Guest blog post by Richard Blackman
How long were you a member of Rotaract?
10 years from 1978 until 1988.
My Father was a member of the sponsoring Rotary club and when I started in Rotaract, I introduced myself to Rotarians (particularly in the preparations for Interota ’87) as the son of Rotarian Bill Blackman. By the time I left Rotaract he was introducing himself as the Father of Rotaractor Richard Blackman.
Which club(s) were you a member of?
I was a founder member of Dover Rotaract and remained a member until I left at the old age of 29 (the age group for Rotaract was then for 18-28)
Which 5 words would you use to describe Rotaract?
What did you enjoy about being a member of Rotaract?
I have many happy memories of my time in Rotaract during which:
- I was able to help those less fortunate than myself
- I made many new friends and met many people from different parts of the world that I wouldn’t otherwise have met
- Participated in activities that I wouldn’t have been able to do on my own
- I was able to develop my leadership and organisational skills and life skills generally which has helped me in my business and professional life and in other organisations to which I have, and still, belong.
What type of activities did your club get involved in?
We did many of the usual activities such as gardening, painting and decorating, visiting the elderly, running a stall at the hospital fete, helping local groups, and helping our sponsoring Rotary club.
Due to our geographical location we were able to assist moving handicapped travellers en route to Lourdes from the train station at Dover Western docks on board cross channel ships prior to sailing.
We also assisted with the organisation for a group of Dutch Rotaractors to cycle.. (yes cycle!) across the English channel
We were very active is supporting local Rotaract clubs, there were 32 clubs in District 112 (as it was then) covering Kent, East Sussex and South East London and there was always plenty going on around the District with music quizzes (we had a couple of DJ’s in our club), camping rallies, silly sports days (welly throwing, pram racing and many other strange things!). Part of the enjoyment of Rotaract is just meeting new people and making new friends.
Most club activities started or ended at a local hostelry, when we weren’t going out we would often congregate in the hostelry which became, for many of us, our refuge. The current Rotaract club now meets there.
What were your highlights as a Rotaractor?
- Being elected to various positions of responsibility such as Club President & District Chairman
- Participating in a National publicity event by pulling Concord at RAF Duxford with over 1,000 other Rotaractors from around the country. That generated quite a lot of media coverage and interest.
- Attending the RI Convention in 1984 at Birmingham NEC as part of Fellowship ’84 which was a pre runner for the annual Rotaract Pre Convention meeting
- Attending 7 Multi District Conferences, and joining the wide awake club 3 times. (that’s attending the Sunday morning Conference session in formal attire without having gone to bed following the previous evenings Dinner)
- Being involved in multi District meetings which resulted in the establishment of RGBI
- Being Vice Chairman of Interota ‘87
- Being responsible for arranging the attendance of RI President Chuck Keller (the first RI President to attend an Interota conference) at Interota ’87
- Being one of 3 Rotaractors worldwide, on the inaugural RI Rotaract committee. I met up with one of the others in May this year and we will meet again at the RI Convention in Sydney.
- Meeting so many wonderful people and making lifelong friendships and particularly meeting my wife, who was, at the time that we met, a member of Sevenoaks Rotaract.
When I left Rotaract in 1988 there were 36 Rotaract clubs in my District. When I joined Rotary in 2008, there was just 1 club. Since then I have been appointed District Rotaract Chairman (the Rotarian responsible for Rotaract in my District) we currently have 3 chartered Rotaract clubs and anticipate chartering another one in the next couple of months, and I am currently serving a second year on the RIBI Rotaract committee.
There are many Rotarians throughout Rotary International in Great Britain & Ireland (RIBI) who, like me, were Rotaractors and who:
- benefited greatly from our time in Rotaract
- hold an enthusiasm and belief in Rotaract
- are convinced that Rotaract has a massive potential benefit to the Rotary family and for the local, national and international communities
My vision is for there to be a Rotaract club in every town, city and University throughout RIBI to enable young people to experience the fulfillment of service and the fellowship that I and others have enjoyed through Rotaract.