GUESTS from across Yorkshire, Northumberland, France, Spain, Canada and the Lebanon joined members of the Rotary Club of Northallerton in celebrating its 73rd anniversary.

A virtual black tie gathering was held online, with Rotary clubs represented from Halifax Calder, Seahouses, Wensleydale, Ripon, Harrogate, Knaresborough and Northallerton Mowbray. Two representatives from Ormesson sur Marne, the French town twinned with Northallerton, were also present, as was a Rotarian from Beirut in the Lebanon, and friends and family of the club.

President Chris Johnson welcomed all the guests and introduced Andrew Bateman, the District Governor of Rotary District 1040 (Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire), and his wife Hazel. Andrew congratulated the club on the impact of its contributions made over the years and currently to community projects locally and internationally.

He recognised Northallerton Rotary Club as “a secure and thriving link in the chain” of the world-wide organisation of Rotary making a big difference in the world.

The President’s guest speaker was George Scott from Seahouses and District Rotary Club, who told a fascinating tale of William Nightingale, the local Methodist preacher in the chapel at Craster in Northumberland in the 19th Century.

This colourful character, a staunch campaigner against alcohol and smoking, and fearsome defender of righteousness, was held in awe by his congregation, who supported their revered preacher despite an intriguing whiff of scandal. The final twist in the tale was that Nightingale was revealed as the great grandfather of President Chris Johnson.