PAST PRESIDENT BOB JACKSON (PHF)
ON HAVING BEEN A MEMBER OF CHARD ROTARY CLUB
FOR 50 YEARS, ACHIEVING THIS MILESTONE ON
TUESDAY 26TH JANUARY 2021.
BOB’S MEMORIES OF HIS 50 YEARS FOLLOW
I have been asked to reminisce over my Rotary life. I joined at 30 and was in the company of local businessmen who were making a difference in the community. Martyn Hocken sponsored me and he and Lynden Howard had just set up the League of friends at Chard Hospital, a good example of Rotary setting something up and then handing it over. Martyn’s daughter Nora Arnold is the current Chairperson helping to keep the legacy going. We used to have Fetes, which were big fundraisers and Martyn would bring a pig fully butchered which sold out very quickly. We usually had a Celebrity to open them. The fellowship and sense of belonging to a bigger “family” I very much enjoyed and we did many things in the community. We collected items for emergency boxes and had great fun finding the right items and all sorts of wanted items for sending to less developed counties. We still save tools and spectacles to this day. I worked my way through various positions to being President in 1983, when I went to the International Convention in Birmingham where 22,000 delegates and wives made it the second biggest ever. The opening and closing ceremonies had to be held twice. What a humbling experience that was. At Xmas there was the awful Sri Lanka Tsunami Disaster and we collected an all-time record of £2,300 in the town. We have collected for many disasters over the years and the people of Chard have always been very generous. We always try and send money to a Rotary Club and this went to the Kandy club who gave the help where needed locally. Rotary to Rotary with nothing taken out!
In 1980 there was the Vesuvius Eruption in Italy and John Sully took a caravan out within days. Jim Young and I raised funds to buy another caravan and fill it with blankets and supplies towing it right up into the mountain, with the local mayor, to hand it over to a family who had lost their home. We revisited them with our two caravans and families 15 months later and it was still in use! I took a week’s holiday to do this and it was so satisfying. I also visited Keswick Rotary Club to see the flood recovery work done and where our donation was spent. We have since made another donation as they had such bad floods again. There have been so many Hurricanes, Floods and Earthquakes usually happening in the poorest countries and I have been privileged, as Treasurer, to send relief to so many. We often see on the news the Rotary green Disaster Boxes being carried up a hillside on a back or donkey. Locally we have been involved with the Somerset levels flooding and our local Foodbank and only last week with the Vaccinations. I have been very lucky to have travelled all over the World and exchange Rotary Banners with other Clubs and bring them back, even one from the Jackson Rotary Club in Tennessee!
I have enjoyed the great social life, arranged many group holidays and also fun and frivolity at home. My Swan Lake with Barbara was quite embarrassing but her Dolly Parton most memorable. Our Ladies Nights in the Guildhall were a sell out at 220 and we danced the night away. We have done lots of sponsored events and although my energetic prime has passed I managed to raise £600 on my exercise bike at home.
There are many more memories of my Rotary life and my highlight has to be being awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship and then to receive a second one. I have been honoured to serve as President twice. Thank you Rotary and my Club in Chard.
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