The inaugural meeting of the Rotary Club of Mt Barker was held on 14th September 1966 with 31 members and Roy Gilbert as President and Graham Lee as Secretary.
The new club was quick to begin serving the community. A high school Careers Night was conducted, promotion of Road Safety Week, assisting construction of Weld Park Playground and holding an Annual Rotary Ball. The following year saw the construction of Mt Barker Summit tourist walk, organise Pride of Workmanship, support Group Study Exchange and support for numerous organisations.
1970 saw the conducting of a Flower Show, an art exhibition, purchasing Safety Sallies for school crossings. A 'Kennel Club' was formed, a Wool Show held for local producers and providing a member to the Sash Ferguson Board.
72-73 saw 14 cattle purchased for the High School Ag class and the club also conducted a local Garden Competition.
74-75 the club parented the formation of the Stirling Rotary Club. Work and finance toward the Meals on Wheels kitchen followed, plus street seating in Mt Barker and Littlehampton. Next year a Pride of Workmanship was held, land purchased in Littlehampton and assisted replacing a RDBNS vehicle.
Financial support for the St Johns Ambulance rooms was given in 78-79.
80-81 saw continuing support of Mt Barker Fire Service, Jaws of Life and Bush Nurse. Next year saw funds towards Rotary Park at Dunn Park Caravan Park, build and finance a BMX track and involvement with Senior Citizen units.
President Ron Childs died from horrific burns suffered in the Ash Wednesday fire. A memoriam at Littlehampton Fire Station was supported to the tune of $28,000. Other projects were supported including funding high School cattle yards, followed the following year by a further donation.
85 saw the start of the annual auction which continued for 15 years and earned about $110,000. A car was raffled and funds raised supported the hospital, High School and CFS Littlehampton. A barbecue was built in Stephenson Park the following year and continued contributions to local projects were made.
A playground was built at Anembo Park at a cost of $21,000 then rebuilt to Council Safety Standards in 2001 for $25,000.
Over the next years Scouts, Aged Homes, Camp Quality and Steam Ranger were all recipients of funds plus a water tank was sent to the Solomon Islands. ACRE (rabbit eradication) was contributed to and the Mt Barker Rotaract Club was reformed.
94 onwards, a picket fence was built at the Railway Station, assistance with mock interviews at the High School, CFS , St Johns, Riding for Disabled, deaf swimmer and ACRE, Teen Challenge and more all received support.
96-97 we supported sending a dental nurse to India, a student to National Youth Science Forum, ran a Garden Show, Careers Expo at Oakbank plus donations to various cases.
A long term involvement with Operation Flinders began in 98-99 by sponsoring a team of ten to undertake the course at a cost of $15,000. For six years a garden show was conducted and later adding a dog show. A 5 year Bowel Screen was run and a sponsorship to National Youth Science Forum.
A major project was undertaken in 2002-2003 with the construction of a new donut van which has since operated at the Adelaide show annually raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for Operation Flinders. It has also operated at the Lobethal Lights and donated to that cause as well as a trailer for the Scouts.
Annually the club caters for the district Australia Day Ceremony, cooks a gunfire breakfast for the RSL on Anzac Day, supplies carpark attendants for Sophie Thompsons Open Garden. The club has focused on youth events, being keen to sponsor attendees to Operation Flinders, Health of the River, RYLA-RYPEN, National Youth Science Forum, Murray-Darling Fresh Water with the students reporting back to the club of their experience.
Since inception the club has hosted some 35 overseas exchange students and sent out reciprocal students, mostly for twelve month stays. The incoming students are hosted by 3 or 4 club families. Short term exchanges have also taken place. This is where a student is sent to New Zealand for three months to stay with one family then the New Zealand student returns and stays with the Mt Barker student for three months. 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner' has been a popular event. Assembling artificial hands for land mine victims in Cambodia has also been a worthy event.
Thank you to Ian Rose and Brian Voumard for putting the information on this page together.