Service Above Self spans generations
Members of the Rotary Club of Rushden Higham (From left): Steve Wilkins, Rachel Thompson, Natalie Parker, Mark Lees, Elizabeth Maurice, Rebekah Hawkins, Claire Mercer, Pat Keogh, Rachel Hawkins, Hayley Sansome, Karen Kearns, Steve Jones, Michelle Withers, Miranda Barley, Jo Underwood, Marie Gallacher, Michelle Jones, and Alison Baker. Photo courtesy of
At a glance, the members of the Rotary Club of Rushden Higham, Northamptonshire, may look different from their counterparts in England. Of the 20 members, all but four are female, and their average age is about 32.
At its core, though, the club has the same service-oriented spirit and fellowship as the more than 33,000 other Rotary clubs worldwide.
Three former members of the Rotaract Club of Rushden -- Miranda Barley, Claire Mercer, and Steve Wilkins -- came up with the idea to launch a new Rotary club after they had turned 30 and could no longer qualify for Rotaract. They looked at joining existing Rotary clubs, but the members were mostly men and older than they were. They decided that forming a new club, with casual evening meetings and lots of hands-on service projects, would better meet their needs. The new club was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Rushden, with the help of two Rotarians from that club -- Jim Kearns and Mark Winfield.
"People of all ages, both men and women, have different things to contribute to Rotary, and I think this is partly what makes the Rotary movement so good," says Barley, the new club's president.
To recruit more members, the group started advertising in the local paper and used fliers to publicize a launch night in April 2008. Former members of the Rotaract clubs of Kettering and Northampton joined, then invited their friends and colleagues. After several months, the original core of 3 grew to 20. The club received its charter earlier this year.
"I think that we have a good mix of people who are all very different, and I enjoy the social aspect," says Barley. "I only knew about four of the members before we started the club and have now met another 16."
So far, the club's service projects have included painting a fence in a children's play area, picking up litter, assisting with community events, and helping out at a local shelter.
"For me, it's about using Rotary to put something back into the community where I live," says Barley. "In the future, I would like to see us become heavily involved with projects within the local community so that we can really try and make a difference, gain more members -- both men and women -- and raise the profile of the club and Rotary."
Read more about starting a Rotary club.