So far, I've been invited to a new club then decided to join a new club. However, the club was still in formation phase. To start a new club Rotary needs it to have a certain number of members and an infrastructure in place. The new club members need to commit themselves to the serving the Object of Rotary. They need to pay their membership fees too (yes, there is a cost to joining Rotary - it's what pays the expenses of running the system). I'd like to explain more about exactly what hoops the club had to pass through, but the truth is I don't really know. I'd only been going for 6 or 7 meetings when Inauguration day had arrived. Whatever we as a club had to have achieved, we'd done it and a special meeting was arranged where the whole of Rotary (or perhaps, the local Rotarians able to visit) would get to inspect us as a new club.
Wednesday April 23rd 2008 is a day I will remember for a long time. Before the meeting I saw that the Rotary District Governor* would be joining us for breakfast to officially inaugurate our club and us as new members into Rotary. I recognised the name of the District Governor. Dennis Spiller was, for want of a better word, one of the Youth Leaders who worked with me as a teenager. It was through the Kent Association of Boys Clubs (which later changed it's name to KABC Kent Youth Trust because there was trouble having Boys in the name, even though girls had been involved for years. It's now known as just "Kent Youth"). Dennis is also part of a group called the "County Boys Club" (CBC), they organised a range of events and activities for young people on a county wide basis. Actually, I'm still a member of County Boys Club myself but life took me away from that in other directions. One of the things they organised was a set of weekend training courses aimed at developing young people, teaching skills useful in running a youth club. Dennis was one of the several staff organising and teaching on those weekends. One of the things I learnt at those weekends (I still remember) was how to run meetings. The role of the Chairperson, the Secretary, the Treasurer (if there was one), how an agenda works, how minutes work, how to take minutes, how sub committees work, and so on. One of my first observations of Rotary was how the meetings were run the same way as the systems I'd learnt at those weekend training events with the CBC. Meeting Dennis again brought back lots of happy memories of growing up.
The ceremony itself was run like clockwork. As our club meets at Canterbury Cathedral it already made for a most impressive venue. After breakfast, Dennis made a speech about what Rotary is and how important it is that new clubs are formed. Another Rotarian then introduced all of us new members by name and profession. Dennis then made the formal statements that officially announced the "Rotary Club of Canterbury Sunrise" as part of Rotary. He finished at precisely 07:59 and 58 seconds, then the Bells of Canterbury Cathedral rang out as if to join in the occasion (they ring at 8am every morning - but I had to admire the timekeeping of the whole morning).
So, there we all were, a group of new Rotarians, founder members of a club that, if it is as fortunate as other nearby clubs, will last over 100 years. Or maybe it wont, but it's kind of special to be there at the beginning.
Now we've formed a Rotary club, what happens next? Read on dear friend...
*A quick comment on the organisation structure.
Our club is a part of District 1120. The District has a District Governor who in the year we were formed was Dennis Spiller.
The District is a part of RIBI, Rotary International in Britain and Ireland, and that in turn is part of Rotary International.