New president for Rotary Club

Alison Rice, left, will officially take over the presidents duties from her husband, Athol, in next weeks special virtual induction.

The Rotary Club of Hout Bay president, Athol Rice, will hand over the baton to his wife, Alison, during a virtual induction this month.

Mr Rice, who has been living in Hout Bay since 1988, took over the reins in May last year from Keith Bull, who has since moved back to the UK.

Mr Rice’s wife will now move into the hot seat for the next Rotary year, and she’s expecting a bumpy ride.

“I suppose the word that best sums up how I feel right now is ‘uncertain’. We’re just not sure how this pandemic is going to roll out in our community in the next few months and years ahead,” she said.

“The immediate impact of the coronavirus means having to put some of our projects on hold and not being able to meet in person.

“We just don’t know what the future will bring.”

Ms Rice was born in the UK and, after university, lived in America for about 13 years. She then decided to go backpacking and found herself in the new South Africa in 1994.

“It was a toss-up between moving to New Zealand or South Africa, but the gees in 1995 here won me over, and I’ll be celebrating 25 years here this year,” Ms Rice said.

She spent nearly 40 years in market research and became curious about understanding people’s behaviour.

About 10 years ago, the Rices were invited to a morning of bowls by their neighbours, and they found themselves mingling with like-minded folk who were looking to make an impact in Hout Bay. A few months later, they both became members of the Rotary Club of Hout Bay.

Ms Rice said her first priority would be to get club members involved in whatever projects were still possible to do and to find new ways for “fun and fellowship” in a virtual world.

“We are continuing various core projects this year, though we’re not sure when we’ll be able to continue with these,” she said.

One project is testing the eyes of Grade 1 and Grade 7 pupils at Hout Bay’s five primary schools. The club finished with two of the schools before lockdown and now hopes to complete its work at the remaining three by year-end.

The club has also donated supermarket vouchers, masks, sanitisers and no-touch thermometers to where they are needed.

“This will be an ongoing project for as long as assistance is required,” Ms Rice said.

“When we went into lockdown, we realised that we, as a club, needed to do something in the community to help feed families. Given a limited budget, we decided to focus on our extended Rotary community, which comprises our youth clubs, bursary students as well as our traditional beneficiaries.”

Ms Rice said her husband had been thrilled to preside over the opening of the Eyethu Skate Park in July last year on behalf of the previous president, Keith Bull.

“It was a very proud moment and the culmination of almost four years in the making,” she said, before joking about how easy she expects her virtual induction on Tuesday June 23 to be given she is married to the current president.

“It’s an honour and a privilege to be able to lead a team of committed and dedicated people who desire to have an impact on people’s lives here in Hout Bay,” she said.