It began with an elephant in the room.
It was 1963 and the Rotary Club of Bayswater, Vic, chartered in 1961, had completed its community service project: a massive masterpiece of tubular steel, lovingly welded and moulded by Rotarians into the form of a pachyderm, over which children could clamber in safety. The culmination of months of planning, design, skill and sheer hard work.
The story, complete with photographs, was posted to The Rotarian – the official magazine to which all Rotarians subscribed; but oh! The disappointment! It never appeared.
Then President of the Rotary Club of Bayswater Jim Robinson and his friend Les Gilbert pondered the problem. They wondered how many more stories of great projects were never told. They concluded that we needed a magazine of our own to complement The Rotarian, to exchange regional information and project ideas.
Bayswater sponsored a motion at the next district conference at which, in the face of strenuous opposition from the usual suspects, a ways and means committee was appointed to make a feasibility study and report to the next conference.
“They wondered how many more stories of great projects were never told. They concluded that we needed a magazine of our own to complement The Rotarian, to exchange regional information and project ideas.”
Meanwhile, at the Rotary Club of Newtown, NSW, one Paul Henningham had come to a similar conclusion. Following a month of make-up meetings in northern NSW, he was amazed at the service so enthusiastically given by Rotarians in other districts.
“Every make-up introduced me to a new, exciting community, vocational or international service project or program,” said Paul. “I came home overflowing with information and bristling with ideas; but why did we never hear of these remarkable Rotary activities beyond our own district?
“Perhaps a national or regional newsletter or magazine could be issued, sharing project ideas and information.”
Through the leadership and persistence of these and other visionary Rotarians, the first “pilot” edition of Rotary Down Under appeared in April 1965, with Paul as editor and secretary. The first official issue appeared in July 1965, and the rest, as they say, is history! Today, Rotary Down Under continues to be a go-to source for information in Zone 8, proudly sharing the wonderful stories, ideas and projects from our districts.
This is an edited extract from an article written by Paul Henningham that appeared in the April 2015 edition of Rotary Down Under.