Rotary District 1410
Brief histories of the first clubs of each geographic region
Rotary Club of Mariehamn, the First Club of Aaland, Finland
Rotary International District 1410 Club No. 9943. District 1410. Chartered in 1947 as RI club number 6758. Date of Charter; Nov. 13th 1947 with 23 charter members.
Also see the history of Rotary in Finland 1926-1949
The home of an RI President
The Friendship Trees of Finland
At one Rotary Convention in the 1990s, Aaland was treated as a separate country but by 2005, it had been recognized as part of Finland.
Nevertheless few people have heard of it and fewer still could locate it on a map. Briefly, Aaland is one of the Baltic Sea islands consisting of an extensive archipelago with one major island, where the town of Mariehamn is situated. It is a self-governing region within Finland, with a Swedish speaking population of a mere 26.000 people. Aaland has its own parliament, its own flag and its own Postal service that has been issuing its own stamps since 1984. The Aaland flag celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2004 and a special stamp has been issued to commemorate this important event.
Since 1988, Aaland has been officially acknowledged by the RI board as a geographic region of its own within Rotary. A similar status is valid for the Faroes, Greenland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.
The Rotary Club of Mariehamn has grown in strength and number of members and is now a rather large club at around 90 members which is actively taking part in the 'new model' project within RI. Over the years one key feature of the club's activities has been the adornment and history of the town of Mariehamn by gathering and re-erecting important historical objects in the town. Among these is the windmill of the traditional form that was used on almost all farms in the islands right up to the 1940s.
This mill, with its foundation dating back to the 18th century, was bought and moved to the town and erected on the old mill hill by the club members.
The fully restored mill was handed over to the town in 1963. Three so called Flisoe-anchors were salvaged from the bottom of the sea, at the site of a naval battle fought in 1720 between a Swedish and a Russian fleet. After preservation and mounting, these anchors were donated to the town in 1966.
To further stress the importance of the seafaring tradition of the islanders, a fog bell from the Ledskaer lighthouse was obtained and provided with a suitable new foundation and moved to the town square, where it was unveiled in June 1995. This fog bell strikes 8 bells automatically daily at noon.
To commemorate the clubs 50th anniversary, the club planted one linden tree for each of the past Presidents along one of the main streets leading into town.
The club took a keen interest in the Polio Plus campaign in 1988, and was the outstanding contributor of the district. But perhaps the most important and continuous activity within the club is the youth exchange program. There is annually at least one student spending the year with the club, and frequently one local youth enjoys a fantastic year in some, usually far away, overseas country.
Two club members have held the office of District Governor; Bertel Lindroos in 1977-78 and Kai Uotila in 2003-04. At the Clubs 40th anniversary celebrations in 1987 the past RI President Rolf Klaerich with wife Katy, honoured the celebration dinner and ball with their presence.
Further information about the club and the Aaland Islands may be found at;- http://www.aland.net/rotary
This article was edited by Basil Lewis (29 October 2005) from an original by Rtn Ralph Sjöholm of the Mariehamn Club to whom our thanks are due.