The Cootamundra Rotary Club, 85 years old this October, has put out an urgent appeal for more Cootamundra men and women to join its ranks.

The Club meets fortnightly for dinner at the Olympic Hotel and has invited anyone who cares about their community and would like to make a difference to come to its next meeting, at 6pm on Wednesday 14th September.

Club membership is currently down to five, and unless several new members can swell the ranks, soon the Club will have to hand in its charter and close.

The Club has helped the community in many behind-the-scenes ways, such as making donations to the Community Kitchen, the Hospital Auxiliary and the Nursing Home.

Another organisation it has helped is Can Assist, a superb Cootamundra body that helps local people undergoing cancer treatments by covering some of the unexpected costs such as travel and accommodation that can cause anxiety and impinge on recovery.

Cootamundra Rotary’s most recent large project was a donation of $80,000 to help build a palliative care unit at Adina Care nursing home.

The Club also created a Peace Memorial in Albert Park, the brainchild of the late Hugh Hamilton, whose ideas and follow-up have been greatly missed.

As well, it has financed countless “shelter boxes”, used by Rotary International to provide emergency accommodation for people driven from their homes by floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and other disasters.

It has also participated in public health awareness campaigns such as End Polio Now.

Member Geoff Larsen says a matter of concern about closing the Club is a significant amount of money it is holding on behalf of the former Apex Club.

“Apex raised the money to fund the creation of an oncology unit at Cootamundra Hospital,” he said. “When it folded years ago, it passed the money on to us to take care of, which we have done, but if we close we will have to decide what to do with it.

“Over the years we have used interest from the Apex fund to add to our donations, and we used part of it to go towards the palliative care unit, but a core amount remains.”

The Club has raised funds in many ways, such as selling raffle tickets outside Woolworths and IGA and doing breakfast in the park for Australia Day, which Mr Larsen says was a “great money spinner”.

Rotary membership costs $240 a year, which helps the Club with its activities and pays for affiliation with Rotary International and for the Rotary Magazine.

Mr Larsen was a Rotary member in Moss Vale for 20 years before moving to Cootamundra and joining the local Club 27 years ago. He has enjoyed the many friendships he has formed, and invites anyone interested in finding out more about Rotary to call him on 0437 270 979.

Tom Gosling