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It has been a huge honour to serve my Club (Lower Blue Mountains) and District 9685 as their District Governor for 2020-21. Lower Blue has a wonderful history of producing seven members through the ages, who have been selected as District Governors and I believe, it is because of the wonderful culture of leadership that we have in the club, and I know this tradition will continue in the future. So, look out for more DGs from Lower Blue Mountains.
It has been a challenging and difficult year for everyone; first we had to deal with COVID-19 and all the changes in meetings and activities, zoom became the thing of the present (not the future), and nearly all clubs in the district met regularly in this way. Out of the 70 clubs that I had to do my official visit with, 90% of those meeting was through the zoom format.
In the earlier part of the year there was the huge explosion in Beirut and the clubs in the district and all over Australia banded together to support a Global Grant project, which was started by PDG Bruce Allen from the Castle Hill Rotary club, I also sent a call out to all the DG’s in zone 8 to support this Global Grant, and they all accepted the challenge to commit some money toward the project. 
With a very wet summer we were saved this year in our district from bush fires but not in Western Australia, there was still plenty of work to do from the fires in the district from 2019/20 and we were able to give out grants from donations from a number overseas clubs to several clubs to support fire brigades in replacing equipment that had been lost in that terrible fire, and of course near the end of our Rotary year, lock downs in certain states and the terrible covid problems in India, Nepal, and other parts of the world.
 We have had earthquakes, volcanoes blowing up. mice plagues and just a couple of weeks ago, very dangerous and destructive winds in the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria which caused major damage, and through all of this, once again Districts and our Clubs banded together to raise funds for all of these catastrophes.
We had major weather events, and of course with lots of rain comes floods not only in our District but in other parts of Australia, as well as in neighbouring Timor Leste, so the constant need for supporting our friends in need continued and as usual RAWCS (Rotary Australia World Community Service) set up a Bomb, Fire, Flood and COVID appeal accounts for all Rotary clubs to donate money into. All the clubs have done a wonderful job at keeping the fundraising going.        
In relation to the Floods, we were extremely fortunate to be approached by two young promoters who were putting on a concert in Windsor and wanted to give the profits to RAWCS to be distributed through the three Hawkesbury Rotary clubs, to go to people affected but those floods, as many homeowners could not afford flood insurance.  At time of writing approximately $100,000 to $150,000 (still waiting on audited figures) had been raised and the local three Rotary Clubs in the Hawksbury region will be the recipients of this money to distribute throughout the area for people in need.
Clubs had to think of new ways to raise much needed funds, so they tried virtual Trivia nights, virtual pet and art shows and even a virtual Carols by candle night, and other virtual fundraising projects, these proved very popular and profitable, others suspended their projects only to find that the sponsors who would normally provide money for the event said to the club to keep the sponsorship money and give it to the organisation they were raising the money for, a wonderful gesture from them,  sponsors said they wanted to do this because they know just how great our organisation, Rotary is and they knew that the money will go to do good in the community.
Just before Christmas many clubs did their usual Christmas Tree sales and Christmas raffles, and these were unbelievably successful, almost as if people had been hanging out for Rotary Clubs to get back to selling and being out there and be seen.
As the new year came things started to get better and clubs started meeting again face to face and I found my life getting a lot busier as more clubs were getting back to doing physical projects, meetings, and fundraisers and I was invited to lots of events celebrating the 100 years of Rotary in Australia and New Zealand. This is the part of the DG’s job that is most fulfilling as you actually get to see just what wonderful work our members throughout the district are doing.
Unfortunately, we were not able to hold our Conference on a cruise ship in March, but the District Committee did a wonderful job of producing the very first virtual District Conference in Australia. My sincere thanks go to all the members of District Conference Team and to (Barking Mouse) our production company who put our program together.
It was made available for every member in the district free of charge and many joined in on a one day of Conference speakers and a lunch at either a member’s home or where they normally meet. Many clubs are still using some of the presenters for guest speaker spots at their club meetings and at last count over 1,500+ people have clicked on and viewed all or part of the conference, so I believe it was phenomenally successful for a new way of doing it. The one comment I received numerous times, was that it certainly wasn’t the same as a face to face Conference but it was very enjoyable to watch.
It was with real disappointment that we had to cancel the District Changeover but with the change in policy from the Government the Castle Hill RSL Club could no longer accommodate us for the numbers that we had wanted.
There are so many people who I need to thank who have helped me throughout the year and if I started to name them all I would inevitably miss someone out, so to everyone in my club, Lower Blue Mountains, to my Assistant Governors, and to all of my District Team and all the clubs Presidents and members, A HUGE THANK YOU. For helping me and the District when we needed it, making me feel so welcome when I was able to see you face to face and making this year what I think was a huge success.
To keep with my nautical theme of the Conference, I might have been the captain of the ship, but without all of your support and help, the ship would never have been able to leave the wharf, and we then would not have been able to go sailing and be out there:
 doing good in the world.
And in the words of Ronald Reagan (Past US President)
“The Greatest Leader is not necessarily the one who does the most”
“He is the one that gets the people to do the Greatest things”.
And you the people have done some great and amazing things this incredibly challenging year
So, I leave you with my motto for the last time: “If it stops being fun stop doing it”
David Clark JP District Governor 2020/21