Skip to content



It was with great sadness that the members of the Rotary Club of Brixham learnt of the passing of one of its members, Andrew Millar, this week.

Andrew was the best example of a Rotarian and he exemplified the Rotary message of “Service before Self”. Well known in Brixham when working for MDL Marinas and for his radio shows on Riviera FM. Andrew was always ready to help support the Rotary Club in its fund raising for local charities.

He will be sorely missed by all of his friends and the Rotarians send their condolences to Andrew’s Husband Kenneth and his family and friends.

Ralph Edward Bell

Although Christened Ralph he was always known as Bob in order to differentiate him from his father who was also known as Ralph. Ralph Senior was a founder member of The Rotary Club of Brixham and President in 1961.

Born 10th of May 1934 in Brixham Hospital.

Educated at Totnes Grammar School and later studied at a London College where he qualified as a Chartered Engineer.

After becoming qualified Bob assisted his father in running Bell’s Garage in New Road, Brixham and then became the sole proprietor when his father died until he decided to sell the business.

He met and married Valerie.

During this period Bob was chairman of Brixham Round Table and also of Brixham Chamber of Trade and Commerce. On leaving Round Table he joined the Brixham Rotary Club.

After the sale of the garage Bob decided on a change of career and became a qualified teacher going on to teach Mechanical Engineering at colleges in London and later in Yeovil.

After retiring from teaching he returned to Brixham and very actively served the local community.

He re-joined Rotary where he acted as President on two occasions in 1995 and 2000 and he was appointed a Church Warden of St Mary’s Church for a period of 10 years. During this time he became very actively involved in the buildings maintenance in addition to the Church’s management and finances, and of course, Bellringing!

Valerie was also very involved in both the Church and The Inner Wheel. She predeceased Bob. Bob was both the President of the local club and District Chairman.

Latterly Bob suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and lived for the last two years in Belmont Care Home. He died on the 23rd May 2021.


We gathered socially distanced at the Brixham Cricket Club in October 2020 to celebrate the life of Geoff Sonley.

On Thursday the 22nd of October a group of 21 Rotarians and Friends of Brixham Rotary gathered (appropriately socially distanced) to salute and tribute to the funeral cortege of Geoff Sonley. This took place at the Brixham Cricket Club entrance in North Boundary Road, where later a wake was held to celebrate Geoff’s life and contribution to Rotary.

On the 26th of July 2020, The Rotary Club of Brixham held a virtual presentation for Paula Hislop, a teacher at Brixham College, to recognise the sterling work she has done in leading the successful formation of the new Interact Club for students of the College.

Also receiving awards was retired Rotarian, Geoff Sonley, who was also presented with a Paul Harris Fellowship Certificate and Pin for his role in helping set up the Interact Club with Paula. Also in attendance was Rotarian Peter Bush who was presented with his second Paul Harris Fellowship Pin for his work within the community of Brixham and also for assisting Paula.

President, Adrian Laurie, who presented the awards, said “It gives me the greatest pleasure to present these awards to Paula, Geoff and Peter who have worked so hard in forming the Interact Club of Brixham that has become a success story in the family of Rotary.” He continued “Social distancing had to be maintained for the presentation and I am sure the new Interact Club at the College will go from strength to strength.”

Paula Hislop said “This wonderful award was a total surprise to me.”

Mike Lakey

It was with great sadness that we marked the passing of our member Mike Lakey. A family restricted funeral service was held at All Saints Brixham on Friday 17th of July (available as an online video memorial) and a wake was held at Berry Head Guardhouse Cafe.

A fitting service was held via ZOOM video broadcasting in which 30 online subscribers took part. A wake celebration of Mike’s life, heroic acts and adventures was held at Berry Head Guardhouse cafe to which 15 Rotarians attended.

The event was completed by an RAF helicopter flypast of search and rescue aircraft Mike had flown during his career. Mike took part in many rescue missions, the most noteworthy of which was the rescue of 24 men, women and children from the Swedish Chemical cargo carrier Finneagle which was exploding, burning and sinking in gale force winds and high winter seas off the Hebrides in October 1980.

Flt Lt Mike Lakey was awarded the George Medal; Flt Lt Bill Campbell the Air Force Cross; Sgt Rick Bragg the Air Force Medal; Flt Lt Dave Simpson and Sqn Ldr Hamish Grant were awarded Queens Commendations.

All 5 were awarded the Silver Medal of the Swedish Society for the rescue of shipwrecked seamen. The crew were the first recipients of the Edward & Maisie Lewis Award from the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners Royal Benevolent Society.

Mike Lakey was awarded the International Helicopter Heroism Award from the Aviation & Spacewriters Guild of the USA, the Order of the Golden Lions of Sweden, and was also voted ‘1980 Scot of the Year’ by Radio Scotland listeners.

Several of the awards were accompanied by generous cheques to the RAF Benevolent Fund.

Richard Withey

It has been a long-held tradition in the Rotary Club of Brixham to present Past Presidents with a Paul Harris Fellowship Certificate and Pin for their guidance, leadership and services to Rotary throughout their Presidential year.

This has not happened recently and so President Adrian Laurie, began by presenting a Paul Harris Fellowship Certificate and Pin in Memoria, to Richard Withey’s widow Moira, in recognition of Past President Richard Withey’s service to this club as President and notably his work as an instigator in the formation of the Interact Club at Brixham College.

Also for introducing the Sundowner evenings on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month that so many members attend.