BLACKPOOL Rotary Club celebrates 75 years as a bedrock of the resort's business and professional life with a special anniversary dinner tonight (April 23).

The club, which was a pioneer of the flourishing Rotary movement in the Fylde and has raised huge sums for charity, holds its 75th Charter Night dinner at the Hotel Sheraton.

Founded in 1923, its biggest pre-war achievement was raising £35,000 to launch the Blackpool Boys' Club, still thriving at Laycock Gate.

During the war, legendary Tower Ballroom organist Reginald Dixon was one of nine Rotarians in armed service and Rotarians' wives in the Inner Wheel Club staffed the "Doughnut Dugout" for British and American servicemen in the resort.

In the past decade it has given huge support for the Polio Plus campaign to eliminate the disease worldwide and its annual boxing night raises thousands of pounds for charity, helping the disadvantaged, elderly and lonely.

The club's annual young people's music competition is a highlight of the cultural calendar and it also organises theatre visits.

President Hugh Chatterton said:: "We have given 75 years of service to the town.

"The club is exactly the same age as the BBC. Like the BBC, there used to be only one channel.

"Now there are many. This presents new challenges and new opportunities."

Blackpool boasts one of the most recognised Rotarians in the country, John Funk, a member for more than 50 years, who was chief sergeant-at-arms for Rotary International conferences nationwide.

He and six other Blackpool Rotarians, Charles Heighway, Michael Fielding, Donald Gleave, Ron Taylor, Graham Clayton, Alan Jones and the late Maurice Garside, have received the movement's highest honour, the Paul Harris Fellowship.

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