Jyl Ashton Cunningham
President, Rotary Club Of Troon
Ayrshire Magazine’s Gill Sherry visited The Rotary Club of Troon as a guest speaker recently. She commented that she was pleasantly surprised to see so many women in the room as Rotary is still widely believed to be a male-only service club. Gill gave us the opportunity to show what Rotary in Ayrshire really means to the communities and how incredibly rewarding it is to be part of such an amazing organisation.
Rotary is a fully inclusive international service club. Vibrant, hardworking, generous and enthusiastic people enjoy the friendships and sense of accomplishment that being a Rotarian brings. Yes, it is absolutely true that many retired people join Rotary, largely because they have had rewarding careers and want to share their experience and knowledge as mentors and volunteers, which keeps them young at heart and physically active. However, we wholeheartedly welcome all ages to come along to our meetings and see what we’re about.
There are nine Ayrshire clubs: Alloway, Ayr, Cumnock, Hunterston, Irvine Seagate, Kilmarnock, Loudoun, Prestwick and Troon. We meet regularly and often visit other clubs to discuss what we’re all up to. Here is just a taste of what we do.
Rotary loves youth projects, hosting annual Young Musician/Singer, Young Photographer, Young Environmentalist, Young Chef and Young Writer competitions (to name a few) in all age groups. Teachers are very supportive, encouraging students to participate, and last year pupils from St Patrick’s Primary Troon, won the District Young Environmentalist Final in the Junior and Intermediate categories and a ‘Highly Commended’ in the National Final. Rotary also hosts a Primary School Quiz which is very popular.
For several years, volunteers from Kilmarnock Rotary have been attending Onthank Primary School once a week to assist the school in developing P3 children’s reading skills, which has proved a very worthwhile, if at times stressful and comedic experience, for Kilmarnock Rotarians. The school reports a notable improvement in reading due to the club’s efforts.
Cumnock Rotary is currently getting behind a wonderful cause. They are supporting the Honeypot charity, which gives a three-day holiday to children aged between 5 and 12 who care for their siblings or parents at home. Honeypot just opened its latest respite centre in Dalleagles which is already a huge success. Look out for Cumnock Rotary’s fundraisers at Netherthird Community Centre’s Christmas Fair and a few other local seasonal events, and check out honeypot.org.uk for further information.
Alloway Rotary engages with local schools in many ways. There is an active RotaKids club (Rotary for primary school children) in Doonfoot Primary school as well as an Interact club in the former Carrick Academy, now Maybole Community Campus. The club also supports fundraising events at Southcraig School which provides a happy, safe, stimulating and fun experience.
Ayrshire Rotarians make health and welfare within the community a prime concern. All the Rotary Clubs and Lions Clubs in Ayrshire are involved in Message in a Bottle, an ingenious project whereby GP surgeries, dentists, pharmacies and other health care centres distribute bottles to vulnerable people and those living alone. The bottles contain a form to be completed by the individual (or carer) which records important details about the patient such as medication and allergies. A simple green cross sticker at the entrance lets medical teams know there is such a bottle in the fridge. This speeds up care in situ considerably and could even save a life.
Some clubs raised funds to purchase defibrillators to be installed in local buildings, with training given on their operation. Know Your Blood Pressure clinics have been offered by clubs, with trained NHS staff demonstrating the use of machines. Rotary is also involved in Dementia Friendly Towns, Relaxed Golf and many other initiatives that benefit community well-being.
Rotary Clubs love to fundraise! We are strong supporters of The Poppy Scotland Appeal and we raise several thousand pounds for them annually. Alloway Rotary installed a spiral well in Ayr Hospital’s foyer, with donations going directly to the local NHS, as well as a Rotary wishing well at The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, fundraising for local events and charities.
Irvine’s ‘Caring Trees Project’ runs from 23rd November to 4th January 2024. The project brightens up The Portal in Irvine over Christmas, encouraging businesses, schools and organisations to join together to help benefit local charities, but most of all for fellowship and fun. Up to 24 trees will be decorated, lit up and on display.
Troon is raffling off beautiful Christmas hampers and gifts – tickets go on sale in November. The Fiddlers and Friends Concert is on 24th March at Troon Concert Hall and features Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra, Troon Boys’ Brigade Pipes and Drums and a local junior choir. Troon’s drinks cans collection from local businesses has been a huge success. The cans are crushed and sold to an aluminium recycling company and the money goes back into the community. Contact John@johnrome.eu for more information on these projects.
The Rotary Club of Hunterston almost doubled its fundraising total in its annual ‘Brainbox’ Challenge this year. Over £700 will go towards North Ayrshire community groups and charities. Held at the Lauriston Hotel, Ardrossan, the quiz night brought together 17 teams – 7 Rotary Clubs from across Ayrshire and 10 from the local community – with the event well exceeding last year’s fund raising efforts.
Prestwick Rotary, with some support funding from Locality Planning Partnership, Prestwick and Villages, hit on the idea of Nostalgia Cases. These are suitcases from the past filled with small items which promote discussion, laughter and memory jogging. Records, books, magazines, toys, kitchen utensils, sports equipment, work tools, and games are all included. Six nostalgia cases are being trialled, to gauge which objects promote the most discussion. This project has been adopted by all Ayrshire Rotary Clubs, so if you would like to donate any items, or are a group that would like to borrow one of the cases, please get in touch with Prestwick Rotary Club through social media, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The purpose of Rotary throughout the world is to serve communities at home and abroad. Rotary Foundation is our charity responsible for many incredible initiatives, such as End Polio Now, supporting the eradication of polio in many countries. The disease has all but disappeared worldwide and is quickly targeted if it returns. If you happen to pass a beautiful purple carpet of crocuses in your community in the spring, chances are they were planted by your local Rotary Club and Council, to support End Polio Now.
Loudoun Rotary have enhanced Loudoun Castle (known locally as Rotary Tower) by planting a circle of crocuses around it. Situated on the Galston Roundabout, the Tower is about to become a beacon of light in the community, with support from East Ayrshire Council and Ayrshire Roads Alliance. An electricity supply has been installed and the response from local businesses toward the cost of lights and wiring has been exceptional. Truly a community project!
Whether we are supporting community events, raising funds for local projects or sending aid to countries facing wars or natural disasters, Rotary never stops. Our Service Above Self motto holds true and our energy knows no bounds when it comes to help and support. So next time you see us in the community, planting or fundraising or mentoring, remember we are all young at heart and we’d love to have you join us!
If you would like more information about how to join your local club, simply type Rotary Club of (name of town) into your search engine and you’ll be directed to the nearest one to you. Or message the writer: email@example.com.