Worthing Rotary Club shake up as new president plans radical reform

Marlene Butler is the new president for Worthing Rotary Club
Marlene Butler is the new president for Worthing Rotary Club

Worthing Rotary Club’s new president will be radically reforming the way it runs and bring in some new fundraising events to support local charities.

Marlene Butler takes over the chain of office on Monday, July 1, and high on her list for action is myth busting about the function and purpose of the Rotary movement.

She says it has the reputation of a retired gentleman’s luncheon club, so she plans to bring in a new structure, emphasising there are now as many women as there are men.

Marlene said: “Rotary Clubs have had an unfortunate link to that image in the past but it has totally changed in recent years and the whole Rotary International movement has recognised that if we are to remain a force for good in the local community, we must do things very differently.

“I want the community to talk to us about how we can help, what is needed and where, and we will support them. I aim to recognise smaller charities struggling for funds, increase our involvement in the community and will be looking to set up a new Community Champion award scheme locally, for young people, adults and community organisations. We will be inviting nominations from across the community for the awards.”

Marlene has been a Rotarian for five years, joining when she moved south from her native Nottinghamshire.

She firmly believes Rotary has an important role to play in the community, perhaps more so than ever.

Marlene said: “We are uniquely placed to help the community because we are part of it, formed from its members. Our doors are open and we want local people to contact us, tell us how we can help, as well as businesses which may want to work with us to increase their charitable profile.”

Each year, the Rotary president selects a charity for the year and so far, Marlene aims to support British Red Cross in Sussex and Worthing Community Chest, working with both to reach diverse parts of the community.

Young people will also be a real focus, with schemes like the Young Writer Competition, the Youth Speaks debating competition and the Worthing Rotary Hobbies and Leisure Exhibition, which aims to show what is on offer for young people.

Marlene said: “We need people to talk to us. We are changing our meeting format so that we meet once a month in the early evening to attract more young members and we will be going out to local organisations to tell them what we can do and to ask how we can help them.”

Her first big event will be a new one, the Worthing Promenade Walk on Sunday, August 18, run in partnership with Worthing Community Chest. This will offer a 5k and 10k seafront route between Goring Greensward and Splash Point.

Entry is £10, split between Worthing Rotary Club and Worthing Community Chest. Every walker will be able to raise money for their own charities. Visit www.worthingrotary.org for more information.

Marlene will then launch the new Young Community Champion later in the year.

Internationally, Rotary has pledged to eradicate polio and is making giant strides towards this, something Worthing Rotary Club will continue to support.