By Sonia Walker-Russell / Bahama Buy & Sell

Facing challenges, hard work, sacrifice of time and resources, "Service Above Self" is a Rotarian's mandate and even more so is the role of the President of a Rotary Club.

                Celebrating 52 years in existence on Grand Bahama, the Rotary Club of Freeport's (RCF) Past Presidents took to the podium recently at the Club's weekly meeting, to tell of their experiences during their year as President. The first Rotary Club to be established on the island in 1962, RCF has inducted 50 different business men and women of this community to take on the responsibility of leading the organization in service to the community, The Bahamas and the world over.

                The mandate of a Rotary Club President is to ensure their Club functions effectively by:

● sustaining or increasing membership base

● implementing successful projects that address the needs of their community and communities in other countries

● supporting the Rotary Foundation through both program participation and financial contributions

● developing leaders capable of serving in Rotary beyond the Club level

Photo: L-R are: AG Mike Stafford; Bert Lighbourne; Secretary Constance McDonald; Ron Carter; Wilbur Outten; Paula Harris; Roger Pinder; Leonard Hindley and President Louie Alleyne.


Words from a few Past Presidents:

Past President Leonard Hindley 1982-1983

                Presently serving the Rotary Club of Freeport as Chief Sergeant-at-Arms, Leonard Hindley has been a member of RCF since 1974. "During my year as President we started off with a membership of 72 members with 3 honourary members including Jack Hayward, Wallace Groves and Father Brendon. We were awarded the District Bulletin Award, the Scholarship Award, donated to the Crippled Children's Home, sponsored a little league baseball team and donated a bus in conjunction with the Grand Bahama Telephone Company."


Past President Roger Pinder 1989-1990

                Thirty-five year member of RCF Roger Pinder said, "When I became President things were different. We had a lot of aggressive activities on Grand Bahama, the businesses were thriving and a lot of the movers and shakers of the country were members of this Club. They assisted me with a dental project that I had, and a free dental office was established. Some of the things I put in place before I left office I am pleased to tell you that they were accomplished later under other presidents, such as the installation of a mammography machine at the Rand Memorial Hospital. The seed was sown."


Past President Bert Lightbourne 1993-1994

                "I joined Rotary to assist with uplifting the public and the less fortunate in the community. I am happy that I joined and I'm satisfied with the progress we have made. During my year as President we had around 45-50 members. We purchased a fire engine for the eastern end of the island," said the 1984 inductee, "painted all of the bus stops in the Pinder's Point and Hunters areas and started working on a house in Williams Town for a lady in that community whose home was in horrible condition. We have helped a lot in the educational field, granting scholarships to students to attend the College of The Bahamas and colleges abroad, as well as sending 11th graders to foreign countries as Exchange Students where they get to learn a new language and culture. Rotary's pledged to stamp out polio throughout the world is now 99% finished," said Past President Lightbourne proudly. "Being a part of Rotary has put me in touch with a lot of other business persons who I might not have encountered or met otherwise. I would encourage any young businessman, who can afford it, to join. Some people join because they want to enhance their business. If you join just for that reason you might be disappointed, but if you join for what you can do, if you help, you will surely get help in return."


Past President Ron Carter 1995-1996

Inducted in 1977

                "One of the major projects we had during my year was building a house for a lady in Williams Town. Many times we did repairs on the floor, we donated a wheelchair to her and at the end we built her a house. Rotarians worked, hands on, along with contractors to build that house," he said. "That was the most challenging part of my year."


Past President Paula Harris 2001-2002

                The first female President of the Rotary Club of Freeport, Mrs. Harris was also one of  three of the first females to be inducted by a Rotary Club on the island in 1996.

                "The first three ladies to be inducted were Betty Van Lew, Constance McDonald and myself. My services were enlisted as a board member and I served as a treasurer and secretary and quickly learned the ABCs of Rotary. I was voted in as President Elect in the year 2000 and inducted as President June 16th, 2001. The six months leading up to and throughout the fiscal year was a very challenging but fruitful time for me, made easier by the support of my board members. When the dust settled on my year as President our Club was awarded the district award for membership growth, Best Bulletin and the Vocational Service Award. We granted $6,000 in scholarships that year, gave donations to YDOA, West End Scouts, Home for the Aged, the Children's Home, YGap, GB Junkanoo Committee, Rand Nature Center and Rotary International and sponsored a successful book drive for the outlying schools in West and East End. The three clubs on the island at the time chartered the first Rotaract Club with 37 members and together we completed an international project to establish a Children Resource Center providing computer accessibility and training for more than 40 children daily."


Past President Chris Gouthro 2004-2005

Inducted June 1999

                "My year began with an international conference in Japan. We had great plans but all those plans got shelved because that was the year hurricanes Francis, Jean and Wilma all came. We received a lot of help from fellow Rotarians in Florida in the form of water, food and supplies and gathered for several weeks to bag supplies and arrange for them to be transported to East and West End. Those hurricanes were very devastating and there was a tremendous effort by Rotary to reach out to everybody on the island to help them recover. We had about 42 members at that time and everyone came together really well. Although a lot of our businesses were suffering, a lot of people donated most of their time to help with that recovery relief effort," said Past President Gouthro. "Being a part of Rotary has rewarded me with the satisfaction of helping others. Rotary is a family of like-minded professionals who put service to others above themselves. Support your local Rotary Club by lending a hand or providing financial support so that we can all work together to improve the lives of those in our community who need us most."


Past President Mike Stafford 2006-2007 and 2007-2008

Inducted February 2003

                Two time president Mike Stafford now serves Rotary International as Assistant Governor of District 6990 (Southeast Florida, the Florida Keys, and the Grand Bahama Island community) home to 51 clubs and 2,100 Rotarians.

                "We had some great fund raisers my year. We hosted the opening night at the theatre, had a couple of golf tournaments and assisted the YMTA (Young Men's Training Association) in the Hunters area with help from the Rotary Club of east Nassau and the Roberts Fund. We got the roof back on, installed hurricane shutters and turned that YMTA into a computer learning and family center."


Past President Constance McDonald 2010-2011

                Attorney Constance McDonald, Secretary and 18 year member of RCF, noted that during her year as President, the Club fed the elderly in the different settlements, gave food baskets to the needy and donated much needed financial and human resource assistance to organizations such as Outreach Ministries with Dudley Seide.

                "Rotary is a prestigious organization. It allows one to assist the community as a group effort where an individual may not be able to effectively accomplish certain projects alone. Rotary looks at what the community needs and helps because it is all about helping people help themselves in accordance with Rotary's 4-Way Test (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?)

It's like having a big brother approach to community service."


Past and Present President Louis Alleyne

Inducted June 2008

                As for two year President Louis Alleyne, his year has been very exciting. "The highlight of it all is looking on individual faces and seeing joy and gratitude simultaneously as we administer 'Service Above Self' in the form of giving, sharing and caring for families throughout the length and breadth of the island," he said. "I would also like to encourage the residents of this community or wherever you may be from, to help us help others by supporting our fundraisers or whatever initiatives we may present."  


Other Past Presidents:

Reg Curtis 62-63, Brian Ellis 63-64, James Cockwell 64-65, Leo Savola 65-66, Peter Burrows 66-67, Bert Sinden 67-68, Michael Barrell 68-69, Robert Spenser 69-70, Jaffery Steward 70-71, Albert Antoni 71-72, Bill Coleman 72-73, Joel Smith 73-74, H.R. Waugh 74-75, Tony Ardolino 75-76, Derrence Kent 76-77, Joseph Byrd 77-78,  Foster Pestaina 78-79, John Doherty 79-80, Albert Miller 80-81, Art Gardner 81-82, Jack Whiting 82-83, Leonard Hindley 83-84, Treffor Davies 84-85, Carlton Wildgoose 85-86, Alton Wallace 86-87, Albert Adderley 87-88, Craig Stewart 88-89, Colin Davies 90-91, Andre Cartwright 91-92, Derek Higgs 92-93, Frederick Munnings 93-94, Gene Bruey 95-96, Ron Carter 96-97, Ernie Blues 97-98, Greg Smith 98-2000, Robert Osborne 2000-2001, Carlton Wildgoose 2001-2002, Richard Bates 2003-2004, Sobig Kemp 2005-2006, Rengin Johnson 2008-09, Wilbur Major 2009-2010, Leatendore Percentie 2011-2012 .


                The objective of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise. With sizeable financial donations, multiple hours at the grill or in the Rotary Van to raise funds, painting, cleaning and building;  guiding up and coming young adults through Rotaract and fostering relationships with high school students to better their future through Interact clubs, the Rotary Club of Freeport is pressing ahead to another 52 years unabatedly. Support their efforts in any way you can.