Belfast Centenary hosted by Hillsborough Castle
Belfast Centenary hosted by Hillsborough Castle

To mark the Centenary of Rotary in Ireland, the Rotary Club of Belfast, with the kind permission of the Secretary of State, held celebrations at Hillsborough Castle’s , creating the largest ever Charity Garden Party at the end of June.

This was a garden party with a difference and a remarkable day for Rotary in Ireland. Concluding the club’s Centenary year it was attended by over 600 people from all of Ireland, GB and USA, raised much needed funds for charity. It is anticipated that funds raised for the charities will be well in excess of £10,000. Three quarters of the money raised will go to Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign and the rest to local club charities.

Special guests included Dame Mary Peters, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for the County Borough of Belfast, David Ford MLA Minister for Justice, RIBI President Burman and District 1160 Ireland Governor Barney Callaghan.

Guests were delighted, in the week of historic firsts for Northern Ireland, to host another historic event, the Irish Defence Forces No 1 Band playing for their first formal engagement in Northern Ireland and joining with Northern Ireland’s renowned Abbey Singers to entertain all the guests.

President Adrian said: “This has been a special year for Rotary in Ireland and especially for the two founder clubs of Dublin and Belfast. We have had a very successful year and wanted to end our year by giving something back to Rotary and show our support for the End Polio Now Campaign.

"I particularly want to welcome, appreciating their making time in their busy diaries at this time of year to attend today, and thank our RIBI President Burman for his personal support and of course nearer to home our District Governor Barney who has supported us fully in all the events we organised and helped make the great turnout today possible.

"This event has been greatly promoted and attended by our Big Brother Club of the Rotary Club of Dublin who regretfully managed to get into Rotary just before us but we are very proud to be with them as the second club in these islands and I thank them for their continuing support and friendship and wish them every success in the next 100 years.”

Minister of Justice David Ford MLA congratulated the club and thanked for all the positive charitable work done over the years especially with End Polio Now campaign. He announced that the Department of Justice, through the Northern Ireland Prison Service, would be co-operating with the Rotary Club of Belfast in the fitting out of a mobile counselling unit to be presented to FASA (Forum for Action on Substance Abuse) for their outreach programme on drug abuse among young groups throughout the province.

VPN Claire then invited Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for the County Borough of Belfast and club Rotarian Dame Mary Peters to the podium. To everyone’s delight she produced her Gold Medal and the Olympic Torch she had carried along the Albertbridge and Newtownards Roads raising it to pass on to the next 100 years of Rotary in Ireland. She kindly allowed the torch to circulate and be photographed. Concluding the day, Dame Mary invited President Adrian and President Mark to hold the Olympic torch aloft to herald the next 100 hundred years of Rotary in Ireland.

Our thanks are given to all at Hillsborough Castle enabling us to have such a memorable day. A unique day with a unique end, epitomizing that Rotary quietly gets things done, helps others but has fun whilst doing it and we greatly look forward to the next hundred years of Rotary in Ireland.

A full gallery of images is available to view here.

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