The Rotary Club of Belfast having held its first meeting on 24 July 1911 proudly celebrated its centenary during the 2011/12 Rotary year.
The Club has a remarkable history and we celebrated our Centenary with pride in the achievements of this great Club and we gave thanks for the many Rotarians of vision and compassion who have devoted a part of their lives to the Rotary movement. We have served our community well both here and abroad and we have been true to our motto of “Service above Self”.
The Centenary logo was designed by a graphic designer who gave of his time in recognition of the tremendous fun and fellowship his father, Reg McCadden, received as a member of the Belfast Rotary Club.
To mark this year the Club organised a special programme of memorable events and produced some Centenary memorabilia.
|The logo was incorporated in a lapel pin - the C (for 100) design around the Rotary Cog Wheel is constructed with a fine brass line inside which is blue enamel. The lettering BELFAST and the figures 1911-2011 are also in brass.|
The Centenary Tie was designed by one of the Club’s members, Doris Houston, a recognised local artist.
|Club diaries were also subsequently available for members to buy.|
To commemorate the Centenary the Club published the book The Rotary Club of Belfast...the second fifty years compiled and edited by Past President Gordon Millington. Printed locally the book was published at the end of March 2011.
The first copy was presented by President Brian Clements to the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Pat Convery, who thanked the Club members for their “selfless service in the transformation of our society“.
Whilst not a complete historical record, it is liberally illustrated and leaves the reader with a vibrant impression of the many and varied activities, relationships, connections and contributions the Club has made. Extracts from the Book can be seen here- it is available to purchase @ £5.00.
All monies raised in these sales are going to Foundation
For the Centenary, a special Club Banner was also produced reflecting iconic images of Belfast.
Copies of the Banner and Centenary Book have been presented throughout the year to visitors to the Club, Rotarian and non-Rotarian.
A synopsis of the special Centenary Events is given below please click on each heading to see a full pictorial report on the event. (click on all images to enlarge)
At the instigation of the Belfast Club the RIBI, Belfast and Dublin Presidents with the District Governor met with the Irish President at Áras an Uachtaráin marking the centenary of Rotary in Ireland.
Photo shows (from left) RIBI President Ray Burman and Victoria, District Secretary Niamh Mulholland, President Randall and Jennifer Gray (Dublin), President McAleese, President Adrian and Margaret Kerr and District 1160 District Governor Barney Callaghan and Ursula.
The Club uniquely celebrated its 100th year Birthday in the style of the times in 1911 in the Grand Ballroom, Europa Hotel. The many members and guests present were treated to a lively and hugely enjoyable re-enactment of the first meeting held in the Royal Avenue Hotel at 1.15pm 24 July 1911. We were also delighted to have present Presidents from the Clubs extended by the Rotary Club of Belfast, members who had been at the Club’s Golden Jubilee celebrations and 4 third-generation members. The re-enactment was written by a Past President having researched Club and local library records. In this research he found reference to an account of the meeting in Nomads Weekly and Belfast Critic July 29, 1911 written by one of the participants, Alf Moore, a newspaper proprietor in Berry Street. This and the Club Minutes formed the structure for the enactment.
Following the re-enactment the Black Box sealed by the Golden Jubilee President Stanley Boyd in 1961 and handed to their youngest member Alan White was opened. Aided by PP Arthur Boyd, (Stanley’s son and one of the 3rd generation members) President Adrian, using a hammer and chisel, prised open the box revealing contents in several sealed envelopes. These were passed to several tables and opened simultaneously. It was found that the contents encapsulated those times as they contained mementos of the Jubilee Year including newspapers, maps, menus, bulletins and other Club memorabilia.
Congratulatory greetings from RIBI President Burman were recorded as were the greetings sent from many Clubs throughout Ireland and the UK and, in particular, from our namesake Clubs Maine, USA and Christchurch, NZ.
District 1160 Governor Barney Callaghan addressing the meeting (shown left with Rtn Hilary Gault and Belfast Rotaractor Laura Garland) said on behalf of all Rotarians on the Island that:
"In the context of the history of this island and in the global context of Rotary International as a force for good, the Rotary Club of Belfast stands unique. In the last hundred years the world has experienced much political, social and economic change. This has also been felt in these islands from forces internal as well as external. However, throughout the hundred years of change, some of it traumatic, the Rotary Club has been a rock, a foundation for the future and a force for good. The Rotary Club of Belfast is an example to all Rotarians and indeed to civic society of how to get on with the job of living with a diligent eye on our obligation to our fellow man at home and abroad.”
The gala Charity Dinner held in the magnificent surroundings of the City Hall, Belfast celebrated the Club's 100 years continuous service to the City of Belfast, the island of Ireland and worldwide.
As the centrepiece in our year of celebrations we were delighted to have special guests pictured here with President Adrian (far right) Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for the County Borough of Belfast Dame Mary Peters, Rotary International Great Britain and Ireland President Burman (2nd right) and Rotary1160 District Governor Barney Callaghan (far left). We were also delighted to have present Dublin Club President Mark Doyle and Manchester Club PP Roy Chapman (2 other 1911 Clubs), the Presidents from Cork, Belfast East, Belfast West, Belfast Fortwilliam and Newtownabbey, Past District Governors Wes Armstrong, Gay Berkery, Ray Cosgrove and Paul Hutchinson, Belfast Inner Wheel President Rosie Clements, District Rotaract Representative Laura Garland and District Secretary Niamh Mulholland.
Keynote speeches were given by RIBI President Burman and President Adrian. However, unable to attend due to travel arrangement difficulties, RI President Kaylan Bangeree addressed the gathering by special video link. The formal part of the evening over, the gathering enjoyed the varied musical entertainment performed by the highly talented McGuckin family.
President Adrian and Margaret and 10 members and partners attended the District 1160 Annual Conference 15-18 September 2010 held in Limerick.
The Club's Centenary was uniquely presented to the Conference with:
- the re-enactment of the first meeting of the Club by PP Bryan Johnston, again suitably resplendent in period costume
- the war years by ADG Maurice Brooks
- the contents of the Jubilee filled Black Box by PP Arthur Boyd
- the Club’s experiences during troubles by Rtn Ronnie Porter and
- the Club today and in the future by President Adrian.
In celebration of 100 years of Rotary Service in the City of Belfast and beyond, the Club held an Inter-denominational Service of Thanksgiving in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast. The Choral Evensong was conducted by The Very Reverend John Mann, Dean of Belfast Cathedral. The invited congregation comprised visiting clergy, Dame Mary Peters, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for the County Borough of Belfast, Past District Governors, Officers and members of Rotary Clubs throughout Ireland. In particular the Club invited and were delighted to see present representatives from many of the charitable organisations with which the Club has been associated. Pictured are (from left) PP Brian Clements, Dean John Mann, Heather Carson Chief Executive Abbeyfield Belfast Society, President Adrian, Dame Mary Peters and Christine Olver Resident’s Co-ordinator Abbeyfield Belfast Society. The Club provided the first house for the Abbeyfield Society as its Jubilee project.
A unique section of the service was the blessing by the Dean of the hundreds of messages written on yellow ribbons by members of the public during the Tree of Life Campaign run by the Belfast Club in conjunction with Tesco in the run up to Christmas 2010. The baskets of ribbons were processed by six children and grandchildren of Belfast Club (left of picture). They were placed around a candle of light and hope which was lit by Margaret Kerr. At this point a 12 year old Victoria College student sang a moving solo of John Rutter’s Clare Benediction (pictured right). Prayers of intercession were given by representatives of the other Churches in the City, the extended Rotary Family and some of the many charities the Club has been involved with over the years.
Many of the Service congregation then continued to May St Church (now a concert venue) for a special Rotary Family Concert.
Held especially for the Club Centenary, the Club were delighted that the award winning Music Theatre for Youth (MT4Uth) concluded their Belfast Festival's run of their spectacular musical West Side Story with a special Rotary Family Concert. MT4Uth have gained a reputation as Ireland’s most exceptional performing company; they are the only All-Ireland performing arts education charity for 11 – 25 year olds. The 50 strong, talented, young cast, selected from auditions across Ireland, entertained, thrilled and delighted all the audience with a show of song, dance and drama.
A special day was had by the Club when the Club proudly celebrated the Centenary by attending the 21 Royal Gun Salute fired at noon Monday 14 November 2011, the birthday of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales at Hillsborough Castle.
At this singular event 3 ceremonial light guns were fired by a ceremonial troop from 206 (Ulster) Battery, Royal Artillery (Volunteers) at 12 noon; simultaneously with salutes held in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Gibraltar, York and Stirling. The troop was then inspected by our new Honorary Member Dame Mary Peters, DBE, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for the County of Belfast.
The Club were delighted to have present District Governor Barney Callaghan, Past District Governors, representatives from other Rotary Clubs, members and guests together with Officers and some Cadets from the University Officer Training Corps, Belfast.
The Club started collecting used spectacles for VAO 10 years ago and in collaboration with the Rotary Club of North Down developed a special collecting box. However in 2008, with just over 50,000 pairs collected, the Club set itself a challenge to collect 100,000 pairs by June 2012 to mark the end of the Club’s Centenary year and thanks to a huge effort this target has now been reached a year early – in fact before our Centenary year even began. The current total is 125,000 and rising.
The Club is very grateful to all the Rotary Clubs in Ireland who have collected spectacles as well as the countless people who have so generously given of their time to donate, collect and process the spectacles. The glasses have been sent out by VAO with groups of volunteer optometrists.
Club Vice President Alan Rundle, an optometrist, decided that during the Centenary year he would take part in one of those teams and (shown right) in January 2012 PE Alan Rundle spent 2 weeks in Ghana. During their 14 day trip the team provided screening for over 800 individuals, prescribing spectacles when appropriate, and referring to the local eye hospital any conditions that required further intervention.
He states: “It was the most remarkable fortnight. Very challenging, but also very rewarding. It was a great opportunity to work with a group of very talented young optometrists and also to meet some wonderful people in their local environment.”
28 January 2012 - Rotarians throughout Ireland meet in Belfast and celebrate the Centenary of Rotary in Ireland.
District Governor Barney Callaghan decided to hold District 1160 (Ireland)’s January Quarterly Council meeting at the Stormont Hotel Saturday 28 January 2012 in honour of the Centenary as he had been touched to see present at the Centenary Meeting 3rd generation of founder members and a long service member.
Following the District Council Meeting Rotarians joined with their partners and friends and spent a special evening enjoying a tour with dinner in Parliament Buildings, Stormont. The Club were delighted to organise this dinner in the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings.
It was kindly hosted, on behalf of the Club, by Michelle McIlveen MLA (picture shows from left Ursula and District Governor Barney Callaghan, Michele McIlveen MLA, President Adrian and Margaret Kerr). Welcoming everyone to Parliament Buildings and Belfast, Michele stated that she was honoured to sponsor the evening and delighted that District had chosen Parliament Buildings in this important Centenary year for Rotary in Ireland. Congratulating all Rotarians, being conscious of the good work Rotary does at home and abroad, she stated that she was in awe of their so readily giving up their time and making a difference. She particularly congratulated the Belfast Club on their legendary work and their Centenary.
Members and their guests were privileged and delighted to attend the Club's House of Lords Dinner on Thursday 31 May 2012 on the eve of the Diamond Jubilee weekend. Nearly 120 gathered at the Palace of Westminster for the Dinner kindly hosted by The Lord Laird of Artigarvan and Kevin Cahill and we were joined by Rotarians from the London and Kingston Rotary Clubs, their Guests and other representatives from North, South America, Australia and Europe.
Lord Laird, resplendent in his Kilt, welcomed the Guests in the Great Hall of Westminster, and gave an extended tour of both Houses of Parliament and other Rooms and Chambers at Westminster. Following a convivial reception dinner was enjoyed in the House of Lords Peers Dining Room during which entertainment was provided by performers from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
The Club held Hillsborough Castle’s largest ever Charity Garden Party on Friday 29 June. Concluding the Club’s Centenary year it was attended by over 600 people from all of Ireland, GB and USA, raised much needed funds for Charity and featured exceptional entertainment.
It celebrated the Centenary of Rotary in Ireland with the Dublin and Belfast Clubs having been founded in 1911 and at the conclusion of the party President Adrian (Belfast Club) and President Mark Doyle (Dublin Club) held aloft Dame Mary Peters' Olympic torch aloft to herald the next 100 hundred years of Rotary in Ireland.
This was a garden party with a difference… and a remarkable day for Rotary in Ireland. The magnificent sum of over £13, 000 was raised for the charities End Polio Now, SOS Bus and FASA.
The Garden Party Album video can be seen by clicking on image.
The Club decided that the Centenary Project should be a follow up to the project launched for the Centenary of Rotary International in 2005 of a ‘Life Education Centre’ which was part of a UK-wide initiative, to bring education on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse to the attention of primary school children. A mobile unit was provided then which was staffed and resourced by accredited educators, being towed to primary schools in the greater Belfast area, working with teachers from both communities, encouraging the children to say no to drugs and alcohol at an early formative stage in their lives. The successful initiative was taken over by the Belfast Health and Social Service Trust in 2006, but ended in 2010, due to the lack of funds and the need to target resources at ever increasing priority areas. As a result, the Life Education Centre unit has been returned to the Club. We have considered various voluntary organisations to seek alternative uses for the unit in the much needed area of combating drug abuse and the resultant damage it causes in the more socially deprived areas of Belfast.
The chosen Centenary Project involves fitting out the old LEC unit as a mobile counselling centre to be towed to the ‘drug hot spots’ in the city, where trained counsellors can work with drug abusers and potential drug abusers and their families to encourage them to seek further help and treatment for their problem. The Club are delighted that the Minister for Justice, David Ford MLA, has agreed that the Prisons Service in NI would collaborate with the Club and refurbish the trailer. The Club have selected the Forum Against Substance Abuse (FASA) to take control of the completed unit and extend their work in this area to a much larger target audience and client base in the greater Belfast area and other hot spot locations.
This project demonstrates the Club’s practical commitment to the most vulnerable in society, to which we have been committed over the last 100 years and are committed to serve for the next 100 years.