October – November 2023 | Regulars

Amanda Watkin – Rotary GB&I General Secretary Column

Amanda Watkin – Rotary GB&I General Secretary Column

Amanda Watkin, General Secretary of Rotary GB&I, fondly recalls the creation of her first Rotary club and states what needs to be done to help new clubs flourish in the future.

Being a member of Rotary means being a part of something so much bigger than ourselves.

But in late 2001 when approached by the local Town Centre Manager, I had no idea what I was getting involved in. All I knew was that as part of the local business community, the concept of helping to demonstrate that our town is a place that cares resonated with me.

The fact that, through this network called Rotary, this new group could also support people beyond our town, becoming global citizens, was a massive added value win.

At that first ‘business breakfast’ I saw other business owners and managers, people with diverse interests and backgrounds, all eager to chat and get to know one another. Of course, I could identify those that already had business or personal connections, but very quickly I felt connected and included.

Did I learn about Rotary at that breakfast meeting? No, but undoubtedly I learnt that the business community in Hitchin wanted to step up and take action! In less than six months, under mthe experienced leadership of Rotarian Keith Hoskins and our sponsor club mentors Mike and Tony, we planned our first major activity and had a shed load of fun along the way!

Everyone had a part to play, working to their strengths and capacity. By May 2002 we were ‘chartered’ as a team of 30 people in a town that already had two other Rotary clubs. Our mentors helped and supported, as we carved our approach to Rotary and the club went from strength to strength.

But if you really fancy being part of history, offer to join the district new club formation team and help create a new group in your area.”

Has anything really changed that would make a new start-up today any more challenging? I think not. But what remains as important today as it was 20 years ago, is that each new group is given the opportunity to have its own personality, not to be bound by bureaucracy, operating to the needs of the people involved.

The “must do’s” are quite simple: i) demonstrate the values of Rotary in your personal, business and service activity, and ii) use the Rotary brand correctly!

You choose what and how much activity to undertake, you decide if you are going to have committees/teams, you decide who will represent your group for the year, and you decide where and when you will come together to build friendships, share business opportunities, and plan those incredible projects.

With a population approaching 68 million in the UK and 5 million in the Republic of Ireland, I hope you’ll agree that plans to expand from 1,500 to 1,800 Rotary clubs over the coming five years is quite conservative. Did you know that all members can help meet these expansion plans?

At the simplest level, just share your local knowledge with the District Membership Lead to help identify hot-spots. But if you really fancy being part of history, offer to join the district new club formation team and help create a new group in your area. Let’s create the future together.


Our magazine covers a wide range of fascinating features, exclusive interviews and inspiring human interest stories from across the world of Rotary.

Listen in audio format Download full digital edition

Rotary Magazine