Sir John Todd
Member: November 1965 - July 2015
I walked in to meet Sir John Todd feeling nervous, intimidated and lucky. By the time I walked across the room and sat down, my worries had flown away with the butterflies in my stomach. I never knew a man with such stature could be so friendly, helpful and welcoming.
He is the man who has been a member of Rotary since 1965, is a Paul Harris fellow, awarded a Sapphire Pin, been Knighted and is a past RCW President.
To start to tell his story we began when he was invited to Rotary by the director of Todd Motors at the time. John Todd replied “well, I don’t know much about Rotary, so tell me what Rotary is.”
After informing his father of his membership he was told “sure you’ll enjoy Rotary, but, let me give you a bit of advice: never get involved in a committee, cause that’ll take your time and effort.” So Sir John joined Rotary and was “immediately put into a committee”.
Sir John describes his Presidency as an “interesting year” as he was Managing Director of Todd Motors at the time.
He accepted the role and arranged with the Rotary board to have a President’s Representative. He explained the President’s Representative was there to “attend meetings and events and so forth, on my behalf” when prior commitments prevented him from attending.
Sir John still praises the work and help of his President’s Representative as he was “very valuable”. He explained he was always “kept up to date and informed from the detailed reports written” and given to him.
Sir John has seen the presidency role change and evolve over his 48 years of membership. He thinks that “these days there is a little less ownership” of the role due to the time constraints of a modern day business person.
“There is a great deal more done now, almost autonomously by the sub-committees; which is fine because the committees report back to the board.”
Sir John explained that there is “more shared responsibility” which he thinks is appropriate as “it’s a very good way of involving more people in Rotary”.
One issue that Sir John identifies in the RCW as needing improvement is the “involvement in committees by the members”. “The work of Rotary is done through the committees and so much of the committee work is left in the hands of the few people who take a more proactive role on committees.”
“There are a lot of people who are in committees and don’t really contribute a lot” he continued.
He confesses that he is “as much to blame as anyone else”.
Sir John explains that “it’s important, [but] very difficult to bring people into not just the spirit of Rotary, but the work of Rotary by involving them in the committee work.”
He ponders on his own thought of it being the size of the club. As RCW is a large club “there will be a lot of older members such as me, who don’t have the time or opportunity, or need or wish, to become directly involved in activities.
If we were a small club, members would be far more personally involved because they would have to be.”
“It’s a very difficult job for a president, or committee, or directors to really stimulate people to become active, or a bit more proactive on committees.”
“I don’t know how you do it, or how it should be done” he concluded.
“But, I really think that Rotary does a great deal of good…it works so much in the community which is outstanding.”
Inrterviewed by Ellee Donald, Communications Intern 2012
Sir John sadly passed away on 30 July 2015