Category Archives: Rotary Club KOT

Father Christmas on his Sleigh

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Not only this year was I Father Christmas at the Rotary Club’s Christmas Tree in Kingston upon Thames, but also for one night I was Santa on the sleigh driven through local neighbourhoods correcting donations door to door to go into funds to help local charities and people.

Phillip Holt as Santa on his Sleigh with the Rotary Club of Kingston upon Thames
The night started with the temperature a little cold and no wind, but as the night progressed, the wind started and got stronger, and the rain came down, but it did not dampen the spirits of the fellow Rotarians knocking on doors for the annual collection.
Young and old came to their doors, stood at their windows to wave at Santa.
Some children came to the sleigh to talk to Santa, to ask him to leave a special present for them on Christmas Day.
It was not until we finished the evening and we were packing up, that I noticed how cold it was and have heavy the rain was.

Father Christmas, Noel Baba

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It is that time of the year again in many parts of the world where the festive season of Christmas is celebrated.

Last year I spent many weeks in the RIXOS Premium Hotel Belek in Antalya, Southern Turkey over the Christmas and New Year period, and on Xmas Day I was honoured to be Father Christmas, or Noel Baba, for the guests at a special festive meal.
Previous years I have been taking my share of being Father Christmas for the Rotary Club of Kingston upon Thames at the Christmas Tree outside Bentall’s Shopping Centre, and this year has been the same.
It is such a privilege to be the Father Christmas for the young children as they are taken shopping with their parents.
Phillip Holt as Santa with the Rotary Club of Kingston upon Thames Phillip Holt as Father Christmas with the Rotary Club of Kingston upon Thames
The look in the children’s eyes as they see me, wonderment, they wave back as I wave at them, and when they come-up to Santa, and I engage them in a little conversation, memories food back to me of the time when I believed in Father Christmas.
I ask them what they want me to leave them on Christmas day, and it could be a scooter, a doll, a bicycle, and I wonder if their parents have brought their desires.
I always finish-off by asking them if they will leave me a minced pie and a carrot for Rudolph as we will be very hungry, and the children often add “and a glass of milk“. I always get a big “yes“.
We always offer the children a sweet from a little box in exchange for a donation that the children puts in our collecting bucket, the proceeds of which go to support local charities and services in the Royal Borough of Kingston.
The motto of the Rotary Club is Service above Self, and surely being Santa to the children is not a service but an honour.

The Mayor of Kingston joins Rotary

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I first joined Rotary Club back in 1981 in Peterborough, and as a young member, I thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship, the work we did for charity, and the social side of the club.

In 1983, I decided to accept a position as Software Manager for the Texas Instruments computer distributor in Saudi Arabia, and stayed out there for over six years.
No clubs or organisations were permitted in Saudi Arabia, so my membership to Rotary Club had to be stopped.
It was not until a few years ago that I rejoined, this time the Kingston upon Thames Rotary Club.
I have time when not travelling the world giving courses, time that I can give to the community, time that I can give some of my knowledge, my expertise, my energy.
If we are doing nothing, why not help others who are less fortunate?
I love my job as a trainer, speaker, change manager, and also being part of Rotary, whose motto is Service Above Self, and certainly I see other members who give so much time and energy without counting the cost, perhaps just for the fellowship, perhaps just for the social connections.
At a recent meeting I was asked to take some photographs of the Mayor of Kingston upon Thames being accepted into Rotary Club at our lunchtime meeting. 
Just taking some photographs to share with others, to have a pictorial history for the club, costs me nothing, just my time, yet perhaps it can give pleasure to others.
I know my friends, Bob and Laiyng Wheatley, who were Mayor and Mayoress of Fishguard and Goodwick recently, had a enjoyable and rewarding time, and I hope the Mayor and Mayoress of Kingston upon Thames, Patrick and Susan Codd, have the same experience, even if every day is taken-up with engagements and meetings for little or no payment, and with so many meals and dinners to attend, they will have to watch their waist line.
I share the photographs with you.
The Mayor of Kingston upon Thames, Councillor Patrick Codd
with Anne McCormack President of Kingston upon Thames Rotary Club
The Mayor of Kingston upon Thames, Councillor Patrick Codd
Anne McCormack President of Kingston upon Thames Rotary Club

The Mayor of Kingston upon Thames, Councillor Patrick and Susan Codd
with Anne McCormack President of Kingston upon Thames Rotary Club

The Mayor of Kingston upon Thames, Councillor Patrick and Susan Codd
Anne McCormack President of Kingston upon Thames Rotary Club

Photographs of the 2011 Dragon Boat Race in Kingston

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I recently published the video of the Rotary Club of Kingston upon Thames Dragon Boat Race, held on the River Thames in Canbury Gardens, on 17th July 2011. (click to view)

I now post some photographs of the event via flickr.

items in 2011 Dragon Boat Race More in 2011 Dragon Boat Race pool

Adult Achievement Awards, Kingston upon Thames 2011

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Sometimes it is good to stand back and look at other people and what they have achieved.

On a nice Tuesday evening in May 2011, I was able to attend the Royal Borough of Kingston’s Adult Achievement Award ceremony held in the Guildhall Kingston.
Organised by Peter Gray of the Rotary Club of Kingston upon Thames, in conjunction with Kingston Borough Adult Education Service and Kingston College, the Deputy Mayor Councillor Geoff Austin and the Mayoress Mrs Sheila Austin along with Rotary Club President Peter Bassett honoured twenty people who had achieved so much whilst learning.
I felt very humbled as I listened to stories of how others had overcome issues, problems and hurdles to better themselves, their family and others.
All those who attended thoroughly enjoyed the evening, meeting and talking to the students from the education centres of Kingston. The superb setting of the Guildhall of Kingston and the presence and talk by the Deputy Mayor made us most welcome.
This little video shows these people receiving their certificates.
click to see video

Rotary Club of Shanghai

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My trip to Shanghai, China, has not been the first, but one of many, the previous being perhaps five years ago, and what a change there has been.

The only place I recognised was the Shanghai Bund lining the Huangpu River, which has dozens of historical buildings that once housed consulates, banks and trading houses from the various countries, for example the UK, France, Russia to name just a few.

As a member of Rotary Club in my home town of Kingston upon Thames, it was a privilege to visit the Shanghai Rotary Club for the friendship and fellowship Rotary offers around the world.

It is a young active club, one of only two in China, with many visitors in attendance, and quite a young average age membership. On my visit three new members were being inducted into their club.

It is good that I got rid of my phobia of heights, as the meeting and meal was held on the 40th floor of the Hilton Hotel. But it did give fantastic views of the Shanghai city at night and the wonderful light displays of the buildings.

Presentation of Shanghai Rotary Club flag


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This is a special time of the year to many peoples though-out the world, Christmas.

So to all my followers, may I wish you Merry Xmas.
It is a time of faith for many, others a time of giving, a time for the family to come together.
This year I fine myself by myself in southern Turkey giving training. But I am not alone, as I am with many people who it feels have become my family for a small time of my life, but will remain firmly as my future life.
This time last year, I had been on occasions Father Christmas or Santa Claus in my home town of Kingston upon Thames in the UK for a number of weeks, collecting for charity under the Christmas Tree of the town center. This year I have not been able to participate in this annual event, and I have missed the build-up, the atmosphere created by the experience, the shops being decked out with Christmas gifts, the streets being lit by magical lights, and the Xmas cards dropping through the letter box. It is not part of the Turkish culture as with other countries.
But, tonight, the hotel (the RIXOS Premium Belek, in Antalya ) I am staying in over the festive season is providing a special Festive Season Meal for all the foreign guests and their children, and I am honoured to be invited to be asked to be Father Christmas to deliver presents to the children.
This will make my day, it will now be Christmas for me, as I will see and experience the wonderment on the faces of the young children as they meet Santa Claus, children coming from many different countries of the world, Germany, Russia etc.
Christmas is for families and children around the world whatever belief, race, colour or creed.
Merry Xmas to you all.
Phillip Holt as Santa Claus, at the RIXOS Premium Belek Antalya
Phillip Holt as Santa Claus
at the
RIXOS Premium Belek Antalya

Dragon Boat Race 2010, Kingston upon Thames, Rotary Club

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It was an early start for club members of Kingston’s Rotary Club, preparing the 2010 Dragon Boat Race on the River Thames .

48 teams had entered the day long races, each having a purpose, perhaps raising awareness for a project, raising money for a good cause, or just to have fun with friends, and for each team and their friends and family, marquees had to be erected, signs to be placed, the funfair and other stalls, tents and services put in position. The work was only minor to all the effort and organisation that had been afforded by the committee and members of Kingston’s Rotary Club .
Within a short period of time, all was ready, and we awaited the arrival of hundreds of competitors and visitors on a warm Sunday. 
Competitors were very colourful in their racing kit, entering into the spirit of the fun day, the police team in uniform, the pirates, a team with strange metal hats which I still do not understand.

Eight dragon boats were ready for the races, each race having four teams paddling at full steam down the river, until we had eight finalists for the last race.
Team supporters shouted their teams on, the public joined in, the children loved it. Between races, teams and followers had picnics, purchased food from the food stalls, or sampled an over flowing glass full of sweet cherries.
The Dragon Boat Races were eventually won by Canbury Arms Boys team (see results ), in a thrilling eight boat race, where the ducks, swans and other river users had to make way, as the race took-up most of the river width as they splashed their way down steam.
Enter your team into the July 17th 2011 Dragon Boat Race, perhaps one of the biggest in the UK, contact Glenis to obtain an entry form.

Where does the Poo Poo go?

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We are constantly reminded of how ill prepared we humans are to disasters. We instantly see on our televisions images of not only the consequences of earthquakes, mud slides, flooding, tsunamis and war, but images before disasters occur and as they actually happen and unfold.

We witness the suffering now through the whole process, the unfolding of the disaster, from the comfort of our own homes.

We, the fortunate, sitting in comfort, rise to the occasion, and raise lots of money, gather together essential items to house, water and feed those in need.

Organisations are there to provide support, sending volunteers, firemen, nurses, doctors, military to give ground support.

As a member of Rotary Club, where members volunteer their time, talents, professional skills and energy to improving the lives of people in their local communities and others around the world, having the opportunity to give something back, to give hope to those less fortunate and to make lives worthwhile and fulfilled, we also contribute by being part of the ShelterBox scheme.

ShelterBox supplies an extended family of up to 10 people with a tent and lifesaving equipment to use while they are displaced and homeless all in one box.

It was at a recent raid or visit to another Rotary Club, Surbiton, that we were given a talk following a superb meal about the plight of survivors after disasters.

We as organisations, as individuals, are very good at sending to the areas affected, shelter, food, drinks, but what is often forgotten is that what goes in, has to come out.

In other words we have to pee pee and poo poo, we have to go to the toilet, and that is often forgotten, as i have seen on the reports on my TV screen.

Oh Poo Poo.

How often it was asked, do you think about what happens to your waste after you flush the toilet?

It has to be taken away, often underground in pipes that we do not see, to a sewage plant or machinery that is hidden away, that safely treats the waste in a safe way.

Because our waste is out of sight, it is out of mind, and so it was suggested when we deal with disasters.

But, what happens in the disaster areas?

Their infrastructure is often wiped out, perhaps there is no power or electricity to power the sewage works, but more likely, the survivors move away from their devastated towns and cities, seeking shelter in the wide open where there is no sanitation, no toilets, as seen in Haiti Earthquake or Dafur.

Where do they go to the toilet?

How does the sewage get treated?

Does the sewage enter into the eco system, the water supply?

How long is it before diseases, including cholera, typhoid and dysentery, takes over the population, leading to many deaths.

With this in mind, our two speakers have taken the idea of ShelterBox and are developing a unique sanatory system which can be deployed quickly, and they are saying could serve about 100 people. Packed in a box, the system would be shipped to an area, where it would be unpacked, giving a tent for four people with toilet facilities, and a treatment plant which is small, easy to set-up, and results in an output of treated sewage, free from disease.

Still in the design stage, what a wonderful gift this will be to those who find themselves in need.

For more information, please contact the Surbiton Rotary Club

Interview Skills

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Being a member of The Kingston upon Thames Rotary Club gives me great pleasure and enjoyment. The idea of Service above Self, being able to give back to the community, to other people, what I have in my portfolio of life experience gives me great joy.

Today, I had the honour to be asked to be part of a small team of Rotarians to visit a local school (The Richard Chandler School), to give mock interviews to 16 year old pupils, so that they can prepare themselves for life outside school, to experience and to gain knowledge of what to expect when being interviewed for a place at university, for a job, and to give feedback on how they did.

Just to listen to a young man who wished to become a creative writer, but failed to mention that he was already doing this on the internet as a so called game, because he thought it was not important, to draw out of another the fact that he manages a young football team, coaching them and leading their training sessions every week, to listen to one saying that he did not think he was sporty because he did not play football or rugby yet was a member of a swimming club, going swimming three times a week, and the enthusiasm of a young man who liked horror movies, yet the more I asked and drew him out, I realised that he did not just look at the film but analyzed what was really being said below the surface, (click to understand) the social messages being given.

I trust my little effort has helped them on their road, to point out to sell themselves, to prepare themselves, and to give them an experience.

I love my work.