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   News from around our Club...

 

25 July 2021Planters at The Neuk

Rotarians Bob Riddell, Chris Kirk, Steve Fairlie, Steve's son Adam and Robin Loudon from Andys Man Club spent a good chunk of Sunday building wooden planters for use of users of the services at The Neuk - e.g. Andys Man Club, The Lighthouse for Perth, Woman's Welfare Service and Anchor House/The Neuk.

The next phase will be filling the things with a variety of plants.

Special thanks to Robin for the use of his rather expensive tools and for cutting all the wood to size with his chopsaw. 

13 July 2021Alex McClintock - Andy's Man Club.

On Tuesday 13th July, we were joined by Alex McClintock from men's mental health charity Andy's Man Club.

Andy's Man Club was set up in Halifax on the 30th September 2016 by Luke Ambler and Elaine Roberts after the devastating loss of Elaine's son and Luke's brother in law, Andy Roberts, from suicide in April that year. Within a week the first meeting took place where 9 people attended and now there are 55 Andy's Man Clubs across the UK where around 700 people regularly take part in a peer to peer support group where men share their issues and can find help from within the group. The profile of the organisation is growing and supported by people from all walks of life including high profile sportspeople and Hollywood celebrities.

Alex's presentation was harrowing at points but was nonetheless excellent and some truly shocking information imparted. Suicide is the number one cause of death in males between the ages of 18 and 45 and over 4,500 men choose to take their own lives in the UK every year. That is one every 84 minutes. One is one too many.

Alex also shared with us some history of his own mental health including a time in his life where he may have taken his own life but for a phone call from his daughter that brought him back from the brink. A truly brave thing to share.

Of the 55 clubs in the UK, 2 are within prisons and Alex was instrumental in setting up the one in HMP  Perth, where he worked as a prison officer until late 2020 when he left due to health reasons but allowed him to work full time for Andy's Man Club, for which he has been involved with for some time before, as a Product Development Manager for Scotland.

Andy's Man Club Perth meet at The Neuk, 18 St Paul’s Square, Perth, PH1 5QW every Monday from 7pm to 9pm and is open to every male over the age of 18.

#ItsOkToTalk 👌🏼

15 June 2021Elizabeth (Biffy) Danckwerts - Rotary eClub of Innovation

It was quite fitting that our last guest speaker of the Rotary year was one of the most dedicated, committed and enthusiastic Rotarians we have ever had the privilege of inviting to speak to our Club. At the end of the meeting when asked how did she manage to find time to undertake all her numerous Rotary projects as well as a full time job she replied “Maybe that’s why I am still single - I don’t have time for a man in my life”!

Elizabeth (Biffy) Danckwerts is a Tour Guide in Cape Town and has been a Member of the Rotary eClub of Innovation for 16 years. She has served on various committees, mainly service projects, with youth and foundation her main passions. Currently, Biffy is serving her second year as the Rotaract Chair of Rotary District 9350. Much of her time is spent in the townships of Cape Town, especially Khayelitsha, where she has been involved with a primary school, ages 5 - 15, and a crèche, ages 2 - 6, for the past 10 years.

She started her talk by quickly running through a number of projects and activities she has been involved in over the past few years such as bikes for rural schools, charity shops, Christmas handouts, refurbishing the science laboratory at a school, collecting and recycling plastic from the beaches and Rotary family health days. As a Tour Guide, she has a close link with British Airways and the crew frequently brought donations with them which she put to good use in the deprived community.

Biffy then spoke enthusiastically about the work undertaken at one school in Isiphiwo where there are over 1,200 pupils with a teacher/pupil ratio of one to 40/42 students. With Government help, she was able to get seven new classrooms and increase the number of computers from 27 to nearly 100 giving each child approximately 1.5 hours study time on them per week. When the new toilets and wash hand basins arrived to support these classrooms, they were all at adult height but she arranged for a local firm to have them lowered. A kitchen has also been installed giving each child at least one square meal a day. In addition, a garden has now been established which greatly assists with providing food for the youngsters.

Not content with what she has already achieved, Biffy is now actively seeking further finance for a further five new classrooms, two offices and two storerooms. Also, money is required to assist with the cost of school clothing and for additional training for teachers, especially special needs.

In proposing the vote of thanks, Frank Muirden who had visited South Africa and seen some of the areas which Biffy referred to, described her fantastic work as outstanding, incredible and truly inspirational. It goes without saying, all of those attending wholeheartedly agreed.

18 May 2021Visit from Alistair Robb, District Governor

On Tuesday 18th May, we were treated to a virtual visit from the District Governor for District 1010 (Scotland North). Alistair Robb.

Alistair is a member of the Rotary Club of Buckhaven & Methil and is passionate about recruitment of new members. 

Membership has been a hot topic for some time and Alistair talked about Rotary losing members and, indeed, whole clubs at a rather alarming rate over the last few years and recruiment is certainly something our club should be doing to diversify our membership - not least we should be attracting more ladies.

Although Alistair is the outgoing District Governor, he advised that he is taking on a role as Membership Convenor for the District and hopefully we can work with him in future in creating legacy and keeping clubs active as we move forward.

Pictured is Alistair with President Chris Kirk some time ago when we could meet people face to face!

04 May 2021Graeme Doig, Branch Coordinator, Perth & Kinross Disability Sport

Tonight, we were delighted to welcome Graeme Doig who is the Branch Coordinator of Perth & Kinross Disability Sport (PKDS) as well as the Regional Development Manager of Scottish Disability Sport.

Graeme advised he was previously Assistant Manager at Tesco’s Crieff Road Store in Perth until 2018 but when the opportunity arose, he took up the PKDS role which he said, he loves. He intimated that PKDS was set up in the late 1990’s and became a registered charity in 2002. They lead in the development of sport and physical activity in Perth & Kinross for people of all ages and abilities with a physical, sensory or learning disability.

Perth & Kinross is a large area with many small rural communities which poses a number of challenges. As a result, PKDS created its own development plan detailing how they hope to achieve their goal of making sport and physical activity available to anyone regardless of ability. They now have 48 weekly sessions in over 30 locations covering numerous sports.

Graeme stressed that they are committed to no cost participation as there is a correlation between poverty and disability and they wish to eliminate any financial barrier. One example was the setting up of the Perth Eagles Wheelchair Sports Club in 2019 where specially adapted chairs can cost up to £26,000. Participants can take part in wheelchair basketball, badminton, tennis, rugby, rounders, boccia and many, many more. They try to match the person to the sport which suits them best.

Graeme was very pleased to advise that they now have 5 - 6 athletes who are on the National list in various sports. It was noted that we in Perth Kinnoull had supported one of these athletes, Ben Leitch, a couple of years ago who is in the GB wheelchair basketball squad hoping to go to the Olympics in Tokyo later this year as well as representing Scotland in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next year.

In conclusion, Graeme said they try to engage with the community and work in partnership with Active Schools, Live Active Leisure, Perth & Kinross Council and a wide range of sports clubs amongst others.

 

 

 

 

20 April 2021Peter Hounam - Award Winning Investigative Journalist

We were absolutely delighted to welcome Peter Hounam as our special guest speaker this evening. In introducing Peter, Gillian Marsh advised “Peter is a former investigative reporter at The Sunday Times, columnist at the Daily Mirror and presenter of Channel 4’s Despatches and the BBC’s investigative journalism stalwart, Panorama.

Peter is most famously known for his work on the Israeli nuclear weapons program leak and subsequent kidnapping. He has stood up against the behemoths of power, exposing international smuggling rings and unearthing government corruption tied back to weapons of mass destruction. Peter’s forthcoming book, ‘Goliath’s Guilty Secret’, pulls together a lifetime of research culminating into what must be the cover-up of the century”.

Peter said he took a degree in Physics but finding the work too difficult and exhausting, started writing for newspapers in the early 1970’s. When at the Evening Standard, he was made their Investigative Journalist and did various exposés including one about London Transport. When writing for the Daily Mirror, he exposed a Danish firm for selling donated clothing meant for deserving and poor families.

Writing for The Sunday Times in 1986, he revealed the secret of an Israeli subterranean nuclear bomb factory deep under the Negev Desert with the capacity to destroy entire cities. He gleaned the information with the help of a disillusioned Israeli nuclear technician who was later jailed for 18 years for divulging this. Now working free lance, Peter returned to Jerusalem in May 2004 for the release of the Israeli technician for a BBC documentary when he was arrested by a number of plain clothes police officers. He was thrown into a disgusting cell, interrogated and detained for a day which attracted intense media coverage after which he was released without charge. The BBC broadcast the documentary the weekend after Peter returned to the UK.

In another example of his work, Peter talked about a documentary he made for the BBC in 2003 regarding the Israeli attack on the American ship the USS Liberty in June 1967 in the Mediterranean. This happened during the Six-Day War when the American Spy ship was sailing in international waters which resulted in 34 Americans being killed and a further 171 being wounded. Israel later apologised for the attack claiming it had mistaken the ship for an Egyptian one but several sources believed it was deliberate, staged to conceal Israel’s impending seizure of Syria’s Golan Heights which happened the next day. Some even said the USA placed the ship there intentionally to assist its Israeli allies!

With the above being just a fraction of Peter’s exposés, all those present will be eagerly awaiting the publication of his latest book due out later this year.

16 March 2021David McEvoy - Job Talk Revisited

We were delighted to welcome David McEvoy from Perth Rotary Club to be our guest speaker this evening. Having joined Rotary some 18 months ago, he had recently given his job talk which he had been asked to repeat to the Kinnoull members tonight.

David started by saying he was born in Moodiesburn, Glasgow and joined the RAF police at age 17. His first posting was to RAF Honington in Suffolk then Rheindahlen, Monchengladbach in Germany which he described as a dream posting. Apparently, there were 56 bars and over 2,500 single women in the camp - just can’t understand what he was referring to! He spent three and a half years there in the traffic police before returning to Scotland.

This posting was to Pitreavie Castle near Rosyth where he specialised in counter intelligence and became involved in the protection of the Royal family and VVIP’s on visits to Scotland. David related one or two stories involving some of the Royals including when Prince Philip didn’t wish any protection and overseeing a quickly erected toilet in case Prince Charles required to use the facilities! He advised that Princess Anne was the most personable member of the Royal family he had met and he did mention who in his opinion was the most, shall we say, awkward!

In 1989 when a passenger in a car, he was involved in a major accident leaving him with a broken back and being invalided out of the RAF. He then joined Scottish Hydro/SSE in Perth and after sorting out a stock loss problem, took over another couple of departments. Due to reorganisation, he was required to apply for his own job which he subsequently didn’t get. Having been head hunted for another department, the company changed direction and he was made redundant at age 54.

David has kept himself busy in retirement being involved in a number of activities on a voluntary basis such as assisting Praveen Kumar of Tabla Restaurant set up his frozen food business, job coaching for kids and helping disadvantaged people to complete application forms for entitlement  benefits. In conclusion, he said he was really enjoying his time with Perth Rotary Club and looked forward, as we all do, to getting back to some sort of normality when we are able to physically meet up again.

 

02 March 2021Rotary e-Club of Innovation

It was a pleasure to welcome a number of members from the e-Club of Innovation to our meeting tonight, including our own Bob Thomson. Bob explained that when he required leave of absence due to other commitments which clashed with our Tuesday evening meeting, he still wished to  retain his contact with Rotary. Knowing there were a number of e-clubs operating within the UK, he googled a few and joined the e-Club of Innovation.

Bob then introduced Martin Brocklebank, who is the Secretary of the Club, to explain how the club is run and to highlight some of their activities. Martin advised the club was chartered on 19th May, 2014 and was originally called the e-Club of East Anglia with a membership of 33. After an initial dip, the current membership now stands at 46 with members located from all round the world, as was seen tonight with one member joining us from Alicante and another from Illinois! Due to the global interest, it was agreed to change the name of the club to its current one.

On accessing the webpage, the heading reads “WORKING VIRTUALLY FOR A BETTER REALITY” and Martin said the club was involved in “real projects and real fellowship”. He further explained the club was suitable for Rotarians who couldn’t attend a normal meeting, including those who were time sensitive or cost sensitive i.e. no meal, or those who wished to engage with the wider community. Also, the club has a number of disabled members who may find it difficult to attend Rotary otherwise.

The governance of the club is different in that all members are “council members” although they have a Board to oversee the finances as well as a Secretary and Treasurer. Their age group is from 19 to 82 and they communicate with their members using various methods including zoom, facebook and intranet. There are no real set times for meetings except when they have a guest speaker. Martin alluded to their current President joining a meeting from the bar in an Airbus, 41,000 feet over Iraq - as they say, the sky’s the limit!

He advised they do their Rotary service as individuals, with other clubs, clusters or as a whole club worldwide. They have refurbished a Scout hut, collected spectacles for overseas and raised funds by running marathons, bike rides as well as holding an online jewellery sale, a virtual dog and cat show and a virtual treasure hunt.

In conclusion, Martin showed a video entitled “Dare to be different” and encouraged us to “try something different - give it a go”! In proposing the vote of thanks, Bob Reid reiterated Martin’s sentiments and said his talk gave us all food for thought going forward.

01 March 2021Assistance for Young Sportsmen.

The Rotary Club of Perth Kinnoull recently presented their “Sportsaid” grant of £500 to local young sportsperson Rory McGuire.

Rory competes in both Cyclocross and Mountain Biking and takes part in competition all over Europe. In recent times he placed 1st place in the National Championships for Cyclocross, 6th in the World Championship in Cyclocross, 1st place in Scottish cross-country mountain biking and 11th in the Junior world series. He’ll be heading off to compete in Belgium when travel bans are lifted and will now be taking place in the under-23 category since turning 18 and says that will be a significant step up in competition.

Pictured with Rory is Steven Fairlie, Youth Convenor. We wish local lad Rory all the very best in future competitions.

 

 

16 February 2021Presidents’ Talk - Shona Weir & Joe Cairns

It was with great pleasure that we welcomed two special guest speakers to our meeting this evening - the Presidents of the other two Perth Rotary Clubs, Shona Weir of Perth St Johns and Joe Cairns from Perth. In welcoming them, President Chris advised that the three clubs had been in regular contact during the lockdown to exchange ideas and he was delighted that they had agreed to speak with us at Perth Kinnoull.

As Perth was the senior club by far, having been chartered in 1917, Chris invited Joe to address the meeting first. He advised they currently had 59 members with a few in line to join once the lockdown restrictions were lifted. He explained he only took up his appointment on 1st January as the 2020/21 President Elect was unable to take up the position and due to work commitments, he was unable to step up immediately. However, an acceptable solution was agreed with last year’s President, Gordon Hay, continuing for a further six months with himself also doing an eighteen month tenure from the beginning of this year.

Joe advised they continue to engage with members via zoom and produce a weekly newsletter with many articles written by members. They meet at lunch time on Thursdays although they introduced a monthly breakfast meeting some time ago. In addition, they have recently been holding an informal monthly evening meeting inviting a “major speaker” and encouraging members to bring partners, with drinks to hand of course! This has proved to be very popular.

As with most clubs, fund raising has been extremely difficult during the pandemic but they put out an appeal to members which has proved very successful. They have a “bonus ball” competition charging £5 per ball and a weekly prize of £50. This has enabled them to support 5-6 charities over the past few months including “The Lighthouse” which all three clubs have been involved with. It is hoped their charity golf day, postponed twice, will be able to take place in August.

President Chris then invited Shona to address the meeting and to give an insight into what was happening at Perth St Johns. Shona said they had 17 members with 9 male and 8 female and met at lunch time each Wednesday. They try to keep their meetings more informal but, interestingly, they have had better attendances at the zoom meetings than physically prior to lockdown, including one member currently in Thailand! However, they all miss the fellowship and “chitchat” but it has made them more business focused.

They have reviewed the governance of the club and reduced their committees from three to two groups but all members get involved in major projects. Also, they have paired down the numbers on Council. When the lockdown started, they asked members to donate their lunch money to raise funds which they happily agreed to do enabling them to support various charities, such as “The Lighthouse”. In addition, they were able to obtain and sell designer face masks which raised £500.

Over a number of years, St Johns have run the very successful Primary Schools quiz which has had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. Shona advised they intended to try holding it by zoom this year but due to the ongoing uncertainty of when schools were returning and the extra work required by teachers, they felt it best not to pursue this. Going forward, they are looking at holding a virtual pet show and a virtual exercise challenge and have formed a social media group, which is proving very successful. A few other ideas are being considered with how to retain and increase membership high on the agenda.

Both Presidents expressed their desire to improve the public image of Rotary in Perth and hoped that all three clubs could continue to work together for the benefit of many deserving causes and charities both locally and internationally.

19 January 2021Sharon Thomas - Manager, The Lighthouse for Perth

Prior to tonight’s meeting we were advised “that some details of the talk will be upsetting” and how true that proved to be. Our guest speaker was Sharon Thomas who is the Manager of “The Lighthouse for Perth” who gave a most passionate and emotional insight into the work she and numerous volunteers carry out. When introducing her, President Chris advised that Sharon was a trained psychologist who then moved into banking before returning to psychology, taking up her current position in 2019 when the Lighthouse was set up.

Sharon said the charity was a non-profit organisation for people in crisis throughout Perth and Kinross. They offer support to anyone aged 12 or over who is struggling with their mental health or emotions. This includes people who are having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, or who are finding themselves in emotional distress or crisis.

Their aims are to:-

Provide a listening service to support people with self-harming behaviours and suicidal thoughts.

Provide a safe space for people who are at a crisis point or who have thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

Ensure that those in crisis preserve their dignity and promote contact between organisations and mental health services.

Promote awareness around mental health, in particular self-harm and suicide.

Their premises are situated in St Paul’s Square in Perth which has a number of bedrooms for clients who require overnight accommodation, as well as receiving counselling. Gleneagles Hotel recently donated good quality bedroom furniture to augment the refurbished former hostel. Last year, our Club gave a generous donation to enable the purchase of two leather chairs for one to one counselling which can be quickly sanitised during the current pandemic.

Initially, the Lighthouse volunteers manned the phones overnight each Friday and Saturday but, since last summer, this has become a daily task due to the huge increase in people seeking help. Unfortunately, many of those most affected are school children and the charity is in touch with all schools in Perth and Kinross. Having been running for just over a year, they sadly lost their first client at the beginning of January. Although not a client, the disappearance and death of a 16-year-old Kinross High School student last week generated numerous phone calls from other teenagers with severe mental health problems.

Sharon advised that this tragedy has resulted in a further 6 volunteers joining the team which now numbers over 20 and that they have given more than 500 hours of support in the past year. There are currently 8 clients needing one to one counselling as well as a number of online sessions. They also provide support for Andy’s Man Club, the Woman’s Wellbeing Club and families who have lost someone.

In conclusion, Sharon sincerely thanked Rotary for their support to date and hoped that it would continue going forward. From the reaction of the members, it appeared there was consensus that the Club would wish to offer help in the future whether that was financial, assisting in the garden or preparing the bacon rolls on a Friday morning, once restrictions were lifted!

 

05 January 2021Tom Laurie, BSc, MRICS, Chartered Surveyor

A very familiar face was warmly welcomed back to the Club as our guest speaker this evening - former member, Tom Laurie, who is a partner with D M Hall, Chartered Surveyors, Perth. Tom updated members on the property market since the first lockdown last year both generally but mainly in the local area.

He described the Perth situation as a bit of a rollercoaster since last March and something no one had ever experienced. It was a case for keeping a level head until the market established itself and, in the early days, it stagnated. Then, and quite frighteningly, the sale of rural properties took off where inspections and viewings were all by video! During May, physical inspections of properties could be done in the presence of the owners which triggered off many English buyers coming into the Scottish market.

After the initial lockdown, Tom advised he had never experienced such a demand for property which he described as a “tsunami”! Many people had extra money available due to canceled or postponed holidays and had used this to buy a new house. Again, many potential buyers were looking for rural locations with some properties selling for up to 50% more than their valuation. In addition, a number of properties that had been on the market for some time began to sell and at inflated prices.

It was not all good news, however, with a couple of sectors suffering, namely some of Perth’s many flats and parts of the city centre. After answering numerous questions on a variety of related property topics, a most generous vote of thanks to Tom was given by Janet Simpson ...... from her new house in Aberdeen!

 

19 December 2020ROTARY CLUBS BRING FESTIVE CHEER TO PKAVS CARERS

The Rotary Clubs of Perth Kinnoull and St John’s have donated £2,000 towards the cost of providing 500 christmas gift bags to carers of all ages living in Perth & Kinross.   This will be around 300 to young and young adults with the remaining 200 to adult carers.  Each gift bag has about £20 worth of quality goods in them as the team at PKAVS (Perth & Kinross Association of Voluntary Service) thought that this would be a nice touch.    As much as they would have liked it was deemed financially impossible to deliver to all 2000 registered carers.   As a result staff identified carers who have had a particularly tough time this year so as to prioritise them.

Raymond Jamieson PKVAS Carers Hub Manager and staff welcomed Rotarians to their North Muirton premises and thanked the Clubs for their generous donations which will add much needed festive pleasure to the recipients

PKVAS staff pictured are Margaret Campbell registered manager (Front right) and Donna McCaig adult carer support worker (Left rear)

Rotarians:   President Shona Weir (Perth, St John’s)  - ( Middle Left) & Robert MacDuff-Duncan (Perth, St John’s) – (Left front)

Rotarians:  Senior Vice President Brian Johnston (Perth, Kinnoull) – (Rear Right)

Frank Muirden (Perth, Kinnoull) (Middle Right)

01 December 2020Jenny Graham - World Record Holder Cyclist

It just seemed quite appropriate that we had a record number of members and guests attending tonight’s meeting to hear the talk given by the cycling world record holder, Jenny Graham! Jenny, of course, is the fastest woman to circumnavigate the world unsupported entering the Guinness World Book of Records following her outstanding achievement. She was the Club’s Ambassador for our very successful Tayside Cycle Challenge in May last year which she kindly described as the best event she had attended and had thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Describing herself as just a normal young girl growing up in a housing estate in the Highlands, she only really got into cycling in her twenties .... and found the training very hard! She worked for 15 years in Social Care and especially enjoyed spending time with young people, getting them outdoors, which she felt brought the best out of them.

Fast forward to June 2018 and setting off from the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Jenny cycled across four continents and 15 countries including four flights and one boat trip clocking up 18,500 miles before arriving back in Berlin on 18th October. Only the third lady to attempt this challenging endurance feat, she broke the previous world record by an astonishing 20 days in a time of 124 days, 10 hours and 50 minutes.

Jenny went on to talk about The Adventure Syndicate which is a not-for-profit organisation who use the inspiring stories of women adventuring by cycling to encourage their audience to push themselves beyond their perceived limitations. Schools are one of their most important target areas and they have a mission statement that reads “get schools excited about riding bikes”. They have developed an app, “Match the Miles”, where the pupils could cycle either locally or further afield and try to match the miles completed by Jenny and her colleagues.

Giving an example, Jenny and three other endurance cyclists set off from Bristol to the South of France aiming to cover 100 miles each day for a week. Meanwhile, the pupils from a number of schools were trying to match the miles with their cumulative total using this app. Next year, the Syndicate are planning four Match the Miles challenges where youngsters will be cycling to locate the source of four of Scotland’s main rivers whilst engaging with nature.

At the end of a most interesting talk, Jenny happily answered questions on the Syndicate and her record breaking round the world feat. In response to what were the highs and lows of the epic journey, she said the challenge of how far she could push herself for the former with horrendous weather, fatigue and sleep deprivation for the latter! In conclusion she added, it took me about a year to recover - I think we can understand why!

28 November 2020ROTARY – PERTH KINNOULL CALENDAR LOTTERY DRAW

A lucky local resident from Perth won the November £1000 calendar lottery prize which was drawn by Rotary’s District Governor Alistair Robb.   This successful annual calendar project as part of the Club’s fundraising has generated funds in excess of £90,000 since inception with disbursements to numerous worthwhile charitable causes both locally and internationally.   

The Rotary Club of Perth Kinnoull is extremely grateful to our competitive amateur photographers, business sponsors, printers, partners not forgetting the generous support from the general public who have purchased our Lottery Calendar.   Club President Chris Kirk said “ Covid has had a huge impact on our ability to fundraise for the many important local deserving charities that we have been able to support in past years.   Furthermore, the production loss of the 2021 Calendar is a real blow to us but we are determined that once things return to a degree of normality we’ll be looking to step up our efforts again.   Meantime we wish everybody a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.”

Right - President Rotary Club of Perth Kinnoull,  Chris Kirk. Left - Rotary District Governor, Alistair Robb

17 November 2020David Robertson - Investment Manager St James's Place.

The world of financial management, stocks & shares and global economy were the subject matter of tonight’s talk by David Robertson, Investment Manager of St James’s Place Discretionary and Stockbroking Services. David has now worked in various roles of financial services for over 33 years including Martin Currie Investment Management, the London Stock Market’s Regional Sales Manager for Scotland and Ireland, Institutional Fund Manager at Standard Life and as a Portfolio Manager covering Asia for General Accident (now Aviva) here in Perth.

He showed a number of slides to illustrate how the global economy had been affected over the past year mainly due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Virtually all markets took a huge hit in the early part of the year due to the virus spreading like wildfire but from April onwards, both the Chinese and US markets increased sharply. The UK market has lagged behind due to the uncertainty of the outcome of Brexit.

David gave examples of major companies which have benefited from the current circumstances such as Apple, now valued at $1.7 trillion, Amazon at $1.6 trillion and Zoom at a mere $113 billion! He added that Apple were so powerful that they just buy out any company that is a threat to them and that Amazon was now by far the biggest online retailer in the World.

He highlighted the major factors that are currently driving the markets such as the US Presidential election, the discovery of Covid19 vaccines and Brexit. The “Biden Effect” has pushed up most global markets especially in the oil industry as President Elect, Joe Biden is anti-fracking. On the announcement regarding the discovery of a vaccine for Covid, the markets shot up although in some areas, the Brexit situation is still having an effect.

In conclusion, David said that many companies and organisations had greatly suffered from the impact of the pandemic but it was not all doom and gloom. He felt the worst was now behind us and after Covid and Brexit, he was optimistic there would still be ways of making money!

03 November 2020Raymond Jamieson - Carers Hub Manager, PKAVS

I love my job and look forward to Monday mornings, unlike some! These were the opening remarks by our guest speaker tonight, Raymond Jamieson, who is the Carers Hub Manager of Perth & Kinross Association of Voluntary Services (PKAVS).

Having been in the banking sector for a number of years, Raymond advised he felt he wanted a complete change and enrolled at Perth College in 2006 to study for a degree in social work. He then joined PKAVS some twelve years ago working in various roles including his current one for the past five and a half years. He explained that PKAVS is a local charity set up in the 1970’s to help people living in Perth & Kinross including support for unpaid carers, people recovering from mental illness and minority communities all of whom are facing daily challenges.

He said their vision was “To improve the quality of life for people in Perth & Kinross through the provision of direct service delivery and to act as a catalyst for the positive development of the voluntary sector”. There are a number of hubs of which he manages the Carers one and these are split into age groups, 5 - 15 with 355 young carers, 16 - 24 with 116 young adult carers and age 25+ with 964 adults, a total of over 1,400 unpaid carers the youngest being 5 and the oldest 97! He added that on average, there are 60 new references across all services each month.

Raymond then gave some examples of support they gave with young carers being offered weekly respite groups during school term such as training for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme and day trips with residential breaks being held in the school holidays. Later this month there is a full day Carers Connect Virtual Conference which will highlight the support that is available to all carers. Complimentary therapies, with up to twelve vouchers, are available to appropriate carers although due to the current restrictions, a number of these have had to be virtual. There is a well used telephone befriending service where PKAVS receive an average of 200 calls each week.

  As we approach Christmas, Raymond advised they normally give out kindness bags to both male and female carers containing “goodies” and provide gift vouchers to the young carers allowing them to buy items in specific shops. Unless something dramatic happens, the usual parties and ceilidh will not be held this year which is a great shame. Looking to the future, like everyone else, he didn’t know what lay ahead but it most certainly would be challenging!

20 October 2020Dr Craig Brown - Orthopaedic Surgeon

It was a great pleasure to welcome Dr Craig Brown, MBChB (Stell), Orth (SA) from South Africa as our guest speaker tonight who is, of course, the son of our very own Iain Brown. Craig covered many areas of his life, from schoolboy in Perth, to University and various hospitals bringing us right up to date with his current position as Senior Specialist at Khayelitsha Hospital in Cape Town.

He started his talk by showing us an old black and white Victorian photograph of his ancestors (and no, his father wasn’t in the line up!) indicating most of them were involved in the medical profession and that he was following in their footsteps. His next slide was of his flat in the Halls of Residence which overlooked the 18th green of the iconic Old Course when he was a student at St Andrews University. These Halls have now been converted into luxury flats and penthouses with a sale price of between £1m and £7m! 

After three years in Manchester followed by two in Bristol, in 2007 Craig headed for South Africa  where he trained to become an Orthopaedic Surgeon. The following year, having met Julia who was to become his wife, the pair left for Australia working in hospitals in various locations such as Melbourne and Hobart. He advised that it was his “mentor” in Melbourne who had performed the hip resurfacing surgery on Andy Murray indicating that these operations were the second most successful after cataracts.

After nine and a half years down under, they returned to South Africa and settled in Cape Town where they have now been for over three years. Like most locations, he indicated there were both good things and bad, citing excellent weather and a first class Rugby Team to a high crime rate, high unemployment and much poverty. Referring to the Covid 19 pandemic, he said the whole country went into a complete shut down for one month resulting in a very low death rate but with serious implications for the economy.

Craig then gave us an informative insight into his role at the hospital in Khayelitsha, which is a township of Cape Town with a population of 390,000. There are only two consultants, of which he is one, and a maximum team of six with no Registrar. Unlike the UK where the ratio of surgeons is 8 per 100,000 of the population, in South Africa it is 1.63 per 100,000. He showed examples of surgery he undertook and advised they give priority to children and try to get them back to school as soon as possible. They undertake four theatres per week and their normal service hours are from 7.30am to 4.00pm each day. The hospital had over 7,000 outpatients last year, an increase of 46%, along with an increase of 30% in operative cases.

In concluding, Craig said their vision for the future included embracing technology, innovation, robot surgery, virtual operations and 3D printing templating. He added that in 2025, a version of the NHS was being introduced, albeit that everyone would have to pay a premium!

19 October 2020Ben Leitch - Sporting Blues Award

ben is seen here last year being presented with his sponsorship cheque from gillian marsh as president.It was with great delight that we learnt that Ben Leitch had been awarded a Sporting Blues Award for his outstanding talent in wheelchair basketball. Ben, of course, was the 2019 recipient of our £500 SportsAid sponsorship cheque which recognised his exceptional achievements in his chosen sport.

This prestigious award is presented by the University of the Highlands and Islands and Highlands and Islands Student Association in recognition of the contributions of athletes connected to the University to Scottish, British or World sport. As a student at the University, Ben said “I am delighted to be recognised for my achievements and have been honoured to play for not only Scotland but for Great Britain. I am currently working as a tier one academy athlete with a goal to being involved in the 2022 Commonwealth Games as well as the 2024 Paralympic Games”.

We wish him well for the future and look forward to hearing about his continued success.

Ben is seen here last year being presented with his sponsorship cheque from Gillian Marsh as President.

 

06 October 2020Hannah McIntosh - Project Trust in Nepal

In September 2019, Hannah McIntosh embarked on a once in a lifetime journey to live and teach in Nepal for 12 months with an educational charity called Project Trust.

Hannah said she was super lucky to have been c h o s e n  f o r  t h i s opportunity. However, in order to make her trip of a lifetime happen she had to raise £6200. Our club played a part in helping this happen and as they say the rest is history.

Hannah joined us for a Zoom meeting and with great confidence and pride told us all about her time in the village of Gwalichar in the provence of Baglung, Nepal. Hannah explained all about the abject poverty the local live in and how it would be hard to find a happier group of people any where in the world. We learned about teaching methods in Nepal and how Project Trust is trying to help.

Sadly Hannahs year was cut short due to Covid19 but she still stays in touch with her good friend and fellow teacher from Nepal, Lakshmi.

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