Rotary is a worldwide service organisation that aims to encourage and foster the ideal of service to others, hence the Rotary motto- "Service above self." Since service is completely dependent on busy, often senior business and professional people giving generously of their time and expertise, fellowship is very important to all Rotarians. Despite the global distribution of Rotary clubs and the significant humanitarian service activities undertaken not everyone is aware of what Rotary does or what members of local clubs actually do. The purpose of this web page is to give some background to the establishment of the Cookstown Club and discuss some of the work of Rotarians in Cookstown.

Fellowship and Service

Rotary was brought to Cookstown in 1971 when a local club was chartered on the 10th June of that year. The late Captain Nelson Rowntree from the Omagh club was mainly responsible for the creation of the Cookstown Club. Nelson Rowntree was then the Northern Area Extension Officer of District 1160 (Ireland) and was an honorary member of the club until his death this year. TOP The first president of the club was the late Billy Steele, then manager of the local branch of the Ulster Bank. There were 32 founder members and membership has remained at around this level since. Meetings are held each Tuesday at the Glenavon Hotel, however, each Rotarian has the right to attend meetings at any club in the world. The club has an exemplary record of community involvement and care. It has organised many worthwhile projects and fund-raising events. Tens of thousands of pounds have been raised over the last thirty two years for many deserving charities, both at home and in the Third World. 

International endeavours include support for the Jaipur limb centre in India and for the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind in association with Rotary clubs in India and Africa. The Club is an active supporter of the Rotary Polio-Plus enterprise aimed at eliminating polio and other major diseases of children by 2005. Rotary transcends political and sectarian divisions and the club has been at the forefront in promoting cross-community ventures and projects among young people in the area. Perhaps most noteworthy was the club's involvement in sending twenty children, from the town's two primary schools, to the United States for six weeks. The Club also supports Rotary Youth Exchange and has been instrumental in student exchanges with Australia, Japan, America, Belgium and France.

Cookstown has had a major role in both the organisation and the running of the Rotary District Youth Leadership Scheme. For many years a pupil sponsored by Cookstown Rotary Club has been successful in being selected from some 1000 applicants to spend five days at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Working with Young people

The essential themes of Rotary are fellowship and service. Nowhere is this illustrated more than where Rotarians commit themselves to benefit others by contributing their vocational expertise to help youth.

The Club has promoted the Rotary chess initiative in local primary schools. This computer-based initiative has been shown to boost educational achievement.

  • Organises career counseling
  • Assists young people develop leadership skills through the Rotary Youth Leadership Scheme
  • Actively promotes school year exchanges. Exchanges between Cookstown, France, Israel, United Sates, Japan and Germany have been organise. This year places for some 14-school pupils have been found to date.

Serving the Community .

The Club has a Community Service Committee that is particularly active in helping the needy and promoting mutual understanding and respect through cross-community work.

  • Each year the club sponsors a week's holiday for a needy family in Portrush.
  • Organises a district football competition for all schools in the Cookstown area.
  • Organises indoor football for special needs children in Magherafelt and Dungannon.
  • For the last few years the Club has supported host families taking children from Chernobyl by arranging a days outing to Portstewart. • In December 1999 an art exhibition was organised in the Burnavon Centre in aid of the Northern Ireland Children's' Hospice
  • Provided a Millennium Rose Bed at Blackhill Road in Cookstown .
  • Sponsored an inter—schools debating competition • In conjunction with Cookstown High School raised £2000 through the school's production of the musical ‘Annie' in aid of the Northern Ireland Children's Hospice
  • Promoted ecology by sponsoring, along with Cookstown Council and Loughry College, local naturalist Ronnie Irvine to produce an exhibition and a leaflet on the natural history of Cookstown and the surrounding area.

Supporting Rotary's International Charities

Rotary has an international charity, Rotary Foundation, dedicated to furthering international understanding, goodwill and peace. The Club has made substantial contributions to

  • The Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind (Sight Savers)
  • Jaipur limb centre in India • Hope and Homes for Children
  • The Honduras hurricane disaster fund Polio Plus to aid W.H.O. and U.N.I.C.E.F. immunise the world's children against polio, measles, diphtheria and other diseases.

Cookstown Rotary Club has also supported the Foundation scheme where emergency supplies including aquaboxes are sent to disaster areas. The aquaboxes provide clean, safe water to those affected by natural disasters.