The Rotary Christmas Festival and Craft Fair towards the end of November has been a popular annual event in recent years. Those who have attended previously will realise that a great deal of close interaction is involved but with the restrictions it quickly became clear that managing activities like Santa’s Grotto, queueing, cash handling and movement around the Nevis Centre would prove close to impossible. While the reindeer could walk side by side (!) only Santa could ride in the sleigh and everyone else on the parade would need to keep their distance. To ensure the safety of all the participants but with a heavy heart, the decision was taken to cancel the 2020 event.
But Rotary’s work had to continue and so we developed “Knitivity”! This ambitious community project created a 13 feet / 4metre high Christmas tree made up of hand knitted and crocheted items that formed the decorative cladding to a steel frame fabricated by Macphersons Welding & Engineering Services. The tree was on display in the lead up to Christmas. Organiser Sheana Fraser said, “It took a huge effort to cover the framework as the surface area was around 500 square feet and we needed around 1,000 items!”
The community responded admirably and we had plenty hats, scarves, wrist-warmers, etc. and these will be donated to homeless charities, Alzheimer Scotland and local care homes. A new word for some of us was “twiddle-muffs” which are knitted muffs with items attached such as buttons, ribbons and the like to keep dementia patients’ hands active and busy and are a source of visual, tactile and sensory stimulation. The Club’s traditional base, the Alexandra Hotel, also played its part by providing a prominent bin into which the knitters could tip their work.
All in all it was a great success and President Richard Baxter said, “While Covid 19 has given us plenty challenges there have been opportunities and scope for some fun too. Thanks to the community for getting behind this imaginative idea!”
Thanks are also due to Ferguson Transport and Shipping who continued their support of Lochaber Rotary by presenting a cheque for £500 and to the Highland Cinema for hosting the tree where their patrons enjoyed some seasonal colour.
Ferguson Transport and Shipping continue their support of Lochaber Rotary as Jodie Jordan, Business Administrator, presents a cheque for £500.
Group Managing Director, Alasdair Ferguson, sent best wishes from the directors and staff, commenting: “We are delighted to support the Rotary Club of Lochaber. This year has been very challenging for everyone for a number of reasons and with the Christmas Festival unfortunately having to cancel due to Covid, it is good to be in a position to support where we can. We have no doubt that this money will be put to good use in the local area. “
In expressing the thanks of Lochaber Rotary, President Richard Baxter said: “Ferguson Transport and Shipping has been the main sponsor of our Christmas Festival and Craft Fair in recent years. Although we couldn’t run the event this year our work continues and so we much appreciate their continuing support.”
Another successful Rotary Club Annual Charter Dinner was held on Saturday, 1st December. Nearly 70 Rotarians and guests were treated to an excellent 4-course meal at the Alexandra Hotel, Fort William and enjoyed a sparkling after-dinner talk from their constituent MSP Kate Forbes – just fresh from being awarded a “Rising Star” accolade at the Herald’s “Scottish Politician of the Year” award. Kate’s talk focused on Scottish identity and our perception of ourselves. She, herself, had a “very confused upbringing”. Originally from Dingwall, she lived in India for eight years (the only Scottish child who went to school in a rickshaw!), then Glasgow, before returning to Dingwall Academy. She then studied at Cambridge and Edinburgh Universities graduating with a BA Honours in History and an M.Litt in immigration studies.
Kate admitted that “politics is my bread and butter”. She worked in Dave Thomson’s support team before succeeding him and being elected MSP for Skye, Lochaber & Badenoch in 2016. She described her constituency as the “best in Scotland”. Turning to Rotary, Kate said she was very aware of the work of the Rotary Club and its involvement in mentoring youth, advising on career choices and opportunities. Kate said “I’ve benefitted enormously from the work that you do” and concluded by proposing a Toast to the Rotary Club of Lochaber”.
Club President Iain Johnston thanked Kate for a very engaging and relevant talk before inviting past president John Hutchison to propose a vote of thanks on behalf of the Club
John reminded those present that the Herald had also picked out Kate as “one to watch” in the Scottish political arena and added his own accolade – “you’ve done no bad hen” – before wishing her well in the future”.
Photo courtesy of Iain Ferguson
Back row: Margaret Boyd, Celia Talbot, President-Elect Clive Talbot and Jane MacIntyre
Front row: Kate Forbes MSP, Vivien Johnston, President Iain Johnston and Oban President Iain MacIntyre.
ROTARY CLUB LAUNCHES POP-UP CAFÉ IN FORT WILLIAM
With good support from both locals and visitors, the Lochaber Rotary Club opened the first of its three Saturday pop-up café events on the 14th of July.
The pop-up café, which is situated in the hall at the Duncansburgh MacIntosh Church on the Parade Green, will be open again on 22nd September and 27th October when, once again, tea/coffee and cake/traybake will be available from 11 am till 3 pm, with soup and sandwiches being served from 12 till 2 pm.
All the dishes are homemade, with a range of amply filled sandwiches, a choice of three soups and an array of cakes and traybakes. Apart from the cost of renting the hall, the Club has no other overheads. All the income goes to worthy charitable causes.
Club President Iain Johnston said “While we were delighted with the public support we could have comfortably welcomed more. We entertained around 60 people in the café. It was a fantastic atmosphere and a great time was had by all.” Iain added, “Thanks also to my Rotary colleagues for all their hard work and to Sheila Sutton, widow of the late Past-President Mick Sutton, for her support”.
Photo – The Rotary “Pop-Up” Team who made the event a great success… Missing are Mike MacGruer and Terry Lee.
…. we are back in action again today. … our expert backpacking team and Rotary Children’s Bedtime Stories Bookstall. … in Morrisons Supermarket, Fort William … hope to see you there…