Welcome to Harpenden Village Rotary Club

Club members take to virtual meetings

‘We may all be suffering this life of physical separation but it is not stopping our Club’s 47 members from keeping in touch,’ writes Club President David Nye.

‘Our weekly newsletter, which normally records the happenings of the Club, is now filled with news of members and contributions from them such as a regular quiz.

‘We’re now into virtual meetings using video conferencing. After successful experiments with groups of members we are now holding full club meetings, including speakers, on Zoom.

‘Rotarians are positive people. They see problems as obstacles to overcome – and usually succeed. ‘But let’s hope that it won’t be long before Covid-19 is defeated so that our lives can return to some degree of normality.’

POLIO–Another triumph for Rotary

Rotary and its Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners have announced that wild polio virus type 3  has been certified eradicated worldwide. This achievement means that two of the three wild polio strains have now been wiped out.

Since 1985, Rotary’s key humanitarian priority has been to rid the world of polio. From over 1000 cases a day in 125 countries, paralysing and even killing children, that number is today down by 99.9%.

Over the last 30 years, Rotary has donated US$2 billion to the eradication effort, protecting more than 2.5 billion children from the disease through vaccination programmes.

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Conference hears how Club helps the Prince’s Trust

Club member David Rankin, speaking at the Rotary District Conference on February 29 about the Village Club members’ involvement with The Prince’s Trust.

David explained that our club members, having a long history of providing annual ‘mock interviews’ for 70 bright final-year students of Harpenden schools, were keen to extend their work to less capable young people.

Finding youngsters who desperately needed help finding employment, training or further education drew him to the Prince’s Trust and their well-established 12-week programme designed to assist 16- to 23- year-olds make something of their lives.

In the 18 months since club members took on providing face-to face interview training with the Trust the ‘positive outcome’ of those completing the programme has risen from 65% to 86%.

Lord Hill Remembered

Susan Fairbairn spoke to the club about the varied and distinguished career of her father, Lord Hill of Luton.

Born Charles Hill, in London, he lived most of his life in Harpenden where he fathered five children. He trained as a doctor and by the age of 28 he was working for the British Medical Association as assistant secretary and then, until 1950, as secretary.

In that year he entered parliament as Conservative and National Liberal member for Luton and held several ministerial posts until 1962.

The following year he was created a life peer and appointed chairman of the Independent Television Authority. From there he moved in 1967 to be chairman of the BBC Governors, a post he held until 1972.

During WW2, as the Radio Doctor, he gave daily tips on keeping healthy to millions of listeners, delivered in his distinctive deep, gravelly voice. His scripts were later published as a book which Susan had brought for club members’ inspection.

In Harpenden in 1948, while BMA secretary, he became founder president of the Harpenden Trust.

A highlight of the Club year

Guaranteed to get the Club’s New Year off with a bang is the annual auction of unwanted presents.

With club members John Pepper and Hugh Lawrence in their customary roles of sharp-suited auctioneer and overalled assistant, we were, as ever, treated to an hour’s constant hilarity.

The 55 unwanted gifts of every description (including an old friend – a mechanical corkscrew – back for a third year) were speedily found new homes. Auctioneer John deftly squeezed an extra pound or two out of any punter showing a modicum of interest in an item, while assistant Hugh roamed the room giving punters a closer look at the item, talking up its questionable value.

‘A highlight of the Club year’ was Club President David Nye’s  comment as he thanked the ‘stars’ for their efforts. The auction raised £287.50.