A Remarkable Day at Hillsborough
Concluding the Club's Centenary year and celebrating the Centenary of Rotary in Ireland the Club, with the kind permission of the Secretary of State, held Hillsborough Castle's largest ever Charity Garden Party on Friday 29 June 2012 and heralded the next Centenary of Rotary in Ireland.
This was a garden party with a difference... and a remarkable day for Rotary in Ireland.
It was attended by over 600 people from all of Ireland, GB and USA, and raised over £13,000 for the charities End Polio Now (to which 3/4 of the monies was allocated), SOS Bus and FASA. It also featured exceptional entertainment and we were particularly delighted, in the week of historic firsts for Northern Ireland, to host another historic event - the Irish Defence Forces No 1 Band playing for their first formal engagement in Northern Ireland and joining with Northern Ireland's renowned Abbey Singers to entertain all the guests.
We were also delighted to have present special guests Dame Mary Peters, Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant for the County Borough of Belfast, David Ford MLA Minister for Justice, RIBI President Burman and District 1160 Ireland Governor Barney Callaghan.
Guests were fanfared by two trumpeters on arrival and we were kindly allowed to wander freely around all the beautiful State rooms in the House before the opening proceedings.
Welcoming all there Club President Adrian Ker said: "This has been a special year for Rotary in Ireland and especially for the two founder clubs of Dublin and Belfast. We have had a very successful year and wanted to end our year by giving something back to Rotary and show our support for the End Polio Now Campaign. I particularly want to welcome, appreciating their making time in their busy diaries at this time of year to attend today, and thank our RIBI President Burman for his personal support and of course nearer to home our District Governor Barney who has supported us fully in all the events we organised and helped make the great turnout today possible.
This event has been greatly promoted and attended by our Big Brother Club of the Rotary Club of Dublin who regretfully managed to get into Rotary just before us but we are very proud to be with them as the second club in these islands and I thank them for their continuing support and friendship and wish them every success in the next 100 years."
Dublin Club President Mark Doyle presented a banner reflecting on the fellowship between the Clubs and the "shaking of hands over 100 years".
Minister of Justice David Ford MLA congratulated the Club and thanked for all the positive charitable work done over the years especially with End Polio Now campaign. He announced that the Department of Justice, through the Northern Ireland Prison Service, would be co-operating with The Rotary Club of Belfast in the fitting out of a mobile counselling unit to be presented to FASA (Forum for Action on Substance Abuse) for their outreach programme on drug abuse among young groups throughout the province. He welcomed this joint voluntary sector/public sector approach to benefit both FASA and those in custody, and that he hoped that this approach could continue in other projects.
To everyone's delight Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant for the County Borough of Belfast and Club Rotarian Dame Mary Peters to the podium produced her Gold Medal and the Olympic Torch she had carried along the Albertbridge and Newtownards Roads and raised it to the next 100 years of Rotary in Ireland. She kindly allowed the torch to circulate and be photographed.
A sumptuous afternoon tea of sandwiches, traybakes, cakes, tartlets, pastries and strawberries and cream was then served whilst we listened to the fabulous musical entertainment.
In the Throne Room we heard the renowned Abbey Singers perform a delightful varied programme of music. Now in their forty-first year, and currently under the direction of Mr Brian Agus, they have performed all over the island of Ireland, the Royal Albert Hall and have had success at many music festivals.
Whilst in the gardens, under the Baton of Colonel Mark Armstrong the Irish Defence Forces Director of Music, the Irish Army Defence Forces Number One Band produced a fantastic 'big band' sound in their incredibly wide-ranging programme. They not only perform at major ceremonial occasions in Ireland but also at festivals and military tattoos in Italy, Holland, Germany and France.
Due to the inclement weather the afternoon tea service had to be moved into the House. It is not often that bad weather provides a bonus, but bonus it was to enjoy it in the luxury of the surroundings. But then the sun came out and we were able to gently stroll around the magnificent gardens or eat strawberries and cream whilst tapping the feet on the grass to the Army Band.
Concluding the day RIBI President Burman stated how delighted he was to be with us at another wonderful Centenary event – "a fitting end to his year." He then presented three Paul Harris Fellowships bestowed by the Club to Past Presidents Trevor Dickey, Campbell Morton and Alastair Corscadden. He also presented two Ruby Paul Harris Fellowships bestowed by the Club, the highest honour which the Club has awarded to date, to Past Presidents Marnette Lyons and David Boyd.
District Governor Barney Callaghan thanked the Club for the amazing day and stated as previously noted he had been so impressed at the Centenary meeting of the Club with the presence then of members who had also celebrated the Club's 50th and with some members family ties to the founding members. He continued that he was delighted to announce the rare award of a RIBI Presidential Citation to President Adrian in "recognition of the work and demonstrated stewardship of the Centenary celebrations and to the ideal of SERVICE ABOVE SELF and dedication to the Object of Rotary." District Secretary Niamh Mullholland was also presented with an RIBI Presidential Citation in "recognition of the work and demonstrated commitment to District 1160 and to the ideal of SERVICE ABOVE SELF and dedication to the Object of Rotary."
RIBI's National Immunisation Day Coordinator Mike Yates spoke about the immunization of millions of children in India and the hope that it would soon be able to end with the movement in India to provide clean, safe drinking water and eliminate open sewers which is where the disease spreads.
We were then privileged as the Garden Party ended with a wonderful, unique joint performance from the Irish Defence Forces No 1 Band and the Abbey Singers of (Lovland and Graham's) You Raise Me Up and (Andrew Lloyd Webber's) Love Changes Everything from the musical Aspects of Love.
Our thanks are given to all at Hillsborough Castle enabling us to have such a memorable day.
A selection of photographs is shown below.