Posted by Geoff Widmer
During our recent trip to Norway to see our two young Norwegian grandchildren, we had the opportunity to visit the SIRC on 31 st October ( normal meeting) and 14 th November to meet a District Governor Mr. Odd Henry Hommedal and to hear about the activities of SIRC and the important issues for the future of Rotary in Norway. It was a great experience and the SIRC members made us feel very welcome, share their stories and were keen to hear about The Rotary Club of Glenferrie.
From Left to Right: Mr Geir Owe, Deputy DG 2250 , Mr. Odd Henry Hommedal, DG 2250, Mrs. Oud Signe Retsby, President SIRC 2022-2023, Kay Widmer, Geoff Widmer, Rotary Glenferrie, Mr. Nigel Sams SIRC, Mr. Duncan Samuels, SIRC Secretary and Mrs Leisly Loyo-Ferrer, Past President SIRC.

Stavanger International Rotary Club

SIRC was founded on February 11th 1986 and its initial membership reflected the influx of energy professionals working in the development of Norway’s vast energy potential, English being the language of the club.

Presentation by Mrs Aud Signe Retsby, President SIRC, to Geoff Widmer with a pennant from SIRC.

During these early days, the membership was up to fifty members but with a downturn in the industry over the last ten years, the membership has been reduced to about twelve people. The members all volunteer to take many turns on the leadership roles in the Club which makes for a tight knit group with a sharp focus on what they can achieve with limited resources. They are looking to increase members through community campaigns.

They have a vibrant list of activities operations that include a focus on looking for opportunities to assist struggling young people who have “taken a wrong turn” in life and to give them life skills to improve their future. Their activities include beach clean ups (supported by nearby training as hotel staff in the beach area), supporting a boarding house in Sierra Leone, a food kitchen in Venezuela, special personal make-up care for women suffering from cancer, teaching artisanal carpentry skills to young people to repair historical wooden boats and century old buildings, choral visits to retirement homes and donating prosthesis for handicapped children in Kandi, Sri Lanka. Their major fundraising is an annual golf tournament.

Finally, they have a focus on fellowship and “fun events” with frequent beer tasting and whisky events. Unfortunately, our visit was outside the timing of these events!!

District Governor Message- District 2250

District Governor Mr. Odd Henry Hommedal gave a spirited presentation on the positive future of Rotary in Norway as they confront the challenges of declining membership, and the need to address the low public profile of Rotary in the Communities thru “grass roots” events and embracing new communication technologies to spread the Rotary message and improve administrative efficiency. He was impressed with the events of SIRC and was keen to understand the communication technologies and strategies of GR as we have increased our diversified membership.

Mr Odd Henry Hommedal will be part of a Norwegian delegation to the Rotary International Conference in May 2023. We will give him and his team a warm welcome to Rotary Glenferrie’s Club Hosting event at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club.

Overall, a really worthwhile initiative to join in with SIRC in their Club Meetings and to hear about their activities and that of the District Governor. It always gives perspective about our Club’s operations and culture and the importance of the Rotary Network to ensure worthwhile social programmes are done, and Club fellowship is spread far and wide.

Geoffrey and Kay Widmer, December 2022.