Tuesday 21 November 2017

Rotary Club marks 38 years


Back in the Day at the inaugural meeting. Back row: Albert Lennon, Richard Reid, Jurgen Sassmannshausen, B.J. Kerr, George Herterich, Tom O'Rourke, Cathel O'Dunlaing, Victor Stafford, John O'Loughlin; centre: Murt Joyce, Peter Pasdzior, James Roche, John Corish, Paddy Sheridan, Tom Hassett, Brendan Corcoran, George Stafford and front: Ned Comerford, Liam Lynch, Sean Scallan, Mike Whaley, Ronan Furlong (Founder President), Frank X Butler, Tom Pierse and John Jackman.

In the 38 years since it was founded, the Wexford Rotary Club has always been to the fore when it comes to putting 'service above self'.

It has been and still is involved in numerous key projects in Wexford, among them the 'Recycle for Gambia' from a few years ago which saw a container load of bicycles and other items brought to Wexford Enterprise Park and shipped off to Africa following an appeal by Wexford priest Fr Sean Devereux.

As well as the bikes, people donated copy books, toys, computers, pencils and pens and even seed trays and reading material.

Fr Sean said he was humbled by the generosity of the people of Wexford and that he was deeply grateful to the Wexford Rotary Club.

The campaign was typical of the way Rotary works for the betterment of those less fortunate.

The Rotary Club of Wexford is part of the big organisation which fights the scourge of polio throughout the world.

It has also supported an orphanage situated at the edge of the desert in Namibia and contributed to a dam building project in Kenya in order to preserve water for local communities. The students of the Presentation School in Wexford helped with this project by raising funds for one of the dams which was named after the school.

The Wexford club's origins date back to 1977 when, following a Christmas dinner for the Association of Wexford Industries in the Talbot Hotel, Sean Scallan mentioned that he would love to see a Rotary Club in Wexford.

Jurgen Sassmannshausen, then a local business owner, put the wheels in motion and despite many difficulties the idea of forming of a club in Wexford began to gain interest and on September 25, 1978 the Rotary Club of Wexford held its inaugural meeting.

The hopes of 28 founder members were pinned on their Rotary Club becoming an effective 'instrument' to serve the communities both at home and abroad. On February 16, 1979, the first president of the club, the late Ronan Furlong, received the Club's Charter from the then-President of RIBI Rotarian Geoffrey Pike, with Wexford joining the Rotary family of 33,0000 clubs worldwide and 72 clubs in Ireland.

'We are working on many projects at the moment which include youth development, sports facilities for schools, Christmas hampers, helping the campaign to end polio, and making our roads safer by holding driver awareness courses for young people and ability awareness through our One Life programme,' said Niall Reck, who took over the Rotary mantle in the town from former county manager Eddie Breen.

'We currently have 50 Members who meet regularly and are very proactive in identifying new causes where Rotary can make a difference to peoples' lives. We're Rotary and there are no limits to what we can do,' he said.

While Rotary was exclusively a male preserve when it first began, it has changed with the times and there is no barrier to membership and it now has about 10 women in its ranks, among them the CEO of Wexford Chamber Madeleine Quirke and Maura Bell, the general manager of the Irish National Heritage Park.

Rotary International is the oldest service club organisation in the world. It is a worldwide association of men and women who, under the motto 'Service above Self' - have come together in clubs, to use their professional skills in volunteer work to make a difference. Peace, international understanding and the creation of decent living conditions around the world are the main goals.

Rotary also works with youth, providing ambassadorial scholarships and youth exchange programmes. Niall said that in the dim and distant past, Rotary might have been thought of as 'an old boys' club' but those days are long gone and there is a good mix of ages.

There is a new generation of business owners joining rotary with great new ideas and building on the foundation and experience of the older members in its ranks.

If you would like to know more about Rotary or want to join, please contact the club at or call Niall 087 2949772.

Wexford People

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