Dragon Boats, Sundials and CVS: 101 Years of York Rotary
YOU are probably familiar with the work of York Rotary through the annual Dragon Boat Challenge.
But the club represents much more than this event.
Did you know, for example, that it was Rotarians of York who funded the restoration of the sundial in College Green?
Unveiled on May 13, the sundial will become a focal point of a Covid memory space.
It was, says Mike Fieldsend of York Rotarians, a “gift to the City of York to mark 100 years of service.”
In fact, make that 101 years – York Rotary was formed in 1921. The club had planned a program of events last year to celebrate. “Unfortunately, like so many other things, Covid has caused many events to be postponed,” Mike said. The unveiling of the sundial this month was the latest of these events.
The restored sundial at College Green
After the unveiling, members of the Rotary Club joined the Sheriff of York for a celebratory luncheon at the Mansion House – where, in January 1921, a few citizens of York gathered to discuss forming a club.
It was officially opened on 4 February 1921 at the Royal Station Hotel, with then Mayor Alderman Edward Walker as the first President.
In 1921, the club had 25 members, all men. 100 years later, it has a more inclusive membership of 80 men and women.
First Rotary President of York in 1921, then Lord Mayor Alderman Edward Walker
In line with Rotary’s motto, “Service Above Self”, it raises and distributes around £110,000 to charity each year.
The club organizes a range of fundraising activities – but most of the money comes from the Dragon Boat Challenge. Since the first challenge in 2003, some £1.3million has been shared among more than 150 charities in York and Yorkshire.
Locally, York Rotary helped organizations as diverse as Brunswick Nursery, the Hospital Broadcasting Service and flood relief – and, during World War II, the German internment camp at Knavesmire. In 1939 he helped set up the York CVS, and in 1940 he adopted HMS Cape Argona – a requisitioned trawler converted for anti-submarine warfare – and provided creature comforts to those on board .
Rotarians serve on charitable boards and work as stewards for major sporting events. During the pandemic, they raised funds for school laptops and volunteered to help at vaccination sites.