“The foundation upon which Rotary is built is friendship; on no less firm foundation could it have stood” – Paul Harris, founder of Rotary
February 12, 2012, marked the 25th anniversary of the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya. This auspicious date did not go unnoticed as almost 200 Rotarians and guests filled the Grand Ballroom of the Royal Cliff Grand Hotel on February 25 to show their appreciation and give thanks to a handful of men and women for their admirable humanitarian work for the underprivileged and needy people in their communities, often with the assistance of international Rotarians in many parts of the world.
President Gudmund Eiksu nd welcomed the gathering, comprising many members of our Rotary fraternities from close by and as far away as the USA and Australia, establishing an international milieu, which is quintessentially the Rotary spirit.
PDG Xanxai Visitkul expounds on the philosophy and principles of Rotary.
The ambience was one of extreme warmth, as Rotarians, guests and friends greeted each other – some after long absences. A sumptuous buffet and steady flow of vintage wines, spirits, beer and soft drinks soon put an already-relaxed crowd into a state verging on euphoria.
A delightful dance troupe from the Baan Jing Jai Children’s Home comprising of angelic little girls in beautiful Thai costumes regaled the room as they welcomed the guests with the traditional ‘Ram Ouayporn’ dance.
Dr. Paolo Battaglino, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Italy and his family, along with Senator Sutham Phanthusak and Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh gave a sense of distinction to the event by their presence.
A delegation from District 3350 included Past District Governors Xanxai Visitkul, Chairman of the Rotary Centre in Thailand, PDG Chow Nararidh, Mr. Roadman, PDG Krit Indhewat, Rotary International’s Fiscal Agent in Thailand, PDG Krai Tangsanga and his charming wife Rungnapha.
PDG Peter Malhotra speaks about the history of the club.
Of note was an even larger delegation led by President Mark Butters from the Rotary Club of Bangkok South who 25 years ago sponsored the creation of the first English language club in Pattaya. The Rotary Club of Bangkok South had just celebrated their 50th anniversary a few months ago, so President Mark took the opportunity to present President Gudmund Eiksund with an exquisitely bound 50th anniversary commemorative book of their club.
PDG Peter offered a most enlightening discourse on the formation of Rotary more than a century ago and the chartering of his own club, the Jomtien-Pattaya saying, “This is a day that we should not only celebrate but we should also spare a thought for some of the great Rotarians who helped form this club and carved out the path of service to humanity which we follow faithfully to this day.
President Gudmund welcomes guests to the celebrations.
“But let’s go back a little further to before our birth. A handful of Rotarians, members of the Rotary Club of Pattaya had a mutual vision. They saw that Pattaya was ready for an English-speaking club. They knew that our community was fast growing into an international community and there would be a huge influx of people who had or would have the same vision as Rotarians, seeking an opportunity to serve.
“Some of this group included PP Hans Zurfluh, PP Alois X Fassbind, Gene Farley, PP Hank Whittaker, Dang Harbhajan and Bill Burbridge.
“Having decided to form a new English speaking Rotary Club they requested the permission of the district who appointed PP Nitti Meyer as the special representative of the District Governor to guide and help us charter our club. The Rotary Club of Bangkok South kindly agreed to be our sponsor club.
“Now Pattaya was a totally new ‘market’ so to speak, so to find a group of English speaking residents of Pattaya who would understand and join an organization that they had little or no knowledge of, was a challenge in itself.”
PDG Premprecha Dibbayawan extols on the good virtues of Rotary, the world’s foremost service organization.
Peter continued, “It all started when about 40 people gathered at the preliminary meeting to listen to PDG Prapan Hutasingh talk to us about the Rotary movement. Prapan walked around the room asking each individual of the reason why they wanted to join Rotary. As he moved from person to person, my mind was thinking fast, what would be my answer?
“Then it was my turn and he asked me the question. I stood up and said, I’m not really sure, but from what I hear, I can do some good for the community and help those who need relief.”
As a provisional club, there were many more introductory meetings held, but the group dwindled with every session until there were only a handful of potential members who persevered and came back to the meetings. Finally with the support of 25 unrelenting members, the paperwork went through at Rotary International headquarters and the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya received its charter on the 12th day of February 1987.
PP Nitti Meyer was the district governor’s special representative who helped form the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya 25 years ago.
Peter went on to say, “The story of our club is a long and honourable one, but not without our growing pains. Like any other organization we had our ups and downs but through the years we have remained united and prevailed.
“There have been and are many noteworthy Rotarians in our club that have kept us upright in our undertakings and have brought us much honour.
“Our club has been the basis of introducing other non-Thai speaking clubs in Pattaya, namely the Rotary Clubs Eastern Seaboard, Rotary Club Taksin Pattaya, Rotary Club Pattaya Marina (French) and Rotary Club of Phoenix Pattaya (German).”
Peter continued, “We must not neglect to honour our past presidents who have dedicated so much to keep our club’s flag flying high with pride. The history of our club is full of legendary Rotarians. From our charter president Hans Zurfluh to the present president Gudmund Eiksund we have helped and served hundreds of thousands of men, women and children with our sacrifice and unbounded humanitarian projects. We could mention many more names but where do we stop?”
Senator Sutham Phanthusak extends his best wishes to Rotarians one and all.
Past President Dennis Stark spoke of a couple of distinguished members, “Our greatest pride and joy is of course our very own charter member Premprecha Dibbayawan, who served twice as president of our club and then went on to serve as District Governor for Rotary International District 3340 in the year 2000-01.
In addition another charter member, Pratheep ‘Peter’ Malhotra also served as District Governor of District 3340 in the year 2008-09. He now serves as the Rotary Public Image Coordinator Zone 6B, which covers 9 districts in 9 countries in Asia.”
In conclusion PDG Peter expressed his feelings about the present and future of the Rotary movement in Thailand and around the world, “This is the opportune time and moment to re-commit ourselves to Rotary. Our chance to do our duty. Our chance to carry the torch of Rotary and keep the fires of Service burning bright, for this and for many generations of Rotarians to come.
Norwegian star Rune Larsen had the crowed tapping their feet.
“There are so many good and upstanding people out there who are waiting to be recognized, waiting to be invited in, waiting to be given an Opportunity to Serve. Open your hearts to them. Give them Rotary. Make this a most meaningful 25th birthday ever, for our Rotary Club, for our community and for all humankind.”
To quote Past Rotary International President Bhichai Rattakul’s words: “I believe we can change the world, one life at a time. No project is too small or insignificant, especially to those who benefit. My hope is that these seeds of service will blossom and live on for countless generations to come.”
PDG Xanxai Visitkul gave a most profound insight into the meaning of Rotary and what it entails to be a Rotarian, before being called upon to bestow a Paul Harris Fellow recognition to William Macey, the charity chairman of the Pattaya Sports Club.
As was explained by PDG Xanxai, these awards are Rotary’s way of saying thank you to Rotarians or any individual for their sacrifices and dedication to betterment of humanity as a whole and more especially to those who contribute generously in any form to improve the lot of all mankind. Thus helping the Rotary movement and the more than 1.2 million Rotarians around the world do the things that they do best and that is ‘to serve’.
A humongous birthday cake was rolled out to the floor and as the crowd sang Happy Birthday, President Gudmund Eiksund surrounded by dignitaries and members of the Rotary club blew out the candles and cut it, auguring in another 25 hopeful years of humanitarian service to the community.
GM Joachim Grill (right) presents a bouquet on behalf of the Royal Cliff Hotels Group to President Gudmund.
PDG Xanxai Visitkul presents the Paul Harris recognition to William Macey of the Pattaya Sports Club.
Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh presents a bouquet to President Gudmund Eiksund.
William Macey presents a cheque to President Gudmund to support the club’s humanitarian projects.
President Mark Butters (RCBS) presents a 50th anniversary commemorative book to President Gudmund Eiksund.
President Gudmund presents an Outstanding Service Above Self award to PDG Peter Malhotra for 25 years of dedicated service to Rotary, as charter member, President (twice) and District Governor.
Past and future Presidents of the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya line up for a photograph. (l-r) Dieter Reigber, Jan Abbink, Judy Hoppe, Gudmund Eiksund, Alvi Sinthuvanik, Premprecha Dibbayawan, Dennis Stark, Max Rommel and Peter Malhotra.
Radchada Chomjinda (Toy) from the Pattaya Orphanage introduces the two boys who are supported by the Rotary Club in the R.O.S.E. (Rotary Orphan Student Exchange) program.
President Gudmund cuts the birthday cake, watched by PP Dennis Stark and PP Max Rommel.
Jan Olav Aamlid seems thrilled as Senator Sutham Phanthusak greets President Gudmund.
PDG Krit Indhewat enjoys fellowship with PDG Krai Tungsanga and his charming wife Rungnapha.
It was good to see Stefan Ryser (seated left) attend the function.
PDG Chow Nararidh holds court with PDG Premprecha Dibbayawan, PDG Jin Srikasikorn and P. Malakul.