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Since we took over the running of the ArtHouse café in 2011, it has been the main project that Melksham Rotary Club does, though we still find time to do other things, such as youth competitions, Rotary Kids out and other fundraising.
The year began with a refresh of the café, over the festive period whist the cafe was closed. Some dedicated members and their partners gave up their time to do a deep clean and refresh all the paint work. The walls became a bright white again with accents of green, and the door area was brightened up from a dark navy to bright white – an inspired choice, giving a brighter and more welcoming feel to the venue.
During the year, we introduced uniforms for our cooks as we continued with improvements; we started with a new local coffee supplier, updated our coffee machine, introduced a card reader for those who prefer not to use cash, continued to offer free WIFI and our cake supplier produced new and interesting varieties of cake.
Money raised in the café due to the generosity of our wonderful volunteers, is donated to local charities and good causes. In March, we celebrated raising £100,000 over the past six years. We gave away vouchers for a free cuppa, and balloons.
Our youth support included: Stonar School and The Oak School entered teams to the Rotary Youth Speaks competition. All the teams that took part were impressive with their knowledge of interesting and varied subjects. Grace Collins, from Stonar School represented Melksham at the District Young Chef competition. Melksham Rotary funded 28 children and 21 helpers from River Mead School, and 25 children with 10 helpers from the local Autism Society to go to Longleat for the day as part of Rotary KidsOut.
In 2017, Rotary celebrated that the Rotary Foundation charity is 100 years old. The charity has been responsible for helping to eradicate Polio in the world, and so much more. To acknowledge this milestone, members organised a Flower Festival along with Melksham and District Flower Arrangers Society at St Michaels and All Angels Church. There was also a concert by Chippenham Male Voice Choir as part of the festival.
Melksham Rotary members also took part in the Carnival Fun Day, the River and Food Festival and the Apple Pressing day.
The monthly changing Art has been a highlight; the displays have been wonderful and we thank Pattie Lockett for arranging them for us. Local artists of any medium are welcome to request space.
This year we will be running more youth competitions, and activities including a Gin Tasting evening on Saturday 24th February at the ArtHouse café. During the year, we welcomed two new members, and are looking for more local people to join us so that we can achieve even more in our town. Please look at our website or come in the ArtHouse café if you would like to find out more about Rotary, displaying art in the café, or getting involved in the café.