22 February 2021

Our own Matthew Lawson spoke about South Africa, where he was born and had lived for much of his life. He referred to:

 -           The first Rotary development there, and his own Rotary Club in Orange Grove, of which he is a Past President;

 -           The history of the country from the first settlers, then the European settlers, and the various struggles for power as resources such as diamonds and gold were discovered;

 -           The Great Trek and the Boer Wars at the start of the 1900s, and how the country was ruled by the white minority with punitive laws;

 -           Nelson Mandela and his successors - who have caused a huge amount of damage to South Africa with corruption.  Life now is hard for many, with electrical outages and South African Airways grounded.

  However, Matthew would still recommend South Africa for holidays, because of the climate, food and accommodation.

  Question:       What was the position of Rotary during the apartheid years?

 Answer:         They had to comply with the law and were not allowed to have non-white members, but did have non-white speakers.  From the time that things started to loosen up, Rotary invited and encouraged non-white members, but very few wanted to join at the time.

  It was suggested that the 1995 rugby World Cup was a possible seminal moment in helping to heal the rifts in South Africa's history, not to mention the vision of Nelson Mandela sporting a Springboks shirt.  Apparently, a type of reverse racism came into being, obliging the team to have more of a racial mix, rather than recruiting those best skilled.  However, this after some poor results on the part of the team, this practice is no longer, and the Springboks currently hold the World Cup.

15 February 2021

The Club held our first St Valentine's Zoom Meeting  where Members contributed their own thoughts on LOVE

After our Host for the meeting, Steve Rhodes had played the Beatles ‘Love is all you need’ and spoke about differing views on LOVE, we had contributions from Members, including poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning – ‘How Do I Love Thee’ and Robert Browning –‘The Lost Mistress’ – who were married in St Marylebone Parish Church.


We then heard the composer play his love composition – ‘Is it You’, followed by ‘The origins of St Valentine’s Day in the 3rd Century CE when two martyrs were sacrificed on 14 February. Valentine cards were produced in the US in the mid 1800s.

 Shakespeare’s love Sonnet 116 with the words “Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds” followed, and the poem ‘on Marriage’ by Khalil Gibran. A Member read his own contribution “Valentine Rotary Poem’ starting with ‘

 Rotary colours are yellow and blue

We help masses of people not just a few;

Polio eradication is nearly there

With your help we’ll get to the final share.


Rotary people are altruistic

They will be so optimistic.

Here we are gathered on Zoom,

Each in our own personal room

We heard a beautiful sonnet written by the father of a Member to her mother.

 Two goats then featured as potential Valentines despite objections from the Member’s husband.  An extract from A E Houseman’s ‘A Shropshire Lad’ gave warning:

When I was one-and-twenty

I heard a wiseman say,

Give crown and pounds and guineas

But not your heart away


We finished with a Valentine Rugby Poem.

 It was a marvellous meeting enjoyed by all