THE HISTORY OF OUR CLUB
In February 1973 and the first official meeting took place on the 12th of March that year. The Rotary Club of Littlehampton became Arundel’s sponsor club and they supported and guided the club through its first year. Jim Pegrum, a Littlehampton Past President, was especially singled out for praise at the Inaugural Meeting for his efforts and hard work, as he and Bert Umpelby, together with Tom Goodfellow, had laid the foundations for the Rotary Club of Arundel.
The first social and fundraising event was a Christmas Cocktail Party held at the Mill House restaurant on Monday, 10 December 1973. Tickets were £1.75 each; dress informal even though it was a cocktail party! The new club members were so keen that they did not wait for the Inaugural Meeting to start fundraising. In fact the Inaugural Meeting of the Interim Rotary Club of Arundel took place at the Beach Hotel, Littlehampton on Thursday, 14 February 1974. The Interim President was Tom Goodfellow who, during his speech, commented on how young the club members looked! The average age was under 40.
The Interim Officers of the Club were:
1 Vice President – Gerald Peters
2 Vice President – Peter Ayling
Hon. Secretary – Ron Griffiths
Hon. Treasurer – Phillip Loft
There are 32 members recorded as Founder Members though not all of them attended the Inaugural and Charter Nights. Sadly none of these remain in the club, John Hollister being the last to leave.
The Charter was received by the first President, Tom Goodfellow, on Tuesday, 21 May 1974. The club banner was designed by Tony Weller, who was to become the club’s third President. Since 1974 the Rotary Club of Arundel has raised many thousands of pounds for charity and taken part in many local and international fundraising activities. One of the most popular of these was the Spirit of Christmas which ran for many years and was intended to give something back to the people of Arundel who had supported the club so well. It was run as a Dickensian event and, in its heyday, all the club members and their wives and members of Inner Wheel dressed in Victorian costume. Mulled wine, hot mince pies and roasted chestnuts were sold and the crowds were entertained all day by various acts performing on an improvised stage. This was a large lorry, which had a beautiful backdrop, painted by past member Peter Morgan, along one side, depicting Arundel in the snow. The day finished with the presentation of the poster competition prizes to local schoolchildren, the lighting of the Christmas Tree lights and a Carol Service all presided over by the Duchess of Norfolk.
For some years the club entered a float in the carnival procession, which marked the start of the Arundel Festival, and organised a torchlight procession which marked the end of the festival. The spectacle of hundreds of lit torches, made by members, coming down Arundel High Street as darkness fell made a wonderful sight. For a few years the club organised a Mediaeval Fayre on the last day of the Festival where again members were appropriately dressed and a lot of fun was had.
In 1979 the Rotary Club of Arundel twinned with the Rotary Club of Avesnes-sur-Helpe in France. The President of the French club, Andre Chabloz, received a President’s Jewel from Norman Bell, President of the Arundel Rotary Club. Regular meetings and exchanges took place and the two clubs celebrated the 10 Anniversary of their twinning in 1989, most notably with a visit to the Moet & Chandon vineyard where champagne was naturally the order of the day and lunch was served in the magnificent Orangerie.
In 1983 Arundel Rotary Club sponsored a new club in Storrington and they held their Charter Night on 2 June that year. Their President this year is Brian Parfitt, a long standing past member of Arundel club.
International activities have resulted in numerous contacts with many countries and joint projects have been undertaken with our French contact club of Avesnes. A second contact club, Tabor in the Czech Republic, has been established and much fun and fellowship has been enjoyed with them including an unforgettable trip to Vienna.
About 4 years ago Rotarians Mark Bacchus Geoff Allen and Barry Hopkins went to Timisoara in Romania where the local Rotary club took delivery of 150 wheelchairs to be distributed throughout the country. The Arundel Rotarians saw some being delivered to various institutions in and around Timisoara, a very moving experience. The money was raised by Arundel Rotary club with the help of matching grants.
Finally, Arundel has had a District Governor in the shape of our Hon. Secretary, Barry Hopkins, and we had a lot of fun in ‘Le Torquay’ at the District Conference when he was in charge.