29 March 2017

S5M-03750 Rotary Clubs (Champions of Change Awards)

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Linda Fabiani): The next item of business today is a members’ business debate on motion S5M-03750, in the name of John Lamont, on congratulations to Rotary district 1020 and other champions of change winners. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament praises the excellent work of Rotary clubs across Scotland in delivering projects to improve their local area and beyond, as well as providing friendship and support for their members; congratulates Rotary District 1020 on being awarded two out of 12 Rotary Champions of Change awards in 2016 for humanitarian service; understands that Grant Stephen of the Rotary Club of Duns was commended for setting up and running the Dementia Café in Duns and Robin Hamilton of the Rotary Club of Dunbar received an award for his project in India providing sanitation at schools in the Kalimpong district; notes that the 2017 Champions of Change awards ceremony will be taking place in April and will once again recognise unsung heroes in domestic and international categories; further notes that the Rotary Club of Galashiels has recently delivered 15 analogue breast screening lorries to India, in partnership with Indian Rotaries and led by local Rotarians, Patricia Paterson and Peter Croan; believes that the fantastic work of groups such as District 1020 and other Rotarians across Scotland makes a huge difference to local communities across Scotland and worldwide, and congratulates Rotary International, which is celebrating its 112th anniversary in 2017.

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Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

I note the requirement for four minutes, Presiding Officer. I will use some of that to congratulate John Lamont on bringing the topic for debate to Parliament. I am grateful for the opportunity to speak about Rotary clubs.

I welcome the times when we as a Parliament look to the actions of hard-working Scottish citizens and citizens across the world. In particular tonight, we reflect on the people in our nation’s Rotary clubs. The motto of Rotary International is “Service above self”. If we have heard anything from the speeches so far, it is that their work exemplifies that motto.

The awards that we acknowledge tonight are a small enough gesture when compared with all the hours of compassionate service that club members give. I cannot help wondering what the world would look like if we did not have Rotary or, on the other hand, if more people followed its example. We might have had to invent Rotary if it had not been invented 112 years ago.

Rotary has been part of my life for a very long time, although not district 1020. I was brought up in Cupar in Fife, and my father was the president of the Rotary club there from 1956 to 1957. I first spoke to the Rotary club there, I believe, in 1962, at a sons and daughters evening that the club had organised, at which I was responsible for the vote of thanks to the members. I also spoke to the club in 1974 about my career, which was computers. When I revisit that speech, I see that it was a sorry tale of computer failures and difficulties—it is on my website, if members wish to look at it, under the comments section. It will take them into distant history.

The Rotary club movement, then as now, seeks to educate and to support the efforts of others. It inspires and empowers people across the globe. Tonight we focus particularly on Rotary’s four-way test, which is part of the guiding principles for a club. It is an ethical guide to behaviour, and one that we can all learn from. It reads:

“Of the things we think, say or do:

1. Is it the TRUTH?

2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?


4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?”

I can certainly say, for my part, that friendship was a key part of what my father got out of being in Rotary and of what he was able to contribute to Rotary.

The people whom I see in old photographs of the club are all people whom I recognise and who were important parts of my life. I also knew what they did to support the local community and communities across the world. If the test—the ethical guide that Rotarians seek to live their lives by and to operate as Rotarians under—were adopted by us all in our own lives, we would be doing something quite special. We would run out of awards to give to people if everyone were to be serving. That would be no bad thing. We should aim for a day when we are a little less selfish and little more selfless.

I celebrate the efforts of Rotary clubs in Scotland and I hope that they will continue to evolve. From my contact with them, I know that they are very different from what they were 60 years ago; for example, the number of women members has grown, and the clubs are all the better for it. They also reach much further across the world. In the 1960s the Rotary Club of Cupar reached to Japan, which was thought to be extraordinarily novel.

Let me wish the Rotary clubs every possible success in the future. They had early promise, when after only 16 years they were established on six continents. Maybe we should invent some more continents—Rotary would be there before we turned our backs.


Stewart Stevenson
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fios ZS is a name registered in Scotland for Stewart Stevenson

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