Review: Rotary (RIBI) Conference Bournemouth 13th to 15th April 2012 www.ribi.org

Wow! What a conference! There was hardly a moment spare, not a speaker who did not stir one to think more about things that matter and not a time when you did not have the opportunity to meet new people. One of the new people I met was a Danish Rotarian who is a member of The Rotary E-club of London Centenary district 1130. Indeed, there were many moments when you felt highly involved, wonderfully entertained or just ‘inspired’. Highlights for me were the unflappable, amusing and very human Ray Burman, a very moving presentation by Bryn Parry on ‘Help for Heroes’, the highly entertaining poet Matt Harvey talking about things you pilfer from the office, streakers and tennis (not all in one breath), the Young Musicians and Vocalist Showcase , one of the Nolan sisters talking about breast cancer and Pam Rhodes’ amusing anecdotes about dementia. These were by no means the entire list – the conference also featured Seema Sharma and Sir Terry Wogan, amongst others.  The Hall of Friendship  where charities and Rotary associates set up stalls was packed – I arrived on Sunday morning to finish visiting them all but was disappointed when some of the displays had been taken down and the representatives gone (few of them Rotarians it was noted). In the Young Musicians’ Showcase Ruth Hoare’s beautiful singing, especially her rich tone in Brahm’s ‘An die Nachtige’, and Kieren Young’s extremely soft and exquisitely- controlled  clarinet playing in the Poulenc were positively mesmerizing. This is not to say everything was perfect – lunches reminded me a little of a hall at university nick-named ‘Crush Hall’ and I have a slightly uneasy feeling that vocalists may have been slighted in the title of the concert. ‘The Young Musicians and Vocalist Showcase’ seems to suggest that vocalists are not musicians – I am sure everyone will agree that they are musicians just as much as instrumentalists – a minor point though. However, the overall effect of the Conference was exhilarating and I highly recommend next year’s! It will be from 12th to 14th April in Harrogate featuring Sakuji Tanaka (RI President 2012/13), Simon Weston (Falklands veteran), Matt Dawson (former England Rugby scrum half and patron of Beating Bowel Cancer), Nick Hewer (Countdown host, Lord Sugar’s aide on ‘The Apprentice’ and Patron of Hope and Homes for Children) and Karren Brady (Vice Chair West Ham United, aide to Lord Sugar and Stroke Association Ambassador).

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