Club History

History of the founding of the Rotary Club of Langholm

In any description of the origins of the Rotary Club of Langholm, it is well nigh impossible to overstate the part played by our founder President, the late Edward C Armstrong MBE.  Eddie Armstrong enjoyed a long career in local government, as Town Clerk of Langholm and later as District and Regional Councillor. He had numerous interests outside of work and richly deserved the honours he received. He was deeply involved with music and drama, a noted speaker on many subjects, and an expert on Robbie Burns and also Thomas Telford.

Eddie was Honorary Life President of Langholm Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, and was awarded The Gold Medal for 50 years active membership of The National Operatic and Dramatic Society. He was a Knight Templar of Scotland, Clerk to the Congregational Board of Langholm Parish Church, founder president of Langholm Probus Club, chairman of the Over-60's Club, and a member of the Thomas Hope Trust and of the local branches of the British Heart Foundation and the Earl Haig Fund. 

He was also largely instrumental in getting astronaut Neil Armstrong to come to Langholm in 1972, to receive the freedom of the burgh.  He was frequently invited to speak at Rotary Clubs in the south of Scotland and Cumbria, and made numerous appearances on Border Television. 

Throughout all this hectic activity, he seldom missed an opportunity to publicise Langholm, its natural beauty, quality of life and community spirit.  So effective was he with this publicity that Langholm became much more widely known than its small population warranted.  Through his visits to Rotary Clubs and impressed by the warmth of welcome, the fellowship and the camaraderie, Eddie felt that Langholm, small though it is, should have a Rotary Club - that it could both gain from and contribute to the world-wide Rotary movement. His first effort to get a club started was in the early 1960's, aided by Davie Brockbank of Dumfries, but this stumbled over the question of classifications. The same problem frustrated the second try, in the early 1970's, this time with the aid of Bill Caird of Musselburgh. In 1976 a third attempt was mounted, following discussions between Vic Tokely, of the Hawick club, and Eddie. This time, by perseverance, all hurdles were eventually overcome, and by the end of the year, preliminary meetings were held with a few assoctes to start building a potential membership.  We were greatly helped at this stage by the District Extension Officer, John Calder, and even more so by our mother club, Hawick.  Vic Tokely, by then vice-president, their president Archie Purves, and numerous members of the club, including Addie Armstrong, Ian Rennie, Tommy Maiden, Jim Fleming, Rocky Richmond, Arthur Cronin et al travelled down each Thursday, in fair weather and foul, providing us with speakers, instructing us in the aims and ways of Rotary, nurturing in us the ideals of service and generally keeping us on the straight and narrow. Vic seldom, if ever, missed a week!  We still look back with gratitude and appreciation to those early days when our mother club was so helpful to us.

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History of the founding of the Rotary Club of Langholm