Business guests discover all about Rotary

EIGHT business and professional people from Morpeth and district were invited guests at a presentation and meal at Morpeth Golf Club to find out what Rotary is all about.

The presentation was organised by Kevin Dunlop and introduced by Morpeth Rotary Club President David Richardson.

Rotary was started just over 100 years ago by Paul Harris in Chicago, where business and professional men got together for discussion and fellowship.

They had meetings that rotated around each other’s business premises.

They wanted to make a difference in the local community and their first project was to provide a public toilet in Chicago.

Rotary International is now the largest international service club in the world, with 1.2 million men and women members.

Its motto is Service Before Self and it organises money and assistance to meet local and international need.

The most ambitious project so far has been trying to eradicate polio worldwide, which has been 99 per cent successful.

A DVD was then shown about the work of Rotary in the North East (District 1030).

It said membership was by invitation but anyone interested can introduce themselves.

There are activities to suit all tastes, from barbecues to formal dinners, and £500,000 is raised for charities in the North East every year. Part of the money goes to international work in West Africa and Bangladesh and some members go out to help.

President David at Morpeth has a special project to raise money to pay for cheap plastic water filters that change dirty, polluted water into clear drinking water.

He bravely filtered some water in front of everyone and drank it.

Michael Duffy, former King Edward VI School Headteacher, spoke of the three key areas for him about the club — friendship, learning and Rotary service.

The weekly meetings last around 90 minutes. Friendship is through sharing activities like snooker, darts, indoor bowls, golf, and even photo and pudding contests.

There is an informative speaker on most weeks about local need and issues in the community.

There have been visits to RAF Boulmer, Amble lifeboat station, Shotton Open Cast, Marks and Spencer, the Victoria Tunnel and the Theatre Royal.

There have been charity concerts and meals raising money for Collingwood School and Media Arts College, Barnardos Safe and Sound, setting up the flood emergency furniture store and many other local charities. On a regular basis, members help to meet local need.

Every year Morpeth Rotary Club donates ShelterBoxes to be used in international disasters. Last year a husband and wife team, both members, raised enough money through their Golden Wedding celebrations to pay for six boxes at nearly £600 each.

Simon Foley, also from education, said more about the regular local charity work by Rotary to strengthen communities.

They were Message in a Bottle, a scheme that puts vital medical information in a bottle in the fridge in case the householder has collapsed when help arrives, technical and spoken help with the Morpeth Herald Talking Newspaper for registered blind people and delivering meals from two collection points to the Age UK luncheon club on two days each week.

Barry Swan, a local bank manager, spoke about the worldwide Rotary International charity called Rotary Foundation.

Every club member is asked to contribute a significant sum every year. It tackles social causes that change lives.

Morpeth Rotary especially helps Children’s Vision in Bogota, Colombia, which offers care, food, a home, medical support, education and love to around 90 street children.

Rotary Foundation is also the fund that works with the Bill Gates Foundation to eradicate polio.

Lastly, Michael Gaunt, a Morpeth solicitor, gave details of the ShelterBox activity which has seen five boxes paid for by Morpeth Rotary going to Pakistan with another of the boxes on stand-by to go wherever it is needed.

The eight guests and prospective new members were told that Rotary is there to use the skills of members to give something back and make a difference, however small, to anyone locally or abroad who did not get their opportunities.