Sam McCurdy, Secretary, Rotary Club of Berwick
A historical joint meeting of the Rotary Clubs of Berwick and Biggleswade (UK) was held on Wednesday 28 April.
A meeting that would have seemed almost impossible before the Covid-19 pandemic hit in February 2020, was made possible by means of Zoom technology.
Biggleswade is a town in Bedfordshire England, which is approximately 60km north of London, 30km from Cambridge and approximately 17,000 km from Berwick.
The Berwick’s Club meeting started at 7.30pm, which equated to 10.30am in the UK.
Despite the tyranny of distance and the significant time difference, several of the Biggleswade members successfully linked in to the meeting.
After the initial pleasantries, the two clubs exchanged information on their clubs and the local projects that they were involved in.
President David Button explained how the two clubs were initially connected.
Michael Scott-Worthington from the Rotary Club of Biggleswade had paid a personal visit during the Berwick Club’s Cemetery Working Bee in January 2020, to present a cheque from his club to support the victims of East Gippsland fires that had ravaged the area in November and December 2019.
The bushfires caused the loss of five lives and destroyed more than 300 homes.
The cheque was subsequently added to other funds provided by the Rotary Club of Berwick to BlazeAid, a volunteer-based organisation, which assists disaster affected people to clear, repair or replace fences lost on their property resulting from natural disasters such as bushfires, floods, or cyclones.
Past President Isobel and her husband Mark have spent the last two months working with BlazeAid in fire affected areas.
Therefore, it was appropriate that she should be our guest speaker on the night, highlighting the work that they were involved in, which was mainly removing and replacing fences destroyed by the bushfires.
Biggleswade reported that they have not had any face-to-face meetings since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
Group meetings, such as that in Berwick are unlikely for a while, as the UK is still very much in lockdown mode.
However, they advised that they have already had similar meetings via Zoom, with clubs in Florida and the Cayman Islands.
Berwick is the first club in the Southern Hemisphere that they have linked up with.
The interaction between the two clubs was stimulating to all involved and both clubs agreed to stay in contact with each other in the future.