District 24 Inner Wheel Inaugural Clubs - July 1974

Colchester (1927), Grays Thurrock (1932), Chelmsford (1933), Braintree (1937), Brentwood (1939), Southend-on-Sea (1945), Clacton-on-Sea (1947), Halstead (1948), Great Dunmow (1949), Bishop’s Stortford (1949), Witham (1950), Frinton-on-Sea (1955), Harwich and Dovercourt (1952), Harlow (1959), Billericay (1960), Leigh-on-Sea (1960), Basildon (1963), Maldon (1964), Burnham-on-Crouch (1965), Stanford Le Hope & Corringham (1967), Westcliff-on-Sea (1967), Ongar (1971), Southend-on-Sea East (1973), Chelmsford Mildmay (1973), Rayleigh (1974),

The Birth of District 24

District 24 was born at the Copdock Hotel, Ipswich, following District 8’s AGM luncheon in June 1974. Past District Chairman, Elaine Howell, described it as a traumatic experience with heartaches on both sides but carried out amicably; so much so, that for the past 40 years the Past District Chairmen in both Districts still meet for lunch each July, with Executives attending each other’s Rally.

Rotary District 108 had decided to divide the District and drew a line roughly along the Essex/Suffolk borderline; the Southern part, mainly in Essex, becoming District 124. This meant that Inner Wheel District 24 had 25 Clubs, 24 in Essex and 1 in Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire.

The new District Chairman, Member of Council, Treasurer and Extension Organiser, had been serving on the D8 Committee. There was enthusiasm but little money and it wasn’t until 1984/85, in Eve Kingston’s year, that the District could afford a 2nd Vice Chairman.

The first Executive, 1974/75, was as follows

District Chairman Mrs Ethel Wilson Braintree & Bocking Club, Vice Chairman Mrs Elaine Howell Brentwood Club, Secretary Mrs Daphne Cole Clacton-on-Sea Club, Treasurer Mrs Joan Dickson Harwich and Dovercourt Club, Council Member Mrs Mary Jordan Grays Thurrock Club, Editor Mrs Audrey Rilston Billericay Club, Overseas Chairman Mrs Joan Rothon Billericay Club, Extension Officer Mrs Dorothy Mee Burnham on Crouch Club

The first District project was to provide a lift for residents of an elderly persons home in Clacton. £1000 was raised and the lift was installed and opened by the District Chairman in 1975. The District project for 1975/76 was the Save The Children Fund.

Three of the Clubs that were in the new District 24 were originally known as The 79s, they were Colchester, Grays Thurrock and Chelmsford and formed part of the Association of Inner Wheel Clubs when formed in 1934. Sadly two of these Clubs have disbanded. Colchester was originally called Colchester Women’s Auxiliary Club but changed the name on June 3rd 1930 to The Inner Wheel Club of Colchester. Past District Chairman Hilda Shippey, from the Colchester Club, mentioned to another member that she was proud to be a member of Inner Wheel thrice over, as she was the daughter, wife and mother of Rotarians.

The Early Years

In the early years everyone was known as ‘Mrs’. District Chairmen and their Executives were rather an austere group of ladies; everything was done by the book and although members enjoyed themselves, events were rather more serious than today.

The District Meeting and AGM tended to be held around the Colchester area; Friendship Evenings were held at the Embassy Suite, District Meetings at Marconi’s in Chelmsford, and the Rally or AGM at Marks Tey Motel. The latter eventually moved to the 3 Rivers Golf and Country Club at Cold Norton, until it became too costly there.

Our Thriving District

In the late 1980’s we had 1200 members and by the early 1990’s, 16 new Clubs had been formed and our District was thriving. Two members in the late 1970’s tried unsuccessfully several times to go on to the Association Executive but eventually our small District was put on the map when Doce Kruger of the Burnham-on-Crouch Club was elected as Association Overseas Chairman and then Pam Byford, in the early to mid 2000’s, went on to become Association Treasurer then President.

In 1998/99 there was a 100% entry to the Daphne Cole Trophy competition when each Club in D24 submitted an embroidered or painted square to represent its Club. The squares were later assembled to form a banner to be displayed at the 25th Anniversary Rally in October 1999. Thirty six Clubs had contributed to forming the banner for D24 in the Millenium year. Sadly, the banner disappeared after one of the Rallies.

A big pat on the back to all members past and present for all that our small but hard working District has achieved in 40 years. Now we must look forward to providing more service wherever there is a need.

District 24 Inner Wheel Clubs - May 2015

Basildon (1963), Billericay (1960), 3. Bishop’s Stortford (1949), Braintree (1937), Brentwood (1939), Brentwood A’Beckett (1982), Burnham-on-Crouch (1965) Canvey Island (1993), Chelmer Bridge (1986), Chelmsford Mildmay (1973), Clacton-on-Sea (1947), Colchester (1927), Colchester Trinity (1988), Corrinham Thameside (1988), Harlow (1959), Harwich and Dovercourt (1952), Havering (1963), Leigh-on-Sea (1960), Maldon (1964), Rayleigh Mill (1996),  South Woodham Ferrers (1985), Wickford (1980)

By - Pam Byford, Member of the Inner Wheel Club of Braintree and Bocking, Past District 24 Chairman and Past Association President - May 2015.