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Rochford Rotary Club
(Southend Association of Voluntary Services)
“Wanted: New Members!”
Talking with Jerry Davenport of the Rochford Rotary Club  (16th October 2012)

PART 1: What the Rotary Club Does

Rochford Life:  Jerry, what actually is the Rotary Club?
Jerry: Well, first of all, it is part of Rotary International which is an international organisation founded in the United States over a hundred years ago and it was set up as a group of businessmen who were looking to provide services to their community, and it just spread. Although it is under the umbrella of Rotary International there is the Rotary International of Britain and Ireland which is a separate group. This came about because when they were spreading they realised that the British end had already got itself so well organised and so it’s virtually autonomous. Its charity is the Rotary Foundation and that happens to be the largest charity in the world.   It’s been active in recent years in fighting Polio and there has been recent publicity because Bill Gates said to the Rotary International Convention, if you can raise five hundred million pounds for this Polio project, I’ll match it – and did. It hasn’t eradicated it completely because there were one or two countries that wouldn’t participate, but it has helped considerably.    

RL:  So from what you’ve said, it is a fund raising body?
Jerry: No, not totally. It’s not like the Round Table which used to be for younger people under the age of forty and that was really primarily for fund raising.  We do fund raising but we also like to get involved with the community in a variety of ways. For instance, at the moment we have close connections with King Edmund’s School and one of our members was the head, Graham Abel.  So we link in with them and last year we were doing mentoring with them, and youth competitions. Rotary in the UK organise competitions for Young Photographer, Young Musician, Young Writer, Young Speaker and Young Chef.  It starts off on a local basis, then Essex, and then national finals. We became involved in one or two of them last year but this year we’d like to get involved in them all.  We’re also linked in to St Nicholas School in Southend for children with learning difficulties and we take them to an annual event which the local Rotary run called ‘Kids Out’ and we take them down to the seafront and they have an afternoon out. We also do a Christmas Party for them. So those are the sort of things we do with the schools. We also arrange theatre trips for the elderly, mostly through the Sheltered Housing complexes around the area. We tend to do that once or twice a year where we collect them from wherever they are and take them there and back.    

RL:  So you do quite a lot more than raising money!
Jerry: Yes, but when we raise money we prefer to buy things with it rather than just give it as a lump sum. We want to find out what the need is and, if it is within our means obviously, we buy it, and this is where the fund raising comes in. We do two basic fund raisings: our main fund raising is at Christmas time when we tour the streets with our Santa sleigh, and collect with tins outside shops. We find the people of Rochford very generous and we’re so grateful to them. The other fund raiser is a golf day that we run at Rochford Hundred Golf Club and we tend to do that for specific charities and this year we did it for PARC (Essex) []  and we raised nearly £6000.

PART 2: Membership

RL:  How long have you been a member?
Jerry: Since it started in Rochford in 1985

RL: How many members do you have and what do you have to do to be a member?
Jerry: We have at the moment thirty three members. We started off with twenty eight and it’s been fairly constant. As far as payment is concerned we have to pay an annual subscription of £50 per person, I think it is, to Rotary International but then we have weekly meetings and that’s where the expense kicks in because our weekly meetings involve a lunch at the Golf Club and that costs, I think it is £10.50 a week. Members tend to be business men, or have been, but that is a wide description. We’ve got a couple of accountants, a farmer, a photographer, a computer man, a surgeon, a builder and an estate agent, among others. Three of our founder members actually worked for Rochford District Council.  

RL:  So some of them are getting on now?
Jerry: Yes, hence our desire to draw in some younger blood. Because of the nature of our meetings they have to be people who are local or relatively local. The requirement is that we have to attend 60% of the meetings in a year. We are always conscious that most are working and so we meet at 12.45 and finish our meeting, with a speaker even, by 2.00pm. Fortunately we have two or three younger men but we want more. We don’t want to get too big, perhaps just add two or three new members a year. In that way everybody gets to know everybody.  Our size is about right; we don’t want to go above forty just to keep it workable, knowing each other.  

RL:  Is there a social side as well?
Jerry: Yes, there is a social side where we involve our partners. Where we have a fifth Monday in the month, we don’t have a lunch time meeting at Rochford, we have an evening restaurant meal with our partners, and we have a dinner-dance once a year.   We also have an international dimension; we have a twinning process abroad and we are twinned with a club in Denmark and a club in France and alternate years we do visits to each other’s clubs for a weekend and we entertain them and they entertain us. On the international scene we are also in the process of purchasing an old mini-bus from a local charity who have now purchased a new one, and we are having it overhauled, and shipped out to South Africa for the use of an orphanage there, until they can afford a new one. This is in conjunction with a local Rotary Club in SA who will oversee the delivery of the vehicle when it reaches Durban.

RL:  That’s really great. How do people join?
Jerry: They come along to our meetings and after they’ve been along for three or four, if they like it and want to join we put it through a proposal process and vote them in.

RL:  So to sum it up, here’s someone thinking about being a member – why?
Jerry: Well, it’s a means of belonging to a group of people who have a common interest which is to serve their community by raising funds and helping different areas of the community where they can, in their spare time.

RL:  Very good. Thank you, that is excellent . Well, if there are those out there looking to serve our community, who fit the descriptions we’ve been talking about, I hope you’ll hear from them. Jerry, thank you again.  

(Rochford Rotary Club)

You did a superb job in the summer to help make the London Games a tremendous success. We at Rochford Rotary club are aware that there a lot of Olympic volunteers who enjoyed serving their area community last summer, but who now feel a little deflated or redundant now that the Games are over, and are looking to continue volunteering for the benefit of their local communities.

We, at Rochford Rotary Club, would like to hear from any Olympic volunteers who would like to be involved in activities for the benefit of the district of Rochford, and who either work or live in Rochford, and who would be able to attend a meeting on a Monday lunchtime each week and get to know a group of like minded Rotarians who have been serving this community for over 25 years.

Don’t be shy - contact us - come to one of our meetings without obligation, and see if Rotary International can give you that opportunity. If you are interested, contact the Secretary, Keith Holdsworth, on 01702 559246 or e.mail

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To see Christmas 2013 article
President:: Jerry Davenport
Secretary: Keith Holdsworth
For enquiries, please contact the Club Secretary:”.
or tel. 01702 559346
rochford rotary club
To see Christmas 2013 article