It was in October 1939 that the idea of forming a Rotary Club in Dehradun was conceived by four friends, Late E.N. Natesan, Late Dr. Durga Prasad, Late Seth Ram Kishore and Shri Hari Krishan. Rtn. Natesan, who was transferred from Bangalore to Survey of India, Dehradun, influenced the other three and convinced them about the objectives of Rotary & the commitment of Rotary towards service to mankind.
An informal meeting was held at Royal Cafe, Dehradun to involve a few more gentlemen and, finally, on the auspicious day of 17th March, 1940, the founding members of Rotary Club Dehradun met at A.P. Mission High School and elected the first office bearers of the club. Rtn. Lt. Col. N.B. Mehta was as elected the first President, Rtn. A.E.Foot, then Head Master of Doon School, as the first Vice President, Rtn. E.N.Natesan as the first Secretary and Rtn. Dr. Durga Prasad as the first Sargeant-at-Arms.
The Rotary Club of Dehradun was sponsored by Rotary Club, Delhi through its veteran representative Rtn. S. Vaidya Nath Iyer. On 1st February 1941, Rotary International Charter No. 5258, dated 27th June1940, was presented by the distinguished Past Governor, Rtn. Sir Fredric James, O.B.E., MLA(Central) of Delhi on behalf of Rotary Governor, Col. C.G .Warren Boulton, who could not attend the charter meeting held at Freemasons Hall, Dehradun. Prominent elite of the town were invited to join the club and pool in their expertise & resources for furthering the objectives of Rotary. Thus, Rotary Club Dehradun earns the distinction of being the oldest club of RI District 3080.
During the 1940s, there were only two Rotary Districts in India and our district, RID 88, extended from J & K to Hyderabad (Deccan) & undivided Punjab to Mughalsarai. The year 1941 brought distinction to the newly established Rotary Club Dehradun, when President Rtn. A.E.Foot was nominated District Governor of RID 88 as the Governor Nominee Elect, Rtn. Banarsi Das of Agra, could not dorn the mantle of Governorship on account of his prolonged illness.
The club played a pivotal role, during the days of war and during black days of 1947, by sending its counselling teams in the community to propagate & maintain harmony. In the year 1950, our Club hosted a conference where our Dr. Durga Prasad was elected District Governor. Our Club hosted yet another District Conference in the year 1964 which was acclaimed as to be one of the best conferences held till then. Our Club had veteran & distinguished citizens of the town as its members; Dr. Durga Prasad, Dr. Mehta, A.C. Jain, Dr. Som N. Dhingra, R. K. Berry, Dr. S.L. Goyal, Sri Narendra Singh & Sri N.K.Jain, to name a few. All the members were devoted towards improving the attendance at the Club meetings & activities and many a times, the club was awarded the Best Attendance Award.
Serving the Community
As early as in 1953, the club started doing projects for the benefit of the general public. A Children Park was developed in 1953 near the Dehradun Club Ltd. To commemorate the tenure of the first Indian Rotary International President, Rtn. Nitesh Lahari, the Club undertook the project of building a Children's Library & Museum named Lahari Project. In the year 1955, a Nursery School at Ajabpur Village was established and thereafter handed over to the village panchayat. A Rotary Book Shelf was gifted to the Khushi Ram Library. The Club presented white walking sticks to many blind persons for their safety & convenience and also for their easy identification. Other regular projects like Baby Shows, Diwali Mela, Health Checkup Camps, etc., were periodically organised every Rotary Year.
The Rotary Club Dehradun in its present form & composition started working with zeal towards building a name for itself and Rotary in the fast developing society. With the Rotary motto of Service Above Self, we undertook various service projects.
The Club started a Dispensary in village Gorakhpur which still benefits hundreds of patients. The first Interact Club was formed in the St. Joseph's Academy. The Club donated hutments to the local Raphael Institute.
A Dispensary was built on Club owned land, purchased from Rs. 17000/- donated by Rotarians in the year 1967-68. This Dispensary is successfully serving to the rural population of the area. In recent years, this dispensary was renovated, courtesy PP Rtn Dr.S. Farooq, to house Cancer Palliative Care Centre with the collaboration of Swami Rama Himalayan Hospital & Medical College, Jolly Grant . A Physiotherapy Center, with the help of PP Rtn. Gaurav Deep Singh of S.B.S. PG Institute of Biochemistry, Balawala, Dehradun, was set up in the same premises.
Plans are afoot to ensure further development and utilization of the dispensary complex for the service to the community. In the year 2016-17 Rotary Club Dehradun applied for three Global Grants, Happy School 3080 was in association with an American district and was for an amount of USD 65000, Wash and Happy schools was in association with a South Korean district and was for USD 95000 and Mobile school and e-learning was again in association with an American district and was for USD 35000. Besides helping many clubs of our District (3080) provide a good environment to under-privileged children our Club constructed a toilet facility under GG Happy school 3080 at Govt Primary school, Dharampur and a similar facility at Govt Primary school Bramhpuri under GG Wash & Happy schools. At both these schools we also gifted a filtered and cooled drinking water supply, adequate hand wash and play facilities. Under GG Mobile school and E-learning our Club provided the Aasraa foundation with a 32 seater bus which was fully fitted with a display and audio facility so that we could take schooling directly into the slums, under the same grant 30 e-learning systems were provided to various Govt schools across the entire district.
The club has given four more District Governors to RID 3080, namely Dr. Som N. Dhingra in the year 1970-71, R.K. Berry in the year 1974-75, Rakesh Aggarwal in the year 2013-14 and David Joseph Hilton in the year 2015-16. The Club has had the distinction of inviting distinguished speakers of national fame to its regular meetings. To name a few, we had the privilege of hosting Mother Teresa, Sri Atal Behari Vajpeyi, Cine Super Star Prithvi Raj Kapoor, Smt. Vijay Lakshmi Pandit, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Ambassadors from various Countries.
Our club took a historic trip to Pakistan where our senior Rotarians had a chance to visit their pre-partition native places and enjoyed the hospitality of Rotarians from Pakistan.
Our club has hosted the District Conference on two occasions where foreign delegates, including a large contingent of Pakistani Rotarians, attended as did some senior diplomats from the African Nations. Besides, a number of Intercity meets too have been hosted by the Club. Like wise, our Club members have always participated in all the District events. In the Rotary Year 2015-16, when Rtn. Dr. S. Farooq was the President, a mega Blood Donation Week was organized with the aim to collect 3080 units of blood, a number equal to our Rotary District number, RID 3080. However, this target was surpassed with a total collection of 3122 units. The Governor and the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand state presented Letters of Appreciation to the Club President and other participating bodies.
The Club has the proud distinction of being a 100% PHF and EREY Club and has completed many projects with District and Global matching Grants for the benefit of the deserving. The Club encourages women membership and has had many lady Rotarians in its fold. Rtn.(Mrs.) Shail Dhingra brought in the lnner Wheel Club to our District. Even today, our Club is being spearhead by a dynamic lady President, Rtn. Naghma Farooq. She is equally complemented by Rtn. Patricia Hilton,as Secretary.
Rtn. Patricia is a proven achiever and has been the Director of the International Inner Wheel. Together under their perseverance the Club has already completed a record of seventy six projects in the short span of five months, and that too in these hard times of COVID 19 pandemic when normal activities of the members remain restrained. Their dedication and active involvement in Club and Rotary is exhibited in the two District Web Conferences wherein the Key Speakers were Mrs. Meneka Gandhi, Ex Union Minister & M. P. and Dr. Naresh Trehan, world famous Cardio Surgeon & CMD of Medanta Medicity. The Club, through its leaders, is working to keep itself lively and vibrant and also well acknowledged in the Rotary world.