Royal Over-Seas League

Royal Over-Seas League

For more than 100 years, members have supported arts, welfare and humanitarian activities in the name of international friendship

The Royal Over-Seas League (ROSL) is a unique non-profit organisation, dedicated to championing international friendship and understanding within the Commonwealth and beyond. This aspiration, advocated by founder Sir Evelyn Wrench, has shaped ROSL’s identity since the club was established in 1910.

His vision to embrace the British Empire, not just as a political and economic network, but as a “far-flung brotherhood of individual men and women of diverse creed and races living widely apart under differing conditions in different latitudes”, continues to inspire ROSL’s support of the Commonwealth. This takes the form of social, arts and welfare activities, as well as providing members with a clubhouse in London and Edinburgh.

Members actively support the arts in all their forms, as well as generously championing a range of education and humanitarian projects established by ROSL in the Commonwealth and beyond. From donating spectacles for eye-care camps for Sri Lankan tea plantation workers, to sponsoring school bursaries for children in Kenya and providing books and equipment for schools in Namibia, ROSL’s humanitarian projects continue to grow, thanks to its members’ support.

ROSL members are also active in supporting thousands of outstanding young musicians and artists from the UK and the Commonwealth by providing sponsorship, travel and performance opportunities. The world-renowned ROSL ARTS Annual Music Competition, now in its 63rd year, boasts an impressive alumni of past prize winners, including Piers Lane, Barry Patterson, Jagdish Mistry, Jonathan Lemalu, Ashan Pillai, Melvyn Tan, John Lill and Jacqueline du Pré. A selection of recent prize winners, including 2014 gold medallist Huw Wiggin, entertained members and visitors at the Edinburgh clubhouse this summer during the critically acclaimed Music @100 Princes Street concert series – part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

ROSL also proudly supports artists from across the Commonwealth – over the last 12 years it has provided everything from bursaries for artists, to complete residencies at Hospitalfield House in Arbroath, Scotland. Recently, scholars from Canada, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, and Trinidad and Tobago have benefited from this scheme and the opportunity to exhibit at prestigious galleries across the UK.


Humanitarian and development projects in Botswana

In the Okavango, Botswana, ROSL is working closely with the national training authority and the Trust for Okavango Cultural and Development Initiatives (TOCADI), to develop short courses for villagers in eco-tourism at a new centre in Shakawe. It is also getting involved with other TOCADI social enterprise projects, including setting up a craft centre in the upper Okavango panhandle; establishing the Okavango Heritage Trail, which allows each community to offer a different cultural experience for tourists en route; creating a Shaikarawe Forestry Reserve to assist San (Bushmen); and building new elephant-proof wells.

ROSL also provides much needed financial support to pioneering projects, such as Anne Stine’s School for the Disabled in the southern Botswana village of Molepolole. The school has 24 pupils with a wide range of disabilities, who are collected from home and taken to school each day. The government pays the teachers’ salaries but other needs, including wheelchairs and learning resources, are met by the generosity of the League’s members through voluntary £1 add-ons to bedroom bills, legacy donations and charitable contributions.

It has also established links with St Peter’s Pre School Day Centre near Gaborone to help the school overcome challenges such as irrigation, water charges and adequate food supplies, as well as general resources. With its spotless classrooms, good discipline, vegetable garden and chapel, it prepares children from very poor backgrounds for entry into the state school system.

John K. Adams, the well-known American pianist and ROSL member, says: “I like the idea of belonging to a club which also helps those who are most in need – whether it’s food, water, shelter or getting an education.”

Adams is also a generous independent donor to ROSL projects in Namibia.


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