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History - Past Projects

Image of Mercy Ships logo

Mercy Ships is a faith-based international development organisation that deploys hospital ships to some of the poorest countries in the world, delivering vital, free healthcare to people in desperate need.

As well as completing thousands of urgent operations onboard its floating hospital, the Africa Mercy, Mercy Ships volunteers also work closely with host nations to improve the way healthcare is delivered across the country, by training and mentoring local medical staff, and renovating hospitals and clinics.

A new ship, the Global Mercy is currently in Antwerp being fitted out. This was after it underwent a journey of a couple of months to get from China to Belgium. After Antwerp it will go to Rotterdam for some celebration and PR events in March 2022. Where it will then go to Senegal to start its first service.

Just Music logo

Project Just Music involved Club Members producing musical CDs of Thrum Hall Methodist Church Community Choir concerts for free distribution to nursing and care homes in Rochdale.

The last recording of the Thrum Hall Community Choir took place just prior to the onset of Covid-19 and was to have been a Spring edition. However, delays in production meant it became the Summer edition.​ Two tracks from that CD can be played below.

The collaboration of Rotarians John Cannell and Neil Helliwell along with Stephen Shepherd, our printer made the project a success.

03-Bring me sunshine_Convert to_WAVThrum Hall Community Choir
00:00 / 02:07
07-You raise me up_Convert to_WAVThrum Hall Community Choir
00:00 / 04:34
medic malawi logo graphic
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For a number of years, the Club supported Medic Malawi, an organisation based in the UK whose aims are:

1. To provide ongoing support for medical care in the rural region of Mtunthama, Malawi through the work of St Andrew’s Hospital;

2. To provide care for vulnerable children and orphans through AMAO children’s home;


3. To provide support for primary and secondary education;

4. To raise awareness in the UK of issues surrounding poverty in sub-Saharan Africa through education.

Medic Malawi work in partnership with St Andrew’s Hospital, AMAO Children’s home and the wider community of Mtunthama, rural Malawi. Established in 2001, their mission is to provide quality, accessible, sustainable healthcare through partnership with St Andrew’s Hospital and to create a safe, loving, supportive and sustainable environment for the children in Malawi through the work at the AMAO children’s home.


Thier work focuses on one district, which offers continuity, regular contact and transparency. The foundations of our work are deep – this is a project which has gradually been built over a long period with the local community. The community of Mtunthama is involved at every stage. There is real progress and achievement.

The charity is fairly unique in that every penny raised is used in Malawi. No fees are taken out in the UK.

Members of the Rochdale Inner Wheel club visited the children's home on two occasions to provide help and support.

Ascot Ladies Day

NSPCC Logo graphic
Image of Ascot Ladies Day Committee

Ascot Ladies Day at Nutters Restaurant celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2019. The annual event is held to raise funds for the NSPCC in the north-west.

Since 2014, the Rotary Club of Rochdale has organised the event on behalf of the NSPCC Rochdale Branch raising over £31,000 in that time.

Each year, up to 180 ladies and gents dressed in their finery enjoy a three-course meal cooked by award winning chef Andrew Nutter. Four races from Ladies Day at Royal Ascot are shown live on screens around the restaurant, and everyone has a chance to win on the tote for each race.

The 2020 and 2021 events had to be cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Subsequently Nutters Restaurant has closed, bringing the Ascot Ladies Day event to its sad end.

Ascot Team Photo image

Story Time Dads

Story Time Dads was pioneered by Marion Sherriff, member of Rochdale Inner Wheel, and Sybil Oakley, both Methodists and both ex-teachers of English. Two members from the Rotary Club of Rochdale, Dean Sherriff and Allistair Holt have also spent some time on the project as volunteers.


Story Time Dads, which began in 2004, enabled prisoners to choose a children’s story book and record themselves reading onto an audio tape. Once the prisoner was happy with the recording, both the book and the tape were sent home to their child/children so they could hear Dad reading to them. New books were purchased specially for the scheme.


In November, 2006, a donation from the Rotary Club of Rochdale enabled the equipment to be upgraded to produce DVD’s. Much to their delight, the children could then actually see Dad reading the story. The introduction of DVD’s resulted in much greater interest from the prisoners and excellent responses from the families. Other generous donations financed a replacement camcorder and a laptop (Rotary Club of Rochdale).

Val Scerri Award image

In 2014 Story Time Dads by the Rotary Club of Rochdale received the Val Scerri award for best Vocational Service project, 2013-2014.

Funding to replace the books comes from interested groups, such as local churches, private individuals and the prisoners themselves. The project is still continuing and will become active again once Covid restrictions in the prison have been lifted. To date nearly 700 DVD’s have been produced.

In the 2014 Buckley Hall Prison Ofsted report, the Inspector was so impressed with Story Time Dads, that he felt that it should happen in all prisons. He intended to recommend this to the “authorities”.

Marys Meals logo graphic
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Mary’s Meals is a very, very simple concept. It just simply provides one good nourishing meal in a place of education every day for the world’s poorest children.

These life-changing meals attract hungry children into the classroom. The food fills their empty bellies so they have the energy and opportunity to learn, giving them the chance of a brighter future. The meals also support families struggling to feed their children while boosting the country’s wider economy.

The school feeding programmes are owned and run by community volunteers in the countries where we provide food.

Wherever possible, locally produced food is served. This supports the local community and its farmers as well as the wider economy.

1.67M children are currently receiving Mary’s Meals in 15 countries.

It still costs only £15.90 to feed a child for a whole school year.

93p of every £1 donated is spent directly on the charitable activities of Mary’s Meals.

The Club supported Mary's Meals by having an annual frugal meal of soup and bread while donating to them the cost of the normal weekly meal.

Excellent Developments log graphic
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Rochdale Rotary Club has helped with water conservation in an arid area of Kenya. Through the Sand Dams Charity a donation from the Club Charity fund of £6,500 has enabled a concrete wall to be built across a seasonal sandy river bed in Kibwezi district. This allows the build up of a mixture of sand and water during the rainy season which is much more resistant to evaporation in the Kenyan dry season.


Villagers themselves were involved with the building of the dam. Now when rain water fills it up the local people can draw off water either through scoop holes in the sand or via infiltration galleries leading to pipes or taps Infiltration galleries can also be linked to sealed shallow wells with hand pumps.

17 Community members (Wikwatyo Wa Kiambani Self Help Group) helped to build the Dam. Apart from drinking water they will also be using it for their tree nursery, for vegetable and other plant growing and it will help to maintain seed banks for future planting. The water will fill three water school tanks ensuring children can access clean water at school.

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The Wikwato wa Kiambani Group secretary Mr. Mwanthi Nuvi said the group intend to plant trees in their farms “to make their surroundings green and breathe fresh air. ”Very few trees survive in such an arid area without water being available. Water from the sand dam enables tree seedlings to be germinated and grown in nurseries, meaning that they are strong enough to be planted in fields successfully when the rains arrive.


Survival rate for trees near Sand dams is between 65 and 90%, whereas overall in Kenya, the survival rate is just 2%. Trees will provide farmers with food, fodder, fertilizer, fuel, lumber and a source of income, as well as assisting soil and water conservation.


On the completion of the dam in November 2013 the local people sent a very appreciative thank you to President Neil Helliwell , International Convenor Bob Chadwick, Past President David Smithard and all members of the Rotary club.

People of Action Clear2 logo

Befriending Scheme


In 2008, Rotarian Mike Tomkinson was a Community Mental Health Worker with the national charity "Together" which is the oldest mental health charity in the country. Mike was also the Convenor of the Community Service Committee of the Rotary Club of Rochdale and identified an area of service where we could make a real difference to the lives of a few members of the community. Mike and his colleagues at “Together” trained and vetted some of the members of our Rotary Club and other volunteers so that they were qualified to befriend people with mental health problems who otherwise would feel isolated and lonely.

Qualified Participants committed themselves to befriend a client for about an hour once every two weeks. Not an onerous commitment but valuable support to help the recovery of someone who is struggling to make meaningful contact with friends in the community and who needs to increase their feelings of confidence, self-esteem and well-being. 


In October 2009, the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation awarded the Approved Provider Standard to the Friends Together Befriending project. This National Award recognised the overall quality standard that the project had achieved and particularly the work of the Befrienders. As well as checking the project policies and procedures, the auditors paid particular attention to the feedback from clients about their experiences of befriending.

The following year, the scheme was announced as the winner of District 1280 The Keith Hoskinson Care in the Community Trophy 2010. The trophy is aimed at a unique Rotary club / individual project that has in some way impacted on the local community in care in a dynamic way.

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