11,515 people signed our Rotary birthday card. A new (unofficial) world record for the most signatures on a birthday card. The official record is 5339 fans signatures put on a birthday card for Robert Downey Jr in China for the opening of Iron Man 3 in 2013. (Our record will remain unofficial because we weren’t prepared to pay for Guinness World Records judges to be there every day of Floriade!)

Canberra Rotary Club Presidents for 2017-18 and 2018-19 cut the official 90th birthday cake

It has been a big year for Rotary in Canberra, with a series of events throughout the last 12 months to celebrate 90 years of Rotary in Canberra.

Hall club member Vicki Coleman was instrumental in championing the push for a District Rotary display at Floriade, Australia’s biggest celebration of Spring. The district team successfully became the Floriade Charity Partner which gave Rotary the opportunity to further enhance its presence at the month-long Floriade event.

Our Rotary district (9710) includes clubs in south-east NSW and the ACT. There are 16 Rotary clubs in the ACT, 12 on the NSW south coast, 3 in the Southern Highlands and 14 inland clubs in towns such as Yass, Bungendore and Jerrabomberra. The Rotary District also includes 4 Rotaract clubs, which are Rotary clubs for under 30’s. Each of these clubs can trace their lineage back to the first Canberra club in 1928.

Four Milestone 90th Birthday Events

Sir Robert Garran

Sir Robert Garran, Charter President of the Rotary Club of Canberra in 1928

The first major event was the official opening of the Canberra Peace Bell, established by the Rotary Club of Canberra Burley Griffin.

This is the second World Peace Bell in Australia. Curiously, the idea for the Canberra Peace Bell came about because a Rotarian from Canberra was inspired when he came across a World Peace Bell in Christchurch, New Zealand. When he contacted the Rotary club that had installed that one, he discovered it had been inspired by a Peace Bell in Australia… just down the road in Cowra NSW!

A number of Rotary Club of Hall members have taken the opportunity to partake in a Peace Bell ringing ceremony. The club continues to support the project by arranging for our international visitors to partake in a Peace Bell ringing ceremony.

The next major event was the official 90th birthday dinner held at the Canberra Hyatt Hotel, the original meeting place of the Rotary Club of Canberra. This was a 1920s themed, black-tie event attended by representatives from most clubs in the district, including two members of the Rotary Club of Hall.

The third celebratory event was the Rotary Club of Woden’s annual bike ride, the Five Peaks Challenge (which actually has a bonus 6th peak). A Rotary Club of Hall member designed and organised the manufacture of the commemorative cycling jerseys for the event and two club members assisted the Woden club on the day of the event.

Rotary display at Floriade

The full display, with the birthday cake on the far side.

Finally, celebrations culminated in big visibility push for Rotary at Floriade. In addition to the highly popular Gnome painting activity, run by the Rotary Club of Canberra Sunrise, on the other side of Floriade, was the eye-catching District 9710 display. Of particular note was the added attraction of a giant (steel) cake, built by Hall club members.

giant cake

The giant cake was another great way to engage passers-by by offering to photograph kids sitting on it.

Rotarians from a variety of clubs in the district were in attendance throughout the month-long event, with Hall club members manning the display for a few of those days. There were four drawcards in the display, the giant cake, the ShelterBox, the maps on which people could indicate where they lived and the giant birthday card.

Rotarians engaged with passers-by and encouraged them to come into the tent to sign the birthday card, as a way of starting a conversation. This was fairly effective as it resulted in 11,515 signatures. Many visitors to the display were fascinated by the ShelterBox and this proved to be a fabulous conversation starter to engage with people in understanding some of the projects Rotary are involved with around the world.

112 people expressed an interest in joining a Rotary club and the names and contact details have been distributed to their nearest clubs.

signatures on birthday card

Some of the District 9710 team involved in the project with the giant birthday card pieces.

See the article in about signatures on the card in the Canberra Times (26 Oct 2018) A bunch of Canberra Rotarians just took down Iron Man