LAST year's Dragon Boat Challenge had to be cancelled thanks to Covid. It was 'reinvented' as an online event - and still raised £20,000 for good causes. But given what happened last year the Rotary Club of York, which celebrates its 100th birthday this month, is determined to make this year's anniversary event a big success - Covid permitting, of course.

The Challenge is planned for September. "And it will be the perfect way of coming back!" said media officer Mike Fieldsend.

The Covid pandemic has played havoc with the Rotary club's plans over the last year - just as it has with so many other organisations.

A 100th-birthday dinner at the Mansion House had to be abandoned. Last year's Dragon Boat Challenge went online. And for most of the past year, the club's weekly meetings have been online, too - via Zoom. But fundraising has continued. "Since the first lockdown, York Rotary has raised in excess of £60,000 by rethinking how things are done," Mike said.

Still, Rotarians are looking forward - like everyone else - to the end of the pandemic. And they're determined it won't ruin their anniversary year. There's the Dragon Boat Challenge. The club restored the sundial in College Green as a '100th birthday gift' to York. And there are plans for a big event in November.

Throughout the year, members will also be taking part in a series of weekly Zoom workshops about York's last 100 years of history.

The first-ever meeting of the Rotary Club of York was on February 4, 1921, at the Royal Station Hotel. The then Lord Mayor of York, Alderman Edward Walker, was the first President - and the club had just 25 members, all men.

The Rotary movement had been dreamed up in Chicago in 1905 by lawyer Paul Harris as a way of enabling businessmen to 'address the difficult social issues of the time'.

The York club was the 36th in the UK, and 1000th worldwide. Membership grew to about 100 by the middle of the 20th century. And today, it is much more diverse than that rather stuffy, male-only organisation that first met 100 years ago, Mike says. "The membership currently stands at 80 and new members are actively sought from both men and women."

That idea of wanting to help the community remains, however. It was an initiative by York Rotary that led to the setting up of the Council for Voluntary Service in York, Mike says . The club distributes more than £110,000 to local charities every year. And Rotarians also serve as everything from Trustees on charitable bodies to marshals at sporting events.

"York Rotary also works extensively with children and young people," Mike said. "Just recently (we have worked) with the other two York Rotary Clubs (to provide) 20 new computers for children struggling to cope with home schooling."

To find out more about York Rotary visit