Zoom Meeting 29th April 2020 Peter Hitchener


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What an amazing adventure to be able to meet with all of observing isolation from COVID-19. The program was put together by Geoff Gartly and was very ably chaired by Helen. For me, (bulletin reporter) it was doubly exciting because as much as everybody was “doing” it, I had trouble with my computer and secondly it was wonderful to see you all. Being in total isolation has meant that I have had to become more proficient in on-line shopping. Pres. Geoff said on welcoming us how good it was to be able to zoom and that we should continue to build on using this app. He continued by advising us that we are looking at our financials, how we should look at how to go forward and nothing is off the table and we cannot assume all will be the same after COVID-19. Before Helen introduced our Guest Speaker Ian kindly asked us to mute our screens so no background noise would interfere with the presentation. Helen introduced our Guest Speaker Peter Hitchener. We are all familiar with Peter Hitchener OAM who is mostly well known as an Australian television presenter. He has been the chief news presenter for GTV-9 of their flagship bulletin Nine News Melbourne since 1998 and before that he was the weekend news presenter. Amongst other interests Peter has been active in charities and is Patron and Ambassador of Barwon Health Foundation and Geelong Hospital. In 1998 he became the patron and active supporter of Able Australia (formerly the Deaf Blind Society of Victoria), an organization supporting people with multiple disabilities. Since 2011 he has been patron of Dogs Victoria Hospital and is also Ambassador for the Lort Smith Animal. Amongst other charities Peter has been an active supporter for many years of RCH 1000 who is a group of people who are committed to contributing $1000 to the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. With this impressive list of interests Peter is very humble and said he often struggled to live up to kind introductions. Peter took us down memory lane in telling us about the time before television when we gathered around the wireless to listen to programs and serials such as Blue Hills by Gwen Meredith, Biggles and many more. Having grown up in the country, he told us the newspapers were often a couple of days late.  1956 was the year of the introduction of television and the Olympic Games to Melbourne and put Melbourne on the map. He reminded some of us how when the first television came into people’s homes everyone arrived to look in time to look at the test pattern and those who could not visit friends gathered around a shop window even taking chairs and camping tables. They were the days of Graham Kennedy, Burt Newton and Eric Pierce.  There is always radio but since 24-hour shopping, streaming services, news on line, life is more sophisticated and news comes immediately. Since COVID-19 pandemic and lock-down, there are more important issues and only the important things are reported on the day.   Peter worked together with Eric Pierce in News and told us Eric believed in good causes such as blood donations which they both did together.  Eric was very English and had grown up on the Isle of Wight. He was anchor of news from 1978 -1998. He retired in 1998 and was much loved. Brian Naylor joined in the golden years and the “Sullivans”.  When Peter took over in 1998.  There were “big stories” but nothing like the pandemic. The stories for news are put together by the Chief-of-Staff but there are editorials during the day. Every day the biggest happening stories can be covered as work in progress for example what order the hour covers.  News has to be informing and entertaining but with no sport and no football there is more informing then entertaining. Ian’s question was that while we hear what is happening about COVID-19 overseas and all the other states he felt that it is more important to understand what is happening in our state of Victoria with more clarity. Peter replied that the frustrations are shared and this is why 6:00 pm news is strictly Victorian and has 450,000 followers. Peter feels that we live in Melbourne which is the greatest city and even if after the pandemic and it changes, it is still the city to stay! Pres Geoff commented on how the reporters were so professional when they had to cover the most horrible of horrible news such as the Bush fires and people suffering from the pandemic how did they do that?  The fact that the job is to serve the audience and sometimes it is very hard and difficult. There is help in the way of counselling and colleagues look out for each other. Peter told us there were beautiful experiences and described a story when he had the opportunity of being with a pregnant gorilla at the zoo and was invited to stroke her tummy. The look she gave him was one he would always remember as an amazing and humble experience. Thank you Peter Hitchener for joining us so early in the morning, for sharing your achievements and giving us your time in your long and busy day. It was indeed a privilege. Jo mentioned that our life stories would be welcome for Ian for the bulletin and we were reminded to bring a glass of wine and cheese and biscuits next week to the Zoom meeting at 7.30 pm Wednesday 6th May. Zoom connects us: ROTARY CONNECTS THE WORLD. Stay well; stay safe!

Bulletin Reporter (Zilla)

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