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History 1977 - 2022

Two annual fund-raising projects in the nineties were the Senior Citizens Ball and the Water Walk.

The Ball was held in Rochdale Town Hall attracting over 200 people who were wined, dined and then danced the night away. Profits from the event were donated to the Mayor's Charity each year.

The Water Walk invited participants to do the 6, 16 or 24 mile courses over the Pennines surrounding Rochdale. In 1997 293 people took part, raising over £3,600.

Other regular projects throughout the decade included Youth Speaks, Youth Music and the provision of mock interviews for school leavers. The Club also became involved with the Kids Out scheme taking pupils with special needs from Innes School to the Camelot Theme Park for the day.

Life Education Unit logo graphic

In the mid-nineties, Rochdale Rotary Club along with the other four local clubs jointly supported a scheme to bring the District Life Education Unit to schools across the borough. The unit provided the opportunity for pupils to engage in drug abuse prevention programmes.

The unit was so well received by pupils and teachers alike that requests for visits increased. So much so that in conjunction with the local health authority, a bid was made to the National Lottery to acquire and run a Rochdale-based unit.

This appeal was successful, and the Life Education Unit project is still running today.

Coram Life Education’s specialist programme is aimed at children aged 3-11 years and provides valuable education about how they can look after their bodies and minds using fun, interactive and age-specific activities.  The programme is delivered by qualified educators in the mobile classrooms using an interactive model of the human body, fibre optic lighting and a multi-media suite. 


As well as healthy lifestyle choices, the programme addresses issues such as self-esteem, drugs awareness, assertiveness and anti-bullying techniques, and positive friendships.

Presidents of Rochdale Rotary Club

1977/78 - 1999/2000


1977/78         J Marsden

1978/79         R Nutter

1979/80         J R G Grice

1980/81          H Shenton

1981/82          E D Owen

1982/83         B L Moir

1983/84         S Fielding

1984/85         T E Jenkins

1985/86         D H Gallivan

1986/87          A Wild

1987/88          A J Ridy

1988/89         W Ramsay

1989/90         G Howard

1990/91          J K Wilkinson

1991/92          D D Mackay

1992/93         M Lucas

1993/94         I Baldwin

1994/95         D B Sherriff

1995/96         Alan Shackleton

1996/97         Jack Howorth

1997/98         Geoff Foulkes

1998/99         John Butler

1999/2000     Peter Smith

The start of the new millennium saw the club host a Feast of 1,000 Years at Rochdale Town Hall. 245 tickets were sold and 13 Mayors from across the District were in attendance. Over £4,000 was raised for the President's charities.

The Senior Citizens Ball and the Club's Ladies' Night continued for a few more years, as did the Water Walk.

Support began for the Rochdale Youth Orchestra and collections of clothing for the Petrus started our connection with the organisation that still exists today. Youth Speaks went from strength to strength and members provided career talks for the town's sixth formers.

In 2002/03 the Club became aware of a project started by Helston Rotary Club to help people involved in natural disasters across the world. So our first Shelterbox was purchased.

Around 2006, a new feature was introduced to the weekly meetings, the Smile Box. This was an idea seen by Rtn John Kay during a visit to a Rotary club in Japan. If a member has something to smile about, maybe a celebration or a funny story, they can tell everyone at the meeting as long as they make a donation into the Smile Box for the President's charities.

With the end of the Water Walk, Rotarians kept fit by taking part the annual Nidderdale Walk organised by the Rotary Club of Harrogate. Also making an annual foray into Yorkshire was the Car Treasure Hunt, a fun day out for the members culminating in a nice pub meal out in the countryside.

Bag packing at local supermarkets became a good fund-raiser, as did the Arts and Craft Fair held at Rochdale Town Hall for a number of years. In 2008 the International team raised money to 'Send a Cow' to India.

The Club began helping the Denton & Audenshaw Club pack Life Boxes at a local warehouse in Rochdale and joined forces with the other local clubs to run Stroke Awareness Days when shoppers could have their blood pressure taken and receive health advice from the doctors in the clubs.

The Rotary Book Club began in 2009 and the local Rotary Quiz started in 2010. Meantime annual Brass Band and Choir Nights helped raise funds, while the suggestion to do the same whilst tasting whiskey was well received by most members.

2011/12 saw Joan Banks become the first lady President of the Club. She then hosted the first annual cricket dinner with former England captain Michael Vaughan as guest speaker. Joan also welcomed St James CE Primary School as our first Rotakids school.

In 2012 the first meeting of the month was designated a Visitors and Friends Night, leading to the formation of our Friends group. World Porridge Day was celebrated with a frugal meal to raise money for Mary's Meals; and the Rochdale Foodbank opened its doors for the first time.

Presidents of Rochdale Rotary Club

2000/01 - 2023/24

2000/01         Geoff Morris

2001/02         Derek Heywood

2002/03         Thomas Hobson

2003/04         Roger Morris         

2004/05         Ian Madeley

2005/06         Martin Coupe

2006/07         Dean Sherriff

2007/08         David Acton

2008/09         John Kay

2009/10         Elvet Smith

2010/11         John Cannell

2011/12         Joan Banks

2012/13         David Smithard

2013/14         Neil Helliwell

2014/15         Bob Chadwick

2015/16         Irene Davidson

2016/17         John Holder

2017/18         Ann Stott JP

2018/19         Keith Banks

2019/20         Ravi Sharma

2020/21         Neil Williams

2021/22         Merrilyn Chadwick

2022/23         Selwyn Hodge

2023/24         Linda Mainwaring

In 2012/13 the Club funded the construction of a Sand Dam in Kenya to give villagers easy access to clean water.

In 2014, a scheme started by the Club in 2004, Story Time Dads, won the Val Scerri Award for the Best District Vocational Project. The Club under President Bob Chadwick took over the organisation of Ascot Ladies Day at Nutters, an annual event to raise money for the NSPCC in the north-west.


The first Pop-Up art gallery opened in 2014, with local watercolour artist Geoff Butterworth displaying his work. He donated a percentage of all sales to the President's charities. Moving to a more central unit in 2015, the commission helped the club support Rochdale Children's Moorland Home once again this time to the tune of £4,000.

In 2015 support for Medic Malawi began. In the run up to Christmas £1,110 was raised from the sale of reindeer, hedgehogs and decorations all made from tree branches. Shoebox packing continues apace. Then in 2016 the Club hosted the District Final of the Young Chef competition at Hopwood Hall College, welcomed Jonathan Agnew as guest speaker at the Cricket Dinner and celebrated it's 90th Anniversary Charter Night.

As former International Umpire, John Holder continued his year as Club President into 2017, England international Kate Cross spoke to the Club about her experiences, and Sir David Gower was Guest of Honour at the Cricket Dinner raising £4,000 for the training of local young cricketers. The District Final of the Young Chef competition was hosted at Hopwood Hall College, Inner Wheel celebrated its 80th Charter, the first Classic Car and Bike Show took place and a charity Brass Band concert raised £700 for Rochdale Heartbeat.

2018 saw the Accessible Edibles scheme fund two community groups in Uganda, allowing 30 families to produce sweet potatoes, chilli peppers, courgettes, kale, tomatoes and herbs. The team also began their Desalination Project. Meanwhile, the Classic Car Show raised £13,000 under unbroken blue skies.

Rotarian Elvet Smith was invited to play for the Welsh National Billiards team, and Rotarian John Kay was named Rochdale Man of the Year. The Youth Health Champions and Self Care project commenced at Rochdale 6th Form College.

During 2019, the Club sponsored the Petrus 'Back to Back' garden at the annual Tatton Park Flower Show, the Cricket Dinner with speaker Devon Malcolm raised £4,000 and the Just Music Christmas Carols CD was produced featuring the Thrum Hall Choir.

In February of 2020 Rotarian Merrilyn Chadwick travelled to Australia to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge and raised £1,250 for the End Polio Now campaign.

Activities were then brought to a sudden halt by the Covid 19 outbreak.

President Neil Williams became an expert on using Zoom during his Presidential term, allowing the Club to keep on meeting online once a fortnight. The 94th Charter Night was well attended with participants still dressing up for the occasion despite sitting in front of their computers. Speakers also did presentations at several meetings.

Crocus bulbs were planted to raise awareness of the End Polio Now campaign and members prepared their own frugal meal in aid of Mary's Meals.

The next Presidential Handover took place in August 2021 and was the first face to face meeting for the Club since March 2020. It was so good for everyone to be able to meet up again in person. Several long service awards were given out on an evening of celebration.

Making the most of the new found freedom, the Club had days out to the East Lancs Railway, the York Christmas Markets and a tour of the Fireground Museum in Rochdale.

A Craft Fair and Indian Meal were some of the fund-raisers over the year, along with more donations from sales at the Geoff Butterworth Gallery.

We were joined by Rotarian Yalaslav, a past President from the Rotary Club of Lviv Leopolis who told the Club first hand about the issues with the invasion of Ukraine by the Russians. A large donation was made to the Rochdale branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain.

As the Rotary year ended, the Club was preparing to hold its first Classic Car and Bike Show since 2018.

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