A grandmother from Barnack has just become the new president of a thriving voluntary service organisation with 17,000 members.
Zena Coles, took the chains of office at the Association of Inner Wheel Clubs in Great Britain and Ireland on July 1.
There are 690 clubs across the country, divided into 29 districts, and over the next 12 months Zena will visit each district to meet members, speak at their events and offer support and encouragement.
Despite having a very busy schedule, Zena, a retired personal assistant and grandmother of four,is relishing the opportunity.
She said: “Inner Wheel is a fantastic organisation. Fun and friendship are at its core and with that comes success in fundraising and serving the community.
“It is a real honour to take on the role of president and I very much look forward to getting out and about and meeting as many members as possible.”
Inner Wheel was founded in 1924 by wives of Manchester Rotarians, who wanted a ladies’ club to run along Rotary lines. Until 1989, women could not join Rotary clubs.
Zena joined Inner Wheel 30 years ago. Her husband Lionel, a former Mercury general manager who died in 1992, was a Rotarian.
She added: “I started out as a member, then eventually became a club officer, then a district officer and rose through the ranks, serving as vice-president last year.
“Last year Inner Wheel raised £1.5 million for a range of different charities through all sorts of events.
“I look forward to seeing that excellent work continue during my year in office.”
Each year, the new president chooses a charity for Inner Wheel to support. Zena chose Beat – because a family member has suffered from an eating disorder.
Beat is the UK’s eating disorder charity and aims to challenge stereotypes and stigma, improve services and treatment and offer information, support and encouragement.
During the partnership, Beat ambassadors will visit Inner Wheel clubs across Great Britain and Ireland to talk about the charity’s work.
Clubs will also be encouraged to organise ‘Step and Smile’ sponsored walks during Eating Disorders Awareness Week in February 2017 to raise funds for Beat.
Zena said Inner Wheel’s strength comes from its army of members. She said: “Last year when there was serious flooding in Cumbria and Lancashire, the local district called for support.
“Inner Wheel districts across Great Britain and Ireland pulled out all the stops and raise nearly £40,000 to help victims.
“That was a great example of what we can achieve.”