History of Inner Wheel Day

History records the Celebration of World Inner Wheel Day in the first 25 years of International Inner Wheel

NB As advised by International Inner Wheel, this day is now known simply as "Inner Wheel Day" 

Extract from "International Inner Wheel - The First 25 Years" by Helena Foster OBE


The Executive and Honorary Secretary, Adelaide Lack were sitting in Berners Hotel, London, late one night after an Executive Meeting, when President-Elect, Helena Foster said 'I would like to have one day in the year when all Inner Wheel members would do something special and think of their fellow members around the world.'  Treasurer, Margaret Cross said, 'Do you mean something like the Guides 'Thinking Day'?  Helena replied 'In a way, but as well as thinking of other members, to do some kind of personal service'.

This was discussed and it was decided the day should be January 10th (our foundation day in 1924).  On that day in each year all members throughout the world of International Inner Wheel should unite in personal service and celebration, the idea being one of unity.  That night we had an embryo World Inner Wheel Day.

The response to the first celebration of World Inner Wheel Day was magnificent - and we were filled with pride and happiness as the letters poured in, describing so vividly the infinite ways in which members had brought joy and comfort to so many - old and young alike.

The following extracts compiled by Editor Audrey Sargeant speak for themselves and enrich our organisation.

Hundreds of letters from Clubs all over the world testify to the success of President Helena Foster's challenge.

From Districts 45, 46, 47:  The thought of keeping World Inner Wheel Day has been a great success in Denmark.

From District 13 Great Britain and Ireland - World Inner Wheel Day brought happiness to members in helping others and was a day given to us by our International Inner Wheel President:  may we thank her for this innovation.

Many and varied were the ways in which individual Clubs celebrated the occasion. In summarising these I hope to convey a true picture of the wonderful spirit which encircled our world of Inner Wheel and united members in friendship and service on January 10th 1970.

Commemorating the day with tree and shrub planting united Idle and Greengates (4) who planted a cherry tree in the grounds of the library where they meet;  Selby (4) who planted two shrubs in the grounds of Selby Abbey;  Chandigarh (India) who planted fruit trees at a hospital for crippled children;  Famagusta (Cyprus) planted 20 decorative trees on a new Avenue; Okehampton (17) planted a winter flowering cherry tree; Chelsea (13) presented an almond tree to the Warden of Crosby Hall where they hold their luncheon meetings;  Glasgow North (2) planted rose bushes around the Girl Guide Hall in which they hold their meetings; a Danish Club planted a tree at a new Home for the Aged; two shrubs have been planted in the garden of the Westerham Almshouses by Westerham (12) and in Whyalla (Australia) members planted a Jacaranda tree in a new beautification scheme for a "look-out" area.  Many clubs have fixed plaques, suitably inscribed to commemorate the day.

For many Clubs, particularly those for whom either the sunless or the sun-scorched days made meeting difficult, it was a day for writing letters to friends and lonely people.  A telegram was received by the President from Wynberg (S. Africa) saying "Warm thanks to you personally and predecessors for sympathetic and inspiring leadership.  We send World Inner Wheel Day greetings and good wishes to all everywhere.  May ideals of service and friendship flourish always."

Children were not forgotten, and trips to the pantomime followed by tea for the underprivileged were arranged by Wymondham (8); Seaford (14) and Balham (13).  Ainsty (4) entertained twenty deaf children to tea.  Colombo West (Ceylon) took gifts of clothing, cakes and sweets to thirty children in an orphanage and spent the evening with them, commencing with two minutes silence.  Bellerive (Tasmania) supported the "Sunshine Holiday Home" with a parcel of new and used clothing for the underprivileged children who often arrive for their holiday without even a change of clothes.  Epping (13) entertained a party of children in a Nursery Home.  Hampstead (13) donated money for football shirts and shorts to handicapped children at John Keats School.  Ipoh (Malaysia) visited mentally retarded children at Tanjong Rambutan Hospital, giving them a party with the accent on vitamin foods, and in Kingston (Jamaica) an afternoon's entertainment was arranged for about eighty children at the Mona Rehabilitation Centre.  Caerphilly (15) organised a party for local needy children.

From the needs of the young to the old and lonely. Home-made tea is always popular and this was provided by members from Banbury (9) for twenty old ladies and four old gentlemen in two geriatric wards at their hospital.  Gifts of stockings and socks were also taken.  Long Eaton (7) provided tea at Southlands Old People's Home.  St Boniface (Canada) visited a local Old Folks' Home with gifts of home baking.  Exmouth (17) gave a party for residents of a Rest Home, not only providing home-made cakes, but taking their own china, silver teapots, fancy tablecloths, etc.  Gillingham (12) entertained elderly, infirm ladies and men at Lennox Wood Home to an Old Tyme Music Hall and took gifts of fruit.  Harrogate (4) gave a party for forty Senior Citizens.

The elderly were also remembered with gifts of potted plants by Hayes and Harlington (13), Oxford (9) and Bognor Regis (14).

Leyton (13) bought a teak garden seat - suitably inscribed - for a local Nursing Home for the Blind, gave bowls of scented bulbs to the bedridden blind patients and plan to plant a garden of sweet smelling herbs.  Their President - our hard-working International Inner Wheel Treasurer Margaret Cross - made the journey with twelve members in pouring rain to make the presentations personally.

Parks and playgrounds have benefited from members' activities on International Inner Wheel Day.  Cairns (Australia) erected a picnic table and stools in a park being developed in the city.  Bangalore North (India) are equipping a children's playground as one of their projects - the foundation to be laid on January 10th.

Congratulations for the most unusual ideas must surely go to Brixham (17) who included tidying up graves in the churchyard in their service, and members of a Danish Club who went to a hospital as blood donors.

A Church service was considered a fitting way to dedicate themselves to the future by a number of Districts.   District 5 arranged a service in Manchester Cathedral. Scarborough (4) held a church service, the collection in aid of Oxfam.  Evensong at Chelmsford Cathedral was attended by local clubs.

The catalogue is never ending and only lack of space prevents our including all the International Inner Wheel Day activities about which you have written.  Two newly chartered clubs deserve special mention.  Lubeck in Germany, where members have purchased a piano for a blind singer to enable her to give lessons again, and Chandigarh in India where in addition to planting fruit trees, they will be feeding about 200 of the poor and hungry in the town.  Another club in its first year, Larnaca (Cyprus) has donated a refrigerator to the day infant school they have adopted.  Douglas (Isle of Man) members have donated the magificent sum of £100 to assist in starting a Meals on Wheels service in Douglas.  Many clubs chose to donate to their favourite charity, including Dr Malti Rana's Leprosy project, Sue Ryder, Pater Pire, 'Swallows' (a Danish beneficial organisation), Red Cross, British Heart Foundation, children in need in Biafra, etc.

Perhaps we should give Newton Abbott (17) the last word:  "It was wonderful to remember that thousands of Inner Wheel members all over the world are observing this special day."

Later we heard from the Philippines, with press cuttings of the excellent publicity they had achieved in the Manila Times about the significance of this Day; Kalamunda, Western Australia mended linen at a hospital, Singapore took gifts to an Old People's Home, South Africa wrote letters; Kuala Lumpur visited a Leper Colony who like visits from the public; Mombasa gave a party for 85 physically handicapped children and Kirenes in the far North of Norway helped a family in great need.

Clubs have continued to celebrate World Inner Wheel Day throughout the years with extra personal service as well as social events.  It was a delight to read in the 25th Anniversary history of Larnaca, Cyprus, "In all these years our International Inner Wheel Day on 10th January was regularly observed.  On such occasions we always visited Hospitals, Homes for the Elderly, Homes of Retarded Children and other benevolent institutions."

Long may our world wide unity continue to grow.