Drought, bushfires, then COVID-19 shaped the work of the Rotary Club of Armidale over the past 12 months.
As outgoing President Grant Harris' handed over the reins to their new leader, Hugh Beattie, at the club's recent changeover, he described how the club's work in the community had been concentrated on projects to assist people impacted by the events.
Front and centre for the club was their bushfire and drought relief project.
With support from other Rotary clubs, a number of other organisations and individuals, and underpinned by a significant donation from Dick Smith, the project was able to provide, by the end of the financial year, almost $98,000 in vouchers which were distributed on a needs basis by the Rural Financial Counsellor.
This project continues, and now stands at a hefty $119,000.
Mr Harris also described how the club had organised for a privately funded gift collection project from Sydney to be distributed through the CWA, and how the club had a lead role in the distribution of both water and fodder through major convoy drops.
Although the club's major projects for the year continued to be support for Backtrack and the Ezidi community, it contributed funding across a wide range of organisations such as the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, NECOM, Salvation Army, Armidale Legacy, PCYC, Lifeline, NERAM, Prostate Cancer Foundation, North West Special Olympics, Shearwater Lodge Coffs Harbour and the National Youth Science Forum, just to mention some.
A number of these community projects also required a deal of manual activity - such as cooking breakfasts at PCYC on a weekly basis.
Looking forward, Mr Beattie explained to the members that the inability to hold face-to-face meetings with the current venue restrictions, meant a new business plan was being developed.
The club has previously relied on club meetings for its fundraising efforts.
He said the emphasis for the year ahead would be towards support for local projects.
Mr Beattie joined the Rotary Club of Armidale in 2016, and has already held the positions of PR Director and Secretary.
Twenty years service in the RAAF took him around the world until he retired in 1983 having risen to the rank of Wing Commander. He then purchased properties in the Walcha district and was named Regional NSW Farmer of the Year three years later.
Turning his hand to IT, Hugh joined a start-up software company called Practical Systems in 1993 and became Managing Director in 2003.
His new Rotary board for 2020-21 includes Graham East (Secretary), Huntly Gordon (Treasurer), Bernie Perkins (President Elect), Grant Harris (Past President), Peter Bailey (Administration), Richard Makim (Membership), Rob Finch (Foundation), Ed Wright ( Service), Peter Pickett (Youth), and John Wearne (PR).