Celebrating 90 years of Rotary in St Andrews

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When James Orr presided over the Charter dinner of the recently formed Rotary Club of St Andrews in 1928, he could not have foreseen the changes the club would witness over the next 90 years.

It was a daughter club of the Rotary Club of Dundee, and the two clubs remain in regular contact, with the annual golf match played alternately over Downfield and St Andrews Links always keenly contested.

The Look Who's Talking event hosted by the Rotary Club of St Andrews, featuring Hazel Irvine in conversation with Renton Laidlaw. Left to right - Jimmy Spankie [compere], Renton Laidlaw, Hazel Irvine, Douglas Kinnaird.

The Look Who's Talking event hosted by the Rotary Club of St Andrews, featuring Hazel Irvine in conversation with Renton Laidlaw. Left to right - Jimmy Spankie [compere], Renton Laidlaw, Hazel Irvine, Douglas Kinnaird.

Until recent years a requirement of Rotary membership was to live and work in the town.

The new club was fortunate to have attracted prominent local businessmen and professionals as the five initial members.

They invited others and soon the club had 20 members.

James Orr, a highly respected general practitioner, was to be followed as president by David Rusack, whose hotel still bears his name.

James Orr, St Andrews Rotary president 1928

James Orr, St Andrews Rotary president 1928

Soon afterwards, Alfred Scott took the chair. He was an architect of some distinction.

Both his sons, Hunter and Michael, were to join the club.

After being president, Hunter became District Governor and, ultimately, president of Rotary International Britain and Ireland (RIBI).

It is interesting to note, in passing, that St Andrews also produced a National President of both Round Table Britain and Ireland (RTBI) and of Ladies Circle Britain and Ireland (LCBI). Norrie Hood and Sheena Dishington , respectively, held these offices in successive years.

Frank Quinault, Douglas Kinnear and Sir Craig Reedie

Frank Quinault, Douglas Kinnear and Sir Craig Reedie

In addition to becoming club president, Tom Fordyce, who had a drapery business in the town, went on to be Provost of the Borough of St Andrews for a total of nine years.

His daughter, Frances, remains a member of Inner Wheel, her late husband, Stan Room, having been a Rotarian and president of the club.

These early Rotarians did not lack vision and drive. From the original five members the club has grown to 70 members today.

The club continued to meet throughout the Second World War when many members were engaged in civil defence.

Inaugural Junior Foursomes in 2000. The winners and runners up are in the photo from a Citizen piece. They were Elmwood, the winners and Crail Golfing Society. The idea was to promote junior golf in North East Fife and it's been run every year since. A good community project and 2000 was the key year.

Inaugural Junior Foursomes in 2000. The winners and runners up are in the photo from a Citizen piece. They were Elmwood, the winners and Crail Golfing Society. The idea was to promote junior golf in North East Fife and it's been run every year since. A good community project and 2000 was the key year.

It “adopted” the steam trawler Peggy Nutten, one of five vessels built for the Nutten line by the Hall Russell yard in Aberdeen.

For the duration of hostilities, the club provided various forms of comforts for the brave crew who worked fearlessly for the vital food supplies of a nation under siege.

However it was not until 1955 – the 50th anniversary of Rotary’s founding in Chicago – that the club, under the presidency of solicitor John Caithness, inaugurated the longest running project in the club’s history.

The International Golf Week started in a small way but was soon to attract entrants from England, Ireland and Wales, as well as Scotland.

Douglas Jackson has recently taken over the role of tournament director from Bill Whyte.

As a result of Bill’s use of the internet and electronic communications, the event now attracts entrants from all over the word.

Christmas Lunch

Christmas Lunch

Douglas said: “This year we’ll welcome Rotarians from six continents and the international teams will reflect this.

“As always, the week will start on the Sunday evening with a reception at the New Golf Club, where old friendships will be renewed and new visitors made welcome.

“The evening will close with the traditional beating the retreat on the Old Course by St Andrews Pipe Band. This, our 64th event, promises to be the best ever.”

Fellowship is the basis of all Rotary and it was solely for this purpose that the International Golf Week was begun.

However, Rotarian visitors have always been keen to contribute to the work of the club so, in recent years, an element of fundraising has been introduced.

Consequently, in the past five years, the event has contributed £20,000 to the charity account. This significantly augments the £60,000 raised from all other events over the same period.

Inner Wheel was established for the wives of Rotarians.

A club was formed in St Andrews in 1949 of which the first chairman, Mrs A.G. Scott , was the wife of none other than St Andrews Rotary founder member, Alfred Scott.

It is an autonomous organisation and carries out charitable work in its own right.

However, it does find time to offer help, advice and support to Rotary which is very much appreciated.

Since the founding of our daughter club – the Rotary Club of St Andrews Kilrymont – wives of its members have been welcomed into St Andrews Inner Wheel where they have made a significant contribution, including chairing the club.

For many years, Rotary has encouraged female members to join and two in St Andrews Rotary, Sylvia Donaldson and Kathleen Thain, have become president so far.

Kilrymont has produced a district governor with another in the wings.

The Rotary Club of St Andrews continues to support those in our community when assistance is required.

Above all, an enjoyable environment, where fellowship and satisfaction from a job well done, remain the basis of the spirit of Rotary.

We enjoy what we do. If it’s not fun, it’s not Rotary.

As we look back on 90 years of Rotary in St Andrews and congratulate Kilrymont on its 21st anniversary, we are aware of the debt we owe to our local community for their support throughout this journey.

We will try to earn your continued support in the years ahead.

To find out more about Rotary and what it does locally, nationally and around the world, visit the club’s website standrewsrotary.net.