MIRC's own Rotarian of the Year for 2020-2021, Deborah Mattsson Clarke, spoke during our final gathering of the season about the importance of succession planning and what she considers the main qualification for being a Rotarian: a Rotary Heart. 

Dear Rotarian Friends,

As part of our handover garden party, Ray Lindquist asked me to say a few words of reflection on our club. Here is a shortened version (without gifts and applause) for those who could not attend.

Some time ago I was watching a program about how noble and Royal families in Europe have gone to quite extraordinary lengths to secure the line of succession. For some, like Henry 8th of England, it became an obsession which saw the arrival and departure of 6 wives (although the last one was lucky enough to outlive him). At some point during 2019 I realised I was developing a similar obsession about securing the line of succession in our Rotary club (not that I have worked my way through 6 husbands of course).

I have seen clubs, organizations and companies come and go because they have not thought about succession planning, not embraced change and not been ready to meet the future. We have had some incredible Presidents in our club who have done great things. But we have also had some low points with not enough people to fill the important roles. That is not going to happen again!

My focus as President, Past President (and soon to be long ‘past it’ President) has been to secure our future. I couldn’t have been surer of Ray as a choice for President and he has totally fulfilled my hopes and expectations. Supported by our amazing Board, Ray has grown our club and has embraced the challenges of the pandemic to ensure we have not only survived but thrived. Ray has set us up for a bright future. Not to forget our ‘first lady’ Sharon Fligner Lindquist who has played a big part in showing the inclusive and generous side of our club.

Recently I was asked to talk about Rotary to a group of Open Door candidates at IKF. They asked me what it takes to become a Rotarian. They had heard things about the need to have a certain position in society or certain level of income. 

Their questions made me pause and reflect and try to articulate what it really means to be a Rotarian. I found myself saying that it means having a ‘Rotarian Heart’. It is not about money, status or position. It is about a genuine belief in giving whatever you can of your time, energy and skills to others without expecting anything in return. A genuine belief in the power of a helping hand, a kind word or a small action which can make a difference to those around you.

That is what makes our club special – we have an abundance of the Rotary Heart.

Thanks to Peter Hallworth's programme we have something interesting and worthwhile to attract people to our club. Thanks to our great marketing team (Sharon Bowker, Emilia Fisal and Alireza Koozad) we let the world know what we have to offer. And once people join us, the are embraced by the warmth of our members and often decide to stay.

I have full confidence that Devica Nystedt will build on all that Ray has done and do a great job, already showing genuine interest by stepping up to attend district meetings back in 2019. And I am really pleased that we have Iva Parizkova in line to take over in 2022. We had a lovely hour spent talking Rotary, life and the universe at Iva’s office and I know she has the Rotary Heart as well.

That’s as far as I’ve got in my succession obsession but as we know it is a fragile and never-ending process.  So, watch out, I may be watching you for 2023!

Deborah Mattsson Clarke