Inner Wheel Club of Spalding’s 60th anniversary

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Bras and pants, fun and fellowship: these are just some of the elements of the Inner Wheel Club of Spalding.

The club of 32 women celebrates its 60th anniversary this year – while the international organisation has been going 90 years in 2014.

Inner Wheel Club of Spalding founder member Dorothy Bratley (left) and president Suzanna Elliott with the cake.

Inner Wheel Club of Spalding founder member Dorothy Bratley (left) and president Suzanna Elliott with the cake.

The birthday was celebrated with a 60th anniversary charter tea attended by most of the 32 members – including one of the founder members, 95-year-old Dorothy Bratley from Spalding.

Club secretary Linda Walters says Inner Wheel started in this country, where it has a membership of 19,000, before spreading to 103 countries across the globe.

It is now one of the largest women’s service organisations in the world, with more than 100,000 members all together.

Linda says it was first started by Margaret Golding, the wife of a Rotarian.

She said: “I think the men were out doing Rotary stuff and they decided they would like to take part in a similar sort of organisation.

“In 2012 an international decision was made to admit or allow people to join who were not connected to Rotary.”

Their aims were clearly set down from the beginning: to promote true friendship, encourage the ideals of personal service and to foster international understanding.

The goals are achieved in various activities which combine fundraising and personal service with fun and friendship.

For instance, each year something called a ‘caring party’ is held in the hall at Ayscoughfee Hall School, traditionally for blind or partially sighted people, although that has been extended to anyone in the community who would enjoy an afternoon tea.

Linda said: “It’s an activity that gives some pleasure to members of the community and at the last one we had about 40 people.”

Aid is sent overseas in the form of cash where it is needed – the club, as part of its district work, supports an orphange in Milawi – or in response to appeals, such as the request for bras and pants.

There are also national appeals, such as the 90th anniversary’s wheels project in which clubs were asked to look for opportunities to donate wheels into the local community – a garden trolley went to the Priory School’s horticultural unit in Spalding.

Linda said: “It’s very much based on fun and friendship and by being together and doing things we raise money for good causes.”