Weekender

United Club turns 40

Written By : SITERI SAUVAKACOLO. THE United Club, one of Fiji’s oldest social clubs will stage a week-long celebration from August 19-27 to mark its 40th anniversary on its present
18 Mar 2011 12:00

Written By : SITERI SAUVAKACOLO. THE United Club, one of Fiji’s oldest social clubs will stage a week-long celebration from August 19-27 to mark its 40th anniversary on its present site.
Over the years the United Club in Williamson Road in Suva has been and still is the famous social ground for Cabinet ministers, prominent businessmen, academics, sports personalities and ordinary citizens.
The club was born one night way back in 1941 by a small group of Suva and Nausori part-Europeans in the hope of forming an organisation, which was intended to “better their lot”.
From that meeting the United Improvement Association was conceived.
The current Williamson Road property was formerly a Bishop’s residence but later bought by Tui Johnson’s family before it was being purchased by United Club for 1500 pounds in December, 1946.
The first elected chairman was Sir Hugh Ragg.
The actual excavation works to construct the current building by A.Lateef and Company. Limited began in April, 1970.
Former prime minister, the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara opened the $100,000 clubhouse in August, 1971.
Only two out of the eleven executives who were initial committee members are still alive today in Fiji.
“I’m so grateful that I’ve gone through the times and met so many famous people and intellectuals through the United Club.
There have been numerous fond memories at this watering hole I can’t recall all of them during the past 40 years” said Benjamin Oyagawa, one of the two surviving members from the first committee who started the club.
The other surviving member still frequenting the spot is Ted Seeto.
“We would like to have a wonderful bash and reminisce over the good and bad times,” says Isimeli Cerelala, currently the vice-president and a club member for the past 34 years.
“I’m proud of club because two of my children were brought up through kindergarten at this place and the fact that I represented Fiji through squash where I got a silver and bronze medal during the South Pacific Games in 1983 and 1991 makes me feel very proud of United Club,” he added.
A series of monthly events will be held as a build-up to the August celebrations where some former members from overseas are expected to attend.
The President of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau is the patron and Harold Swann is the club president.
At present there are slightly more than 200 financial members of the club.


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