Aberystwyth Rotary Club is 75 this year and a weekend of celebrations will take place next month.

On Saturday, 29 and Sunday, 30 July in the bandstand on the prom, the club present a “family focused event” with face painting, storytelling , choirs, and music showcasing their work and those of the charities they support.

They club also has permission from Aberystwyth Town Council and CADW to erect a sun dial at the observatory point in the castle as a lasting monument to the service the club has given to the town since its founding in 1948.

This follows a successful 75th Charter Night in April, when over 100 guests including Ben Lake MP, the Llywydd of the Senedd, the District Governor and Rotarians from Inverness, Loch Ness gathered. The guest speaker was Professor Carwyn Jones, former First minister and a fellow Rotarian. Rotary Young Musicians Ioan Mabbutt and Gruff Sion, accompanied by Lona Phillips, provided entertainment, and a raffle on the night raised £800 for Prostate Cymru.

Aberystwyth Rotary Club held a 75th anniversary charter night in April
Aberystwyth Rotary Club held a 75th anniversary charter night in April (Aberystwyth Rotary Club)

The club was founded at 9.23am on 15 March 1948, as recorded by Librarianship scholar, Lionel White, in 1973.

The strength of the club from its very commencement were the easy connections between people of different professional backgrounds - town and gown at its best.

The club reflected local leadership and authority through their networking and business. It was Rotary that first provided a Christmas tree for the town. The tree was associated with charitable efforts on behalf of the elderly and needy, with a collection of toys for children. The old town clock was the usual site for the tree where the lights were switched on by the mayor.

ln 1953 the tree was erected on the promenade: the change was unsuccessful and in 1954 it became mobile and was accompanied by a choir of lnner Wheel and Rotary members singing carols, music provided by a piano mounted on a Land Rover. The club was also involved in careers fairs and exhibitions during the 1950s an activity like the Christmas tree that was taken over by the council.

"We have made the difference in so many ways," said Hywel Davies, Rotary Club president for 2022-2023.

"Jasper House, Tŷ Geraint in Bronglais Hospital in John Davies’s year as president and the Rotary garden in Bronglais in Alun Rees’ to name but a few.

"And the adventures too. John Bradshaw and Gareth Williams lorry trip to Croatia with resources to help in the wartorn disaster there for example."

He added: "After Covid we meet twice a month instead of weekly and our HQ is still where is has been since the mid-1960s, namely the Marine Hotel.

"We have probably made more financial contributions to the local community in Aberystwyth than any other service or voluntary club. Our treasurer, Robin Varley, informs me that since 2013 we have distributed £34,000 to local charities alone through our Christmas Collections.

"During the same period we have sponsored 19 local youngsters on humanitarian study visits throughout the developing world, scholarships made possible by a bequest from Lionel White topped up by our own fund raising. These young people have taken Rotary and Aberystwyth values of service and commitment all over the world.

"We have raised nine shelter boxes for disaster relief to countries affected by natural disasters, the most recent being that in Turkey and Syria . We run innovative and prestigious Rotary youth competitions such as Young Musician but also Young Chef, Young Writer both in English and Welsh and every year a day out for young carers: Kids’ Out.

"Our most visible presence in the Aberystwyth landscape is the Wishing Well on the prom and since 2013 the visitors to Aberystwyth have made it possible for us, with Gift Aid, to donate nearly £11,000 to Stop Polio and more recently to Water Aid. Through our subscriptions , over the same 10 years, we have contributed nearly £14,000 to Rotary’s own charity Rotary Foundation and its flagship aim of Stopping Polio throughout the world."

Hywel added: "We support the Jubilee Storehouse Food Bank run by St Anne’s Church in Penparcau. During Covid we didn’t meet for lunch for obvious reasons but we gave the lunch money we would have spent to the foodbank. Through our Christmas collection we recently gave £1500 to that worthwhile cause. In 2019 they had 200 clients per month , this has now doubled to 400.

"Small local charities like DASH also benefit from our support because national fund-raising events are feeling the effects of the cost-of-living crisis and cultural change. Small local charities also appreciate our donations because unlike say the National Lottery they don’t come with complex and multiple preconditions.

"Remember to pop in to see us in the bandstand on the prom on 29 and 30 July. See what we are doing for yourself. Join us. It’s fun and you will be part of a movement, consisting of men and women of all backgrounds, that does good, both locally and globally."