THE Rotary Club of Settle was founded on March 26, 1929 with just 15 members - almost 100 years later, it is going strong, and playing a vital part in the life of North Craven, writes David Blackburne.

Remarkably, the very first Rotary Club was founded in February 1905 in Chicago and the fact that the movement had reached Settle only 24 years later shows how rapidly it had grown.

Now Rotary International has more than 1.4 million members belonging to around 40,000 clubs in more than 200 countries, and is one of the largest service organisations in the world.

There are many misconceptions about Rotary. It has moved into the 21st century and membership, meetings and structure are now very flexible. Almost anyone can join, men and women, at any age, from any job.

We meet fortnightly - and helping at events is more important than attendance at meetings.

Dress is casual and the emphasis is on fun and friendship. Currently the club has only 19 members but we also have a group of ‘Friends of Settle Rotary’ who we keep in touch with by email and who help at events like our Christmas collection round all the local villages.

This year 25 non-Rotarians helped us raise nearly £ 6,000 for local good causes. ‘Friends’ are welcome at any meeting, as are guests who are interested to see what and who we are, and to listen to our speakers on local, national and international topics and charities.

The motto of Rotary has always been ‘Service above Self’ and it has seven major aims which include ‘Promoting Peace’ which includes more than 100 full scholarships offered to students to study “Peace and Conflict Resolution” at seven universities worldwide, including Bradford.

Every year some Settle members go to an inspiring conference at Bradford University for us to meet the Rotary scholars from all over the world.

There are now more than 1,400 graduates of the scheme working in governments, Non Profit Organisations (NGOs), and service organisations to help promote peace and understanding between countries and people.

Rotary was one of the organisations involved in the setting up of the United Nations, and the annual Rotary Day at the United Nations celebrates the two organisations’ shared vision for peace and highlights the critical humanitarian activities that Rotary and the UN lead around the world.

Another aim is ‘fighting disease’ and in 1985 Rotary dedicated itself to eliminating Polio worldwide.

In 1988, it was joined by the World Health Organisation and more recently the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Rotarians have raised more than $2.1 billion and given countless hours of voluntary work to vaccinate over three billion children, reducing the number of annual cases from 300,000 to less than 30 per year.

In the last five years alone, Settle has donated more than £3,000 towards this goal and two members have travelled out to a Rotary Club in India to help with a mass vaccination day, when 25million children are given the polio vaccine.

In 2004 after the Tsunami on Boxing Day, which killed 228,000 people in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, Settle Rotary started a public collection in the town’s Booths supermarket.

Within days we had collected thousands of pounds and, thanks to the trust of local people in Rotary, many other organisations, who had raised money, donated it to Rotary.

The final total was more than £25,000. This was split between various Rotary Clubs in Sri Lanka (£9,000) and Indonesia (£7000), aid organisations (£1500), and Yorkshire District of Rotary ( £7,500). The donation to the Yorkshire District of Rotary went towards a project to rebuild a complete secondary school in Sri Lanka. One of the classrooms at the school is called Settle in honour of the amount our local community gave.

By passing the money on to Rotary Clubs we knew that all the funds would be used for helping the survivors, as it would all be administered by volunteers and delivery costs would be paid by the local Rotarians.

For many years Settle Rotary organised a Yorkshire Three Peaks sponsored walk raising money for local and international charities.

In recent years there have been so many Three Peaks fundraisers for other charities that the club now runs a Settle Saunter on less used paths and have raised money for various charities.

In 2021 it was run in a Covid safe way with staggered start times and electronic timing. This proved so successful that nearly 300 runners and walkers raised £5,500. So far this has given Cave Rescue Organisation (CRO) £1,000, Victoria Hall £500, and KASIN, a locally run charity that provides help to schools in remote villages in Nepal, £1000.

This fits with the Rotary aim of ‘Supporting Education’ . Locally the club has also pledged £4,000 for the Settle Primary School STEM Project, as well as donations over the years to many local schools, and to pupils for gap years and further education.

If you want to ‘make a difference’ or like our members are ‘happy to help’, why not come along to a meeting, the programme is on our website .

People can also contact David, club secretary by email:, or by telephone 01729 822445 - you’ll be made very welcome.