Speakers 2014/2015

Egos encountered in my career - Sandy Glennie

Sandy Glennie

Sandy Glennie a member since August 2013 gave a well-attended evening meeting an entertaining talk on egos he had encountered in his 40 year career in the automotive industry.

Born in Glasgow he remembered his first ego was Mr Fraser a dignified test driver for Albion Motors in the 1950s. Sandy remembered Mr Fraser in his immaculate white overalls and leather helmet returning home for his lunch on an Albion chassis ~ he looked just like Juan Fangio he said. The Albion chassis was silver, hot, steamy and alive and this is where he first commenced his fascination for trucks & buses. Also the destination plates on the chassis with faraway exotic ports such as Calcutta Durban Wellington gave the 6 year old his lust for travel.

Growing up with a Scottish accent in Essex was not easy but a trainee management position at Unilever in Blackfriars House allowed him to experience regimented commuters such as Mr Wheatley who was a Reg Perrin type commuting to the office ever day for40 years. Mr Wheatley's protected boring world incentivised his need to progress through university.

Studying economics he got his first lesson in "applied" supply and demand economics when he bought a scrap Simca car gearbox for £10 from a Gallowgate Rab C Nesbit scrap man. After Strathclyde his dreams came true with graduate training in Ford at last in the automotive business. That was where egos were enormous and internecine management politics the daily routine. The managers were focussed on politics and here he was introduced into terms such as DCs, umbrellas and desk polishing. He naively got inveigled in a senior management fracas and was faced with his first direct manager who detested graduates being openly hostile. Sandy's stories took us to his Volvo career and an introverted Swedish accountant, a bitter Glaswegian personnel manager, an eccentric Brazilian/ Yorkshire millionaire, and a Scottish penniless charismatic entrepreneur who became Scotland's first billionaire developing Stagecoach which he grew to 35000 employees and gaining a Knighthood on the way, Sir Bryan Souter. William Wright CBE the owner of Wrightbus was a Volvo business partner from 1980 and Sandy complimented this unassuming leader for his determination, enthusiasm and the establishment of one of NI's biggest employers.

He concluded with his dealings with another millionaire the quirky Paul Sykes a Barnsley scrap man who grew to a property developer and is now the main funder of UKIP.

Time precluded Sandy from covering his ego contacts in Indonesia China & Sweden.

11th August - Mr Martin Denanny

Mr Martin Denanny

I WAS BORN IN CARRICK-ON-SHANNON, the surviving twin of 4lbs weight. One of a family of 4, I attended the Presentation Brothers School where they tried to educate me, much to their frustration: Specific encouragements from my exasperated teachers included "too much television, Dennany" (bear this in mind for later!!) and the more didactic " you'll never amount to anything - get up to Longford and sign on with McAlpines to dig holes".

In fact I did actually spend some time digging holes - for the ESB during summer jobs, and later for myself when I built my first house, so they weren't all wrong!

I was an Altar Boy and Boy Soprano. School didn't hold much fascination for me - I was more interested in performing with the visiting Circus or in Sport. I was No1 Seed in Tennis in Carrick, won various medals and trophies for Athletics and played Gaelic and Hurling - then I offended the GAA greatly by starting up the first Soccer team in Carrick which earned me the dubious distinction of being refused service in some of the local shops that held the GAA in unquestioned esteem!

The sports medals came in handy again in the 70s when I wore them, along with my beard, long hair, flared trousers, white suede Beatle boots, and Jimi Hendrick T-Shirt at the Mayflower Ballroom in Drumshambo. Boy, did I cut a Dash! A particular misadventure on the dance floor, where my medal and chain got caught, mid-jive, in the garments of my spectacularly large dance partner and caused me to be swung, half-strangulated around the floor, dissuaded me from their continued inclusion in my Saturday Night Apparel!

Despite the dire forecasts of my teachers, or perhaps IN-SPITE of them, I passed the Entrance Exam for the Civil Service and worked as a Clerical officer in the Dept of Agriculture dealing with HR. I was promoted to Staff Officer and later to Executive Officer.

I wanted to get out of the "rat race" of competition, promotions etc. and was successful in requesting a move to Roscommon where I built he house I mentioned earlier and moved into it with my (then) wife. There I dealt with Cattle Headage & Beef Cow Schemes.

A few years later I was selected from a Competition for the Department of the Taoiseach based on problem-solving: this was a new challenge that I embraced, and being successful, found myself back in Dublin, now with three children, and I joined the Prime Minister's Department. Here I was responsible for the Arts Council and Arts Funding, was Personnel Officer and then was promoted again, this time to become PRIVATE SECRETARY to Government Chief Whip, Sean Barrett ( who is now Ceann Comhairle/ Speaker of the House). The Whip's Office runs the Parliament, structuring the Order of Business, Ministerial Representation in the House, and requires a Pairing System.

I remained in this position through Governmental changes, working with Fine Gael/Labour; Fianna Fail/PDs and was then appointed to the to the Protocol Division where I dealt directly with the Taoiseach on State Visits, European Presidencies, State Receptions and National Events. As a matter of course there could be 20 events in Cork followed by 18 in Limerick in one day while the next day might see a Reception for the Eurovision Song Contest, a visit by the Tall Ships Visits, a National Day Commemoration or the visit of foreign dignitaries.

Examples of my duties regarding Northern Ireland included travelling by Army Helicopter with the Taoiseach: any anxiety I may have felt was not alleviated when I enquired why were there three helicopters travelling, only to be told that the extra two were decoys! I didn't always travel by helicopter: occasionally I drove in my State Car - that is my Lada Estate Car. After one visit I was escorted back to the Border by an RUC Convoy: thanking the lads for their personal attention, they advised me that their specific concern was to ensure that they got the Lada out of the Province! The Protocol Office handled any visits by The President to Northern Ireland, and I was with President Mary Robinson when she attended a meeting of Enniskillen Rotary Club. I never thought at the time that I would one day become a member of that same club!

My next career promotion was to Assistant Principal and I moved to the newly created Dept of ARTS HERITAGE & GAELTACHT with Michael D Higgins (now President of Ireland). Here I dealt with issues such as Funding for the Arts and the National Broadcaster RTE, and with the developing Film Industry Ireland.

I received a call one day from Morgan O'Sullivan of Ardmore Studios, asking could I arrange for 2,000 troops to be made available for a film, and could I be in London the following morning for a meeting with the movie's producers Mel Gibson, Steve McVitty and Bruce Davey of Icon Productions. I agreed to go, met the team and with fingers crossed, I agreed that I could deliver on the request. This was highly confidential as they were also in discussion with the UK. Subsequently, I arranged a private & confidential meeting between the Minister, Mel Gibson and Morgan O'Sullivan in Leinster House, followed by a somewhat fractious meeting between myself, Mel Gibson and the Irish Army. And the rest is history! As President Higgins stated: "The attraction to Ireland of flagship projects such as Mel Gibson's Braveheart ..was a critical element in the success of…the development of an indigenous industry and you can be justifiably proud of the fact that your attention to detail and creative approach to your work ensured that you played a central role in that process."

At this time I travelled extensively throughout Europe representing Ireland, dealing with the TV Without Frontiers Directive and during Ireland's Presidency of the EU in 1996 was Chairman of Audio Visual Group. I attended meetings in Brussels and Council of Europe in Strasbourg on a regular basis.

I was then promoted to AP1 and became one of the founding Directors of the newly formed North-South Body, WATERWAYS IRELAND and moved to Enniskillen with my (present !) wife, who is from Lisburn but whom I met in Dublin in the 1990s, when she was Managing Director of the Gaiety Theatre. I introduced the Sponsorship Programme which brought many events to the Waterways for example the World Water-skiing Championships, and with Jim Tracey of the Lough Erne Resort and Failte Ireland - the Lakelands & Inland Waterways Golf Challenge with Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry: the lads seem to have benefited from the experience!

The introduction of a North/South dimension in major events was of great importance to me, and I encouraged and developed that aspect where possible. For example in the Scarriff Harbour Festival we were able to get David Irvine and Mark Durkan to open the first Festival, and a relationship between Scarriff and Northern Ireland has continued ever since.

Upon my retirement, I was honoured to receive complimentary letters from President Michael D Higgins and An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD, acknowledging the work I did and wishing me well in retirement. I now have time to relax on the waterways as a keen boater, angler and wildlife photographer; to enjoy hobbies such as wine tasting, whiskey tasting and cooking and of course, the work of Rotary.

14th July - President Angela McKinney

Angela on her motorbike

I was born on the 29th of May in Voelklingen, Germany, the youngest of three children, born to parents Rudolph and Elisabeth. I went to primary school in Dortmund and mixed sex secondary school in Castrop-Rauxel.

I developed a love for horses from early childhood onwards and enjoyed many happy holidays involving horses or riding until the end of school. Whilst at university I continued to ride, only this time, motorbikes rather than horses. Studied medicine in Hanover and Aachen and qualified in 1989. During this time a lot of new skills were learned, medical and social and after finishing my exams I decided to see a bit more of the world before settling down.

I proceeded to work as a doctor in Botswana and Malawi where I met Arthur to whom I am now married for nearly 25 years. Arthur and I returned to Northern Ireland in 1992 and after completion of Specialist training as an obstetrician and gynaecologist we settled in Fermanagh in 2002 where I am still practicing as a consultant at the local hospital.

7th July - Ms Elizabeth Armstrong

Ms Elizabeth Armstrong

I would like to share with the Club five key reasons why the Collegiate has been consistent in their opposition to the proposed closure of the school and why they don't represent the best way forward for the community -

  1. If the proposal goes ahead the Collegiate will close and all it stands for will be lost - the Collegiate Grammar school is at the heart of the community and it has a rich and proud heritage and it has a key role to play in the area, these proposals deny the Collegiate the right to develop that role. We have a strong ethos which is valued by our pupils and their parents, we work hard to provide valuable experiences in as many areas as possible. We have had excellent success in sporting and academic areas in recent years, along with some of our students gaining top marks in GCSE examinations in N. I. Closing the school will take a successful school out of the mix, it will reduce parental choice and also the number of Grammar School places available to boys and girls in the area, leader to tougher opposition for boys and girls to get a grammar school place.
  2. We have been told that these proposals will lead to the closure of the Collegiate and the number of grammar school places available, this is necessary to ensure a more fair alignment of numbers for the non selective sector and to ensure the long awaited new build for Devenish College. If we look at the destination of the P7 pupils over the last five years, the grammar school population has remained stable because of the cap on our numbers. The Collegiate is attracting pupils into Fermanagh from other Board areas, which is positive for our community. These proposals will ultimately lead to the closure of two grammar schools in Fermanagh each with strong distinctive traditions for the promise of a grammar school with a reduced number of places available to boys and girls. We have concerns that the numbers being put forward simply do not stack up and closing the Collegiate will not necessarily secure the necessary investment for our schools estate.
  3. The Western Board plan which is being put forward is significantly flawed and it cannot deliver for our community. They have from the outset linked the new build for Devenish and Portora to the closure of the Collegiate. This proposed closure is against the will of the Board of Governors and against the majority of staff, parents and pupils, this process has become extremely controversial, resulting in a public response of over 7,000 signatures against the closure. Many people are dismayed at the prospect of losing the Collegiate which is a long standing part of the community, the public has lost faith in a divisive process which sets one school against another and which risks fracturing communities.
  4. We have seen so many missed opportunities in the process led by the Western Education Board, they drove us down the road of rationalisation, and along the way they ignored potential avenues for development which could have provided a more positive way forward, that has been a frustration for us. We regret the failure to acknowledge the excellent work of the Fermanagh Learning Community which brings together all of the post primary schools across all of the sectors along with South West College, we are already able to offer the 27 statutory subjects for post 16 pupils.
  5. There has to be a better more creative way forward, we believe that the consultation to date, the public is asking for leadership for a much more inclusive process which allows the three remaining schools to develop and consolidate their distinctive identities and to work collaborately and on a shared basis with each other and then with schools across other sectors, and we believe very strongly that the much needed investment in our schools must not be conditional on the closure of any more schools. To get to this point we are calling for a fresh process which will create the right climate for a positive and inclusive debate where all of the schools feel that their voice matters round the table and where there is an opportunity to recognise and consolidate success as well as to challenge areas which we need to improve on. This process will need to take account of community opinion, take into account current enrolment patterns and also the need for distinctive academic vocational pathways which meet the needs of all of our young people in well resourced schools. We feel that the community want to see the Collegiate remain as a strong partner in the mix, that will keep Portora as a strong Grammar school partner in the mix and will build Devenish as a strong vocational option. That is our vision for the future, based on a long hard look at the realities of the situation, a vision which will unite rather than divide, a vision which keeps opportunities open and build confidence rather than mistrust. At the end of the day, the people that matter in all of this are our young people, and all of them deserve nothing less than for us to have a proper vision that will take them into the future.