A COMMUNITY group in Caerphilly county borough has closed down after 60 years due to a lack of new members.

The Abercarn and Newbridge Rotary Club was formed in July 1959 with 24 founder members, but more than half a century later, the 11 remaining members have had to call time on the group.

The group was a branch of Rotary International, a worldwide charity which aims to offer help in local communities, as well as providing aid such as disaster kits, medical treatment, and providing clean water.

One of the club’s members, John Williams, said: “It’s sad that it’s gone.

“When I joined in 1994, you had the whole community involved with all the pillars of society.

“The group would be about raising money and doing work in the community.

“We would donate food parcels for underprivileged children in the area, and raise money with our annual duck race.


“We would also raise money for the Rotary Club internationally. We would have international fundraising nights, with a guest speaker or comedian coming into the rugby club.

“Now, we have 11 members, and I am the youngest at 66.”

Another of the group’s members, Allan Sharpe, 79, joined the club in 1971.

“The club started with a dinner meeting at the King’s Head Hotel in Newport on July 16, 1959,” he said. “One of the founder members was Daniel Granville-West, a solicitor, who had been the MP for Pontypool, and went on to be named Lord Granville-West. Since then, we have had a total of 77 members.

“Another notable member who joined later on was Derek Morgan, who played rugby for Newbridge and England, and went on to be president of the English Rugby Football Union.

“I think the club was at its best in the 1970s. We had a range of all kinds of professions, and we raised money for all sorts of good causes.

“We would also make friends with Rotary Clubs all over the world. In the year I was president of the branch, we had a scheme with a Rotary Club in India to buy textbooks and resources for underprivileged children in India.”

Despite the Abercarn and Newbridge branch closing, some of the members are still keen to continue their work, even if it’s not in their community.

“Four of us have joined Blackwood Rotary Club now,” said Mr Williams. “It’s not the same as working in your own community, but it’s still helping people.”