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A GIFT FOR PAUL HARRIS (return to Paul Harris' office)

Gifts

 

In the recreation of Paul Harris' study in Rotary Center, Evanston, there are many souvenirs from his travels abroad. One particular item is a watercolour of a rural scene in England. (second from the right, bottom row) This is the story of that picture.

On June 5, 1934, Paul Harris, then on tour in Britain, headed for Cheltenham, the first of his promised commitments in England. There he attended an inter-club lunch meeting on June 5 and was also able to have a short drive through the Cotswolds. Over 150 Rotarians from all over District 10 were present at the lunch in the Town Hall.

Members had travelled from ten other clubs, Bath, Bristol, Cirencester, Gloucester, Hereford, Stroud, Swindon, Taunton, Weston Super Mare and Wembley. The Mayor of Cheltenham, Councillor E L Ward, who was also a Rotarian, attended as did the Chairman of the District, Hugh Towl, who welcomed Paul Harris on behalf of the visiting Rotarians from his District. "Rotary has meant a tremendous amount to each of us," he said. "There are men in this room for whom Rotary has made an almost entire transition in their lives. It has made the most amazing progress and in 27 years has spread all over the world. We turn to Paul Harris and say, 'It is due to you and we thank you for all it has meant to us'."

Then to the accompaniment of the entire assembly singing 'John Brown's Body', the Club President Wilfred Waite presented Paul Harris with an inscribed scroll and a delightful watercolour of a typical Cotswold scene, executed by the wife of RIBI Director Scott Langley, another Cheltenham member. The scroll read:

 

To

President Emeritus

PAUL HARRIS

The members of the

ROTARY CLUB OF CHELTENHAM SPA

ENGLAND

to celebrate the honour conferred upon them by your visit, ask your acceptance of this water colour painting, depicting a scene in old England dear to your heart.

It is their sincere wish that it may remind you of their constant loyalty to the cause of Rotary of which you are the distinguished Founder 5th June 1934

T Wilfred Waite President

Marcus Hazlewood Secretary

 

In his reply to the presentation, Paul Harris said, "My wife and I have spent spent some very delightful days in the Cotswolds. We have seen many of the beautiful spots in England and in Scotland and we knew that in the Cotswolds, we would find districts that were reminiscent of old England." As on other occasions, he compared himself to a little stream from which the mighty river of Rotary had received its source. "The river," he said "was the thing."

For many years this watercolour of a farmhouse in Fairford, a village in which the Harrises had stayed earlier on their trip, hung in his study among his many other souvenirs. It can still be seen today in Paul Harris' study which has been recreated at One Rotary Center in Evanston.

Basil Lewis Rotary Global History July 2003

This history is a dynamic site, it is continually changing and being updated. We do need help and this is a special request to all readers. -- Over the years, Paul Harris received many gifts such as a shillelagh from Dublin RC and a painting from the Cheltenham (UK) RC. Some of these are in Evanston; some are elsewhere and some have been lost. If you know of any gift made to Paul Harris whether it still exists or not, please contact us.

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