Rotaract is a unique international service organisation for people aged 18-30. Originally founded in the United States in 1968, Rotaract came to the UK and Ireland in the early 1970s. There are just currently over 60 clubs in the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I), and more than 9,500 clubs across 155 countries worldwide.
The Rotaract Club of Belfast was originally founded in the autumn of 2006 receiving its Charter from Rotary Ireland District Governor Howard Caskie on 8th May 2007. It had been dormant over the last few years but has recently been reconstituted. Council is pleased to support the Belfast Rotaract Club with guidance and seed funding and has committed to continue to provide it.
The Rotaract Club of Belfast is a secular service and social club whose members are primarily composed of undergraduate and postgraduate students at Queen's University Belfast and young professionals and from a wide range of disciplines, professions and continents.
Founded in the autumn of 2006 with 4 members it received its Charter from Rotary Ireland District Governor Howard Caskie on 8th May 2007. It is currently dormant.
The goals of the Club are to:
- Serve the community of Belfast in any number of community initiatives,
- Partner with the Rotary Club of Belfast as well as any other interested Rotary Clubs in District 1160,
- Facilitate a diverse and open environment that promotes reconciliation, goodwill, mutual understanding and an open mind.
Along the way, Club members or Rotaractors enjoy a range of activities, meet new people, make new friends and of course enjoy the 'craic'. By working together, Rotaractors build new skills, enhance personal development and undertake leadership roles all of which can be great for CVs and employability.
The previous Club flourished and under the guidance of the hard working founder member, Laura Garland (a TABU team member 2004), and it has been a great pleasure to see Rotary and Rotaract coming together in common endeavours.
In its short lifetime the Club grew in size and reputation, was very active and achieved many things. In particular, The Rotaract Club of Belfast hosted the District 1160 Rotaract Council Meeting in Belfast on Sunday 2nd March 2009. To be allowed to host a District meeting so early in the Club's life is a huge tribute to the Club and the recognition it had already received within District 1160. They also received a Rotary International Presidential Citation (2009), the Rotary Club of Belfast's Service Award the John Savage Trophy (2010) and undertook many fundraising efforts, some are detailed below.
The Club had a very close relationship with The Rotary Club of Belfast and participated in its social events as well as being involved with the GetSet collaboration with Youth Action NI.
Presenting the award, President Brian Clements stated he was personally delighted to present this award given his long-standing association with the late John Savage and the Club's connection with the Rotaract Club and their great work.
On Saturday 4th September 2010 a number of members of Belfast Rotaract Club and our own intrepid member Past President Marnette completed a sponsored Zip Line across the River Lagan for MacMillan Cancer support.
A Zip Line involves being raised by a crane to a height of 150 feet and crossing the River Lagan suspended from a wire.
Belfast Rotaract members included Laura Garland and Tony Mairs also Trudy Montgomery, a member of Belfast East Rotary Club, and Rotary District 1160 Rotaract Chair arranged it all and did it!
In addition, the Club donated a number of needed items to the Simon Community Shelter; braved the snow in December to spend an hour carolling in the city centre raising over 100 pounds for school children in Kenya; set up a ShelterBox outside of the QUB student's union and raised over £250 for Shelter Box.
5 Rotaractors abseiled down the Europa Hotel in Belfast on 18th April 2010. They included Rotaract Club founder Laura Garland. They were all well supported by the Rotaract Club of Belfast. They were well supported by other members of the Club. Contributions went to the Simon Community.
In March 2010 they created a Peace Mural! Having been allocated a very uninspiring wall in Glengall St. Club Ambassadorial Scholar and Rotaract Member Borjan Zic designed the mural and it was painted by Rotaract members: Donna Swanson (former USA Ambassadorial Scholar) Bri Symm, Michael Savage, Matt Birch, Graham Rainey, Wen Zhang, Ketao Feng and PP Laura Garland.
Borjan said: "I am particularly proud of the project the Belfast Rotaract Club carried out at my suggestion. The Club's Immediate Past President asked for ideas for a community service project that would also serve as an effective public relations promotion for Rotaract and Rotary. I suggested that we design our own peace and reconciliation mural in downtown Belfast. In this way, I thought we could advance Rotaract's visibility and values simultaneously.
Reflecting this in June 2009, Rotaract President Laura Garland was presented by Past District Governor Paul Hutchinson with a Rotary International Presidential Citation, signed by RI President DK Lee, for the Rotaract Club's outstanding efforts to make dreams real for the world's children.