EASTBOURNE AM Rotary Club is marking its 15th birthday next week with a celebration dinner in the Ocean Suite on Eastbourne Pier.
The group’s first unofficial meeting – back in 2000 – was at the David Lloyd restaurant in Hampden Park, and the club chartered in 2001 at what was then the CASA bar in Terminus Road.
They met for a while at the former Stickie Fingers in South Street before moving to the Chalk Farm Hotel in Coopers Hill, Willingdon, where members gather for breakfast every Friday at 7.30am.
Until recent years, Rotary was seen as a men-only organisation, but AM chose a woman to be its first president 15 years ago – Melanie Adams, who works at Brewers and runs The Rattonians with husband Mark.
The dinner – on Saturday February 27 at 7.30pm on the Pier – will reflect on what the club has achieved in the 15 years.
Past President Hilary Lewis, who is now Assistant District Governor, said, “When AM set up there were already three other Rotary clubs in the town and it was not felt there was enough room for four. Yet now there are five clubs.
‘Eastbourne AM has always been a little bit different. We are a very informal club and we have as many – if not more – women as men, which certainly cannot be said of many Rotary clubs.
‘It was crucial that for the club to succeed the first President had to be a success, and Melanie played a leading role in putting Eastbourne AM firmly on the Rotary map.
‘’She provided great leadership, promoting the club at every opportunity, and opening doors for members to take part in activities helping others, both locally and abroad.”
The club now has 30 members and supports a number of charities, including SASBAH, The Quicken Trust, Refuge, The Jaipur Limb Project, and ICC Missions, and Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice.
It is probably best known in town for organising the annual Beachy Head Lighthouse Walk, under the stewardship of Rotarian Martin Wellings.
Hilary added, “Service above self is the motto of Rotary and that is what we do. We also provide a social element for members, and the whole philosophy of Eastbourne AM is fun and enjoyment.”