History of Rotary Becket & Rotary International

A Brief History of the Rotary Movement - and our Club

What is Rotary

Rotary is a worldwide organisation of business and professional leaders that provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, and helps build goodwill and peace in the world. Approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 31,000 Rotary clubs located in 167 countries.

History of Rotary

The world's first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, Illinois, USA, was formed on 23 February 1905 by Paul P. Harris, an attorney who wished to recapture in a professional club the same friendly spirit he had felt in the small towns of his youth. The name "Rotary" derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members' offices.

Rotary's popularity spread throughout the United States in the decade that followed; clubs were chartered from San Francisco to New York.

The first Rotary Club formed outside of the USA was in Winnipeg in Canada, which held its first meeting in 1910. On 22 February 1911, the Rotary Club of Dublin became the first to form outside of the North American continent. On 24 July 1911 the first meeting of the Rotary Club of Belfast took place. The first meeting of the Rotary Club of London took place on 03 August 1911 although it was not formally chartered until 01 August 1912. The end of 1911 saw the formation of the Rotary Club of Manchester

By 1921, Rotary clubs had been formed on six continents, and the organisation adopted the name Rotary International a year later. As Rotary grew, its mission expanded beyond serving the professional and social interests of club members. Rotarians began pooling their resources and contributing their talents to help serve communities in need. The organisation's dedication to this ideal is best expressed in its principal motto: "Service Above Self". Rotary also later embraced a code of ethics, called "The 4-Way Test", that has been translated into hundreds of languages.

During and after World War II, Rotarians became increasingly involved in promoting international understanding. In 1945, 49 Rotary members served in 29 delegations to the United Nations Charter Conference. Rotary still actively participates in UN conferences by sending observers to major meetings and promoting the United Nations in Rotary publications. Rotary International's relationship with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) dates back to a 1943 London Rotary conference that promoted international cultural and educational exchanges. Attended by ministers of education and observers from around the world, and chaired by a past president of RI, the conference was an impetus to the establishment of UNESCO in 1946.

Rotary Foundation

An endowment fund, set up by Rotarians in 1917 "for doing good in the world," became a not-for-profit corporation known as The Rotary Foundation in 1928. Upon the death of Paul Harris in 1947, an outpouring of Rotarian donations made in his honour, totalling US$2 million, launched the Foundation's first program — graduate fellowships, now called Ambassadorial Scholarships. Today, contributions to The Rotary Foundation total more than US$80 million annually and support a wide range of humanitarian grants and educational programs that enable Rotarians to bring hope and promote international understanding throughout the world.

In 1985, Rotary made a historic commitment to immunise all of the world's children against polio. Working in partnership with nongovernmental organisations and national governments thorough its Polio Plus program, Rotary is the largest private-sector contributor to the global polio eradication campaign. Rotarians have mobilised hundreds of thousands of Polio Plus volunteers. In the 1980s, 1,000 children were infected by the disease every day in 125 countries. Today, polio cases have declined by 99 percent, with fewer than two thousand cases reported in 2006. Two billion children have been immunised, five million have been spared disability, and over 250,000 deaths from polio have been prevented.

As it approached the dawn of the 21st century, Rotary worked to meet the changing needs of society, expanding its service effort to address such pressing issues as environmental degradation, illiteracy, world hunger, and children at risk. The organisation admitted women for the first time (worldwide) in 1989 and claims more than 145,000 women in its ranks today. Following the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Rotary clubs were formed or re-established throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Today, 1.2 million Rotarians belong to some 32,000 Rotary clubs in 166 countries.

The Rotary Club of Northampton Becket (commonly just called “Rotary Becket” ) was formed as the first Rotary Breakfast Club in the UK in 1988 with 31 founder members. Many of whom are still active members of the Club

We meet at 7.30am every Wednesday at the Overstone Park Leasure Resort Northampton. [You can find the address on our home page]

The Club consists of about 40 like minded businespeople and other individuals who get a great deal of fun in pursuing the objects of Rotary.

Each member has a designated role within the Club and is a member of a committee pursuing one of the spheres in which Rotary tries to help the community, however, on occasions all Club members are called upon to assist in Club ventures.

The principle committees are:

Community/Youth Service Committee – supporting the local communities in Northampton. Provided events for the elderly of Northampton - Supported financially and otherwise - the provision of Life Education classes at various Northamptonshire schools to educate children in substance awareness - Provided recycling projects - Sponsored local disabled people to attend the Calvert Trust Outward Bound Centre.  In addition it supports local schools with events such as the !Y Factor" Youth Concert - "Kids Out!" at Wickstead Park Supporting ROACH Charity for drug awareness - Young Designer and RYLA

International Committee – supporting "Tools for Self-Reliance" providing tools to Africa - Classroom Boxes enabling Northampton School Children to sponsor kits of class equipment to various African Schools (see more details in the Classroom Box Section)

All this is supported by a Fundraising Committee which organises te raising of funds to enable the other committees to achieve their goals

The story behind our name 

We call ourselves "Rotary Becket" -after Thomas Becket (1118-1170) who was made Lord Chancellor and then Archbishop of  Canterbury by Henry II. The king’s patronage turned sour when Becket proved too determined in resisting the king’s control over the church. In October 1164 the king and his cohorts attended a Great Council at Northampton Castle,at which the king threw charge after charge at his former friend and counsellor. Finally the charge of treason was made, but  before sentence could be pronounced Becket fled and made his escape to France where he remained for seven years. His return in 1170 led to his murder in Canterbury Cathedral and subsequent recognition as a venerated saint and martyr.

Rotary Becket Members are also thought to be determined and independently minded and like to do what they think is right for the community of Northampton.

To view the Profile of our Club

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'What We Do' Main Pages:

2022 Charity Calendar

Being sold in support of The Lowdown & Northampton Hope Centre Charities for £10 You can buy on-line here (scroll down on the page for the link)

Annual Newsletter

Read about what the Club have been up to during the Pandemic

The 2021-22 Team

June 30th brought our first Hybrid Meeting of the year with President Peter Brearley handing over to President Gordon Roan after a very but successful year

Environment and Rotary Becket

The Environment becomes Rotary's seventh area of focus

Rotary Effect

Thank you for visiting our site. Do spend a little time finding out what we get up to

Food Bank Purchase

The experience of a Breakfast Club thriving despite a year without bacon & Egg


During the emergency, instead of meeting at Overstone for a Breakfast Meeting each Wednesday we had been meeting on line via Zoom but from 28th July we returned to meet in person at Overstone Park

The food parcel label used in the food packages going to needy families. It shows the Rotary logo, sponsors names, and social media pins.

The Rotary Club of Northampton Becket has donated £20,000 to the Hope Centre in Northampton & Other Food Banks.This money is going to buy desperately needed food for families struggling during the lockdown.


The Club has had to adapt its activities following recent developments of the virus

Community Service

Rotary Becket members are involved in many activities supporting local causes in and around Northampton

Chipiti Classroom Construction

Our support for International projects

The Outdoor classroom

This is the story of our clubs project which built 6 additional classrooms in a rural school


A Brief History of the Rotary Movement - and our Club


Read about the Club's involvement with the Prince's Trust programmes in Northampton

President Mike Kitchen presenting Boxes to a school in Malawi in 2015

Classroom Box - A charity set up by Rotary Becket


Details of our Privacy Policy updated May 2018

Rotary Swimarathon

Please revisit this page for updates


Read about what our Club has been up to over the last Rotary Year under the leadership of President Karl Flowers

Paul Simpson

A Past President of Rotary Becket has died in tragic circumstance whilst raising funds for local people in need. Read his obituary here