Thursday, 3 September 2015

The inaugural dinner 25 May 1916

The Rotary Club of Leeds held its first ever meeting on 17 February 1916 and had met for three months before receiving its charter on 8 May. Now it was felt that a more formal launch was appropriate and so a gathering was organised at the Hotel Metropole to be held on 25 May. However, since it was wartime, a celebratory banquet was thought to be inappropriate. So a simple dinner was provided followed by a meeting. 

Hotel Metropole Leeds

There was no evening dress or music but there was still a little pomp and ceremony. The Lord Mayor of Leeds was present in his chain of office and his mace bearer acted as the master of ceremonies. Many representatives from other longer established Rotary clubs attended to give their good wishes to the new club.

After dinner there were several toasts and seventeen speeches! The events across the channel were very much at the forefront of the 120 or more who were present. Major Allison replied to an opening toast to the armed forces., the Lord Mayor suggested ways in which the Leeds Rotary could help including raising the £30,000 needed for soldiers' dependants and Mr F W Wile, the controversial American journalist, finished off with a 50-minute address on German trade.

It is highly unlikely that our centenary dinner will be garnished by seventeen speeches as was our first one. It is hoped though that we will again be joined by friends from other Rotary Clubs. And it is certain that, as we celebrate, we will have in our thoughts the events of one hundred years ago and the "service above self" given by so many men and women of so many different nations. 

Click here if you would like to read a contemporary account of our inaugural dinner &
click here if you would like to see the programme. 

President's Centenary Charity