Rotary Club’s vital role

A NUMBER of your readers will recall having seen reference to the activities of Gainsborough Rotary Club which local newspapers have been kind enough to publish from time to time.

These will have included fundraising ventures, support from and to various organisations, schools and individuals and awards to worthy recipients.

However, our members feel that a great deal about Rotary in general, and the club in particular, remains hidden from the general public.

Rotary is a service organisation which originated in 1905, the brainchild of a young lawyer, Paul Harris, who felt that the expertise of himself and his business associates could be utilised to help people less fortunate than themselves.

The Rotary Club of Chicago was established from professional and businessmen in that year and within three years the idea had spread to many other cities in America. Further expansion since that time indicates that worldwide there are now 1.2 million members in 33,000 clubs in over 200 countries.

In addition to its humanitarian role educational and vocational initiatives play an important part in the work of the organisation. Rotary Foundation (a major international fund) is used to support causes initiated by clubs throughout the world.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of Rotary since its inception has been in leading a crusade to rid the world of polio. Almost a billion dollars have been ploughed into a fund to provide and administer vaccine used in its eradication.

In 2000 an idea floated by Tom Henderson, a member of the Helston Club in Cornwall, was adopted and has since become one of the most important primary aids used in disaster areas. Shelter Box was born.

Since that time about 100,000 boxes have been sent to about 60 countries subject to major disasters. Forty thousand have been sent to Haiti and several thousand to Japan - a programme which is ongoing.

The boxes, which cost £550 each, contain a tent capable of housing 10 people, bedding and groundmats, cooking equipment and utensils, tool kits, ponchos, water purification equipment and children’s activity packs.

Three mercy ships owned by Rotary and manned by voluntary medical personnel operate mainly off the coast of Africa. The ships have been specially converted, with one deck for operating theatres and wards and one for living accommodation.

All but the most specialised medical procedures can be carried out after clinics have been held on land adjacent to the docking areas. Many thousands of patients have already received life-changing operations.

The Gainsborough club meets weekly at Hemswell Court where members enjoy an excellent meal at a very reasonable cost. The business transacted is generally associated with projects to raise money in support of local, national and international causes.

Frequent guest speakers provide topics of educational and general interest, while social events are held on a regular basis.

Major fundraising events in the pipeline include a Pedal Car Grand Prix on 14th August and a Casino Night in September.

A regular programme in support of local causes has evolved over many years, while one-off needs arise on a fairly regular basis.

Like many other voluntary organisations the club funds it difficult to recruit younger members with fresh ideas and enthusiasm to join its ranks. Anyone (male or female) - particularly those with a business or professional background - who feel that they could make a useful contribution to the work of Rotary are asked to contact either vice-president Tony Gamwell, 123 Morton Terrace, Gainsborough, DN21 2RL (tel. 617124) or myself, Ray Woollard, 37 Enderby Crescent, Gainsborough, DN21 1XQ (tel. 613310).

Ray Woollard, Publicity Officer, Gainsborough Rotary Club.