History of Rotary in New Milton

Rotary as a worldwide organisation, had been started in 1905 in Chicago by lawyer Paul Harris who wanted local businessmen and professionals to join together to support local community needs (in fact initially it was to build the first public toilets in the city).  His messages such as ‘Service above Self’ and the fostering of peace and of friendship had, by 1939, spread widely and many Rotary Clubs had been established across the globe. 

Paul Harris. The founder of the Rotary Organisation

In this area, two Rotary Clubs had been formed in 1918: Bournemouth and Southampton – so 20 years later, New Milton, with its growing population of approx. 10,000 and a range of businesses, was to be the next choice. As the clouds of war were beginning to loom over Europe, the first invitation was sent out by Percy Moss, who had been a member of the Southampton Rotary Club, and was the new landlord of the Milton Hotel. This was on the site of what is now the Arnewood medical practice. 

The Milton Hotel, New Milton

Invitations were sent out to selected local business men and stated that the venture was for ‘men only, to meet weekly for lunch’ (at a cost of 2s 6d). Interestingly the club itself with 20 members finally received its charter, although dated August 1939, in November 1939 just two months after the start of the Second World War. This meant that no celebration or charter dinner could be held. The first President was W. Hinton Stewart an architect. It was quoted ‘that the activities of Rotary would at this time be put to such good use’ but there was little that could be done about ‘international relationships’ – one of the objects of Rotary – this would have to wait. 

Some of the original members were then called up to join the armed forces. The other members continued with what they could do such as supporting evacuees from Southampton and the surrounding district, volunteering with the Home Guard and with the ARP, assisting families suffering hardship due to war losses. Club activities during 1941-5 had to be curtailed but it continued to support events and appeals concerned with the war effort.

So began the foundations and ethos of the club’s service to support in New Milton and District and to communities internationally. 

The principles of Rotary have strengthened over the decades since those beginnings in the war years. Women play a strong role as Rotarians too. The original view of ‘men only’ at a Rotary lunch is not supported! The impact on local community support has been immense.

New Milton Rotary Annual Charity Lunch. 2011 Guest Speaker Anne Widdecombe

Over the years New Milton & District Rotary Club have held many fundraising events such as the Annual Charity Lunch, Gardeners’ Market, Fashion Shows, Jazz Concerts and Car Boot Sales. 

It is estimated that New Milton Rotary Club raised in excess of £1.2 million (in today’s value) in support of local and international projects. During the last year before the club closed in 2018 approximately £36,000 was donated to local causes and organisations. These included a new Community First New Forest Bus helping the elderly in our area to get about. Every child under 7 years old in this community now proudly wears a Rotary Hi Vis jacket as part of the ‘keeping kids safe’ campaign. 

Community First bus provided by New Milton Rotary

One event New Milton Rotary Club organised was an annual Senior Citizen’s Christmas Party often including over 100 local residents enjoying food and entertainment. 

Rotary as a global organisation hosts a number of annual competitions enabling young people to test and develop their skills and talents in a range of disciplines.

New Milton Rotary has assisted the local schools in many ways including: 

Kids Out: Rotarians take disadvantaged children on a fun day out. The children visit the seaside, theme parks, adventure playgrounds and zoos, giving them all wonderful memories to cherish for a lifetime.

Rotary Youth Leadership Awards: The Rotary club offers young people a rewarding experience by taking part in developing qualities of leadership, team working, initiative and problem solving at Avon Tyrell Activity Centre 

Youth Speaks: Local schools have taken part in this competition to challenge young people’s public speaking abilities and performance.

Young Citizen of the Year: This award recognises young people under the age of 25 who have demonstrated their commitment to others, their citizenship, goodwill and often personal challenge through various activities.

Student Mock Interviews: These are preparatory scenarios in which Rotarians give students in local schools the chance to experience an interview in a safe, constructive, and familiar space before they start they apply for further education opportunities. 

 Many clubs and organisations within the local community have also been assisted by Rotary. Examples include: Gateway (for adults with learning difficulties), the New Milton Stroke Club, New Forest Disability, Honeypot House (offering respite in the New Forest for young carers), Home-Start (a local community network supporting disadvantaged families) Oakhaven Hospice to name just a few. In addition, many local individuals have been helped in their moment of crisis. 

Planting Crocuses for the ‘End Polio’ campaign. With New Milton Infants School pupils.

Internationally, Rotary have supported the ‘End Polio Now’ campaign, during which purple crocus have been planted next to New Milton War Memorial to highlight this valuable project. Valuable assistance has been given to the Rotary Foundation charity, Africa Education Trust (local schools donated books to establish the first libraries within schools in Uganda). Schools have also been supported in India and elsewhere. Other international projects include Shelterbox (providing emergency shelter to families who have lost their homes to disaster enabling them to rebuild their lives)

Mercy Ships (deploys hospital ships to some of the poorest countries in the world, delivering vital, free healthcare to people in desperate need.) and Sightsavers (an international charity working to prevent avoidable blindness)

Photo taken by a New Milton Rotarian who was delivering books from our local schools to set up libraries in Ugandan schools, where none had existed before.

There has been an interesting and valuable twin club exchange with Le Blanc Rotary Club in France and latterly with a Rotary Club in Belgium. 

Ian Legge, the Past President of New Milton Rotary 1998 -1999 and a past district governor of Rotary

The local club belongs to Rotary District 1110 which covers most of Hampshire, Dorset, Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands. In 2010/11 the Club was proud that one of its members, Ian Legge, became District Governor for that year. It did mean a busy but rewarding year for all club members including organising the annual District Conference in Jersey.

The Rotary Bungalow at Naish Holiday Park

One proud achievement is that Rotary in New Milton have a Holiday Bungalow on Naish Holiday Park, thanks to the late Rotarian John Burry and the Hoburne Group. John was for many years a member and staunch supporter of New Milton Rotary and was the President of the club in 1969. 

The late John Burry, Past President of New Milton Rotary.

Over the past 40 years, the bungalow has been used to provide holidays for disadvantaged families. These have been, organised and supported by the New Milton Rotary Club. This is now continued by Becton Rotary club aided by sponsorship from other Rotary clubs across the south. This has been of great benefit for many families who have never been able to have a holiday before. Personal comments by guests often include how lovely it was being able to spend family time together away from the stresses at home, sickness, poverty and family breakdowns. The holidays give the families the opportunity to make lifetime memories which are often life changing too. It is estimated that over the 40 years New Milton Rotary have been running the holiday bungalow, 3,200 disadvantaged individuals have been helped to have a much-needed holiday.

Members of New Milton Rotary in 1998

Seated in front row: James (Seamus) Loftus, Ian Legge, Graham Smith, Harry Shutler, Mike Waters, Bill Hope-Jones, Ron Jinks.

Middle row standing: Nicky Gossip, Stewart Gillespie Smith, John Willson, Peter Hyde, Christopher Fradd, Ray Freemantle, Jack Bruton, David Burton, Bob Gouldie, Dr. Malcolm Tuddenham, Jack Plank, Unknown, Harold Wozencroft, Roy Toulson, Ron Back, John Moody, President of Past Rotarians Club, Ronald Crisp, Bill Clarke, David Cole, James Murray.

On bench at rear: Clive Gameson, Don Glashier, Ron Thurston, Roger Newland, Jim Burgess, George Stickland, Bryan Maugham.

Sadly, in 2018 a decision was made to close the New Milton Rotary Club after 79 years of supporting the community. Fortunately, a new local Rotary club has arisen from the ashes. 

Becton and District Rotary Club is continuing some of the work established by New Milton RC including the holiday bungalow. Recent projects have also included providing personal protection equipment in conjunction with New Forest Sewing for the NHS and assisting with the Basics Bank. Rotarians have built an Eco greenhouse as a learning opportunity for the children of New Milton Infant School. During the pandemic, the club has been helping the local community in various aspects such as organising the distribution of PPE to hospitals and local medical facilities and delivering food donations in conjunction with the New Forest Basic Bank.

Becton and District Rotary Club warmly welcomes new members offering them opportunities to make friends and join in local community volunteering. If you are interested the contact details are below: 

Past Presidents (New Milton)
1939-40 W. Hinton Stewart
1940 -42 T.C. James
1942-43 W.F. Stacey
1943-44 W. Herrington
1944-45 W. Bowers
1945-46 H.J.P. White
1946-47 H.E. Tyler
1947-48 C.J. Davies
1948-49 L.F. Hope-Jones
1949-50 R.J. Burton
1950-51 E. Griffiths
1951-52 R.H. Alderson
1952-53 Rev. H.C. Blackburne
1953-54 D.E. Drew
1954-55 L.S. Hawkes
1955-56 P.G. Cooper
1956-57 J. Easte
1957-58 D.E. Hayter
1958-59 M.W. Cook
1959-60 C.S. Barham
1960-61 W.H. Stewart
1961-62 W.B. Cross
1962-63 G.W. Lane
1963-64 E. Cattle
1964-65 WA Stewart
1965-66 J.W. Thwaites
1966-67 H.H. White
1967-68 E. White
1968-69 G.J. Plank
1969-70 R. J. Burry, MBE, DL.
1970-71 J.P. Burgess
1971-72 H. Harper-Smith
1972-73 E.P. Milton
1973-74 I. Hesketh
1974-75 K. Jones
1975-76 J.H. Robbins
1976-77 D.E. Abbott
1977-78 D.J. Nield
1978-79 H.W. Shutler
1979-80 C.J. Wingfield
1980-81 G. Smith
1981-82 M.G.C. Collyer
1982-83 H.C. Wozencroft
1983-84 J.P. Johnson
1984-85 Rev. R Drown
1985-86 W A. Clarke
1986-87 A.J. King
1987-88 R. Freemantle
1988-89 Dr H. Tuddenham
1989-90 A B. Maugham
1990-91 D.J. Glashler
1991-92 R.L. Newland
1992-93 R.A.B. Ede
1993-94 A.J. Osman
1994-95 R. Gouldie
1995-96 J.M. Moody
1996-97 I.T. Spreadbury
1997-98 M. Waters
1998-99 I.A. Legge
1999-00 D. Cole
2000-01 P. Hyde
2001-02 Stewart Gillespie-Smith
2002-03 Ron Back
2003-04 D. Burton
2004-05 John Willson
2005-06 Tony Tillett
2006-07 Terry Smith
2007-08 Tony Jarrett
2008-09 Christopher Buckley
2009-10 Diane Shea
2010-11 John Witt
2011-12 Mary Pye
2012-13 John Morgan
2013-14 Paul Watson
2014-15 John Morgan
2015-16 Stuart Jones
2016-17 Debbie Nottage
2017-18 Mary Pye
2018-19 Mary Pye (Jul-Dec)

Past District Governor
2010-11 Ian Legge

Past Presidents (Becton & District)
2019 (Jan-Jul) T. Conner
2019-2020 Torry Conner
2020-21 Keith Williams


Web: www.bectonrotary.org.uk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bectonrotary

Twitter:  @bectonrotary


EMail: secretary@bectonrotary.org.uk