The Rotary Club of Maidstone Riverside have been organising and helping man the gates at the Kent County Show for more years than either side probably care to remember. Their army of volunteers do not get paid to do the work but instead give their time freely as part of the extensive and comprehensive fundraising that this wonderful organisation takes part in every year. The Rotary is a grass-roots organisation consisting of business professionals, community leaders and individuals that volunteer time, talent and resources in order to remedy vital community needs. There are over 1.2 million members worldwide and the Maidstone Riverside Club has been at the forefront of helping many local, national and international charities and causes.
The Kent County Agricultural Society pay a fee to the Club for the help they provide manning all the gates and booths, the difficult job of maintaining the credit card machines, ensuring the cash booths have sufficient change, scanning in the new e-tickets and generally being one of the first welcoming faces our visitors see when they come to the Show.
From the total fee paid to the Rotarians, approximately half is paid out to some twenty other Rotary clubs in the district which last year included one Inner Wheel and one Interact club. All monies paid out to other clubs are to their respective Trust account funding other charities and good causes specific to each club. There are no overheads or club costs taken from Trust accounts and all club expenses are funded by the members through their annual subscription.
This year the Riverside Rotary aim is to provide help to dementia sufferers locally, a new venture for them year, as well as to continue funding activities for young carers and Trinity Foyer. They also hope to be able to make a donation to the Blackthorn Trust who provide support and work training to adults with learning or other mental health issues but in particular they have done a great deal to help ex-servicemen with post-traumatic stress to get back into useful employment by giving them practical training in such things as carpentry and joinery.
Each year they give £1,000 to the Rotary Foundation which funds international disasters but also provides grants to clubs in this country, and they also give £500 annually to the fund for the eradication of polio worldwide. Historically about 20% of the money raised by the club goes to international projects and these are included in that total.
An Agricultural Show relies heavily on its volunteers, the Stewards that help co-ordinate the different areas of the Show are invaluable, as are organisations like the Rotary Club. Without their passion and enthusiasm the traditional County Show would be very different, perhaps more corporate, less familiar and certainly a great deal less fun. The spirit of the hundreds of volunteers that come together for the three day Show is infectious, this annual event sees friends reunite and driving everybody is the desire to put on a wonderful, successful and memorable Show.