Rotarians who have spent 30 years fundraising for good causes and giving their own time to help others received a deserved pat on the back.

The members of the Elthorne Hillingdon branch of the charity gathered at Moore Park Golf Course last Wednesday for an anniversary dinner organised by John and Joan Greening.

The black-tie affair was to celebrate the 30th year since the group received its charter allowing it to hold meetings and also to thank current president Derek Knight for his hard work so far this year.

In the presence of the Mayor of Hillingdon Councillor Brian Crowe and his wife Clare, the guests enjoyed a delicious four-course meal and then settled down to hear former president Mark Grimwade outline the history of the club.

He said: "It was 1977 when people started to find it hard to attend Rotary meetings during the afternoon and a group of men decided an evening club was called for.

"Colin Harris, seen by many to be our founder, consulted with Ruislip and Northwood, Yiewsley and West Drayton and Uxbridge Rotary and managed to find enough people; all he needed was a venue.

"The first meeting took place in May 1978 at Wayfarers Tennis Club, Swakeleys Drive, Ickenham, in a room which was so cold everyone had to keep their overcoats on!

"It was not until that October the club, named Elthorne after Hillingdon was placed in the Elthorn hundreds of the Doomsday Book, received its charter and had 34 members officially recognised.

"Our banner was designed by one of the founder members and the first meeting of the newly chartered club took place at the A40 cafe directly opposite the old Master Brewer Hotel in Hillingdon Circus.

"We were there for 18 months before moving on to The Vine Pub, in Uxbridge Road, Hillingdon; The Abrook Arms, in Dawley Road, Hayes; The Civic Centre, in High Street, Uxbridge, and The Lord Byron Pub.

"Finally we came to our current home, Uxbridge Cricket Club, in Gatting Way, Uxbridge, where we have continued to build on our outstanding record of service above self."

Mr Grimwade cited three examples of this excellent work: firstly the creation of the Christmas float by former president Derek McCall which now makes around £5,000 every festive season.

Second was the darts marathon started in 1988 where every pub team in the borough was invited to take part and £6,000 is regularly raised.

Finally, in the early 1990s former president Tom Marsh created the first golf tournament which has now been running 14 years.

It is estimated the club has raised close to £400,000 during its 30 year history, which goes to a variety of charities, while at the same time Elthorne continues to support events like Youth Speaks and Kids Out activity holidays.

The club accepted women from 1992 and its first ever woman president, Mrs Greening, spoke next to honour Mr Knight for his 13 years of service and present him with Rotary's highest accolade, the Paul Harris Award.

An emotional Mr Knight thanked everyone for coming and pledged another 30 years of dedicated fundraising would start from that moment.

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