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Following in family’s Rotary footsteps

Passing on the baton: from left, past St George’s Rotary Club president Madeline Hayward, new president Andrew Roberts and his father Larry (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Andrew Roberts often joked about getting roped into Rotary.

With his father and grandfather past presidents of the St George’s club, the outcome seemed inevitable.

For years he put it off, and then dived in headfirst.

The 36-year-old was named the charity’s president last month, only a year after signing up as a member.

“I jumped at the idea since I already had immense knowledge of what the St George’s Rotary Club does for the East End and was honoured since my grandfather was an honorary member of the club and also my father is still a part of the club,” he said. “It is the first time that there is a third generation in our club and in all of the clubs on island.”

It was a proud moment for his father, Larry. The 67-year-old said he wouldn’t be handing out any advice to his son.

“My late father Fred joined in 1951 when the St George’s club was first established and was president in 1961. I was president in 1991. Judging by his induction speech he is going to do very well on his own.”

Andrew Roberts said he was actually very nervous when he gave a speech outlining his plans as president.

Then he looked around the room and realised he’d known most of the members since childhood.

“That made it easier,” he said.

The club has 20 members, most of them older than Andrew Roberts.

“I think I am the youngest member,” he said. “There are a few younger members but it is hard to keep them on board. There is a lot going on in Bermuda for people with young families.”

As president, he hopes to reinstate past family-friendly successes such as a sunfish sailing competition between the clubs.

“There was lots of light-hearted trash talking between the clubs,” Andrew Roberts said. “The winner got to blow a conch shell at the end and there were hot dogs. My father and I won it one year. It was a lot of fun.”

Larry Roberts said the event was an opportunity for all the clubs to come together.

“Otherwise we didn’t see each other,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve done it for at least 25 years.”

Andrew Roberts has been heavily involved with youth projects, such as the Tom Davis Bursary, since becoming a Rotary member.

“This is a $3,000 scholarship for students in the East End just entering university,” he said.

“With the children being in the East End you kind of already know who they are, and you know whose family really needs the help.”

That community outreach is one of the things he loves most about Rotary, Andrew Roberts said.

The St George’s club has helped St George’s Preparatory School, East End Primary and the Sea Cadets over the years. It’s also helped such organisations as Meals on Wheels and the Eliza Dolittle Foundation.

“As a kid, I never dreamt of becoming a Rotary club president, but I grew up with Rotary,” Andrew added.

His family hosted a string of Rotary exchange students from around the world.

“One student was from Japan,” he recalled. “His mother used to send him these weird candies.

“I think I ate more of them than he did.”

Mr Roberts is currently a camp counsellor and is in the process of starting his own business.

He and his wife Krystal have two children Emma, 9, and Orion, 6.

“Who knows, maybe they’ll be the fourth generation to join,” he said.

The St George’s Rotary Club meets every Monday night at Grotto Bay Hotel at 6.30pm. New members must be invited to join. Contact Mr Roberts on drewskie25@hotmail.com or 734-5921.