Posted by PP Jim Brock
 
The Bermuda Rotary Club (now the Hamilton Rotary Club) was sponsored for membership in the Rotary movement by the Rotary Club of New Rochelle in March, 1924.  The Rotary Club of New Rochelle was (and still) is part of District 7230 which includes the counties of the Bronx, Westchester, Staten Island and Manhatten.  It is not surprising, therefore, that the Hamilton Rotary club became and is still a part of District 7230.
 
Rotary is a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders that provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, and helps build goodwill and peace in the world.  The name “Rotary” derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members’s offices.
 
The Rotary movement started in Illinois, USA, by an attorney named, Paul Harris, who sparked the formation of one of the world’s first service organizations, the Rotary Club of Chicago.  This was the world’s first Rotary Club and it was formed on 23rd February, 1905 for the purpose of serving people who were in need.  Rotary now consists of more than 35,000 clubs located in 200 countries and geographical areas with a total membership of approximately 1.25 million men and women. 
 
Rotary club membership represents a cross-section of business and professional men and women who are leaders in their vocations.  Rotary is non-political, non-denominational and open to all cultures, races and all creeds. 
 
The main objective of Rotary is Service – in the community, in the workplace and throughout the world.  Rotary’s motto is “Service Above Self”, and for one hundred and fourteen years Rotarians around the world have attempted to do just that – to put Service Above Self.  
 
Rotary found its way to Bermuda when John Troy, a member of the Rotary Club of New Rochelle, New York, accepted the position of landscape architect in connection with the original Bermudiana Hotel.
 
John Troy was a good missionary for Rotary and soon interested a group of prominent Bermudian businessmen headed by John Pierce Hand (generally known as J.P.). 
 
It did not take J.P. long to persuade a number of his fellow businessman that it was a good idea to start a Rotary Club in Bermuda.
 
The Bermuda Rotary Club (now the Hamilton Rotary Club) was sponsored for membership in the Rotary movement by the Rotary Club of New Rochelle in March, 1924.  The Rotary Club of New Rochelle was (and still) is part of District 7230 which includes the counties of the Bronx, Westchester, Staten Island and Manhatten.  It is not surprising, therefore, that the Hamilton Rotary club became and is still a part of District 7230.
 
Its worth noting that at the regular meeting of the Bermuda Rotary Club on January 14, 1925, Rotarian John Troy on behalf of the sponsor club, the Club of New Rochelle, donated the call bell which our president still uses to this day.
 
There were twenty-five (25) founding members who, for the most part, were the leading businessmen in Hamilton and whose businesses included not only many of the industries, such as the hotel industry, insurance, construction, real estate and jewellery with which we are all familiar, but also some industries such as the coal industry and the green vegetable growers exporters association that no longer exist.
 
The charter officers were:
 
   Jack Arnold, President
   J. Hartley Watlington, Vice-President
   Joe Outerbridge, Secretary
   John Cox, Treasurer
   W. J. (Billy) Richardson, Sergeant at Arms
 
In 1951 The Bermuda Rotary Club sponsored the St. George’s Club for membership in Rotary International after which it changed its name to the Hamilton Rotary Club. In 1972 it sponsored the Sandys Rotary Club and the Pembroke Rotary Club in 1981.
 
Paul Harris, the founder of the Rotary movement, visited Bermuda and the Hamilton  Rotary Club in 1926 and quickly taught Bermudian Rotarians what the functions and duties of Rotarians were, and the great power for good that is possible when Rotarians work together as a unit.
 
Over the years the Hamilton Rotary Club has supported programmes for the youth, educational opportunities and international exchanges for students, teachers, and other professionals, and vocational and career development.

The Club has helped develop community and international service projects that address many of the most critical issues facing society. Issues such as children at risk, disabled persons, health care, poverty and hunger, the environment, education, urban concerns, population issues, violence and the promotion of international understanding and goodwill.
 
The Hamilton Rotary Club has contributed and continues to contribute significantly not only to local causes and to people in need in Bermuda, but also to international causes and to people in need in other countries. 
 
We not only donated money – mainly proceeds of our annual raffle, food and drink sales at the Agriculture Exhibition and other fundraising activities – but we also contributed our labour. We did a lot of painting projects. 
 
Club members painted rooms at St. Brendan’s Hospital (now the Mid-Atlantic Welness Institute), the Pembroke Rest Home on Parsons Road, The Salvation Army’s Harbour Light Centre, the Sunshine League among others. With a membership of more than 120, we were able to take on projects of this type.
 
Today we mark the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Hamilton Rotary Club and Bermuda’s involvement within the International Rotary Organization.  The history of our participation in Rotary is replete with many success stories of assisting both the local and international communities. 
 
Among the early projects initiated by the club was the provision of “Christmas Cheer” hampers for the needy which were delivered personally by members of the Club. 
 
This was an annual project which we repeated for well over sixty years.  Old timers like Danny Mannus, Kirk Kitson and George Cook and myself will recall that we use to get the names and addresses of needy families from the Salvation Army and we would prepare the hampers at  Butterfield and Vallis on Woodlawn road and deliver them all over the central parishes.  The success of this project was made possible by the generosity of PP Francis Vallis, who at that time was a part owner of the business.  Incidentally, although for age and health reasons, PP Francis Vallis is no longer able to attend our meetings, he is still a financial member of our Club and continues to show his generosity to us by making annual financial contributions to the Club.
 
On behalf of the Club, I thank Francis for his past and his ongoing support.
 
In the early years of our Club’s existence, our Club contributed significantly to the local community in a number of areas.  For example, in the early days of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, J. P. Hand one of the Club’s Charter Members, realizing that the Chamber was in a weakened condition, asked members to join the Chamber and try to re-vitalise it.  A change quickly took place and a look at the roster of presidents of the Chamber from then on reveals that many were Rotarians. 
 
This relationship between Rotary and the Chamber continued for many years as can be seen by the fact that in 1984, Carolyn Mello, our first female member was the Executive Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce.
 
At one time, the Lady Cubitt Compassionate Association was in a shaky financial condition.  It was largely due to the fact that members of the Hamilton Rotary Club got behind it that it developed into the healthy charity it is today.
 
The influence of our Club was helpful in organising the Bermuda Hotel Association and its first executive secretary was a member of our Club .
 
From the very beginning, the Hamilton Rotary Club became an active supporter of the annual Agricultural Exhibition.  Every year we use to run a food stall at the Exhibition selling hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and drinks to visitors to the Exhibition.  This activity was a fundraising endeavour and it was such an integral part of the Club’s annual programme that we constructed our own stall which we used from year-to-year. If Danny, Kirk and I had a dollar for every hamburger we have served at the Ag. Show, we could donate that money to the Club and it would be sufficient to start a Hamilton Rotary Club Trust Fund.
 
In 1924, just after the Club was formed the Club presented a shield to the organisers of the Ag. Show for annual competition among schools entering exhibits in the Agricultural Exhibition.
 
The Club’s support for the Annual Agricultural Exhibition continues to this day.
 
 A couple of years ago when the Government announced that it could no longer finance the Ag. Show, it was one of our members who came to the rescue. 
 
PP Kirk Kitson organised a group to raise the funds necessary to keep this worthy annual tradition going.  He also organises members of the Club to work as cashiers at the various entrances to the grounds. Without his leadership and initiative the Agricultural Exhibition would have discontinued.
 
Thanks, Kirk for your support of the Ag. Show and your ongoing to our Club.
Recognising the importance of a good education, the Club first made scholarships and bursaries to local schools and then established The Student Loan Fund whereby students seeking a higher education abroad could be assisted financially.
 
Through the Fund, interest-free loans are made available to students on the stipulation that with their first paying jobs, they will start repaying the loans to the Club so that other students may be assisted.   The Fund has been in existence for over 65 years and over this period it aggregated well over a quarter of a million dollars and has helped a large number of Bermudian students obtain a post-secondary.
 
The Hamilton Rotary Club has been very active in Rotary’s International Youth Exchange programme under which students sponsored by their local clubs leave their home countries and spend a year of schooling in another country.  In Bermuda’s case the students are usually sent to a non English speaking country and almost always become totally fluent in a foreign language.
 
On the International front the Hamilton Club has made a mark much greater than one would expect from a club our size.  Six Past Presidents of our Club – Sir Stanley Spurling, Jack Davis, Tom Kiel, Walter Maddocks and Bill Masters – were elected and served as District Governors of our District and one other Past President, Danny Mannus, was nominated as District Governor but because of family illness, he was forced to decline his nomination.
 
It is worth noting that two of our Past Presidents, Jack Davis and Walter Maddocks, after serving at the District level as District Governors went on to become outstanding leaders of Rotary International and to make their mark on world stage,
 
In 1978 Jack Davis became the President of Rotary International, the only Bermudian to ever hold this post.  During his year as President he created Rotary’s 3H Programme – Health, Hunger and Humanity – which makes grants from Rotary Foundation to relieve hunger and improve the lives of all of mankind.
 
Walter Maddocks was asked to head Rotary International’s Polio Plus programme.
 
When called upon by the International Organization (Rotary International) to keep the promise the children of the world to eradicate polio, he accepted modestly.  Walter, with the help and cooperation of his wife, Margaret, set Rotary International off on a multi-year quest to eradicate the scourge of Polio from the planet.
 
In 1986, Walter, who was a past President of this Club, became the first Executive Director of the Polio Plus programme and under his leadership, Rotarians raised more than $264 million – far exceeding their $100 million target.  This enormous sum ensured that a collaborative international plan for the total eradication of polio from the planet could be started.
 
There is no doubt whatsoever that Walter made an indelible impact on Rotary’s world-wide service.
 
In the more than three decades since the beginning of the Polio Plus programme, Rotary has contributed more than $1.3 billion and countless volunteer hours to help immunize more than 2.2 billion children worldwide.  
 
This has resulted in a decrease in poliovirus cases by over 99%, from an estimated 350,000 in more than 125 endemic countries in 1986, to 33 reported cases in 2018 in 3 endemic countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan  - today.
 
Locally, The Hamilton Rotary Club is noted for its long-standing tradition of broadcasting the presentations of invited speakers on topical and pertinent issues in Bermuda – whilst not providing a platform for partisan political promotion.  The Club regards this as an important community service for the interest and benefit to the community at large.
 
In putting together this history of our Club, I have pondered over the question as to what has been the single most important contribution the Club has made to our community or to the international community.
 
Is it $264 million raised under the leadership of our PP Walter Maddocks?  Is it the more than $250,000 which the Club has lent to students over the years to enable them to pursue postsecondary education?  Is it the $35,000 which we raised (in conjunction with the other local clubs) to finance the building of two orthopaedic operating theatres in Malawi, Africa?  Is it the 3H programme initiated by PP Jack Davis?  Is it the Neurological Rehabilitation Clinic at the KEMH the construction of which was made possible in 1990 by a $20,000 donation from our Club?
 
Notwithstanding how valuable these projects were, I think they pale in comparison to what I think has been the Club’s largest contribution. 
 
I think the Club’s biggest contribution to the community was the introduction and promulgation of the spirit of Rotary and its core values to Bermuda. 
 
Service is a major core value of Rotary.  In fact our motto is “Service before Self”.
 
Rotarians are challenged to test themselves and to apply the following Four Way test in all that they think, say or  do.
 
  1. Is it the Truth?
  2. Is it Fair to all concerned?
  3. Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
 
I think that the formation of the Hamilton Rotary Club and the other three clubs that were sponsored by the Hamilton Club resulted in the spread of the values contained in the Four Way Test from one end of Bermuda to the other and that this helped to make Bermuda a better place in which to live.
 
 
March, 2019
PP Jimmy Brock