Gunnedah West and Gunnedah Rotary clubs welcomed members from the 9660 district to town with a barbecue feast accompanied by the scenic views of Pensioners Hill on a Friday evening ahead of last weekend’s training event.

The lookout’s backdrop served as the perfect place to meet, as its upgrades have been a project of Gunnedah West for a long time which has co-operation with Gunnedah Urban Landcare Group.

Col Rosewell recounted the history of the hill, starting from when it was barren and known as Goat Hill, a stark contrast to what it is 130 years later.

The committee members were welcomed and given recommendations for places to visit in town.

The Rotary District management team is made up of 22 members of the committee, who are set to take their place in July at the beginning of the new Rotarian year.

The area covers Port Macquarie, west as far as Lightning Ridge and down through Mudgee with Gunnedah and Tamworth being roughly the centre.

The beginning months of the calendar year calls for training of the new committee and this year people flocked to Gunnedah.

Each member came with their own portfolio, with campaigns such as foundation, youth and community service.

New members to the committee used the opportunity to learn skills for those portfolios while others brushed up on what they had known from experience.

Rotarians Colin Rosewell, Prue Kesby, Murray O’Keefe, Mike Silver, Bruce George, Kel Walls and Colin Shanks at Pensioners Hill in Gunnedah.

Rotary Club of Gunnedah West president Prue Kesby was grateful to have seen people make the trip which hopefully gave them the incentive to return.

“Both the local clubs [were at Pensioners Hill] to welcome them and put on a barbecue,” she said.

“It is lovely that they have come to Gunnedah because people always think that wherever they live, anything west of them is too far.

“So hopefully they will enjoy their stay and realise it is not as far west as they thought it was.”

Incoming director governor Bruce George thought the lookout was a good choice.

“It gives us some ideas too because we have a park in Inverell we are doing up,” he said.

He believes having meeting places like Pensioners Hill gives club members inspiration for other projects.

He outlined some of the topics the training days would bring up.

“For the year ahead it is basically making sure our members are engaged … Rotary itself is always doing amazing things and a lot of people in the community do not know what Rotary does,” he said.

“Interestingly enough, a lot of our Rotarians do not know what Rotary can achieve outside of their club.

“So we are trying to promote those activities that we do internationally, or even just Australia- wide, to our members so they know there is a lot more outside of their club.

“It is a big community these days, the world is actually our community.

“So promoting awareness for our members.

“Another goal would be to make sure the members are having fun because there is no point in just doing this because they have to.”

He felt that COVID brought a lot of isolation but the connectedness of Rotarians kept the clubs alive.

“One thing that kept a lot of the clubs going was the fellowship,” he said.

“We all realise that connections with people are very important.”

Rotary sometimes receives feedback from smaller clubs that members feel like they are not doing much.

Mr George believes that just being connected could mean the club is doing something important.

“If you have a dinner meeting or just have a barbecue, you are actually doing a lot with the connections,” he said.

The training days give people the opportunity to discuss these things and any small details that are often forgotten along with plans for the future.

“One of the things that Australian Rotary Health has taken on is the mental health of primary school kids who actually went through COVID,” Mr George said.

“A lot of them that did not go to school, did not have that connection, we feel that a lot of the young ones will have a lot of mental health [problems] going forward into their teens.

“We can make a lot of things happen if we have a lot of people helping out.”

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