A TOWN rotary club is celebrating 75 years this year.

The Rotary Club of Chard’s first meeting was held in the George Hotel on July 11 1945, and it was granted it’s Charter on November 7 1945.

The original 19 members of the club were all local people with a variety of trades, from lace makers to coalmen.

The club also had many social events when it first started including dinner dances and the annual Rotary Ball.

More recently (before lockdown), the club held a Carols by Candlelight event in St Mary’s Church, a burns night and a jazz concert.

A spokesperson for Chard Rotary Club said: “All Rotarians give their time and expertise free of charge and all monies raised go to charity.

“This year the main charity is Children’s Hospice South West along with other local and international causes.

“As a club we are extremely grateful to the people of Chard who are very generous with their support of all that they do.”

The Rotary International Foundation Charity is supported not only by Chard Rotary, but also the 1.1million members of 35,000 rotary clubs in 159 countries.

More recently, the aim of the foundation has been the eradication of Polio throughout the world. Over the last 25 years, this has cost rotary £104 million. The task has almost been completed with the only cases last year being in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The idea of rotary clubs was stated in 1905 by Paul Harris in America. He invited people to a meeting aimed at fellowship and service before self.

“When a disaster strikes anywhere in the world the rotary machine goes into action,” added the spokesperson for Chard Rotary Club.

“With members worldwide they can co-ordinate help and relief very quickly.

“Rotary shelter boxes have been invaluable over the last 50 years. Shelter boxes provide shelter for up to 10 people with sleeping and cooking facilities, along with water purifiers.

“Thanks to the generosity of the people of Chard, the Rotary Club have supplied over 40 shelter boxes.

“Each of the boxes now cost £500. Tools collected in Chard have also given more self- reliance to areas in need abroad.

“Support has also been given to Vision Aid and Mercy Ships, who bring sight and much needed medical operations to the developing nations. The Club also set up a ‘Perpetual’ fund at a Limb Centre in Sri Lanka, providing prosthetic limbs to people injured as a result of accidents.”

In the last 75 years, the people of Chard have raised around half a million pounds.

Chard Rotary Club also run the QuadKids Sports Day for local primary schools, support at vaccination clinics and marshal at various events.

In past years the club has organised blood pressure testing sessions, and provided reading help and mock interviews for schools.

The club has also sponsored and organised a Young Musician of the Year Award. Help has also been given to the Chard and Crewkerne After Stroke Group and Newsline - the local Talking Newspaper.

Last year before lockdown, the club raised and donated £8000, which was given to charities to help with the pandemic. They have also raised and donated more than £3000 this year.

Anyone who is over the age of 16 can join a rotary club.