Rotary - and its president - breaking new ground

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“A LOT of people still think of us as a bunch of old chaps sitting round having lunch,” says Jenny Redfearn, president of Brighouse Rotary Club.

“In fact, when I look at all we do, I’m staggered by what we manage to achieve.”

Jenny, of Hipperholme, is the first female president in the club’s history and was the first woman to join the club nine years ago. She is particularly pleased to be serving as president in the club’s 75th anniversary year.

The Rotary Club has been part of her life for a long time - but she doesn’t consider herself a pioneer in the organisation.

“I don’t make a big thing of being the first woman president. I consider myself a Rotarian first and foremost. Rotary is changing - but we are aware that we should not change for change’s sake.

“We intend to continue doing what we do well - having fun, enjoying the fellowship and raising funds along the way.”

Jenny’s husband, Chris, first got involved in Rotary in the mid-1990s and he was president of the Brighouse club in 2003. The couple have been married for nearly 32 years and have three sons - Matthew, Ben and Andrew. They live in a converted barn in Towngate - a semi-derelict wreck when they bought it which took two years to make habitable.

Jenny said: “Rotarians are enthusiastic, fun-loving and active volunteers who give their time and talents to serve communities at home and overseas. They are dedicated people, men and women, from business and professions who share a common interest in helping others.”

A former teacher who retired as deputy head, 56-year-old Jenny is particularly proud of Rotary’s work with young people and with its international involvement.

“Rotary is found in more than 200 countries and regions worldwide and we are in the unique position of being able to reach people in need all over the planet, from running life-changing projects in developing countries to making an immediate response in disaster-hit regions.

“In our 75th year in Brighouse we hope to do some new things and continue those which are becoming a tradition such as the Tree of Light and running the Santa float with Project Local.”

The list of organisations and events which benefit from Rotary support and involvement is a lengthy one.

It includes running the programme and the gate at Brighouse Gala, bulb planting in Clifton, sending Aquaboxes and a Shelterbox to disaster areas, supporting a young carers’ group, organising the distribution and collection of poppies for Remembrance Day, organising race nights and sending two young people on the Rotary Young Leader scheme to Hebden Hey near Hebden Bridge.

In her year as president, Jenny will be doing all she can to raise money for two charities close to her heart - the Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice and the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

One highlight promises to be a concert at St John’s for the village of Niakiswa in Tanzania.

“Our motto is ‘service above self’ and I believe the Brighouse club embodies that,” said Jenny.