Cowley Road Carnival

Oxford Rotaract volunteer at Cowley Carnival

On the 1st of July 2018, members of the Oxford Rotary and Oxford Rotaract participated in the Cowley Road Carnival. It was one of the warmest days of the year so far, and we were out in full force with the hustle and bustle of the carnival. Oxford Spires Rotary Club had a small stall and was welcoming with fun activities such as splat the rat and balloon animal making by our expert. The balloon forming was especially popular with the children attending the carnival.

This event was our chance to support one of our local charities by fundraising for Oxfordshire Association for the Blind (OAB). The OAB is a life-enhancing charity founded in 1877 aiming to help people with sight loss lead independent lives. With the help of the community Oxford Spires Rotary Club and Oxford Rotaract managed to raise £101 with a bucket collection. By handing out leaflets and engaging with attendees we were also able to promote our local Rotary and Rotaract Clubs.

All together it was a fun and successful and we were able to enjoy the carnival atmosphere as well. Cowley Road Carnival is a local highlight of the summer, celebrating with food, music and people from different cultures all over the world.



A colourful challenge!

May (and hopefully summer) are well and truly underway and we are gearing up for some more fundraising for Special Effect. This time, we’ll be pulling on our white t-shirts and running the 5km Colour Obstacle Rush in Milton Keynes.

If you want to help us raise as much as we can for a fantastic cause, head on over to our JustGiving page and make a donation. Every little bit helps to give disabled people access to life changing software and equipment so they can enjoy video games.

This promises to be a super fun event, so if you’d like to come out and support us, I’m sure we’ll appreciate some loud cheering!

Up for a challenge?! Come along to our Wii Winter Olympics!

Whilst the majority of us aren’t great at winter sports (we seem to be a bit short on snow and mountains in Oxfordshire) we can still shake a nunchuck, wave a Wii Remote, and teeter on a balance board as good as anyone. So get out your sweatbands, stretch those fingers, and limber up the legs for a day of Wii sports at our Wii Winter Olympics.

As we’re supporting Special Effect, our event will coincide with Gameblast18. It’s the UK’s biggest gaming marathon and by taking part, you’ll be helping to level the playing field for gamers with disabilities.

The big day is Saturday 24th February 2018 at the Northcourt Centre, Abingdon, so you’ve got until them to grab your team mates (teams of up to four players) and get ready to win some chilly challenges! There’ll be plenty of Wii consoles and the best scores will be recorded from a series of sports on Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games. Our live leader board will show you just how your team is doing, until one is crowned champion. The best part is that everyone can take part, even your granny!

Interested in signing up? Of course you are! Register your team here.

You can also find more information here.Wii Winter Olympics Banner

Meet the member – Natasha

Today’s Rotaractor in the spotlight is Natasha…

My name is Natasha and I’ll been involved in Rotaract for 7 years. I first got into Rotaract in my second year at university when I was looking for work experience in Marketing as that was the profession I wanted to go into after I finished my degree. I found out through my university’s volunteering department that the local Rotaract club was looking for a Marketing Officer so I did a bit of research on Rotaract. I was really inspired by the work that the organisation does. I went to meet the President and Vice President of the club and they offered me the position. Then, I met the other club members who were such a lovely bunch of people. I was part of the club for two years, and I enjoyed my time there so much that I decided to join the Rotaract club in my hometown after I graduated.

I have enjoyed doing a lot of things throughout my time with Rotaract. Just a few of my favourite moments include doing the RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award), volunteering at the World Pooh Sticks Championships, and taking part in fun runs like Run or Dye and Color Obstacle Rush.

I think other people should join Rotaract because it is an organisation that truly makes a difference. It can help young people to enhance knowledge and skills that they will use in their personal and professional development. You can also help make a difference to your local community by organising various exciting fundraising events.

If I could describe Rotaract in three words, they would be: Friendship, community, inspirational.

Outside of Rotaract, I work as a Marketing Executive for a company who supply laboratory equipment to the medical and clinical sector. I also enjoy photography (nature and travel photography in particular), going to the theatre (I am a big fan of musicals) and genealogy.

Meet the member – Sarah

Today’s Rotaractor in the spotlight is Sarah..


I first started my Rotaract journey when I supported the reform of Oxford Rotaract, alongside a great group of Rotarians and friends. I was honoured to be the first club president for a great bunch of people. During my time with the club, we’ve supported a number of local Oxford charities and had a lot of fun! One of my silliest, yet fondest memories is attaining the nickname ‘Three Desserts Field’. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but to give you the background, I ate three desserts at an Oxford Spires Rotary club meal, after having both a starter and a main course. I joined a gym pretty promptly afterwards…

I’ve just taken the plunge with a Rotaract district role and needless to say I have a lot to learn, but I am being supported by Oxford Rotaract where I currently hold the Vice President position. I think it’s important that with the new Rotary year, we all take the time to assess what’s going on around us and so I will be adopting the following approach: “discuss, understand then move forward together”. I hope this also resonates with you. If you have any other approaches you think would be good to consider, please let me know. I am always keen to learn!

Outside of Rotaract I am a tender writer for an international drug and alcohol testing company and every Saturday I can be found cooking in a local farm shop. The scones and quick selection are fantastic, but I am biased!


Sarah Field (Three desserts Field)

Meet the member – Emma

Today’s Rotaractor in the spotlight is Emma…
Hello, I’m Emma and have been in Oxford Rotaract since 2014. I got introduced to the group through a  friend and ended up attending their Speed Friending event at The Brittania. They were such a lovely bunch that I was hooked after that! It’s been a lifeline for meeting new people and making friendships whilst also getting out there and doing good work in the community. I have enjoyed volunteering at World Pooh Sticks (yes it really is a thing!) as it is such a lovely day and nice to be able to talk to a mix of people.
This year, I am on the District team for Rotaract, helping support other Rotaract groups in the Thames Valley and I am really looking forward to hearing other Rotaract stories!
Aside from Rotaract, I enjoy getting involved in my local amateur dramatics group and I am currently rehearsing for a dark comedy which we will be performing this Autumn. I was a fairy in Cinderella earlier this year…
I also enjoy walking (especially in woodlands) crafting, gardening and nature photography.. I am currently saving up for a macro lens for my camera.
When I am not out in nature, I am at my desk working for a charity as an Engagement Manager – a mix of events, marketing and communications – which I really enjoy!

Hearing from Paralympic rower Naomi Riches

Recently, some of us went along to see our friends at the Rotary Club of Oxford Spires, who were having a talk from Gold medal-winning Paralympic rower Naomi Riches.

Naomi’s talk, titled ‘Just because I can’, told about her journey from winning Gold at the London 2012 Paralympics, to rowing all 165 miles of the River Thames for charity IN-vision to her future challenges and settling back into ‘normal’ life. It was inspiring!

At just 8 weeks old she was diagnosed with a rare eye condition call Cone Dystrophy, with no functioning cones on her retina she has no colour vision and is extremely light sensitive. She also has Nystagmus which makes it hard to focus, particularly on moving objects as her eyes are involuntarily and constantly moving. After struggling in school, especially in sports with moving objects such as football and tennis, Naomi discovered adaptive rowing whilst at university and didn’t look back. She went on to win 6 World Championship Titles, a Bronze at the Beijing Games and a Gold in London.

Since becoming a patron of IN-vision in 2014, she was looking for a challenge and rowing the full 165 miles of the River Thames was just that! The row became a World Record attempt to become the fastest woman to row a single scull down the Thames. IN-vision is a charity which aims to raise awareness for and fund research into Nystagmus, an eye condition that affects around 1 in 1000. You can find out more about their work here:

After a huge amount of organisation, preparation and training, Naomi managed to row the entire length of the river in 47 hours, 59 minutes and 54 seconds, a fantastic achievement! In the time since, she’s managed to raise a huge amount of money for the charity and is still going. You can find out more about the row and make a donation by going to The Great Thames Row website.


Following her sporting success and the Great Thames Row, Naomi has been using what she has learnt to motivate, inspire and enable others as well as seeking out new challenges. She certainly motivated and inspired us during her speech and it was great to learn about her challenges. It just goes to show that even if something holds you back, if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything!

Meet the member – Becky

Today’s Rotaractor in the spotlight is Becky…

Hey, I’m Becky and I’ve been part of Rotaract in Oxford for a little over a year. I first heard of Rotaract when I moved to Cardiff from Leicester a few years ago. I didn’t know anyone in the area so I was looking to get involved with things and make friends and joining Rotaract seemed like the perfect way to do that (SPOILER: It was the perfect way to make great friends and get involved in fundraising, community work and social projects!). I was in a similar situation when I moved to Oxford so, being a creature of habit, I went along to meet everyone in the Britannia and I’ve been a member here ever since.

Outside of Rotaract, I’m involved in Girlguiding as a Brownie leader. Having 24 girls shouting ‘Brown owl, brown owl’ at me every week can be exhausting but it’s also great fun and I get a fab excuse to do fun things all the time, like going to Cadbury World and on a high ropes course! I’ve also done a lot of other things through Girlguiding including lots of international travel. Last year I went to the Maldives to work with the Maldives Girl Guides Association to improve their programme, train their members on topics such as body confidence and leadership and get more girls involved. It was challenging but great fun and very rewarding.

In my normal day job, I work as a Medical Photographer for Oxford University Hospitals. This involves photographing patients in the hospital, mainly for their medical record but also for teaching and publication in medical books and journals. There’s a huge range of things that need photographing, from wounds to moles to operations in theatre to cleft palates and craniofacial conditions. I love the variety of my job and getting to meet lots of different patients all over the hospital.

In my (very minimal) spare time I like hiking, camping and going to the beach and being outside in general. I’m also partial to being crafty and making stuff, usually crochet, sewing or baking when I get the chance!

A brand new charity for a brand new year

With the start of our new Rotaract year, the time came to pick a new charity to focus our fundraising efforts on. There were some strong suggestions but after a vote, SpecialEffect came out on top.

They are a local charity, based in Charlbury in Oxfordshire, who specialise in making video games accessible for people with disabilities. By using a range of technology, including modified joypads and eye control, the charity is able to put fun and inclusion back into the lives of those with disabilities and make sure that they can play to the best of their ability.

And it’s not just fun and enjoyment that gamers can get from their games. The charity has seen many physical improvements from those who they’ve helped, along with huge boosts in self-esteem and independence.

Alongside adapting video games and controllers, the charity also provides special EyeGaze software to people who have been injured or in accidents, leaving them either temporarily or permanently unable to communicate. The clever software tracks a person’s eyes and allows them to communicate through a screen with a voice, meaning that they can communicate with doctors, nurses and family members and is invaluable in reducing isolation.

The work that SpecialEffect do is transformational and unique. They are determined that everyone, whatever their physical disability, should be able to share the fun, laughter and inclusion that video games can bring. This is something that is close to many of our members’ hearts so we will be doing loads of fun events throughout the year to make sure that we fundraise as much as possible for this great charity!


If you’d like to learn more about SpecialEffect, the work that they do, the people who they’ve helped and their ‘One Special Day’ fundraising campaign, check out their website: