It’s less than two years since the launch of Passionately Purple Gin, yet already this popular tipple has raised approaching £10,000 towards End Polio Now.
Triple that sum, thanks to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and that’s sufficient funds to vaccinate 184,000 children against this life-changing and often deadly disease.
The road to Passionately Purple Gin probably began around 1055 when Benedictine monks in Italy infused tonic wine with juniper berries — the core ingredient of gin.
Since then, it has taken an interesting route via Holland, where it was called genever, to London, where the industry standard gin was released to the world in 1700.
During this time, gin has had a chequered history, including becoming known as “mother’s ruin” for more reasons than one!
More recently its fortunes have changed as its status has risen to become one of the world’s favourite spirits, bringing about a plethora of micro distilleries, all keen to produce the most magical of gins.
It was thanks to a chance meeting between the owner of one such distillery and Rotarian Herbert Chatters that a truly magical gin was born.
Former science teacher Sara Dewhurst had always dreamt of starting her own distillery and worked on producing a variety of beverages in her own garage.
Soon Sandgrown Spirits was born and launched into the world with her own Lytham Gin.
A graduate in Applied Science from Salford University, Sara was quick to respond when Herbert suggested a gin to raise money for a cause about which he had been passionate since its launch in 1985 – End Polio Now.
The gin had to be purple to fit End Polio Now’s purple theme – it is the coloured marker dabbed onto a child’s finger once they have had the polio immunisation – and Sara’s wizardry eventually created what was to be named Passionately Purple.
By January this year, over 1,000 bottles had been sold and more than £8,000 donated to End Polio Now by Rotary Lytham.”
Magically, with a little help from butterfly pea flowers, it turns into a very pretty mauve gin when swirled with tonic water. The idea was not only to use the gin to raise funds, but also greater awareness of the need to end polio, by the addition of a special neck tag which tells the story of Rotary’s campaign to beat the disease.
For its launch two years ago, Passionately Purple Gin was enthusiastically welcomed by Past President Denis Spiller and comedian Bobby Ball, one half of the popular Cannon and Ball duo, who launched the gin in front of Lytham’s iconic windmill.
By January this year, over 1,000 bottles had been sold and more than £8,000 donated to End Polio Now by Rotary Lytham.
Rotarians from Cornwall to the Highlands have supported the cause and also raised funds for their own clubs by raffling and auctioning bottles.
Factfile: Purple Gin
- Bottles of Passionately Purple Gin (70cl) sell at £35 each (plus p&p) and Taste of Honey (50cl) at £30 each (plus p&p).
- Donations of £6.20 and £5 respectively go to End Polio Now.
- For more information about the gins visit Rotary Salford with Swinton’s website.
- The gins join a line of imaginative End Polio Now fund-raising ideas, including, teddy bears, purple jam, silk scarves (watch out for a new colour available soon) and purple ice cream.
- Artist Rhona Morrison from Kilsyth Rotary has produced ‘Message of Hope’ cards featuring purple crocus. The idea is to send the cards to cheer those who have been in lockdown or affected in any way by COVID-19, but with blank pages they are suitable for any message. More information on her club’s Facebook page.
- Contact Herbert Chatters for talks about the gin project.
But nothing stands still and a change of Rotary scenery by Rotarians Herbert and Joy Chatters has brought about an opportunity to double the efforts of gin sales with the launch of ‘A Taste of Honey – Simply the Bees Knees’, a slightly sweeter twist on the already firm favourite Passionately Purple gin.
This is an Old Tom gin made with Worsley (Salford) honey, and its name pays homage to one of Salford’s best known playwrights Shelagh Delaney.
The move to Salford reunited Herbert with David Ellis, who will be Chair of Rotary Great Britain and Ireland next July. Both have worked together with Rotary public image for the past eight years.
The new team is constantly on the look-out for more gin-related projects and its members give up much of their leisure time tasting a variety of new ideas.
The new world of Zoom has proved a boon for the Gin Team, with Herbert having already zoomed a dozen club meetings including the newly-formed Rotary Fellowship of Gin, chaired by Kilsyth Rotarian, David Breton.
The team is happy to visit conferences, once they are back on the calendar – sadly three scheduled events fell victim to COVID-19.
For more information about the gins visit Rotary Salford with Swinton’s website.