Rotary leader keeps focus on youth work
Ashford Rotary Club’s new president has vowed to continue the emphasis on supporting youth activities in the borough during his year in office.
Steve Parkin, a retired IT recruitment consultant, has taken over the club helm for the year 2017/18. As well as supporting youth, his chosen charity is Parkinson’s UK.
Mr Parkin has been a Rotarian for 11 years, originally in Aldershot before moving to Ashford four years ago. He has been instrumental in getting the club involved with the various competitions Rotary holds for young people.
He said: “The Rotary International theme for the coming year is ‘Making a Difference’ and that is exactly what the philosophy of the Ashford club has been for the last 95 years. That won’t change, but giving young people a helping hand to develop and find their way in the world is very important to me.
“The club already sponsors two Rotakids clubs at Phoenix Community School and St Mary’s C of E School. These are for children up to 12 and members are encouraged to work on projects for the community and raise money for their chosen charities. The children make new friends and learn how to work as a team.”
Along with one of the year managers, Mr Parkin instigated a new Interact Club at Norton Knatchbull School guided by teachers and Rotarians. Interact is for pupils aged 12-18 and continues the emphasis on teamwork and community projects.
Just about to start its second year, the club already has more than 20 members.
Rotary organises an adventure weekend twice a year, the Rotary Youth Leaders Award (RYLA), which is aimed at secondary school pupils. It is designed as a leadership development programme for young adults to help them develop their potential and skills for the future.
Mr Parkin said: “Rotary also runs various national competitions for young people. Last year we were lucky enough to have the national runner-up in the senior section of the Young Photographer competition. This year we had the district winner in the intermediate section.
“We also did extremely well in the Young Writer competition, in conjunction with Battle Rotary Club, and a student from one of our Ashford senior schools was the national winner in the intermediate section. We are hoping to continue this success in the coming school year.
“Youth Speaks is for secondary school teams and we run this competition in conjunction with Tenterden Rotary Club. A public speaking competition, this is great for boosting self confidence and the number of schools wanting to be involved is increasing every year.
“‘There are still more events we would like schools to take an interest in – such as Young Chef, Young Musician and even the Technology Tournaments.
“Rotary is often viewed as an organisation for retired business people, but the Ashford club is ensuring that members remain right at the heart of the community and encouraging young people to think the same can only be good for everyone.”
Anyone interested in joining should email ashford. email@example.com
Ashford Rotary Club’s outgoing president Graeme Calver, left, congratulates new president Steve Parkin