…and that’s all folks

I am sure it will come as a great relief to many that this Blogpost will be my last ever personal entry to RotaryBlogger.co.uk due to the fact that when the clock strikes midnight tonight and we move into a brand new Rotary year – I will not be making that journey with the other 45,000 Regular Rots in these islands.

My decision to resign from Rotary is one that will probably come as no surprise to many – as I have toiled long and hard to find a reason to stay in the organisation which continues to stand on many of the humanitarian principles I hold close.

However, for a number of reasons I find myself in a situation whereby I am continually struggling to align myself with an organisation which in my own anecdotal research is not viewed particularly positively by those with whom I have had the opportunity to enter into discussion. And contrary to being proud to be a member, I have found myself becoming less inclined to admit that I am a Rotarian; particularly in and around the modern business world.

This is not how it should be.

Of late, I have had personal experience of an individual Club member taking a frankly antiquated, belligerent, misogynistic and thoroughly inappropriate response when I outlined that I thought he had perhaps been a bit sexist to a young female Club member. And despite the substantial efforts of the Club President, Club Officers and fellow Regular Rots – the individual has yet to accept that that the comment was inappropriate and offence was caused. In effect, he carried on regardless.

I am sure my own experience is not isolated.

Around the same time, we were seeing the use of the word ‘Rotarian’ as a derogatory term in the national media. It was used alongside words such as ‘racist’, ‘right wing’ and ‘sexist’. Yet instead of taking a step back and asking why Rotarians were being viewed in this light; some Regular Rots thought the best defence was that of launching a social media attack on the well-respected author of the piece; ironically exacerbating and further enhancing the viewpoint expressed in his article.

Leading on from this, another of RotaryBloggger.co.uk’s ‘bonnet bees’ also raised its head.

It once again became clear that despite what was being presented in general, the organisation still has Clubs where members where proud they didn’t have ‘lady members‘. I understand that my own incoming District Governor (D1080) comes from an all-male Club which RotaryBlogger.co.uk is led to understand actively discourages females to join. Frankly this just should not be allowed in 2017 – yet despite all the promises and rhetoric of change, equality, diversity – these Clubs (and high Office holders) are allowed to continue to operate in this way.

Is this is not the kind of organisation to which I have an association?

Rotary is not about what you take from it – but what you can give; however when the organisation to which you were once proud to be a member starts to become a ‘dark secret‘ it has to be time to think about the divorce settlement. And so here we are…

When one ceases to admit to being a Rotarian within business and non-Rotarian friendship circles it is probably time to part company

The Blog…?

RotaryBlogger.co.uk started a few years ago when I attended the RotaryGBI Business Meeting in Birmingham and was frankly appalled at the way in which the meeting was usurped by what I felt to be ‘those in the know‘. I’ll never forget the wife of a Past RIBI President turning to a number of us as we walked out the conference hall saying, “Well, that showed them didn’t it?”

“Them”, being the Regular Rots I hasten to add – with me being one of those Regular Rots. I was both angry and disappointed – and I remember questioning myself even back then whether Rotary was an organisation to which I still wanted to be a part?

My get-out was the creation of RotaryBlogger.co.uk.

The blog became my Rotary Therapy. The couch on which I would lie every week (sometimes twice) and offload all the issues that I thought were impacting on the future direction of travel.

Who was I to do this? Well, nobody really – I was just a Regular Rot who had a passion for the organisation and wanted to see it move into the new century, not remain stuck in a 40 year time-warp with Wings’ “Mull of Kintyre” playing as a background musical accompaniment. And as I started to record my weekly counselling session – it seemed that I wasn’t alone in my thoughts.

Over the weeks and months the subscribers to RotaryBlogger.co.uk continued to increase; with more and more people commenting on the posts I was releasing – and not just from around these islands, but from all over the world.

I then started to receive emails and communications from people (some in very senior positions) commending the blog and the discussions that RotaryBlogger was encouraging. To be fair, I’m not sure that would be a view shared by everyone – as there must undoubtedly have been some Sunday mornings where the General Secretary, the RIBI President and other national Office Bearers just put their heads in the hands as the said in unison, “here he goes again.”

In addition, I would receive many communications about what was going on “out there” in terms of Clubs and Districts. Most of which I didn’t run – due to how damaging they could have been to the organisation. (Based on some of the previous blogposts over the years – some readers may find my adopting that position hard to believe. But trust me, there is some really bad and ugly stuff going on in the name of Rotary with which I don’t want to be associated but nor would I report.)

The blog was entitled “The good, the bad and the ugly of Rotary International” – and regretfully over the last year or so I have struggled to get anywhere outside of the bad and ugly categories of the organisation – and this in itself has probably helped catalyse my decision to resign from Rotary. I know there is good going on out there – but just because an all-male club raises £30k every year with their Santa Sleigh – still doesn’t make it right that they actively discourage females from joining their Club or would shun a female District Governor when she visited the Club. Does it?

So what happens to RotaryBlogger.co.uk now?

Well, it certainly won’t be receiving any blogs from me as a non-member, that simply would not be appropriate. However, it is not my intention to close the domain or the platform, and it will remain should any Regular Rots out there wish to use it to present a Guest Blog to encourage discussion or promote a particular agenda. So please feel free to get in touch if you would like to use the web-space to access the many subscribers; you’d be more than welcome.

Bowing out…

I have been a reasonably long standing Regular Rot – having held positions in the Club, the District, RIBI and even a short stint in RI and attributed to all, I am extremely proud.

However, while holding down each position was an extremely positive experience – I also think that sadly having some of those posts gave me an insight into a side of the organisation which is definitely not the positive face of Rotary.

That said, Rotary has brought me a number of great and wonderful experiences. I have met some amazing people – made many lifelong friends and it has given me a chance to travel around the country to places I may not otherwise have thought to go and to see.

I would love Rotary to succeed – but it really, really needs to reinvent itself and look outwards at what is happening in the world.

The world out there is changing in so many ways and maybe membership organisations are no longer de rigueur. Regardless, if Rotary is to continue it has to find which part of the jigsaw puzzle it is in this modern world. It needs to drop some of the old guard and listen to some of the comments coming from those described by an RIBI President as “Mavericks” – not write them off as another eye-rolling opportunity or a phone call to be avoided. There are many people out there on Social media who want to see a new Rotary and would be willing to assist – but not when they would then come up against individuals such as Past RIBI Presidents – actively canvassing against a changing RIBI around the world (this has happened).

I predict that by 2030 RotaryGBI (if it still exists in the world) will have around one third of its current membership if it is lucky. By this stage it will be far more diverse and have a much more gender balanced membership base. But in order for it to get to that position – Rotary needs to throw off the ‘less fun grandad‘ image, become more inclusive and have a much more balanced governance system in place that reflects the way of the world at that time.

Thank you…

I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of this blog – and I would thank all the subscribers and contributors over the years to the blog and associated social media pages; you have certainly given me lots to think about – and at times have challenged my own thinking for which I am very grateful.

Thank you to Rotary – I have enjoyed being a small part of you during out time together – and who knows, once you have had a shower, brushed your teeth, combed your hair, put clean underwear on and sprayed on a little cologne – then, who knows we may very well be reunited one day. But until then I wish you and all your members all the very best of luck.

This is “RotaryBlogger” signing off for the very last time.

Images in order of appearance by Woodleywonderworks by CC

98 thoughts on “…and that’s all folks

  1. Think a recount in 1st week of July is essential so we know the truth about numbers, 35k, 40k, 45k or 50k, the number declared seems as variable as the weather.

    My club holds a majority of female members, without them there would be 7 members.

    All gender membership is an opportunity not a burden…sadly just this week a couple at least are leaving my club…I thought about I seriously…

    Sorry to see another one go James…shall I switch the lights out or will you?

    1. Thanks Adrian – appreciate your comments. I think you reflect much of what is happening around the country.

      It’s not for me to turn the lights out at this stage – here’s hoping folks like you can keep them burning.

      1. Denise Ellis says:

        Sad to see you go James. I share your frustration with the so called leaders of Rotary in RIBI. With regard to diversity, I remember Past President of RI Ravi saying that any club not admitting women would have their charter taken away. This has not happened, which shows you what kind of leadership, or rather lack of leadership we have in RIBI. Too many people in high positions with no experience, on ego trips, with no interest in helping ordinary rots in their clubs. I’ll bet that the majority of club members in RIBI have no idea who the President of RIBI is now or was in 2016/17. There is no Facebook page for the President of RIBI despite this being pointed out to them. Ordinary rots don’t care, all they want to do is serve their communities. Hope you come back to us James and help us rots try and make a difference.

        1. My good friend Denise Ellis – we have spent many hours chatting through the good, the bad and the ugly of Rotary.

          In terms of inclusiveness – is it any wonder we are where we are when Past RI President, and I say tentatively, fellow-Scot John Kenny became known as the Dinosaur President in some circles because he came from an All-Male Club. The first Scottish RI President in over 100 years, and we overlooked Gordon McNally to send them Kenny the Klaptoutsaurus! Shame on us.

          I fear you are correct in much that you have said, and I also wonder whether the fact that few people would have known who the President was in 16/17 highlights the fact that this position must now be becoming questionable?

        2. Allan Berry says:

          It does say something Denise that the President of RIBI is not into Social Media. Perhaps he attended the Social Media course run recently or probably not. It seems everyone wants Rotary to change but the leaders leave themselves out. A case of do as I tell you as I do. It’s worrying to say the least.

    2. David & Mary Shaw says:

      So sorry to read your posting James. You were a beacon of light in the gloom, we both agreed with so many things you championed about equality and diversity. We are a couple of disabled Rotarians so we know what we are talking about as far a that is concerned.
      We hope you will still be speaking at our D1190 conference day next year.
      Sincerely,
      David & Mary

      1. Thanks for your comments David and Mary – and I am pleased that RotaryBlogger.co.uk has given you some comfort in fighting for the Equality and Diversity that we all should expect in a modern, inclusive, accepting and humanitarian world.

        Yes, it is still my intention to speak at D1190 Conference in 2018 – I have explained that I am no longer a Rotarian but your incoming District Governor was still comfortable with me coming to speak. Interestingly I have now had another couple of asks to appear at other events as well. I look forward to meeting you – please come and introduce yourselves.

  2. Ian Graham says:

    Good luck for the future. Thanks for all your efforts to try to help bring Rotary here in the UK up to date and fit for the modern world. we may get lucky and it happens. I hope so.

  3. says:

    Hello, I’m very sorry to read your message, as I have always enjoyed reading the blog and have used it as a model, as I am now the social media District Officer for District 1020 (South and East Scotland). It’s true that in this District men – particularly ethnically white men – are in the majority, however many of the top District posts are taken by women, which is a very encouraging sign.

    I agree that it is difficult for anyone to move out of their comfort zone and, as someone who moved from England to Scotland, I had my own personal journey from unconscious racism to a far more tolerant approach. My Facebook posts aim to use communication as a way to open people’s eyes to new ways of looking at the world and through my own attitude as President and the choice of speakers, visitors and hopefully new members, I hope to do at least a little bit to reflect the cultural diversity of the East Edinburgh community in my own club.

    This Rotary year, as a new President, and also a new member of only three years, I’m facing a major challenge with the resignation of a quarter of the club members. Some of it is through old age, others because of illness – but because the club is now down to 14 members, we have a huge motivation to encourage new members and that means that we will be reaching out to non-traditional markets. Portobello isn’t full of professional lawyers, accountants or doctors (well, we have two lawyers, and an accountant would be very welcome), we’re just ordinary people who want to do their bit to help the community and my aim is that when I step down as President, there will be more members doing just that.

    I think this Blog offers a very valuable service, so please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help – and, though you may be taking a step back from Rotary, hopefully you will be keeping a casual eye on any changes for the better.

    Best regards

    Jeny

    1. Thanks for pitching in Jeni.

      A quarter of the club leaving for one reason or another is a big hit to any Club. I fear this is what is going to happen in a number of Rotary Clubs over the next decade or so; resignations due to age and/or illness and/or death.

      Good luck in your year as President and keep focusing on the ordinary people.

    2. David & Mary Shaw says:

      Jenny,
      It’s not what or who you are that matters it’s whether you can be a good Rotarian. Just as there are many non church going people who do good for others there are many folks like us, ordinary people, who became Rotarians to help their fellow human beings.
      We have a small membership but work to our strengths.
      Good luck
      David Shaw (Thornton Cleveleys District 1190)

  4. Andy M says:

    As a previous guest writer on this blog I have to say what a shame it is that you are leaving Rotary. At the same time I know I will be following you out in 12 month’s time. I will see out my club’s 50th anniversary year and more importantly one last Global Grant project. I have found a more positive way to ‘give something’ back than Rotary now provides, after becoming more and more out of step with the failure of Rotary to drag itself out of the 1950’s and the attitudes I see in my own club. I no longer wear my badge with pride, so its time to go.

    1. Thanks for your contributions to both the Blog as a guest blogger Andy and also to your input to the social media pages. Like you, I took a year to make my final decision to stay or go.

      Being a member of an eClub helped me remain in terms of personal commitment (it was just much easier than a land-based club) and shouldn’t be taken as any criticism to my previous land Club.

      For reasons outlined in the Blog – it became clear that the views held externally about the organisation (expressed by non-Rotarain work-colleagues and friends) were becoming more obvious to me.

      Good luck Andy – who knows you might have a change of heart this time next year?!?!

  5. Nicke Salen says:

    Many many thanks for what you are doing. This is needed. You have given me so many thoughts. I am sorry to see that you will be leaving. Hopefully you will return. Thanks and Greetings!

  6. I’m very sorry to hear that as I’ve only recently discovered your blog. As the femal, soon to be past president of a city centre club that is both diverse and predominantly young, there is hope out there. Could you not find another club or start one? Young clubs like ours need the old boys experience too but I feel that dinosaur clubs will eventually become extinct. Hopefully they will be replaced by clubs that reflect our modern society and are inclusive of all.

    1. Helen, I am glad you found and enjoyed RotaryBlogger.co.uk. I am excited to hear that your Club is already on a positive diversity route and long may it continue. I agree that for reason or another, the older ‘Dinosaur’ Clubs will eventually die out – leading me to my prediction in the blog that it will be around a third of the membership within the next decade. Good luck with your own Club and very best wishes to you.

  7. Chris Garner says:

    I am personally very sad and disappointed to hear this news.
    You have been a sane voice of challenge, a critical friend and what one of my bosses used to call “the grit in the oyster” without which it would only be another shellfish and never produce the fabulous pearls for which it is renowned. EVERYTHING you have said has needed saying and touched nerves with Rotarians not only in GB&I.
    I feel this is a little like Brexit. to paraphrase the words of Lyndon B Johnson “Better inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in”. Rotary (like the EU) needs massive paradigm change, but you cannot affect those changes from outside. I have been fighting this fight for some 20 years now and when the darkness closes in on me I look for something to inspire me so I can carry on. You have frequently been that inspiration.
    Rotary is diminished by your leaving. Good luck my friend.

    1. Thanks Chris – your words are especially kind – and having known you over many years at various events I know how much commitment you have given to the organisation.

      I guess to stick with your analogy…I’ve run dry, whether inwards or outwards – I have nothing left to give at this stage. As you say a paradigm shift of seismic change is needed to drive the organisation forward.

      All the very best to you.

    2. Sometime there is no choice but to be outside peeing in … sadly our district is now being run by an autocrat and because I have a passion to help make Rotary for members i am now outside the tent … a dangerous place for me to be for his year when will the leadership learn that there is no place for this attitude. I have too have been thinking like James.

  8. Herbert Chatters says:

    Often we need to step back to move forward. I hope we can both continue to wear our Christmas jumpers with pride and relish productive Rotary times together. The moving finger writes and having writ moves on. You continue to be on my guest list and I may even take you to Rotary as a ‘guest’. Tomorrow is not the beginning of the end, only the end of the beginning. Rotary will survive, but only as a leaner and more focused positive group. History is for the historians.

    1. Ahhh….regular contributor and good friend Lord Chatters. I look forward to sporting our Christmas Jumpers each year in some shape or form (that’s the event, not us of course).

      In all seriousness, I hope that Rotary will learn and become more focussed – in a genuine, measurable and demonstrable way – and not just a charade to appease the rebellious masses.

      History may be for the historians, but it also teaches us to reflect on our past errors and misjudgements.

  9. A VERY VERY sad day for Rotary and our club, which I know kept you in Rotary for a few more years … Having got very close to the same decision for the same reasons I understand your feelings. I find it upsetting that people like you, Kris Alexander and many other friends who care about Rotary success find the ONLY way is to eventually leave.

    1. Another very kind contribution from one another good friend and fellow “Maverick”. I think the comments on this last blog reflect that you are not alone in considering your continued membership of Rotary Martin – and I fear my 1/3 prediction could actually be either much greater and/or much sooner than predicted in the blog.

      There’s a background to every Regular Rot who takes a decision to resign – perhaps these are the stories people need to be looking into…?!?!

      Good luck with the eClub and all the very best to you.

  10. says:

    From the feedback I am getting Rotary Blogger is one of many who have quite frankly had enough. As a close colleague and friend of Rotary Blogger along with another colleague we have had several long and intense conversations to try to reverse his decision over several months. It is with regret we now admit failure in our representation to him. As I have privately said to him today so now it’s not private I cannot disagree with a word of what he projects. I myself have paid my subscription for the next year almost as a token gesture since I cannot see the organisation going anywhere, indeed just the opposite.

    I do hope that “The Establishment” look at the blog, do not dismiss it and take some positive action. Rotarians like Rotary Blogger along with myself have been in senior positions within the organisation in the UK and Ireland and have tried and really tried only to be put down, ignored and yes at times bullied into changing our minds or redressing actions.

    Have we reached the cliff edge? I’m not sure but we are pretty close with the rumblings I am hearing and all the issues being raised have been raised time and again for as many years as I can remember. We pointed out that time was slipping away and it seems to have caught up with us. I will use the same analogy as I have used in the recent past. The departure lounge is full and many are exiting the wonderful organisation to board a flight to who knows where. The arrivals hall is almost empty and there are not a lot to greet the incomers. During this next year unless “The Establishment” do something really dramatic the departure lounge will be filling up yet again and I reckon I’ll be in there.

    It’s a crying shame to see such an organisation in such a state but I fear it is not going to change any time soon.

    1. Chris Garner says:

      I think Allan’s perception is nearly accurate in all aspects. I think the arrivals hall is fuller than he thinks it is and there is much to discover, but there are no pointers to the delights that could await. “The Establishment” he refers to need naming and shaming. The biggest drag anchor is the dead hand of the General Council which stifles innovation and creativity and has outlived any usefulness. It occupies much valuable time of the staff and is an unnecessary layer in this day and age.
      Take courage General Council incoming turkeys. Vote for Christmas.

        1. Chris Garner says:

          Must agree. When I was an RI Training Leader for Ray Klinginsmith, he made himself very popular with those who trained the DG’s with the words “There is nothing so fixed in Rotary that it cannot be changed”. That hope appears to have been slowed and opposed by those who should know better. The most important people to Rotary are those we serve.

    2. Allan Berry – another good friend and regular contributor and yet another 12-month ‘departure lounge’ thinker.

      Having already ‘jumped ship’ – far be it for me to offer any advice; but we can’t all leave, there needs to be some of those “Mavericks” still in there constructively asking the difficult questions and keeping the ‘establishment’ on their toes.

      Good luck Allan and all the very best to you.

  11. Bob Furner PDG says:

    I have, for a few years, been an observer and reader of your blog (forwarding it to many others), and through it have been able to be confirmed in many of your posts. Disappointed to see that you are leaving. By way of explanation I have followed RIBI for a number of years, since I found that your pitch far exceeded the continuous stream of dribble from Chicago.

    By way of explanation, I am a 35 year member, was District Governor during which time generated GSE with the UK (twice) and others, have represented my District at Council on Legislation and am still in contact with my distinguished UK peers. My family, less one, are members or Rotaractors. We have hosted or counselled Youth Exchangees as parents (or Grandparents) for all of those 35 years.

    I believe that RI has serious cultural problems; having at COL observed the efforts of an American cohort, significantly diminishing in number, attempting to disregard Eastern Europe,
    South America, Africa et al.

    Like you, I think, your views are somewhat like mine – I’m contemplating a move to my partner (PP, PHF, ADG connection as Life Member of Red Cross, member of the National Board) and as I explained to a member the other evening, we are almost over F’america.

    Please keep the blog going,
    Congratulations on your commitment.
    Bob

    ,

    1. Anon says:

      One of Rotary’s cultural problems is all this status stuff. The fact you felt you had to qualify yourself shouldn’t matter. Can’t we accept all voices equally? I don’t honestly care if you were a past DG or whatever, no disrespect, that status culture is putting off young people who don’t align with it.

    2. Thanks for taking time to comment Bob.

      I am glad you found the blog and were able to share it with others.

      It is interesting you reflect the position out with the RIBI territory but yet share some of the same concerns outlined in the blog now and in the past.

      Thank you for your kind words and for your request to keep the blog going, but as I said in the post – it simply wouldn’t be right for a non-Rotarian to continue to pass comment/judgement on the affairs of the organisation.

      Best regards to you Bob.

  12. Malcolm Dent says:

    The problem is also that there are a number of pompous pious idiots who think that their view of the world is the only right path, and that they have the right to be offended on behalf of others, however ludicrous the imagined issue, and they are the people who bog down Rotary with petty issues instead of getting on with mpore important issues. If your solution is to get rid of the boring old farts and replace them with modern thinking PC liberals then Rotary would collapse overnight, as it is only these old fashioned, outdated, sexist old fogeys that keep Rotary going. I am all in favour of anyone, regardless of gender or political persuasion joining, because those two things have nothing to do with being a Rotarian, but if you would like me to change my ways of a lifetime in order that no-one ever has to “be offended” then you are on a hiding to nothing.

    1. Anon says:

      Wow, you started off so well. But your solution, bring in the sexists? No thanks. I can 200% see how Rotary Blogger reached his decision!

    2. Anon says:

      You have shown yourself to be the very thing you are calling a problem … “pompous pious idiot”

      Simply Malcolm, whether you like it or not ANYONE can be offended … they do not have to do it “on behalf of others” .. you just do not get it that ANYONE can be offended by someone else’s comments and can take action regarding it.

      To be fair to you .. the comments you make [whether tongue in cheek or genuine held belief] it is you right to say them as free speech but there are always consequences. So thinking before speakng is always wise!

      You are really deluding yourself thinking that “as it is only these old fashioned, outdated, sexist old fogeys that keep Rotary going

      The arrogance of your final comment just reinforces what is wrong with everything you say and shows you to be too interested in yourself and do not have the humility to see another’s point of view [even if you disagree with it].

      Finally, I am just saddened by the way you feel that because you do not want to “change my ways of a lifetime” that it makes it OK in a changing world that will continue regardless and Rotary liberalism [as you call it] will prevail!

      I leave you with the thoughts that “the graveyards are full of indispensible men – Charles De Gaulle” and that “There’s a reason narcissists don’t learn from mistakes and that’s because they never get past the first step which is admitting that they made one.”— Jeffrey Kluger … worth you reading and reflecting upon … and

      1. says:

        Whilst many may not agree with Malcolm’s thoughts and sentiments at least he had the courage to put his name to his comments rather than the sadly increasing number of people hiding behind ‘anon.’

        If this is going to be the future of the blog perhaps it is better that time has seen it draw to its close.

    3. There are so many ways to which I could reply to your comments Malcolm.

      However, it is probably more appropriate I leave others’ to comment on your post.

      Sometimes one just has to accept that a square peg is never going to fit in a round hole….

    4. Rebecca says:

      As the person the comment was made to in the incident that kicked off that side of things I feel I should point out offense was taken, however after many years fighting this battle I’ve pretty much given up saying anything and expect nothing less! The fact offense was taken on my behalf and that somebody bothered to defend and to say they were offended reminded me of one of the reasons we became rotarians, to make the world better for others. I fail to see how knowingly being sexist and making situations uncomfortable for others achieves this, whether they speak out themselves or others speak on their behalf. Having been in that situation and many others like it in both rotary and my career it grinds you down, and eventually you think it’s not worth the fuss of kicking up. So thankyou James for reminding me not to just roll over and take the sexism and small mindedness figuring staying quiet will be easier and instead to rebuke and fight it like i used to!! It’s not going to be the same without you and I know I amongst others will still try and persuade you to return when the chance arises, but like others I completely understand why you are leaving having debated it many times myself lately!

      1. @Rebecca, your post is the most important post on this whole blog. The sympathy given to James is understandable, but the sympathy given to you should generate 100x more comments. It won’t, but it should. Let me start here: you have my utmost respect and deepest sympathy. I’m sure it has felt like grinding you down over time. I’ve had similar experiences. You are also the perfect example of someone who sees the value of Rotary otherwise you wouldn’t still be a member. We need you, and James, in this organisation as perfect examples of how Rotarians SHOULD behave.

        But a new approach is needed.

        So let’s strike a deal. Will all Rotarians (no exception) take up this challenge of eradicating sexism and all prejudices in Rotary this year? According to Denis Spiller’s newsletter, we can eradicate polio this year – wouldn’t it just be disgusting if we could eliminate polio faster than we could eliminate all prejudices within our own organisation?

        Some of you have commented and said posting anonymously “doesn’t do it for you”. Well you’ve not solved this problem so let us try another way at doing so. There’s nothing less brave about this approach if results are what we are looking for. In fact, the person behind this approach is irrelevant. Actions will speaker louder than words.

        1. Rebecca says:

          I love your idea of a challenge, rotary wide it is very needed! Views need to change, personally I fight the double-whammy of not only being female but the fact I’m still under 25, and was about 22 when I joined. If I talk to many of the, hows it been put, ‘pompious pious idiot’s’ I either get sexist comments or agist ones!! How this is supposed to welcome in and encourage the younger generation I do not know!! I will definitely work with you to eradicate sexism and all prejudice this year, I know many others in my club who will. Unfortunately it won’t be all members as shown by the comments here, but if we can educate even one persons ignorance it will be worth it!!

        2. I like your thinking Mr Anonymous … Especially the point about eradicating polio before solving diversity in Rotary.

          I would like to make an additional plea that all Rotarians that are “offended” seek to be tolerant and all who “offend” seek to see the other person’s viewpoint through that person’s eyes and accept that it is valid even if you disagree with it.

          There are now a few more generations in Rotary and each has its own view of the world and find this is difficult to change … In this case for example it has blown up out of all proportion because Malcolm has shown to lack the necessary respect for others just because he was critisiced for a simple miscontrued comment (of his generation) … It was not the comment per se but the response that followed … reinforced sadly by his response in this post. So what was an innocent comment ( I can say this with confidence as I was one of the people dealing with the complaint) exacerbated by an intolerant repost to the complainant.

          I as I have said previously it was the “tipping point” not the reason fir James leaving … but nevertheless has its consequences in our club and beyond.

          Now, my point is that it is easy to say the wrong thing in today’s PC world but if you accept this (as the offender) and respond positively and repectfully when challenged then it can diffuse rather than escalate … This is unfortunately where Malcolm has shown himself up with his post here.

          An example of how easiliy it is to offend … at an assembly recently there was a complaint about what Denis Spiller said in his speech when he was talking about wearing the Rotary pin saying “the best way to remember to wear your pin is to put it with your cufflinks” … this was seen as his basic attitude to gender issues. The people who were “offended” accepted though that this was not fundamentally an issue enough to take action.

          Stronger opinion though from women in the audience was that his project to have a relay throughout UK with banger cars painted purple was seen as biased towards men. There was no escalation however.

          What was more distrurbing however was, a Past President, from the stage, constantly denigrading his wife feferring to her as “the Current mrs xxxx .. And then reiforced that comment with “I call her that to keep her on her toes” !! … both men and women were offended but It was accepted because many had heard it so many times and although not funny he thought it was.

          Finally on diversity, our own DG (a self confessed Mason) showed his true colours when he was asked to introduce a request to join Rotaty from a local businesswoman to his all male club of 36 members he suggested to the Membership chairman at the time to “send her to the other two clubs” in his town … When challenged told the membership chair to “f**k off”and moved tables …

          I ask that a qualification to the role of DG should include demonstrating that nominee’s club represents the diversity of their community … Until we bite the bullet change will be slow!

          In summary, Mr Anonymous, well done setting up a blog and wish you success and hopefully the real voice of members will shine though and bring about change … an opportunity to share examples of sexism and abuses of diversity will highlight the issue … Remember though we need to have respect, tolerance and thought to the consequences when we post.

          1. Ignoring the club situation you clearly have Martin (Rebecca never brought this to attention), good comments have been made about the assembly, but my word isn’t it telling that you’ve already presumed my gender.

            If I must be “genderised”, Mx Anonymous please. They/Them/Their pronouns

      2. whilst I understand your comments Rebecca … and as one of the people who tried to reconcile the matter i am worried that it reflects upon the club unfairly and we end up like all those other clubs who has one person who cannot see what they have done disrupts. We could end up with focussing upon arguing rather than making our brilliant club even better.

        The club handled the complaint properly and fairly at the time and it should no longer be the issue.

        I also feel that it gives the impression that is why James has left the club … It was a “tipping point” but in conversation with James he values the eClub and would have left two years ago had it not been for joining us.

        So, i would really hope that what was an inappropiate comment at the time and not recognised as such has now the potential to blow up and take on a life of its own.

        My understanding is that James’s decision was rooted in the fact that RIBI is no longer an organisation he can be proud of.

        Why can’t Rotary at all levels just get on with positive things in harmony?

        1. Rebecca says:

          I suggest Martin, you point your comment at the person who originally brought that particular matter into this forum and not towards me. Yes it was not the primary reason James left but it was to do with it. I am not the club member who came into the forum and brought it in, and I would suggest if you want to focus on making our club brilliant again then that member is the one you speak to!

          1. Thanks Rebecca for your reply but i think you will find that my comments were aimed at the offender by saying that the reason it escalated was the attitude by that person in response to the legitimate complaint. I hope you know I have always respected you and try to be balanced in my thinking. … I am happy to discuss this privately with you if you feel offended by my comment .. I just feel that the effect upon our club should be defended too.

          2. Rebecca Barley says:

            At no point in my main comment did I bring the club into it – or mention anybody (other than James!) by name. By trying to defend the club against something that wasn’t there its instead come worse off by making it look like we won’t talk about the issue. Being honest and open when there is a problem and sharing the experience and solution with others is the best way for rotary as a whole to fix this issue and progress, if we are all fighting the same issue than we need to discuss it and come up with solutions together! A club is more than any one member, and rotary is more than any one club. If we don’t all work together we will never get anywhere, and that includes being open with our issues.

  13. says:

    Thanks for all you’ve done James to try to get Rotary to look at itself as others see us.

    Sadly the picture is not good, and I too have considered my position long and hard but decided to give it another year, mainly because of the friendship and positive attitude of my fellow club members, who despite dwindling numbers, continue to do a fabulous job for people who need our help locally and further afield.

    I am a glass half full person but with an average age in the mid-seventies I feel that clubs in RIBI have a limited shelf life.

    We have to encourage younger people to ‘do Rotary’ in a different way, but it ain’t gonna be easy.

    In addition to the attitude to the ladies I feel that part of the problem is that a fair proportion of older Rots have held down management positions in business where nobody has ever challenged them or said the word ‘no’ and they now carry that through to Rotary. Happily none of them are in my club, and when I was DG I didn’t see many in the District, but I feel there are all too many of them still around RIBI.

    Thank you for asking me to do a guest blog, and before I say any more which will result in this being its equivalent, once again many thanks for ALL you’ve done, not just with the blog, but also with your Rotary efforts over the years.

    Hopefully our paths will cross in the future but as you signed off with a song, I would like to paraphrase the words of Frank Sinatra – ‘but more, much more than this, you did it your way’, and I applaud you for having the guts to put your head above the parapet.

    Bye for now pal and cheers – raise a glass for me as I will for you.

    Ron

    1. Ron, thank you for your kind words; your regular contribution to the blog – and more recently being a guest blog contributor.

      You have always had a balance of judgement in your comments and are one of the most respected Rotarians I have had the fortune to work with, to get to know and to class as another friend over the years.

      Good luck to you Ron and I’ll make sure and raise that glass to you. All the very best to you – hang in there, Rotary needs people like you.

  14. David Ellis says:

    Although I knew this decision was on the horizon it does not ease the pain I feel personally and for the organisation. I had the pleasure of chairing the RIBI committee that he was a valuable member and hope, like me, he felt we made a difference. I put myself forward for RIBI president on a few occasions I recent years after listening to the concerns of people like blogger and other regular contributors. I wanted to change some of the self ingratiating practises some of our “leaders” behave adopted. Playing lip service to diversity is coming back to bite the organisation, how can we have an incoming DG who’s club openly discourages women members. Grow some b…….s and remove their charter! The culture seems currently that if you criticise you are being negative, people who know me know that is far from the truth. The alternative is to stand idly by while Rome burns. This is a sad day for Rotary as we are losing a talented, forward looking individual at the very age we are trying to attract. In these islands we are continually appointing people who are not up to the job and even when the leadership know this they keep them in post for the full term!! Returning to my own situation and that of the presidency, some may ask why I wasn’t successful. I believe the presidency is totally irrelevant to the average club member and that is reflected in some 53% of clubs not voting, as a candidate I was not allowed to even ask clubs to vote and certainly not canvass for myself. Blogger was a great supporter of my nominations ( privately) and i would like to think he would not be in the current position if I had been successful but who knows? Good luck in all you do my friend and let’s hope there will come a time when we are welcoming you back.

    1. David Ellis – a good friend, regular contributor and increasingly a “Maverick”.

      You, more than many others, made attempt after attempt to get to that top position of President in RIBI – but alas, never quite made it for a variety of reasons. I often wonder how different things may have been had you made it to the lofty position.

      I still find it ludicrous that candidates are unable to canvas support and that could make such a difference – but who knows that could be something that comes into place as one of the revolutionary new changes.

      Thanks for all your support – and likewise, who knows, perhaps we may also see you in the position of RIBI President one day David.

  15. Anon says:

    Sorry to see you go, James. What the Establishment ( some past RIBI presidents and RI directors) fail to realise is that blogs like this and the excellent D1050 news act as useful safety valves.

    They should remember that RIBI is an Association of clubs, not their own personal 1950’s fiefdom.

    1. I think you mean 1080 News which has just been closed down by the incoming DG Robert Lovick because he wants to sanction free speech and constructive comment … all against a vote to keep it by the executive and DCM and his successor in a year’s time!

      God syndrome prevails and is not likely to be the flavour of the month! #notstartingwell

    2. Thanks Anon – I appreciate your words.

      Yes, these online discussions are part of today’s world – we just need some people to wake up to that fact…and soon!

  16. Rob Copley says:

    Very sad Val that you leave Rotary at this time. Being President of Hucknall
    This new year , I wanted you to do something for me.
    Never mind and the very best wishes for the future. xx

    1. Thanks for your comments Rob – and I am sorry I couldn’t have been more help to you.

      There are still ways of getting in touch – via the social media pages (Facebook/Twitter) so if there is anything you need, then please feel free to get in touch.

      Wishing you all the best.

  17. Hi James – I’m very sorry to see you have decided to leave, I know there are clubs and attitudes just as you have identified but also there are some great new and not so new ones too…

    I am keeping my eyes fixed in the forward direction to be a part of the new Rotary world because our communities do still need and benefit from Rotarian efforts. If you ever wanted to revisit your decision I would be very happy to see you return once again…

    I wish you great success in life and all that you continue to do, we have shared some good exchange and friendship over the years…

    1. Anon says:

      What I and many others want to hear is what are the Rotary leadership doing to enforce better diversity? Looking from the outside (not a member) – I’d guess nothing…

    2. Amanda – thank you for taking time to post your comments.

      Yes, we have had some good exchanges over the years – despite the fact that I must have been a real thorn in your side many a weekend as the blog went to the cyber-press – as you shook your head over your cornflakes. I hope you know that it has always been with the very best of intentions.

      Thanks for your time and your friendship over the years and hope that can continue. Wishing you and your team at Alcester all the very best of luck (every Rotarian in these islands are very lucky to have this team at their disposal).

      Thank you.

  18. Anon says:

    James I am sorry to see you go. Thank you for your contribution and thought provoking blogs. My son in law refuses to join Rotary because RI refuse to remove clubs who will not admit a female as a member. I think the DG you refer to should be removed from his position and this is possible via the Election committee, at RI, if a DG is failing in his/her role. How can a DG represent Rotary in their district if they are not complying with the constitution!! How can he deal with other constitutional issues if they arise if he condones his own clubs attitude to female members? As DGs we are all aware of clubs who refuse to admit females but lie about it saying they will admit a female if they ‘transfer’ from another club. We know they have no intention of ever having female members!! As in agriculture we need to prune to encourage growth and we need the guts to do so now before the ground becomes totally barren and no growth can be sustained.
    Good luck in all you do James fro here on in.

    1. Anon says:

      “My son in law refuses to join Rotary because RI refuse to remove clubs who will not admit a female as a member.”

      So basically what this should tell everyone is that we wouldn’t have declining membership issues if we sorted out our diversity problem. Is anyone listening out there?

    2. Thanks for taking time to post Anon.

      The comment about the younger members of your family reflects the information I have been fed over the years. And this can only exacerbate the membership situation in that if Rotary is not gaining members at one end and naturally losing members at the other – then my prediction is unfortunately looking more likely to come true.

  19. says:

    Sorry to see you go I will miss your comment which I have found helpful and has started many debates. Thanks for all you have done and good luck with all you do in the future

    1. Thanks Ray.

      If the blog has started discussions in and beyond these pages then it has achieved what is was set up to do.

      Thanks for your very kind wishes – the same to you.

  20. says:

    please reconsider leaving us…we need people like you to keep the pan frying….someone said once..resigning from Rotary is a cowardly act… You know well you cant change anything from the “outside”

    1. says:

      Several have tried changing things from the inside and look where it got us. out in the cold, ignored denigrated and now person non grata. It seems Rotary Blogger has had enough. There are a number following him. It’s a real pity. By the way it can’t in any context be called cowardly and that’s the attitude we need to change.

    2. There comes a point though Mike when you simply give up trying to change things and get on with life !!

      How important is Rotary to the outside world? .. NOT!!
      How respected as the “Go To” organisation? ..NOT!!
      How diverse is Rotary really? NOT!!

      Not cowardly just brave

    3. Thanks for your comments Mike.

      Unfortunately, the heat has gone out my flame to keep the fire burning under the pan. I am sure there are others who can pick up the mantle and get the fire going again.

      There’s been much said in these comments (in one way or another) about making an impact on Rotary from the outside. However, I have also come to the conclusion that there is very little (if anything) can be done from the inside.

      It may be worth Rotary remembering; if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. There’s a lesson in there somewhere, I think…

  21. says:

    Maybe you c an change things from the outside ( go into journalism !) but how can it be done without being a member of Rotary International ?
    Coward may not be quite the word….but why give up?..I have been in Rotary for 40 years and I intend to keep up my opposition to some of the negative things that happen….glass half FULL …come on sir of the blog-come back and fight…I mean it !

  22. Anon says:

    Ironically, if we talked about diversity as much as we talked about membership, we wouldn’t even have a membership problem. Hands on diversity training in every club, mandatory attendance please.

    1. Peter Hamilton says:

      Agre Martin, I have just read the post stream and I have to say that Anon does nothing for me – James was brave and we should be too. Too early for my full response to James’s resignation and ensuing posts – need to galvnise my thoughts and not fire from the hip.

  23. Tony Jordan RIBI Rotaract Committee Chairman 2016/17 says:

    The blog was always a thought provoking good read. Always gave me plenty to think about with regard to my position at the interface of Rotary and Rotaract.
    I for one will miss the blog and its incisive comments.
    Thank you for all that you said and all that was highlighted as a result.
    Tony

    1. Thanks Tony – another regular contributor to the blog, who along with Past RIBI President Peter Davey one of the very few contributors to the blog posts from the ‘hierarchy’.

      I am glad you have found the blog and comments incisive – your comments are very much appreciated.

      Best wishes to you Tony.

  24. says:

    OK, OK Rotary Blogger has left the building. Im not happy about it and so it seems are quite a lot of other people. However, we need to move on and those in power “the Establishment” should view this as a wake up call and a fantastic opportunity to redress the loss of members and recruit new ones. In RIBI the opportunities are unique and endless if you have the vision. It’s clear that the vision and management have not been there for the past few years since if they were we would not be in this position. Grab the opportunities now and actually do something and be seen to be doing something. Engage the members in the clubs, enthuse them, motivate them and give them a good reason to exist in their clubs. Clear out the dead wood in “The Establishment” and move on. It’s the organisations very existence we are talking about here you cannot be allowed to fit.

  25. There’s been a lot of comments by anonymous people, and comments from others criticising their need to hide behind an anonymous profile. Perhaps the question should be why they feel a need to hide, and an acceptance that it might be for good reason?

    I for one believe these people have Rotary’s best interests at heart, and the discussion should be on the content, not the person.

    Read more:

    1. Well, well, well Anonymous Rotarian…thank you for taking time to post on the blog comments. And thank you for taking on the mantle of continuing to encourage the discussions that have taken place on RotaryBlogger.co.uk over the last few years.

      I would urge every subscriber to this site to visit AR’s blog page read the article and subscribe to the page.

      Good luck with the page I hope you take it onwards and upwards and catalyse the much needed change in the organisation – as quickly as possible.

        1. Having talked many times to James to try to persuade him to stay … I think it is too late … A little too optimistic Mr Anonymous … Not sure Why you think 12 month will make any difference … Is this your true thoughts that Rotary will survive? …

          Although I like your idea of anon blog it is likely to be treated cautiously if you remain Anonymous … Maybe share who you are with trusted individuals?

        2. Well Well Anonymous Blogger … you chickened out very quickly! … what has happened to your progressive blog for peolple who did not want disclosure of their name?

          Has someone got to you? 😉

  26. Mike Thorn says:

    RB, really sorry that you are leaving. I have always valued both your contribution as a fellow committee member, a thoughtfully challenging writer and on occasions a private confidante. It was great having you on our SM webinar earlier this year. To lose your talent is such a waste.

    As an organisation we do need to continue to move forward positively and progressively keep having small wins. My old district took 10 years to modernise – it can be done, though a merger has set us back a bit. The opportunity for clubs to be positively informal and opportunities such as satellites are another great thing. There are many who want to move forward – we can only do it together.

    Good luck for the future and look forward to welcoming you back – I’m sure that I will continue to watch your tweets and dip into the radio show.

    1. Mike Thorn – thank you so much for your very kind words. It was good to work with you on various committees and as you say have many long and late night conversations about the direction of travel.

      I hope you are right about the change – but I fear the slow velocity of movement may be what brings about the slow and steady demise of the organisation in these islands (I hope I am proved wrong).

      Thank you for taking time to contribute to the blog over the year and also for your comments. Wishing you all the very best for the future.

  27. Lindsay Pearson says:

    James, I can understand, but regret, your departure from Rotary. There is only so much energy you can put into bashing your head against a wall, and sadly your energy has run out. Judging by several posters’ comments, there are quite a few at a similar position, if not actually tipping over the edge.

    It remains for those of us, perhaps relatively new to the fray, to continue in what I sincerely hope is not a fruitless pursuit to bring Rotary into the 21st Century.

    Comment had been made on the number of anonymous posts in this thread. I did consider, as I have in the past, doing the same thing, but have chosen not to. My District (1080) is going through some difficult times. It has already been commented upon, that our incoming DG belongs to a resolutely all-male Club, and has managed to achieve what an RIBI faction clearly wanted, the closure of 1080 News.

    If you want to stifle growth and development, I can think of few ways better than to close off any forms of criticism. Criticism usually starts from a desire to improve something that doesn’t appear to be working very well, so you say so. What should follow is a reasoned and balanced discussion – the criticiser may be right, or may be wrong, but an open discussion allows the arguments to be placed transparently. There is no justification for censorship.

    In our District, we must hope that the “new” District publication will allow such discussion, as we must hope the RIBI publication will do so. In the absence of “official” publications offering an open forum for critical discussion, I hope those in “authority” will realise that it is no longer possible to stifle open discussion, courtesy of this new-fangled medium, the internet.

    RotaryBlogger has provided the opportunity for uncensored discussion, and I am delighted to see that James will allow it to continue as a forum for Guest Bloggers in the future.

    It remains for those of us remaining within Rotary to continue to fight against apathy and inertia, and make the changes needed to restore Rotary to its position as a relevant, respected and professional organisation.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your very kind comments Lindsay.

      I am glad you thought that RotaryBlogger was an uncensored discussion forum – as that is exactly the reason why it was set up.

      I am more than happy for the site to continue to be used for Guest Bloggers to lie back and couch and offload their own thoughts and concerns about the organisation.

      I wish you and the other remaining well in restoring Rotary to being a relevant, respected and professional organisation. All the very best Lindsay.

  28. Tony Burnside says:

    Change is inevitable but its pace must be inclusive in a Club of volunteers. As a relatively new member to Rotary, joining on retirement, I look forward to my year as President. I knew little about Rotary before I joined and on retirement I wanted to contribute to making a difference in some worthwhile Club/Organisation. I had never lived in any one country for more than 3 years and on joining Rotary, quickly made some good like-minded friends and acquaintances. It was an all male club of 40+ (full members), but this week, inducted its first female Rotarian Associate member and will induct another female Rotarian next week. I should add that there is also an active InnerWheel in the town that supports many of our fund raising activities.

    Yes, we are ageing, but that is the nature of the world we live in and we need to bear that in mind. The Club is actively recruiting and targeting young and old, male and female potential new members. But it is very important that we ensure that all members join for the right reason and that they will contribute and add value, complimenting our Rotary family.

    At a local level Rotary is doing well and is respected generally. I say “generally” because there are myths out there that eat away at the good will and Rotary name. It is therefore important that we dispel these myths through local presentations and through good press articles; which is one of my primary aims this year. I encountered one such myth only last week when a friend said he had been told that the money we raise does not all go to charity, but helps to pay for some of the jaunts that the “Senior Rotary Management” go on. We need to dispel such rumors at a Local, Regional and National level.

    However, that said I also despair and have concerns about Regional, National and International bodies and their conferences; where our senior members and their partners expenses are paid for through our subscriptions. In this day and age are the conferences necessary and do they add real value? Rotary membership should not be about affordability. Anyone of the right character should be able to join.

    1. Tony – thanks for your comments; and if you flip through the archive of RotaryBlogger posts – every single topic you have raised has received its very own post. Go take a look and see.

      So as a relatively new Rotarian, your “developing” frustrations have been with many of existing and Past Rotarians for a long time.

      I mentioned in the blog the “less fun grandad” as that is one of the ways Rotarians were described in a nationwide survey of the public some 7-8 years ago. So trying to dispel the myths and public perceptions has been going on for a long time.

      Perhaps Rotary was too stuck in it’s ways in terms of being an ‘exclusive’ Club where new members had to be ‘appropriate’ to join the local Club – with rituals and processes akin to other membership organisations.

      Unfortunately, and perhaps cynically I have come to the view (supported by anecdotal evidence) that a Club of 40+ men and one women is not going to attract the cross-mix, diversity that we desperately need in Clubs across these islands. And sadly, coupled with an ageing membership I would predict that your Club will ultimately one of those that wither on the vine.

      Thanks for stopping by – might be worth going and taking a look at some of the past blogs on conferences; Presidential/Governor “my years” and equality and diversity…

  29. Peter Hamilton says:

    OK fellow Rotarians, this is getting silly and drifting into the very areas that we highlight as needing urgent attention to make Rotary Great Again. Pointing of fingers and posting unsubstantiated comments is not the way forward. We need to act as adults and each pus their back to the wheel of change. Those who we criticise must be looking in with glee – without trying we have pressed our own self destruct button and divide and rule could be a consequence. James has set the tone right in Rotary Blogger in the past let’s not destroy it with one swipe. There is a need for a ‘voice’ and one in which annon is not necessary let us concentrate our energy in creating a forum of free and open speech.

    I have just become DGN D1150 (Southern Wales) and my energy right now is deciding what and how I am going to change things if not already in motion. We need to be brave, considered and open to the thoughts, and criticisms, of others. Dispense with ivory towers and replace with engagement and understanding – plans afoot.

    1. Rebecca says:

      Although I do not post anonymously I understand why those who do feel the need to do so. It is not easy to be constantly ground down to the point you do not want to speak up, because to do so is to give people more ammunition against you! Free and Open speech is only good when it works for everyone, but currently not everyone is given the safety to do it in.
      Your plans or D1150 sound brilliant, if only we could get every district to work towards the same things!!

  30. The main problem today is that traditional attitudes and actions of the padt prevail in many clubs … It is time to revise our thinking ….

    “Member begets member” has been part of the problem because all this does is propagate more of the same and increase the generation gap..

    If you think back to the 1980’s when Rotary was burgeoning it was a white middle class male organisation where the wearing of ties, saying grace, National toast and regalia were the order of the day … There was no place for women, modern baby boomers and free speech in Rotary .. It was a period of structure, “command & control” hierarchy and invitation so we are now living with the consequences

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