Rotary Clube de Silves

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Mascots all present and correct

On Monday the Team walking the Camino visited the schools and classes that are supporting them on the walk. Each team member has a mascot presented to them to carry on their journey. Team members will post pictures, videos and stories to the children on the mascot’s adventures. The teachers will weave the mascot’s journey into lessons for the week of the walk. The walk is a fund raiser as well as an educational activity all funds raised on our page “Help Pilgrims Change Kids Lives” will go to resource a sensory room and garden for the school in Armacao de Pera.


Pascal, Petra and Philippe receive their mascots at Armacao de Pera school with the Diretor Carlos Silva and teachers and children of E9, 10 and 11

Pam 2P5

Pam received her Mascot named Pandora from the children of P5 and their teacher Silva with Diretor Carlos Silva.


Jim received his mascot from the children of Tunes with their teacher George and Diretor Carlos Silva.


Alan received his mascot from the children and teachers of Alcantarilha School and Diretor Carlos Silva. Their adventure starts on Saturday 24. Wish them luck. Help us make a difference.

Rotary Pilgrims on the Brink

Rotary Silves are on count-down in their preparations for the long 120 km march from the Portuguese border to Santiago de Compostela. All ten participants are off on regular training walks to tone up muscles which have been neglected over the covid-19 years.


None more so than that “Dad’s Army” type pilgrim, the 82 year old David Butler-Cole. Compared to some of the younger brethren, he has had no major bodily disaster – though he does complain of Creaky Knee Syndrome. This problem is probably as much mental as physical. To boost his confidence he has recently purchased a pair of Norwegian walking poles on the internet, purporting to come from Germany. When David opened the package he found a dreaded “Made In PRC” label. Shouldn’t they have kept to chopsticks? Will the poles collapse under a gruelling day’s walk? Watch this space, and you will find out!


David, along with the whole Rotary Silves team, have committed themselves to this pilgrimage in order to gain support from the public in their quest to raise funds to equip a much needed sensory room to help autistic children and their teachers at the Silves Sul school in Armação de Pera. Each Rotarian will be carrying the personal mascot on the walk given them by a class from the school. The kids will be able to follow the progress of the mascot through daily contact with the team.

Will you help us? You can sponsor David personally or all ten Rotary Pilgrims in aid of this good cause. All money raised will go directly to this project. Please donate now whatever you can at internet site via Rotary page “Help Pilgrims Change Kids Lives.”                          

The walk starts on Sept. 23rd and the survivors will hopefully totter into Santiago by Sept. 30. If no one makes it, you can ask for your money back!

Camino walk aids hip replacement recovery

Sue Butler Cole and Alan Winn are two of the Silves Rotary Club members taking part in the Change Kids Lives Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in a weeks’ time.

Both have had hip replacement operations earlier this year. At the end of January, Alan had a planned operation in preparation for the walk to come. Sue had one, a few weeks later after a fall that left her with a broken hip.

The desire to be part of the fundraising to enable Agrupamento Silves Sul School in Armaçao de Pêra to create a sensory room and garden area for Autistic and Downs Syndrome children as young as 3 was their inspiration to move past the painful recovery and be fit enough to take part.

Although Alan is carrying a tendon injury in his left leg he is still determined to complete his stages of the walk. He will share the 120km journey with his wife of almost 50 years Pam.


Sue is sharing her journey with octogenarian husband David who is also determined to make a difference and help those children have a better and more fulfilled life.


We hope that the walk by Silves Rotary Club members and friends will meet its fundraising target and you can help by make a donation. A donation of 5€ makes a difference when hundreds are inspired to give. The walkers themselves are funding the accommodation on route so that 100% of the money we receive will go to the project.

You can donate now at via our page “Help Pilgrims Change Kids Lives”

For more information email

Or Tel. 912584999

Help us make a difference!

Pilgrim survives major car accident.

You may have thought pilgrims went out with the Middle Ages – wandering around supported by their staffs with an unwashed aroma emanating from their soiled robes. Not so. The modern day pilgrim is an athlete striding out purposely, nose to a satnav, covering as many kilometres as possible to achieve their physical or spiritual goal.

The pilgrims of Silves Rotary Club are made of such stuff. Ready to climb mountains, swim rivers, in their quest to cover the 120 kilometres from the Portuguese border to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Ten pilgrims we are now, honed by route marches through inhospitable Algarvean terrain in burning temperatures. In the peak of fitness? Well, sort of – we are human after all – and with an average age of seventy, subject to bit of wear and tear.


Take, for example, Jim Kennedy, brimming with energy, always striding ahead of the rest on training walks. You could count on Jim. This pilgrimage would be a doddle for him. But fate dealt a cruel blow in the form of a horrendous accident in July on a UK motorway. His car was struck by a lorry at 60 mph. He was spun from the slow lane into the lorry´s wheels and across four lanes before coming to a stop in the fast lane. It was a miracle that he lives to tell the tale. He suffered no major injury; muscle damage has left him in pain and with difficulty in walking.

Surely Jim would pull out of the pilgrimage? No! Jim says his close escape has focussed him on how lucky he was. He is glad to help fund the project to equip a much needed sensory room and garden at Agrupamento Silves Sul school in Armação de Pera to help children with learning difficulties adjust to school life.

Will you sponsor Jim and our other pilgrims? The money we raise for this project will change the lives of children and those helping them.

You can donate now at via our page “Help Pilgrims Change Kids Lives”

For more information email

Or Tel. 912584999

Help us make a difference!

Three Weeks to Go

3 Weeks to go to the Silves Rotary Club Pilgrimage

Another week closer to our pilgrimage and the final training programme is underway.  This week a 7km walk around the junction of the Odelouca and Arade rivers is our gentle reintroduction after the heat of the summer. Just one of a number training walks over the last few months walk leader Philippe has organized to get the Silves Rotary Club team fit for the challenge.

Why go through the challenge? We hope to inspire you to make a donation or sponsor a pilgrim so that we can resource a much needed sensory room and garden for Autistic and Downs syndrome children in Agrupamento Escolas Silves Sul. The children need a calm, safe haven to enable them to benefit fully from their time in school.

You can see from Philippe’s bio he is not new to the Camino having walked from France to Santiago some years ago with his family. He has also walked our route along with wife Carmen in June in preparation for the main event in just over three weeks’ time. His meticulous preparation and encouragement is all part of the support in place for those in the group who are older and carrying more injuries or health issues. We will introduce all the pilgrims over the next few weeks.

First: Philippe, mid 60s

Philippe 3

He says I am a new Rotary member. I retired, a couple of years ago, from an international career, mainly in Operations leadership roles. My focus was always been around developing a meaningful purpose and rallying groups to achieve their goals through intensive teamwork.

I have never stopped practicing physical activities: running 2-3 times / week until my mid 50’s and during the last 10 years, walking on a daily basis. Some heart issues required the placement of a stent and a heart ablation was needed to eliminate arrhythmia.

Why I become a pilgrim?

Our family (spouse and two children) always loved nature and hiking. We have completed the French Camino de Santiago in 5 stages, over 5 years’ vacations. This Portuguese Camino project addresses several personal objectives: a noble purpose to help disabled children, teamwork to support each participant to make it to Santiago, physical exercise and enjoyment of the beautiful nature and landscapes.

Team Member:  Petra Vahle-Francis, Mid sixties

Petra 2

Petra says: Having spent over 30 years performing classical music day and night, I was curious to learn something new.  Curiosity drove me to the World Peace Academy at University of Basel, where I graduated with a diploma in Peace and Conflict Transformation, followed by a professional development diploma in conflict resolution from the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. Together with my husband, I founded the “Corridors of Peace” Organisation in Switzerland, catering for refugees, asylum seekers, migrants, and all those living on the margins in different societies, home and abroad.

Luckily no major health issues yet, but had a serious fall causing dental replacement some 5 years ago. Definitely not as good as I used to be; with transition comes great challenges: in moving from Switzerland to the beautiful Algarve, I have not found a solid rhythm yet, but I will get there soon.

Why I become a pilgrim:

Since 2002 I have wanted to walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela but could not find the right time, group or persons to walk with.  On a visit to Silves Rotary Club here in the Algarve, I was lucky to experience an inspiring lecture by Philippe Pfister, who has prepared all the logistics and background information for clubs Camino de Santiago de Compostela walk, to raise funds for children with learning difficulties. I feel it is a golden opportunity to walk with people of similar sensibilities. I am grateful to join this noble rotary project.

You can donate now at via our page “Help Pilgrims Change Kids Lives”

For more information email

Or Tel. 912584999

Help us make a difference!

Help Pilgrims Change Kids Lives

Still smiling half way

A dozen members from Silves Rotary Club with a combined age of over 850 years decided to walk the Camino Portugues from Valença to Santiago de Compostela. Starting on the 24 September 2022 the pilgrims will walk some 120 km over six days to provide children with learning difficulties a calm and ideal place to learn.

Each team member will be supported by a class of pupils at the Agrupamento Escolas De Silves Sul and carry a mascot presented by their class so that the pilgrims can share their experience daily with the school children. You could say there will be 24 pilgrims.

Looking at them, you would not bet on these pilgrims making it. A couple have recently had hip replacements, one a heart surgery, another an eighty year old dodgy knee – whilst others have suffered  a sprinkling of other injuries that one picks up in your seventies – yes, the average age of the pilgrims will be over seventy. They are the walking wounded.

Why go through the challenge? You may well ask. The answer is to raise money for this fantastic cause and to inspire you to donate to us so that we can resource a much needed sensory room and garden in Agrupamento Escolas De Silves Sul.

The school needs a sensory room and garden, a calm, safe haven to enable them to benefit fully from their time in school. The dedicated teachers at the school work hard to provide the children with the necessary skills to live independently in the future.

Silves Rotary Club Pilgrims are asking your help to raise 20,000 Euros, 100% of your donations will go to turn that old classroom and scrubby garden into a harmonious learning space with all the necessary resources. Any contribution no matter how small is welcome.

Scrubby Garden

Sensory 1Sensory 2

We are inspired by John Bunyan’s famous hymn which goes

He who would valiant be

Against all disaster.

Let him in constancy

Follow the master.

There’s no discouragement,

Shall make him once relent

His first avowed intent

To be a pilgrim.

Be Inspired too. Please donate

More information in the next few weeks about the pilgrims:

You can donate now at via our page “Help Pilgrims Change Kids Lives

Handover 2022/23

2021/22 has been a memorable year for Silves Rotary Club as for all Rotary clubs Covid has taken it’s toll. We worked hard under our President Alan Winn to help the community and to keep as many fundraising activities as possible. We had a great start to the year with Back to school, followed closely by the Christmas Shoe box appeal. We manage our first concert in two years and raised 4500€. We have been training for a sponsored walk along the Camino starting at the Portuguese border and finishing at Santiago to Compostela to provide a sensory room and garden for Autistic and Downs Syndrome pupils at Armacao de Pera school. Alan handed over to Isabel Flores for the year 2022/23. Isabel is shouldering the president’s job for the fifth time. Continuing our work in education is high on her agenda but she will add some touches of her own to support further members of the community.

Flag ceramonyBombeirosAwarded a certificateFlag for Isabel

Trying Walk

Saturday 14 May was the latest training day for our sponsored walk to Santiago de Compostela.


7 club members took part in a two stage walk around the Alvor and Mexilhoeira Grande areas. Stage one included areas around the estuary with its cooling breezes and flamingos and stage two further in land amongst fields of poppies.


Each part was approximately 7.5km in length and so older members who will walk the Camino as a team were able to walk the shorter distance where fitter members were able to complete the full distance.

Further training walks will take place before the summer and in the early autumn in readiness for the sponsored walk starting in Valence on 23 September.

The club is hoping to raise sufficient money to complete the funding of a sensory room and safe outside area for children between 4 and 9 years with autism, Downs Syndrome and other disabilities in the Agroupamento Silves Sul school campus in Armacao de Pera.

The school has a similar facility on its Algoz campus for older children from the age of 10 upwards.

The club has already raised over 4000€ from the concert at the end of April.

RC Silves has a strong commitment to supporting our community and will continue to make a difference to the lives of those less fortunate.


On Saturday 30 April, Rotary Silves gave a highly successful concert to a packed house in the Teatro Mascarenhas Gregorio in Silves. The concert featured the well-known group Cool Manouche, Playing their very special gypsy jazz, they entertained the audience royally with classics such as Django Reinhardt’s “Minor Swing” and “Nuages”.

Our thanks go to Câmara de Silves for allowing us to use the theatre. Rotary Silves donated the proceeds from ticket sales, a total amount of €3,900.00, to Agrupamento Escolas Silves Sul, headed by Carlos Silva Diretor do Agrupamento. The sum will go towards their project to build and equip a sensory room and a sensory garden in Armação de Pera to help students with learning difficulties to find peace of mind.

cheque presentation

The longest training walk yet!

You may ask what we are training for. Well Philippe came up with the idea of a Rotary charity walk to Santiago de Compostelo. No, not from Silves. We would start instead from the north of Portugal and walk through to Santiago itself. This is some 120 kms which we hope to complete within a week – that means about 20 kms per day.  All in aid of a much needed Sensory Room and Garden for Armancao de Pera School’s challenged children.

Philippe has started slowly with our training programme. Walk number 5 on Saturday 16 April of 13 kms was around the Barragem do Arade, just over half of what we will be expected to manage on a daily basis on the course itself.

Our starting point

View from the Top

Still smiling half way round

Only two made it the full distance, so we need to gear up to a fitness not yet apparent in our members, who by my calculations on average will never celebrate their seventieth birthday again.

Two Survivors

We will be asking the public to sponsor or donate to members who complete this Olympian challenge.  To help them, we will be giving details of the participants in the forthcoming weeks.  Follow this space