The Rotary Club of Halifax was delighted to celebrate the 90th anniversary of its founders’ inaugural lunch recently. Last month on 4th January, 58 members, visiting Rotarians and guests attended the usual weekly luncheon held at The Rock Hotel, Holywell Green for the celebration.
In late 1921, the Halifax Courier published an article that had been written by Tom Teal, a Rotarian who lived in Perth, Scotland, but who had been born in Halifax. It concerned the ideals and the philosophy of Rotary. The article aroused a great deal of interest and led by six local business men, they soon became twenty-six who wished to set up a Halifax club. They became founder members.
They all met at The White Swan on 4th January 1922 at 12.45pm and agreed to meet every Wednesday from 12.45pm to 2.00pm, a tradition which continues today. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Leeds they joined the British Association of Rotary Clubs on the 18th January that year.
The early focus for the club was on community and international service. In the grey days of the early 1920’s, besides the establishment of the firm foundation of the club, they provided help to the poor in the town and to the children in particular, entertaining for example some 800 to a pantomime each year. Other projects in the first decade included civic and educational prizes with parties of school children sponsored to attend the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924. There were donations to natural disasters such as earthquake relief, contacts with overseas clubs and hospitality for visitors from abroad. In particular a friendship was formed with the Rotary Club of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The war years presented a challenge to Rotarians but at the end of 1944 the club had some 75 members from all corners of local business and commerce in the town. They identified the need for other clubs to be born and developed in the locality. They sponsored the Todmorden club in 1946, followed by Hebden Bridge in 1951 and Sowerby Bridge in 1955. Other clubs in Brighouse and Elland had been formed with finally Halifax sponsoring the Halifax Calder Club in 1980.
The Rotary Club of Halifax has a long and proud history. The world has changed a great deal since those days in 1922 but Rotary in Calderdale continues to thrive supporting communities both at home and abroad. It is interesting to note that one of their members today, David Moss, is the grandson of Samuel Moss who was one of the founder members to spearhead the club 90 years ago.