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Evening Meeting With Amanda Mckean, Director Canterbury Festival

30th April 2024
Venue: Cricket Ground

Evening meeting with Amanda McKean, Director, Canterbury Festival.
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Lunchtime Meeting Agm & May Business Meeting

7th May 2024
Venue: Cricket Ground
Lunchtime meeting 12.30pm for 1pm meal Annual General Meeting to be followed by the May Business Meeting.
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Innovation Competition 2023 – winners announced

We’re delighted to announce the winner of our 10th Rotary Innovation Competition: Sophie Chau from Dover Grammar School for Girls. Sophie came up with the excellent idea of a way to help those with epilepsy; Sophie also won the Chowdhury Prize!

We were very excited to hold the final of our 10th Rotary Innovation Competition in the new Verena Homes building at Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU). Born in Kent, Verena was an inventor and a member of the Women’s Engineering Society back in the 1930s – so the building was a very appropriate venue for our competition, through which we hope to encourage young people to come up with innovative ideas and engage with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). 

As well as the presentees, the audience consisted of Rotarians, invited guests, teachers, fellow students plus a few parents. We were also honoured to have the Lord Mayor of Canterbury, Jean Butcher, and the Lady Mayoress, Di Baldock, join the audience.

The Final was opened by the President of our club, Rosemary Doyle, in her first external official role since taking over the Presidency on Tuesday. “It’s good to see so many faces out there – and so many young people,” she said, reminding everyone how “all scientific subjects are so important for the future of the country”.

Each presenter had 5 minutes to present their idea to the audience, followed by a round of questions from the judges: Rtn Neil Fraser (Chair), Geoff Connolly and Rtn Leslie Stephenson.

The competition was open to secondary school-aged children from Kent, Essex, Sussex and Surrey, but the finalists all came from five Kent schools: Dover Grammar School for Girls, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Faversham, Sir Roger Manwood’s School in Sandwich, Kent College in Canterbury and Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys, also in Canterbury.

The youngsters did a great job – we recognise that for some of them it was the first time that they would have presented to an audience. We found it very interesting to hear about their innovation and what the inspiration was – sometimes the youngsters were addressing situations they or their friends had faced, in other instances they were addressing topical issues such as the environment. 

Below is a list of the shortlisted finalists and their innovation:

• Lily, Ellie and Grace (Dover Grammar School for Girls): Girl Gadget – a smart earring for the safety of girls “made by girls for girls”.

• Divya (Dover Grammar School for Girls): EcoFriends – an app encouraging users to make eco-friendly choices in everyday life.

• Joseline (Dover Grammar School for Girls): Tree of Life – another environmentally-friendly idea that aims to help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. “The Tree of Life is the beginning of a healthy home,” said Joseline. 

• Sophie (Dover Grammar School for Girls): Epilepsy Smart Watch – a smart watch to pre-warn those with epilepsy of an imminent attack. (Unfortunately, Sophie was unable to attend in person and there were technical issues with her video for the audience, but the judges were able to see her presentation in full).

• William (Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School) – an app to help people ‘hear’ fire alarms or any siren, targetted at those with hearing issues; in the course of his presentation William told us that 1 in 6 people in the UK have hearing loss.

• Paige (Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School): Loft Hoist – a clever concept to help people move large items into their lofts. As Paige reminded us, 41,000 people annually are injured as a result of loft/ladder incidents. 

• Amelie (Sir Roger Manwood’s School): Happy Soul – another app, in this case for the wellbeing of those suffering from depression and some other mental health issues. 

• Marlie (Sir Roger Manwood’s School): Find Me – an app to help people find products in large stores. (Marlie was also unable to attend, but her teacher, Simon Neame, was able to show her presentation on her behalf.)

• James (Kent College): Smart Fence – a idea for an extendable fence to be used by schools etc., inspired by a situation that a friend of James had faced.

• Rafe (Simon Langton Boys Grammar School): Plastic Scanner – a device that addresses the problem of deciding what products are recyclable. As Rafe highlighted, 85% of UK households put non-recyclables into the recycle bin.

• Rufus (Simon Langton Boys Grammar School): SleepBand – a blue-tooth based innovation to help people wake up without loud and disturbing alarms.

• Dylan (Simon Langton Boys Grammar School) – Smart Fridge Container. (Unfortunately, Dylan was unable to attend)

• Quinn (Simon Langton Boys Grammar School) – VR Headset. Targetted at a specialist audience, this aims to make headsets more comfortable for those using them for periods of time. (Quinn was also unable to attend in person, but he had prepared a video for the Final).

After hearing the presentations, the judges went off to discuss the entries; in the meantime Dr Gary Robinson, Senior Lecturer in Microbial Technology and Director of Innovation and Enterprise at the University of Kent, gave a presentation on innovation. Gary has kindly supported our competition each year from its outset. (He also happens to be a Rotarian at fellow Canterbury Club “Sunrise”). His talk was titled: From idea to products…a fun journey?  “It is a fun journey” stated Gary. “And that’s what it’s all about; it’s interesting to see people address all sorts of problems.” Referring to Alexander Fleming’s fortuitous discovery of penicillin, he reminded us that “serendipity matters – but you have to be able to spot things” and reminded us not to be deterred by failure. “There’s always a need for new ideas, so you should keep trying even if your first ideas don’t succeed”. Gary also highlighted several examples of inventions made by children – from popsicles to Christmas lights!

The judges then returned, with the winners of the Final announced by Neil (as Chair of the judges) in reverse order. In 3rd place was Quinn, from Simon Langton (his prize of £50 was received on his behalf by his teacher, Robert McMachan), in 2nd place, winning £100, was William from Queen Elizabeth’s, and in 1st place winning £300 was Sophie Chau from Dover Grammar. Sophie’s concept also won the Chowdhury Prize for Global Health. (Both prizes were collected on Sophie’s behalf by her teacher, Brooke Porter.)

The prizes were awarded by the Lord Mayor, and all presentees also received a Certificate of Achievement.

The Lord Mayor gave a brief speech; “I’ve had such an interesting time,” she said, adding “young people are our future, and you are all winners”. She ended her speech by wishing all the youngsters the best for the future, in whatever path they follow.

The competition was brought to a close by Rosemary. “I’ve learnt so much about problems I wasn’t even aware of! Well done to all of you; you are a credit to yourselves, your schools and your families” she said. Finally, Rosemary thanked Brian Dobinson (the main organiser), CCCU (our recent partners in running the competition) and its staff (especially James Bennett and Kyla Winter), the sponsors*, the judges and Gary Robinson for helping to make the event such a success.

Picture: The Lord and Lady Mayoress of Canterbury pictured with some of the finalists, teachers, Rotarians and others at the Final at CCCU. Picture credit: Rotary Club of Canterbury. [We hope to add more pictures to our Facebook page in the next few days.]

*With many thanks to our sponsors and supporters: Leigh’s Foundation, the Brett Group, James Clague Architects Ltd, The Chowdhury Family and The Kentish Gazette.

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The Rotary Club of Canterbury
St Lawrence Cricket Ground
Old Dover Road,
Canterbury, Kent,
CT1 3NZ,
United Kingdom

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