50 Years Ago In the Beginning – The Kiwanis Club of Kingston

Kiwanis 50 years service logo 2ABGold

Although he may not have been the first person to have had the idea, he certainly was the first person to act on it. That person was Alan Talbot, an English Insurance executive who was working in Jamaica in the early 1960’s. He had attended a Kiwanis meeting at the Kiwanis Club of Nassau as a luncheon guest and was impressed with what he saw and expressed an interest in forming a Club in Kingston, Jamaica. The New Club Building Chairman of the Nassau Club agreed to help Alan in the preliminaries of organizing a Kiwanis Club in Kingston.


Back in Kingston, Alan started discussions with a number of businessmen whom he thought would have the vision and the aptitude to grasp the concept of bringing a service club into being. One of those men was R. Frank Melhado who was to become the Charter President of the Club.


Gradually, they recruited more business and professional men who recognized the contribution a Kiwanis Club could make to a newly independent Jamaica and who were prepared to sacrifice some of their precious spare time. Dene Meikle, then President of the Kiwanis Club of Nassau, paid several visits to Jamaica to help guide the process.


Although initially the plan was to seek affiliation with the Florida District that had agreed to Jamaica becoming part of that District, Florida later reneged so Frank Melhado then approached the Canadian District that the Kiwanis Club of Nassau was a part of and they welcomed Jamaica with open arms. That District was then called Ontario, Quebec & Maritimes later to be renamed Eastern Canada & Caribbean to reflect the increasing Caribbean presence.


The first pre-organizational meeting was held at the Sheraton Kingston Hotel on Tuesday, January 7, 1964 when 14 prospective Kiwanians embarked on the task of building the membership up to the required minimum of 25 for the organization of the Club. This number was surpassed and on March 24, 1964, the 5,224th club in Kiwanis International was organized. It was the 3rd club in the Caribbean and Jamaica became the 12th Kiwanis nation.


On May 16, 1964 when International President-Elect, Edward B. Moyland presented the Charter at a banquet at the Sheraton Kingston Hotel, the membership stood at 71. From very early, there was a determination from the leadership that this club would not be a “knife and fork” club and that the members would be required to participate vigorously in community service activities and in general activities that tended to depend on charity.


Since those early days, some things have changed. For example we no longer meet at that hotel that was once the Sheraton, then the Hilton and the Wyndham because of another fire which resulted in the Club again losing much of its memorabilia. Many Major Projects have been undertaken; many new Clubs have been formed; many Service Projects have been carried out; many of our members have assumed greater leadership roles; many young lives have been saved; many young people have been motivated to achieve their goals and many of the less fortunate have been helped to make their lives a little better and many of our stalwarts have passed on. But since the focus is still to serve the children of the world, the Kiwanis Club of Kingston continues to strive to uphold the ideals of the Kiwanis movement.




About ideasjamaican

Graduate Civil Engineer and MBA Graduate from Stern School of Business, NYU. Primary interest in investing and entrepreneurship. Involved in the Beauty Care Industry. Love photography, sports, international politics, writing about things that concern me and things Jamaican. Want to see Jamaica fulfill it's full potential.
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