John Richards- a Wolves Legend

John Richards doesn’t make habit of speaking to Rotary Clubs so we were over joyed when he agreed to support his old Round Table friends in the Club by agreeing to speak at tonight’s meeting.

John entertained us with tales of his days playing with fellow Wolves legends Derek Dougan, Steve Kingdon and Danny Hegan amongst others. While at the Club he experienced both ups and downs – with UEFA cup run excitement, League Cup victories and relegation to the lower leagues. It’s clear that John thinks that the modern game has lost something in its focus on avoiding relegation at all costs and he looks for a return to the time when cup glory mattered to both players and fans.

Originally from Warrington John’s connection with Wolverhampton spans 42 years now and he described to us not only the sense of privilege in playing for the Wolves but also his gratitude for the way in which its fans have and continue to treat him.

John is still involved with football and through his involvement with Pitchcare he gave us something of an insight in how technology affects every aspect of the game – even down to blade of grass. We’re grateful to John for sharing his stories with us and wish him continued success.

So We’re From Canada EH!

Rotary’s Group Study Exchange (GSE) program is a unique cultural and vocational exchange opportunity for businesspeople and professionals between the ages of 25 and 40 who are in the early stages of their careers. The program provides travel grants for teams to exchange visits in paired areas of different countries. For four to six weeks, team members experience the host country’s culture and institutions, observe how their occupations are practiced abroad, develop personal and professional relationships, and exchange ideas.

For the last four weeks we’ve been fortunate to have the company of the visiting GSE team from Rotary District 5550 which spans Northwestern Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan in Canada. As their visit to this country draws to end Tettenhall had the great pleasure of hosting a Farewell Rally for the team – an opportunity for the team members to let us know what they’d learnt and experienced during their visit and to thank the Rotarians who had made the visit possible whether by hosting them in their homes or by arranging the extensive program of social events and occupational visits.

Team member Alicia Smith works in the water industry back home in Moose Jaw . Whilst here Alicia has had the opportunity to spend time with South Staffordshire Water, Severn Trent and OFWAT. Her fellow team member Jody Jury works on the family farm in Neepawaand. The visit here gave her the opportunity to visit Harper Adams University, to spend time with a number of local farmers and to gain an insight into different farming methods. Probation Officer Brennan Brooks from Saskatoon had the opportunity of not only seeing the operation of his English counterparts but was also able to spend time with Walsall magistrates to gain an insight into their decision making process. Brennan has been particularly impressed by the work of the Drug Rehabilitation teams which he met. For Shauna McKim a police officer from Regina, it must have seemed like business as usual with visits to five police stations and the opportunity to be involved in the arrest and processing of suspect whilst visiting Hanley.

The team was led by Rotarian Dave Bennet, a retired teacher, who was himself given the opportunity to visit a number of schools, colleges and universities whilst with us and even to step back in front of the blackboard again.

Its not been all work for the team though with time for boat trips on the local canals, and visits to Alton Towers, JCB, Wroxeter, the RAF Cold War Museum, Stafford Castle and the Black Country Museum.

The team have been excellent ambassadors for their Rotary District and for their country. We hope that the experiences which they have had will help them in the development of their careers, that the friendships they have made will last a lifetime and that they have a safe journey back to Canada.

Wolverhampton’s Big Killers

As chair of the Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals Trust there aren’t many people who know more about the state of Wolverhampton’s health than Rotarian Barry Picken.

Whilst the Trust has been able to secure some notable successes over recent years including the elimination of deaths from hospital acquired infections Barry explained that the public health problems  in Wolverhampton were amongst the worst in the country.

With life expectancy for men in the area being two years shorter than the national average and for women just over a year shorter the Trust is currently focusing efforts on reducing deaths from the City’s big killers – Alcohol, Lung Cancer, Infant Mortality, Suicide and Coronary Heart Disease. In developing and implementing eductaion programmes and improved facilities to deal with these the Trust hopes to address some of the healthcare inequalities within the City.

Barry is a member of the Rotary Club of Wednesfield and District Governor Nominee2013-2014.

Philip Williams – In Memory

We have been sorry to learn of the death of Philip Williams, a former member of our Club.

Phil joined the Club during it’s first year and was inducted by our inaugural President Malcolm Bason. He went on to become an active and popular member of the Club eventually serving as Club Secretary.
Phil retired from the Club following relocation but his wife Rene, who survives him, remained a member of the Inner Wheel Club of Tettenhall and our thoughts are with her and her family.

Life Talk – John Whitten

All Rotary members are asked to give a life talk after joining our Club – it’s an opportunity for them to give fellow members an insight into their past and to learn a little bit more about them. This evenings talk was given by John Whitten and with the words ‘I learnt a lot about life in the slaughter house’ we knew that we were in for an interesting evening.

A master butcher trading from premises on Tettenhall Upper Green John explained to the Club what had been involved in his training and the ups and downs of his life as a butcher. With some truly horrifying stories of initiation ceremonies which have been meted out to him over the years its surprising that John remains so level headed.

John’s first contact with Tettenhall Rotary Club followed the theft from his shop of an Air Ambulance collection tin. When the Club heard about the loss we stepped in to make good the money that had been stolen and in the process gained John as our youngest member.

District Conference – Hope and Homes For Children

With over 30 years service as a soldier with the Ghurkhas Colonel Mark Cook has witnessed at first hand the effect of conflict on families and children. The conditions which he and his wife witnessed at orphanages in Sarajevo following the Balkan War of the 1990’s were so appalling that they decided that they must do something to help and so was born Hope and Homes for Children.

Initially the Charity worked to rebuild and refurbish orphanages but their work has now progressed to moving children out of institutional care and into caring family environments and to work to prevent family breakdown which leads to children being placed there in the first place.

This change in direction came as a result of their listening to children and understanding that what they really want and need is the love of a family – something which Mark is convinced cannot be provided in an institution.

Mark says ‘More children are been orphaned or abandoned today than ever before in history and many of them will have to resort to begging, crime, prostitution or violence just to survive.The world has to realise that this is a crisis on an unprecedented scale as these children will grow up disenfranchised angry people’.

The Rotary movement has been a long term supported of the Charity’s work and following Mark’s moving presentation Val Campbell, Chairman of Inner Wheel District 21, presented him with a cheque for £750 which the ladies of Inner Wheel had collected at the own District Conference with a further £250 being donated by District Governor Elect Trevor Davis.

District Conference – ShelterBox

District Conferences are meant to be motivational and there can’t be a much better motivational story than that of Rotarian Tom Henderson and the work of the ShelterBox charity which he launched.

Just 10 years ago Tom, a member of the Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard in Cornwall, noticed that the aid response to most disasters took the form of food and medicine to help people survive the immediate aftermath but that little or no assistance was given in terms of proper shelter to help them through the first few days, weeks and months as they tried to rebuild their lives. He started to think about how that gap could be filled – and from that was born the ShelterBox.


To date over 100,000 boxes have been distributed by the charity – now a Rotary Global Club Project – each containing a durable family tent designed to house a family of 10, thermal blankets and netting, a stove, water purifcation equipment and a toolkit as well as an activity pack for the children.

Along the way ShelterBox has gained a reputation for being one of the first on the scene of major disasters – something which Tom credits to the role which Rotarians with their local knowledge and connections play in ensuring that ShelterBox can get their response teams and boxes through where and when they are needed most.

District Conference

This weekend saw the Rotary District 1210 Conference at Chester Racecourse.

Each of the Districts within the Rotary movement holds an Annual Conference to give Rotarians an opportunity to network with other Rotarians, to listen to inspirational addresses, and to discuss the development of Rotary.

The conference aims to give Rotarians a vision of Rotary beyond the club level, an opportunity to recharge their Rotary batteries and the inspiration to become more involved in service.

This years 1210 Conference saw inspirational presentations from Tom Henderson OBE, the founder of ShelterBox, Colonel Mark Cook OBE, President of Hope and Homes for Children, Sue Cook, a member of the first all women expedition to walk to the North Pole, and from former Test Cricketer Henry Olonga.

Showing his own support for the ShelterBox project District Governor Barry Preen based himself for the weekend in a ShelterBox tent pitched in the racecourse. The tents have been especially designed to stand up to extreme weather conditions and it certainly proved to be wind resistant when during the early hours of Saturday morning Barry woke up to find a police helicopter hovering over the tent whilst it assisted with an incident on the racecourse. If you are wondering about the fine head of pink hair that Barry is sporting in the picture the wig was a homage to Sergeant at Arms Greg Watson of the Rotary Club of Whitchurch who had dyed his hair pink for the month of October to raise money for cancer research.

Midway through their visit to our District the Conference was attended by Rotarian Dave Bennet and his visiting GSE team from Rotary District 5550 which spans Northwestern Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan in Canada. Team members Shauna McKim from Regina, Jody Jury from Neepawa, Brennan Brooks from Saskatoon and Alicia Smith from Moose Jaw gave Conference an insight into life in Canada and what they’d look to take back to them following their vocational visits on our District. We look forward to meeting them again when we host their Farewell Rally at Tettenhall later this month.

Wolverhampton’s Medical Heritage

Since the formation of the first Rotary Club back in 1905 the Rotary movement has shown how local people can join together to pool their resources and talents to help serve communities in need and to achieve some truly remarkable results.

Roy Stallard, a retired local nurse with a special interest in the history of healthcare, talked with the Club this evening about how the local people of Wolverhampton have worked together in the same way over the course of two hundred years to improve local healthcare and in the process to develop one of the top two none teaching hospitals in the country.

In the days before the formation of the National Health Service provision of local health provision lay mainly in the hands of local people themselves through voluntary contributions. Roy traced this proud history from the opening of the original Queen Street Dispensary in 1821 through to the glory days of the much missed Royal Hospital. You can learn more about the history of the Wolverhampton hospitals by following this link to a site maintained by Roy and his colleagues.

The history of the development of Wolverhampton’s hospitals is a perfect example of what local people can achieve by working together and is one which we and the other Rotary Clubs of Wolverhampton are following today in our continuing support for Compton Hospice. You can help us to continue this tradition by supporting our fund raising events in November with the Big Band Concert at the Perton Community Hall on the 11th and the Auction of Promises at Patshull Park on the 20th.