Sleigh

The Rotary and Lions Clubs carried out six non stop street visits – much reduced in number due to Covid-19 restrictions. Also Static collections took place in the Town Centre. We wish to thank residents for their appreciation and contributions of cash and through Just Giving.

The Rotary Club are donating:

£450 to Spectrum Days
£450 to Acorns Hospice
     £100 to St John Ambulance
          £600 to Droitwich Rugby Club

              President’s report for November

3rd November. We did not have our Zoom meeting today as it was a day
for Rotarians to sell poppies in the town in a new socially distanced manner
working behind tables and giving donors the offer of contactless payment to
the British Legion.
7th November. I laid a wreath on behalf of the Club on a chilly but
beautifully sunny day. Mike Lambden met me at the town memorial for a
photographic record and he kindly took a photo of me in my position of  Chair
of DAN too as I was laying a wreath made by the members.
11th November. I collected the Rotary Calendars for 2021 containing
photographs from Rotarians and their friends to celebrate the towns of
Droitwich Spa and Bromsgrove. The calendars ordered by the RC of Droitwich
Spa have been kindly sponsored by Sureseal Windows and therefore all money
from the sales of these calendars will be going to support local charities. There
are a still a few calendars available for sale and Santa will be happy to sell them
to you leading up to Christmas.
12th November. Attended a Zoom call from Turn2Us, one of the charities our
Club is supporting during this Rotary year. I met with the Head of Trustees and
the CEO together with major donors to the charity. There was also a very
powerful presentation from a recipient of one of our grants. Turn2Us provides
a life line and offers the opportunity to thrive and not just survive. The charity
helps to signpost people to money available and referrals have been up a
staggering 520% this year. 1.7m households do not have enough food and
Turn2Us has partnered with the Trussel Trust. The benefits calculator provided
by Turn2Us is used by the advisers to the Chancellor of the Exchequer !
Certainly a charity worth supporting, particularly in these exceptional times.
14th November. Attended a Zoom AGM of the Nepal Trust our
international charity for this Rotary year. It was interesting to visit the wide
range of projects being supported by Rotary Clubs from around the UK and
other parts of the world through Zoom. Understandably there have been
delays and problems along the way but it was so good to see many successful
projects including, schools, health care facilities etc. Once the Nepal Trust has
provided buildings and equipment the Government takes over the running of
the facilities which assures the future of the projects and gives the Trust the
opportunity to continue to work on other projects throughout the
24th November. We learned that we had received a Community Grant from
our Rotary District Funds to help us provide 15 toy boxes for children living in
Refuges . The boxes cost £25 each and contain around £80 worth of new toys
which are age related to each child.
Leaflets started to be delivered to 10,000 homes in Droitwich Spa giving
information about Santa and his Elves. These leaflets have been kindly
sponsored by Nicol and Co. Santa and his sleigh not only give a lot of pleasure
to young and old alike but the money raised is our Clubs main source of
income for funds we give to support local charities. These leaflets give details
of our Just Giving page and also a QR code. Santas route can be tracked on
Face Book . However he will not be stopping but riding very slowly along the
roads. A huge amount of preparation and soul searching has taken place to
make Santas visits around the town as festive and successful as possible.
Helen Karakashian

Our President, Helen Karakashian, laying the poppy wreath on behalf of the Rotary Club of Droitwich Spa in Victoria Square.

Handover 1st October 2020

Past President Pat Duxbury is seen handing over the the chain of office to our current President Helen Karakashian using a clothes line prop for social distancing!

Presidents report for October

Thursday 1st October.  The immediate past President, Pat Duxbury handed over the President’s jewel to President Helen Karakashian in her grounds.  The handover would usually take place on or as near as possible 1st July, the beginning of the Rotary year,  but this was the first convenient date.  Fortunately the sun shone, Helen’s knitted bunting ‘ The Rotary Club of Droitwich Spa’ was attached to the washing line and Pat dangled the President’s jewel on the end of the washing line prop therefore adhering to social distancing regulations!  Rotarian Mike Lambden kindly took photographs of the event. 

9th – 11th  October should have been the District Rotary Conference in Liverpool.  This has been rescheduled for 23rd -25th April next year.

12th October. President Helen Karakashian handed over a cheque to Mary Stanbury from the Droitwich Spa Food Bank for £1,000.  This was made up of £500 from the Club and a matching grant from Rotary Foundation.  Tom Jones, Foundation Lead at the Club, prepared all the necessary paper work for this.  He also handed over cooking apples from the President’s apple trees and kindly helped to load several large bags of apples into Mary’s car to take to the Foodbank.

We have not had any visiting speakers at our weekly Zoom meetings this month but there has been plenty going on behind the scenes. Plans being made to allow Santa and his sleigh to visit as many roads as possible around Droitwich leading up to Christmas have been put into doubt due to Covid.  We are very keen to give pleasure to all the young people – and not so young! – who would like to see Santa this year and we are of course keener than ever to be able to raise as much money as we possibly can for local charities as they need even more support than usual at this time. Plans will be displayed on the Droitwich Sleigh Facebook page.

27th October we did not meet on Zoom as it was a day for our members to be involved in collecting for the British Legion Poppy Appeal around the town.  Social distancing was observed and there were opportunities to donate in cash or to pay with a contactless card.

The Rotary calendar is in its final stages. All the photographs have been chosen and the front page is being planned.  This is a project with our Club and the RC of Bromsgrove and all proceeds will go to charities supported by our two Rotary Clubs.

We plan to continue to support local charities as much as possible during lockdown.

Keep safe, Helen Karakashian

Presidents report for September 

There was no meeting on 1st September as it followed a Bank Holiday and Helen Karakashian took the opportunity to have a Power point tutorial from Pauline Kimber, the District 1060 Trainer.

On 8th September we had a visiting speaker on Zoom. Clive Sherman  is the  founder of the Droitwich Spa Litter Squad.  Clive is a valued member of the community, a retired paramedic but still working part time driving the County Council school minibus. The litter squad he formed provides a very valuable service and the group has grown to over 130 strong.  Clive mentioned that litter picking is not for the faint hearted and you need to be fit to cope with the difficult terrain. Some of the rubbish he described was rather eye opening, including Truckers’ Tizer! The squad goes beyond the verges looked after by the council and pickers can collect 50 bags of litter in around 3 hours – a tremendous feat.  Clive said how supportive Wychavon District Council was to his team of volunteers, providing litter pickup tools, blue bags and gloves. Please go to the Droitwich Spa Litter Pickers Facebook page for details of litter picking in your area.

Tuesday 15th  was our Rotary Business Meeting and in the evening we took part in a fascinating link up on Zoom with Dame Ellen MacArthur and two of her trustees who all talked passionately about her charity The Ellen MacArthur  Cancer Trust which has links to the Birmingham Children’s Hospital and supports young people from the age of 8 -24 to help rebuild their confidence through sailing and adventure, after cancer treatment.  With increased confidence they can look to the future with more positivity even if their treatment has left them with life long disabilities.  Some children who benefited from this charity have come back to volunteer on various trips and they are able to prove to the youngsters attending the activities how fulfilling and exciting their futures can be. This charity has been adopted for District 1060 by our District Governor Tim Bushell.

22nd Tuesday  Mark Ricketts came to talk to us on Zoom about  Precious Sisters an NGO charity formed in 2006. It is a small charity looking for sponsors to support academically bright young girls in Kenya. There are two boards of trustees, one in Kenya and one in the UK  and all these trustees are volunteers.  It seemed to be a very well run charity.  All correspondence goes through mentors which helps to avoid the possibility of corruption. There is a mentoring scheme for the sponsored girls who meet together at the beginning of each term from the three schools which are in the scheme and they receive one to one mentoring.  

Tuesday 29th     Hayley O’Seachnasaigh came on Zoom to tell the Rotarians about the Social Prescribing Volunteer Opportunities. This was more of a question and answer session and Hayley was particularly interested to hear of the link of one of our members to the release of ex convicts into society and was keen to offer help in this area.

In spite of difficulties in fund raising at the moment we plan to give a generous donation to the Droitwich Spa Food Bank, we will be collecting in November for the British Legion poppy appeal and of course we hope to have Santa riding on his sleigh throughout the roads of Droitwich in December.  More details about these activities will follow.

Helen Karakashian

Presidents report for August 2020

Another interesting month of Rotary meetings and decisions.  Namita Harvey from Turn2Us, a national charity of which I am a Vice President, gave a presentation on Zoom at the beginning of the month.  (There will be a lunch and art demonstration to raise funds for this charity on 1st June 2021.)  This charity helps people to get back on track when times get tough and they need financial support, giving  hope and a welcome breathing space to beneficiaries.

 I attended a very enjoyable Rotary Fellowship of Quilters and Fibre Artists Zoom get together.  As this is a world wide group of Rotarian craftspeople being run from the States the meeting took place at 1.00pm their time and it was 9.00pm in the UK and 6.00am in Australia.  Not only was it interesting to hear all the wonderful creativity going on through lock down to raise funds for local charities in a wide range of countries including Finland, Belgium, Sweden, Australia, Canada, The States, and of course the UK  but it was interesting to learn about the weather.  In Sydney there had been snow on the mountains and it was bitterly cold, in California one Rotarian had her bags packed ready to leave as soon as she had said hello to everyone as the lightening fires were 6 miles away from her and she was about to flee!

Unfortunately the Handover of the President’s jewel together with the President’s lunch – everyone bringing their own picnic and socially distancing in the grounds – had to be cancelled due to rains and high winds.  The day before and the day after were warm and sunny……

Owing to meetings taking place virtually we have been able to ‘visit’ clubs much further afield and at some more formal meetings the number of attendees has quadrupled. I am sure in the future we will continue to have a number of virtual meetings interspersed with our face to face meetings.

We hope to arrange some local projects very soon and if you would like to be involved please get in touch. Being involved with Rotary means that you are part of a local community organisation, doing good in your locality, but at the same time you are part of a global organisation which can do good overseas making a difference in the developing world and giving you the opportunity to network worldwide.

Helen Karakashian .


Presidents Monthly Report  for July 2020

Our new Rotary year has begun. Aer planning a full programme from 1st July to the end of June 2021 with
speakers, social activites, fund raising events and visits to and from other Clubs we are learning to change
and innovate. No events have been cancelled just postponed and we are learning to adapt during this

Preparatory meetings leading up to the beginning of the new Rotary year have of course all been virtual
and as a result very well attended. We have met through Webinar and Zoom and rather than watching a
video from our new Rotary International President Holger Knaack, we had the opportunity to speak to him
directly and ask him questions while he sat at home in Germany. Our Virtual meetings are also giving us the
opportunity to meet frequently and for all the incoming Presidents to share their ideas more easily. The
money our Rotary District is saving on booking conference facilities and meeting rooms is considerable and
is being ring fenced for charitable purposes – a real bonus. I am sure in the future we will have a mix of
virtual meetings – less driving and more efficient use of time – together with face to face networking and
social opportunities. Innovation is the key.

Before the pandemic we met every Tuesday at 12.15pm at The Old Cock in Friar Street ready to sit down to
lunch at 12.45pm followed by a speaker. The first speaker I arranged for this year was Lyn Blewitt a
member of the Droitwich Historical Society who is very knowledgeable about Droitwich. Her presentation
was on the history of the building of the Old Cock which seemed appropriate as we should have been
sitting in the building whilst listening to her. However, Zoom was the answer and Lyn gave an excellent
presentation but all ideas of Judge Jeffreys and the ‘Bloody Assizes’ taking place in the building were
completely dispelled.

Last week our speaker was Rod Gethins, MD of Worlds Apart Travel. He Zoomed from one of his
businesses, Grapevine Travel in Droitwich. Rod gave us a fascinating insight into the travel business which
was followed by an excellent Q & A session.

Our main challenge will be to create funds for the wide variety of local charities we support. We have
already given a generous donation to our Club’s international charity for this year, Nepal Trust, supporting
sustainable farming and educational projects. Rotarians donated money they would have paid for their
lunch at a meeting but we need to become more creative with our fund raising activities as all the events
originally planned did not anticipate the need for social distancing!
Rotary offers a great humanitarian service globally and locally. If all you wonderful volunteers out there
helping our community during these difficult times would like to be part of a larger global group, please get
in touch. We would love to hear from you and when possible support you in your projects.
Helen Karakashain,

Charitable donations 2019 – 2020

Aquabox                                    £600

Shelterbox                                 £570

Cancer Research                        £250 

Macmillan                                  £225

Droitwich Archery Society            £800

Droitwich CVS                           £1000

Pamela May Trust                      £500

St John’s Ambulance                  £200

Droitwich CVS                          £1000

Droitwich Young Carers              £800 

St. Richard’s Hospice                  £800

Droitwich Meeting Centre            £300

Spectrum Days                          £300 

Droitwich Food Bank                  £300

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