All change at the top

It’s that time again; the end of one Rotary year and the start of a new one. Outgoing President Keith Monaghan had the honour of handing over the position to Keith Rolfe at the last open night of the year. The new team consists of Ronnie Carter as 2nd Vice, Cathy Ryan as Vice President and of course Keith Rolfe as President.







During the evening the members and partners heard from Jennifer Rowland who told us about the work of the Reydon Knitting Group. As his last duty as President, Keith M presented Jennifer with a cheque for £200 to enable the purchase of the next batch of wool allowing them to continue making items for deprived families and children in Africa and Eastern Europe.

Funds donated to good causes

At the club meeting on 20th March, the President was very pleased to be able to present cheques for the money raised at our Christmas Swim. Along with the money that went directly to the charities the amounts were:- Sole Bay Care Fund £1,095; RNLI £1,889; Guides £785; with a total of £3,769. A big thank you to all who made this possible.

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In addition we were pleased to be able to send £250 towards the flood relief efforts in the West Country. We also had great delight in welcoming our newest member Ellie Hambling to the club.

In early April Southwold’s First “Women Who Inspire Supper” proved to be a great success and our local women’s refuge, will benefit from the proceeds. Ladies attending the sell-out event heard from Erin Pizzey, Lady Jill Freud, Sharon O’Brian and Suku Bailey. Prior to the event, Erin Pizzey, who started the first ever refuge visited our refuge to meet staff and mothers, who are currently being supported. The evening was arranged by our member Cathy Ryan. At a subsequent meeting of the club Cathy, along with the President, had the pleasure of presenting a Cheque for £1000 to Caroline Bellis of the Liberty Project in Lowestoft. We hope to continue our association with the refuge in the future.Caroline Bellis cheque

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More recently, St. George’s Day was celebrated in style at the Randolph Hotel with readings and poetry. Shakespeares 450th Birthday was also remembered the same night turning it into a truly “English” event.

Women Who Inspire 2014

Southwold ‘s First Women Who Inspire Supper was a great success and our local women’s refuge, will benefit from the proceeds. Prior to the event, Erin Pizzey, who started the first ever refuge  visited our refuge to meet staff and mothers, who were currently being supported


Dr Jayne Taylor PhD. MBA. attended the supper and this is her report of the event.

Over eighty people attended a fantastic women-only evening held to celebrate the vision of International Women’s Day, marking women’s achievements throughout history and across nations. The event was held in the stunning setting of The Boardwalk Restaurant on Southwold pier on Monday 7 April – the rain and sound of the waves crashing onto the beach added to the emotional energy that filled the room. The evening marked the launch of a new project – ‘Women who Inspire’ – organized by Cathy Ryan, Southwold’s Community Matron and member of the Southwold and District Rotary Club.

The event certainly lived up to expectations – we all left feeling humbled by the outstanding energy, passion and tenacity of the speakers who had achieved so much in very different spheres of life. The first speaker, Erin Pizzey, had been the driving force of the women’s refuge movement which began in Chiswick in 1971. Erin has written over twenty books and spoke with passion about how she was able to make a difference to the lives of women and children and overcome so many barriers put in her way.

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The second speaker Lady Jill Freud, who is a well known actress and producer, gave a superb account of how she had been involved in the theatre in Southwold whilst bringing up her children and being the wife of a busy MP. Although Jill and Erin work in very different professions, they share a common bond of never giving up! Jill spoke about how she had managed to furnish the theatre,  become compliant with health and safety rules and getting permission to put on a play that she had been told would be ‘impossible’. Jill had the audience enthralled by her passion and her wonderful sense of humour.

After a delicious supper two more local women took to the floor. First was Sharon O’Brien, politician, writer and one-time nun to name but a few of the many things Sharon has experienced shared her incredible life-journey. She has overcome adversity to achieve the extraordinary and there are eighty members of the audience who can’t wait for her to complete her next book – ‘Nuns with Guns’! Sharon was a difficult act to follow but the final speaker, Suku Bailey, had the audience spellbound. She spoke of her early life in Zimbabwe, of how she was exiled for being involved in the freedom struggle where she risked her life smuggling documents across the borders strapped to her abdomen as if she were pregnant, and of how she came to England where she works as a social worker. Suku knows that her life could have been very different if she had not been able to escape. She talked about how many young women in Zimbabwe are destined to a life of poverty and pain and that education is the key to helping children break this cycle of deprivation. She gave examples of young people who had been educated who are able to return to their villages as teachers, how a bicycle can change the lives of people and how important it is that we support these children and young people.

The evening was rounded off by local choir Music Vox – a women’s choir started by two young women experiencing post natal depression who found the camaraderie of singing in the choir immensely therapeutic.

Monday evening’s event in Southwold was truly inspirational. We heard about extraordinary lives, told by extraordinary women who never gave up their dreams and who have achieved outstanding things which have touched the lives of countless other people whether they be people in fear or living in poverty, or people who have had their lives enhanced through the theatre, arts, politics and literature. We heard four women speak and heard the excellent choir organized by a person described by Lady Freud as the most truly inspirational woman in the room – Cathy Ryan – who changes the lives of many, many people every day – on our  own doorsteps.

Donation to Halesworth Carers

The Christmas collection outside the Co-op Rainbow store in Halesworth by the Rotary Club of Southwold & District raised £356. Rotarian David Rich is seen here presenting the Halesworth Carers’ Fund Chairman, Paddy Cox, with the cheque and thanked the people of Halesworth for their generosity contributing to charity for helping people in the locality.

Women Who Inspire

We are pleased to announce an exciting new project launched this weekend – Women Who Inspire. Monday 7th April 2014. At this unique women only event you will hear from a number of inspirational women speakers, enjoy a two course supper in the lovely surroundings of the Boardwalk Restaurant on Southwold’s famous pier and hear from local choir Music Vox. All proceeds from this event will go to Women’s charities. For more information visit

Help for disadvantaged children

At last night’s meeting Vice President Keith Rolfe had the pleasure of presenting a cheque for £100 to Di and Duncan McIver of Paddington Childrens Holidays. PCH is a small voluntary organisation based in Suffolk. Who aim to give inner city children the opportunity to experience, enjoy and feel at home in the countryside. Through their holiday scheme ten socially disadvantaged children, selected by Westminster Youth Services, in conjunction with St Stephen’s Primary School, Paddington, will spend a week at The Warden’s Activity Centre. This centre, located close to the beach between Sizewell and Thorpeness, is a fully certified residential and day centre”.



The club hopes to be able to give further support in the future.

Support for dementia sufferers

President Keith had great pleasure in presenting a cheque for £250 to Paddy Cox and Alison Begley of the Halesworth Dementia Support Project.

The presentation took place at the club’s weekly meeting on 17th October at the Randolph Hotel.

This recently formed project was the chosen charity for our Immediate Past president Dave Rich.