Brief History of Claremont Rotary Club

The Rotary Club of Claremont-Brighton was established in 1968 and in 1981 became the Rotary Club of Claremont when the Rotary Club of Brighton was formed. Club membership has fluctuated over the years with a high of 44 in the year of 1977, dropping back to 21 in the year of 1993. Current membership stands at around 38.

The club has always been noted for its friendly atmosphere and has served the local community well over the past 36 years. The original members were drawn from many walks of life; building, various contractors, milk vending, exporting, nurseryman, shop-owners, education, sales representative and so on. This variety of classification has always been the basic of club membership and has added to the vitality of the club.

A large and active Rotaract club was formed in 1971 and functioned for a number of years. The Rotary club has been supported for many years by an active Inner Wheel club, which is still strong in 2007.

Claremont Rotary Club has been involved in many varied activities over the years, such as bringing the train to Rotary Park at Granton, wool shed dances, christmas hamper raffles, pensioner picnics, hosting of GSE teams, running District Conference and RYPEN(Rotary Youth Program of Enrichment), student exchange, assisted school programs, boat shows, family fun days and golf days. Currently we are running the Rotary Craft Fair in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Brighton.

The club actively supports a number of local organizations, including the Classic Car Show, the scout group and the guide company; Claremont High School and Claremont College, the Claremont Community Library, The Salvation Army, St Paul’s School and others. We take responsibility for cleaning a section of the Brooker Highway. We have regularly Assisted with providing wheelchairs for handicapped persons and have provided Emergency Medical Information books for the sick and elderly persons. To celebrate the Centennial of Rotary we particapated with two other clubs in the purchasing and erection of a rotunda at the Montrose Bay Reserve. The club has supported various international activities, including FAIM projects in SE Asia, support to a rural community in Fiji and the effort to eradicate polio, (PolioPlus).

Over the years a number of club members have been awarded Paul Harris Fellows. The first was Ray Dickenson, followed by Campbell Gunn, Goeff Hinds, Max Clark, Gerrad Strickland, Barbara Sattler, Terry Scoles, Paul Grubb, Ron Walsh, Ted Best, Bryan Harrington, Len Dimmick, David Verrier, Werner Beyer, Roy Tabrett, Tony Purdon, Bill Lethborg, Dennis Bordin and Jacob Mathews.

The Club was honoured to have Campbell Gunn selected as the District Governor in 1986/87 and Paul Grubb was the Governor for 2005/06

40 Years

Some of the History of the First Forth Years of Claremont Brighton and now Claremont Rotary Club.

Compiled and orated by charter member Gerrad Strickland for the 40th Anniversary Celebration

[The following documentation would not have been possible without information obtained from previous writings by Geoff Hinds and Leaver Cross.]

Some time in late 1967 or early 1967 John Beakley from the Rotary Club of Glenorchy was given the task of forming a new Rotary Club in the Claremont and Brighton district by then DG Alan McHardy. We were chartered on June 12 1968 with 32 members with widely contrasting classifications and had a presentation dinner at Hadley’s Hotel on August 10th. We became part of district 282 which included Tasmania and South East Victoria. I was the second youngest of the club with others up to twice my age. Unfortunately about half of the charter members have now been called to higher service.

We initially met in the canteen of the bakery in Swallows Parade Glenorchy, the first meeting on 17 April. We then met at the Village Motel. Since then we have been to the Granada, Claremont Hotel, back to the Granada then Cadburys and now at the RSL in Claremont. Charter President Bill Darby came from the Rotary Club of Glenorchy and his influence on the formation of the club and adherence to Rotary principles built the foundation for a very strong club. His initial aim was to consolidate and assimilate the charter members in to Rotary before inducting new members. The fellowship in the club in those early days was due in no small way to the attendance at the district conference in Moe in March 1969. Eleven members and some wives flew to Melbourne and then by bus to Moe. The Rotary knowledge gained and the fellowship and pranks that took place firmly entrenched the Rotary Club of Claremont-Brighton as a force to be reckoned with in the district. This fellowship was further enhanced at the after meeting sessions in the small bar at the Village Motel.

The elder statesman of us all Ray Dickenson was the second president who inspired us with his easy going but effective leadership which further strengthened the club. Ray maintained 100% attendance for many years. It was through Ray and Hazel’s generosity that fundraising, fellowship and a great sense of mateship developed through dinners, barn dances, auctions, you name it we had it on their property at Granton. Tom Lee and Gordon Suhr two of the much admired members of the time followed as presidents and their influence on the Rotary Club and the community was inspirational to us all. I look back on those two gentlemen as one of the reasons I embraced Rotary and became involved in district positions later on. We had a number of characters in the club in the early years, who were probably never destined to become presidents by their choice, but were responsible for moulding the work ethic and were always present for fund raising activities and working bees. Two of those I have fond memories of were Reg Hinton and Elgin West.

The club continued to grow and prosper under the leadership of Max Cure, Campbell Gunn and Leigh Milburn, with both Campbell and Leigh becoming DG, Leigh after moving to Glenorchy. Max loved Rotary and it was during his year the club undertook the huge task of putting the locomotive on to Rotary Park at Granton. Max also loved golf and as a tribute to his passing the Max Cure Shield golf day was held in his memory for many years. Campbell and Anne’s property at Tea Tree became the location for a number of wool shed dances. Later the activities became much more subdued but with plenty of fun, collecting sheep manure under the guidance of Campbell, Ron Walsh and Bryan Harrington. Campbell carried out his duties as DG in 87/88 with much dignity. Leigh Milburn was the first of a line of teachers to become President, and followed Rotary principals to the letter. During his time club membership reached 44 and everything was a real buzz. The club continued on its merry way until 1981 when I could say Rotary bureaucracy went mad. We became the Rotary Club of Claremont and a new club at Brighton was formed with a nucleus from Claremont, this was a logical expansion, but the formation of the Rosetta Club really made progress difficult for us. Unfortunately our membership suffered and in these hard times hovered around the low twenties for many years with new members hard to find. Unlike the days when Neville Ross asked if he could join the Rotary Club [not the normal process in those days] he was nominated and soon became a member. Through Neville’s enthusiasm he arranged, the locomotive to go on Rotary Park, Military Tattoo, First Day Covers, and Trainee Nurses from the Cook Islands who trained at St Johns Park and RHH before returning home. I say affectionately that Neville could talk under water and probably still does. It is interesting to note that in 77/78 when Neville was President, wife Clara was President of Inner Wheel and daughter Susan was President of Rotoract. Ross Rathbone was another Charter member in the vein of the previously mentioned Elgin West and Reg Hinton, who became president and was a quite achiever who never stopped working for Claremont Brighton. During Ross’s year we ran a very successful district conference. Geoff Hinds was the first Rotarian inducted into Claremont Brighton after Charter; he came to us from the Rotary Club of Glenorchy. Geoff formed and led the successful Rotoract Club for many years. He was another school teacher who gave us many years of seriousness and humour in the ideals of Rotary. Geoff was the author of the Club’s Silver Jubilee History. When he resigned the Club became poorer with the loss of his knowledge and wisdom. Geoff is now an active member of the Probus Club, which is very successful and has over 80 members.

I will continue with brief comments about later Presidents.

John Dargaville: - Quiet achiever who later went on to become the Charter President of Brighton.

Geoff Clark: - Another school teacher with an impish sense of humour. During his year a new banner and bulletin cover were formulated. Geoff presented the Clubs first PHF to Ray Dickenson. Unfortunately Geoff has been in Adards Nursing Home- but now relocated to a home in Claremont.

Les Klingberg: - A tireless worker for Rotary. During his year 3 members [Tony Purdon, John McConnon and Frank O’Connor] went to PNG as part of a FAIM team. Les handed over Rotary Park to the New Norfolk Council during his year. I believe Les and Garry along with Grey and Tony Hulton have been the only father and sons in the Club at the same time. We had had many sets of brothers. Now we have father and daughter in Peter and Sarah Cronly. Les spoke openly of the effect of Rotary principals upon his life and his values. Unfortunately Les is now residing at Guilford Young Grove Nursing Home due to on setting dementia.

Neil Mayne: - Couldn’t stop Neil’s enthusiasm for getting things done. Our biggest fund raiser in these years the Boat Show was due to his tireless work. Neil tried desperately to get Fawkner’s Cottage restored, without success. Neil and his fund raising activities were sorely missed when he resigned.

Paul Grubb :- Many years of activity so far and progressed in Rotary through District and National involvement - culminating in becoming DG in 2005/6. Paul is still involved in District affairs as well as being involved totally in Club activities. During Paul’s year as President our first youth exchange person [75/76] Sumiko came back to Tasmania for 2 weeks, then the Maynes, Clarks and Stricklands went to Tokyo for Sumiko’s wedding in 85.

Max Clark:- Charter member who took a long time to be persuaded to become President, a position he held with distinction. Now along with Campbell Gunn has become the elder statesmen of the Club. One of the died in the wool Collingwood supporters in the Club. Max has recently recovered from a debilitating health problem and it is great to see him well again.

Bryan Harrington :- A past president who is noted for his many years as treasurer, and the number of new suits he had during this time; Bryan had a very successful year as president, the year in which Campbell was DG. I note this was the year we had the great debate, Women in Rotary. I also note I was on the negative side, but I now believe that one of the reasons for the resurgence of our Club has been because of the quality of women inducted.

Tony Purdon :- So keen as President he stepped up for a second term later. Tony was a tireless worker who lived Rotary to the fullest. Tony was responsible for the formation of the Claremont Probus Club. He is now an honorary member of our Club.

Now is an opportune moment to recognise Eddie Chu who is also an Honoury member. Eddie originally came to us when Rosetta Club finished. Eddie supplies the Club with fruit and vegetables etc. for dinners, BBO’s etc. as well as selling thousands of Christmas raffle tickets.

Ron Walsh :- Was the ultimate dedicated Rotarian who served the Club with distinction in so many areas. Even though he has now gone to higher service, he was considered an icon in the Club.

Dale Ewington’s year saw the beginning of a close relationship with Claremont College, and a huge clean up around Hestercombe Uniting Church. It was the year that Jacob Matthew and Len Dimmick joined our Club and brought much Rotary experience with them.

Ken Jones:- was another quiet achiever always involved in one project or another. Ken was responsible for one of our major fund raising projects at the time - manning the gates in Howard Road for the Royal Hobart Show. This was no mean feat controlling the entrance and exit of horse floats and side show people, with occasional heated exchanges. Ken and Barbara eventually bought a property at Woodbridge and had to resign because of the distance from Claremont.

David Verrier:- Was attracted through the youth exchange program - both a daughter and a son going away and his family hosting incoming students. David actually took on the onerous task of president three times in the late nineties, and since then has been treasurer many times over the last ten years.

Len Dimmick:- had a very successful year and was noted for joke telling - many of which were pretty corny. Even though Len has had periods of poor health over the last ten years, he is the ultimate Rotarian and has continued to put his hand up above and beyond the normal call of duty.

Chris Gall:- became president in 99 and continued until 2001 with a definite mission to increase membership which at the time was in the low 20’s where it had been for some years. Chris had much success and is one of the reasons why we have 40 or so members again. Chris was a very active member until he resigned a couple of years ago.

Bill Lethborg:- had a very busy year in 01/02. This was the Club’s first year of hosting RYPEN under the chairmanship of Greg Walker. It was the year of the inaugural Classic Car Show on the Village Green, and also the first year of the Christmas Lights at Claremont Village. Bill organised and sent a container of medical equipment to Honiara in the Solomon Islands. He has since been active on the district GSE committee and also as ADG for Paul in his year as DG.

Jack Parsons:- a retired school teacher who loves trout fishing and renovating. Jack transferred to Claremont from Brighton and soon became our President. He was involved in the ground work for Claremont to combine with Brighton in running the Craft Fair which was very lucrative for the first couple of years. Jack is tireless worker and has been a huge acquisition for our Club.

Dennis Bordin:- since Dennis joined Rotary his feet have not stopped running. On taking over the reins of President from Jack he jumped straight into the Craft Fair and held the position of Chairman of that event for five years until it ceased last year. He was involved in the Centenary project - the rotunda at Montrose Bay. Most recently Dennis was District secretary for Paul, District vocational officer last year, and is currently an ADG for DG Kevin.

Anne Simpson:- became our first lady president, a task she handled with much confidence, following on in the school teacher tradition, carrying out business in her usual gracious and friendly manner. Anne was very involved in the preparation for then DG Paul’s district conference and in the running of the actual conference. Recently Anne has put her hand up as chairperson for the Cycle Challenge - which hopefully will be our next major fund raising project.

Lloyd Stephens:- was president during Paul’s year as DG and carried out his duties in the preparation and running of the conference with distinction. Lloyd is one of 25 new members who have joined our club in the last 10 years. He has worked tirelessly on projects involving Claremont High School and the Christmas Raffle.

Eric Myers:- joined our Club after transferring from the North of the State five years ago. He was very particular in that he only wanted to join a Club which was friendly and active. After attending other Clubs in the South he saw the light and has become a valued member of Claremont Rotary Club. Eris is currently Chairman of the Smorgen Steel Scrap roundup - the funds going to Suicide Prevention Research.

Peter Murphy :- the current President joined the Club four years ago from Sydney, he is a very dedicated Rotarian who travels from Ellendale [up near National Park] for every meeting and other activities. It was Peter who proposed the Scrap Steele project and was responsible for the initial ground work. Peter was also very involved with the running of the conference for Paul.

Bev Williams :- will be our second lady President next year and we wish her well.

I would like to acknowledge four members who have been with us for more than ten years who have not been President up until this time.

Werner Beyer who came to us when the Rosetta Club ceased some twelve or so years ago. Since then he has been Bulletin Editor for many years, Craft Fair front man and treasurer - he has been our chief catering person for all our seniors picnics, RYPEN assemblies, BBQ’s etc. Unfortunately Werner is moving down to the Channel area and is resigning - Werner will be sorely missed.

Jacob Matthew :- joined us from New Norfolk fifteen years ago and has been very active within the Club - with Craft Fair, Bulletin Editor etc.- he is a whiz on the computer - and has been responsible for making name tags etc. for the craft fair - the Bulletin cover tonight is also his work.

Greg Walker:- was Chairman of RYPEN for four years and is another of the valued members of our Club who has been a tireless contributor in activities in the Club - particularly in community service, Abbyfield Home - Link Road project and Youth Suicide Prevention.

David Hurd :- solid contributor for over thirty years. In earlier years David printed our Bulletin Covers he has been Treasurer on many occasions. David is in the process of retiring from his business and would make an excellent President.

Summary of Activities since Charter

  1. Contribution to first home at lady Clark Development - self funded after first unit
  2. 1971 Rotoract Club formed with twenty four members - this project went for many years until marriages within the Club and the lack of interest by young people enjoying caused the Club to cease.
  3. Main project for the first five years was Rotary Park - with locomotive - setting up a play area for children and building a toilet block. I note that later on seats were upgraded and a cricket pitch put in.
  4. Regular hosting of GSE teams from many parts of the world as well as many successful nominations by our Club for out going teams. I remember in the very early days we had three nominations from our Club who were all successful- Roger Watson, Elliott Booth and Dennis Hyland.
  5. Women in Rotary was a hot topic in the 80’s - first inducted into the Club was Pat Glover followed by Marlene Devine - now we have seven current lady members. In recent years they seem to have taken over the role of Sergeant at Arms.
  6. Our first exchange student was Sumiko Kasuga from Japan in 1975 - Lynette Mayne was our first student out - she went to Japan. Over time we have hosted students from many countries - as well as many sponsored by us going away, as recently as last year.
  7. New Zealand Twin exchange was a three month exchange with a student from New Zealand - Chris Gunn was our first.
  8. Hear a Book Program was assisted financially and with program production. Hear a Book is now International. The program was started by Barbara Sattler who was recognised be the Club with a Paul Harris Fellow. - Barbara’s son Peter has been a member of our Club.
  9. Rotary Foundation Fellow Derek Battle a young negro from Chicago was hosted in 1976/77 with Geoff Hinds his councillor.
  10. Royal Jubilee Tasmanian Military Tattoo First Day Covers Project. Neville Ross designed the envelope and members stamped them. This was the first time Queen Elizabeth 2nd had attended a tattoo Neville was invited aboard the Royal Yacht to present the Duke of Edinburgh with some covers.
  11. Father Christmas [Neville Ross] organised Santa Clause Christmas Cards from children all over Australia to his home address - he received over 13000.
  12. Induction of the youngest person to Rotary in Australia at the time. Ian Donoghue 84/85 he was 21 and is now a Director General in the Department of Defence in Canberra.
  13. First PHF was presented to Ray Dickenson in 1981- now we have 20 who have been sponsored by Claremont plus 5 from other clubs.
  14. Support for Talire School Special Art Show by students - this is ongoing.
  15. Australian Rotary Health Research Fund and Rotary Foundation support continues to this day.
  16. Camp Quality assistance with transport and meals.
  17. Polio Plus campaign.
  18. Nilgiris Adevasi Welfare Association India Central Tribal Hospital, matching grant for two new wards - Outpatients unit and clinical lab.
  19. Pensioners bus trips and meals - held annually - now at the Police Academy.
  20. Claremont Village coin spinner.
  21. Youth suicide program.
  22. Wheelchair to Strathaven Nursing Home.
  23. National Youth Science Forum.
  24. Donation of blood to Red Cross by members.
  25. Rotunda at Montrose Bay to mark 100 years of Rotary.
  26. Claremont Girl Guides Hall painting and repairs.
  27. Claremont College driver education.
  28. Visit of Albury West Rotary Club members - Claremont members reciprocated to Albury last year.
  29. Christmas gift boxes to people in aged care homes.
  30. Assistance rebuilding Mount Faulkner Scout hall by Max Clark -Jack Parsons, Lloyd Stephens and probably others also involved.
  31. Development of Link Road with Glenorchy City Council.
  32. Tree planting projects - trees donated by Forestry Tasmania.
  33. Brooker Highway cleanups.
  34. Shoobridge Park redevelopment.
  35. RAWCS building homes in Fiji for the poor - Len and Joan Dimmick assisted with building.
  36. Purchase of two Shelter Boxes for disaster areas overseas.
  37. Rotary Youth Driver Awareness Program.
  38. ABC 75th year open day BBQ.
  39. ROMAC - Plastic Surgery for children from overseas.
  40. Bowel Scan Project.
  41. Abbyfield House garden shed.

How a little money can produce a fairy tale.

Finally one of the examples of how a little money can produce a fairy tale. I refer to a native boy in a remote highland village in PNG by the name of ATAWE.

In the early 1970s we sent just a few dollars for an International Service project so this young native person could be educated in his village - we followed his progress also sending books to his school- he even came to Tasmania to see us. Atawe ended up as a lecturer at Lae University after obtaining a Masters Degree in Maths and an Education Degree. I understand he also lectured in New Zealand.

Thank you for your attention.

For a more complete account of the history of Claremont Rotary Club, please refer to

“The Rotary Club of Claremont; 25 Years of Service”

written by Goeffrey Hinds in 1993