Dissolution of Cranleigh Rotary Club

Almost 55 years after Cranleigh Rotary’s formation in 1970, our members recently voted unanimously, but with sadness, to dissolve the club at the end of June. This decision was due to a significant decline in membership numbers over recent years, a decline largely driven by age and health factors, plus various impacts of the COVID lockdown. Club Members can, however, look back with considerable pride at the legion of local, national and international causes which we supported by interfacing with schools (such as Jigsaw, St. Joesph’s and Glebelands), organising social community events, and making street collections, for example. The overall beneficiaries from these efforts included valuable local community facilities, such as Rowleys, RDA, and The Food Bank, plus of course the ‘social participants’.

At the international level we have supported many appeals such as the Afghan Crisis Appeal and, this year, Medecins Sans Frontieres.  Also, we collaborated over many years with St. Nicolas Church in collecting and despatching thousands of ‘Gift-filled Christmas Shoeboxes’ to underprivileged children in Romania or, in the past year, in Ukraine. These gifts were donated by ten or more local schools plus the community.

As many will know, Rotary is a worldwide organisation of over one million members with the primary aim of helping communities in need, whilst also enjoying the valuable Rotary fellowship. One of Rotary International’s most significant recent achievements has been in the role of lead partner in the virtual eradication of polio on a worldwide basis. Indeed, their ‘Purple for Polio’ slogan is reflected in the Rotary Crocus Wheel on Cranleigh Common which was created in 2016 to reflect this awesome international achievement. 

In addition to charity/fund-raising events, we have also organised and/or supported many ‘entertainment events’, such as the Model Railway Exhibition, Santa Dash, and a very popular Annual Quiz. Other community actions included Mock Interviews for Glebelands’ students, Kids Out trips to Chessington, Young Chef and Inter-schools Youth-Speak competitions, as well as a New Year Charity Sale in the Village Hall for several years. 

Following the imminent dissolution of the club, some existing members plan to join other local Rotary clubs, such as in Godalming and Guildford, while other members are considering new membership options recently introduced by Rotary International, such as a District Hub. It is hoped that this continuation in Rotary memberships will help enable some of our current popular events to continue to take place in Cranleigh, albeit under the auspices of another club. For example, we will encourage the continuation of the Annual Quiz, Christmas Shoeboxes (for Ukraine or elsewhere), the Carol Concert, Street Collections, and Youth Speak contests among local schools. In addition, some members may form an informal ‘Friends of Rotary’ group which will occasionally meet socially and discuss how to support the local community, in both social and charitable terms.

Finally, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to all who supported the club in so many ways since its formation in 1970.

David Barry President

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