13th Kenton Rotary president inducted in challenging times

The Rotary Club of Kenton-on-Sea inducted community stalwart and businessman Eugene de Witt as new president recently.

Both de Witt and his predecessor Dave Howard acknowledged what a difficult year the past Rotary year had been, and that yet more challenging times lay ahead.

De Witt hosted the event at the outdoor area of his Continental Restaurant.

In his valedictory speech, Howard said it was a difficult year, but Rotary had risen to the occasion.

Sales of the Kenton Cuisine cookbook, the Kenton Wine Festival and the Johnny Walker raffle helped raise much needed funds.

Rotary had given financial help to Coastal Kindness, Dolphin Coast Nursing Home and Hospice, among others.

“Thank you for your support and everlasting friendship,” Howard told his fellow Rotarians. “I am handing over to someone raring to go and who will take Rotary to even greater heights.”

Accepting the chains of office, De Witt said: “It’s an enormous honour to be elected as president number 13, if you believe that’s lucky.”

“Our club has been built on strong and caring leadership. I’m starting with something fantastic, I just have to add my little bit.”

He congratulated Howard on “a sterling job through a difficult year”.

He said in the year ahead he wanted Rotary to become more involved in impactful service projects. The Rotary International theme for the year is: Serve to change lives.

He said his goals were for Rotarians to have fun while doing good, engage with the youth, and increase membership.

He said the past year of lockdowns had seen a drastic reduction in fellowship among Rotarians and he wished for members to be creative and get out in the open.

Another aim is to start a Rotaract Club in Kenton for younger people, and to find members with skills where the Rotary Club is lacking.

Two prestigious Paul Harris Fellowships were made for service to the community – to Dr Eleanor Galpin and past president Ginny Reed. Paul Harris awards are not just given to Rotary members. Among past recipients globally are Mother Theresa, Jimmy Carter, astronaut Jim Lovell and Jonas Salk, who developed one of the first polio vaccines.

The Kenton Rotary President’s Award was presented to Bev Rogers for her hard work selling the Kenton Cuisine cookbook. The wandelstok for most travelled club member went to Ruleen de Witt and the wooden spoon for most stirring was given to Simon Matthews.

Certificates of recognition were awarded to Tony Swift, Barrie Brown, Mike Wilmot and Mike Peter.

Rotary also inducted three new members on the night – Caroline Steele-Gray and Mike and Anne Willemse.