On the 1st of December in a lovely Italian restaurant on Sydney’s Darling Harbour, the Rotary Club of Sydney Darling Harbour held it’s Changeover. Long-delayed by COVID, this evening gave us an opportunity to reflect on the two years of Mel’s Presidency, and our accomplishments during these unusual and unprecedented times. Mel’s speech from the evening is listed below, and details her many accomplishment in her two years as Club President.

Thanks for everything Mel. You’ve left some large and very shiny shoes to fill.

Good evening everyone,

I would like to acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of this land and pay my respects to the Elders both past, present and emerging. I extend that respect to any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders joining us today. 

Welcome all Darlings, honorary Darlings and guests

We have had a really successful year and I am really proud to call myself a Darling.

Thank you for letting me lead the club over the last two years, it has been an honor and a privilege.  It has been challenging over the last 18 months with the devastating bushfires then COVID.

I am so proud that we were able to seamlessly start and continue  meeting online since March last year. Our meeting attendance has been highest it has been for a long time when we have had virtual meetings and the hybrid meetings over the last few months.

Over the past two years we have raised over $50,000 which is amazing considering the challenges of being unable to hold face to face fundraisers for the majority of this Rotary year 

Some of our achievements this year include 

  • MUNA
  • Rotary Youth Collaboration with Sydney and Sydney Cove Rotary Clubs
  • Rotary Foundation
  • End Polio
  • Australian Rotary Health
  • Australian Children’s Laureate Foundation – to promote the transformational power of reading, creativity and story in the lives of young Australians
  • The Station – clothing, washing powder, steel cap boots, backpacks, Boxing Day lunch, Ang on Board
  • Tree Planting 200 trees for 100 years in Rotary 
  • Two water filters installed in schools in remote area in Thailand providing clean drinking water to more than 1000 students 
  • Assistance in Nepal for food insecurity during COVID
  • Partnered with Dress for Success for a clothing sale
  • Uniting Harris Community Centre – food to those facing food insecurity 
  • WAGEC provided two scholarships to women at risk
  • RIWA
  • Two Shelterboxes were donated by Rae-Anne and John and Ang on behalf of the Darlings at the District Conference
  • The Darlings along with other Rotary Clubs across the District donated more than 20,000 lamingtons and coffee vouchers to the hard working support services around the District, including Hospitals, Police, Fire and Ambulance on Australia Day. The Darlings delivered to the amazing workers of Sydney and St Vincent Hospitals, which included nurses, cleaners, security, kitchen workers and Doctors.
  • Took over SCR Kiva microfinance account (nearly 1,500 loans and over $55k USD loaned in 10 years)
  • Two virtual trivia fundraisers
  • Chuffed online fundraiser $3,000

Darlings have a significant presence in District positions including:

  • RIWA Chair – Rae-Anne 
  • RESCA – Ron 
  • Membership – Rae-Anne and Sue
  • End Polio – Sue
  • District Conference Chair – Sue 
  • Financial Controller District Conference – Lynne
  • Dress for Success Liaison – Sue
  • Mentor to District Leadership team – Sue
  • Grants Director – Lynne
  • Assistant Governor – Ang

I would like to sincerely thank the Darlings board for your support this year

  • President-Elect- Drew Sturgiss
  • Secretary- Sue Hayward
  • Treasurer- Brian Owles
  • Community Services Director- Scott Cooper
  • International Services Director – Lynne Gibson
  • New Generations Director- Carol-Anne Blecich
  • Membership Director – Drew Sturgiss

I would like the board members to come up, I have a small gift to show my appreciation of your hard work this year.

I would like to do a special presentation to our Darling Brian who has decided to leave us for Mosman club. Brian is still going to be active in his community, merely to a Rotary Club with less of a commute. We did talk about moving the Club in order to retain him but, unfortunately, logistics wouldn’t allow it.

Brian is a founding member of the Darlings and has been a Rotarian since 25 March 1998

He was President of the Darlings 99/20 and 2010/11 and has been on the board since the club was founded

Unfortunately we don’t have the full financial records of the Darlings but from 2007 onwards Brian has mostly held the role of Treasurer and in that time the Darlings have raised approximately $425k since 2007

Brian has been an amazing asset to the Darlings and he will be sorely missed. He has been a great friend and mentor to myself and many many other Darlings. 

And because of his hard work and dedication over the last more than two decades to the Darlings it is my greatest pleasure to award him with a PHF

The Rotary Foundation is a registered charity that supports the efforts of Rotary International to achieve world understanding and peace through international humanitarian, educational, and cultural exchange programs. It is supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and friends of the Foundation who share its vision of a better world.

Programs the Rotary Foundation supports include Polio Plus – a program designed to eradicate Polio from the world.  It supports Humanitarians programs, including grants to fund club and district service projects – and matching grants for international projects.   The Foundation also supports educational programs – like ambassadorial scholarships, Group Study Exchange, and Rotary World Peace Scholarships,  

50% of the money we donate to the Rotary Foundation comes back to our District.  50% goes to the World Fund, which we can apply for.    

The Paul Harris Fellowship is named for Paul Harris, who founded Rotary over 100 years ago.  The Fellowship was established in his honor in 1957 to express appreciation and recognition for a contribution of US $1000 to the Rotary Foundation.    A Paul Harris Fellow is an individual who contributes $1,000 US or in whose name that amount is contributed.  Every Paul Harris Fellow receives a pin and certificate when he or she becomes a Fellow.  This identifies the Paul Harris Fellow as an advocate of the Foundation’s goals of world peace and international understanding.

While it is an honour to receive a Paul Harris Fellow, it’s not about the recognition;   it’s about what we can do in the World as Rotarians.  

Today we recognize Brian, who has made it to the next level as a Paul Harris Fellow, a Multiple Paul Harris.  Brian receives a Paul Harris Pin with one Sapphire, symbolizing the contributions $2,000 has made to the Foundation 

Therefore, it gives me great pleasure to present to you on behalf of the Trustees of the Rotary Foundation, the lapel pin of a Paul Harris Fellow.  We urge you to wear the Paul Harris Fellow Pin to all Rotary events, as a symbol of your appreciation and support of the programs of the Rotary Foundation.  Ladies and gentlemen, please congratulate and recognize the newest Paul Harris Fellow 

In addition to Brian’s award I wish to also like to acknowledge another Darling for their hard work and contributions to Rotary.

As mentioned earlier this person has held significant roles within District level over the past two years as well as a significant contribution to The Darlings 

I would like to make another award to Sue Hayward who was my rock in the role of Secretary over the last two years. If it were not for here I would not have lasted two minutes in the role.

She would remind me often of things I was required to do and say during meetings and throughout my tenure and I’m sure it was like herding cats trying to organise me

She organised all of the speakers, wrote the newsletter, organised the meetings with the Grace,  Dress for Success liason

As well as her District Roles:

  • Past District Governor 
  • Membership
  • End Polio
  • District Conference Chair
  • Dress for Success Liaison 
  • Mentor to District Leadership team

I don’t know when she finds time to sleep! She is also organising to build a house and has recently moved to Moss Vale

I can never ever demonstrate the deep level of appreciation and thanks I have for Sue for keeping me on track throughout my two years

You are an amazing Rotarian, an inspiration and awesome friend and I am so lucky to have had your support over the last two years

I am also awarding Sue with a PHF

This is Sue’s third PHF so she will receive a double sapphire in her lapel pin which means that $3,000 USD has been made in her name

Once again I would like to thank the Board and the club for all your support over the past two years. 

Now it is time to move to the next phase of The Darlings

First of all I will tell you a bit about Drew Sturgiss who is our President-Elect. I’ve know Drew for approximately 11 years now and he has held many roles within Rotaract and Rotary. 

In terms of his outside of Rotary he works in IT Security, and whilst I have worked for 15 different organisations, Drew has recently moved from the company where he did his Graduate program at Macquarie Bank to Commonwealth Bank. He is continuously patient with me when I constantly ask stupid tech questions 

Drew joined Rotaract in 2009

  • Community Service Director 
  • IT Director 
  • Secretary 
  • Rotaract Multi District IT Director 2012-15
  • Assistant DRR 2013-14
  • Rotary District 9675 Webmaster 
  • Darlings 
    • IT Director 
    • Membership 
    • President-Elect 
  • Numerous Rotaract and Rotary websites in Australia (I estimate in the 100s if not 1000s)

In 2011 he was awarded the inaugural Australian Rotoractor of the Year Award.

In 2012 joined The Darlings as an honorary member until 2018.

In 2013 he was awarded a PHF for his contributions to Sydney City Rotaract and Rotaract In Australia.

In 2018 Drew officially joined the Darlings, whilst also maintaining his dual membership of SCR for an additional year.

In researching his achievements I went back through many years of memories in Sydney City Rotaract and The Darlings, some of the former Rotaractors.

I am glad that Drew has reduced the amount of long winded technical emails that would often send to confuse us at SCR.

I am looking forward to seeing what Drew will achieve as President. 

Please everyone welcome Drew Sturgiss, the new President of the Rotary Club of Sydney Darling Harbour.