During February 1947, The Rotary Club of Traralgon decided to explore the possibility of expanding Rotary in Gippsland and, in line with this decision, carried out a survey in order to ascertain the possibility of forming a Rotary Club in Yarram.
A meeting was subsequently convened by Roly Hill, the Traralgon Club’s Extension Officer in Yarram on 26 March and was attended by twenty-five interested local residents. A sub-committee comprising Roy Anderson, Arthur Curry, Ern Freeman (Acting Secretary) and Maurie Pearson were elected to plan the inaugural meeting to be held at Yarram on Wednesday 23 April 1947, and the joining fee was fixed at £2-2-0.
The Club's Charter (No. 6626) was granted by Rotary International on 17 May 1947 with twenty-two Charter Members; Inaugural President Arthur Curry, Vice President Roy Anderson, Secretary Maurie Pearson, Treasurer Len Walshe, Sergeant-At-Arms Tom O'Connor. The charter presentation was made by District Governor John Edgar at the Strand Hall, Yarram on 23 August 1947. This outstanding function was attended by 180 guests including Parliamentarians, Shire Councillors and representatives of district organisations, plus Rotarians and ladies from many clubs throughout Gippsland.
Since its formation seventy years ago, the Rotary Club of Yarram has demonstrated that it is worthy of being a member of Rotary International, through its dedication to international programmes and its support of the local community of which it is so much a part.
During the years since 1947, The Rotary Club of Yarram has participated in all the major programs and projects supported by Rotary International.
Of particular importance is the Youth Exchange program, with well over fifty students from countries all over the world being hosted in Yarram and district, attending Yarram Secondary College, and acting as ambassadors for their country. Likewise, a similar number of local students have travelled far and wide, to broaden their outlook on life and gain a greater understanding of other nations and their cultures. Countries involved include Japan, Indonesia, Brazil, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Germany, Ireland and New Zealand.
The Club also participates in Group Study Exchange programs and regularly hosts visitors from overseas. During 2012 a team from Wisconsin USA visited, enjoying vocational insights as well as trips to Wilsons Promontory, Tarra Bulga National Park, various local farms and of course social occasions each day.
On a local community level, the Rotary Club of Yarram is proud of its achievements over the years. Regular activities and events include a strong presence at the annual Tarra Festival where it conducts a professional-standard Art Show, meat spins in the main street before the procession, a barbecue and also, together with the Lions Club, a Monster Market on Easter Monday. Every year the Club supports programmes of the Yarram Secondary College and the Yarram & District Health Service, participates in delivery of Meals on Wheels, assists a number of other groups in various ways especially with barbecues and in the loan of its own barbecue trailer, assists other local groups through direct financial contributions or the provision of equipment or manpower, and runs an Australia Day celebration on behalf of the Wellington Shire Council, together with a host of other community events and projects requiring support. A number of students particularly from the Secondary College have benefitted from the annual Science Schools and other leadership programmes sponsored by Rotary. The annual Charity Fun Golf Day is held in October at the award winning Yarram Golf Club.
The Rotary Club of Yarram was instrumental in the initiation of the Yarram outdoor Swimming Pool, including preparation of the bricks used in its construction, the cover for the pool and the solar heating; the Yarram Library; the Station youth centre; the barbecue rotunda in the Memorial Park; tree planting along the Tarra Trail bike track; and in the establishment of Meals on Wheels in Yarram. Individual members continue to be directly involved in a number of community projects and serve on various other boards and committees. The Club initiated and obtained grant monies to erect a covered walkway and carport at the town’s aged care hostel, Crossley House, to enable residents and others to enter the facility in all weathers under cover.
Members meet every Wednesday evening at the Yarram Country Club and enjoy social interaction as well as guest speakers, and of course planning for future events. New members are always welcome.
The Rotary Club of Yarram is a strong supporter of the Tarra Festival in the main street of Yarram each Easter, running Cray Spins, a Barbecue, and the annual Rotary Tarra Festival Art Show at the Regent Theatre.
Popular long-term Rotarian, Treasurer Graeme Egan, working cheerfully at the annual Tarra Festival. Ex high-school principal Graeme has held the important post of Treasurer for many years and is a tireless worker for the Club and the community. Always ready with a willing hand, infectious smile and a booming voice, Graeme spends what free time he has honing his formidable carpentry skills.
Past President John Papworth, now the Club’s Honorary Member, had the honour of unofficially representing the Yarram Rotary Club and the town community during the Torch Relay for the Sydney 2000 Olympics. John ran a leg just to the east of Sale, Victoria, on 8 August 2000. He believes he could have been selected because of his establishment of adult education in Yarram in 1976. John has dedicated much of his life to the community since arriving in Yarram in 1975 as a teacher at the local primary school. He became Principal of Yarram Primary in 1989, and retired in 1992. He joined Rotary in 1991, and has been President and Secretary, and has always given his utmost to the club and the community. At one stage he was active in no less than twenty-one sporting and community groups. He has been President of the Yarram Football Club, and dedicated many years to the development of boys and girls in various sports. John is now an Honorary Member of The Rotary Club of Yarram.
Yarram Rotary Club Past President John Papworth and his wife Julie in 2001 spent five months fulfilling a lifelong ambition doing volunteer work in Nepal. Typical of their humanitarian attitude, and not wishing to idle their time away in retirement, John and Julie left Australia in January 2001 and taught in Nepal under the direction of World Youth International. Julie taught at Lower Primary level whilst John taught Upper Primary and Lower Secondary. They lived with a family in Pokhara and experienced life as one of the locals.
Before they left, John and Julie set out three aims:
1. That their efforts will make a positive difference to the lives of some children.
2. That their lives will be enriched through the experience.
3. That the results of living and working with the Nepalese people will be much more real and rewarding than a tourist holiday could ever hope to achieve.
They achieved all their aims, and were rewarded with many challenging and exciting experiences. The friendship, appreciation and love that they experienced from the people of Nepal, whom they describe as "the loveliest people you can imagine - especially the children", have made a lasting influence on their lives.
John and Julie returned to Nepal in 2002, not only to visit their many friends, but also to investigate ways that The Rotary Club of Yarram may be able to develop programs that can assist the Nepalese people. Their needs are enormous, and the appreciation they show for even the smallest assistance given is reward in itself.
Each year since, John and Julie have held a huge garage sale termed the “Nepal Market”. With generous donations from the local community of goods and furniture for sale, they have achieved returns sent in their entirety to the Nepalese school where they had taught sufficient to meet two-thirds of their operating budget for the year – proof indeed that our little can make so much difference in poorer countries. All Rotarians, and indeed the greater Yarram community are proud of what John and Julie have done for the community in the past and for their continued efforts to make this a better world.