The year 2020 will go down in history as a strange year that has presented many obstacles to the residents of Bendigo with many members of the community severely affected. Some members of the Rotary Club of Bendigo have been affected in varying degrees, not the least the ability to gather together for club functions and fellowship.
For many Club members the weekly lunch meeting at the Bendigo Club in Strathdale is an integral part of their social calendar, catching up with friends and colleagues and the withdrawal of this option has been a demonstrative loss to them with both emotional and physical symptoms.
The Club has maintained weekly meetings in front of their computer screens over the Zoom platform and as much as this maintained some aspects of the social catchup, it was not applicable to all members and it never replaces the physical aspect of greeting each other face to face.
So it was with great fanfare that the Rotary Club of Bendigo finally got together, in one physical place, for the Annual Christmas function.
President Graeme Clarke welcomed over 70 members, partners and guests to the event at the Mandurang Winery on Sunday, December 13 and the club finally got the chance to both celebrate the Club’s achievements and recognize some outstanding individual efforts over the previous years.
Immediate Past President Michael Pearson had planned to recognize these efforts during the June presidential changeover dinner, but alas the ability to gather in numbers at that time was severely limited. The club awarded two members, Greg Galloway and Rod McDonald, with Paul Harris Fellowship recognition and another member, Peter Hyett, with the Royce Abbey Award.
Greg Galloway has been a member of the Club since 2014 and during that time his work on club projects and his commitment to the ideals of Rotary saw him receive the Ray Downey Award, for a member of less than 5 years, in 2015. Greg’s work ethos saw him play a major role in the Event Parking project and roles in the Vocational Committee and the Membership, Community Action and Operation Cleft committees.
Similarly Rod McDonald has been a member of the Rotary Club of Bendigo since April 2007 and immediately took up roles in the Art Show committee, the Foundation directorate, the Bowel Scan and Mother’s Day Classic projects, the Membership committee, Operation Cleft committee and Rod was President of the Club during the year Greg Galloway joined.
In 2019 the Rotary Club of Bendigo recognized the commitment of Greg and Rod when the Club donated US$1000 to the Rotary Foundation in their names, identifying them as a Paul Harris Fellows, named after the founder of Rotary International, Paul Harris. They join a remarkable company of people throughout the world, all recognised for their commitment to ‘Service Above Self’ to benefit their local and international communities.
Completing the trifecta was the recipient of the first Royce Abbey Award, Peter Baker, attending the function to explain the origins of the award, named after Royce Abbey who was President of Rotary International 1988-89 and a member of the Rotary Club of Essendon from 1954 to his passing in 2014 at the age of 91.
The theme for that presidential year of 1988-89 was ‘Put Life Into Rotary, Your Life’ and fittingly the club recognized the work of Peter Hyett with this award. Before coming to Bendigo Peter was a member of the Rotary Club of Echuca-Moama (Club President 2000-2001) for 22 years and transferred to the Rotary Club of Bendigo in 2009. Peter has used his extensive knowledge of rural communities and connections within those communities to help the Club extend its support to regions across the country, particularly during these past years of drought.
For over 30 years Peter has demonstrated a strong commitment to the ideals and work of Rotary and he was genuinely humbled to receive this award as he had a strong connection with the family of Royce Abbey over his years in Echuca.
After recognising the award recipients their extended families were welcomed to surprise them and join in the celebrations. An outstanding day in the gardens at Mandurang Winery was enjoyed by all with the long lunch table being a fitting way to celebrate the coming together of Club members for a Christmas cheer and much needed fellowship opportunity.