In Welsh, Brynmawr means ‘big hill’.
This market town at the head of the South Wales Valleys lies 1,345 feet above sea level. Brynmawr Rotary reckons theirs is the highest Rotary club in the UK!
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It is a club with high ideals and values, whose level of community work is truly astonishing.
Brynmawr Rotary is a ‘super’ club. It is how Rotary should be, and if you’re looking for a marker for your own club, then look no further than South Wales.”
I spent the weekend in Brynmawr recently, accompanying two Rotary scholars; Bandana Adhikary from Nepal and Faith Ndunge from Kenya, who are studying at Brunel and Reading universities, and hosted by Elthorne-Hillingdon and Reading Matin Rotary Clubs in Middlesex and Berkshire.
Rotary in the Thames Valley (District 1090) has been supporting Rotary scholars since 1949 to its five universities, including Oxford University, funded through The Rotary Foundation.
District Governor, Karen Eveleigh, joined the scholars on the South Wales trip.
Roughly $7.5 million is distributed in Rotary scholarships each year with clubs applying to The Rotary Foundation for district and global grants to support scholarships. These global grants are for graduate students studying abroad in one of Rotary’s seven causes.
Bandana, for example, is completing her Masters in the Anthropology of Childhood Youth and Education. She wants to train teachers in Nepal and, one day, set up her own school.
The reason for the Welsh connection is that Brynmawr Rotary is the international sponsor for Bandana’s Rotary scholarship.
So it was important for Bandana and Faith to witness the true impact of Rotary in the valleys. There, you will discover rock-solid, community Rotary, with no room for vanity, egos or unnecessary gloss.
They are innovative, dynamic, selfless in their drive to improve their community and, quite simply, brilliant Rotarians.”
Brynmawr Rotary, led by 30-year-old Eirian Teague in her second year as President, punches well above its weight.
Rotary-branded roundabout planters welcome you as you enter the town.
During Covid, the club created a supplementary food bank, ‘Together We Are Stronger, delivering food parcels and medication to the vulnerable and isolated.
It also works closely with schools, providing dictionaries, while also providing groups in the area with small grants.
We visited Nantyglo Football Club, where the Rotary club not only sponsors shirts, but has been working with younger football players, as well as its Interact club and RotaKids, to design a mural that will be sited at the club.
Working with local artist Shanti Ray, also of Nepalese descent, the school holiday project captures the images and memories of Covid for the community’s youngsters.
Throw in Brynmawr’s LifeStraws initiative which makes contaminated water safe to drink, plus the club’s support of many international projects, such as Jaipur Limb, and it shows how a little goes a
Brynmawr Rotary is a ‘super’ club. It is how Rotary should be, and if you’re looking for a marker for your own club, then look no further than South Wales.
They are innovative, dynamic, selfless in their drive to improve their community and, quite simply, brilliant Rotarians.
Recently on another club visit, I was taken to task by someone who said we sometimes fail to show the fun of Rotary.
Rest assured, Brynmawr Rotary has fun in spades with their awe-inspiring work and a ready smile on their faces.