Aberystwyth Rotary Club celebrates its 70th birthday next month. Huw has caught up with this year’s Club President, Martin Davies, to find out more.
So Martin, happy birthday to Aberystwyth Rotary Club! Can you explain why the club has continued to be so successful and is now ranked, so I’ve heard, as one of the largest Rotary clubs in Wales?
Thanks Huw. Yes, we’ve managed to maintain an active membership of around 40 for many years now, comprising men and women from different backgrounds. I think the best explanation for its continued success is that the club has a really worthwhile purpose and has attracted members, in a social environment, to fulfil its mission.
I’ve certainly seen Rotary in town a lot recently, but it would be good to hear from you what Rotary is all about.
We’re a “service club”. We engage in activities that are of value to the community at large, on a local and international level. Locally, for example, we promote youth activities here in Aberystwyth by arranging competitions; annually sponsoring two local under 23-year-olds, one on an overseas humanitarian visit and another on a Rotary Leadership course; arranging an away-fun-day for local disabled children; and working with the local schools in providing mock university and job interviews.
Aside from the youth activities, club members also help the community in other practical ways: volunteering their time to assist with the newspaper delivery rounds at Bronglais or providing transport for the visually impaired, for example, and by marshalling at local events. And don’t forget our annual Christmas street collection, which consistently raises about £3,000 for local charities.
The club is part of an international organisation and we also contribute on a global level. One of Rotary’s greatest achievements has been the almost complete eradication of polio from the planet. On 24th October 2017 the National Library of Wales was illuminated in purple in support of this cause, and a photograph of the Library has subsequently been circulated to a worldwide audience It’s good to think that Aberystwyth is now linked to this project. We contribute to other international charities as well, like increasing the supply of clean water in developing countries. You can do your bit, Huw, by dropping some coins into our Wishing Well on the promenade, now devoted to Water Aid, raising about £900 annually.
That sounds pretty impressive Martin. How do you manage to get so much done?
It’s down to teamwork. Being a member of Rotary means being a working member. All the members chip in and help each other out with the various projects. Nothing is compulsory and each member is free to get involved with as many or as few projects as he or she wishes, but there is a well-developed spirit of co-operation and friendship in the club with plenty of volunteers for everything we do. That’s the great thing about the club, the enthusiasm of the members to help each other out in achieving a worthwhile goal.
You mentioned at the outset, Martin, the social environment in which the club meets. I take it there’s more involved to membership than hard work?
Yes, most certainly.The social side of membership is very important. Weekly meetings result in friendships bring struck up quickly between the members. Social evening meetings are arranged for the members, partners and guests, so those friendships often involve entire families. We arrange sports competitions, we have an enthusiastic quiz team, and we organise day trips or longer mini breaks to places of interest.
Participation in any of this is completely voluntary, of course, but the opportunity to get involved is there.
I have to ask you, how exclusive is Rotary and how expensive is it to join?
Firstly Huw, I can say that the club is most definitely not exclusive. Anyone who wishes to make a positive contribution is welcome to join. We invite potential members to contact us and then attend a couple of our lunchtime meetings to see first-hand what the club is about. We usually meet on Tuesdays in the Marine Hotel at 12.45pm. As for the cost, we keep the membership fee to an absolute minimum, and the latest information, including contact details, is on our website - www.aberystwythrotaryclub.org.
Well, thanks Martin for that insight into the Aberystwyth Rotary Club. I’ve taken the hint, so my next stop will be the Wishing Well on the prom!