A brief history
1984 was a memorable year for Rotarians in RIBI and a momentous one for the tens of thousands of disabled, men, women and children, invariably poor, who would receive in the coming decades a Jaipur Limb as the result of a visit by the late Peter Betteridge from the Rotary Club of Godalming, RI District 1250, and his wife Jessamine, to the remarkable limb making workshops of Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS) at the Sawai Man Singh (SMS) hospital in Jaipur, India. Serving as Rotary volunteers, Peter and Jessamine were astonished to see this centre where so many limbless people were treated. They saw how no disabled person was ever turned away, coming as they did to the centre by any method of transport and often from great distances in India, and how all were treated free of charge. They also observed the huge support given to the centre by Jaipur Rotarians and members of Inner Wheel.
Enthused by what he saw, Peter returned to the UK determined to support the work of BMVSS in Jaipur, and so began the Rotary Jaipur Limb project. The two principles of service above self that were at the heart of the work of BMVSS would be sustained over the years with the expansion of the project to set up Rotary Jaipur Limb camps and permanent Limb Centres throughout India and in many other countries in Asia, Africa and Central America, as well as continued support for BMVSS itself.
In 1988 support for the project extended beyond D1250 and it was included in the RIBI International Projects Library for the first time. In 1990, Rotarians from Kingston-on Thames, D1130, financed the first permanent Rotary Jaipur Limb centre in Khammam, and Rotarian Doug Bishop from the Rotary Club of Horley visited Khammam with Peter Betteridge to see the work first-hand. From then on both these Rotarians became increasingly involved with organizing camps and centres elsewhere in India. Also in 1990 the concept of free limbs went international with the establishment of the first permanent Jaipur Limb Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, sponsored by D3140 and the Rotary Club of Bournemouth. In 1993 D1070 Governor Barry Hodgkinson went to Honduras to see the first Rotary Jaipur Limb centre established in Central America, and during the early 1990s limb camps were held in several African countries, as well as in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
Growing interest across RIBI but also the death, in 1993, of Peter Betteridge made registration of the project as a Charitable Trust in 1994 inevitable and PDG Clive Addis-Jones from D1250 became the first Chairman with Doug Bishop effectively becoming Chief Executive, devoting endless time to organizing and advising Rotarians in RIBI and around the world. In 1996 PDG Edwin Jacks from D1190 became the second Chairman of Trustees and he set about recruiting more Trustees from across RIBI. The deaths of Doug Bishop and Edwin Jacks in early 1998 led to increasing devolvement of responsibility for the Trust, and wider participation from Rotarians in RIBI. Malcolm McCarthy from D1280 took over chairmanship of the Trustees at that time and a Management Committee was formed to oversee the growing number of RJLP projects world-wide with PDG Don Short from D1110 as its first Chairman. In 2000, following the resignation of Malcolm McCarthy, the chairmanship passed to PDG Gussie Hynes from D1160 in Ireland, but in 2003 the chairmanship returned once again to Clive Addis-Jones.
Regular visits by Rotarians inclusing Trustees Colin James from D1180, the late Gerry Powell from D1210, Don Short, and PDG and past RIBI International Service Chairman Subrahmanyam from D1150 in South Wales have ensured a continuing flow of projects, including limb camps, corrective surgery camps and permanent centres across the Indian sub-continent, and in Africa, and most recently in Haiti. To finance this activity the committed group of twelve Trustees and six Managers continue to generate considerable support from Rotary, Inner Wheel, Rotaract and Interact clubs across RIBI, and increasingly from groups and individuals outside the Rotary family. The enthusiasm for this special project by so many Rotarians has pushed the Trust to a level of activity never envisaged in the early years, and truly the Rotary Jaipur Limb Project has exceeded Peter Betteridge’s wildest dreams when he first started it in 1984.
The last few years have seen some important changes within the Trust.
In July 2004 Past RIBI President, PDG Norman Proctor from D1290 was appointed PRO. The sudden death in January 2005 of Trust Secretary PDG John Webb from D1240 was a considerable blow, but his widow Margaret, herself a Rotarian and Past District Chairman of Inner Wheel Margaret Webb, ably stepped into the breach and volunteered to take over his responsibilities, not least in arranging speakers for club or district events throughout RIBI. In July 2004 PDG Ron Marshall from D1210 succeeded David Seed as Treasurer, David replacing Don Short as Management Committee Chairman ,whilst Don was elected Vice-Chairman of Trustees.
In February 2005 David Seed, welcomed Rotarian David Kaye from D1290 to his first meeting. David, a French speaker who had worked in West Africa for many years, would go on to work with Don Short in developing permanent Jaipur Limb Workshops in that region and in District 9100, where there are many Francophile countries. During 2005 the Trust welcomed a second Patron, the eminent surgeon, Professor the Lord McColl of Dulwich CBE, MS, FRCS, FRCSE, FACS, Chairman of the Department of Surgery, Guy’s Hospital, and also Chairman of ‘Mercy Ships’.
The last few years have seen a remarkable shift in project support to both East and West Africa, whilst Indian Rotary clubs and the BMVSS centres at Jaipur and New Delhi have not been neglected. During this period the Executive committee under the chairman ship of David Seed has regularly met three times a year to ensure the smooth running of what has become a complex organisation. The Spring AGM continues to be attended by all Trustees & Managers and in the last two years also by other interested parties. The appointments by the Executive of Vice Chairman Don Short and Trustee Ganesh to oversee respectively all the African and Indian projects has streamlined much of the management. The appointment of two Past Presidents of RIBI Brian Stoyel and Norman Proctor as Trustees has done much to strengthen the organisation, countered only by the sad deaths of Trustees Colin James and PDG John Neasham, who with their individual skills as engineer and orthopaedic surgeon respectively had contributed much over many years.
In January 2010 a small party of Trustees, Managers and IW members visited several limb camps and centres in India and saw at first hand the wonderful work being done. The visit engendered the appointment of the Founder and Chief Patron of the BMVSS Shri D.R. Mehta as Patron of the RJLP, and resulted in his visit to address the RIBI Conference later that Spring. Undoubtedly the highlight of the year was the celebration of the silver anniversary at the AGM that spring, attended by RIBI President David Fowler with his wife Daphne and other invited guests. The terrible earthquake in Haiti in January 2010 inspired Rotarians in RIBI to offer assistance to Caribbean Rotarians to establish a limb centre in that devastated country and to train new technicians to deal with the many who had lost a limb as a result of their injuries. Don Short visited Haiti with his wife Rosemary in the autumn and with the help of donations from clubs throughout RIBI a fund was set up to support what turned out to be the largest project ever undertaken by RJLP, eventually costing over US$500,000.