ROTARY INTERNATIONAL IN AMERICA MAKE SPECIAL AWARD
George Blenkinship, who lives in West Bradford near Clitheroe, and is a member of the Rotary club of Church and Oswaldtwistle has received the highest citation that can be bestowed on a Rotarian, achieving the rare distinction of being presented with the “Service Above Self Award”. His actions truly embody Rotary’s principal motto.
This award follows the project that George has spearheaded, helped by other local Rotary clubs, which has been life changing for the villagers of Maikot in the Gorkha region in Nepal. This remote village and school perched at the top of a hill until recently had to collect and carry drinking water daily by foot from a spring at the bottom of the steep hill in a one hour round trip.
When one of the club members mentioned the plight of this village to George he contacted the Rotary Club of Gorkha and decided personally to go out and see for himself the situation. On his return he set about finding the finance for a water pumping system to be built together with a toilet block for the school. With fundraising help from other local clubs and Rotary grants a figure of over £50,000 was raised to cover the cost of the project, and would mean clean water would be pumped direct into the village.
The amount raised was indeed a credit to George and the team, as it involved very many fund raising schemes including a grand function at Ewood Park that raised over £9,000. George and his wife Sally also cycled from Vienna to Prague to raise funds.
Construction started over 12 months ago and the Rotary club of Gorkha and the villagers of Maikot were half way through the build with spring water collection, reservoir tank and pumphouse completed when the Nepal earthquake happened in April 2015. Maikot village was at the epicentre of the earthquake and many village houses and the School were badly damaged. George asked the Rotary club of Gorkha how he could help and, despite many villagers losing their homes, their main request was help to build temporary classrooms at 9 schools in the region so that children could get back to school again. Again with the help of other Rotary clubs George raised a further £12,000 which enabled Gorkha Rotary Club to build a total of 36 basic temporary classrooms within 2 months of the earthquake and before the monsoon season. The success of Rotary is that, by having a local club to receive funds, the response is quick with every penny raised being used for the purpose it was raised.
At the end of the monsoon season work restarted on the Water Project and the village now has a water supply and the school has toilets. In February 2016, a party of Rotarians headed by George visited the village of Maikot to see the completed works and to open the toilet block.
Rotary International in America assessed the accomplishments of outstanding Rotarians across the world and has chosen George to be honoured from a pool of exceptional candidates. This brings great credit to George, his Rotary club, and other local clubs who worked with him on this humanitarian project. Indeed only 3 of these awards have been made in the UK. At the recent District conference held in Southport, George was presented with the “Service Above Self” award by distinguished Rotarians who travelled up from the South to undertake this task personally. These were Peter Davey, RIBI President (Rotary in Britain and Ireland) and RI Director Peter Offer (Rotary International).