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Vol. XV No. 4
Friday January 26 - February 1, 2007


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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]: 

National Ability Center from the US brings gifts of a lifetime to the disabled

Vines, wines and fun times

BCCT packs Jameson’s

National Ability Center from the US brings gifts of a lifetime to the disabled

Rotarians lend a hand of support to the International Sports Initiative in Pattaya

Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh, President Dr. Olivier Meyer and members of the Rotary Club Pattaya Marina, Father Worawut Saraphan, Itthipol Khunplome, Meeche White, Suporntham Mongkolsawat, Jintana Wetchote at the opening ceremonies of the International Sports Initiative for Individuals with Disabilities at the Pattaya Youth Center.

Story by staff reporters
Pictures by staff reporters and Marlies Fritz

Volunteers from the National Ability Center based in Utah, USA were in Pattaya early this month on a mission of mercy and encouragement for at least a hundred disabled men, women and children in Chonburi province.
In preparation for this noble task, the organisation had shipped 100 used wheelchairs to Thailand.

Meeche White Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of the National Ability Center.
Lead by Meeche White, the chief executive of the center and aided by more that 50 volunteers, most of whom flew in from the USA at their own expenses, the team set up headquarters at the Redemptorist Centre in Pattaya.
The initial stages of the program involved assembling and refurbishing the wheelchairs to fit each and every recipient’s needs. Then came the arduous task of training the users on how to properly make use of the means of mobility for comfort and maximise their potential. These sessions were held from January 13 to 20 at the Youth Sports Center in Jomtien.
On January 18 and 19, Rotarians from all the 5 Rotary clubs in Pattaya who had initially helped to provide logistics and transportation of the wheelchairs from the container terminal in Laem Chabang to the Youth Sport Complex were on hand to help with the final stages of the programme by delivering the wheelchairs to each and every person who needed it in their respective homes no matter where they lived in Chonburi.
There the volunteers adjusted each wheelchair to fit the person’s needs and spent time lovingly explaining and instructing them of the best usage of their new wheelchairs.
Speaking to Pattaya Mail, Meeche White co-founder of the NAC gave us a little background of the NAC saying; “The National Ability Center was founded in 1985 to develop lifetime skills for persons with disabilities and their families by providing affordable, quality sports and recreational experiences. It strives to build self-esteem and confidence and to promote active participation in the community by those with disabilities. NAC is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. Programs are supported through special events, grants from private corporations and foundations, individual donations and program fees.
“We started out by providing for those with observable disabilities. We changed our mission to include all abilities because the need to develop self esteem, to be loved and feel accomplished, transcends through all of society,” said White.
She continued by saying, “coming to Thailand to implement the cultural and sports project funded by the US Department of State, gives us the opportunity to do what we do best and that is to care for the disabled. We have partnered with the Mobility Project from Seattle to distribute wheelchairs. Our long-term goal is to create accessibility, independence and mobility for people with disabilities through sports.
“We are very fortunate to have partnered with Suporntham Mongkolsawat, head of the Redemptorist Vocational School for the Disabled and the Rotary Clubs in Pattaya without whose assistance and support we would not have been able to accomplish our mission.”
To help create self-confidence for the disabled, there is a program of developing sporting activities and the course focused on these with training for wheelchair racing, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, and hand-powered cycling.
Training was held in Chiang Mai in addition to Pattaya, with 40 trainers of the disabled taking part plus 20 disabled children who wished to undergo the training. During the month of June, eight trainers and officers will be sent on a course at Salt Lake City in the United States for 20 days.
As a parting message to the Rotarians, Meeche said, “Thank you so very much for your generous and kind support of our International Sports Initiative in Pattaya. It was heralded as a great success by all!
“We very much appreciate your generous financial support along with providing help with translators and transportation for wheelchair distribution. As several of your members witnessed firsthand, many lives were changed forever.
“Please know that we saw only the beginning of the change and growth that will occur for many years to come for the disabled citizens in the Pattaya region.
“Thank you all so very much for caring! I hope I may see you in June at the Rotary International Conference in Salt Lake City. Come up to Park City for a personal tour of the National Ability Center and a visit to our Rotary Club - we are only 30 minutes away!

The Mobility Project and Rotary Club representatives who cooperatively distributed wheelchairs to disabled children in Banglamung district and in Chonburi, are shown here with 8-year-old Nong Da, who was left disabled after an accident 6 years ago.

Previously restricted to bed, life now will never be the same.

This young boy is now mobile with his very own wheelchair rather than to be carried around by his mother.

Recipients were very happy to receive new equipment, and the wonderful care that came with it.

Getting all fixed up in a new wheelchair - life just got a lot better.

The smile alone is reward enough for all the effort.

Meeche White is the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of the National Ability Center.  Founded in 1985, the National Ability Center conducted 45 ski lessons for children and adults with disabilities.  Meeche has a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida State University in Therapeutic Recreation.  She is active in numerous national and community organizations including the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, Disabled Sports USA, Park City Rotary Club, the Park City Chamber Bureau and other community organizations.  She taught adapted skiing for twenty years and continues to be active in ski racing for the disabled. She was selected as Park City Citizen of the Year in 1988 and received the Governor’s Utah Woman of Achievement Award. She also served as the ADA Manager for the 2002 Winter Olympic and Paralympic games for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.

Vines, wines and fun times

Panga Vathanakul (center) MD of the Royal Cliff Beach Resort and Vathanai Vathanakul (left) escort Rudi Maerkle, Isabella Fuchs and Kurt Leimgruber into the newly renovated Orchid ballroom.

Miss Terry Diner
The Royal Cliff Wine Club is now six years old, and like a fine wine is getting better with age. What was once a germ of an idea in Ranjith Chandrasiri’s mind has truly become a jewel in the crown of Pattaya, not just the Royal Cliff Beach Resort.
The Californian winemakers gala dinner celebrated the Zinfandel style wines from the Seghesio Vineyard, these days a well accepted and respected name in winemaking in the US. Whilst the “New World” vineyards are sometimes thought to be the young upstarts, the Seghesio Winery first planted its Zinfandel grapes in 1895, using the Primitivo vines that were initially brought to the USA in 1860 from Italy.

Dr. Iain Corness interviews Ranjith Chandrasiri for PMTV.
It was expected that Ms. Camille Seghesio, grand daughter of Edoardo and Angela Seghesio, the originators of the label, and the newest family addition to the winery team, would address the dinner guests, but an accident in America delayed her trip to Thailand. However, her place was taken by the president of Bangkok Beer and Beverages, Ron Bitori, a wine expert well known to the members of the Royal Cliff Wine Club.
Ron gave the diners an amusing run-down on the Zinfandels, “The most drunk varietal in the USA, and California’s answer to the big wines of the Barossa Valley in Australia,” he proclaimed. He also warned the members that the Zinfandels they were about to enjoy had an alcohol content of something over 15 percent! Some chose to ignore this advice, much to their chagrin the next day!

Walter Thenisch, Royal Cliff executive chef speaks to Professor Scott C. Matulich (Washington State University) about the intricacies of creating a menu for such an exclusive event.
Corey Pickelsimer, the agricultural attaché to the US Embassy was one of the guests for the evening, and he expressed surprise and admiration of the work done by Wine Club president Ranjith Chandrasiri, never believing that Pattaya could host such a successful event.
Of course another reason for the success was the fine food prepared by Executive Chef Walter Thenisch, presenting the members with delicacies such as poached Alaskan scallops, bluefin tuna fillet and pan-seared prime venison loin, all carefully chosen to complement the Seghesio Zinfandels.
At all these wine dinners there is also much discussion as to favorites, and this dinner was no exception. However, the consensus was with the Seghesio Home Ranch Zinfandel, Alexander Valley, 2003, a wonderfully smooth red with a beautiful bouquet, described as having “rich, haunting aromas” by Ron Batori.
In the packed ballroom, seating the maximum of 175 guests, there was nobody who left disappointed. We are all looking forward to the next one!

Ranjith presents tokens of appreciation to Phiroon Phihakendr (Executive Director BB&B co Ltd), Ron Batori (President BB&B Co. Ltd) and Corey Pickelsimer, (Agricultural Attache, Embassy of the United States of America).

Wine Club members wait anxiously for the doors to open so that they can indulge in the finest Californian wines and partake in Walter’s exquisite cuisine.

BCCT packs Jameson’s

By Dr. Iain Corness
The first networking evening for 2007 for the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand (BCCT) was held at Jameson’s Pub, these days a landmark in Pattaya. By the end of the evening, several members were also trying to make their marks, with varying degrees of success.

(From left to right) Stu Sutton, managing director of Jomtien Property, Kevin Fisher, director of S.E. Asia Cranes and Equipment, and Paul Wilkinson, GM Eastern Seaboard for AGS Four Winds International Movers enjoy a pint or two.
The movers (without being shakers) were well represented with Paul Wilkinson (GM Eastern Seaboard for AGS Four Winds International Movers) seen holding court with Pat Gossett from Transpo Tigers (not to be confused with the Tamil Tigers, who are not members of the BCCT).

Junior Shaw (left), Managing Forestry into Your Portfolio of Touchwood Eurasia, and Sarah Allen (right), account manager for JVK International Movers Ltd., perhaps discussing how to move trees?
An important sponsor of the liquid kind was Premier Oilfield Services represented by Lee Hunter, both of them. To make differentiation easier, the first Lee Hunter is older, shorter and more burly, whilst the second Lee Hunter is younger, taller, less bulky and has a problem with shaving. Nevertheless, Lee Junior spoke eloquently on Pattaya Mail TV, and did admit that it was difficult to fit into his father’s shoes at times, mainly because he is two shoe sizes larger. He also explained the environmental work that Premier Oilfield Services carries out on the Eastern Seaboard with waste management, so we thank them for keeping us clean.
Some of the other members appeared to be more into personal wasting by the end of the evening, but after receiving promises of certain financial inducements I have refrained from naming names.
The food side of the BCCT sponsorship was picked up by Jameson’s Irish Pub, with Landlord Kim Fletcher exhorting the staff to bring on more of the delectable goodies, whilst several of the BCCT members were trying to work out how to pick up “Half Pint”, the new vertically challenged service girl, but she evaded them all by running under the tables, where unfortunately she bumped into that happily drinking yachtsman extraordinaire, Peter Cummins, who denied that there were any ‘under the table’ payments going on.
Whilst the evening is nominally “British”, there were plenty of other nationalities represented, with Aussies such as Stuart Saunders (the floss fairy) and Brendan Richards (new Onsite manager for Katoen Natie - and it’s pronounced “Nassee” because it is Belgian), Alain Deurwaerder (truly Belgian) and Karan Singh (GM of The Taj, Taste of India) and his father the well-dressed Benny (who gets a new suit every 24 hours) representing the head-nodders.
However, there were many true blue stiff upper lippers there, including Peter Smith and Malcolm Scorer from AA Insurance Brokers, executive director of the BCCT, Greg Watkins and local representative and Vice Chairman Graham Macdonald, Big Kev Fisher the crane man and Maurice Bromley from Henry Butcher’s.
After being at the Joe Cocker concert Peter Mewes of the London Consultancy was making noises that he might give an impromptu concert in Jameson’s himself, but after a quick whip-round he was persuaded to give up on the idea; however, a real whip-round was held by Lee Hunter to raise funds for a crippled Thai girl’s education. A very noble gesture by the evening’s sponsor.
By the way, the BCCT is accepting corporate sponsorships for some of the following Eastern Seaboard Networking Evenings in 2007 (all Fridays): 23rd February, 30th March, 27th April, (18th May - Eastern Seaboard Dinner), 15th June, 20th July, 31st August, 21st September, 19th October, 16th November, 14th December. If you would like to sponsor please contact Greg Watkins - [email protected] - as soon as possible. Sponsorship is allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. The sponsorship fee is THB 20,000 plus VAT.
I would suggest you pencil in the above dates, but prior notice is always given in the Pattaya Mail.

(From left to right) Kitirak In-Nok, corporate sales manager for Hard Rock Hotel, Pattaya, Jitra Wongjuan, client account manager of AA Insurance Brokers Co., Ltd., Kevin Fisher, director of S.E. Asia Cranes and Equipment, Geoffrey C. Paston, managing director of Harlequin Property (Maintenance) Co., Ltd., and Grittaporn Maneein, sales executive for Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya are all smiles at the event.

(From left to right) Lee Hunter Jr., GM of Premier Oilfield Services, beverage sponsors for the evening, Ken G. Robinson, contracts manager at Bechtel International, Phil Orr and Ida Robinson enjoy the sponsored beverages.

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