A MEMBERSHIP drive and new website have been launched by The Rotary Club of The Pantiles in a bid to attract new people. The plans were unveiled at their annual Giveaway Dinner this month. The organisation raises thousands of pounds a year for local charities.

Vice-President Roy Patey said: “We are hoping the website will help us to recruit more members, particularly enthusiastic younger people.

“Sadly, there has been a decline in membership over recent years, and we’re encouraging people to join because it is an opportunity to do something practical for our community rather than just putting £5 into an envelope.

“It’s also a chance to meet like-minded people in a very sociable environment.” He added: “Sustainability is always a challenge. We currently have 24 members whereas we used to have around 70, and we are one of just two rotary clubs now after the third one was forced to close.

“Rotary is probably the biggest charity group in the world, and while it is thriving in Asia, we are seeing a decline in Britain and also in America.”

The group is based at the Nevill Golf Club in Benhall Mill Road and meets several times a month. The biggest of their charity events is their Golf Day in July. During the Giveaway Dinner, President Mike Hutchins presented a share of the £6,800 raised for charity to Tunbridge Wells Hospital Radio, Pickering Cancer Drop-in Centre, Porchlight and the Tunbridge Wells Counselling Centre.

Talking of the challenges of finding new members, Mr Hutchins said: “A new WI [Women’s Institute] opened in Tunbridge Wells not so long ago and managed to sign up 100 people.

“I would like to find out exactly what they are doing to attract members.” The Rotary Club has more than a million members around the world with some 35,000 branches.

The new website can be seen at www.pantilesrotary.org