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Two Rotary clubs rolled into one

GISBORNE’S two Rotary clubs became one on Saturday night. Six months of discussions between Gisborne West and Gisborne club representatives culminated in the presentation of a charter for the new entity, to be known as the Rotary Club of Gisborne, at a function held at the Marina Restaurant.

Immediate past district governor Mike Smith, of Napier, presented the charter, dated June 16, 2016, and the “chain of office” to the first president of the new club, Carol Shepherd. Also present was the new district governor of District 9930, Keith Owens, and his wife Elaine, of Tauranga.

Mr Smith discussed the merger possibility with the boards of the two clubs when he visited Gisborne in December and told them a “model” already existed.

“We had just had a merger of two clubs in Taupo,” Mr Smith told Saturday’s gathering. That merger had been successful and he had the feeling — from the sense of camaraderie evident at the function — that this one would be, too.

The Rotary Club of Gisborne had been his first experience of the service organisation — he joined in 1980 — and he felt privileged to be able to present the charter for the new club. (The Gisborne club briefly took on the name Rotary Club of Tairawhiti so that the old name would be “available” for the new, combined entity to be recorded in the New Zealand register of incorporated societies. However, this process did not affect the name of the club as far as Rotary International was concerned.)

The original Rotary Club of Gisborne was formed in 1926 and celebrated its 90th anniversary in April. The Rotary Club of Gisborne West was formed in 1968 to better accommodate burgeoning local membership of Rotary in the heyday of service clubs. In recent years, both clubs have experienced a decline in membership. This prompted the merger discussions, which led to the decision to dissolve both organisations and form a new club, albeit one with the same name as one of the previous entities.

Mr Owens congratulated members for their courage and foresight in opting to join forces to give Rotary a better future in Gisborne. Carol Shepherd, the last president of Gisborne West Rotary, is the first president of the new club. She thanked the joint committee that worked through the merger details, and members for their support, help and feedback during the process.

Ray Kitchen, the Gisborne club’s president for the past two years and master of ceremonies on Saturday, said that right from the start, discussions by the merger committee had been amicable and positive. He joins president Carol Shepherd on the new board as immediate past president. Jim Smith is secretary, Ashley Nuttall is treasurer, and Warwick Callender and Boyd Wilton are board members.

CHANGING CHAINS: Ray Kitchen (left) and Carol Shepherd hold the chains of office from their days as presidents of the Gisborne and Gisborne West Rotary clubs respectively, while district governor Keith Owens (centre right) and immediate past district governor Mike Smith prepare to put the new, fabric “chain” on the newly-chartered club’s inaugural president, Carol Shepherd.Picture by John Gillies