24th Jun, 2021

Coventry Rotary Centenary Part II - Offering help and support at home and abroad

Coventry Editorial 10th Jun, 2021

THE ROTARY Club of Coventry is marking its centenary year by announcing its support for The Coventry Historic Trust’s Charterhouse and public park re-development, which includes opening the Charterhouse to the public as a heritage and educational venue.

The club, which today has 38 members of a total 75 in Coventry, is also backing an overseas educational project in conjunction with the city’s President Kennedy School.

In the second part of this special two-part feature, we look back at highlights from the last 100 years of the club and talk to current and incoming presidents Dr Serena Calder and Martin Cooper….

The club’s 50-Year Golden Jubilee was celebrated with a dinner at St Mary’s Guildhall at which a new award was announced – The Jubilee Award, in the form of a silver medallion, given to local people who worked in the community without recognition. This was to last for 33 years and received active civic support.

Coventry’s Lady Godiva Pru Porretta (now a Rotarian herself) was presented with the 27th Jubilee Award medallion.

After 32 years of service, Rotarian and Past President Ken Holmes was presented with a Good Citizen Award by then Lord Mayor Michael Hammon.

Overseas support has included fundraising, donations and parcels for major disaster relief across the world. Schoolchildren have helped the club send disaster boxes abroad.

Two water wells were funded in two villages in Ghana. Joe Homan homes for children in Africa and India were supported by the club. Hospice Africa was a principle charity of the club.

The main funding over several years was for the building of a hospice in Mbarara, Uganda which grew eventually to two hospices.

The club also raised funding for African doctors, nurses and health workers to train how best to care for terminally ill patients and the use of palliative drugs.

A Rotary matching grant enabled the club in partnership with the club in Pune, India to create a physiotherapy unit, helping 120,000 people in need.

Overseas students are regularly welcomed to the city and hosted by Rotarians, who enjoy fellowship with members from other countries and reciprocal visits are encouraged.

The Rotary Club of Coventry is twinned with Rotary Clubs around the world including in Volgograd and Scottburgh in South Africa where aids sufferers and orphaned children have been supported by the Coventry club.

A group of Coventry Rotarians visited the city of Volgograd and were given a half-metre high replica of The Motherland Calls statue.

The statue, which depicts a sword-wielding woman overlooking the city, is the tallest statue in Europe standing at 85metres tall in Volgograd. It commemorates the 2million people who lost their lives during the six-month siege of the city in the Second World War. The replica statue is passed on each year to the incoming President of the Rotary Club of Coventry.

Young people have been one of the key focuses of the club throughout its existence and it was instrumental in the reformation of the Coventry Boys’ Club in 1949, continuing to provide funding.

In 1978 a scheme was started to raise funds to support young people to take part in an outward-bound course in Wales.

This continued for 38 years and, in 1983, the course was opened up to students with disabilities.

In 1984 A Young Design/Technologist Award Scheme was launched for all senior schools in Coventry. Coventry Rotary Clubs organised the English Disabled Sports Team Championships, which were very successful for many years. Open to disabled participants of all abilities, other Rotary Clubs supported the event with sponsorship.

Young disabled athlete Kare Adenegan was supported by the Rotary Club of Coventry when she competed in various competitions including the World Championships in Qatar, the London Mini-Marathon, and the Para-Olympics, with success in the 100, 400, and 800metre events.

Sea Cadet Meg Whitehall, from TS Coventry was one of only four cadets in the UK to travel to South Korea on a seagoing exercise with support of the club.

A Rotaract Club was formed in 1973 for young people aged 18 to 30 to hold their own events and support others alongside Rotary. It was later followed with an Interact club established in 2017 with President Kennedy School for young people aged 12 to 18.

Rotarians have enjoyed themselves along the way whilst fund-raising for so many worthy causes. Entertainment has included musical evenings, cultural events, casino nights, trips to various towns and cities including The Edinburgh Tattoo and Glengoyne distillery, bowls tournaments, auctions, coffee mornings, treasure hunts, skittles evenings and garden parties.

On July 5 current President, Serena Calder will hand over to incoming President Elect Martin Cooper who will take up office during the club’s centenary.

Coventry-born Martin, 68, whose family’s city roots go back to 300 years, said: “It’s a privilege to be president in centenary year and what is also the City of Culture year for Coventry – especially as my father, Ron, was president in the club’s 50th year.

“I always encourage people to get involved with Rotary because it gives back far more than it takes from you.

It’s about fellowship but also about helping the local and national community as much as we can – and is incredibly rewarding.”

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