My Rotary Story

Hello. My name is Robert Macduff-Duncan, and I had the enormous privilege of being the President of the Rotary Club of Perth St Johns in for 2019/2020. I am about to hand over the reins to my estimable Vice-President, Shona Weir, and I have been asked to share my Rotary story with you.

Robert Macduff-Duncan

A bit about me – I was born in a military hospital in Germany, back in the days of the British Army of the Rhine, and my father’s regimental magazine hailed my birth as “future recruitment going well”! I grew up in Crieff until the age of 6 and thereafter in Inverness until I left for university at 18. After a fun 5 years in Dundee acquiring a degree in Law and History and a Diploma in Legal Practice, I moved to Perth in May 2003, to start work with a local firm of solicitors.

My boss back then was (and remains) very much of the view that members of the legal profession should serve the community in which they live by supporting charities serving the same community. In 2005, following an introduction by my boss, I became a director of Perth & Kinross Association of Voluntary Service. I am still on the board of PKAVS, and it is one of the most fulfilling parts of my working life. The staff of that organisation work tirelessly to support unpaid carers (including young carers), those recovering from mental ill-health, migrant and minority communities and the wider voluntary sector. It is a diverse charity with a great deal of influence and impact locally, and it has changed significantly over the last 15 years. I am the link director between the board and the Shopmobility service, run by Dave and his enthusiastic volunteers from the Canal Street car park, where PKAVS lend motorised scooters and wheelchairs to people with mobility problems, to give them independence and freedom to visit shops and businesses in the city centre.

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A Story of Food Poverty, Charity and Working Together

Food. We often take it for granted. We wake up each day to food in our cupboards. If we need something, we pop to the shops. When we want to enjoy a meal out, we treat ourselves, often without a second thought.

But across the UK, UNICEF estimates that 2.5 million British children (that’s 19% of children) live in ‘food insecure’ households. This means there are times when the family doesn’t have enough money to buy food or cannot buy the full variety of foods needed for a healthy diet. As we know, there are many life circumstances that can affect our financial stability - a job loss, a family breakdown, a delay in benefits, rising rent, heating or food costs, or ill health in the family.

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Early Days

Michael Archibald remembers: You may have read about our club’s involvement with the Foodbank (on our Facebook page) but today I am going to give you a few thoughts of the early days of Perth St John's.

Our club, whilst being involved in the international work of Rotary International, is only a small club today. And over the years we have really kept away from huge projects and concentrated on local help wherever this need occurs.

Young people in the water at Loch Killin

One of my first memories is when we took members of the Blind Society on a camping holiday to Loch Killin near Loch Ness. We trained the blind a little into how to pitch a tent in total darkness, but we had no idea that they practised themselves and became absolutely expert. So when we who had sight started and tripped over guy ropes, the blind got on and pitched their tents both quickly and expertly and left us miles behind.

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International Meeting

There is one advantage to virtual meetings - we can include people from many places.

At this meeting, our speaker was in Leatherhead, one of our members is in Thailand, and we had a guest from our our twinned Rotary Club of Aschaffenburg-Schönbusch in Germany.

We heard about the excellent work done by Global Sight Solutions, a charity that establishes eye hospitals in the developing world to treat avoidable blindness. It was started by a Rotary club and is supported by Rotary funding and volunteers.

Members and visitors on a video-conference screen

Interested in Joining Rotary?

The Rotary Club of Perth St Johns is a vibrant and expanding Club, with a commitment to getting hands-on involved in what we do and making sure we enjoy ourselves along the way. We represent a mix of age and occupations from across business, public and voluntary sector, and sport one of the largest proportions of female Rotarians in the district.

We are always looking for dynamic individuals from all backgrounds to join the Club. Why not come along to one of our meetings to get a feel for how we work? Contact President Shona on for more information.

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Our activities include:

  • Mock Interviews
  • Primary School Quiz
  • Rotary Youth Leadership Award
  • Supporting Foodbank Collections.
  • Fundraising events.

We've supported a wide range of organisations, most recently:

  • Andy's Man Club
  • Perth & Kinross Foodbank
  • Perthshire Women's Aid
  • ShelterBox
  • Starter Packs Perth.

We've donated £13,800 and supported 24 charitable causes in the last three years!

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In addition to our regular weekly meetings we enjoy other social activites. In the last year that has included:

  • North sea cruise
  • Restaurant evenings
  • Rotary Gavel Competition.


We meet Online every Wednesday from 1pm to 2pm.
Usually The Royal George Hotel,
Tay Street / George Street
Perth, PH1 5LD

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