History of Uttoxeter Rotary Club

Uttoxeter Rotary Club was founded in March 1935. Rotarian S H Elkes, then a member of the Stafford Club, was joined by Sam Elkes and M Longson at a meeting in Elkes Cafe and they agreed to form the Club. The Inaugural Meeting was held on 19th March and 22 people signed the Founders Roll and the first President was T W Orme. The Charter was presented to the Club on 1st October 1935

The Club developed with a range of Community activities including starting the Uttoxeter Hospital and Welfare Constributions scheme, so necessary before the days of the NHS. Internationally contacts were developed in the USA, Uruguay, Manchuria and closer to home they became interested in developments in Poland and Romania. They also helped Jewish refugees from Vienna.

The War Years saw the inevitable changes. Five members joined the Armed Forces and several others were involved in work of National importance, all becoming Honorary Members. Amazingly the Club maintained weekly meetings with an attendance record in excess of 85%!  Much time was spent in support of the war effort including providing “comforts” for troops stationed locally and assisting servicemen with “Get You Home” transport.

Post War the Club returned to normality, but Community and International Service were not forgotten. Links were made with USA and also with other Clubs in the Dominion. Garden parties in aid of the National Association of Boys Clubs were arranged and several members became Prison Visitors. Socially Ladies Luncheons and “Sons & Daughters” meetings were held, not forgetting Sports Evenings with Bowls and Tennis. And. of course, there were the Charity Balls. During this period two members each celebrated ten years of 100% attendance, and in one year, 1952/3, 16 of the 38 members were able to claim “perfect” attendance.

In the latter half of the 20th Century the Club thrived. Efforts in Service took many forms. In the Community much was done in the aid of “Old People” with summer outings, cinema trips and parties. On the International front the Club entertained young people from a number of European countries, including Finland, Italy and Norway. Funds were raised for a number of causes including Indian Eye Camps, assisting the Vietnamese Boat People. and providing water filtration plants in Nigeria.

During this period changes of venue ocurred, Elkes Cafe closing in 1960. The Club then relocated to the White Hart, but faced a 50% meal increase from 6/6d to 9/6d! As time moved on attendance dropped with the changing pattern in work committments, causing some concern within the Club. Despite this, enthusiasm was retained to the extent that the Club initiated a Rotoract Club in 1976. Further changes saw the Club again moving in 1978, this time to The Limes, only to return to the White Hart in 1982. In 1985 the Club celebrated its Jubilee year.

Socially the Club continued with a variety of events, the major one being the Charter NIght Dinner. It also continued to be a strong supporter of the District Conferences, with venues in the early years including Buxton, but more recently the seaside has been more popular with locations such as Bournemouth and Torquay.

In the 1990’s the Club initiated the “International Trip” with the first visit being to Dunkirk and subsequent destinations included Bruges and Dublin. The journeys were by coach and ferry, as this was before the advent of the low cost airlines. Around the same time another social event was introduced, the Theatre trip, with the first one being to Les Miserables in Manchester. Charter night had been a regular event but it was in the mid 1990’s that it was moved to the Platinum Suite at the Racecourse, where it has been based ever since. Towards the turn of the century it also became apparent that the long standing lunch time meeting no longer fitted into the changing working day. After much debate it was decided in 1999 to move the regular Tuesday lunchtime meeting to an evening, despite the doubts expressed by a number of members.

The new Millenium saw the Club thrive, not the least from the change to evening meetings. Membership increased, contrary to the experience of many other Clubs. In 2003 a change in venue took place and after many years the Members said goodbye to the White Hart and relocated to the Robin Hood at Bramshall. This provided a different atmosphere and seemed to give new impetus to the Club, with many visitors commenting on the friendly and generous welcome they received. In 2004 the highest ever membership was recorded with 41 Members.

2006 saw the start of a new era of Fundraising, the Football Tournament.  After a slightly tenuous start the format developed into well established pattern and in later years around 100 teams aged 7 to 15 entering; a major triumph of organisation. The following year the Town was introduced to the latest edition of “Santas Sleigh”, touring the various estates over several nights.  Although it gave an opportunity for younger children to confide in Santa Claus, it also provided an opportunity for a house to house collection which proved to be our main fundraiser. At most Meetings we had a Speaker, often from a Charity which we were supporting. However there were opportunities for outside visits and these included Morgan Cars, the local quarry, a cigarette filter manufacturer, a pave block maker, an incineration plant and also a local brewery. Socially the Club’s Charter Night, held in October at the Racecourse,  was the formal function of the year and this was followed by the more relaxed atmosphere of the Christmas Party held at a variety of venues; District Conference at all its venues, was also well supported by the Club.