Rotary Club of Cessnock

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75th ANNIVERSARY SPEECH BY GAIL THOMAS 2012-13 PRESIDENT.  17/11/2013
 
WELCOME EVERYONE THANK YOU FOR ATTENDING THE CELEBRATION OF OUR CLUBS 75TH YEAR SERVING THE COMMUNITY.
 
Tonight you will see the magnificent photographic display of our history compiled by George Koncz.   George has given up months of his spare time to produce tonight’s visual display and our 75th Anniversary Book.  We can’t thank George enough for this wonderful effort.   Never a complaint he just did it an outstanding effort from a fine Rotarian.
 
It gives me great pleasure to talk to you about some of our achievements that are not available in photographic form but demonstrate the commitment to the Club of many great Rotarians.
 
CRIPPLED CHILDREN
 
1938-39 year this club made its first charity donation to the Cessnock Branch of the Crippled Children’s Association and this was the start of a relationship that has lasted 73 Years.
 
In 1959 the first Crippled Children’s Christmas party was held and we will be repeating this next month for the 53rd time.
 
We donated a motorised wheel chair to the Crippled Children then known as the Spastic Centre.
 
The Spastic Centre needed a Wading pool and we were there to contribute funds and build them one.  Our members volunteered their machinery and labour and we solicited donations for other requirements. 
 
The Spastic Centre, now called Wheeling and Able, were the Beneficiaries of our major sponsorship $11,500.00 last year.  Their first purchased made, using some of these funds, was a   special wheel chair that helped a young person to walk.
 
WAR YEARS
 
In the war years we sent clothes to English bomb victims, provided a mobile field dressing station.  We allocated funds to the Cessnock Returned Soldier’s League to provide loans for rehabilitation of returning servicemen.  The capital was repaid and this money was used over and over again
 
LIBRARY
We provided Cessnock High School with a Memorial Library.  Charles Raisbeck created a Bookplate in the Book of Remberance with his extraordinary artistic talent. A copy of this was placed in every book in the library detailing the names of 180 students involved in World War two.
 
POLICE BOYS CLUB
 
We managed the project and the process for funding the Building of the Cessnock Police Boys Club.  This Project was planned in 1945-46 and the foundation stone laid in 1953.  We made initial donations and Harold Lett a great Rotarian led this project to completion.  Harold himself contributed over 2000 pounds.  He approached the local businesses and had them encourage their employees to contribute sixpence each pay. The mine workers contributed from their pays also.  The Bond factory workers contributed and continued donating to the Police Boys club until the factory closed recently.   We succeeded in funding this project with Rotary Members, community contributions and the Pitt Horse Derbies. 
 
We later provided a TV for the Police Boys Club and a Junior Driver Training programme.
 
PITT HORSE DERBIES
 
The Pitt Horse Derbies were very profitable events called the November Carnival. The local mines entered horses and the miners supported their team by buying tickets.  We had a parade down the main street and it was great fun for everyone. 
 
There were about 18 horses that ran in heats and the final was between 4 horses.
These were big Clydesdale Pitt horses and this was an event that thrilled the Community.  The first of these races started in 1940 and continued to 1948. 
 
 Bill Flett who is with us tonight later revived these events but the lack of horses eventually ended these Races.
 
SCOUT HALL
 
We funded and built the Scout Hall    Donations from business and discounts help us with the costs and the Joint Coal Board donated to the project.
 
We later fenced the Scout Hall
 
We helped buy the old Methodist Church for the First Aberdare Scouts Meeting Rooms
 
GIRL GUIDES CLUB ROOMS
 
The Girl Guides owned land behind the Scout Hall they had purchased it from the government for one shilling and wanted to build Club Rooms. We made an initial donation of 800 pounds and additional funds were promised by the Joint Coal Board.  It was decided to start the project without sufficient funds to complete it and four of our Members were guarantors to the Bank for the balance. NOW THAT IS SERVICE ABOVE SELF. Rotarian Tradesmen did the work and supplied machinery and expertise. Guide parents also worked on the project.  The Guides Club Rooms were completed and handed over 29/6/63 leaving the guides a debt of 1,100 pounds.  The guides worked tirelessly raising Funds to clear this debt in a year.
 
This year our major project, will replace the leaking roof on the Girl Guides Club rooms.  We continue to support the Guides, 50 years on.
 
 
ALLANDALE HOSPITAL BOWLING GREEN
 
We constructed the Allandale Hospital Bowling green.  This was an ambitious project and entailed a large amount of voluntary work.
 
SENIOR CITIZENS HOME UNITS
 
The Council asked local service clubs to help with providing Senior Citizens Home Units.  We funded one.
 
HOSTEL FOR THE HANDICAPPED.
 
We contributed significantly to providing a Hostel for the Handicapped.
 
Later we fenced the Hostel.
 
OTHER FUNDING.
 
We supplied a Laundry for Endeavour Industries, Contributed to a new face for Margaret an African girl who was so disfigured she wore a mask.   Anesthetic Machine for PNG.  Funded a Violinists conservatorium education he later played with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra
 
 
FUNDING METHOD.
 
We funded these projects with Pitt Horse Derbies, Carols by Candlelight, Dinner Dances, Later Fun Runs organised by Bruce Wilson
 

In more modern times

 
We made a matching grant to renovate a Christian Girls Orphanage in Pakistan.
 
Trish Davies and Vicki Steep are involved in Projects in PNG Teachers Assist and English language courses.
 
We Supported a Youth Group keeping kids off the street and turning them into musicians.
 
$10,000 was donated to the Police Boys Club now called PCYC for renovations
 
Donated to Palliative Care
 
Donate to the Volunteer Rescue Squad every year
 
We donated for Pensioner Computer Classes at Northnet. I think this was one of our best gifts.  Pensioners came alive they were not isolated the transformation was inspiring.
 
We made a Special Olympics donation.  Intellectually handicapped youth winning Gold Medals for sport. It doesn’t get any better than this.
 
Every year our Club Members support the Rotary Foundation
 
We donated to High School Breakfast Clubs, the Mental Health Support Group.
Wheeling and able formally the Spastic Centre.
 
Last year our total distribution was $38,000.00
 
Funding was from: The Vintage Cup golf day.  Hope Estate barbecues, Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular, Lovedale Long Lunch and a generous donation of $10,000.
 
 
YOUTH EXCHANGE 
 
We have been involved in youth exchange for 38 years,
 
Rotary Youth Programs are supported every year
 
We honour the life of Effie O’Neill each year with a High School Debate.  Effie the wife of a Rotarian produced our Bulletin every week and continued this long after her husband had died.  This was certainly a demonstration of service above self.
 
I am proud to be the President and stand with all those great presidents who came before me and contributed to our outstanding history. We are full of pride to be Cessnock Rotarians on this our 75th Anniversary.
 
 
 
THIS WAS SAID ABOUT CHARTERING CESSNOCK ROTARY CLUB.
 
James (Jim Johnson) was convinced that a Rotary Club could be established in Cessnock. However, there were doubts in Rotary Circles and suggestions made that a Cessnock Club may not succeed in such an isolated, one industry, militant working class area.     How wrong could they be!!  75 years of success thanks to Jim Johnson’s belief in this town and its people
 
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