IT IS with great sadness that we announce the demise of one of the oldest and most successful service clubs in our area.
The Rotary Club of Bracknell, which has served the community locally, nationally and internationally for nearly six decades, closed on December 31.
The club has struggled but soldiered on in recent years with membership dwindling through old age and health-related issues coupled with the lack of recruitment of new, younger members.
The club was formed in 1962, established by the Rotary Club of Ascot which, at that time, was the only Rotary Club in the area. The new club was presented with a large brass bell with the date clearly marked.
In its turn, Bracknell formed a new club, the Rotary Club of Easthampstead in 1980, which has become the largest Rotary Club in the locality.
The Rotary Club of Bracknell has raised large amounts of money for charity through its many fund-raising initiatives over the years. People will remember the Bracknell Show, Water Aid, Shelter Boxes and many other worthwhile events.
In recent years, the club organised an extremely popular Service of Nine Lessons and Carols in December in the beautiful Chapel at Wellington College in aid of the Borough Mayor’s Fund and every January for 10 years organised a Gala Burns’ Night Dinner at Sindlesham Court raising money for Help for Heroes and the Gurkha Welfare Trust.
Probably the most well-known of all its activities is the Three Counties Cycle Ride which was started 37 years ago in 1983 by Bracknell Rotaract Club (a sort of junior Rotary Club).
When Rotaract folded the Rotary Club took responsibility for it and it grew from strength to strength raising well in excess of £600,000 for local charities over the years.
The cycle ride is held on the first Sunday in June and has three routes: 15, 33 and 54 miles.
Anything from 500 to 800 cyclists take part all raising money for good causes.
We are incredibly pleased to announce that our daughter club, the Rotary Club of Easthampstead has agreed to take over responsibility for the Three Counties Cycle Ride taking under its wing the existing Steering Group. This assures the survival of the event.
It is hoped that another Rotary Club may take over the running of the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols.
The future of the Burns’ Night Dinner is uncertain.
As the club winds down towards the end of the month, all the financial assets have been donated to a range of worthwhile charities.
On behalf of President Nigel Boshier and the members and Honorary members of the Rotary Club of Bracknell, we would like to thank the people of Bracknell and District for their tremendous support over the lifetime of the club and we hope that the Rotary motto of ‘Service before Self’ will continue to flourish in Bracknell.