The immediate past president of the Rotary Club of Warragul, Sunil Bhatt, has released the club’s annual report for 2020/21 (see Home Page Download Files below left for access to the full report.
In his president’s report Sunil Bhatt reported that despite the pandemic, we still went ahead with some of our important, planned projects and created some new ones along the way. We held a successful Art Show at the Logan Park Exhibition Hall along with the Baw Baw Arts Alliance. Our sale of Christmas trees was particularly successful, in a year where festive spirit was particularly important to our local community.
Sunil Bhatt congratulated as he becomes 2020/21 president of the Rotary Club of Warragul at the Zoom change over meeting.
In my role as President, my assigned project was the “Warragul Rotary Park- Stage 3”. We are in the process of developing Stage 3 of the Warragul Rotary Park, and we were fortunate to receive a generous grant for this from the Baw Baw Shire Council, which was a successful outcome this year given the circumstances. We have continued to support schools with a scholarship program for selected students locally, and abroad in Vanuatu. When the time is right, I am sure we would be keen to resume our Rotary Youth Exchange Program, and to welcome a new International student into our community. I am particularly proud that we could recognise some outstanding local businesses doing it tough this year with the Small Business Awards. We enjoyed volunteering at Farmworld as ‘COVID Marshalls’- a brand new role for the Club!
In my role as President, I supported each of my Directors, and attended committee meetings. With the pandemic we were forced to hold the majority of our meetings online, particularly initially, and we organised for these to be conducted on Zoom, including sending out meeting links to our Members each week. Once we are able to resume meeting in person, I conducted a survey asking Members on how frequently they would like us to meet, and we moved to meeting for the first three Tuesdays of each month. I liaised with the Warragul Country Club to ensure we could conduct our meetings in person safely, and enjoy meals while doing so.
I also attended the District Conference on behalf of the Club. I Chaired the AGM Probus meeting, and also ensured some inter-club collaboration with the Drouin Rotary Club, with some of their representatives attending one of our meetings, and I hope that further collaboration will be encouraged in the future.
A silver lining of Zoom is that we were able to host a wide range of exciting guest speakers this year from far and away. We hosted Adam Craig, a public health epidemiologist who spoke to us about COVID-19, the Warragul Business Group who discussed the importance of synergy in business, Lois Pratt a former Rotarian who spoke to us about her work with refugees, Eliza Galvin a speech pathologist who spoke to us about her work with stroke victims, Aunty Eileen Harrison and Prue Metcalf who discussed the upcoming design works for the Stage 3 Warragul Rotary Park, Bapcare who discussed Aged Care, Chris Reeve from the Warragul Scouting Group discussing their organisation, The Santos Science Experiment Group who spoke about exposing high school students to university-level science early, Karen Jones from Ride Nation who spoke about The Ralpha Foundation, and Chris Major with a trivia night. We were also joined by District Governor Mark Humphries and his wife Linda at our penultimate meeting. I personally feel our guest speakers were real highlights of our meetings this year.
I think we can all agree that social connections were particularly important during this past year, and one of my goals was to ensure that we all found the time to enjoy each other’s company and just have fun! We had some great social events which we enjoyed with family and friends, including memorable nights out, BBQs and of course our Christmas party at the Good Shed, Warragul Railway Station.
I will always look back fondly on my time served in this role, and I look forward to remaining on the Board for the upcoming year and continuing to contribute to our Club. I would not have been able to fulfil my role as President without the support of each and every member. Given the circumstances surrounding the pandemic, I’d like to commend all of our Directors; Richard Willis for his support as Secretary, Andrew Lewis as Treasurer, Chris Major in Community Services, Teresa Mitchell as Youth Director, Chris Drenen as International Director, Alan Tatlow as Vocational Director, Susie Warenysia as Director of Membership and Di Carson as Director of Administration. Thank you to Robert Dunlop and Sally Dell for creating and distributing our Club bulletins, and to Don Cumming for keeping me up to date with all the Club membership details and Rosemary Allica for helping me transition into my role as President. Thank you all for your hard work and assistance throughout my Term as President, it has been a pleasure to work with you all.  I’d also like to thank our committees on their efforts in continuing to meet, plan and execute their respective projects. My sincerest congratulations also go to our recipients of the Paul Harris Awards this year, Peter Dell, Sally Dell, Teresa Mitchell and Rosemary Allica.
In the words of our International President, Holga Knaack, “Rotary opens opportunities.” I would like to emphasise this, and remind my fellow Rotarians that Rotary truly is an invitation to enriching opportunities. It is one that creates pathways for Members to improve the lives of those in the community, as well as their own. To our incoming President Di Carson, I offer you my best wishes and support for the year ahead- I hope you enjoy your time as President as much as I have enjoyed mine.