Jul 162020

We had been waiting for the restrictions around the coronavirus lockdown to be relaxed sufficiently that we could have the ride on the 20th September as planned.

Alas, it was not to be. We had to make a decision this week or there would not be time to organise and publicise the event. There is still too much uncertainty about the future so we had no alternative but to cancel it for this year.

We hope that the situation will improve in the next few months so we can hold On Your Bike as usual in April or May next year. We will let you know when a decision has been made.

We are disappointed not only for all those who regularly support us and help us to raise money for charities, but also for the charities themselves. At this time when they are having to cut back their services because so many of their fundraising activities have been cancelled they are more than ever in need of the money we could otherwise have raised.

We are grateful to those who had already registered for On Your Bike and have agreed not to ask for return of their entry donations so we can give their money to the charities we support.

Jun 102020

Business networking Zoom session – a look at the economy
by the Bank of England

On 9 June Gravesend Rotary held a lunchtime Zoom business networking session when Phil Eckersley, Agent of the Bank of England for East Anglia and the South East, gave an update on the UK economy.

Entitled “An off the record look at the UK economy, drawing on the most recent Bank of England Monetary Policy and Interim Financial Stability Reviews” his talk gave insights into the current situation on inflation, unemployment and GPD as well as trends into 2021 and beyond.

Participants came from enterprises and organisations in Gravesham Borough and beyond. They included Adam Holloway MP, Cllr. Brian Sangha, business and commercial portfolio holder of Gravesham Council; and Jagdev Singh Virdee, General Secretary, Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, Gravesend. The session following the presentation was lively and explored behind the information with interest on the effect on our local economy.

Tony Muckley, organiser of Business Networking & Membership for Gravesend Rotary, thanked Phil Eckersley for an enlightening and excellent presentation and his comprehensive answers. Tony highlighted that the presenter had gone way beyond the criteria of being topical, relevant, and providing “takeaways”. This was confirmed by the messages received at the end of and after the video conferencing session.

Cllr. Sangha spoke about activities in the Borough and the importance of engaging with and informing the approximately 4,000 enterprises. He proposed that Gravesend Rotary’s Business Networking initiative should provide a way for doing this.

After Gravesend Rotary President Andrew Moffat,  said: ”We have remained as active as we can in our work for our local community during the present emergency, helping charities whose fundraising has been badly hit by the restrictions: for instance, Alzheimers & Dementia Support Services and Hive Hope Food Bank. We have also made a grant to Footsteps International, which rescues street children in Kenya where the Covid-19 has caused schools to close and the pupils to return home.

“We have had to postpone our On Your Bike charity ride, planned for April. We aim to hold this on 20 September.

“We are planning another business networking lunch on 27 October. More information will be available nearer the time.”        


Tony Muckley

May 302020

9th June 2020 at 13:00

Rotary’s Business Networking lunch scheduled for 9th June has been reschedule for 27th October 2020 due to the Covid-19 epidemic. The speaker from the Bank of England will present his “off the record look at the UK economy, drawing on the most recent Bank of England Inflation Report at that time”.

However, to sustain continuity of our support for the local business community we have arranged a virtual session on the 9th June 2020 using the Zoom platform when Mr. Phil Eckersley, Agent of the Bank of England for East Anglia and the South East, will provide an update on the economy and an insight into the current activities of the Bank of England. The session will last about one hour and comprise the presentation by Mr. Eckersley and a Q&A session.

The 9th June 2020 event is already well supported by a spectrum of people from the local and peripheral business communities. There is still opportunity for more to participate. You can register your interest by 6th June 2020 with Tony Muckley, Leader of Business Networking for Gravesend Rotary, by emailing him at akmuckley@aol.com .  We look forward to seeing you there.

May 292020

Our (former) street boys have left the Sunshine Centre to live with their families, and are therefore back in the conditions that drove them to the streets in the first place.

During May, the Sunshine Centre team distributed another round of emergency packs to all of our boys and their families.

Each pack contained 10 kg of beans, 10 kg of maize, 2 kg of rice, 24 kg of maize meal, 3 litres of cooking oil and 4 large bars of soap, supplemented with spinach and kale from the Sunshine Centre farm.

The team organised transport to ensure that the heavy emergency packs reached the families’ homes safely.

In total we reached 131 families, a total of 795 beneficiaries (we are helping the whole family, not just ‘our’ Sunshine Boy).


More about Footsteps International

May 122020

The £1000 grant money from our Club and local District 1120 received at the end of last month is already being put to excellent use.

The Sunshine Centre, schools, hotels and tourism all remain closed. The resulting impact, particularly on the poorest people, has been huge.

Last month Footsteps International supplied emergency food and hygiene packs to 200 families, a total of just over 1,100 beneficiaries. As well as providing much needed practical help, it reassured people that they had not been forgotten at this difficult time.

Each food parcel has a certificate acknowledging Rotary’s contribution

This was very successful and achieved safely, (you may have seen news items in other countries where delivering food particularly to those who very little has caused riots)

Last week, the team started to procure and pack the food and hygiene materials for the next wave of aid which they intend to start distributing to families this week.

More information about Footsteps International and help from Rotary

Chris Keeble

May 022020

Like most organisations, we have had to curtail many activities and find new ways of working. It is a challenge but some of the changes may turn out to be permanent.


The most obvious change is the cancellation of face-to-face meetings such as our weekly lunch and our committee meetings. Here, like many organisations, we have discovered Zoom video conferencing. While not as good as meeting in person, it works remarkably well and may become a permanent feature for some meetings.


It has been a great disappointment to postpone On Your Bike to September with no certainty that it can take place then. This means we are unable to give about £12,000 funding to charities and organisations at a time when they are desperately short of income. At the time of writing it is uncertain whether our business networking lunch in June will take place.

Helping the community

As nearly all our members are in the “vulnerable” category we are very limited in the “hands on” help we can give. However, we are able to help by spending the reserves in our charity account. We have given £500 to Alzheimer’s & Dementia Support Services. We were able to secure a grant from the Rotary Foundation to add to a £500 donation from our funds to Footsteps International making a total of £1,000.

As we will not be paying for our weekly lunches we are giving the money we save to charity. Most of us are helping Hive Hope food bank in Northfleet with regular donations.

Text ‘2020OYB’  to 70470

A novel departure for us is the use of mobile phone text giving. Alzheimer’s & Dementia Support Services would have received a large donation from On Your Bike but will now have to wait until we can hold the event – at a time it desperately needs more income. To help it out we have started a campaign to raise money for it by inviting people to give £5 by texting ‘2020OYB’  to 70470. We are waiting with interest to find out how successful this appeal will be.

Apr 252020

Our club has supported this local charity by financial donations for a number of years, and in addition in recent school holidays, members have been involved in “hands-on” help with the provision of hot meals during School holidays for the less fortunate youngsters.

The present Covid-19 pandemic rules have put a stop to the latter, but the Hive Hope Food Bank in Northfleet is still operating.

There is the expected reduction in donations, particularly at the Supermarket donation point, which is down by as much as 50%, and this is coupled with a very substantial increase in the number of people who need help during the ongoing lockdown.

Our club is keeping close contact with Deborah Keys who runs the charity. Some of the loss of donations is being made up by financial help from regular donors. Members of our club are making personal donations to assist in these most challenging times. We send every good wish to all the helpers at this charity, its donors and the families that are being helped.

How to help Hive Hope

More about Hive Hope

John Baker

Apr 222020

The picture shows boys from the Sunshine Centre in Naivasha Kenya. It was taken last July when two of our members, Di Trimm and Chris Keeble with their spouses Malcolm and Marion visited and worked at the Centre for two weeks.

Footsteps International Charity started the Sunshine Centre nearly 20 years ago to provide accommodation and schooling for boys who were living on the streets of Naivasha.

How things have changed following the spreading of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Kenyan Government has told children’s institutions to link children back with their relatives where possible to reduce crowding and decrease the risk of spreading. Most of the boys have some family who can care for them, but those who do not are being cared for by staff members.

The boys who have been sent back to their families are at great risk because they are likely to revert to the street for their survival. The very reason that they were encouraged to go to the Centre in the first place.

The Centre staff acted fast and very soon were able to take emergency supplies to 10 families and this has increased, providing them with flour, beans, bars of soap and green vegetables from the Sunshine Centre Farm.

To support this action the Rotary Club of Gravesend donated £500 to Footsteps International which was matched by Rotary District 1120 to make a total grant of £1,000.

To see how Sunshine Centre are continuing to manage at these times please go to their website www.footstepsinternational.org

More about Footsteps and Rotary

Chris Keeble

Apr 182020

Sunday, 19 April, was to be the day when hundreds of cyclists rode ‘On Your Bike.’

Gravesend Rotary’s famous ride raises funds for charities and this year especially Alzheimer’s and Dementia Support Services.

The ride now is not until September. But Gravesend Rotary has discovered that this charity urgently needs funds through the extra demands of the virus emergency and the effects of lockdown.

But at the same time they have drastic loss of regular income and cancelling of fund raising events.

People affected by dementia and their families are needing guidance and support throughout this pandemic. They operate the Kent Dementia Helpline and have responded to 950 contacts since lockdown began.

The charity is also working closely with health and social professionals to identify those people living with dementia at risk of isolation and ill health so that they can give support.

Please help now. Text ‘2020OYB’  (twenty twenty OYB)  to 70470 to donate £5.

Texts cost £5 plus one standard rate message.

For more details see our web site

Mar 172020

On Friday 13th March 2020 the Thamesview School Year 11 students made presentations on designing and marketing a hat. It was part of their assessed course work. Their presentations were made to three panels of assessors. Rotarians John Baker and Tony Muckley sat on two of the panels. The theme of the presentations was to describe the process of designing, costing and pricing of hats as part of a pitch to engage the panels as prospective retailers in stocking the products.

The types of hats ranged from beanies and baseball caps to flat caps. Market research helped refine the target customer base and the design, including the logos and strap lines. The students were very much aware of the power of media vehicles and celebrity endorsement for creating awareness and demand for their products. Overall, the standard of presentations was impressive.

Nerys Sandy, KS4/5 CEIAG and Student Support Coordinator, organised the event to be very efficient and professional. Students were assessed against criteria that would be important if pitching to an established retailer.

John and Tony reported back to the Gravesend Rotary members. They considered the event to have been a refreshing, enjoyable and rewarding experience. Nerys Sandy sent thanks for Gravesend Rotary’s support and said: “feedback has been extremely positive and students feel the whole process has been a great addition to their Business qualification and using external people enhanced the whole experience”.

Members of club have so far this year participated in three such activities at the School and look forward to doing more.

Tony Muckley