|On 20th March 1930,
Honorary General Commissioner Rtn James W.
Davidson wrote to Rotary International
concerning the promotion of a Rotary Club in
Hong Kong. He was introduced to the
Governor, Sir William Peel, by Robert, later
Sir supporters of, the Rotary Movement. Sir
William was immediately sympathetic and
helpful. He was aware of the need for more
communication and understanding between the
various ethnic and social groupings in the
community. With this backing, and with the
help of such leading citizens as Robert
Kotewell, William Hornell, Vice Chancellor
of the University of Hong Kong, Dr. Aurther
Woo and W.E.L. Shanton, Senior Partner of
the Firm Deacons, Solicitors, Rtn Davidson
was able to send a cable to Rotary
International on 23rd November 1930, with
the news that the Rotary Club of Hong Kong
would be organized on 8th December 1930.
Rtn Davidson had almost literally rounded up
a total of 79 of the leading citizens of
Hong Kong as Founder Members. There were 31
Chinese, one Indian, one Japanese and 46
Americans and Europeans.
The new club met regularly from 8th December
1930 on Tuesdays at Lane Crawford's
Restaurant, such meetings were of course
provisional until Charter No. 3413 was
granted by Rotary International on 20th
Meanwhile Rtn James W. Davidson and his
family had left Hong Kong to return to
Chicago. After revisiting Shanghai and Japan
he left Yokohama on 12th March to Vancouver.
Having filed his report in Chicago he
returned to his home in Canada. His health
had been declining for some time, partly at
least as a result of the hardship and
tropical sickness on his journey through
southern Asia, and he died shortly after
Rotary in Hong Kong owes it to Rtn Davidson
to record the following quotation from an
address by Rtn Julean Arnold of Shanghai
when he visited the Rotary Club of Hong Kong
on 17th November 1931:
"Hong Kong was supposed to be the hardest
place in the world in which to start a
Rotary Club. Jim (Davidson) was a great
organizer, and I was not surprised at his
trying to crack this hard nut. His great joy
when he came back to Shanghai after a tour
devoted to starting Rotary clubs was his
accomplishment in organizing the Hong Kong
Rotary Club in which he took great pride."
In 1935 Rotary International decided to form
a District No. 81 to unite member clubs in
Hong Kong, China and the Philippines. The
club celebrated its tenth anniversary in
February 1941 with a dinner in the Rooftop
Garden Restaurant at the Hong Kong Hotel.
The gathering storm clouds of war over the
whole of Asia must have cast a somber shadow
on the mood of Rotary gatherings as the
thirties gave way to the forties.
Yet few members could have realized that the
meeting on 2nd December 1941, when they
heard Mr James Lee give a talk with slides
on "The Splendor of Peking", would be their
last chance to meet in freedom and in
fellowship for four years.
In July 1945 came the liberation of Hong
Kong and the city's long process of
rebuilding a normal pattern of life. In
November of that year, a Past President, Dr
Arthur W. Woo, called a party of friends
together for lunch at the Cafe de Chine.
Many happy atmosphere reminded him of Rotary
activities in the "old days". This was
evidently the cue Dr Woo had been awaiting.
In reply he suggested that the work of
Rotary be revived.
E.J.R. Mitchell undertook to plan a
programme of events, beginning with a
meeting which was, in effect, the
re-inauguration of the club. In January 1946
the first postwar Rotary lunch in Hong Kong
took place at the Gloucester Hotel's
restaurant. A motion passed noted that the
Club had "been in abeyance" since 1941 and
stated that it had now been restarted.
It was revealed the club
still had $7,000 in the bank, but this was
frozen under wartime rules and so funds were
urgently needed. Members were asked to pay
their half-yearly fee of $15 immediately,
which they did. The Club came back to life.
It was resolved that future meetings would
take place at the same venue.
There were, of course, some other
formalities still to be undergone. Rotary
International's headquarters was contacted
with an application for readmission, a
request that was readily approved on the
basis that the Club had never really ceased
to exist. A duplicate copy of the Charter
was dispatched from the US. Many of the Club
records, previously assumed to have been
destroyed, were found in a metal box at the
former Sports Club in King's Building,
The postwar years were a time of challenge
of Hong Kong. A massive increase in
population, caused in the main by an influx
of refugees from China, stretched community
and welfare services to breaking point. It
was a time of particular need fro the type
of help groups such as Rotary could provide.
The decision was made to have not just one
but many Rotary Clubs in the Territory.
The result of this was that from 1947, when
the Rotary Club of Macau was formed, until
the present day, the spirit of Rotary is now
witnessed in no fewer than 48 clubs in what
has become District 3450.
In the context of Hong Kong, Rotary can be
said to have created greater Cohesion within
the community. As the former Hong Kong
Governor, Sir Alexander Gratham commented
when he addressed the Club in 1956: "If I
were asked what one thing more than any
other brought the Chinese and non-Chinese
together, as we now take it for granted, it
was the establishment of The Rotary Club of
Today, The Rotary Club of Hong Kong is known
as the "Mother Club" of Rotary International
District 3450, and it is from our Club that
the Rotary movement branched out in this
Thus, the Mother and Premier Club continues
to play an important role in community,
vocational and international services;
always bearing in mind the Rotary motto of
Service Above Self. members of the Club are
called upon to expound "The Four Way Test":
Is it TRUTH? Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER
FRIENDSHIP" Will it be BENEFICIAL to all
Membership of the Club comprises many of
Hong Kong's most distinguished citizens who
came together in a desire to serve.
Rotarians are expected to perform diligently
their share of service to the Club, to their
vocations, to the community, and towards
better international understanding. They are
bound by the Club's Constitution and By-Laws
under Rotary International.
The Club has celebrated its Golden Jubilee,
and subsequently its Diamond Jubilee. The
services it accomplished are numerous and
vast, and extended to all sectors of our
society. In recent years, we have worked on
programmes that benefited the people of the
People's Republic of China. The Club's
projects are too varied to recount, and they
include, scholarships, student exchange
programmes, orphanages, polioplus campaign
(to eradicate polio by the year 2000), 3-H
programme (that of hunger, health and
humanity), elderly homes, hospice care, and
Since Tuesday, 18th June 1996, a group of
Rtns from the Club together with Rotarians
from Rotary Clubs from around the world,
have been holding informal meetings in
Beijing on a weekly basis. In May 1996, Rtns
hosted a splendid 100 year's birthday party
for PP of the former Rotary Club of Shanghai
(1934-35), Rtn Percy Chu.
Thus bound by our ideal of service and
fellowship, the Club has surged forth to the
New Millennium to serve the Community.