Exmoor Rotary Club



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History of Rotary Club of Exmoor

The Club celebrated its 25th anniversary at The Courtyard restaurant on Saturday March 27th 2004.

The Vice-President gave a potted history of the last twenty-five years' achievements, and the text below is adapted from this.

The early time at the club was spent, believe it or not, raising funds for Polio+. Haven’t we all done that? The good news is that we have finished this year, after 2 billion children have been immunised and half a billion dollars has been raised. The world is now 99% free of polio. The club held a party in 1987 at which 100 people were present and £272 were raised. Thereafter some £3000 was produced for Polio Plus by the Club.

Public speaking for young people at the local schools was on the agenda then and that still continues to this day as ‘Youth Speaks’, now involving Dulverton, Bampton, and Bolham schools.

The Exmoor Challenge looms large in the club’s calendar and this started way back in 1982. But it had nothing to do with walkers! It was a horse ride and 60 riders took part raising some £1100 for the Taunton Hospice. Horse riding continued for a couple more years before it lost its appeal or somehow ceased. Rodney Dixon had the bright idea of a boat race along the River Barle, so a race was started at Marsh Bridge down to Dulverton. We don’t know what happened to that but the following year, 1986, the walking challenge was underway. Then the Junior teams walked 16 miles and the Seniors 20 miles! The kids were tough in those days. Now the Juniors walk 14 and the Seniors 16 miles.

Going back to 1983, a committee was formed to raise funds for an Abbeyfield House in Dulverton. The committee was solely Rotarians and the sanctity of the committee was invaded by two invited wives!

A great effort ensued and a brand new house for the elderly was opened in1991 and has been full ever since. The club’s tenacity is shown by the fact that we still support it through our fund-raising each year.

The Exmoor Community Bus was started by Rotary and made its first trip to Tarr Steps in 1983 – we ran it for several years before it was taken over by the Exmoor Community Association – now we have to pay to hire it for any event.

Again in 1983, we started planting trees; firstly round the tennis courts and sports field in Dulverton. Believe or not those trees grew so well that they were blocking the light from the tennis courts and their roots were invading the ground, so they were cut down in 2001. All that can happen in 25 years !

Colin has played a large part in tree planting for he put aside a piece of his land in the Exe Valley and we put in a whole plantation of trees. The wife of the first National Park chairman Leonard Curtis did the planting – we know Leonard Curtis was the instigator of Exmoor National Park and several others as well. That plantation has grown well and needs the brambles removing – a job Colin has in his sights for his ‘retirement’ years. We have continued with more tree planting recently in Winsford where we joined with the National Park to put in a few choice trees alongside the river there.

Fund-raising continues as a significant feature of our year and the Children’s Hospice South West has been a worthwhile cause for which we have raised substantial amounts.

With our name of The Rotary Club of Exmoor we really do have to organise an event on Exmoor, and walking is a great thing to encourage, so we try to pass that thought on to our neighbouring Rotary District by challenging them each year to field more walkers than we do. Of course we give ourselves a handicap by choosing a location which is close to their borders but quite far from the majority of our clubs. They need that encouragement..

The Youth Challenge is still ever popular which we mount with Tiverton’s aid: David Hunt quotes a figure of 488 youngsters out on the moor in appalling fog – none was lost! Now we restrict ourselves to the more modest 450, ever fearful of losing some. Many youngsters will remember their challenge walk, and we know that the Challenge medal is the only achievement that a few children leave school with.

However Rotary is not always about fund-raising but about the friendship and fellowship. It is significant that the letters I have read to you from some of our “old boys” talk of the friendship which really is the essence of this club. Long may that continue. Thank you President John.

Presidents' Roll



A Elliot-Canon



Philip Jones



Graham Poat



Frank Pooley



P C Goddard



Rodney Dixon



B Powell-Harper



Ted Burnett-Wells



Tony Taylor



Stuart Thompson



Colin White



Brian Allen



George Spencer



David Hunt



D Underhill



Napoleon Willcox



D R Spencer



Paul Backhouse



Colin White



Bill Airey



Ken Rose



Tony Harrowell



Tim Ward



Paul Beck



Tony Trigg



John Rudd



Alan Osborne



Dennis Aslin



Edward Tanner



Richard Evans



Humphrey Berridge



Barney Hopkinson



Dev Page



Alan Woolley



Terry Knagg



Gillie Appleby



Terry Ross



David Whiteway



Derek Webster



Jane Wilson



Michael Scott