By Douglas Nash, past president of the Rotary Club of Chelwood Bridge, England
A while ago, when my good friend Charles and I started talking about Rotary and the possibility of him becoming a member, he was a little apprehensive.
That is until I explained that Rotary has gone through a number of changes, keeping our core values but embracing the idea of flexibility: that all clubs need not have the same structure, dress code, or event schedule. These changes are embraced in the concept of satellite clubs.
If it hadn’t been for a chain of events, we wouldn’t have had that conversation and a new satellite club would not have been formed in my district (1200) leading to the chartering of that group as a regular club in a different district (1150) in 18 months.
A few weeks before I began talking to Charles, I had been invited by then Governor John Butler, a member of my club, to attend a meeting about the advantages of the satellite club model. On the way home. John and I discussed this concept and agreed it was a wonderful opportunity to grow a club.
As hard as we had tried to attract members to our own club, having an average age of 72, meeting every week, and enjoying a meal together in a traditional Rotary club atmosphere does not appeal to many younger potential members who have time commitments and other priorities.
After all this, Charles and a few like-minded friends visited our club in Chelwood Bridge and discussed the possibility of forming a satellite club in the Pentyrch/Creigiau area of South Wales under our club’s guidance. We are blessed to have not one but two past governors (John Butler and Tony Quinn) and a number of members active in the work of the district like Mike Hedges and the founder of Water Survival Box, Hugo Pike. So it was with the full backing of Chelwood Bridge that we took on the unique challenge of offering to sponsor a satellite club physically located outside of our district.
Little did we know at that time that the satellite club known today as Y Garth would grow so quickly that at the start of this Rotary year, it would leave the mother club and charter as a new Rotary club in South Wales.
This has come about due to much hard work by Charles and the members of Y Garth who quickly grew from a handful of friends to a vibrant active club with 24 members and the fellowship and guidance of Chelwood Bridge.
It was with great pleasure that several of our club members, together with our present District Governor Dennis Stevens, traveled across the Prince of Wales Bridge on 12 July into Wales to see our first satellite club become its own Rotary club and become the first new Rotary club in the United Kingdom this Rotary year.
We wish them well and continue to embrace the satellite concept by supporting our second satellite, Cam Valley. It presently has 11 members while our own club in the same period has attracted four new members. This all goes to show that by embracing the new, a club in the rural UK can still attract members. The future is looking good for Rotary – all you need is innovative thinking.
Check out the new Guide to Satellite Clubs. The guide explains the benefits of a satellite club and provides the steps for starting one.