Service Above Self

The Rotary Club of Colchester Forum are huge supporters of CENS, holding many successful fundraising events throughout the year. On 22nd April they are organising The Big Sleepout in Colchester Castle Park to raise money for 3 local charities including CENS.

We chatted to Tony Dutch, who joined The Rotary Club of Colchester Forum soon after retiring in 2011, to find out more about the amazing work they carry out within the community.

Tell us a bit about Rotary

The Rotary motto is ‘Service Above Self’. Rotary is a global network, aiming to create lasting change. Formed over 110 years ago, Rotary members believe they have a shared responsibility to take action on the world’s most persistent issues – homelessness being one of them. We work with local charities, such as CENS, Beacon House and the Colchester Foodbank, as well as several International Charities. We are a group of people who want to give something back.

How did you get involved with the Rotary Club of Colchester Forum?

I travelled the world with my job, dealing with large oil and gas electrical projects. When I retired, my neighbour mentioned joining the Rotary Club. I was looking for something rewarding to do with my time and really wanted to give something back to society, so it was the perfect opportunity.

Tell us about some of your fundraising events

There are so many, but we have recently raised money for CENS by organising a variety of annual events. The duck race which takes place at Castle Park Fun Day every year is always a fun favourite of mine. We also organise an annual 10k race which has raised thousands of pounds over the years. 4 years ago we did a Big Sleep Out which was a big success, and in April we will be holding another. It will be a fun event, with a real community spirit. Camps will be set up around the moat at the back of Colchester Castle and the Mayor and Bishop of Colchester will be attending. There is still time to sign up!

What other activities do you enjoy taking part in?

I particularly enjoy working within the youth sector. I help with the Junior Choir Competition. I also work with schools conducting mock interviews to help young people gain more confidence when applying for jobs. It’s so rewarding.

What do your family think about your work?

Well, my Dad worked in an orphanage many years ago and raised thousands of pounds. You may have heard of my son too – Peter Dutch – who set up the Colchester Anti-Loo Roll Brigade during the pandemic, which has become a huge community group. So I think that maybe charity and helping others is in my blood.

What’s next?

I’m doing lots of travelling at the moment, but I’m still enjoying playing a big part in the Rotary Club. Colin Bennett is the new President, so I am looking forward to working with him. Colin is also Director of Beacon House, so he is very knowledgeable about the issue of homelessness. One thing I would like to see, is more women getting involved in the Rotary clubs. We only have 6 women at the moment, so if anyone is interested??

Huge thanks to Tony and the Rotary Club of Colchester Forum, for their continued support. Their generosity and hard work has helped hundreds of our residents over the years. Keep up the good work and good luck with the Big Sleepout.

If you’d like to find out more about the Big Sleepout, contact Tony Dutch by email,

CENS Essential Shopping List

  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Sugar
  • Hot chocolate
  • UHT milk
  • Squash
  • Vgetable oil
  • Gravy granules
  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt & pepper
  • Stock cubes
  • Herbs and spices
  • Tinned fruit
  • Tinned/packet custard
  • Baked beans
  • Tinned tuna
  • Tinned vegetables & potatoes
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Kidney beans
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Jam, peanut butter, chocolate spread
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Men & women’s deodorant
  • Men’s razors
  • Shave gel
  • Shower gel
  • Toothpaste
  • Cloths
  • Scourers
  • Washing up liquid
  • Surface cleaners
  • Floor cleaner
  • Bleach
  • Bathroom cleaners
  • Bin bags
  • Food caddy liners
  • Loo roll
  • Washing tablets
  • AA batteries
  • NEW single duvets
  • Pillows/pillowcases
  • Single duvet covers/sheets
  • Clean/good condition towels

Please no soups!
Thank you