Brief History of the Club

When it Started

Club Organised - 29th October 1956
Charter Granted - 5th December 1956
Charter Presented - 12th March 1957
District Governor H.R. (Bill) Birch (Korumburra)
Sponsor Club Rotary Club of Northcote
D.G.'s Special Rep Alex Gray (Northcote)
Charter Membership 27

On the 17th January 1956, the Rotary Club of Northcote acting on the wishes of District Governor Frank Ayres, discussed the extension of Rotary into the Heidelberg area, which meant ceding a portion of their Club's territory.

A survey was made by four members: John Mills, George Nott, Alex Gray and Alan Benson. In June 1956 P.P. Alex Gray, a Real Estate Agent from Northcote, was appointed as Governor's Special Representative for the formation of a new club. The territory of this Club was to cover the Municipality of Preston, including the Mont Park Hospital grounds.

Alex Gray presented a list of classifications, and from this list 27 men, including three Visiting Members of the R.C. of Northcote, decided to become Charter Members of the new Club. The Visiting Members being: John Mills (Dentist), Rex Johnson (Manager of APM Fairfield) and Roy Nichols (Alpha Spinning Mills). In addition four other former Rotarians joined: Harry Moody (High School formerly of Portland), Chas Snell (formerly of Morwell), Bert Watson and Ted Krieger (Inspector of Schools formerly from Bendigo).

The Rotary Club of Heidelberg was given its charter on December 6, 1956 the year of the Olympic Games in Melbourne. The host club was the Rotary Club of Northcote. During 1955/56, the District Governor at the time, Frank Ayre, Rotary Club of Melbourne, appointed Alex Gray, Rotary Club of Northcote, to act as Governor's special representative. Several meetings were held, attended by past Rotarians and prospective new members. The first provisional meeting was held on October 29, 1956. The charter President was Dr. John Mills, a dentist in Heidelberg. At that time he was also one of the honorary dentists to the Olympic Village.

The charter Secretary was Harry Moody, the first Headmaster of the new Heidelberg High School. The vice-president was Rex Johnson, manager of the Australian Paper Mills at Fairfield. The other three Board members were Ted Krieger, Roy Nichols, and Kel Carr. Charter Members numbered twenty seven, and membership grew slowly.

The first venue was the Alphington Hotel, which was later changed to the Old England Hotel, where the club met for many years.

The early emphasis in programs was to create good fellowship, and express our membership by service in one's business or profession. Our first major activity was to conduct an Art Show, and the net proceeds were directed to Airlie Maternity Hospital, Ivanhoe, and the Crippled Childrens' Association. Very early in our history we were one of the instigators of Meals on Wheels, with the club providing the initial kitchen equipment for that enterprise.

The raising of funds was not easy but many small projects took place over the years. These permitted support for an ailing scout group, provision of playground equipment for Sutherland Homes, and assistance to other similar causes. Career nights were held annually at the Heidelberg High School, where advice and direction was provided for a great number of young people seeking to decide their future employment and careers.

Quite early in the Club's life, Roy Nichols. a charter member, was chosen to be Governor of what was then District 280 for the period 1961-62. The Club had the task of arranging all the Conference details. This was held at Lorne, Victoria, and attracted some 750 guests. Club membership at that time was 31.

Fellowship was an outstanding component. There were no changeover gatherings, but social evenings were often held at the home of Roy and Rita Nichols. Board meetings were held in members' homes, with supper being served about 9.30.p.m. The first and last Board meetings for any given Rotary Year were held at the current President's home.

Two other Foundation Members were to become District Governors. Kel Carr held that office for the period 1968-69, and the late Norm Curtis for the period 1977-78.

Roy Nichols of this Club, Clive Schliebs (Wangaratta) and Pater Barnett (Myrtelford), were prime movers in establishing Youth Exchange in our District and subsequently through Australia. Our first student to travel overseas was Nick Rutherford from The Ivanhoe Boys Grammar School.

Over the years the Club has been responsible for many projects and programs of considerable distinction. These include considerable support for the Rotary Foundation, Life Education, Polio Plus, F.A.I.M. teams, and many other overseas projects.

(source Kel Carr)

The Charter

The first meeting to organise the new club was held at the Alphington Hotel on the 29th October 1956. The Charter was granted on the 5th December 1956 and Members were formally inducted at a Charter Night on the 12th March 1957. On this night D.G. Bill Birch handed the Charter to John Mills in the presence of some 300 Rotarians and guests. Sir Angus Mitchell, the only Australian at the time to have been World President, came to Charter Night and became a frequent visitor to the club.

Charter Officers & Members

President John Mills
Vice President Rex Johnson
Secretary Harry Moody
Treasurer Les Mann


Roy Nichols
Ted Krieger
Kel Carr


Keith Riches
Allan Smith
Chas Snell
Bert Watson
Ted Krieger

Short pieces on the Club's history