Thank you, Andy, for allowing us to share your insights into what being a Rotarian President entails and for all your hard work in keeping us all together as a team during these turbulent times. 
My year as President of the Rotary Club of Merimbula 
Rotary Club Board positions are timed around the financial year 1 July to 30 June.  The President is generally determined 18 months ahead of their term and serves on the board as President Elect for 12 months.  So sometime in late 2017, I was confirmed as President Elect for 2018/19
and President for 2019/20.
Whilst away on a road trip with my wife, early March 2019, I received news that Janet Maughan, our Club’s President for 2018/19, had passed away.  We returned, so I could help our club, in this time of grief.
Shortly after returning, a friend in Tura Beach attended a medical emergency at a neighbour’s home which may have had a better outcome if a defibrillator had been available.  I undertook to see whether our club could help make some defibrillators publicly accessible.  Two were purchased and one is now available outside Woolworths, Tura Beach and one outside McDonald’s, Merimbula.  
We celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Club at our changeover dinner in June 2019.  As incoming President, my aims were to:
  • get our club better connected to the local community – schools/business/other service organisations/council – and focus more on service;
  • remain open minded and take advantage of opportunities that presented; and
  • ensure, as best I could, members felt they were contributing to the activities of the club in a worthwhile and valued way (so making a difference).
I can’t say it hasn’t been challenging.
In the first half of the year things seemed to stay more or less on track.  We started helping out with the Breakfast Club and Meccano at Merimbula Public School,, two of our members were appointed to the inaugural board of Teen Clinic and one of our members started an activity session for men at Albert Moore Gardens with plans to build a wheelchair accessible garden.
In November we committed to purchase equipment our Merimbula RFS Brigade could not afford but, whilst it was ordered in December, it did not arrive until March. 
We had the Bushfires – evac centres, road closures, no tourism and then just as things started to look positive along came COVID-19. 
Many of our activities had to be curtailed in the first half of 2020.  Along the way, we’ve managed to keep some bushfire relief, restoration and recovery projects ticking along thanks to some very keen workers, some very generous donations and in collaboration with the Rotary Clubs of Bega and Pambula, the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast and the Bega Valley Shire Council.  Our biggest project, the construction of a pavilion for the community of Kiah, has just been completed.
My favourite moment – receiving photos of children at Quaama Public School wearing their new shoes purchased with vouchers I had dropped off at the school.
My greatest achievement as President (in my eyes and with everyone contributing) – getting things done despite the difficulties. 
Andy Thorp
President 2019 –2020
Please see below ‘A Year in the Life of the Rotary Club of Merimbula’ for an overview of some of the many projects undertaken during 2019 – 2020 and by clicking on the Club Projects Tab above.