Thursday 29th of June 2023 sees the 30th Anniversary of the formation of the Anton Rotary Club.
The Club has become known for supporting Andover’s local charities by organising and running various fund-raising events such as its annual Duck Racing Day at the Riverside Park on the Anton River next to the Town Mills pub; it’s Easter egg raffle involving the support of Andover’s pubs; it’s Christmas Santa and its annual metal detecting weekends thanks to the generosity of local farmers lending out appropriate pieces of land for detectorists to try their luck.
30 years ago, the club held its inaugural meeting at the Centre of Army Flying, Middle Wallop as it joined the international family of Rotary. For the first few years the club’s meetings were held at the White Hart hotel on Bridge Street every Thursday evening but in recent years, the Oak at Smannell has become the club’s venue for meetings and events.
The club has always held the support for local charities as a major objective and over the past few years, through Covid and now the economic crisis, the club has been a primary supporter of the Andover Food Bank. The club has over the years supported the Countess of Brecknock hospice, Andover’s young carers, MIND, and smaller local charities.
The club has also provided special days out for children from Andover’s special schools in the town including Kids Out, a national Rotary initiative giving some SEN children the opportunity of visiting a local amusement park or zoo. More recently, the club has given some SEN children a day on the Kennet and Avon canal with the assistance of Bruce Boats based at Great Bedwyn.
It’s a great tribute to the remaining five original members that the club has flourished and been so successful in supporting the Andover community over the years. The club was formed in June 1993. What is less well known is that 5 of the current club members were part of the initial group who formed the club in June 1993. The five are Ian Mcleod, the current President an industrialist at inception; Tony Lynn, a well-known retired local dentist and the club’s treasurer; Fergus Houghton, a retired local solicitor; Herbie Wilhelmy and Chris Baxendale, both retired industrialists. These members as a core group have led the club through the last 30 years in its support for local charities and Rotary International’s projects such as the eradication of Polio and immediate support for disasters as they appear around the world.
The anniversary meeting on the 29th of June at The Oak at Smannel will signify the end of the Rotary Year and see the leadership of the club pass over from Ian McLeod to Gary Adams who will lead the club through the Rotary year 2023 – 2024.
Another year, another President but the club’s objectives in supporting the local community remain the same.