The first Round Table was formed in Norwich in 1927. The founder, Louis Marchesi, was a young Rotarian who felt a need existed for a club where the young business men of the town could gather on a regular basis to exchange ideas, learn from the experiences of their colleagues and play a collective part in the civic life of Norwich . Within a year membership of this Round Table had grown to 85 and interest had been shown in establishing Round Tables elsewhere.
Round Table owes nothing to Arthurian Legend, deriving both its title and its maxim from a speech made to the British Industries Fair in 1927 by the then Prince of Wales – “The young business and professional men of this country must get together round the table, ADOPT methods that have proved so sound in the past, ADAPT them to the changing needs of the times and wherever possible, IMPROVE them”. The design of the Round Table emblem is, however, an adaptation of the table which hangs in the great hall, Winchester and which is claimed to be the Round Table of the court of King Arthur.
Round Table has used the motto of Adopt, Adapt and Improve to make it an organisation which is still relevant in the 21st century.
Shortly after the foundation of Round Table in Norwich a second Round Table was established in Portsmouth and subsequent growth was rapid, there being 125 Tables with a membership of 4,600 at the outbreak of war in 1939. Round Table also proved itself to be a universal ideal, the first overseas Table being formed in Copenhagen in 1936. During the war years Round Table in Denmark continued to expand although in the British Isles activity was restricted and was in the nature of a holding operation. After 1945 the pattern of growth was rapidly re-established. Round Table now flourishes in the majority of European countries, throughout Africa and in the Middle East, India , Hong Kong, and New Zealand .
Round Table Achievements
Round Table is known for it’s efforts to assist in its own community and to help that community’s less fortunate members; for its concern for the quality of life and for the help it gives to various charitable causes; for its purchase of a life-boat and other equipment for the R.N.L.I; for its support of the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust and for its assistance at Lockerbie and Dunblane. Community based activities at a local level include the organizing of events such as local fireworks evening and float collections at Chris tmas. These activities and many similar ones are not only great fun to organize but enable you to develop other skills which you may not use in your day to day work.
Another facet of Round Table, rarely acknowledged even by its members but of great importance to the individual, is the opportunity it provides for members to broaden their experience, to express themselves with clarity, to learn the art of leadership and to enhance their role as responsible citizens and to form lasting friendships.
Round Table International
Round Table exists in more than 50 countries and has as one of its aims “to further the establishment of peace and goodwill in international relationships”. As a result many Tables in this country have links or are “twinned” with overseas Tables with which exchange visits are arranged on a regular basis.
In addition Round Table supports a number of community service projects, particularly those in Africa and Asia , are supported by Tables in this country. Round Table has been instrumental in establishing clinics in Africa, refugee villages in Hong Kong and in the re-building of schools in India and Sri Lanka following the Tsunami.
For information about International Round Tables and links to other Country’s National Associations please visit the International Round Table Website at http://www.roundtable.name
The Individual Round Table
Most Round Tables meet in the evening on a twice monthly or fortnightly basis. The programme is varied, ranging from meetings with speakers on topical matters or matters of local concern to a wide range of activity based meetings such as karting, clay pigeon shooting, sailing etc. Within the broad framework of the rules of the National Association all Tables organise their own programme and make their own decisions on the community service activities which best suit their own localities. Each Table also organises a variety of social activities for members and their wives.