In the mid to late sixties, many changes took place in the BVI. A second commercial Bank had opened its doors, a bridge connecting Beef Island with Tortola had just been built, Cable & Wireless was putting in an Island-wide telephone system, the US Dollar was adopted as the only legal tender and there were plans for the electrification of Tortola & Virgin Gorda. Most important of all — in the Summer of 1967, a group of 20 community-minded men came together and under the guidance of the Rotary Club of Hato Ray, Puerto Rico, started the procedure of forming the first Rotary Club in the BVI.
 
On 5th January 1968, our Club officially became the 138th Nation of Rotary International. Most of the Charter Members were working for the Government with one-hour lunchtime. In order to accommodate Rotary, special permission had to be granted for the members to attend the meetings, exceeding the lunch hour. From the 20 Charter Members, two are still in the Club: PP Ralph T. O’Neal & Dr Robin Tattersall. Further, four charter members are still alive: Derek Dunlop, Michael Helm, Albie Stewart & Rev. Derek Pole (now residing in Ireland; just celebrated his 77th birthday). Other Charter Members were: President Richard Batham, Secretary Leslie Allen, Treasurer George Mitchell, VP Lionel Barker, Directors Cyril Romney & Jose R. O’Neal, as well as members Edgar Hewlett, Henry Creque Sr., Michael Batham, Marshall Davies, Stanley Gordon, Carlisle Scott, Fred Clark and H. Lavity Stoutt The VIRGIN ISLANDER reported in its January 1975 issue “Rotary launches big clean-up and beautification campaign” under the presidency of Ralph T. O’Neal, who commented: ”Filling the needs of the community is one of the prime purposes of Rotary. Rotary tries to find ways of helping the community in areas that are not normally covered by Government.” From the history of the Tortola Sports Club, we learned that in the late sixties the club was officially founded by PP Albie Stewart & Dr Robin Tattersall, along with Peter Haycraft. The court was often enjoyed by PP Rowan Roy, PP Clarence Christian & Cyril B. Romney. In the early eighties, a squash court was added and PP Roger Downing virtually lived on it and made squash popular in the BVI In the mid-seventies the very popular Rotary Christmas Concert was launched, which brought thousands of spectators over the years and raised ten-thousands of Dollars for charity until it came to a stop in 1993 after a prominent BV-Islander wrote to the media, that Rotarians are making fun of woman by staging “beauty pageants”, which were always considered the highlights of the shows by the audience. In the mid-seventies, George Mitchel founded the Club’s first bulletin “The Rotator”. He was later succeeded by Jeff Morgan as Editor, who reported in the September 1988 issue that PP Paul Backshall flew to Jamaica with hurricane relief supplies to hand over to the Jamaican Rotarians. A photo of the Air BVI Avro shows our very own PP Lloyd Black on the controls en route to Jamaica. Interestingly Rotarian Jeff reported in the November 1988 issue, that through the efforts of PP Ralph the club was appointed to act as an agent for the Governments of the Bailiwicks of Jersey & Guernsey for small foreign aid projects in the BVI. In his letter to then-President Peter Wimbush, he outlined examples of projects funded for British Commonwealth Island Nations in the South Pacific.
 
In the eighties, our club started the annual Rotary Easter Bazaar, which was a fun day for the entire family and a great fundraiser. Who would have thought that this hilarious, successful “Auctioneer” was none other than a young lawyer, now better known as PAG Gerard St. Clair Farara, QC. During the same time, we started the Annual Cricket Game on St. Ursula’s Day between the Lions Club of Tortola and the Rotary Club of Tortola. The Lioness Club of Tortola did the cooking and raised the funds by selling the food (I know for sure, as I was one of them) That again was a fun day for everyone. Other club projects during the eighties were cleaning, painting and refurbishing the infirmary, tree planting along Paraquita Bay Road, Annual Christmas Party for the children, fencing the Old Recreation Ground, sponsorship for Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway, then a most promising young athlete, as well as helping the BVI Red Cross with their Annual Fair. One of the biggest projects undertaken then was to assist with the Cultural Centre, which was a long-term project. In the late eighties, a little boy drowned in St. John because he couldn’t swim. PP Tom Gerker and his wife Barbara started the KATS = Kids and the Sea programme. When they moved to Tortola in 1990 they introduced the programme to us and our Rotary Club has fully supported KATS ever since its inception in the BVI.
 
In 1992 & 1995 We brought John Calvert to the BVI, the then “Greatest Magician of all” with his fascinating show Magicarama. For August Emancipation Festivities we started nearly 30 years ago with a tiny float under the chairmanship of founding member, the late Cyril B. Romney. Over the years it has grown into a large Floupe, winning us first prize in 2016. Under the Leadership of Rtn. Scottie Joseph we had our first Annual Fun Car Rally in 1990, which also served as education on road safety. Among the countless projects undertaken by our club, was planting Mangroves in Sea Cows Bay; promoting a concert of the Wantagh High School Band; holding several Tele-thons/ Radio-thons to raise funds for Victims of KATRINA and jointly with the Lions Club of Tortola we raised $25,000.00 for a lifesaving surgery for a little twin baby girl from Anegada. She visited our club about 12 year later with her Granny. In 2004 our Club won the first College Classics Award and shortly after we welcomed Her Royal Highness Princess Anne and showed her with pride our Millennium Project—The Roger Downing Mangrove Board Walk in Paraquita Bay. PP Elton introduced to us a great project: “Lose to Win”. We were getting healthier by losing weight and our sponsors helped us to much-needed funds in the Treasury. We started our largest ever signature project in 2004 with the first Annual Grand Affair & Auction, which raised a “ modest” $25,000.00 but raked in a whopping $345,000.00 in 2015. 
 
 
by Club’s archivist Rotarian Astrid
 
 
 
Charter Members
 
Leslie Allen George Mitchell
Lionel Barker Jose O'Neal
Michael Batham Ralph T. O'Neal
Richard Batham Derek Poole
Fred Clerk Cyril B. Romney
Henry Creque P. Scott
Marshell Davies Albert Stewart
Derek Dunlop H. Lavity Stoutt
Stanley Gordon Dr. Robin Tattersall
Michael Helm Edgar Hewlette