SKIPTON is lucky enough to have two Rotary Clubs to enable potential members a choice of meeting day and time. Two clubs together have increased the reach and depth of the good work the clubs undertake, harnessing the members’ enthusiasm, experience and skills and their network of contacts and friends.

Together the two clubs donated £77,500 to good causes in 2015 and this year donations have so far totalled £12,000.

Fundraising takes a wide variety of forms based on the ideas of members. Through the generous cooperation of Skipton Building Society (SBS) an important and consistent source of fundraising involves running the car park at their headquarters on The Bailey every Saturday. In addition Christmas activities including the annual Santa Fun Run, street and supermarket collections and the Grassington Dickensian Festival raise significant sums of money which are mainly dispersed to local causes.

Over the last three years, through the efforts of the local 78 committed Rotarians and the generosity of the public, the clubs have raised the amazing sum of £203,000

With its motto of ' Service before Self ' the Rotary movement began in 1905 when Paul Harris, a Chicago attorney, gathered together a group of professional associates with diverse backgrounds to exchange ideas. The resulting organisation name ‘Rotary’ arose from the practice of rotating meetings among the offices of each member and within 16 years the movement had grown to cover six continents and today has over 1.2 million members.

While the two Skipton clubs have a strong focus on supporting local needs they each make significant contributions to national and international causes. Sand dams in Kenya, micro loans, disaster relief through the supply of shelter boxes and aqua boxes and fighting disease, saving mothers and children, supporting education of orphans and growing local economies.

Ask almost any Rotarian the reason for their involvement with Rotary and they usually answer– ‘to make a difference through service’ and thrives on mutual fellowship with no politics or religious involvement. Rotarians will tell you it’s the people they meet and the stories these people tell which keep them going. Facing cold weather is a minor hardship when collecting for good causes. Collections such as those for Marie Curie, the Alzheimer’s Society and Airedale Hospital’s Endoscopy Unit resonate particularly with families who have experience of using these services in the past and their kind words and encouragement are sufficient to warm the cockles of any Rotarian’s heart.

Both clubs are keen to support youth achievement and work together for example on the annual Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) and Ocean Youth Trust (OYT) providing opportunities for up to six young people each year to experience decision making and team work on land and at sea. The fully sponsored courses lasting five to six days take place at either Hebden Hey Activity Centre or aboard the ‘James Cook’ moored at North Shields.

Other aspects of Rotary’s youth work involving almost all secondary schools in the area is the annual Young Chef Competition, the schools’ Technology Tournament and a public speaking and debating competition ‘Youth Speaks’. Many schools enthusiastically support fundraising for Shelter Box.

Both clubs provide opportunities for young people to apply for a contribution to funding to support educational travel and development projects abroad. Last year, 30 awards were made totalling £11,000. Successful applicants travelled to a variety of destinations including Costa Rica, Croatia and South Africa.

The Morecambe Bay walk is not one to be undertaken by the faint-hearted but Rotarians were out in force recently when they joined Cedric Robinson, the Queen’s Guide to the Sands, to make the eight mile crossing from Arnside to Grange over Sands in aid of School in a Bag.

School in a Bag is a simple solution created to help poor, orphan, vulnerable and disaster affected children throughout the world. Each school bag is filled with stationery, learning resources and eating utensils that will enable a child to write, draw, colour, calculate, express themselves and above all learn. An education for children such as these could be their passport to a life out of hardship and poverty and the £1,600 raised on the day will make a positive contribution towards this.

One of the ambitious and enduring world challenges for Rotary over the past 30 years has been the support for polio eradication. World Polio Day on October 24 this year highlighted the need for continuing work in this area where every donation through Rotary will be tripled by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

This year, only two countries have reported polio cases caused by the wild poliovirus: Afghanistan and Pakistan. Africa has not seen a case in nearly two years, but the job is not finished yet and much remains to be done to end the disease that once affected 350,000 children a year.

Rotary is dedicated to understanding the needs of others both locally and internationally. Above all it aims to make a difference by sharing skills and life experiences in a spirit of friendship and mutual respect. New members are welcome at both clubs. The Skipton Craven club meets at Skipton Golf Club on Tuesday evenings at 7.30pm while the Skipton club meets at The Tempest Arms, Elslack on Wednesdays at 5.45pm.

And when you do meet a Rotarian on Skipton High Street on a cold winter’s day holding his or her collecting tin – please consider making a contribution - it could make all the difference.