Warwick Thai festival hailed a huge success for Rotary club

Warwick Thai festival hailed a huge success for Rotary club

THOUSANDS of visitors made Warwick Rotary Club 17th Thai festival last weekend, the best ever, according to organisers. Thousands packed Warwick Racecourse over two days, encouraged by warm weather and the chance to meet up again.

Warwick Thai Festival, Rotary Club

The event, which was originally rescheduled from June due to continued Covid restrictions, took place at Warwick Racecourse with partner Magic of Thailand which has run six festivals around the country this summer.

Warwick Mayor Cllr Richard Edgington opened proceedings on Saturday, introduced by Rotary President Paul Jaspal, and prayers and blessings by Buddhist Monks added to the atmosphere throughout the weekend.

Clothing sold well and spices and foodstuffs did a busy trade as the opportunity was taken to stock up on herbs and spices. Then it was time to get some food and a Singha beer and settle down to watch a programme of Thai traditional dancing, local Muay Thai kick boxers, and even ladyboys. It wasn’t long before the crowd started to party down by the stage!

Warwick Thai Festival, Rotary Club

Paul Jaspal said: “Warwick Rotary club has worked with the Thai people since the Tsunami in 2004 when it started an annual festival of culture and food to raise money to help orphans. We have stayed in touch over the years and recently sent aid to Thailand during the pandemic. It was good to be able to meet up again and it was clear that England and Thailand were having a great time in Warwick this weekend as no-one wanted to go home!”

The festival was sponsored by Kia Cars, Warwick Castle, and Singha Beer, and was attended by visitors from the Thai embassy in UK. CJ Events provided stalls, the 2nd Warwick Sea Scouts helped park all the cars for two days, Warwick Ambulance and Warwick Lions were in attendance as well as Rotarians from other clubs helping to marshal the event.


Celebrity speakers headline virtual Volunteer Expo event backed by Warwickshire Rotary Clubs

Celebrity speakers headline virtual Volunteer Expo event backed by Warwickshire Rotary Clubs

The Rotary Clubs in Warwickshire are getting behind a new, national event to help more people find volunteering opportunities and build a legacy of generosity and community from the pandemic.

Volunteer Expo Online, which is being hosted by Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland, is taking place virtually on 7th and 8th May. The free event will connect individuals and organisations from across society to inspire and celebrate those who love to give something back.

Volunteering Expo, Rotary Club, Frank Bruno, Ben Fogle, Brooke Kinsella

Headline speakers include award-winning broadcaster and adventurer Ben Fogle and former heavyweight boxer and mental health campaigner Frank Bruno.

A recent survey by the Together Coalition found that an estimated 12.4 million people have volunteered during the Covid-19 pandemic, and 4.6 million of those did so for the first time.

Volunteer Expo Online will help even more people find meaningful volunteering opportunities to suit their interests, time commitments and desire to make a difference.

The event will feature over 60 virtual exhibition stands, with visitors being able to chat and meet with a range of local, national and international charities and social impact organisations, including Age UK, Dementia UK, Alzheimer’s Society, ShelterBox, Cancer Research UK, Barnardo’s, The Salvation Army, St John Ambulance, Motor Neurone Disease Association, RSPB, Lepra, Home Start and The Royal Air Forces Association and Army Cadets.

On the bill for the two-day event is a speaker line up, featuring celebrity campaigners, sector leaders and volunteer heroes sharing their stories of volunteering.

With decades of adventures and travelling under his belt, Ben Fogle has countless lessons to share on the natural world and inspirational stories to tell of personal perseverance.

Volunteering Expo, Rotary Club, Frank Bruno, Ben Fogle, Brooke Kinsella
Headline speaker Ben Fogle

He is known for presenting numerous programmes, including Animal Park and Countryfile, and has travelled to over 200 places around the world during his broadcasting career.

Also among the line-up are:

Actress Brooke Kinsella who has campaigned against knife crime following the murder of her brother in 2008. She also founded a Trust in his memory.

BBC Radio 1 presenter and author Katie Thistleton whose work around mental health awareness includes ambassador roles with Place2be and YoungMinds charities. She is also a trained counsellor.

Catherine Johnstone CBE is the Chief Executive of the Royal Voluntary Service and formerly held the same post at The Samaritans.

Broadcaster Steve Brown became paralysed after falling from a balcony aged just 23 but went on the captain Great Britain’s wheelchair rugby team in the London 2012 Paralympics.

Sisters Amy and Ella Meek are Founders of Kids Against Plastic, a charity which is empowering young people to protect the environment. Over the last year they have helped pick up over 65,000 pieces of single use plastic and made over 50 cafés, schools, businesses and festivals ‘Plastic Clever’.

Sarah Vibert is currently the interim Chief Executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), and was formerly the Director of Membership and Engagement. Sarah has held a number of leadership roles in the voluntary sector; most recently as Chief Executive of umbrella charity The Neurological Alliance and is also a Trustee of The Brain and Spine Foundation.

Sanj Srikanthan is the Chief Executive of disaster response charity, ShelterBox. Sanj has been leading teams in adversity over the last two decades; from peacekeeping operations on the Iran-Iraq border, to responding to Ebola outbreaks in Liberia.

Through his roles both as Chief Executive of The Scouts and the National Union of Students, and as a current trustee of Step Up To Serve, Matt Hyde has helped change the conversation around youth volunteering, attracting support and investment to grow youth social action.

A former member of a notorious Birmingham gang, Simeon Moore now tackles the glamorisation of gang culture to young people. Describing his gangster lifestyle as a “mental prison”, Simeon lifted himself from a life of crime and uses the power of music to educate the lives of others.

Volunteering Expo, Rotary Club, Frank Bruno, Ben Fogle, Brooke Kinsella

Colin Winstone, spokesperson for Warwickshire Rotary, said: “The idea behind Rotary first launching this event back in 2019 was to highlight the amazing impact that volunteering makes to society. Little did we know that the world would be in a very different place a few years on.

“Although a lot in society has changed, many things possibly permanently, the coronavirus pandemic has thrown into sharp focus not only the need for volunteers, but the appetite people have to pull together in their community.”

“We hope that Volunteer Expo can be a part of that legacy and leave a positive impact going forward. It’s a great chance to learn more about how you can help. I find volunteering hugely rewarding and fun on a personal level, and would encourage people, whether a new or existing volunteer, to join us.”

Visitors will also enjoy a packed programme of workshops covering everything from mental health to plastic pollution and disability-inclusive volunteering to digital fundraising.

To find out more about what’s in store for the event, and book your free tickets, head to www.volunteerexpo.co.uk

Rotary-led creative campaign promotes peace and mental wellbeing in schools

Rotary-led creative campaign promotes peace and mental wellbeing in schools

SCHOOL pupils across Rugby are being invited to get creative as part of a Rotary Club campaign to promote peace and mental wellbeing among young people.

The Peace Pole competition forms part of a drive by Heart of England Rotary Clubs, to tackle the underlying causes of conflict, including poverty, discrimination, lack of access to education, and unequal distribution of resources.

It is being widened out following the success of a recent project at Westgate Primary School in Warwick before Christmas.

Rotary Clubs, Peace Poles, Margaret Morley
The Peace Pole planting at Westgate Primary School in Warwick in December.

The Club is also working with Newburgh and Aylesford Primary Schools as well as Warwick Town Council which plans to introduce a Wooden Peace Pole into the town’s Pageant Gardens, incorporating languages from its twin towns in France, Germany and Italy.

Schools are being invited to submit their design for a Peace Garden and the winning entry will be presented with their own bespoke Peace Pole, donated by the Heart of England Rotary Clubs.

With an estimated 250,000 across the globe, Peace Poles are internationally-recognised as the most prominent symbol, monument and silent visual for peace as well as representing a celebration of Peace and Collaboration between different countries too.

Warwick Rotarian and Peace Project Co-ordinator, Margaret Morley, said: “As an organisation Rotary is totally committed to working with schools in any way they feel necessary to support their Peace Education Curriculum and encourage a culture of peace, which is so important in today’s society.

“Promoting peace is a Rotary area of focus as well as part of the school curriculum. It’s not just about planting a peace pole it’s about working with schools to encourage young people to think about what peace means.”

Rotary Clubs, Peace Poles, Margaret Morley
Peace Poles Project Coordinator Margaret Morley.

Margaret added: “Peace Poles are so important as they take children out of the classroom, they provide areas of tranquillity and reflection, so important with mental health issues. They also encourage an interest in the environment planting/growing.

“The Peace Pole is a constant reminder that we are working together to create a caring and compassionate society.

“Children love them, ceremonies can be planned around them to encourage a culture of peace within the school.”

Headteacher at Westgate Primary School, Matthew Watson, said: “This project goes to illustrate how well different community groups in Warwick support us and provide opportunities for the children which may not otherwise be available to them.

“The raised bed that now houses the Peace Pole was unearthed and now provides a slightly separated area for contemplation. This will eventually have peaceful planting (lavenders etc) around it and will hopefully provide a focus for Remembrance Day and other fixed points in the year when the curriculum provides links to peace.

“The focus on mental wellbeing and finding solutions where they could be alone and peaceful has been reassuring in these difficult times.”

Each year the Rotary also awards more than 100 fully funded Peace Fellowships training for dedicated leaders around the world. Since the program began in 2002, the Rotary Peace Centres have trained more than 1,400 fellows across 115 countries, many of which now serve as leaders in governments, the military, education, law enforcement and international organisations like the United Nations.

Margaret added: “As a humanitarian organisation, peace is a cornerstone of our mission. We believe when people work to create peace in their communities, that change can have a global effect.

Schools interested in finding out more about the competition or the Peace Project are invited to contact Margaret Morley at: morleyam@aol.com.