A brief history of the establishment of Rotary in Bendigo
The Rotary Club of Bendigo was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Melbourne and chartered on July 30, 1925.In turn, it has sponsored six Rotary clubs in the region: Castlemaine (1935), Echuca-Moama (1948), Bendigo South (1959), Eaglehawk (1966), Bendigo Strathdale (1978), and Bendigo Sandhurst (1988)
Initial impetus for the formation of a Rotary Club in Bendigo came from a leading business man Mr. Arthur H. Leggo.
He initiated contact with the Rotary Club Melbourne because he thought that in such a progressive town as Bendigo the concept of Rotary would further enhance its status and be an ideal avenue through which some leading citizens of Bendigo could provide “Service Above Self. He profits most who serves best.”
Consequently on March 12th 1925 there was a meeting held in the Bendigo Town Hall chaired by the Mayor of Bendigo Cr. E.Morton Vains and attended by 20 leading citizens of Bendigo for the express purpose of forming a Rotary Club.
Special visitors comprised Professor W.A. Osborne of Melbourne University, Special Commissioner in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Adelaide and West Australia and the Melbourne Rotary Club and Commissioner of Rotary International, Mr. G.E. Emery Acting President of the Rotary Club of Melbourne and Mr. W.A. Drummond, Honorary Secretary of the Melbourne Rotary Club.
After general discussion Cr E.M Vains moved and Mr. H.M Leggo seconded a motion that a Rotary Club be formed in Bendigo.
It was only a week later on Thursday March 19th that the first luncheon meeting of the 25 charter members was held in Favaloro’s Café in Pall Mall under the chairmanship of its new President, the Mayor of Bendigo, Cr E.M Vains.
Over 20 messages of congratulations and good wishes from Rotary Clubs all over Australia were read , and a cable from Mr. Carter, Secretary of the British Rotary Club read:-Heartiest congratulations on the occasion of inaugural luncheon on behalf of 10,000 British Rotarians.
Other messages were from Sir John Monash, Sir Henry Braddon, Sir Henry Jones, Mr Warren Kerr and other prominent Rotarians.
The Rotary Club of Bendigo was officially chartered and incorporated in Rotary International as Club number 2104 on July 30th 1925 with its sponsor Club being the Rotary Club of Melbourne.
The Rotary Club of Bendigo was the 8th Rotary Club in Australia, the 2nd in Victoria and the 1st non-metropolitan Rotary Club.
In its first year of existence the Club increased membership to 30 active members, held 45 luncheon meetings at Favaloro’s and seven at the Hotel Shamrock and had diverse, educational and entertaining presentations from its guest speakers.