Club History-The First 40 Years

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The First 40 years   by PP Bob Grant

The Rotary Club of Albury North was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Albury and chartered on the 1st May 1963. Two Rotarians from the Albury Club, namely Horrie Harrison and George Roxborough, were our mentors in those early years and attended numerous of our meetings to ensure that we stayed on the straight and narrow as far as Rotary was concerned.

Two members of the Rotary Club of Albury actually joined our Club and they were Doug Delarue and Ned Griffith. Doug Delarue served as our second President and later became District Governor. He served both the Albury and Albury North Clubs with distinction and his contribution to the District is well documented.

Our Charter President was Peter Carrick who had the difficult task of presiding over a new Club in its inaugural year and this he did with great distinction. The Club’s Charter Dinner was held at the Tudor Hall, Bonegilla on the 15th June 1963 and the then District Governor, Ern Grainger, presented the Club’s Charter. The Rotary International President at that time was Natish C Laharry from the Rotary Club of Calcutta in India and his theme for the year was “Kindle the Spark Within”- The Power that Lights the Service”.

The Club has had four meeting venues during its history, firstly meeting at the Boomerang Motel and then shifting to Sodens Hotel, followed by the New Albury Hotel and lastly at the SS&A Club where the Club still meets today.

The Club has produced two District Governors during its proud history namely Doug Delarue and Neville Cann. Neville also has the distinction of serving the Club as its President twice, which accurately reflects his status as a dedicated and committed Rotarian. We have also provided two Assistant Governors, Ken Jones and Alf Armstrong, during the short period this post has been in existence.

In its early years, the Club got involved in a number of different fund raising activities and these included: -

            Wood chopping

            Paper drives

            Working on gates at the Trots and the Show

            Wood and bottle drives

            Introducing the Bargain Market

Many stories abound about incidents and good fellowship that occurred at some of these activities.

Our famous Bargain Market, now known as the Community Market, first started in Mate Street, North Albury subsequently moving to the car park at the Lavington Shopping Centre and finally to the car park at the Taxation Office in Townsend Street, Albury. In recent years the market has been a joint effort between our Club and the Rotary Club of Belvoir-Wodonga and returns a net profit in excess of $50,000 for each club per year.

Our early leaders thought “outside the square” and some of the projects undertaken included: -

Building the Manual Activities Centre

Running a Ball at the Palais Royal with a rotating circular stage.

Running two rodeos.

Being the first Club outside Sydney or Melbourne to embrace the Youth Exchange programme.

Conducting a Careers Day in the main street with all local industries represented.

Building the Manual Activities Centre was a major project that involved the erection of a building for the use of senior citizens. The building included a large activities/meeting room, woodworking workshop with tools provided, together with a kitchen, office and toilet facilities. The brainchild of one of our Charter members (Jim De Kruiff), the Centre, which became affectionately known as the MAC, was built through the efforts of some very dedicated Rotarians and support from the community at large.

Our Rotary Club managed the MAC for nigh on 30 years but recently handed over the building and its management to the Albury City.

In early years the Board meetings were held on a rotation basis at the homes of the various Board Members. Most finished at 1.00 am leaving behind a stench of cigar and pipe smoke, not to mention the odd cigarette. For a non-smoking host this was a major problem but was accepted as being part of the job. During the cold winter months a flagon of Sherry was often consumed as well.

Some of our other service activities included: -

            -Erection of BBQ facilities at Jelbart in Albury

            -The provision of a Steam Engine in Avis Park on which children could play. Since removed for safety reasons.

            -Chartering 3 Probus Clubs and one Interact Club

-Assisting the Rotary Club of Albury Hume in the formation of the Rotary Club of Lavington.

For the last 14 years (except one) the Club has conducted its own RYPEN Camp at Howman’s Gap near Falls Creek for year ten students in the Albury/Wodonga area. Depending on availability of students, between 30 - 40 attend each year. These have been very successful and have benefited both students and Rotarians as well.

Our current membership stands at 54 (including 2 Honorary Members) and continues to grow. The Rotary Community Market conducted weekly in partnership with the Rotary Club of Belvoir =-Wodonga continues to be our major fundraising activity. Over many years the Club has been a strong supporter of the Rotary Foundation and many local charities have also benefited from our efforts.

During the last 3 years our Club has acted as local facilitator for Relay for Life in support of the Cancer Councils of NSW and Victoria and we have participated in sending two teams overseas in support of offshore projects, these being Water Tanks in Tonga and Rotahomes in Fiji.

Our Club has a very proud history and it looks forward to the opportunity to continue providing service and fellowship in the future.