A FORMER deputy headteacher who forged ties between schools in East Lothian and war-torn Rwanda has become president of the Haddington Rotary Club.
Martin Duddin, ex-deputy head of Knox Academy in Haddington, retired last year after 22 years in one of the school’s top jobs having previous plied his trade in Kirkcudbright.
He moved to Knox Academy in 1980 as a part-time geography teacher.
Having been involved with Rotary for the last five years, Mr Duddin now plans to build on the success of previous presidents. Councillor John McMillan passed the baton on to Mr Duddin in a ceremony at the town’s Waterloo Bistro at the end of June.
Haddington Rotary Club has already established firm connections with groups in Romania and Canada and the new president aims to build on these links during his tenure.
He said: “The Romanian link came about through one of our lady members in Haddington Rotary who has links with the Iasi area of north-east Romania. Our club is now twinned with the Rotary Club of Iasi and there have been several visits each way by club members.
“The Haddington club has agreed to financially contribute to a young lady from Iasi who is currently studying medicine. One of our members is also planning to drive to Romania within the near future, taking children’s clothes and consumables for orphaned children.
“Part of my job at Knox was to develop the international contacts of the school, and we had built a strong link with schools in Rwanda. The headteachers of two schools in Rwanda visited us at Knox. I had contacts at the Rotary club so I arranged for these headteachers to give a talk to the Rotary Club. After that they asked me to be a member.”
He added: “My first steps as president will be to build on the connections established by the previous president.
“We have set lots of things in motion already. One of our members is planning a trip to Romania to support orphanages there and bring them things they have asked for.”
The new Rotary chief also aims to improve links to the local community and, in particular, youth.
He said: “We are keen to develop our youth programme. We engage with local primary and secondary schools with our school quizzes and young chef programme. We have sponsorship for local schoolchildren. One child is going on a course to Perthshire where they will learn about leadership. We have another sailing scholarship, which will last a week.”
In his free time, Mr Duddin is a voracious reader and keen gardener, but also enjoys travelling. “It ties in with what we do at Rotary,” he said. “It’s important to welcome visitors – Rotary clubs welcome in members from other parts of the world who are visiting, and if I have the chance to visit a local Rotary, I do.”