Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland (RIBI)

The world’s first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, Illinois, USA, was formed on 23 February 1905 by Paul P. Harris, an attorney who wished to recapture in a professional club the same friendly spirit he had felt in the small towns of his youth. The name “Rotary” derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members’ offices.


On 22 February 1911, the Rotary Club of Dublin became the first to form outside of the North American continent whilst the first meeting of the Rotary Club of London took place on 03 August 1911, although it was not formally chartered until 01 August 1912.


At the 1912 Convention in Duluth, the International Association of Rotary Clubs had been formed with the purpose of encompassing Rotary Clubs outside of the USA.


A meeting of the, then, seven British Clubs took place in Liverpool on 30 October 1913 and was followed by a second meeting on 04 May 1914 in London. At this second meeting it was agreed that there would be a British Association of Rotary Clubs (BARC) with its own constitution. At the 1914 Convention in Houston, BARC was recognized by the International Association of Rotary Clubs (IARC) as a necessary and desirable institution for the extension of Rotary.  BARC therefore became legitimate, with its own officers and constitution.


The extension of Rotary throughout the British Isles was hampered by the outbreak of the First World War in Europe in 1914 and for the following 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 and 1915 saw the publication of the first issue of ‘The Rotary Wheel’, the magazine of BARC.


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.


BARC continued to extend Rotary throughout the British Isles and by 1921 over 50 Clubs were in existence. In that same year, 1921, the international Rotary 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 (with 50 Clubs) 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.


The Structure of RI and RIBI


Rotary in Great Britain and all Ireland is administered under its own constitution and administrative unit known as RIBI. However the constitution of RIBI at all times operates within that of Rotary International. The RIBI headquarters are at Alcester Warwickshire with Rotary International operating out of its headquarters building in Evanston near Chicago, Illinois USA.


RIBI has a professional Secretariat and headquarters based at Alcester in Warwickshire which acts as a focal point and administrative centre for Rotary activities Today there are some 58,000 Rotarians in Great Britain and Ireland in 1,845 clubs, helping those in need and working towards world understanding and peace.


Find out more by visiting the Rotary Club of UK & Ireland Website.

  Rotary Club de Deauville © 2011 - 2019.  Mise à jour : 2019 01 02