Days of old man's Rotary are over

Passing the baton: Rotary Club of Winston Hills charter members Allan Towart (left), John van den Burg and first female member Joan van den Burg. Picture: Geoff Jones

Passing the baton: Rotary Club of Winston Hills charter members Allan Towart (left), John van den Burg and first female member Joan van den Burg. Picture: Geoff Jones

You don't normally associate Rotary with baby showers.

That's because the typical Rotarian is a 60-year-old man.

Not at the Rotary Club of Rouse Hill. Their gender mix is 50-50 and members are 40 on average.

Last week their meeting doubled as a baby shower for member Natalie Conway, 34.

READ MORE: Click here for more on the Rotary Club of Rouse Hill.

Mum-to-be Natalie Conway was the star at Friday's Rotary Club of Rouse Hill meeting. Picture: Natalie Roberts

Mum-to-be Natalie Conway was the star at Friday's Rotary Club of Rouse Hill meeting. Picture: Natalie Roberts

Joan van den Burg only wishes her Rotary club — also in District 9685 — was celebrating a birth.

Mrs van den Burg, 66, is the administration director of Rotary Club of Winston Hills which may need to merge or, even worse, fold, if it can't attract more members by June 30, 2015.

"At the end of this Rotary year (June 30), we will have nine members . . . they are getting more elderly and retiring," she said.

That could mean the loss of the annual Australia Day breakfast in Third Settlement Reserve.

Over the past 10 years the club has helped refurbish a school in Vanuatu, putting in the only library in the northern provinces; built a hospital; and taken teaching students to Vanuatu to do community placements and lecturers to do in-services.

"We're trying to reinvent our club and make it relevant for young people," Mrs van den Burg said.

Peter Casey, the project director for the Rouse Hill club, says District 9685 aims to grow its membership by 4 per cent this Rotary year.

Mrs van den Burg says it has been a long hard slog to convince people Rotary isn't an old man's club.

Women have only been allowed to join District 9685 clubs since 1999, when she joined. "I didn't want to make cakes and serve things. I wanted to serve the community in the ways men do," she said.

"Since then we've had five female presidents and women have held board positions."

The international service organisation for professionals was formed by Chicago attorney Paul Harris on February 23, 1905, and came to Australia in 1921.

The Rotary Club of Rouse Hill threw a baby shower for member Natalie Conway (front, holding doll) at its 6.45am-start meeting on Friday. Picture: Natalie Roberts

The Rotary Club of Rouse Hill threw a baby shower for member Natalie Conway (front, holding doll) at its 6.45am-start meeting on Friday. Picture: Natalie Roberts

Learn more about the Rotary Club of Winston Hills

Learn more about Rotary at The Winston Hotel, 170 Caroline Chisholm Drive, Winston Hills, 7pm on Wednesday, June 11.

Details: John, 0419 621 314.

Rotary District 9685

■ Has 79 clubs and 2260-plus members. There are 1.2 million-members globally;

■ Covers 11,650 square kilometres, stretching from the Blue Mountains to the sea north of Sydney Harbour, across the Hawkesbury River and north to Toukley on the Central Coast;

■ Includes the business districts of North Sydney, Chatswood, Gosford, Penrith, and the Ryde industrial area.

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