Rotary Club of Leeds marks its centenary

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The first Rotary Club to be formed in Yorkshire will mark its centenary next month.

The Rotary Club of Leeds, which is part of the world-wide organisation of Rotary, was formed on May 8, 1916, and was only the 11th club to be formed in the UK.

Since then it has become the mother club of all the clubs in its district which total 79.

More than 300 guests are due to attend a centenary dinner at the Queens Hotel on May 11 to celebrate the landmark anniversary and to raise money for children’s cancer charity Candlelighters.

Among those attending will be Deputy Lord Lieutenant Major Stan Hardy.

Bob Lewis, a past president of the Rotary Club of Leeds, said: “The ongoing commitment of the business community in Leeds to the Rotary motto of ‘service above self’ has been key to the Rotary’s success.”

The organisation raises funds annually for Wheatfields Hospice and St George’s Crypt, runs blood pressure testing, an annual technology schools tournament and supports Radio Aire’s toy appeal. Other work includes a project with the Salvation Army to provide medical equipment for a post natal facility in Central Africa.

The origins of Rotary in Leeds date back to November 1915 and the first of its signature luncheons was enjoyed the following February. The first club president was a manufacturer of printing ink, Frank Horsell, who served for the first three years.

Rotary in Leeds influenced the international Rotary movement begun in 1905 in Chicago by Paul Harris.

Rotary’s iconic wheel symbol lacked a keyway to allow power to be transmitted to or from a shaft until the adoption of the emblem of the brand new Leeds club.

In 1930, former club president Will Moffatt successfully persuaded Paul Harris, who visited the city in 1928, that more than one club in a city should be allowed.