Posted by Jim Hopkins
Now is the hour or, more correctly, now is almost the hour. Not to say goodbye, as the song famously has it, but rather to pass the baton to Blair whose year as President begins in a week’s time. He’ll outline his master plan when we meet at The Galleon (and a brilliant master plan it will be, I have no doubt) but, for now, at Sven’s suggestion, a few final thoughts as the curtain comes down and I exit stage left.
In thinking about what to say, I find myself going back to the comments  I made 12 months ago when I, rather reluctantly, took on the President’s role. More than anything, I was intimidated by the volume of reports and requests and replies from outside the Club that had to be dealt with. It felt like taking over a small to medium business rather than a voluntary Club. But we’ve handled the paperwork - with assistance from others -  and, one year on, I still feel the essence of Rotary is what I said it was at the start of term. Back then, I quoted people who’d talked at us at induction courses and told us Rotary was in decline in New Zealand and other similar countries. The advice was to not to stick to rules that may turn people off but rather to go for whatever works for the members of your Club. 
“Do stuff” was the suggestion put to us as Presidents Elect. To which I added, “Have fun.” 
Do stuff and have fun. For me that says it all. And I really hope, over the past 12 months, you’ve had fun and done the stuff you wanted to. It’s been a year of change. The Directors were keen to try other meeting and meal options and we have gone to some new places. My feeling is that you’ve enjoyed that. The feedback’s been positive although there are changes I would insist on if we were to go back to some of the places at which we’ve had meals. 
I strongly feel we should try to keep the cost of meals down. My instinct is that cost is an issue we need to monitor. I remember a conversation at the Pipe Band Hall with an ex-member dropping off books for Bookarama who said, when I asked, “Why don’t you come back to the Club?” that Rotary was one of the ‘luxuries‘ he’d had to give up when he retired.  
With membership dropping nationwide - but not, this year, in Oamaru - we need to keep looking for ways to accentuate the positives and eliminate the negatives - like excessive cost.
That said, it’s been a good year for the Club. We had a public meeting with Don Brash (and thanks again to Paul for flying down to Dunedin at his own expense to pick him up and Stewart and Bronwyn for hosting him). That allowed us to find new diabetes aids for the hospital, a project Alan spearheaded.
We had another great day on the chocolate wheel at the Heritage Festival and raised another tidy sum. We hosted a fantastic RYLA week here, which connected some amazing young people with Rotary. Adair’s got support from other Clubs for her On ya Bike campaign, we’ve had our best ever Bookarama - and a lot of fun together as we raised more than $30,0000. Huge thanks to Cara for her leadership and, just to clarify, when I mentioned at the auction that she was retiring, it was only from the Bookarama committee, not the Club. Speaking of which, the auction was another great night.  
Later this year, thanks to Gordon, we’ll launch a campaign to boost Monarch butterfly numbers. I believe this project, which will see us making Swan plants available to people who want to encourage Monarchs, will build huge support for Rotary and could attract some younger members. 
So the year’s nearly over and we’ve had fun (I hope) and done stuff  - like the tree planting out on the Alps 2 Ocean cycleway and the Rally of Otago marshaling gig. Please do something about the 5.30 am start next year, Paul.
We’ve heard business leaders share their philosophies, been the first community group to tour the Aviation Academy at the airport, enjoyed a beer tasting, whisky tasting and wine tasting, organised some great experiences for Rotarians coming to the Conference here earlier this year (and raised extra funds for ourselves in the prices) and, along the way, my feeling is we’ve had a lot of laughs.
There are lots of people to whom I owe lots of thanks but we’ll do that on July 3. Please come along, say Farewell to Celestine, Welcome to Blair and sign on for another year of having fun and doing stuff. 
At the end of the day, simple as those words may be, I still believe they sum up the essence if Rotary.