Rotary Club of Exmoor

History of Rotary Club of Exmoor

The Club celebrated its 25th anniversary at The Courtyard restaurant on Saturday March 27th 2004.

The Vice-President gave a potted history of the last twenty-five years' achievements, and the text below is adapted from this.

The early time at the club was spent, believe it or not, raising funds for Polio+. Haven’t we all done that.? The good news is that we have finished this year, after 2 billion children have been immunised and half a billion dollars has been raised. The world is now 99% free of polio. The club held a party in 1987 at which 100 people were present and £272 were raised. Thereafter some £3000 was produced for Polio Plus by the Club.

Public speaking for young people at the local schools was on the agenda then and that still continues to this day as ‘Youth Speaks’, now involving Dulverton, Bampton, and Bolham schools.

The Exmoor Challenge looms large in the club’s calendar and this started way back in 1982. But it had nothing to do with walkers! It was a horse ride and 60 riders took part raising some £1100 for the Taunton Hospice. Horse riding continued for a couple more years before it lost its appeal or somehow ceased. Rodney Dixon had the bright idea of a boat race along the River Barle, so a race was started at Marsh Bridge down to Dulverton. We don’t know what happened to that but the following year, 1986, the walking challenge was underway. Then the Junior teams walked 16 miles and the Seniors 20 miles! The kids were tough in those days. Now the Juniors walk 14 and the Seniors 16 miles.

Going back to 1983, a committee was formed to raise funds for an Abbeyfield House in Dulverton. The committee was solely Rotarians and the sanctity of the committee was invaded by two invited wives!

A great effort ensued and a brand new house for the elderly was opened in1991 and has been full ever since. The club’s tenacity is shown by the fact that we still support it through our fund-raising each year.

The Exmoor Community Bus was started by Rotary and made its first trip to Tarr Steps in 1983 – we ran it for several years before it was taken over by the Exmoor Community Association – now we have to pay to hire it for any event.

Again in 1983, we started planting trees; firstly round the tennis courts and sports field in Dulverton. Believe or not those trees grew so well that they were blocking the light from the tennis courts and their roots were invading the ground, so they were cut down in 2001. All that can happen in 25 years !

Colin has played a large part in tree planting for he put aside a piece of his land in the Exe Valley and we put in a whole plantation of trees. The wife of the first National Park chairman Leonard Curtis did the planting – we know Leonard Curtis was the instigator of Exmoor National Park and several others as well. That plantation has grown well and needs the brambles removing – a job Colin has in his sights for his ‘retirement’ years. We have continued with more tree planting recently in Winsford where we joined with the National Park to put in a few choice trees alongside the river there.

Fund-raising continues as a significant feature of our year and the Children’s Hospice South West has been a worthwhile cause for which we have raised substantial amounts.

With our name of The Rotary Club of Exmoor we really do have to organise an event on Exmoor, and walking is a great thing to encourage, so we try to pass that thought on to our neighbouring Rotary District by challenging them each year to field more walkers than we do. Of course we give ourselves a handicap by choosing a location which is close to their borders but quite far from the majority of our clubs. They need that encouragement..

The Youth Challenge is still ever popular which we mount with Tiverton’s aid: David Hunt quotes a figure of 488 youngsters out on the moor in appalling fog – none was lost! Now we restrict ourselves to the more modest 450, ever fearful of losing some. Many youngsters will remember their challenge walk, and we know that the Challenge medal is the only achievement that a few children leave school with.

However Rotary is not always about fund-raising but about the friendship and fellowship. It is significant that the letters I have read to you from some of our “old boys” talk of the friendship which really is the essence of this club. Long may that continue. Thank you President John.


 

Presidents' Roll

 

1979

A Elliot-Canon

 

1980

Philip Jones

 

1981

Graham Poat

 

1982

Frank Pooley

 

1983

P C Goddard

 

1984

Rodney Dixon

 

1985

B Powell-Harper

 

1986

Ted Burnett-Wells

 

1987

Tony Taylor

 

1988

Stuart Thompson

 

1989

Colin White

 

1990

Brian Allen

 

1991

George Spencer

 

1992

David Hunt

 

1993

D Underhill

 

1994

Napoleon Willcox

 

1995

D R Spencer

 

1996

Paul Backhouse

 

1997

Colin White

 

1998

Bill Airey

 

1999

Ken Rose

 

2000

Tony Harrowell

 

2001

Tim Ward

 

2002

Paul Beck

 

2003

Tony Trigg

 

2004

John Rudd

 

2005

Alan Osborne

 

2006

Dennis Aslin

 

2007

Edward Tanner

 

2008

Richard Evans

 

2009

Humphrey Berridge

 

2010

Barney Hopkinson

 

2011

Dev Page

 

2012

Alan Woolley

 

2013

Terry Knagg

 

2014

Gillie Appleby

 

2015

Terry Ross

 

2016

David Whiteway

 

2017

Derek Webster