Swanage cancer charity founders honoured with top Rotary award

An evening of celebration was held by Swanage and Purbeck Rotary to thank everyone who helped it raise more than £36,000 for charity in 2023, as well as recognising the extraordinary work of two remarkable Swanage women.  

The event was held at The Swanage School on Wednesday 28th February 2024 with invited guests from Swanage and Purbeck businesses, clubs and organisations, all called to order by Swanage town crier Andrew Fleming and with Swanage town mayor Tina Foster as guest of honour.


Swanage Town Crier Andrew Fleming brought extra colour to the proceedings

Paying tribute to the founders of Cancare

At the celebration, the founders of Swanage cancer charity Cancare Vicki Fooks and Gill Norman, were made Paul Harris Fellows of the Rotary Foundation, one of the highest honours for those who contribute to society.

Swanage and Purbeck Rotary president elect Maggie Hardy said:

“Paul Harris was the original founder of Rotary and we can award a fellowship in his name to acknowledge the support of people who have gone the extra mile.

“Vicki Fooks and Gill Norman who set up Cancare cancer charity 35 years ago, continue to support that charity and are currently establishing a sanctuary garden in Prince Albert Gardens.

“They were both cancer sufferers and felt they wanted to support people in the way they would have liked to have been supported themselves.”

Cancare founders Vicki Fooks and Gill Norman receive Paul Harris Fellow awards from Swanage and Purbeck Rotary President elect Maggie Hardy

Vicki Fooks (left) and Gill Norman (right) receive one of Rotary’s highest honours

Swanage and Purbeck Rotary President Chris LeFevre thanked the whole community

“We could not have done it without you”

Swanage and Purbeck Rotary president Chris LeFevre welcomed the guests saying how he wanted to share the news of how the money raised was being spent, but also to thank the town for its tremendous help and support.

The impressive amount, raised during months which have seen a cost of living crisis, was only able to be achieved due to the huge effort made by the entire town and the surrounding villages.

Chris LeFevre said:

“There are around 40 of us now, assisted by more than 50 or so friends and volunteers, and 25 business partners – and none of what we have achieved would have been possible without them or indeed you.

“In the last financial year we have raised over £36,000 which has gone to help more than 25 projects and organisations both here and internationally.

“By any stretch of the imagination, that is very significant sum of money that has come from within the Swanage community and we could not have done it without you.”

Rotary’s fundraising events through the year includes the annual summer fete, Swanage Christmas market, Santa’s Sleigh, Christmas card deliveries, a pop up shop, quiz nights and street collections.

Its aims are not only to build communities, bring hope and save lives, but also to have fun, and Swanage Rotarians are hoping to spread that message by inviting associate members to join the group to get a taste of what the group is about.

Swanage rotary fete

Events like Rotary’s summer fete at Sandpit Field can only go ahead with a huge helping hand from the community

Swanage and Purbeck Rotary President Elect Maggie Hardy
Helen Hardy

President elect Maggie Hardy

Recruiting associate members

President elect Maggie Hardy said:

“Like any club in Swanage, we are keen to recruit new members, but it is never easy to do that. We have to think outside the box and have recruited associate members who we hope will one day become full members.

“It gives people the opportunity to get involved with Rotary without actually committing to full membership.”

Rotary’s community and events committee member Deidre Selwyn appealed for more volunteers

Getting older and creakier

Swanage and Purbeck community and events committee member Deidre Selwyn added:

“We can coordinate and organise all of these wonderful events, and put our skills into making them successful, but we could not carry them off without our community volunteers.

“We are a club that offers a lot of events, but as you can see we are also a club that is getting slightly older and slightly creakier – so we were delighted this year when we were helped by so many clubs throughout the community.

“Special mention has to go to the cricket and football clubs who turned up the evening before our summer fete to help us to put up all the gazebos, all the marquees and all the tables – and all within two and a half hours, where previously we have had Rotarians on the field at 5 am to set things up.

“We would love to see more volunteers, we can always use your skills whatever they are.”

Guests at the celebration were shown a video of the great work done by Rotary in the local community

Seven pillars to uphold

Projects that Swanage and Purbeck Rotary Club has supported in the past year include Christmas shoe boxes of gifts for 300 children in Albania, Montenegro and Ukraine, shelter boxes for countries which have suffered from war and natural disaster, and chickens for poverty stricken families in the Philippines.

It also supports Water Aid, Vision Aid and Medicin Sans Frontieres, as well as End Polio Now, a charity which has been at the forefront of Rotary action for decades.

President elect Maggie Hardy said:

“I joined Rotary some 20 years ago and what delighted me was that while Rotary actively supports the local community, it is also very supportive of international issues.

“It has seven pillars to uphold – promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water and sanitation, saving mothers and children, supporting education, growing local economics and protecting the environment.”

Rotary’s youth team leader, Susan Treadwell outlined the local causes that are helped

Battle to end polio for good

Maggie Hardy added:

“But End Polio Now is a charity I feel especially passionate about. Ten years ago I was lucky enough to go to India to undertake a vaccination programme by giving lots of children immunisation against polio.

“Rotary, and indeed this club, were very involved in the eradication of polio right from the very start and in part thanks to the work of Rotarians, polio is now only prevalent in two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“But it is really important that we carry on the work. Rotary is very keen to finish that project, working with the World Health Organisation, so we will keep on until we can say that polio has finally been eradicated for good.”

Purbeck Youth Music spokesperson Jay Buckle described local children’s joy during the woodwind tour of Purbeck schools

A future generation of musicians

Locally, Swanage and Purbeck Rotary has supported Purbeck Youth Music with a £7,500 grant to send a woodwind orchestra into eight primary schools, and the guests were shown a video of the amazing response by local children to the visits.

Jay Buckle of Purbeck Youth Music said:

“I would like to say an almighty thank you to everyone who helped raise such a huge amount of money to support the woodwind tour, it meant such a lot to the children.

“We are so grateful for all the support we have had from the community, your contribution allowed us to send woodwind players into eight primary schools and follow up with taster sessions and beginner groups.

“We now have pupils learning all over Purbeck and although it will take time – it does take a while to get a note out of an oboe without sounding like a dying duck – it is work in progress for a future generation of musicians, and very inspirational.”

Swanage and Purbeck Rotary has also sponsored shirts for the Under Sevens football team and in 2024 will be sponsoring the cricket club youth awards and also supporting The Swanage School Robotics team.

Further information

  • More about Swanage and Purbeck Rotary and how to get involved is on its website

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