A Little bit of Yeo Vale Rotary History by Andy Irwin

Wed 1st August 2018

Memories by Andy Irwin of trips to "down under"


In my recent visit to Australia last summer, in August, I once again failed to visit a Rotary Club, administering to the sick took up all my time you know!

However, I did spend time – over 8 hours in a car being driven north to a wedding - with a Rotarian from Belmont RC, a club 120 odd Kilometres north of Sydney.  Nan, a widow of a former Rotarian from Belmont RC, had joined this May & was now greatly enjoying the Charity work she was involved in with her Club.

Yeo Vale has more than one connection with Belmont RC. In 1987 our District hosted a GSE exchange with a group based from around Belmont. This was the first time an Australian GSE team was made up of an all lady team, needless to say with a male Rotarian in charge, before the days of Ladies in Rotary! Although I expect his wife was called upon to “oversee” from time to time.

Yeovil and Yeo Vale hosted this group for two days and this was a real eye opener for all us new Rotarians. The team was made up of high-end professionals, all in their twenties. From memory, rather vague, there was an Accountant, one in the News Industry, a Water Agronomist & a Police Sergeant from the Newcastle SWOT team. All I can remember was the Sergeant was very pretty, very tough of manner & almost insulting of speech, someone you didn’t forget easily. I didn’t attend their District farewell party but heard that this Sergeant had appeared much changed by her stay in Somerset.

Two years later I was invited by a friend, Alan Johnson, to attend a Belmont RC meeting which I did. (Very rare occurrence) Alan was a past President and Past District Governor & kindly sat me next to the organiser of the GSE visit to Somerset, two years previous. I mentioned the Sergeant & he retold her story to me. When in her teens her Mum & Dad had been murdered & joining the hard end of the police was her life’s aim & with this came a very tough shell. The GSE visit had changed her completely as she couldn’t get over how wonderfully kind & thoughtful Rotarians could be, she had loved every minute of her stay. The Rotarian Organiser prove to be a life changing event.

A couple of years later I had a letter from Alan Johnson telling me that he had done his stint in Rotary & was going to retire – & drink wine. (His daughter had a vineyard which helped) I must say that being a Rotarian certainly hadn’t stopped him drinking wine, very partial to chewey red he was. I found out that his Club & his District were going to have a special Dinner event to celebrate his time in Rotary. On my recounting this upcoming event to Yeo Vale our Club sent him a card, signed by all members, a Club Directory, a Banner & a “well done” letter from the President. At his dinner Alan read out the letter to the assembled throng to highlight just one of the benefits Rotary can bring – lots of really good lifetime friends, even Poms!He said what a fantastic trip it had been & hoped the benefits to all the Team would last for many  years to come.