The Rotary Club of Thornbury has celebrated its 50th Anniversary.

Rotary International gave the group its charter on August 31, 1971 and the event was celebrated at a Charter Dinner held at the Ship Hotel in Alveston.

The 2021 Gala Dinner at the Aztec Hotel was enjoyed by around 100 guests, including past and present members of the club, members from several other clubs, and their partners. The event was organised by a team of Rotarians, led by Stuart Hill.

On behalf of his club, Paul Glover, President of Thornbury Rotary, welcomed all the guests and introduced the main speaker for the evening, Donna Wallbank, former RIBI President (Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland). He also introduced Graham Ogden, Rotary Governor for District 1100, who gave a final toast towards the end of the evening.

Paul commented on having received good wishes from many other Rotary clubs in the district, as well as past members from as far away as New Zealand.

He added that Thornbury Rotary was privileged to have two founder members attending the celebrations, Nigel Dawes and Maurice Stagg, both of whom are still active members of the club. Nigel and Maurice received a round of applause for their combined loyal service of 100 years.

Roger Jepsen, a long-standing member of Rotary, received a Paul Harris Award for his outstanding work over the years. Paul Harris was the founder of the Rotary organisation.

Paul presented a brief picture of the club and its activities, including service to Thornbury schools and the annual ‘Thornbury in Bloom’ competition.

Internationally, the club has secured Rotary Matching Grants for water projects in Kenya, Nepal and Burkina Faso. The club has always been active on the End Polio Now campaign, even purchasing an Iron Lung for display, to raise awareness and funds at events.

Since the first Thornbury Rotary Swimarathon in 1986, the club’s main fundraiser, the club has raised around half a million pounds. This has allowed the club to donate between £12,000 and £17,000 each year to various charities such as Alzheimer’s Society, Carers Support Centre and Jigsaw, together with many other national and local charities over the years.

President Paul Glover was keen to point out that: “The common theme uniting us all is that of giving and supporting the community and those in need. The last two years have made us realise the fragility of society and areas of the community both at home and globally where support and friendship are needed more than ever.”

Paul’s sentiments were very much reinforced by Guest Speaker, Donna Wallbank, who also emphasised Rotary’s determination for equal opportunities.

The club has made a number of changes to make it more attractive for new membership and retention.

It is now less formal, meeting just twice a month in Thornbury, whilst continuing to support local schools and charitable organisations. Members can join meetings either physically or via Zoom.

Looking to the future, Thornbury Rotary is keen to attract younger members, whatever gender and background. To that end, a satellite club has been formed called Thornbury Rotary Network (TRN), with the hope of attracting a more diverse and younger group of community members, who are still working, rather than retired.

Anyone interested in joining can contact Nico Sialelli on 07871 795846 or by emailing

More details are available at