Aiming to connect

By Simon Ruppert

The Rotary Club of Benalla welcomed its new president Hamish MacLennan at its annual changeover event on Thursday.

The evening, which was hosted at Ella Goose, saw hundreds of local members join visitors from other north-east Victorian clubs and representatives from Rotary International.

Outgoing president Bruce Walker passed the presidential torch to Mr MacLennan before speaking to those in attendance.

‘‘You have been chosen by your fellow Rotarians to be president of the Rotary club of Benalla for the coming year,’’ Mr Walker said.

‘‘You can do what you like next year — the job is entirely up to you.

‘‘As president you are assuming new duties, new obligations and responsibilities.

‘‘And these will make demands on your thoughts, time and energy — believe me I know all about that.

‘‘We are confident you will carry out your tasks with the same enthusiasm that characterises all Rotary actions, and you are assured of the co-operation of your fellow members.

‘‘I know you will be sustained throughout the year by the fellowship and respect of us all.’’

Hamish, who towers above most other club members, then approached the podium.

‘‘Is this the only lectern we’ve got,’’ Mr MacLennan exclaimed to much laughter.

‘‘Firstly I’d like to thank all the helpers that got us to this stage tonight.

‘‘The theme for rotary this year has been set as ‘Rotary connects the world’ and during my year as president I hope to develop such connections, with an emphasis on our own community.

‘‘Both the rotary community and the community beyond our boundaries.’’

Mr MacLennan said he had three main areas of focus he planned to address during his presidency.

‘‘My first will be to maintain and grow our rotary membership,’’ he said.

‘‘I want to continue to work with past-president Bruce who introduced the concept of social nights, which have been very successful — rotary should be fun.

‘‘I also wish to incorporate more support for, and increase engagement with, our local businesses through club visitations to their places of operation.

‘‘The third focus of my presidential year is on the youth of Benalla, through the implementation of a pilot student enrichment program.

‘‘We have seen the benefits of our youth exchange program over many years.

‘‘The students we have sent out and those we have embraced within our club have blossomed and become mature, responsible young adults, all with bright futures.’’