three people sitting at a table in a restaurant

Dave King



Do we really need to ​get rid of the word ​‘club’?

As a wordsmith, language is an integral part of my life, and as a teacher I am encouraging the writers of tomorrow to explore and embrace the wonders of the English language by reading.

Sadly, the younger generation don’t read, and what they do survey on their mobile phones and iPads is invariably junk. And yet, in my world as a teacher, I sometimes sympathise with the standard of vocabulary employed by my students in their essays as they try to keep pace with the ever-changing nature of our language.

After all, they are a generation living with a constant re-writing of the English language.

In recent years, activists and linguists have championed a more inclusive language, re-tooling existing words and grammar constructions. Quite frankly, it’s all got out of hand. As a result, the English language is being ripped apart mercilessly at a time when communication feels like navigating through a minefield of sensitivities.

In February, I attended the Leadership Development Forum at Warwick University with Rotarians from across Great Britain & Ireland. The North Star membership initiative figured prominently alongside the theme of managing change. And stand by for July’s issue of the print magazine when we will be turning the spotlight on North Star.

“Branding is not going to change the ​public’s perception, actions do. “

As a facilitator in one of the sessions, the point was raised about the term ‘Rotary ​club’, asking whether in 21st century Rotary the word ‘club’ was a turn-off to ​potential members.

There were a few nods of approval. Some said they no longer used the word ​‘club’ in the title of their… It’s old-fashioned, the word conjures up thoughts ​of gentleman’s clubs meeting in smoky rooms, and far better to simply describe ​your non-club as Rotary Timbuktu!

How ridiculous! Do you seriously believe that a potential recruit is going to turn ​their back on Rotary because they are going to join a ‘club’? Isn’t a club what we ​are? There’s no hiding Rotary’s identity, just as much as you might support a ​football club, join a health club or pitch up at a golf club.

One of the selling points of Rotary is our tradition and stability. We’re an ​organisation of repute, a body which makes a difference. We’re a collection of ​men and women who get things done in our communities, we’re change-makers ​in projects we develop overseas, and we belong to clubs you can trust.

Sometimes in the desperate quest for change we over-analyse. Why not simply ​be proud of being a member of a Rotary club?

Branding is not going to change the public’s perception, actions do. Keep it ​simple, reflect the modern face of Rotary as the forward-thinking, multi-cultural, ​society-relevant organisation that we are. We are people of action – and we are a ​Rotary club.

By the way: do you remember the school tuck box biscuit club – how did you eat ​yours?!!

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