By Joanna Chrzanowska, president, Rotary Club of Marabella-Guadalmina, Spain

The event planning team from the Rotary Club of Marbella-Guadalmina, Spain, was awed by the first sight of the hall they had to fill. We have drawn 80 people to our walks or events before, but aircraft hangar might be the best description for the room we were looking at. It had been generously donated free of charge by Marbella Town Hall, who have been very supportive of the expatriate community. The space was also free of tables, chairs, a sound system, a stage and several other necessities for putting on a large public event.

Founded in 2010, our club is English-speaking with members from a number of different nationalities, including many new Rotarians. We have been effective at fundraising for local and international charities, but why did we suddenly take this on?

Why we did it

We’d love to tell you it was part of a master plan for growth and community engagement. But the truth is it was more like a ball that started rolling and didn’t stop. A member suggested that we could aim for a Guinness World Record in a competitive game called Beetle, which involves throwing a die and drawing parts of a beetle according to the numbers that fall.  Sounded easy. Get lots of people together for a couple of hours. Give them a paper, pencil and die. And film the record attempt.

Several months later we were still working out logistics, how best to sell tickets, what else we would have to offer, how to promote the event, how to get tables and chairs to the venue, and so on.

There were some dark days, doubts and debates, a mountain of emails, and uncertainty until the very last that we would have enough people in the hall to even make the record attempt valid.  A warning for severe rain on the day of the event didn’t help.

Team dynamics like never before

Just before the event, the team working on it pulled out all the stops; united by a strong determination to do the very best they could for the club. Our Events teams are used to working hard, but this was exceptional. Everyone worked effectively, and somehow managed to not fall over from exhaustion, driven by a unity of spirit that arranged furniture, audio, display stands, crowd control, refreshments, publicity, etc.

And yes, despite the weather, well over 300 people came to enjoy the displays, the entertainment, and to take part in the game, hoping to win the beautifully crafted Golden Beetle.

Reach for the moon. Even if you fail, you will be among the stars.

Things weren’t perfect that day. Yet the atmosphere was positive and we built a great connection with the local community.  Sponsorship had already raised money for a charity for Alzheimer’s no matter what happened. The record attempt has still to be ratified by Guinness World Records, but people left the hall feeling it was a success.

The club has been a different place since this accomplishment. There is a feel-good vibe. Our horizons have expanded and our confidence has increased. We are prepared to be less insular, more organised, more dynamic. There won’t be another Beetle event for sure. But the Marbella Town Hall has said we can have the Palacio again next year. What will we do with it?

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