Rotarians mark major milestone

The top table at Hawick Rotary Club's 75th anniversary dinner
The top table at Hawick Rotary Club's 75th anniversary dinner
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WARM tributes were paid to Hawick Rotary Club’s work at home and abroad at last Friday night’s 75th anniversary dinner.

Attended by more than 70 diners, including representatives from clubs in South Queensferry, Dalkeith, Edinburgh, Galashiels, Jedburgh, Kelso, Langholm and Peebles, the event was chaired by newly-installed president Liz Wood, with a special welcome given to honorary Hawick members John and Edina Robson and Ian and Alison Seeley.

Following Grace by vice-president Tommy Mulvee, president Liz got proceedings under way with a presentation to senior members Jack Swanston and Archie Purves, both of whom were completely surprised to receive Rotary’s highest award, the Paul Harris Fellowship, and were visibly shaken when giving their acceptance speeches which were warmly received.

Making the first toast of the night to the club was Hawick MP and Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore, who said he knew Rotary International and its aims as his father, the Rev. Haisley Moore, was a long-standing Rotarian at Wishaw and now Jedburgh, and he had “lived with Rotary” in his formative years which led to him now appreciating all the great work the organisation did.

Alluding to his regular surgeries in Hawick, Michael said they gave him a feel for the town’s pulse, and looking back to when the club was formed in 1936, he said that it had stood the test of time over the years, continually upholding the Rotary motto “Service above Self”, which was much in evidence in one of the organisation’s first projects in 1938 – a men and boys’ clothing society – which saw money and clothing being donated and handed out to those in need.

Since then the club had expanded its activities to include countless local, national and international charitable projects, continued Michael. It has also widened its membership to include women and it was wonderful to see, in this special year, president Liz leading the club. The projects the Hawick club has supported were too numerous to mention but have included schools, youth, listening services for the blind and Hawick Christmas lights as well as a massive contribution to the Borders Dialysis Appeal. Monies have been sent abroad to disaster appeals such as the recent earthquakes and floods.

Michael concluded by saying it was a great honour to attend and propose the toast to the club’s 75th anniversary.

President Liz thanked him for his speech and called on Hawick Provost and local Rotarian Ron Smith to give the reply, in which he said it was to the credit of the Rotary movement that it had so many avenues to offer its services and expertise for the benefit of the needy and community at large.

A musical interlude was then enjoyed to the music of 3D – Debbie Lyons, Drew Gibb and Dave Finnie and a fourth ‘D’ Derek Lunn – who performed well-known songs, some to their own arrangement and composition.

Next to address the company was Rotarian Scott Elliot who gave a detailed and complimentary toast to the guests.

In reply, Gordon McInally, past-president of Rotary Great Britain and Ireland 2005 and a member of the South Queensferry club, said it was a pleasure to be in the Borders and Hawick with his wife Heather as they had tenuous links to the town. His mother being evacuated from Edinburgh during the Second World War when she stayed in Wilton Hill with the Wilsons, and then in Princes Street with the Armstrongs who were joiners and undertakers. Heather’s links have been traced back to the 19th century and the Oliver family who were bakers.

Gordon led on in a humorous vein, reminding diners that the “big society” was the current popular battle cry but that Hawick had being doing the “big society” for 75 years.

Continuing on a more reflective note, he said Rotary’s mission was to make a difference and always to be thinking with this aim in mind. No matter how small the difference it could be important. Children had to live on rubbish mountains in South Africa digging for what they could find to eat and live and they will remain there unless Rotary can lend a hand. Likewise in Kenya, little children walked miles to a medical centre to relieve their pain because Rotary had promised to stop their pain. The horror of Rwanda was all too obvious but Rotary went where it was needed. The list was endless admitted Gordon.

He rounded off his speech by saying that although it was a proud moment to celebrate 75 years it was still governed by the aim “the work starts here and it starts now!”.

The president of Edinburgh Rotary Club, Fergus Gillies, also paid tribute to the Hawick club, and talked of his pride in bringing greetings from the capital, as well as giving some interesting details of Hawick’s inaugural dinner in 1936. Past-district governor Bob Christie then congratulated the club on reaching a milestone and presented a certificate from Rotary International to mark the occasion.

Bringing an end to what had been a superb night, past-president and new Paul Harris Fellow Jack Swanston gave a comprehensive and warm vote of thanks to everyone who had given of their time and effort to make the evening such a success.