GILL Russell has been installed as the first woman president of Winchester Rotary at the handover ceremony at the Royal Hotel.

Until May 2011, she worked as a civil servant at the Department of Health and has lived in Winchester since 1980 with her husband Paul – himself a former Winchester Rotary president. She joined Rotary in 2009.

Outlining plans for 2014-15, she paid tribute to outgoing president Nick Bell – during whose tenure around £30,000 was raised for good causes.

Mrs Russell said: “It is a great honour to be entrusted with the leadership of Winchester Rotary and one which I greatly appreciate. I look forward to continuing our ongoing projects, as well as developing new ideas.

“We are the largest club in this area with a growing, diverse membership, which reflects the local community.

“One cause particularly close to my heart is the Rotary International global initiative – End Polio Now – so close to success, but which needs continued support as health systems break down in areas of war and unrest. As a polio survivor myself – of the last UK outbreak in the 1950s, I well understand the effects of this dreadful disease.”