The Birth of our club:
During 1934 Rotarian Bert Wright of the Walthamstow Club was Chairman of the District Extension Committee. It was decided to try and form a Rotary Club in the new Urban District of Chigwell which included Loughton, Buckhurst Hill and Chigwell.
A meeting was held at the offices of Ambrose & Son on 15 March 1935 under the Chairmanship of Rotarian W. Jones, President of the Woodford Club. He and other members of the Woodford Club met Gordon Ambrose (Estate Agent) J. W. Faulkner (Clerk of Chigwell Council) Frank Foster (Builder and also Chairman of Chigwell Council) Harold Mileson (Architect) and R. H. Wickens (Chemist) who undertook to ‘make a survey’ of the District. By 5th December the numbers had increased to 12.
The Inaugural Meeting:
The inaugural meeting was held at the Roebuck Hotel on 5 March 1936 and 120 men attended. The first council meeting was on 17 March 1936. The Loughton Rotary Club received its Charter from District Chairman Rortarian Gordon Bailey at the Chilton Court Hotel on 26 March 1936. The Club was up and running.
1936/7 President L. B. Woodcock (Secretary of Forest Hospital)
Vice-President J. G. Ambrose F.A.I. (Estate Agent)
Hon. Treasurer J. H. Rees (Manager of Barclays Bank)
Hon. Secretary H. Mileson A.R.I.B.A. (Architect)
25 members in total
First Community Service:
All the members were actively engaged in business or professions with four members owning cars. The first community service was to transport sick people in the district, by car, to Forest Hospital as ambulances were scarce.
On the 16 October 1938 the Club had a talk by the Council Air Raid Precautions Officer which resulted in the members forming the first A.R.P. class. Every member present joined and attended weekly lectures in first aid, rescue and the duties of wardens. Other clubs in the District followed our lead and formed classes.
The War years
Following the outbreak of war the Club decided to continue the Thursday meeting as long as possible and the lunch meetings in fact continued throughout the war. The biggest undertaking was the adoption of the drifter ‘Lord Howard’. The wives of Rotarians knitted woolen garments and these were sent with cigarettes, chocolate and other comforts for the crews to ease their arduous duties in the North Sea. The members tightened their belts, the annual subscription was reduced to one guinea and the weekly lunch to two shillings.
The greatest work was the transport of returning Prisoners of War mainly from the Far East. Cars would line up at London’s main line stations. Orderlies would shout ‘Car for Southend!’ ‘Car for East Ham!’ Men were then driven to these destinations and hoped to find a loved one and that their home was still standing.
This year saw the institution of an Inner Wheel Club in Loughton, and together with the W.I. collected and sent 1500 parcels to Holland.
The Club raised funds for ‘Guide Dogs for the Blind’ as well as providing great service within the community.
In the late 1960’s the Club was involved with the Richard Dimbleby Cancer Fund working to find a cure for cancer and to care for those suffering from it.
A Mini car was donated by Rotarian Frank Brown as a raffle prize to raise funds.
(To be continued)
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