About Carol Aitchison
I have been proud to have been a Rotary member since 2 May 1992. Initially inducted into The Rotary Club of Karori and a member there for 19 years and then transferred my membership to The Rotary Club of Carterton upon my family’s move to the Wairarapa in 2011, both clubs in district 9940.
Joining rotary initially was to contribute my time outside of business interests and to become involved in our local community. I was initially invited to join The Rotary Club of Karori by an existing female member of that club who knew of me and my involvement in the initial setting up of The Women in Business Network in Wellington. Knowing nothing of Rotary I went along and was made to feel very welcome by fellow members. The club gave me the opportunity to mix with other businesspeople and was it was an organisation completely apart from my business and family links. Something just for me, not dependant on who I was married to or what my two children and their interests were.
My husband travelled extensively for some years at that time and being able to be part of the Rotary family really meant a lot to me. The weekly meetings gave substance to a demanding business life and a regular engagement that I would schedule into my business diary, 6pm every Tuesday without fail. Karori was a very busy club with about 45 members at that time. I was honoured to be elected to the role of Club President in 1997-98. Karori also honoured me by making me a Paul Harris Fellow. Karori Club was very active in the community as well as District 9940. The Group Study Exchange received a lot of support from Karori and I was involved in the District Committee for several years.
My family have hosted Student Exchanges from Brazil, Canada and Germany and it was a joy to share their lives and development of young students into young adults over that time.
Cluster Clubs originated in Wellington at that time and this gave us all the opportunity to join together on the larger projects that could have been too challenging for smaller clubs. The events we were involved in during that time with the Cluster Clubs were the charity preopening days at the National Museum Te Papa, the open days at the Westpac Stadium and being guinea pigs for the catering for a formal dinner also at Westpac Stadium.
The highlight for my Rotary years was the presentation to the Zealandia Board on the proposal for funding the new predator proof fence of 8.6 km to surround the New Zealand wildlife Sanctuary. The Board Member’s eyes lit up at our suggestion for fence posts to have a Rotary Plaque with the donor’s name to record their donation of $100.00. In the end, several kilometres of Rotary posts were erected on the perimeter of the walkway with Rotarians from all over the world contributed to this worthwhile project. As I used to say to them, “in future years your grandchildren can come along and see what Grandad did for this wonderful project”. This fence post project was promoted to all Rotary clubs in the Wellington area and I soon became used to erecting the 3-piece sample fence a metre wide, along with a stuffed dead possum caught on the wiring as an example on how it would prevent future incursions into Zealandia. Without the Predator Proof Fence, Zealandia could never have been possible.
Since 2011, my husband Bill and I have lived in the Wairarapa. We both decided to retire, Bill from his profession as Consultant Change Manager and my Finance and Insurance background. Initially we designed and built the Five Star Hoeke Lodge, just outside Carterton. A wonderful time, meeting many guests who spent time with us enjoying the luxurious lifestyle we created especially for them. Unfortunately, Bill had a quadbike accident a few months later and we reluctantly sold Hoeke Lodge and moved into the Carterton township.
My time in The Rotary Club of Carterton has been busy with many projects on the go. Five years as Convenor of the Annual Christmas Parade and also resurrecting the Challenge Shield School Gardening Competition on behalf of the local A & P Organisation. Originally created in 1906 with a wonderful trophy to be held by the winning primary school for 12 months, it had gone into recess in 1964. Revived in 2011, the competition is among 12 schools competing for this Challenge Shield and the children thoroughly enjoy their gardening experiences. A great way for them to learn about the living earth.
The Friendship Exchange programme has also been a great way to enable other Rotarians to travel and learn about other countries. In 1995 I was able to travel to Colorado and Texas on this programme and recommend the experience to all Rotarians. As at March 2019, I am currently winding up parts of a Friendship Exchange from New South Wales, Australia District D9700 and also Vancouver Island and North Coast of Washington USA District 5020. Clubs from all over the world can be involved in this programme and it is thoroughly recommended.
Rotary Club of Carterton