A FORMER RAF squadron leader has become the new president of Saddleworth Rotary Club.

Robert Knotts from Austerlands, an ex-chair of Saddleworth Parish Council, said Covid-19 presented new challenges to the Club’s demographic make-up with most members susceptible to the virus. Sadly, the club has lost one member to the virus.

He said: “Consequently, the current lockdown has cancelled all face to face meetings during these unusual times. Instead we have held Zoom meetings to use the time to look to the future and explore the club’s needs and aspirations.

“Members are acutely aware of the financial impact of lockdown on the club with the cancellation of the Saddleworth Summer show and Wellifest, normally a major source of income used to support charitable causes.

“However, we are looking to ways of developing new partnerships and holding different fund-raising events.

“We accept social media offers important and effective ways of communication and promotion in Saddleworth and Rotary communities, itself a challenge to some members less adapt with the new technology.

“ One idea is to arrange some hands-on training sessions to enable members to understand the technology and its impact on letting people know where and what Saddleworth Rotary Club is doing.”

And he declared: “One important focus is on developing the abilities of young people.

“We plan to do this with projects that accommodate youth involvement and local secondary schools, including those with disabilities and disadvantages.

“One major challenge is to recruit new members to reflect the demographics and gender balance of the Saddleworth community.

“A membership drive strategy is being developed and we plan to implement October / November, subject to post Covid-19 activities returning to normal.

“Considering the disruption caused by the pandemic in this current Rotary Year Ian Brett, having stood down as president, kindly volunteered to take the role of vice president.