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Barking Rotary Club celebrates its 85th anniversary

PUBLISHED: 17:16 29 May 2015 | UPDATED: 17:16 29 May 2015

Rotary Club visit to Thurrock power station, 1967

Rotary Club visit to Thurrock power station, 1967

Archant

Since it was established in 1929, the Rotary Club of Barking has been the lifeblood of the community and a charitable tour de force. Phoebe Cooke meets the boy scouts of the business world.

The feature Barking Rotary Club's President Alec Everitt and Dennis BloomfieldThe feature Barking Rotary Club's President Alec Everitt and Dennis Bloomfield

From keeping an eye on the borough’s blood pressure to the eradication of polio – there aren’t many charitable pies the Barking Rotary Club doesn’t have its fingers in.

Celebrating their 85th anniversary today, the Rotarians are a select group of local businessmen and women, who exist to forge connections with each other as well as a much wider community and are recognised for their charitable pursuits.

“My next-door neighbour invited me to go along to the club in 1992, and it very quickly dawned on me that it was a boy scouts for grown-ups,” Rotary president and “Barking boy” Alec Everitt told the Post.

“I was hooked from day one,” said the former fireman, who lives with his wife Jacqueline on Longbridge Road.

Well-known for their rapid response to humanitarian crises, Rotarians are also embedded in their local community – such as collecting and distributing food to those in need at Christmas, checking the blood pressure of residents and putting on events at old people’s homes.

Rotary International has a membership of 1.5m, but numbers are dropping in the UK, particularly in London, where each group tends to have around 10 members.

“We’ve hit rock bottom so the only way is up,” said Alec.

“People don’t have time to have lunch once a week any more, it’s very difficult.”

“That said, we’ve just got two new members, and have invited two women to join.

“We have had some great female Rotarians in the club – so good they keep being promoted in their professions!

“Most Rotarians retain their membership for life – once a Rotarian, always a Rotarian.”

The club’s longest-serving member, 76-year-old Dennis Bloomfield, is living proof of that.

“The fellowship in the Rotary is absolutely tremendous,” the Barking resident told the Post.

“People are there to help you if you’re going through hard times. I was quite young when I started, and everybody treated you as an equal.

“You get a lot of satisfaction helping people. The more you put in, the more you get out of it,” added Dennis, who recalls charity fairs, dinner dances and Christmas shopping trips with the elderly through his 48 years of membership.

This summer, Barking Rotary will be putting on their biggest annual event – the 20th KidsOut Day. The club usually spends around £7,500 on the day, which entertains around 1,000 special needs children with circuses, face painting and more.

To find out more about KidsOut Day and the club, visit facebook.com/rotarybarking or email hello@rotarybarking.org.uk


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