Thank you for the commitment you make as partners of Rotarians serving as district governors. It is a wonderful journey you are all embarking on. It will be a tiring journey at times, but ultimately, a fulfilling one,” said RI President Gordon McInally to the spouses of the incoming district leaders at the Rotary zone institute.
Heather, he said, “has been a wonderful partner for almost 40 years I have been in Rotary and particularly excellent during the last 18 months since I became president-elect, and subsequently RI president. It has not always been easy for her and I know that. I recognise the support she has given me and I am very grateful for that.” On Feb 9, McInally will be completing 40 years in Rotary. As a practice, the RI president sends a congratulatory mail to Rotarians completing milestones of service in Rotary. “It will be the first time when I will draft a letter to myself and I will be glad to receive it in my mailbox,” he jocularly observed.
Recognising the role of a supportive partner, he said, “It’s about being there for them, encouraging them and giving honest opinions so that they shine as good leaders.”
The partners’ session for the spouses of DGEs and DGNs was chaired by Vidhya Subramanian and moderated by Roopa Hariani and Sujata Madhav Chandran. Heather McInally, Madhavi Pandya, Vanathi Ravindran and Vinita Venkatesh led the sessions, fostering bonds through fun games and shared experiences.
Congratulating his spouse Vidhya, institute convenor RID Raju Subramanian said, “From whatever reports I’ve heard, you’ve done well and I know you always will.” Stressing on being passionate about and enjoying one’s work, he recalled the year when Vidhya was president of his home club. “I was ordered by Vidhya to be my club’s sergeant-at-arms and I dutifully said yes. Whatever we do, we must do it with passion. Only then we can be successful. There is no organisation that can match ours for the service that we do and the lives we touch. We are part of an international organisation and each of you play a big role in supporting your spouses,” he said.
Underscoring the need to be participative at the International Assembly, the RI director said, “Language should never be an issue. Do not feel shy to speak. Everyone has a unique talent. Your non-participation will prevent bringing out the best out of you.”
Observing that the partners’ programme was “elevating every year,” institute co-convenor RI director Anirudha Roychowdhury said, “That shows the significance of the partners who are the wind beneath the wings of every Rotarian. They bring a huge energy for the team.”
Shipra Roychowdhury imparted some invaluable advice to the spouses. “Your involvement in the service projects in your district will inspire other Rotarians to get involved in the spirit of service and volunteer for projects. Enjoy your role as the first lady; if you love what you do then it will not seem like a task. Listen to what others say. It will add value to your relationship building. Encourage feedback as it helps in improving leadership skills of your partner.”
Sharing her experiences as first lady when Roychowdhury was DG, she said that she would maintain a family calendar so that they did not miss family occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, etc. She recalled how she would fill in for him, attending family events and their children’s school events. She also actively participated in Rotary programmes. “That’s how I learnt more about Rotary and would talk about its good work with pride wherever I went. I would even share my ideas at some of the district events,” she said.