Last month in a blog about a Lisburn Rotary golf day that we were supporting, I dropped into the article that our own Johnny Simpson is this year’s President.
To mention it in passing was a bit remiss of me, so I thought I’d take some time and find out more about why the Rotary Club is important to Johnny and what it means to him.
How long have you been a member of the Rotary Club?
“I’ve been involved for about four years now, I did get involved in Rotaract when I was younger, which is like the junior Rotary club.”
How long is your tenure as President?
“I have the honour of being president of Lisburn Rotary for a one year term and I have thoroughly enjoyed it so far, it’s been very very rewarding.”
What is involved in your role as President?
“My role as President involves guiding and mentoring of the more junior members. I also get involved with fund distribution to local projects. I also have to make public appearances for those events we support.”
What got you involved and why is it important to you?
“I’ve always got involved in publicising causes which are close to my heart, so the Lisburn Rotary Club seemed like a natural fit with likeminded people getting together to try and make a difference to those less fortunate than ourselves. The Rotary Club of Lisburn is nondenominational and nonsecular which was also important to me wanting to help community-wide.”
How much has the club raised and what causes does it support?
“The Rotary Club supports a number of causes on a national and international level, but I have really enjoyed being able to provide support to those organisations that are at a local level. Recently we’ve provided funds for Right to Sight, Autism NI and Altzheimers UK, all of which are important to me. I’ve seen that you wrote about our golf day, so thank you, We were really pleased that this years’ total raised will be about £30,000. Our golf day alone over the last few years has raised in excess of £100,000. That has allowed us to achieve many of our aims – but there is always more we can do!”
I thought I might have a look at the history of the club and how it all started.
The following is reproduced from Lisburn Rotary’s website and details the formation, by Jamesie Bass.
“The first meeting of the foundation committee was held on 17th February 1954 and was presided over by Charles E White, an influential member, in the early years of Rotary in Ireland. He founded some 80% of the earlier clubs in Ireland. His modus operandi was to select a prominent, respected local person to be the first member and gradually build the new club around him. However, things were different in Lisburn. For various extraneous reasons I, although a comparatively new comer to the town and still in my thirties, was selected. This meant that Lisburn was a comparatively youthful club, the average age being around 40 and there were no grandfathers in the club at that time!
The inaugural dinner was held in the Temperance Institute on 25th May 1954. The Temperance Institute established in 1890 (and now known as The Bridge Community Centre) was, among other things, the only community centre in Lisburn and it was here that the club was to meet over the next dozen years or so. It was here that new friendships were formed to last a lifetime and old friends were seen in a different light. It is a rare privilege to be a founder member of a new Rotary Club.
The overriding feeling among the members was enthusiasm and we tackled the new projects that faced us with gusto. We had a hands-on approach to what we did, bringing the members of the Old Men’s Club that met in the Temperance Institute on annual trips to the Mourne Mountains, bringing patients from Thompson House on a bus run, having a party for underprivileged children, mounting art exhibitions etc.
I do not want to turn this into a parade of good deeds but our activities covered the four avenues of Rotary Service. Interesting too, the management structure, set up in 1954 and based on that operating in the Bangor Club, is still largely the same today as it was 50 years ago. Looking back over those 50 years, I realise how much richer and fuller my life has been through Rotary. My hope is that people now joining this great movement will, in the fullness of time, look back and say the same thing.”
We would like to wish Johnny every success for his year as President of Lisburn Rotary, we’re all proud of you!