Half century for Rotary

There was a time when it was almost expected that young executives would sign up to join the Rotary Club.

It was a chance for professionals to socialise and network and to get involved in raising money for worthy causes.

But times and priorities change and, in the 50 years since Gainsborough Rotary Club was set up, the importance of getting involved has perhaps diminished.

Publicity officer Ray Woollard said: “There is more pressure on young executives today than there ever has been, it’s sad but true, so a lot feel they don’t have the time to commit to Rotary now.”

“I remember when meetings were held at lunchtime and the chief executive of West Lindsey council would think nothing of leaving a committee meeting to go to Rotary. It was considered important.”

“I think there’s perhaps not as much enthusiasm for voluntary work now either.”

Gainsborough Rotary Club was set up in 1961 and was born out of the Retford club. Gainsborough in turn created its own ‘daughter’ club at Brigg.

One of the founding members was Les Rickell who today, at the age of 91, continues to take an active part in the club in the role of treasurer.

There are currently 22 members, which is about the same as the starting number five decades ago.

Les, of Mayflower Close, Gainsborough, said: “Over the years it has dropped, then increased again, then dropped again. We have never had more than about 25.”

“When we started we met at the White Hart, then we moved to the old town hall, back to the White Hart and then the golf club before moving to Hemswell Court three years ago, which is where we still meet.”

“I have got a lot out of being a Rotary member, otherwise I wouldn’t still be in it. I think it’s a positive thing to be involved with.”

Women have been allowed to join for about eight years and Gainsborough has two female members.

Rotary is an international organisation started in 1905 by American Paul Harris. Rotary members get involved in supporting good causes at local, national and international level.

One of the big projects it is currently involved with is the worldwide eradication of polio, with the support of the foundation set up by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and his wife Melinda.

Ray, 82, of Enderby Crescent, Gainsborough, said: “There are only four countries in the world now where there are still pockets of polio, in Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India.”

Among the local highlights of the past 50 years were the Queen’s silver jubilee in 1977 when they organised a street parade with bus company boss Robert Eaglen.

Then in 2000 they joined forces with Mr Eaglen again to give trophies and medals to sporting organisations in the town which their members could play for.

Ray said: “We got a lottery grant to get the trophies They went to all sorts of sports clubs like tennis, cricket, football, bowls and swimming and we think some of them are still being used.”

Membership costs £110 for a year and the Gainsborough club meets every Wednesdays at 6.15pm. For more information on joining call Ray on 01427 613310.