The world’s first service club was the Rotary Club of Chicago, Illinois, USA, which was formed on 23rd February 1905 by a lawyer, Paul P Harris and three friends.
The Rotary Foundation was established in 1917 as an endowment fund with it's purpose being “doing good in the world”. Through the Foundation, members of Rotary sponsor international educational and humanitarian programs.
In 1985 Rotary International set a goal to help eradicate polio throughout the world. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded Rotary International a $100 million grant in November 1997, later increased to $255 million in January 2009.
Rotarians were challenged to raise a further $100 million by 30th June 2012. The total combined commitment has now risen to $555 million. There are now only 4 countries left where the wild polio virus remains endemic – Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.
From humble beginnings, Rotary International has grown to become the world's largest service organisation, and presently has in excess of one million, two hundred thousand members worldwide.
The Rotary Club of Preston is one of 1,850 clubs with a total of 55,000 members in Great Britain and Ireland.
Rotary first took root in Britain in 1911 and discovered new areas of service during World War 1 at home in relief for war victims, as well as in active service in overseas emergency efforts.
The inaugural dinner of the Rotary Club of Preston was held at the Bull and Royal Hotel, Preston on Thursday 9th June 1921. There were forty-eight founding members.
The first President was Councillor FW Matthew and the Club’s Charter was granted on the 13th December 1922.
In February 1923 it was agreed by the Club that a Charity Fund should be started and at the next meeting £1.1s.6d was collected.
Preston was awarded city status in 2002 making it England's newest city, and the 50th city in the 50th year of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.
The occasion was marked when the Queen visited during her Golden Jubilee celebrations.
Vibrant and exciting, Preston is located at the heart of the North West. It is an ancient market town, first documented in the Domesday Survey of 1086.
Preston received its first Royal Charter in 1179, and is unique in that it famously holds the Preston Guild every 20 years – with the next celebration due to take place in 2012.
The Club began a long association with the Preston Guild celebrations in 1952 when a club member carved two 18” wooden replicas of Preston Town Hall Clock Tower, which had been destroyed by fire in 1947.
One of the replicas contains an illuminated scroll of friendship which has been sent around the world every Guild Year since 1952 to collect signatures from Prestonians living in countries from Australia to South Africa and the United States of America. The scrolls arrive back at the Town Hall in Preston at the beginning of Guild week.
With a population of 131,900, Preston is growing both physically and in terms of profile. Now, the city's driving vision is to be the third city of the North West, after Manchester and Liverpool.
The club meets every Wednesday for lunch at the Grassshoppers Rugby Football Club on Green Lane in Preston.