Tag Archives: Rotary Club

Being Father Christmas

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NLPNOW

Phillip Holt as Santa ClausChristmas time is a very special time in many countries around the world, whereas in others it is a time that is not celebrated or recognised. In the UK the day is a very special day, no matter what belief system people follow. It is a time of reflection, a time of religious beliefs, a time of sharing, a time of family, a time of friendship, but for children it is a time when Santa Claus travels the world in the early hours of Christmas Day with his trusted Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer delivering presents.

Children often visit Santa’s Grotto before Christmas to ask for the presents they want him to leave them.
As a member of the Rotary Club of Kingston upon Thames, we collect funds for local charities and projects run throughout the year, like taking under privileged children out for the day to theme parks (Kids Out), helping families in need, raising funds for End Polio Now, and many more. During the period of Christmas we tow Santa’s Sleigh through the local community in the evenings taking Santa to the people, and in the main shopping centre of Kingston upon Thames we erect a Christmas Tree and Santa Hut, and one of our members will become Santa.
It is one of the great moments of the year for me to become Santa Claus, to don the red coat and hat, and grow my beard long and white, wear my wellington boots, and wait for the small children to come to me to ask for their Christmas gift.
Ringing my bell, I sit there, warm and snug in layers of clothing, waving at the passing people, and it is when a young child sees Santa that magic happens. Their eyes light up, their belief system kicks in, and often I here the thrill in their voice as they shout out, “SANTA”.
Most parents then bring the excited children up to Santa, and that is the time for me to interact with the child, to enter into their fantasy their belief system.
I ask them their name so that the time becomes very personal between us, and enter into a conversation which ends with Santa asking, “what do you want me to leave you for Christmas?“. Some children already have specific gifts in mind, others are not sure, but I tell them that not to worry, Santa will leave them something special, as long as they leave me a mince pie and a carrot for Rudolf as we will be very hungry.
Phillip Holt as Father ChristmasAs the children leave they get a sweet that they can choose from a small box Santa offers them, and the look on their faces is fabulous, one of trust, innocence and belief. But, it is the happiness of the parents, of them being drawn into the beliefs of their children.
For me this is the spirit of Christmas, and I am part of that spirit that will form the memories of a lifetime. And, it does not matter what belief system the families belong to, the magic of Christmas is shared with all.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE.
 Santa Claus and reindeer

End Polio Now

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Phillip Holt End Polio Now

One of the efforts that Rotary Club members worldwide is to eradicate the terrible disease of polio (poliomyelitis) through out our world. To this end over the years since 1985, Rotary Club has raised many millions of dollars, which has been matched dollar for dollar by the Bill Gates Foundation and in conjunction with health authorities, to buy the vaccine and facilitate the distribution and administration in all countries.

There has been a 99% success rate.

Now, there are only three countries left with polio, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. But only yesterday I read that there were potentially 22 suspected cases in war torn Syria.
Along with many agencies and health authorities, members of Rotary Clubs worldwide will blitz areas or countries with the vaccine, and in India on their immunisation days, up to 65 million children can be immunised, protecting them for life.
Once a child has been immunised, their finger is dipped in a purple dye.
Phillip Holt End Polio Now

End Polio Now with me and a big crocus on my head

To raise funds for this wonderful cause, Rotary Club members run events and collect money from the public, and yesterday was End Polio Now day.
Because the children have their fingers dipped in a purple dye, the crocus has been adopted as a symbol, and around the UK, millions of crocus bulbs have been planted to form in future a carpet of purple to remind us of this effort, and collections are made in exchange for a crocus flower pin.
Although I felt an idiot, I recently as a Rotary member, went onto the streets of my local town to collect money. Wearing a crocus headgear, I stood waiting and hoping for donations from from the giving fatigued public.
Thank you those who have helped to save those who need to be immunised against polio.
My little effort was just a drop in the ocean, but an ocean that joins other oceans to cover the world.

I found a new friend Oakley

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Last night at a concert featuring Kingston University Chamber Choir, Chorus and Ensemble entitled, Ancient and Modern, Innovation & Modern: c1656 – 3/5/2013, I made a new friend.

Composition Competition 2013

Rotary Composition Competition 2013

The concert had been organised at St. John’s Church, Hampton Wick, to present prizes to three winners of the Music Composition Competition at Kingston University, with prizes given by the Rotary Club of Kingston upon Thames.
I was asked as a Rotarian and member of the organising committee to take photographs of the event, and as an added advantage, I got to hear the concert, plus meet many people.
But I made one special friend, if only for a moment, Oakley.
Oakley is a Labrador guide dog for the blind, and his owner sat infront of me. He lay next to his owner, listening to the music in a deep slumber, as he was off duty.
Then he awoke, stretched, saw me and came and rested his head on my leg, looking me directly in my eyes with his big brown and black eyes.
Oakley my friend at ease
 Oakley my friend
I was in love. My heart went out to him, and in an instant I had made a friend, perhaps for a short time, but one of trust between the two of us.
Now the evening has gone, the music has stopped, the prizes given, I will probably never meet Oakley again, but that moment will stay with me forever.
We all have those special times when deep friendships are made, perhaps for a few moments, perhaps from a weeks holiday, perhaps over an acquaintance of ten years, perhaps over a near lifetime of togetherness, then we go our separate ways, but that special friendship can never be taken away, neither the memories or feelings can be erased, forever etched into our personality.
Thank you my friend for our brief time together.

Adult Achievement Awards 2012

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I recently was present at the Kingston upon Thames, Rotary Club’s Adult Achievement Awards, held once a year in the Royal Borough of Kingston’s Guild Hall.

It is so humbling to listen to some of the stories, of those who had experienced difficulties in their life, yet overcame them to attain further education to better themselves.

Here is a small video made from the photographs I took of the evening.

Adult Achiever Awards 2012 from Phillip Holt on Vimeo.

Presentations were given by the Deputy Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kingston, Barry O’Mahony, Club President Anne McCormack and Rotarian Peter Gray.