Rotary’s important place in history

Not long after ‘Rotary Round Up’ was launched in the Worthing Herald, Rotarian John Brenton wrote ‘What is Rotary? And how did it get its name?’

He outlined the founding of this great institution by Paul Harris, on February 23, 1905, to be one of the world’s first service organisations to allow professionals of differing backgrounds to exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships.

Rotary’s name derived from the group’s practice of rotating meetings between the offices of each member.

Rotarians have not only been present for major events in history, but have been a part of them, for example by a role in the founding of the United Nations.

By the time that the Worthing Rotary Club was founded in 1922, Rotary had clubs on six continents, all trying to solve some of our world’s most challenging problems.

During the Second World War, Rotary clubs in Austria, Germany Italy, Japan and Spain were forced to disband.

However, after the war, Rotary members joined together to rebuild their clubs and their countries.

Rotary began its fight against polio in 1979, when 385,000 people in the world were contracting this awful and often crippling disease, by immunising six million children in the Philippines.

At present, this disease is confined to three or four countries, with the number of victims down to a few thousand.

Since the start the war against polio, Rotary has played a major part in organising the immunisation of well over two billion children.

Members are still fundraising and campaigning to increase awareness of this scourge, together with partners the International Red Cross, the Bill Gates Foundation and several US health agencies, and Rotarians have taken part in the mass vaccinations, particularly in India.

Famous Rotarians include Warren Harding, US president; Jan Sibelius, Finnish composer; Guglielmo Marconi, Italian inventor of the wireless and a Nobel Prize winner; Dr Charles Mayo, co-founder of the Mayo Clinic; Thomas Mann, novelist and Nobel laureate; Jan Masaaryk, Czech foreign minister; and Sir Harry Lauder, the Scotttish entertainer, to name but a few.