Rotary Club of Kirkcaldy marks centenary with a host of events

The Rotary Club of Kirkcaldy is celebrating its 100th birthday this month – and plans to mark the occasion with a series of events throughout the year, ranging from a tree planting ceremony to contributing a viewpoint marker on the waterfront.

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 12:30 pm

The club was first organised on May 11, 1921, after Oliver Melville founder of the Kirkcaldy firm of electricians, was on holiday with his wife at Dunblane Hydro.

He noticed that there was a real buzz about the town and soon realised it was because of two of Scotland’s four Rotary Clubs met there.

The couple were invited to join, and the seeds were sown for the birth of the organisation in Kirkcaldy.

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Past president Alice Soper 2019-2020 with (from left to right) Dr Swapan Mukherjee and past president Robert Main. Pic: George Mcluskie.

The very first meeting was held at Olive’s office at 317 High Street with the idea being to create a place where businessmen of the town could get together.

The following week, 11 local businessmen got together to found the club – William Yule, grocer, Tom Christie, butcher, George Allen, lithographer, and Lachlan MacBean, a former editor of the Kirkcaldy-based newspaper, the Fifeshire Advertiser.

The clubs very first official meeting was on May 11, 1921 at Morrison’s Restaurant with Mr Melville in the chair as president, and Mrtn Macbean as vice president with the club going on to be formally chartered in February 23, 1922.

Although initially aimed as an organisation for businessmen, women have long played a part in the club’s success.

They were able to join the Rotary Club of Kirkcaldy from 2003, but before that, the club supported the Inner Wheel, founded in 1949.

Alice Soper, past president, said: “The club has been pro-active over the years in supporting a variety of local charities by raising funds every year so that a cheque is donated to a number of them annually.

“Kirkcaldy Rotarians have always supported young people, and in particular has a strong involvement with Kirkcaldy High School, with young people being encouraged to take part in various Rotary events such as Young Chef, Young Musician, and the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards.

“At our meeting on May 11, at which the club welcomed fellow Rotarians from Battersea, Ingolstadt and Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), the first celebratory meeting to be held this year – Kieran McCrossan, a former ‘Young Musician’ performed two beautiful guitar tunes for members and gave his appreciation for the support given to him by the club five years earlier.”

Alice said that fundraising for needy causes has always been at the heart of the club, but has proven difficult over the last year.

“Fundraising is always a challenge but never more so than in the past year,” she added.

“Due to Covid our members have been unable to support events such as race nights and black tie dinners, but three members have recently undertaken a sponsored walk and many others have generously donated money towards our charitable fund.

"Recently members donated approximately £12,000 towards a joint project with the Rotary Club of Kolkata to increase facilities in an eye hospital.

“Plans for the rest of the year are being firmed up so that the club can celebrate its centenary – these include planting trees and wildflowers and contributing a viewpoint marker on the waterfront and carrying out further sponsored fundraisers.”

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