Jeremy Prescott’s talk on Violette Szabo

Last Tuesday evening, Fordingbridge Rotary was joined by members of Verwood Rotary, via the medium of Zoom, of course. They were treated to a very interesting talk by regular speaker, Jeremy Prescott, who delivered a  presentation on Violette Szabo and how she was awarded the George Cross posthumously, having been executed by the Germans, at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp, in early 1945.

Rotarians heard all about her life as a child and how she married before being sent off to France as an agent, being part of the SOE (Special Operations Executive). Previously to that, she had joined the Women’s Land Army and the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). Once she had joined the SOE, she underwent concentrated highly focussed arduous training and several missions before capture in Nazi-occupied France and interrogation.

She became the second woman to be awarded the George Cross, bestowed posthumously in December 1946.

She was the subject of the novel and film “Carve her name with pride”, which was later turned into a film in 1958

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Hearing Dogs for Deaf People

An interesting talk was delivered to Fordingbridge Rotary members, via the medium of Zoom, last Tuesday evening 9th February. The speakers were Malcolm and Eileen Pickett of the "Hearing Dogs for Deaf People" organisation. Eileen is deaf and the beneficiary of a "hearing dog". Malcolm explained all about the training that these dogs go through, including what they are trained to do, and what they are not trained to do. Dogs are trained to alert deaf people to important and life-saving sounds that they would otherwise miss, like the doorbell, fire alarms and even alarm clocks. Additionally, the dogs are trained to give a deaf person a newfound sense of independence, confidence and companionship. The attached photograph depicts a genuine young beneficiary.

This organisation has matched thousands of dogs carefully with deaf people. The dogs are retired at the princely age of 11, and each deaf partner often elects to keep the former hearing dog as a pet. The cost of training, supporting and placing these hearing dogs is around £40,000 per dog, and the organisation relies heavily upon volunteers, support and donations.

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Mercy Ships Talk with Peter Montgomery

Last Tuesday, 12th January 2020, during the height of lockdown, members of Fordingbridge Rotary were treated to a talk by fellow Rotarian, Peter Montgomery from Weighton Wold, via the medium of Zoom.

Peter has been involved in the concept of "Mercy Ships" since 2011, along with his wife who is a volunteer nurse on one of them. "Mercy Ships" is a fleet of (two) hospital ships, which are equipped to undertake a multitude of surgeries, including removing tumours, cleft palates, cataracts, and various forms of orthopaedics. "Mercy Ships" founder, Don Stephens, realised that over 50% of the World's population lives within 100 miles of a major sea port, and that a hospital ship could therefore deliver health care very efficiently to a large number of people. One of the attached photos depicts both ships, the original, and their newer ship. Both are old Norwegian ferries, which have been fully fitted out as hospital ships, with a multitude of operating theatres. No-one gets paid (except the Captain, who is paid $1 per annum, for legal reasons). Since "Mercy Ships" started, no less than 56 third world countries have been visited, and literally, millions of patients have been helped.

Since the organisation recently purchased its second ship "Global Mercy" (the first one is named "Africa Mercy"), it needs more people and more money.

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LendWithCare

The well-publicised "LendWithCare" project, that Fordingbridge Rotary has famously taken part in, has now benefitted from a second layer of success. The loans that it has made so far under this scheme, have been doubled as part of a "Big Give Christmas Challenge". Fordingbridge Rotary has been proud to take part through the "Small Business Solidarity Fund". This fund has provided support to 12 different projects over 8 different Countries, assisting over 18000 vulnerable people. The photograph depicts Rosa Andrango of Ecuador, whereby this project helped her to cover emergency food needs during lockdown, and assisted her to purchase seeds to enhance her agricultural production.

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