Rugby Rotary Club, Great Central Way, centenary
The three-year volunteer project is now complete.

Invitation to join Rotary’s celebrations to mark completion of The Great Central Way

ROTARIANS in Rugby are inviting residents to join a community celebration marking the completion of their centenary project to upgrade a 1.2km section of The Great Central Way.

On Saturday 2nd April members from all three of the town’s Rotary Clubs will host a special event to recognise the work of volunteers over the past three years.

Rugby Rotary Club has been working in conjunction with Rugby Borough Council and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust to upgrade the section of the former railway line between Hillmorton Road and Abbey Street, a project which last year received the Rotary Club of Great Britain and Ireland Environmental Award.

Rugby Rotary Club, Great Central Way, centenary
A look back to the early stages of the project in 2020 with Rotarians laying track
Great Central Way, Rugby, Rugby Rotary, centenary
Volunteers were taught strimming and hedge-laying skills.

It was selected as the winner from projects across the UK which fulfil the sustainability criteria, as set out by a judging panel made up of members of The RGB&I Environment Sustainability Group and ESRAG British Isles Chapter.

The celebrations, from 11.45am until 12.15pm on April 2nd, will feature fun for all ages, including Street Theatre, music and songs, outside Hunt’s Bookshop.

As part of International Children’s Book Day, it also heralds the launch of the Rotary Reading Relay. Collaborating with more than a dozen schools from across the borough, it forms part of ‘A Culture of Reading’ between 4th and 7th April, themed on Railways and the Environment.

The Way ceased use as a railway in 1965 when Rugby Central Station was also demolished. Without the resources to manage it along its full length, the council handed over the lease to Warwickshire Wildlife Trust which now maintains the section south of Hillmorton Road. But they didn’t have the resources to manage the northern section.

As part of the upgrade, last summer three new bespoke benches, funded by The Rugby Group Benevolent Fund, were installed along the Way. The design, by Cawston artist and former Rotarian Eric Gaskell, incorporates trains, pedestrians and a cyclist as well as wildlife.

Rex Pogson, for the Rotary Centenary Committee, said: “The three Rotary Clubs of Rugby regularly work with young people and adults from organisations for the good of the community and all are invited to join the fun and bring their friends.

“It’s a delight that the Rotary Clubs in the town are celebrating the 100 years since the founding of the Rotary Club in Rugby first brought the Rotary motto of Service Above Self here.”

He added: “We’re marking the year in all sorts of ways. It’s the culmination of a four-year project to improve the Great Central Way: Laurence Wilbraham and a team of volunteers, working with Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and the Rugby Borough, have put in thousands of hours.

“That’s given us the themes for this informal celebration of them, and a celebration too of the thousands of young people and adults in the town who do so much, year after year, for the quality of our community life.

“Rotary is honoured to work with them in so many ways. This is a bit of fun to say thank you to them all.”

Great Central Way, Rugby, Rugby Rotary, centenary
Volunteers David Sims, Andy Wright and Bob Holloway with one of the new benches installed last year.

Some volunteers have even been specially trained in strimming and hedge-laying for the project, which has managed to continue despite lockdowns.

For further information about the Great Central Way project or any of the Rugby Rotary Clubs – Rotary Club of Rugby; Rotary Club of Rugby Dunsmore and Rotary Club of Rugby Saturday, visit here