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 with a the C (for 100) design around the Rotary Cog Wheel 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 produced some Centenary memorabilia (click on images to enlarge).
The logo was incorporated in a lapel pin is constructed with a fine brass line inside which is blue enamel. The lettering BELFAST and the figures 1911-2011 are also in brass; a Centenary Tie was designed by one of the Club's members, Doris Houston, a recognised local artist; Club diaries were also available for members to buy and a special Club Banner was produced reflecting iconic images of Belfast.
The Club also 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. Copies are available from the Club. All monies raised in these sales go to Foundation.
The Club also organised a special programme of memorable events.
At the instigation of the Belfast Club RIBI President Ray Burman and Victoria, Belfast Club President Adrian and Margaret Kerr and Dublin Club President Randall and Jennifer Gray with the District Governor Barney Callaghan and Ursula met with the Irish President at Áras an Uachtaráin marking the centenary of Rotary in Ireland.
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 (who included 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) 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. 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.
District 1160 Governor Barney Callaghan addressing the meeting 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." A full report and slideshow of images can be seen here.
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 Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant for the County Borough of Belfast Dame Mary Peters, Rotary International Great Britain and Ireland President Burman and Rotary1160 District Governor Barney Callaghan. 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. A full report and slideshow of images can be seen here.
President Adrian and Margaret and 10 members and partners attended the District 1160 Annual Conference 1518 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 interdenominational 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 Coordinator 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. A full report and slideshow of images can be seen here.
After the Centenary Service many of the congregation 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 this special 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. President Elect Alan Rundle introducing the performance stated that The Rotary Club of Belfast were delighted to have offered this concert in conjunction with them.
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. A full report and slideshow of images can be seen here.
October 2011 100,000 Spectacles collected announced
The Club has collected used spectacles for Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) and since the year 2000 in collaboration with the Rotary Club of North Down who developed a special attractive and effective 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. This was supported by Rotary Ireland and in March 2009 the Centenary Spectacles Project was launched by District. Many other clubs either made contact for information or sent spectacles directly to us and thanks to a huge effort this target was reached a year early – in fact before our Centenary year even began with over 125,000 collected. The Club is very grateful to all the Rotary Clubs in Ireland who 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 were 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 in January 2012 PE Alan Rundle spent 2 weeks in Ghana. More here...
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, Michelle 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. More here...
31 May 2012 Visit to the House of Lords
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.
29 June 2012 Rotary Ireland Charity Garden Party
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. A full report and slideshow of images can be seen here.
The culmination of the Club's Centenary was the handover of the Centenary project by President Alan to FASA and the launch of FASA's YETI project by The Lord Mayor, Alderman Gavin Robinson, and Dame Mary Peters at the City Hall, Wednesday 29 May. The Club decided to commemorate the Club's Centenary 2011/12 with a Centenary Project which refurbished a mobile trailer for the Belfast charity FASA (Forum Against Substance Abuse) who provide specialist services in relation to prevention, education, training and intervention on issues relating to self-harm and the misuse of drugs, alcohol and other substances. The new trailer would enable them to extend their work to a much larger target audience and client base in the greater Belfast area and other hot spot locations by their being able tow it 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 problems.
The trailer had previously been donated by the Club in 2005 as part of the Belfast Club's recognition of 100 years of Rotary to the Education and Library Board as a Life Education Facility and was no longer being used by them. The Club allocated £25,000 to this venture fitting out a trailer to FASA's specification and are delighted that it will be put to such a good use in their work against youth suicide, drug and solvent abuse. The Lord Mayor and Dame Mary Peters, launching the project, heartily endorsed FASA's new venture and congratulated the Club. The full report can be read here.
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.
A unique year with unique events, epitomizing that Rotary quietly gets things done, helps others but has fun whilst doing it and we greatly look forward to the next hundred years of Rotary in Ireland.