IT STARTED with the building of a public toilet in the middle of Chicago and ever since Rotarians have been busy doing good works and having fun throughout the world.
Trouble is that in the process they’d come to be seen as a bunch of older be-suited men sitting in stuffy rooms just happy to keep congratulating themselves.
All that is changing now though and with a woman at the helm, the revolution is driving on apace.
Amanda Watkins is UK secretary of Rotary International’s Great Britain and Ireland and from its HQ in Kinwarton Road, Alcester, she’s changing the face of an organisation that’s been seen as staid for too long.
“We’ve got 150 years of history and yes there is this perception of us being a elitist, male organisation, but that’s not the reality,” said Amanda.
“We get huge value from our gender mix because it matches the community – in the past half the population didn’t get into Rotary – and it’s about making the best of what we’ve got.”
And she makes no secret of the fact she’s on a recruitment drive.
“There’s are great opportunities with Rotary, it’s flexible, you don’t have to turn up every week, there are breakfast clubs, lunchtime meetings, evenings – the lot,” she said.
Their work is impressive – across the world thanks to Rotary polio is close to being eradicated, they’ve also boosted literacy and education and combated disease.
Locally they’ve raise money for St Basil’s homeless charity and given a helping hand at the Astwood Bank Carnival as well as playing an active role in the local community.
“The mix of people is terrific, we have builders, surveyors a whole range of skills to call upon and for me its as much about the social side, having a good time helping out,” said Amanda.
“I’ve had the opportunity to go overseas to Pakistan and Afghanistan and you come back here and you realise our society still has its problems too and with Rotary there is a real opportunity to help.”
Redditch has two Rotary Clubs – Redditch Kingfisher, an evening club that meets at the Southcrest Hotel on Tuesdays at 7.30pm, and Redditch Rotary Club which gathers at the Abbey Hotel on Monday lunchtimes. For more information visit http://1060.org.uk/redditch or see them at the Morton Stanley Festival on August 20.
Alcester also two clubs, Alauna which meets at The Kings Court Hotel, Kings Coughton, on Thursdays at 7.15am and Alcester Rotary which meets at the same venue on Mondays at 12.30pm twice a month. Visit http://1060.org.uk/alcester .