ONCE thought of as a gentlemen’s dinner club, the Rotary has come a long way in the last few decades.
Now, it is a progressive organisation, made up of professional men and women, helping those in need both at home and across the globe.
In Worthing alone, there are three clubs – Worthing, Worthing Steyne and West Worthing – each of which raises thousands of pounds for charity every year as well as providing a lively social scene for all its members.
I went along to meet the three club presidents – John Rogers, from Worthing, Jim Farley, from Worthing Steyne, and Trish Sullivan, from West Worthing – to find out more about life as a Rotarian.
Each of the clubs meets weekly for a meal, and there are committees to discuss the club’s work both in the UK and abroad.
Within the last year, they have helped organisations from the Salvation Army, by providing money to pay for Christmas boxes for disadvantaged families, to supporting street children in Thailand.
John Rogers, a former borough councillor, joined the Rotary seven years ago. He said: “It’s been absolutely brilliant. For me, one of the best bits is doing things for children. Each year we take children on a Kids Day Out to Chessington, and it’s great seeing their faces.”
Each of the presidents chooses a charity to support during their year-long term at the top. John has chosen Ferring Country Centre, Jim the MS Society and Trish opted for Canine Partners. They will each host fund-raisers during the year specifically for these organisations.
Trish is one of just two women in the West Worthing club, and said she was keen for more to join the Rotary. She felt it could be that they did not know they could join, as until a few years ago it had been a men-only club.
She said: “My husband, Colin, was a Rotarian, and when he died six years ago, at his funeral somebody suggested I join. I thought about it, and thought it would be a good thing for me to give me a sense of purpose and to make new friends. They welcomed me and I now have a wider circle of friends. I’m very glad I did it.”
Long-standing Rotarian Jim joined the organisation in 1988, and has been in the Worthing Steyne club since 2001. He said he did so because he “liked their aims and objectives” and the idea of putting a little back into the community and enjoying the social side, too”.
All three presidents were in agreement about how rewarding it was, and said they were looking for new members, especially younger people.
They said: “We’d encourage anybody to do it as you are helping to support the local community and are putting something back, while also bearing in mind the needs of those abroad.
“You don’t have any strict obligations, but we like people who come regularly and are willing to do their share. On top of that, you have fun and friendship. You make lots of friends and there’s a good social scene. There is a great sense of pride in what you’re doing.”