The following is taken from a press release recently issued by Rotary.

As his year as District Governor came to an end on the 30th June, Rotarian Kevin Walsh had exciting news to share with colleagues throughout Cumbria & Lancashire.

Funding has been approved to help local communities gain much needed, life-saving defibrillators, to provide our search and rescue teams with training equipment and to build on the success of the Community Health Fairs (Melas) held in South West Lancashire and Blackpool in recent years.

This £65,000 investment, which included match funding from the Rotary International Foundation (Charity), has been possible due to the generosity of Rotary Clubs across the District together with colleagues in Saitama (Japan), Bangalore (India) and South East Scotland.

Rotarians are now working with the North West Ambulance Service, a number of Search & Rescue organisations and the National Forum for Health & Wellbeing to implement the various individual projects.

Speaking after he handed over the reins to incoming District Governor, Roger Mason (Rotary Club of Garstang & Over Wyre, Lancashire), Kevin Walsh said; “It has been a privilege to be able to provide leadership and support to the 71 Rotary Clubs in Cumbria & Lancashire in the last 12 months. The award of the funding for our community based first response projects is the icing on the cake.”

He went on to say: “It is unusual for funding on such a scale to be made available in our own District as most of our grants are used to support activities in the developing world. There are needs in all of our communities  and I believe the more we do locally the more people will want to help us by joining a Rotary Club or supporting our service activity and fund raising efforts.”

Earlier in the Rotary year, Kevin had supported the then Chairman of Cumbria County Council, Alan Barry in his 100 Defibrillators in 100 Days campaign.  Alan has congratulated  Rotary on the success of its funding application and Kevin hopes that the County and District Councils in both Cumbria & Lancashire will support the development of the Community Health Fairs (Melas) in their respective communities.

Romesh Gupta from the National Forum for Health & Wellbeing said: “The Health Mela concept is highly regarded by health professionals across the UK and is often cited as an example of best practice in community health engagement. With the help of Rotary, we’ve been able to roll out the programme across many parts of Lancashire as well as to places such as Bradford and Greater Manchester. The events are helping to identify health problems that might otherwise be missed so they are, quite literally, changing lives for the better.

“If Rotary can now help us to introduce Health Melas to new parts of Lancashire and Cumbria, we’ll be doing something very positive for the health of ordinary people and encouraging local communities to take more active steps to safeguard their own health.”

In the longer term, through this funding and a variety of local partnerships, Rotary and NFH&W hope to launch health melas in East Lancashire, Lancaster & Morecambe, West Cumbria, Barrow and Carlisle.

Kevin Walsh with Prof Romesh Gupta OBE

Kevin Walsh with Prof Romesh Gupta OBE

Health Mela Leyland 2013

Health Mela Leyland 2013