About the Rotary Club of Hebden Bridge


The club is an active service club based around the South Pennine market town of Hebden Bridge in the upper Calder Valley in West Yorkshire. Within its area are the villages of Mytholmroyd, Heptonstall, Colden, Cragg Vale, Midgley, Blackshaw Head and Luddenden as well as numerous small settlements in the Calder Valley between Sowerby Bridge and Todmorden.


The club is part of Rotary International, a global network of community volunteers. Members are business, professional, and community leaders who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards, and help build goodwill and peace in the world.


Club members are committed to high ethical standards : helping others by giving freely of their time and talents to serve communities at home and overseas.The club was founded in 1951 and for nearly 70 years it has been serving the local community and beyond. The club supports many local, national and international charities and good causes through funds raised at a number of popular events throughout the year.




Weekly meetings

Normally we meet every Monday evening at Il Mulino restaurant, Hebden Bridge.  During the current COVID-19 lockdown we are meeting and conducting business by Zoom.



About the Rotary Organisation

Rotary International

Rotary in Great Britain & Ireland

Rotary in Yorkshire

President’s Yearbook

Each year the immediate past president contributes a page to the President’s Yearbook containing his personal account of his year in office. You can download copies of the Yearbooks using the buttons to the right (average file size 12mb).

History of the Rotary Club of Hebden Bridge


This article is based on the March 2010 recollections of Rotarian Peter Marsland.


The date is 1951, only six years after the end of World War II and Britain was only slowly making its recovery through a period of austerity. 


We still had rationing for certain items and meat (steak for those who could afford it) was reduced to 4 ounces per person per week.
We were in the middle of the Korean War.
The first H Bomb was being tested in the Pacific.
Britain’s oil interested in Iran were being threatened by nationalisation there.
We had an ailing King George VI on the throne

The Oxford boat sank in the boat race.

The Tories won a narrow election victory and Churchill was back in Number 10 again.
We had the Festival of Britain.

And there was the first stirings of a Rotary Club in Hebden Bridge.



The first meeting took place at the White Hart Hotel, Todmorden, on February 19th 1951. The exact list of those invited isn’t know but the District Chairman, the Past District Chairman and the District Extension Officer attended as did the following leading Hebden Bridge citizens : Raymond Ashworth, Leslie Pickles, Ben Stansfield and County Councillor J W Sutcliffe.
They decided to meet on Thursdays starting 1st March 1951 and at each meeting thereafter new members were recruited.  It wasn’t until the 5th meeting that the Halifax club was invited. By the 9th meeting on 19th April the Founder President, County Councillor JW Sutcliffe was elected (his classification was Highway Construction  and was locally nicknamed Tar Pan Billy). Other elections were : Ben Stansfield (First Vice President), Rev JW Heywood (Second Vice President), Edwin Fletcher (Secretary) and Stuart Dennett (Treasurer).  The Halifax Club was officially designated as the ‘Foster Club’.


An entrance fee was set at £3 3s 0d and the annual subscription at £3 3s 0d.
The Interim Club of Hebden Bridge was finally admitted as a full member of Rotary International on October 3rd 1951 and a celebration dinner was arranged at the Co-Op Hall on 27th November 1951. The Charter dinner was attended by 115 Rotarians and guests with 26 Clubs represented. The President’s Badge of Office was presented by the District Chairman (October 1964 Stanley Greenwood presented a new jewel). The ‘Gong’ and Gavel were presented by the Rotary Club of Halifax, a Cabinet by the Rotary Club of Todmorden, a Rotary plaque and ties for each new Rotarian were presented by the District Chairman.  Later the Speaker’s Desk was presented by J W Sutcliff.
The founding members were 23 locally well known businessmen and professionals with an average age of 51.2 years.  By the end of 1952, three had resigned but the remaining 20, who were  all working, could find time to attend lunch meetings.  Of these, five were engaged in the cotton or clothing industry and the remainder were from business and the professions : doctor, dentist, lawyer, banker, accountant, teacher, local government and the Church.  Although, with the passing of time, some of their businesses have disappeared, they were engaged in poultry farming, furniture marking, blanket manufactory, asbestos products, sheet metal working and clog sole manufacturing.  Appendix 1 contains a list of the founding members.



Club Service, Community Service, National Service and International Service committees were set up and a Chairman was appointed for each one. 



Thursday lunch meetings were 12:30 for 12:45 and ended promptly at 2pm.  Speakers who went on too long soon found their audience rapidly depleting after 2pm.  The format of the meeting has hardly altered since 1951.  Firstly the President would offer Grace in the traditional manner.  In later years it was decided to pass this responsibility on to each member in turn. The Loyal Toast was eagerly awaited so that the vast majority could then light up their cigarettes.  This HAS changed, with now just one or two members leaving the building for an occasional cigarette.  Another feature was the President never left his place on the top table!  If he wanted to speak to anyone a message was sent down the tables to summon them to the top table.
Since the meetings closed at 2pm there was no time for Committee work. These took place on Monday evenings with each Monday of the month being designated for a specific committee culminating with the Club Council meeting on the last Monday of the month.  Meetings took place regardless of whether there was anything to discuss and the lack of members attending was always a bone of contention.
By 1974 it was becoming apparent the Club attendance at the weekly lunch meetings was falling and for some time there had been difficulties in recruiting new members.  Discussions took place on changing from meeting at lunchtime to evenings and finally on April 5th 1976 the change was made to 6:15 for 6:30pm with speakers to start at 7:15pm, meeting to close at 8pm.
15 months later ten new members had joined the Club, most of them ex members of Round Table.  To add to this we had in the Chair our youngest President, David Butterworth.  So you can imagine the gentle, formal Rotary Club was changed forever!
Numerous successful social events were soon organised.  We had Race Nights & Tudor Banquets. In1976 we had the Dunmow Flitch evenings at Calder High School. In 1977 we organised a Jubilee Lecture by David Kossoff and won the Rotary District Song Contest with a production by Rotarians  P Marshall, D Sheard and M Sunderland (they appeared at Batley Variety Club as Diddymen – and won a magnum of Champagne).
1976 saw the formation of the Rotaract Club.  Much work was done by the late John Matthews and the late Stuart Sugden but it only lasted six years and folded in 1982. 1980 saw the formation of the very successful Probus Club with work done by Mike Denton and his father.
The new club now slowly began to recruit more members.   Classification was all important. A new member would only be considered if their occupational classification was under represented or vacant.  The process of entry was quite tortuous.  Totally unknown to  prospective recruits, a name would be selected, discussed, and passed through membership classification committee.  Eventually the sponsor would be asked to approach the unsuspecting candidate and invite him to an informal meeting. This always took the form of a ham and egg tea at the White Lion in Hebden Bridge attended by the President, Secretary, the Information Chairman and the sponsor.  If the meeting was successful the candidate would be invited to complete an application form, with the proviso that the Club would still have to approve of his membership.  This could take some weeks which obviously created some uncertainly in the mind of the prospective member.  For many new members their first experience of a Rotary meeting was the day they were inducted into the Club.
Honorary membership was offered to the Chairman of Hebden Bridge Urban District Council and Hepton Rural District Council and was later also offered to the Chairman of Round Table.  Incidentally in June 1961 Round Table Chairman Thomas Crabtree became our Honorary Member and the following year joined our Club as a full active member.
We have had three sets of father and son Presidents : J.W Sutcliffe and Philip Sutcliffe, Wilfred Lord and Ken Lord, and Raymond Crabtree and Alan Crabtree.  There have been other father and son members including George Crabtree and Michael Crabtree, and Leonard Knight and Richard Knight.  We have three members who have served the Club as President twice : Alan Neil (1983 and 1995), Tony Scott (1987 and 1996), and David Bell (1994 and 2000).
In 1964 The Inner Wheel Club was formed and for many years it was successful in the support of our Club.  It was hoped in 1976, with the influx of ex-Round Tablers into Rotary, that their ladies would join Inner Wheel.  However most of them were members of Ladies Circle and the Tangent Club and were unwilling to join Inner Wheel.  Consequently the Inner Wheel was eventually disbanded in 1986.
In 1998, with the guidance of Rotarian Chris Garner it was decided to do away with the old committee system  Community, International and Vocational Service committees were replaced by Fund Raising, Projects, Membership, Meetings, Communications and Social committees.



Fund raising
For many years fund raising was mainly through the pockets of the members.  We had a charity box which was passed round the lunchtime meetings and members were expected to donate 1/-.  The cost of the meal at the time was 5/- so we were donating 20% of the cost of the meal.  Every social event included a raffle and the President always had an annual Bring and Buy sale at his home.  Funds were also raised at Mytholmroyd Gala and from catering at the Car Rally and the sale of Christmas Cards.
In 1974 we did away with the Charity Box and 15p was added to the cost of the meal.  Later Rotarian Geoff Greenwood was elected to invite members to contribute loose change into a gallon whiskey bottle and he has diligently continued to do this ever since. Today the whiskey bottle plus a weekly raffle raise almost £900 a year.
By 1982 it was decided to involve the public more in our fund raising.  A Wheelchair Marathon Push through Calderdale was organised by Rotarian Mike Denton which raised the magnificent sum of £2,000.
Earlier in 1976, our Jubilee Year, we celebrated at Calder High School, with a very successful evening with David Kossoff; the well know actor.
We later tried our hand, with mixed success, playing the role of impresario at the Picture House.  In 1990 we had the Houghton Weavers, in 1995 we had a pop concert and in 1996 we had the Brighouse and Rastrick Band.  We then wisely decided to call it a day before we started to lose money.
We found success in 1999 with the first Wadsworth Boundary Walk which continued until recent years. Later we took on the annual Easter Monday Duck Race and the Vintage Weekend. These latter two activities have had a huge effect on our balance sheet and enabled us to greatly increase our community service work and the amount we donate to charities and good causes.
Community Service
The first recorded event was in 1952, a hobbies exhibition in Hope Street Sunday School.
1954:  Request for financial help from the NSPCC in respect of a local family.  The Club decided it did not give financial help to specific cases but sent £5 to the local NSPCC to be used specifically for local children in deserving cases.
1955:  Rev Bingham asked for financial help for a Blind and Crippled Trip to St Annes.  This was refused as they preferred to give personal service.  Three Rotarians went and helped and, quietly, helped financially.
1954:  Presented a Road Safely Trophy to local junior schools and a Service Trophy to Calder High School to be presented annually to the most deserving pupil.
1963:  Presented a Ressusi Ann for HB Ambulance Brigade
1967:  Organised the Calder Valley Festival of Art.
1968:  Provided an Electric Invalid chair for White Windows and special stretchers for the Mountain Rescue.
For some years the Club has sent Xmas card and £1 note to deserving pensioners.  This was stopped when we learned the recipient had been dead for 3 years
1970:  Purchased an instrument at the cost of £35 for Hebden Bridge Brass Band
1972:  Food parcels sent to local residents who had been without food for three days (Round Table also sent food and coal).
1972:  Purchased a tent for the Girl Guides.
1972:  We renovated a caravan and presented it to the Hebden Bridge Ambulance Brigade (formerly they had used and ex-army bell tent).
1977:  Donated £400 to Mytholmroyd Community Centre for furniture.
1987:  We were given a target of £100 per member to raise for the Polio Plus.  This was achieved with a totla of £3,200 raised.
1991:  We were advised by an employee of BP, that there was an urgent need in Maputo (Mozambique) for either a fire engine or Land Rover ambulance.
1994:  Funds were raised and a fire engine was purchased. It finally arrived in Maputo only to find there were no water hydrants.
1997:  The Club was successful in winning the District Attendance Trophy, the District Quiz and the Ulrick Anderson Debating Trophy.
2000:  Funds were raised for The Millennium Clock  in Hebden Bridge; a project that was overseen by Rotarians  Brian Boocock and Peter Marshall.
For many years Rotary kept a low profile in the community.  The philosophy was mainly to give donations to organisations who themselves were providing a service to others e g Scouts, Guides, St John’s Ambulance and the Brass Band.  In almost all cases the Club did not seek publicity although, in some cases, the beneficiaries might disclose in the Hebden Bridge Times that they had been helped, although not by Rotary. In cases where individuals were helped I sometimes wondered if they knew who their benefactors were!
How things have changed.  We now advertise that we have funds to help suitable applications and in the interests of PR it almost seems obligatory that we should advise our good works.
Appendix 1 – Members 1951-52. First meeting held February 19th 1951


Name of Member

Date Admitted


Office Held

Raymond Ashworth


Local Government

Local Council & Publication Secretary

Leslie Pickles


Manufacturing – Gas industry

Council & Chairman Vocational Service

Ben Stansfield


Poultry raising

1st Vice President, Chairman Club Service

James W Sutcliffe


Highway construction

Founder President

Thomas Hamer


General law practice

Council Chairman & Community Service

John W Heywood



2nd Vice President & Speaker Finder

James Mitchell


Cotton weaving


Garnet Crabtree


Furniture manufacturing


Gerald Crabtree


Blanket manufacturing

Council & Chairman International Service

John R B Dearden


General medical practice


Stewart Dennet


Common banking


John S Lord


Electrical & radio

Luncheon money collector

John Muschamp


Secondary education


Norman Smith




Leslie Donaldson



Chairman Fellowship, sst. Sec, Auditor & attendance

Harold G Maude


Clog sloe manufacturer


Maurice Mortimer


Building contractor


Alexander Cross


Asbestos goods manufacturing

Council, Chairman International Service from 1.2.52

Edwin Fletcher


Coal Distribution


James Greenwood


Sheet metal worker


Gilbert Astin


Mens clothing manufacture


Harold Crabtree


Cotton Dyeing

Council & Chairman Community Service from 1.2.51

Reginald T Moss


Cotton goods manufacturing


Past Presidents





J. W. Sutcliffe



Max Sunderland


B. Stansfield



Anthony G Scott


J.W. Heywood



Nigel J Robinson


L.S. Pickles



Michael R Rooze


J.S. Lord



Geoff D Greenwood


H.E. Earnshaw



R Neville Marney


Wilfred Lord



Stephen Edwards


Walter Scott



J Michael Crabtree PHF


Norman Smith



David Bell


W.R. Barnes



Alan Neil


P. Sutcliffe



Anthony G Scott PHF


J. Muschamp



John P Boggis PHF


H.E Whitaker



Alan D Crabtree


S. Greenwood



Chris Garner PHF


N.H. Singer



Norman Masters


F.C. Chatburn



Robert A Cross


Walter Scott



David Bell


Edwin Fletcher



Neil Croft PHF


George A. Whittaker



Duncan S McKie


Raymond Crabtree



John M McCart


R.M. Hartley



Barrie Singleton


K.T. Crabtree



Peter Layfield


Peter Marsland PHF



John S Richardson


Kenneth S. Lord



Richard W Holborow


E.P. Moss



Michael Pearson


Arthur Sykes



Roger Benn


J.R.D. Butterworth



David Murray


Tom E Crabtree PHF



Brian Boocock


A.R. Spencer



Roger Moore


J.S. Snowden



Derek S Bispham


Brian Thomas



Philip Warrington


Peter Marshall PHF



Chris Hoyle


Peter Marsland PHF



 Danny Mollan


K.S. Lord



 Stephen Jagger


E.P. Moss





Alan Neil





Don Sheard





Michael Denton