Inaugural dinner 25 May 1916: a contemporary account

This is a contemporary account of our inaugural dinner extracted from the BELFAST CONFERENCE NUMBER [OF] THE ROTARY WHEEL: THE MAGAZINE OF BRITISH ROTARY, Vol II, No. 4: July 1916, pp.121-122:

Leeds Inaugural Meeting
A brilliant gathering of over one hundred and twenty assembled at the Hotal Metropole, Leeds, on 25th May, with President Frank Horsell in the Chair, for the purpose of starting the Rotary ship on its maiden voyage. While the Leeds Club has been holding regular weekly luncheons for about three months, we felt that something of a more formal nature was desirable to give the Club a send-off, and as “banquets” are rather under a cloud in war-time, the function took the form of a meeting preceded by a simple dinner. This simplicity, however, was purely nominal, and beyond the fact that evening dress and music were dispensed with, there was little to show that it was not a ceremonial banquet. The Lord Mayor was there in his chain of office, accompanied by his mace-bearer, who also acted as toast-master. The tables were handsomely decorated, a number of electric standards, lent by Rotarian T. Smith of the General Electric Co., giving a brilliance to the appointments not usually seen. 
One of the most delightful features of the gathering – at least to us newly-fledged Leeds Rotarians – was the presence of our elder brothers from other cities. Liverpool, Manchester, Belfast, Edinburgh, and Newcastle were all represented. The President, Vice-President, and Secretary of the B.A.R.C.; Past-President Pratt of Liverpool; President Major-Doctor Allison of Newcastle, and Secretary Price of the same town; Past-President Councillor W.L.Sleigh of Edinburgh; Treasurer Scholefield and Rotarian Pearce of Manchester – all were welcome, and brought the spirit of Rotary from other towns. The B.A.R.C. banner (brought for the occasion by Secretary Stephenson) hung on the wall opposite the Chairman, and excited much admiration.

So much for the personnel and the arrangements. The dinner was well and promptly served, and then the flood-gates of oratory were opened. One cannot even give a résumé of all the speeches – there were seventeen speeches, and all spoke well. Major Allison struck the key-note when he replied for the Imperial Forces, and that note was sustained throughout the evening. The Lord Mayor told us much about Leeds, and suggested many things that Rotary could do for the city, including the raising of a trifle of £30,000 which he still wanted for the soldiers’ dependents. Alderman Clarke impressed even us Leeds men with the potentialities of Leeds industry. Then the Rotarians told us all about Rotary. Secretary Stephenson enlarged on what Rotary had done in British and Irish cities; Vice-President Thomason of Manchester – “the city that does no boasting” – enlarged on other aspects of the subject. 
Frederic William Wile
But the pièce de la résistance of the evening was the address by Mr. F.W. Wile of the Daily Mail., who spoke for fifty minutes on “How to Capture German Trade.” We all listened breathlessly to his masterful exposition of the subject, and while he told us of the crooked business methods of the [Germans], he exhorted us to cultivate efficiency in our commercial methods, to emulate the German methods of organisation, and to build up a tariff wall which no German could leap over. The address was an intellectual treat; it was a business tonic, and Mr. Wile should have the satisfaction of knowing that his opening address to Leeds Rotarians has made a lasting impression.

The function was a success in every respect. Leeds Rotary has had a send-off, perhaps, no other British Club has been fortunate enough to experience, and though the youngest affiliated Club, we feel now that we have had our baptism of fire, and can take our place in the firing line with full confidence in ourselves.