Rotary was founded on the 23rd February 1905 in Chicago by Paul Harris and a group of likeminded businessman. Their concept of service to their community spread rapidly through the United States and by 1914 their ideas of service and the fellowship with their colleagues their clubs had arrived in the British Isles.
There was a grocer in the park Parade, Harlesden, by the name of Stanley Boatfield whose residence was in Surbiton. He struck up a friendship with a member of the Rotary Club of Kingston where he made several visits and was inspired by what he saw the club doing for its community.
Boatfield had several acquaintances in the Willesden - amongst them was a lawyer, optician and a journalist to whom he related his experiences with the Kingston club. They were enthused by what they heard spreading the word throughout the local business community and in June 1926 the inaugural meeting was held followed swiftly by the charter meeting in July and thus was formed the Rotary Club of West Willesden as it was then known, subsequently changed to Willesden West.
In 1928 the club founded the Willesden East Club, sadly no more, and in 1929 helped to form the Wembley club. In 2001 the Wembley and Willesden clubs came together to form the Rotary Club of Wembley and Willesden.
Before the advent of the Welfare State and the NHS, both clubs were very active locally, those were the days when such things as convalescence after illness for the great many relied on charity, holidays were provided for the needy and during the Slump of the 1930's the club founded amongst other things the Unemployment Welfare Committee.
Club Activities: The war years saw the club active in many ways, perhaps, though its major claim to fame was its Pipe Scheme. Thousands of lonely, shipwrecked sailors were grateful for a gift of tobacco and reconditioned pipe. Thirty five thousand pipes were cleaned, reconditioned and distributed with over 500 lbs of tobacco as the result of a countrywide collection.Space dictates that this can only be a brief history but it is worth mentioning the achievements we have made in housing.
In 1926 there was a Public Subscription mounted to build a block of flats for the elderly. Rotarians were on the Management Board of the Willesden Housing Society for seventy or so years. The block was sold to a Housing Association and the proceeds were then managed by Club members who then made grants to various Housing Associations who were building projects for the elderly, those with learning difficulties and also those with different physical handicaps. None of these projects could have taken place without this assistance, as Housing Co-operation Grants did not cover certain aspects of the schemes.In the 1970's the Wembley Club was the main mover in obtaining grants and planning permission for the building of forty flats for the elderly at Silverholme Close, Preston Road, and Wembley. These are the modern flats with up to date facilities se in well kept gardens and are highly sought after. The Management Board is made up mostly of Rotarians from our Club along with Rotarians with appropriate expertise from other local clubs.
Three Districts Governors have been members of our Club, Bill Lapham and Eric Brannam were in London and Ted Gowers in East Anglia all of whom have passed to higher service.
Since the merger of the two clubs we have supported the Stroke Association in their Blood Pressure Days from the start which we have organised the testing of blood pressure to well over 1250 shoppers at Asda in Wembley. This we achieved with the cooperation of the local Primary Care Trust.
We have provided the Afro-Caribbean Association with computers and we have enabled the Evan Davis School for Autistic Children to employ a music therapist. These are just a few of our projects undertaken during the last 5 years. However, our pride and joy must be the provision of the furnishings for fourteen fishermen's cottages which were built in Sri Lanka to replace those lost in the tsunami
Also, to mark the centenary of the Rotary in 2005 we presented three television sets to St Marks Hospital for their patients waiting areas and a specially made wrought-iron sun dial to the London Borough of Brent for their award winning Roundwood Park.
Highlights of our service to the local community each year has been our annual provision of an outing for disadvantaged children for Rotary's Kids Out Days with trips to Legoland and the London Zoo and sponsoring the Remembrance Day essay competition read out by the winning young person at Barham Park.
We have been particularly fortunate in the fact that the management of the Plaza Hotel has allowed us to have a collection on FA Cup final day for the past two years enabling us to collect nearly £1,000 on each occasion. We have shared the proceeds between the Kids Out Day and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children.
The Rotary Club of Wembley, together with several other local Rotary clubs support Youth competitions in Schools - Youth Speaks, Young Chef, Youth Essay, Young Inventor, a Technology Tournament and, every two years, a Youth Makes Music concert at The Royal Festival Hall. This Rotary year, as from 1 July 2011, the Rotary Club of Wembley has returned to its original single name as it re-launches it's efforts to work within local and other communities.
There's so much more to come - we're planning events to support Brent Young Carers, Shelterbox, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, Education and Employment for our Youth and several other Rotary and Community projects.
So we need your support and assistance; come along and be a guest at our regular weekly meetings and see how you can enjoy fun and friendship with similarly minded people giving service to local, national and international communities.
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