Inaugurated almost 50 years ago this is a brief history of our Club

The Inaugural Meeting of the “Interim Rotary Club of Cranbrook & Hawkhurst” was held on 15th April 1958 with Rotarian R.T. Proudler (District Chairman) presiding.  The first ordinary luncheon meeting was held at the George Hotel in Cranbrook on 22nd April 1958 with an attendance of 22 members and one apology.  A copy of the minutes of the first Council Meeting of the club and momentoes of the Charter Night, together with a list of Founder Members are shown below.  The Cranbrook & Hawkhurst Club had been proposed by the nearby existing club of Tenterden, who are our “Mother Club”.

Becoming part of District 112, various of its clubs presented “Furniture” to our new Club, viz The Bell from District 112; the President’s Badge from Tenterden; The Vice President’s Badge from Dover; the Speaker’s Desk from Tunbridge Wells; the Visitor’s Book from Battle; the Minute Book from Maidstone and the Rotary Wheel from Sandwich.

When our club was first formed, all Rotary Clubs were Luncheon Clubs.  This began to change over to evening meetings and our’s made the move in 1994.  Luncheon meetings were first held at the George Hotel in Cranbrook,  followed by moves to the Bull Inn, Sissinghurst, the Willsley Hotel, the Tudor Court Hotel in Hawkhurst, back to the George Hotel, the Bull Inn at Benenden and finally to our current meeting place of the Great House in Hawkhurst.  One long standing member recalled lunch of soup, fish or meat, sweet or cheese and coffee for a total of 7/6 d (35 pence in new money!).

Membership started with 23 in 1958 and has fluctuated over the years to its current number of 21.  During the early years, rules were rules, and particular prominence given to attendance, who could join etc.  A few, clearly healthy individuals with no holiday plans managed 100 percent attendance for a whole year!

Fund raising has of course been an integral part of Rotarian life and Rotarians have done their best via Christmas collection boxes in shops, pubs and on the street; raffle tickets; 50/50 auctions; boot fairs; sponsored walks; sponsored horse rides; dances, barbeques; vintage car shows; race nights; wine and wisdom evenings and tombolas are some of the methods used to raise money for the charities supported.  In recent years we have been very fortunate in receiving donations from the Charities at Home shop based in Cranbrook and which we support.  This has enabled us to help our own local charities more generously than was previously possible.

In the early years, right through to the eighties, a high proportion of our fund raising efforts went to the provision, for “Old Folks”, of Christmas parcels, Christmas entertainments and summer outings to the seaside.  A list of all the charities supported by the club would be almost endless but some of the major efforts have included a sponsored walk in aid of the Kent Air Ambulance raising £6000.00 and to mark our 25th anniversary we purchased an ambulance, at a cost of £10,000.00 for the local Red Cross.  Other charities supported include Cranbrook Age Concern, C.A.B.; Kent County Association for the Blind; the Royal Society for the Deaf; Pembury Maternity Unit; Arthrogyrposis Group, provision of a Defibrillator machine; Crime Stoppers; Seven Springs Cheshire Homes, Drug & Solvent Abuse, Royal Association for the Deaf and Overseas Charities including African Vision, Pestalozzi Village, Polio Plus (Eradication of Polio Worldwide) and Water Aid.