Mark and I had a lovely evening last week, hosted by the Rotary Club in Eastbourne. They invited us to talk about Rathfinny and we did as a ‘double act’. We’ve given a fair few talks now and have settled into Mark talking about the wine and the vineyard, with me talking about our ‘engagement with the public’ side of the business – the Flint Barns, Sunday lunches, tours, Gun Room and events generally. Obviously, as is our want, we interrupt each other as we go along.
Incidentally, this is how we are at work which takes people a little bit of time to get used to. We operate a very flat structure – or put another way, I get no boss respect at all (!) – aiming to listen to all views and accept thoughts and criticisms as we go along. In reality, it often comes down to Mark saying “that’s rubbish Sarah” whereupon we have a very open ‘debate’, the outcome of which is (of course) that I am proved right!!
Back to the Rotary Club. What really impressed me about the evening, other than how welcoming and friendly everyone was, was the real sense of community I felt. This was on both a personal level, between the people present and listening to their stories of their local work, but also on a global level as they welcomed visitors from Canada and reported about visits to Spain. Looking them up online their tag line is ‘People of Action’ – ‘…where neighbours, friends, and problem-solvers share ideas, join leaders, and take action to create lasting change.’ They have over 1.2 million members.
I was fascinated to hear a letter read out that was sent to a national newspaper. We always think of Bill Gates in relation to combating Polio, but the Rotary Club started the campaign some 30 years earlier and raised over 1.8 billion dollars towards the effort. Last year only 8 cases of polio were reported worldwide.
It’s a reminder that often engaging with the world is just on our doorstep and also that ‘community’ starts in the area we live in.