DR JANET GRAY
When Dr Janet Gray first took to her water skis, honing her skill and becoming world champion in 1999, 2001, 2003 and also 2007. She felt like she was “the luckiest girl on earth.” And indeed it seemed that she was. For just a few years earlier, her world had been plunged into darkness, after she lost her sight, due to a rare form of glaucoma, that had also affected her father and her brother.
At the age of 21, just weeks before her wedding to partner Paul, the MBE recipient went for an eye operation and woke up completely blind. As she struggled to cope with the new, terrifying world she was now destined to live in, struggling with the emotions and feelings that came along with that, she cancelled her wedding, much to husband Paul’s distress. However, after he made her realise that he wanted to be with her, whether she had her sight or not, Janet agreed to allow the wedding to go ahead, and in later years it was Paul who introduced her to water skiing, something he also enjoyed.
His wife’s prowess on the water went from strength to strength, and she reached the pinnacle of her disabled water skiing career in the late 90s when she won the World Disabled Water Ski Championships in the three disciplines (slalom, tricks and jumps) and became the overall World Champion and World Record holder in all three disciplines. She was World Champion in 1999, 2001 and 2003.
Gillian Scotford and Jane Cooper Accessible Derbyshire
Gillian Scotford and Jane Cooper are Co-founders of Accessible Derbyshire, a unique, award-winning accessible tourism charity whose aim is to improve the lives of disabled people in Derbyshire by improving accessibility.
They are also joint Managing Directors of Access For All UK which provides access consultancy, training and support services to clients in all sectors throughout the country.
Gillian and Jane have six children between them, three of whom are disabled. It is they who have been the inspiration behind their charity and their business.
Combining their professional expertise in training and development and healthcare with their first-hand experience of disability, their insight provides a unique contribution to the improvement of accessibility in the UK.
Gordon McInally is a Past President of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland and has also served Rotary International as a Director. Gordon has been a keen advocate of the work of Hope and Homes for Children for over 20 years, as has his wife, Heather, and their family. He has a particular interest in Africa, having visited several of its countries both for Rotary International and Hope and Homes for Children.
Now retired from a busy career in Dental Surgery in Edinburgh, Gordon looks forward to having more time to carry out humanitarian work and to helping others through Rotary, his local church and, of course, Hope and Homes for Children.
Anamaria Koeva – RotarACT
Anamaria Koeva (Anamaria Kay) is a writer and artist, based in Edinburgh. She earned an architecture degree from The University of Edinburgh.
Anamaria is the author of four books of poetry and one album of poetry and art: From the Roof of the Rainbow (Baltika, 2008), Handwriting (Makavej, 2010), Hitchhiking a Flight (Bulgarian Writer, 2012), Silence by Bradbury (Burgas Writers’ Union, 2017), Who Are You? (Zahari Stoyanov, 2019).
Anamaria has been a part of Rotary International since 2008, when she joined Interact in her home town in Bulgaria at the age of 14. Currently she is the president of Rotaract Club of Edinburgh and chair-elect (2018-2019) of Rotaract in Great Britain and Ireland.
Jon Conway is a producer, director, writer, performer. Born on Billy Smarts Circus, trained as a teenage magician by Paul Daniels, then aged just 24, and living in Scarborough at the time, he co-founded the Qdos Entertainment empire, managing talent, running theatres, producing and creating shows worldwide from Las Vegas to Beijing, three original West End musicals, 3 BBC TV series and is notable for being one of the most prolific pantomime scriptwriter / producers of all time.
In a lifestyle change, in 2014, Jon learned to fly an aeroplane, build a house, become an enthusiastic and devoted fundraiser for the Kids Out charity and entered politics, as a key regional member of the ‘Vote Leave’ organization in the referendum, stood for Parliament at the last election and is a regular BBC local radio broadcaster.
He also started a new business with his son Jordan, to focus more on innovative creations, devising the World’s Biggest indoor Chinese Lantern exhibition for 3 years in Blackpool and the World’s Biggest Pantomime in arenas in Wembley and Birmingham. They also made their first movie, ‘The Funniest Man In The World’ which scooped awards across the globe.
His proudest achievement is that he reckons he has made around 25 million people laugh in a live audience and his personal mission statement is to perform an act of random kindness to a stranger everyday. Today, it could be you on the receiving end!
Mark Aldred – Dementia Buddy
I remember as though it was yesterday how some friends and relatives kept away as they didn’t know how to talk or communicate with someone who had Dementia. Months later and all the pressure of looking after someone with Dementia were taking its toll on my mum. I remember my Dad going to a day centre for respite care. The drivers who picked my Dad up, from home, and the staff from Heathside day centre were brilliant. Anyway, they were having a bingo night to raise much needed funds and we persuaded my mum to go with us to support them even though she was tired.
That was the best thing that could have ever happened. When my mum walked in that room and realised that every person in there was going through the same thing as my mum a huge weight lifted off her shoulders. You see she wasn’t alone as others were going through the same as her.
From that point onwards, as a family, we decided that we didn’t want anyone else to feel alone and we wanted to do something to help others. We had a dream that we wanted to set up Dementia cafes around our Borough were people like ourselves could get help and support if their friends and family had Dementia. We were fortunate that my wife Karen and I became Mayor and Mayoress of the Borough of Wigan and part of that duty was to raise money for a local good cause.
We decided to raise money to set up Dementia cafes and I went to a local Alzheimer’s and Dementia meeting to seek support. It was there I met some amazing people who at that time wanted to set up the cafes but couldn’t find the funding.
So, the rest is history. In 2010 we managed as a charity committee to raise over £30,000. What amazing people we have in our Borough, as they helped us raise all that money. I’ll not mention their names individually, as it would be unfair, but they know who they are, and I owe them much gratitude. With the support of the Alzheimer’s and Dementia society the cafes are now open. We have 5 now and each one is open one day a month to offer support and information where it’s needed. More and more people are attending each month so check out the events page to get details of your local Dementia café.
We want you to realise that you are not alone out there, and, like you, we have gone through the same journey that you’re going through.
On mayoral duties we met some amazing people who were having coffee mornings, cake stalls, fundraising events etc. but no one knew all these things were going on for Dementia. At that point, we decided to raise funds to set up this website for the whole borough so someone can refer anyone to the site for information. All the main organisations you need to contact are on, as well as an events page where any organisation or volunteer, that is running an event for Dementia, can put it on the website, so everyone knows what’s happening.
Roger Cassidy – Aquabox Chair of Trustees
Roger joined the Rotary Club of Marlow Thames in District 1090 in 2011 following a career in the pharmaceutical sector.
Roger’s work took him to many countries across the world where he observed how vital access to safe drinking water was to rural communities in India, China and other countries in Asia Pacific. However, as the son of a water engineer, he was aware how much we take this valuable resource for granted in our own country. and, when the opportunity came to become involved in such a fantastic, water-based, Rotary charity, he seized it with both hands.
Roger and his wife Heather moved to the Peak District in 2013 to order to escape from the South East and spend more time on the hills, rather than the M25. Roger joined the Wirksworth Club and they both started volunteering at the Aquabox depot, packing Gold boxes and giving talks to local church groups.
The filter assembly and packing teams foster a real family atmosphere with everyone freely giving their time to make a real difference to children and families caught up in disasters or don’t have access to safe drinking water.
In 2018 Roger became the Chair of the Trustees, and although he continues to run a small pharmaceutical consultancy, Aquabox has become a real passion, with much of his time spent, encouraging Rotarians and business across the country to become supporters.
In Roger’s view, the Aquabox project is a wonderful demonstration of the Rotary ethos of Service Above Self, providing a meaningful community project locally as well as making a real difference across the world, in the aftermath of disasters.
Aquabox has now been responding to disasters for over 27 years during which time 115,000 aid packages have been dispatched from it’s Wirksworth depot. The trustees have ambitious plans for the future and Roger and the Aquabox team look forward to sharing these plans and hopefully encouraging you to get involved.
More can found out about the work of AQUABOX on our website www.aquabox.org and our Facebook page.
Registered Charity No. 0198409
AQUABOX is a volunteer-led, pure Rotary charity.
Its engine-room is made up of over 70 volunteers who give freely of their time each week to construct, test and package the filters and humanitarian aid items that comprise the AQUABOX ‘package’
AQUABOX was started by the Rotary Club of Wirksworth, in 1992. , It operates across the globe, rapidly responding to major humanitarian crises and providing people, in desperate need, with a convenient means of producing potable water supplies. It has saved the lives of 1000’s of global citizens
The AQUABOX filter, which forms the nucleus of our aid provision, removes all water-borne pathogens from polluted water supplies. In doing so it reduces levels of endemic illness; this allows children access education more fully, and enables local citizens to contribute more fully to their communities’ recovery and post-disaster development.
The AQUABOX filtration technology is highly sustainable (some filters continue to function over 6 years after delivery). It provides an alternative to the usage of plastic water bottle supplies – a not insignificant factor in today’s plastic-ridden world.
In recognition of its work, AQUABOX was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2016.
More can found out about the work of AQUABOX on our website www.aquabox.org and our Facebook page.
Sandra Morrey – Memory Café
Sandra joined Rotary in July 2005 and is a member of Rushcliffe Rotary Club (the result of a merger of West Bridgford Club and Keyworth & Ruddington Club in 2018). She has held a variety of Club roles over the years and was President of West Bridgford Club in 2009/10. In addition, Sandra was a member of the Club Support Team (formerly the District Team) from 2008 to 2018 and served as Community & Vocational Chair and Assistant Governor for the Trent Group. She was also involved in organising the Rotary Showcase event held in Nottingham in June 2011. She has been the East Midlands Area representative for REPOD (Rotarians Easing the Problems of Dementia) since 2012.
Sandra is passionate about helping people to ‘live well with dementia’ and hopefully will inspire you to follow her lead and set up a memory café in your local community, or to seek out other ways in which you can provide much needed dementia support and ‘connect with the world’, albeit locally! Memory Café’s to support those with dementia and their carers are becoming very popular around the UK and several D1220 Clubs have already set one up in their local community. She will be around all weekend to chat to anyone who would like more information.