Belfast Telegraph

Rotary Club celebrates landmark with lavish black tie gala

By John Mulgrew

It may not be the most fashionable group but the Rotary Club in Belfast has been key in helping the less fortunate members of society for 100 years.

On Thursday night the club celebrated its centenary with a lavish black tie dinner attended by 260 people from across Ireland.

As the first club in Ireland, formed in 1911 by W. Stuart Morrow — originally from Dublin and a scholar at the Royal School, Armagh — it remains one of the oldest Rotary Clubs in Europe.

Made up of around 100 business, professional and community leaders, the Rotary Club boasts 1.2 million members around the world.

It expanded outside the city and formed clubs in areas such as Londonderry, Bangor, Ballymena and Enniskillen.

During its colourful history, the club has helped countless children with disabilities by providing them with medical equipment, as well as exciting events through the Harmony Trust and Handicapped Boys Camp.

Throughout the Troubles the cross-community organisation helped those caught up in violence in any way it could — including donating clothes and furniture to those who had their homes destroyed. Along with helping at home, the club has raised money for flood and hurricane victims, water aid programmes in Africa and set up the Rotary Limb Project — providing artificial legs for those from the poorest regions throughout the world.

Courtenay Thompson is a former president of the club and has been a member since 1977.

He said the club has been “silently achieving fantastic things for people across Belfast” for 100 years.

“We don’t normally sing about it,” he said.

“We’ve been raising money for local charities and helping people but we quietly keep our heads down.”

Mr Thompson said the organisation is set to change with the times to ensure it is helping people across Northern Ireland well into the next century.


The Rotary Club of Belfast has helped countless numbers of groups and organisations throughout the years — here are just some of the projects to benefit from its charity:

1 Harmony Community Trust

2 Handicapped Boys Camp

3 Purdysburn Hospital

4 Orthopaedic Children

5 Meals on Wheels

6 Wireless for the Blind

7 Clifton House

8 The Corrymeela Community

9 Rotaract

10 Abbeyfield charity

11 The Dinar Kohner Memorial Fund

12 Towards a Better Understanding

13 Polio Plus

14 End Polio Now

15 St Vincent de Paul

16 The Salvation Army

17 Children in Hospital Appeal

18 Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children

19 Michell House School

20 Musgrave Park Hospital

21 Forster Green Children’s unit

22 Ulster Hospital

23 SOS Bus

24 The Rotary Centenary Spectacles Project

25 Vision Aid Overseas

26 The Lifeline Express of the Impact India Foundation

27 The Wheelchair Foundation UK


29 Lifeboxes

30 Rotary Jaipur Limb Project

31 Shelterbox

32 Boy Scouts

33 St George’s Church

34 Life Education Centre


36 The Ambulance Cup

37 The John A Savage Memorial Trophy

38 The Harmony Hill Presbyterian Church Youth Group

39 Probus Clubs

40 Inner Wheel Club

41 The Golfing Society

42 Youth Leadership Development Competition

43 Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland

44 Jordanstown Schools for the Deaf and Blind

45 Fleming Fulton School

46 Harberton Special School

47 Longstone Park School

48 Cedar Lodge School

49 Glebe House

50 Highland Park Human Relations Commission

51 Warrington Male Voice Choir

52 Tim Parry Trust

53 Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

54 Thanks for Life

55 Howard Caskie Foundation

56 Christmas Toy Appeal

57 The Charity Bag Fund

58 The Montgomery Bowl Fund

59 The John Sawers Memorial Fund

60 Project Rombo

61 Limerick Hospital

62 New Lagan Valley Regional Park

63 Christmas Family Appeal

64 Belfast Buildings Preservation Trust

65 St Patrick’s School

Christ Church of Excellence

67 Vocational Service Programme

68 CLIC Sargent

69 Help for Heroes

70 Walkaway Community Association

71 Bothar

72 Cystic Fibrosis Trust

73 St John Ambulance

74 Belfast Corporation Welfare Department

75 Cleft Lip Campaign

76 Books to Africa

77 Nepal Trust

78 Water Aid

79 Elimination of Malaria in Tanzania

80 Third World Wheelchairs

81 Hope and Homes

82 Leonard Cheshire Disability

83 Heartbeat NI

84 Bloomfield Collegiate School

85 Irish Peace Institute

86 Tor Bank School

87 Good Shepherd Primary School in South Africa

88 Ulster College of Music

89 Spina Bifida NI

90 Chest Heart and Stroke

91 Action Cancer

92 Paul Harris Fellowship

93 Soldiers and Sailors Families Association

94 The Grahamstown Matching Funds Project

95 Cyclone Yemyin Victims

96 Nairobi Aid Project

97 Cyclone Margis Victims

98 Port-au-Prince, Haiti

99 Kids Out Day

100 Tree for Life Project

Belfast Telegraph