Social media on the brink of social distancing

The Rotary in the Thames Valley Conference took place in mid-March 2020 before the UK went into lockdown. Rotary takes the health and well-being of its members extremely seriously. Every precaution was taken during the event and we even adopted the greeting of “Namaste” instead of handshakes & hugs (because we’re a friendly bunch!) 


The Thames Valley Rotary conference was held at the fantastic Newbury Racecourse, well attended given the situation at the time. The speaker programme was varied covering topics such as Hope & Homes for Children, Bruce’s Barges and a life running a brewery (which got everyone’s attention!), Rotary Children in Need (with a special visitor) and our keynote presentation was from Broadcaster & Paralympian Steve Brown receiving a standing ovation. Truly inspiring content, proving that Rotary connects the world. 


Whilst social media is not a phrase often associated with Rotarians there are many clubs, districts and indeed Rotary International who are all on social media. I attended conference as a delegate, but I was also on the social media hub with Debs & Stephen Axtell, and Gillian Pearce. Tweeting and posting on Facebook as fast and frequently as we could, encouraging our followers to use our hashtag #makingabetterworld and #rotaryatnewbury. Along with my wife Marthe (also in Maidenhead Bridge) we had our two little ones Madison (3 ½) & Thomas (6) with us. The children were surprisingly well behaved…arguably better than some of the attendees! This was the first time we’d had the children with us when attending conference. Indeed, it’s very refreshing that District 1090 welcome even the youngest attendees. Rotary is very much a family, and as Geoff Mackay said after he was heckled by little Madison – “they are the future of Rotary”. 


The Conference team will be back in 2022 with a new event planned to be bigger and more engaging than ever. All being well, after nearly 2 years of Coronavirus restrictions we are going to celebrate the incredible efforts of all our Rotarians and Rotaractors during the pandemic! We’re looking forward to seeing you all there, and sharing some Rotary fellowship together!


We also have a virtual “Conference Lite” event planned for 2021 – so watch this space!



James Berkeley

Rotary Club of Maidenhead Bridge