Service Above Self


During the Club’s 70+ years of existence it has played a significant part in the life of the community and has provided much-needed help for many worthwhile projects. Among them are the following:


Mollergren Park

The Rotary Club of Hermanus for many years realised the need for a “home for senior citizens” in Hermanus. There was no such facility up to 1969. During that year, a member of the Rotary Club, Rtn Dave Clark, told the club that Mr A B Mollergren owned a piece of land on the seafront opposite the entrance to the Golf Club. Except for an old house on it, the land was largely undeveloped.

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This is an annual event which takes place in December at the Old Harbour and dates back to 1968 when the first one was held at the Hermanus Primary School. 

Mixed choirs are now organised and it is a family occasion where candles and holders are given to the public who make a donation towards their cost. It is normally attended by 750 – 1,000 people.



In 1955 to commemorate 50 years of Rotary International, the Headmaster of the Hermanus High School, Cassie Dreyer, a Rotarian, instituted a public speaking competition for Matric and 1st year Matric pupils. 

In 1994 when the schools of Hawston and Zwelihle were upgraded to High School status the competition was extended to include them as we1l. This is an annual event which is very much appreciated by all the pupils.


Our first Golf Day was held on Easter Saturday in 1955. Holes were sponsored by the public and advertisements in the programmes were sold to them as well. 

The Anns were responsible for all the catering originally, but in later years this has changed. It has become a very popular annual event and usually raises approximately R16,000-00 for the community.


This is a beautiful scenic drive up the mountain. The road was sponsored by the Club in 1960 when the late Bill Le Bamow suggested it, and with the help of Cyril Gillespie and various members, the road was built by the Caledon Divisional Council and tarred a year later.


In June 1969 Lt/Cdr Alan Hollman, the NSRI Operations Officer as he then was visited the area to assess the possibility of establishing a sea rescue station to serve the Walker Bay area. This was 2 years after the founding of NSRI in May 1967 His findings were not encouraging. Local officials went on record as saying there was no need for a boat. Further, those fund-raising flag days and the like normally grossed R80 to RI00 only, and apart from a few skin divers, the population was too inactive to man a rescue craft, their habit being to rise at about 10h00 and to go to bed at 19h00. 

It was felt that as regards Gansbaai a rescue boat would seldom if ever, be required and the opinion was reached that no effort would prove worthwhile in the sleepy town of Hermanus. There the matter rested for some years until 1977. Graham Westcott and some fellow Rotarians held to the idea of a rescue station. Their interest was given quite a fillip by the visit to Hermanus harbour of the 10m rescue craft Spirit of Rotary whilst on passage to Mossel Bay. Pat Dowdle, who had been associated with Station 3 and was later to become Secretary, joined the group and following Headquarters approval a meeting was held in Hermanus attended by Dougie Van Riet (NOTC), Captain Tony Pearson, Lt/Cdr Alan Hollman, the Harbour Master Duimpie Lourens, Graham Westcott, Pat Dowdle and retired Professional Engineer Denbigh Smith.

A Steering Committee was formed with Denbigh Smith as chairman and the request made to Headquarters that the Mercury Snailfish hull of the Port Alfred’s boat, then lying in Knysna and due for decommissioning, could be made available for a station at Hermanus. The Snailfish was brought from Knysna to Hermanus, but while in Knysna the hull of an RL 21 was noted and in Graham Westcott’s opinion, this would serve the purpose of an IRB better than anything else available. 

By good fortune at this time the Board of Executors sponsorship for a rescue boat was agreed to, the RL 21 hull: was surveyed and pronounced satisfactory by Headquarters and purchased for Station 17, thanks to the Florence Carter Trust. These funds covered the cost of the boat, engines and equipment while the raising of the money needed for the preparation of the site and the construction of the base building was to be the responsibility of the station.

So it was that the hull of Florence Carter was brought to Hermanus and work by the crew commenced on the fitting out of the boat together with all the other items needed to establish the station. The Snailfish hull was taken to Hout Bay, Station 8, where she went into service in January 1979. Mr Grobbelaar of the Fisheries Development Corporation greatly assisted with the necessary administrative arrangements for the approval of the site, and a generous donation of R3,000-00 made by Mr Clive Corder ensured that the whole project could get off to a good start. 

The site for the station and boathouse building was cleared and the necessary blasting was done with the help of the Hermanus Municipality and arrangements put in hand for the lease of the site from the Department of Agricultural Credit and Land Tenure. Fund-raising naturally figured in the steering committee’s efforts and the first cake sale organised brought in R400. The Rotary Club of Hermanus was active in fund-raising for the boathouse. The clearing of the site cost R1,700 and the station building and boathouse (builder Gordon Main) cost R12,000.

Work on equipping of the boat together with the recruitment of crew continued and in October Graham Westcott, who by now had assumed the position of Station Commander, and Mike Clark attended, as observers, the Station Commanders’ Conference in Port Elizabeth. The launching cradle for the boat was constructed locally. The design was novel and came to be known as the “haycart” type, this style of cradle later being copied and used by other stations. 

On 24 October 1978 the IRB Florence Carter was named by Mrs Carter and after being blessed by Rev. Claude Mitchell, was officially handed over to NSRI. Shell(SA) generously sponsored fuel costs. Active crew strength on commissioning was 11, and it’s noteworthy that nearly 11 years later six of the original crew are still serving the station. With the station becoming operational the Steering Committee disbanded and a Station Committee was formed, Denbigh Smith being the Chairman.

Air support was given to the station for the first time in June 1985. A rather vague report came through of a vessel supposedly in difficulty off Quin Point, some 35 nautical miles from the base. The time was late afternoon, so with the possibility of a night operation in mind, sunset being at about 17h45, the Walker Bay Flying Club was contacted. Ray Major generously offered his assistance and in his Cherokee 180 conducted a thorough search of the area in question.

He reported no vessel of any kind to be visible, thus saving the station a costly and pointless exercise. In February 1986 Florence Carter was taken out of commission for a much-needed overhaul and refit, this being after a total operational period of 88 months. The 90 hp Mercury motors were replaced after 55 months of service – 327 running hours – by two 115 hp Mariners’ generously given by Messrs Wilbur Ellis on permanent loan. In 1986, largely due to the initiative of Harry Braun, Rotary District 935 undertook the project of funding a new 8-metre boat for Station 17. This boat would replace Florence Carter and besides affording protection for the crew, particularly in winter and in heavy weather, would have a much longer operational range.

Two of the original group connected with the founding of the station died during this period. Denbigh Smith in 198l, and Pat Dowdle in July 1982. In November 1982 following a visit by Mrs Jo Clements, associated with our flank station at Gordon’s Bay, a Shorelink was formed to co-ordinate and generally boost fund-raising and other activities for the station. Miss F Gonin, one-time mayor of Hermanus, was elected chairman at their inaugural meeting in 1983. She was followed in this post by Mrs Pam Dickie-Clark who took over the position in 1984. Brigadier Geoff Marnhan, a much respected and popular figure became the committee chairman following the death of Denbigh Smith. The vice-chairman was Bob Thomas who later took over as chairman in 1984, a position he held until his death in 1985.

On 9 May 1987, the naming ceremony took place in Cape Town of the new 8-metre boat, Spirit of Rotary 11. The boat was brought by road to Hermanus where equipping and work on modifications were put in hand.
In June the Hermanus Rotary Club made a Merit Award to the station in recognition of services rendered to the community, and in August Shorelink’s organisation was changed. Thereafter all NSRI members and supporters were deemed to belong to the Shorelink body. During the last three years of operation, Shorelink, under the chairmanship of Mrs Pam Dickie-Clark’ raised no less than R27,000-00 – a splendid effort indeed by this hardworking body of ladies. 5 December 1987 saw the culmination of 2 years of hard work by Rotary District 935 when Spirit of Rotary 11 was commissioned.

More than the R125,000-00 required for the boat had been raised by the clubs and a generous donation of a Decca Racal Navigator and other equipment was made by Decca Contractors Ltd. On 5 May Florence Carter, on what was to prove her last service, ran aground after encountering a thick mist belt when returning from picking up 3 crewmen for transfer ashore from a fishing vessel too large to enter Hermanus harbour.

In July Florence Carter was taken to sea for the last time by Station 17 before being handed over to form the nucleus of a reserve fleet. She was taken to Hout Bay where the Station 8 boat was due for a major refit. She proved herself to be a splendid little vessel in every way and engendered a real affection from all who sailed in her. In September 1988 Henk Henn succeeded Graham Westcott as Station Commander. Steve Baron remained as Deputy Station Commander until December when Mike Clark took over that position. The NSRI continues to provide an essential service to the community and receives regular donations from the Club. The Spirit of Rotary is still in operation and is at Saldanha Bay.


These were erected by the Municipality on behalf of the Club in memory of Mr H R Hill.


This school made use of the Scout Hall for a while but when it outgrew these premises the Club contributed towards the cost of their own building.


The Club contributed funds towards the building of the hall.


An award considered annually for the most courteous person involved in serving the public..


This is for students studying Engineering or Medicine at University and is awarded annually to Hermanus residents only. Until this bursary came into being the Club made grants to many deserving cases from its own funds.


Each year we endeavour to honour a local person who has practiced their vocation beyond the call of duty.


This machine was funded jointly by the Cape Kidney Association and the Rotary Club. The cost was R33 000-00 which was raised over a period of 18 months. 

The Hermanus Hospital was the first country hospital between Cape Town and George to offer this facility to patients suffering from kidney failure.

The first person to use the machine was the former mayor, Rotarian John Bishop.


This idea was originated by Frans Senekal in 1989, fellowship being the main purpose as well as fund-raising. Fellowship would take the form of cheese and wine parties with monetary prizes being the incentive. It started off as a 5O Club but was changed to a 1OO Club when it became more popular.

Tickets are now sold at R130-00 each with a main prize of R500-00 and two others of R50-00 each. At the December draw the main prize is R2,000.00. An average of 120 tickets is sold each year.


The Club was responsible for instigating the installation of these booths by the Post Office.


The Club was responsible for approaching the Municipality and persuading them to instal it.


This was imported from America at a cost of R17,000-00 and erected in front of the War Memorial at the Old Harbour. The idea behind it was to generate funds for the Old Harbour Museum. At the time of writing this project has realised R27 000-00.


This is a home for abused or abandoned children, built in Mount Pleasant. The Club contributed R30,000-00 towards the building costs.


These passports are sold to the general public to raise funds.


This is an annual essay competition for High School pupils about a particular person nominated by the sponsor.


The first phase of an extension to the Cliff Path from Protea Road to the Marine Hotel car park has been completed to facilitate its use by wheel chairs. As a result of the success of this project it was decided to extend it by reconstructing the path to the Old Harbour. Rotary provided money for the materials and the Municipality provided the labour.


Administered by Trustees who are not necessarily Rotarians, this fund was set up in 1994 and concerns itself with educational assistance to deserving cases on a year to year basis for Primary and Secondary school pupils from the Walker Bay area, including the combating of illiteracy.


The Christellke Maatskaplike Raad (Christian Social Council) is an organisation linked to the Dutch Reformed Church and cares for the aged. A Combi was donated to them by the Club and a monthly contribution is given to them to assist them with their feeding scheme.


A Clinic under the auspices of the CMR has been set up at Mollergren Park. It provides basic medical care for both the residents of Mollergren Park and the people in the surrounding area. The Cancer Association also makes use of the premises.


A Utilis Hydrotherapy Bath which is used for washing the infirm was donated to the Lettie Theron Home for senior citizens.


In August 1994 the local Conservation Forum decided that a Bird Hide would be an amenity for Hermanus. They could not organise it and approached the Club to assist. The Club decided not to finance the project but to be the conduit through which money could be collected to build the hide. 

The first requests for public support were posted in September and at the beginning of December 1994 approximately R18,000-00 was collected which was sufficient to build the hide and the boardwalk. The project was completed before Christmas. The hide proved to be very popular and in the first three months more than 50 different bird species were identified.


Rotary has been of assistance to the following organisations in various ways.
MacMillan House, a Communicare Centre for the aged – a wheelchair and Wendy house were provided as well as help with alterations; 

Hermanus Provincial Hospital -pagers; Creches were given material help with building; Zwelihle Adult Choir –a Yamaha keyboard; and contributions were made to Hermanus Child and Family Welfare Society, SOFCA, Night Shelter; Red Cross Children’s Hospital; Mercy Ship and Reach for a Dream.