ROTARY ROUND-UP: A Rotary Christmas story

The choir from Elm Grove School singing seasonal songs around the Christmas tree in Goring Road last year
The choir from Elm Grove School singing seasonal songs around the Christmas tree in Goring Road last year
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This week, David Chapman, from the Rotary Club of West Worthing, gives an update on the latest and future goings-on.

Fred hauled himself out of bed and as a creature of habit, his first act was to pull the curtains back and look out at the new day.

It was not an untypical December day, grey and overcast.

Outside it was the early school run. Parents in buttoned and zipped up anoraks and cagoules ushered scarf wrapped children to school, whilst drivers sat angrily and impatiently in the two-way, nose-to-tail snarl up that was common at this time of morning.

Fred’s first thought was pleasure that he was retired and this melee outside was no longer his problem.

Then with a sinking depression, he remembered that he had put his name down as a Christmas street collector in nearby Goring.

Fred knew that the money collected went to many charitable causes that did a lot of good work in the town, but his heart sank at the thought of two hours standing in the cold.

He always felt a sense of discomfort at the thought of asking people in the street for money.

So instead of climbing back into a warm and inviting bed, he woke his wife so that they could share a toast and marmalade breakfast before he left for his early collection shift.

As soon as he arrived at the Santa Clause sleigh set up in the village shopping centre, he began to get ready for the session, starting up the ceaseless stream of seasonal music and donning his Father Christmas outfit.

Even as he did so, Kamal from the local hairdressers greeted him with a hot cup of coffee and they exchanged some banter about the success (or lack of it) of the football team in which they had found that they had a mutual interest.

In spite of attending many club events together, Fred had never had the opportunity to talk to Patricia, the other Rotarian sharing his duty.

As they chatted he learnt of her pleasure in her grandchildren; her concerns about her husband’s health and their plans for a cruise to celebrate 40 years of marriage.

They had a good laugh exchanging anecdotes about the antics and sayings of their grandchildren.

As he stood there, people threw their coins into his bucket with a big smile or a greeting of ‘Merry Christmas’.

Children with a mixture of awe, excitement and fascination at his Santa costume approached him and dropped the coins their parents had gave them into the bucket.

He assured them that if they were good, they would get their desired presents for Christmas and he was duly rewarded with innocent smiles of happiness.

Some passers by stopped and chatted with him for a few minutes, often those who lived alone and who enjoyed sharing a few words of conversation and banter.

When they eventually carried on their way Fred sensed a lighter spring in their step.

When he came to the end of his two hour stint, he found himself surrendering his costume and his collecting bucket with reluctance.

In contrast to his earlier feelings of despondency, he felt a happiness, even exhilaration and a sense of satisfaction in that he was bringing some joy into other people’s lives.

Rotary needs volunteers like Fred and Patricia.

You could share this joy and satisfaction and lift your spirits by giving something back to the community through Rotary activities.

Find out more about Rotary by contacting secretary Jayne Knight on 01903 501961 or email: jayneknight8@gmail.com.

With our many Rotary charities in mind we will be making collections in the coming days. The Goring Road shopping parade Christmas tree is going up on Sunday (December 11) and collections around the tree start on Wednesday and run until December 20.

Collection times will be from midday to 2pm, except on December 17, when collection times are 10am to 2pm. There will not be a collection on December 18.

We will also be collecting at the Asda Ferring Superstore December 21 to 23 inclusive. Please give as generously as you can to the collectors.

The choir from Elm Grove School will be singing our favourite Christmas songs around the Goring Road tree from 1.30pm on Wednesday (December 14) – we would be delighted if you could come along and join in.

Details of Worthing’s three Rotary clubs are:

• Worthing Rotary Club meets Monday, 12.55pm, at the Chatsworth Hotel, in The Steyne, Worthing, 01903 209564.

• West Worthing Rotary Club meets Tuesday evening at Tudor Close, Ferring, 01903 501961.

• Worthing Steyne Rotary Club meets Monday evening at The Ardington Hotel, in Steyne Gardens, Worthing, 01903 234957.

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