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District 1280 is a relatively 'young' District having been formed only in 1987 by the division of Clubs within the 'mother' District 1050. It covers a small geographical area from the plains of Cheshire, through the industrial part of Lancashire and Greater Manchester to the infamous moors of Saddleworth and of course the famous TT course on the Isle of Man.

The District has many places of interest including the Peel Tower in Bury which was erected in honour of Sir Robert Peel. Sir Robert reorganised the London Metropolitan police force and from whom originated the terminology 'the British Bobbie' after his first name, and Tynwald, the oldest parliament in the world at St. John's in the Isle of Man.

There is also the famous 'Gracie Fields' theatre in Rochdale and of course 'Wigan Pier'. The district is not only commemorating the past but looking to the future with the new 'Lowry' Centre in Salford and a special 'Peace Centre' in Warrington which was built following the difficult times in that town some years ago.

Since January 1986 the Rotarians in District 1050 had been working on laying a solid foundation on which to build District 1280. The first District Governor was Norman Wellens who said in his inaugural address 'Rotarians of District 128 your continued support is essential to maintain and always improve our district in the years to come'.

That improvement has not only been seen in the formation of new clubs (the District has fiftyone clubs at present - four of these in the Isle of Man) but also in the Service of Rotarians within the local and world-wide communities. The District has been fortunate in that four of its members have been awarded Rotary's highest honour of the 'Service above Self' award.

The District has been, and is continuing to be, active in all aspects of service within Rotary and has developed both Community and International projects, which have been extended within Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland. Amongst some of these are the 'Daffodil Planting' scheme and the 'Rotary Shoe Box' scheme.

It is actively involved with 'Youth Activities' and has carried on the 'Summer Camp' which was started in District 1050 in 1947 and is the longest serving camp within Rotary International. Young people from all parts of Europe attend a camp (ironically over the past few years held in District 1050) for two weeks during July and August to join in fellowship and international understanding.

The District has three Rotaract Clubs, and two Interact Clubs. They give service within the local and world-wide communities and support Rotary projects. Recently one of the members of Rotaract went on a trek with the Nepal Trust carrying out valuable work for the trust and another member went on a Group Study Exchange to New Jersey, USA. One of the Interact Clubs went out to the Czech Republic to work in a Children's home.

Since 1990 the District has been supporting 'Life Education Centres' which is a health and drug prevention education programme designed for primary school children. The first mobile unit was borrowed and now the District supports six mobile units which are operated through two charitable trusts. Each year over 75,000 children in 200 primary schools hear and remember the messages of keeping healthy and avoiding drug misuse and abuse.

Many large community events are carried out within the District and these not only provide finance for community projects but also serve the community. Perhaps two of the well known events are the 'Saddleworth Show' in Saddleworth and 'Rotaraid Day' in Ramsey. The District also substantially supports 'Kids Out'.

Continuing within the aspect of Community Service 'Sports for the Disabled' is supported with a 'North West' sports day which is held in St. Helens and a team is chosen to represent the area at the finals in Coventry. Over the past few years the team has achieved third place and one of the team members became a world champion in his own field of weight-lifting, and more recently out team won the National Finals.

The District chose not to merge the Community and Vocational Service committees and as a consequence, have retained a strong sense of identity within both. The District 'Youth Activities' Committee looks after such service as 'Youth Speaks' and this has further strengthened the Vocational Committee. Over the past few years there have been public debates, behind the scenes visits to research establishments and a 'Science Extravaganza' for young people.

Within the service of International the District has supported all aspects of world community service and in particular in recent years a mobile clinic in Uganda and a kindergarten in Romania. It has been successful in winning the 'Connecticut' Trophy awarded for International Service by Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland.

The principles of International Understanding have been extended through a Group Study Exchange programme each year which has ranged from India to Japan, Uganda to Finland, to name but a few, and exchanges are proposed with India and Poland.

The District, as many others, has it's own successful web site and within the area of Communications one of the clubs has been awarded RIBI 'Public Relations' award and also an RI 'Public Relations' award.

Since the majority of the clubs within the District are mainly inland towns the District Conferences are held in seaside resorts outside the District such as Llandudno, Scarborough and Southport. The conferences are well supported with nearly 1000 delegates attending. For the first time in District 1280 the Conference in 2000 was held in Douglas which was very special as the District Governor, Harry Pease, is a member of the Rushen and Western Mann club, one of the Isle of Man clubs.

The District has been the home of many celebrities including Gracie Fields, Sir Cyril Smith the member of Parliament for Rochdale, Dr Patrick Steptoe who pioneered the test tube baby and of course Sir Norman Wisdom who lives on the Isle of Man. Sir Norman Wisdom has over many years actively supported the service of Rotary in the District. The Rotarians in District 1280 will continue to improve the district in the years to come.


Books and other writing by Paul Harris

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