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History of Rotary in the British Isles

RGHF senior historian Basil Lewis, UK, is chair of this section

A permanent webmaster is yet to be appointed (interim webmaster: Jack Selway, USA)

Part of our Global History of Europe

To find RIBI District histories, please visit www.districthistory.org and look for the numbers below.

 

WHY BRITAIN IS DIFFERENT


The origins of RIBI and its relationship to RI are referred to in the works of Walsh, Levy and Nicholl, all of which appear elsewhere on our web pages.  However, it might be useful to sum them up here.
 
In 1914 the Rotary Clubs then in existence in the British Isles met together and formed the British Association of Rotary Clubs.  In the next 5 years the Great War created a barrier between the expanding BARC and the American based International Association.  While the BARC was dedicated “to standardising Rotary principles and practices”, it did not affiliate to the American association.  Although some communication and interchange of personnel during the war years was possible, effectively the British Clubs developed their own ways of operating.  For example some met fortnightly rather than weekly.   The BARC had its own secretariat  and officers  serving the needs of British Rotary Clubs..
 
During the war, the original ‘boostering’ nature of many of the clubs was replaced by social welfare policies aiding both the troops overseas and the home front.   When the war ended and communication with North America again became normal and easy, the British Clubs were operating in a parallel but separate way. and saw no reason to join their fellow Rotarians in North America, or adopt , what they saw as  ‘North American’ ways..

In 1921, the RI Convention was held in Edinburgh, Scotland, when it was agreed that where a country had at least 25 clubs, they could apply to become an administrative unit within RI   The BARC at once applied and in 1922, under the name of Rotary International Association for Britain and Ireland, RIBI was accepted as a territorial administrative unit, albeit with some rules and systems at variance with practice elsewhere.  Some clubs for example close during the summer vacation.

 
A few years later in 1927, RI decided that there would be no more similar units and over the years there have even been attempts to end RIBI’s status.  While some RI nomenclature was adopted, RIBI has club councils rather than boards of directors, and similarly districts have councils too made up of elected representatives from all clubs. RIBI has its own finances, its own Treasurer, C.E.O and President; in Alcester it has its own offices too.  RGHF senior historian Basil Lewis, UK, 20 July 2008

See also:

 

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