Rotary Club of Belfast

John Savage Trophy


The John A Savage Memorial Trophy and Bursary is awarded by the Club annually to the individual or group selected as giving great service to the Community. Inaugurated in 2009 the Cup has been specially refurbished and created in memory of former member the late John Savage.

The 2022-23 Award has been awarded to
Corrymeela for The Seeds of Hope Project

Corrymeela07The Club are delighted to award the 2022-23 John Savage Award and Bursary to Corrymeela for the Seeds of Hope project which is being supported by the Club as well as the Rotary Clubs of Dublin, San Antonio Texas and The Hague Metropolitan. The Project which is in a pilot stage this year aims to bring cross community groups of young people together and foster relationships.

Following an outline of the history of the Award and the Club member it is in memory of, by Eric Rainey and Past President Brian Clements respectively, the Trophy was presented to Sylvia Gordon, Head of Programme by Past President Brian during a joint Belfast and Dublin Rotary Club visit to Corrymeela, Tuesday 14 May 2024.


The John Savage Trophy has been created from an historic award – the RR Bowman Silver Cup which, with thanks to Eric Rainey and Past President Craig McClelland has been refurbished with a new wooden plinth which displays the winners from 2009. R R Bowman was a Club member who died about 50 years ago. He was a great horticulturist and had particular ability in growing beautiful scented roses. The Silver Cup, given by him to our Club, was awarded for many years at our Autumn Flower Show, for the best Rose in Show. It was often won by the late Rotarian David A. Dorman, O.B.E. K.O.L - a Belfast Rotarian for well over 50 years and also a wonderful horticulturist.

Trophy15John Savage (pictured top right) born 12.04.1929, was a Club member who died over 20 years ago. A man of action with great ability, high ethical and moral standards - his Scouting career was unique! - Scout Master; Group Scout Leader and latterly President of his own Group. John resigned as Director (having followed an engineering career) in Craig's in 1972 to follow a career that he much loved, in Scouting - an extension of his lifetime hobby. With many awards for his Community Service he was Field Commissioner 1972 - 74 and Executive Commissioner 1974 until his death. He brought three Scout Associations in Ireland together. 'A man behind everything' he was appointed J.P. for his work in Juvenile courts; was a member of SELB from 1985; Chairman NI Standing Conference of Youth Organisations; member of the Board of Governors, Special School for Handicapped children, Newtownards; and a member of the Programme of Training Sub Committee (London H.Q.). On joining the Rotary Club of Belfast, John quickly entered into the Work and Service under the Aims & Objects of Rotary. Possibly, one of his greatest contributions in Rotary and Scouting was his re-establishing the Rotary Boys' Camp, at Crawfordsburn Scout Centre 1977, with Pat Smyrl and Denise O'Neill, Scouts and Ranger Guides. He nurtured the disadvantaged children attending the Camps, as they enjoyed the experience of sleeping under canvas with a simple Scout programme, and he made a lasting difference to many lives.

Previous Awards

  • JS Award 2022 PresentationThe Club awarded the 2021-22 John Savage Trophy and Bursary to the East Belfast Survivors of Suicide Support Group and President Steven was delighted to present them to Claire Curran at the Club meeting Monday 16 January 2023. Accepting it Clare greatly thanked for the recognition which means so much. 

    SOS was formed in September 2006 as a response to the rise in suicides in the East Belfast Area. It was setup and is managed by some of the family and friends of those who lost their lives to suicide its aim being to provide help and comfort to those left behind by providing a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen, giving families a safe place to talk about their loss when they are ready and trying to answer to the many questions that are asked in the aftermath of a sudden death by suicide. They have grown over the last 16 years and now also provide support to those who have attempted suicide or had serious suicidal thoughts.
  • IMG 5763The Club awarded the 2020-21 Trophy and Bursary to PeacePlayers NI and President Ken was delighted to be able to present it to them Thursday 02 December 2021.

    PeacePlayers is an international organisation which originated in the USA, but now also works in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, the Middle East and South Africa. They, applying their very powerful message that: “Children who play together can learn to live together”, use the power of sport, specifically basketball, to unite, educate and inspire young people to create a more peaceful world, by offering sport programming, peace education, and leadership development to those living in communities in conflict. They challenge the hate that is driven by the fear of our differences and aim to: Bridge Divides - by building deep, lasting friendships among young people from communities with histories of conflict; Develop Leaders - by working through sport with young people to create leaders; thereby bridging divides, unifying their communities and serving as advocates for change and Change Perceptions - by using the public nature of sport to illustrate the potential for cooperation to the broader community.
  • RioghnachMurphyWorkWithHomelessFamiliesThe Club were delighted to award the 2019-20 John Savage Trophy and Bursary to the Salvation Army Belfast, Grosvenor Lifehouse Project which provides shelter for homeless families and which Salvation Army believe helps improve life chances and make a difference to some of the most vulnerable in society.

    The Salvation Army operates over 80 Lifehouses across the UK and the Republic of Ireland, so called because they are more than a place to stay; they are places where people can get support with their housing issues and with other aspects of their lives. The Grosvenor Lifehouse provides shelter for 18 homeless families in Belfast with a vision to support the most vulnerable and to create opportunities for families who quite often feel a sense of hopelessness and despair. There are around 2,000 families without homes in NI impacting 6,000 children and the Salvation Army believe it is extremely important to have somewhere for children to play as it is through play, they learn how to interact, self-regulate, distinguish good from bad etc., as well as developing personally - if there is no home there can be no play. It was not possible to present the Award in person ; the picture shows Salvation Army Belfast's Rioghnach Murphy when she spoke to the Club about the Lifehouse in February 2020.
  • JohnSavageCupGroupThe Club were delighted to award the 2018-19 John Savage Trophy and Bursary to YMCA Belfast which, with inspirational leaders, works with children, young people, families and the community and supports young people to achieve their potential and their goals. 

    President Mark presented it to YMCA Belfast General Secretary Howard Davey with YMCA’s Youth and Community Development Worker Brian Moore and Lydia Niece at the Club meeting Monday 04 June 2019 pictured right with Club Rotarians Eric Rainey (far left) and Past President Brian Clements (far right). 
    Accepting and thanking for the Award Howard Davey advised that the 05 June is not only the 75th anniversary of D-Day but also the 175th anniversary of the YMCA and, though now worldwide, Dublin and Belfast were the first locations outside London – the YMCA has been in Belfast for 159 years and, since 2003, is based at Stranmillis. He stressed that they aim to connect with young people and families at the point of need on a one-to-one basis. The YMCA Belfast has three main areas of service – youth and community work with teenagers; childcare, after school clubs and holiday clubs with pre-school and primary school children; and health and fitness programmes for all ages from teenagers to pensioners. He pointed out particularly that they have 150 children playing football, their small fitness facility is of particular value to retired people and teenagers and emphasised that they are not dependent on grant funding but avail of it and any donations.
    Brian Moore and Lydia Niece spoke particularly about the success of their Connect Project which started in 2013 and is a non-educational project based in 5 schools which working directly with the young people uses dialogue and interactive learning methods to tackle issues of diversity, the religious divide in Northern Ireland and associated issues including online security and night-time safety.

    IMG 0334Lydia concluded by thanking the Club for seeing the value in their work and invited the Club to visit which happened on Monday 27 January 2020. 7 Club members led by Eric Rainey - PE Ken, David Boyd, Brian Clements, John McCleery, John O'Carroll and Alan Rundle were made extremely welcome and were hugely impressed by the tremendous work being done and the results achieved as well as the fact that the team has used the John Savage Award incorporating it positively in its programmes. 

    Manager Howard Davey reviewed the history of the YMCA in Belfast from its origins in 1850, its residence in Wellington Place to its current facilities in a 14 acre site next to Lagan Meadows. He advised The Belfast organisation is IMG 0331now a separate limited company charity which no longer has sporting teams of its own on the extensive playing fields but partners with Aquinas and others in making the facilities available. It is largely funded from the Wellington Place legacy and can, therefore, follow its own approaches to identified needs not influenced by funders’ requirements. YMCA Belfast Limited has 3 strands – Childcare, Fitness and Youth; Childcare being provided through a new purpose-built nursery on site together with After-school and Holiday Clubs and Fitness through the Gym Fitness Centre with personal training and external classes. 
    IMG 0332
    The recipient of the John Savage Award was the Youth Section run by Brian Moore, ably supported by Peter McNiece and Lydia Brush. Its Programmes include The Connect Project; Duke of Edinburgh Award; NI National Citizenship Scheme; Youth in Government; Volunteer Training; M-Power; Peace lV Schools Project Partnership and, above all, provides Experiences. The Youth Team each enthusiastically described their work in East Belfast Schools funded by the proceeds from the former Montpottinger YMCA. This work demonstrates their needs based, hands on approach of individual involvement and communication - “conversations” - with each child. These are not lecture led but conversation driven and much appreciated by the schools who benefit.

    The Rotarians present were amazed by the tremendous work being done and the results achieved as well as the fact that the team has used the John Savage Award incorporating it positively in its programmes.
  • ThomasPresRosemaryAndPierce
    The Club were delighted to award the 2017-18 John Savage Trophy and Bursary to the unique project R-City, based in North Belfast, which is having an immense impact on young people. It was presented by President Rosemary on Monday 18 June to Thomas Turley (Leader) and Pierce McConnell (former participant now a volunteer).

    R-City is a project between Shankill & Ardoyne communities that works with young people to enhance their personal development through an informal approach. It was founded by two dedicated Youth Workers, Alan and Thomas, who identified the need to enable, empower and support young people. It has developed extensive links not only throughout this island but also internationally and links with YouthAction and the Belfast Activity Centre (both previous recipients of the John Savage Award). In addition, the project is well respected by statutory and voluntary sectors in the area. The name ‘R-City’ is a play on “Our–City” and CITY stands for - Communities Integrating Through Youth. Following the presentation, Thomas outlined the history of R-City detailing how it came into operation and describing the whole concept of bringing young people together from the Ardoyne and Shankill communities of Belfast. Initially 15 teenagers (15years+) from each area on a 3-year cycle were taken to a 5-day camp held at Ballintoy in August. It is not just about meeting people from other areas of Belfast but developing relationships over time with both “sides” to the extent that they were happy in each other’s company. The venture has been so successful that the numbers applying have now expanded to 100+ per camp. This is an absolute limit on capacity with the facilities available. R-City places focus on leadership - in work; in the community; in sport; friendship groups; whichever place or experience young people find themselves and it is a leadership programme with 3 elements:
    • leadership and developing a skills base
    • education, employment and enterprise/entrepreneurship
    • positive youth addressing the often-negative image which young people have in communities
    It is not a quick fix, rather it supports young people on an experiential, learning journey over the three year period commencing with the camp. Emphasis is placed on accreditation of training undertaken including first aid, drugs awareness and other relevant training courses tailored to suit the needs of the individual.

    Club members VP Ken Nixon, Past President Brian Clements, Past President David Boyd, Eric Rainey and John McCleery had an inspiring visit Monday 04 February when they met Alan Waite and Thomas Turley who revealed the R-City project’s vision and effectiveness was providing something very special indeed. They were also privileged to have a discussion with the highly impressive Passionist priest Father Gary Donegan. The Club have offered its support to them particularly in providing interview skills, CV preparation etc. and wish them continued success in their work.
  • JohnSavageAward to BAC3The John Savage Memorial Trophy 2015-16 was awarded to the Belfast Activity Centre who have over 25 years' experience of challenging and inspiring young people and those young at heart, to realise their full potential. It was presented by President Ivan to CEO Stephen Dickson and Chairman Tom Scott OBE at the Club meeting Monday 27 February 2017.  

    BAC annually supports over 20,000 young people to expand their personal and social development through outdoor adventure learning. Located close to Malone house in Barnett's Park BAC works with over 200 groups and organisations to deliver bespoke programmes to meet educational, motivational and team building outcomes. BACLeafletThey focus on outdoor activities such as: caving, high/low ropes, climbing/bouldering, mountain biking, archery, orienteering, geo-catching, canoeing and kayaking, team games and bushcraft. Their core projects engage young people considered at most disadvantage, socially and economically and include longer-term programmes to support disability access and participation, work with young people from disadvantaged communities and projects focused upon supporting marginalised groups and young people. By using the vehicle of outdoor activities BAC provides an experiential learning opportunity and approach that helps young people to better engage, understand and learn through active participation. 

    P1090048P1090048On Monday 23 October President Rosemary led a group of members to the Centre. They spent a fascinating morning experiencing several activities including exploring the unique ‘above ground’ man-made caves and having a go at archery. They came away amazed that such a comprehensive outdoor educational facility was on the doorstep and were very impressed that not only over 20,000 young people every year already make use of this excellent facility but also the emergency services use it for training purposes.
  • KatrinaPresRonnieGeraldineAnneWithTrophyandChequeThe John Savage Memorial Trophy 2014-15 was awarded to New Lodge Arts Group

    It was accepted at the Meeting on Monday 15 February by Katrina Newell, Head of Arts and Youth Development along with Geraldine Wilkins, Chair of the Board, and Anne Delaney, Arts Programme and Operations Manager who expressed their thanks. They are a community arts organisation based in the Greater New Lodge area of North Belfast which provides opportunities for people of all ages to actively engage with and participate in a wide range of art forms that they would not otherwise be exposed to.

    NLAlogoNew Lodge Arts initially began life in 2003 as a one-year pilot programme by Ashton Community Trust. Nurtured by Katrina it has continued to expand with greatly increased participation and audiences covering not only the New Lodge area but right across North Belfast. In partnership with local community and youth groups, artists and other arts organisations it ensures that its programmes are appealing and appropriate to people, whatever their need. They include the Arts Academy, Youth Development, Flagship Events & Festivals, Partnership Programmes, International Projects, Taster Projects and Adult Projects. 

    During 2014/15: 3849 participants took part in 795 workshops/events across North Belfast; 13,937 audience numbers attended and 40 community/youth groups/schools took part in various projects. Their vision is that through creative arts people will be able to "realise their full potential so as to contribute fully to the cultural and civic life of Belfast". They highlighted 'Ryan' who started participating aged 13 but through the development opportunities supported by the group has progressed to management and is now employed by them; the adult drawing class that has expanded into a Community Club and the how the international projects provide opportunities for those who have never been out of NI.

    FabLabFollowing the presentation of the Award they invited members to their FabLab at the Ashton Centre to hear about and see their work first hand 8 members went on 23 April 2016 and experienced their excellent facility. FabLabs – digital fabrication laboratories – were set up to inspire people and entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into new products and prototypes by giving them access to a range of advanced digital manufacturing technology. The idea was conceived by renowned inventor and scientist Professor Neil Gershenfeld at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His idea was a simple one: to provide the environment, skills, advanced materials and technology to make things cheaply and quickly anywhere in the world, and to make this available on a local basis to entrepreneurs, students, artists, small businesses and in fact, anyone who wants to create something new or bespoke. (picture shows the FABLAB in operation). 7 members also visited the Fablab on Monday 15 March 2017. They were all highly impressed with the facility those who had no real concept of Fablab prior to the visit were totally amazed PP Gordon MIllilngton speaking reporting to the Club on the visit noted that absolutely anything is possible if we can only unlock the potential in young people and recommended such a visit to all members.
  • JimNicholsonAcceptsAward15The 2013-144 Trophy was awarded to YouthActionNI.

    It was accepted by Deputy Chairman Jim Nicholson at the meeting 19 January 2015 who in turn thanked the Club. More information on YouthAction NI and the Club's support for it can be seen here.
  • 2011-12 JS AwardThe 2011-12 Trophy was awarded to SOS Bus NI.

    It was accepted by SOSBus NI CEO Joe Hyland at the meeting 28 October 2013.

    More information on SOS Bus NI and the Club's support for it can be seen here.


  • 2010-11 JS AwardThe John A Savage Trophy for 2010-11 was presented on 21st February 2011 to the Belfast Rotaract Club.

    The award was collected, on behalf of the Rotaract Club by President Tom Eisenhart and founder member Laura Garland.

    Presenting the award, President Brian Clements stated he was personally delighted to present this award given his long-standing association with John Savage and the connection with the Rotaract Club.

    2009 JS Award
    The first recipients of the Trophy were the Harmony Hill Presbyterian Church Youth Group for their work on the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme and commitment to young people. The Trophy was presented on 23rd November 2009 by President Arthur Boyd to Heather Best, Harmony Hill Open Centre and, by chance, two of PP Alan White's grandchildren - Peter and Sarah White were on the winning team! click image to enlarge

Join Us

Membership of the Club is an incredibly rewarding and enjoyable experience and we are actively looking for new people to invite to join and breathe new vibrancy and ideas into the Club and take Rotary into its second century in Belfast.

If you think Rotary may be for you, or for further information, please contact us.

Getting involved with Rotary could be the most important thing you ever do.

Contact the Club

If you would like to contact the Club,

please click here to use our Contact Form