Five decades of ‘service above self’

Rtn Arthur Simpson and Cecil White with founder members of the Rotary Club of Newtownabbey. INNT 10-522CON
Rtn Arthur Simpson and Cecil White with founder members of the Rotary Club of Newtownabbey. INNT 10-522CON

THE Rotary Club of Newtownabbey is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a special exhibition in the Flax Gallery at Mossley Mill.

The exhibition, which is running throughout March, is designed to give people a flavour of what Rotary is about and the work the club has been doing in Newtownabbey and beyond over the past five decades.

Rotary, the oldest and most successful service organisation in the world, was founded in the city of Chicago, USA in 1905 by a young lawyer called Paul Harris and a group of business acquaintances.

Today there are more than 1.2 million Rotarians in 34,000 clubs around the world, including 76 across Ireland.

The aim of the organisation is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster the development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service. It also aims to promote high ethical standards in business and professions, and advance international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.

Under the sponsorship of the Rotary Club of Belfast and the leadership of founder president Cecil White, the interim Rotary Club of Newtownabbey was chartered on November 29, 1962.

The Rotary family within Newtownabbey is now made up of the Newtownabbey Probus Clubs, the Inner Wheel Cub of Newtownabbey, Friends of Rotary and Roteract - an opportunity for younger people aged 18 - 30 to be part of Rotary.

Living up to their motto ‘Service Above Self’, the members of the Rotary Club of Newtownabbey have been involved with countless charity projects and community initiatives over the past 50 years.

Since its inception in 1962, fundraising has played an important part in the life of the Rotary Club of Newtownabbey.

More than £500,000 plus the equivalent of US$200,000 has been raised through various events to finance local, national and international projects.

The club raises funds for a number of local charities and organisations, such as the Northern Ireland Hospice and The Martin Residential Trust.

It also backs several international humanitarian aid projects in developing countries - initiatives such as Water Aid, Bikes 4 Africa and the fight to eradicate polio.

Service to the community has been high on the club’s agenda over the years, and locally it has supported and delivered many schemes aimed at helping elderly, disabled and disadvantaged residents across the borough.

Recognising and rewarding the outstanding achievements of local young people has also been a priority, with the presentation of Exemplary Awards an opportunity for the club to celebrate the non-academic activities and achievements of young people both in school and the wider community.

Looking back on the history of the club, current president Iain Patterson paid tribute to the founding members whose “vision, foresight and integrity laid a solid foundations for the development of the Rotary movement in Newtownabbey”.

Describing it as a privilege and an honour to be president in the club’s 50th anniversary year, Mr Patterson described 2012/13 as “an important milestone in the life of the club”.

“It is a privilege and a great honour for me to be President of the Rotary Club of Newtownabbey in the club’s 50th anniversary year,” he commented.

The Rotary Club’s 50th anniversary exhibition will run at the Flax Gallery, Mossley Mill until the end of March.

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