Rotarian celebrates 50-year membership

Accomplished . . . Balclutha Rotary Club’s Cliff Gray has hit a milestone 50 years of membership and commitment to the club. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

A Balclutha service club member celebrated a milestone 50 years of membership recently.

Cliff Gray was inducted into the Balclutha Rotary Club in February 1972, and has always been an active member of the community.

Recently, Mr Gray’s friends and associates threw him a surprise 1970s›themed night in celebration of his services and dedication to the club.

‘‘I was blown away by the organisation of the night. It began with a surprise video from my daughter who lives in Australia, who spoke of my earlier Rotary years, and the club members made me a cake in celebration as well, which was amazing. I did not expect it at all,’’ he said.

Mr Gray said he had filled most positions in the club and had thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many people during his years as a Rotarian.

‘‘I may be less physically able now, but I have and always will continue to enjoy Rotary and the opportunities that the club provides.’’

Mr Gray reflected on his many years in the club, and spoke of the changes he had seen.

‘‘Back then, Rotary was strictly male. The wives of Rotarians would be invited to what we called ‘ladies’ nights’ and we would have four or five of these each year. That was before the Inner Wheel, the club for wives of Rotarians, was established, and before women in Rotary clubs were introduced.

‘‘Alongside that, you had to have a minimum of a 60% attendance rate for meetings, otherwise your resignation from the club would be considered. You could make up your attendance at different Rotary clubs in other towns, if needed. I once attended a Rotary meeting in Singapore to make up my attendance,’’ he said.

He said he personally enjoyed being appointed the Rotary Youth Leader Award(RYLA) chairman in 1981, and fulfilling three other roles at a district level. He said one task he was glad to achieve was computerising the entire records of Balclutha Rotary, which took him many hours of programming.

‘‘I had to extract essential data of names, vocations, times of memberships and other information and computerise it. Then I pulled a whoopsie one day and had to recover a whole lot of information from the old computer back at the club.

‘‘It was definitely a long process, but in the end I recently uploaded the whole lot on to an Excel spreadsheet. It worked after many unsuccessful attempts, so that was a relief,’’ he said.

He also recalled leading and organising other programmes and events, some of which no longer existed, such as the Senior Cititzens’ Picnic; cleaning the Totara Avenue Cemetery before the Clutha District Council took over the maintenance; the Bottle Drive; selling salmon when it was available; and the delivery of telephone books to local homes, all of which he loved contributing to.

‘‘I have always enjoyed being a Rotarian. It is always a pleasure meeting new people and serving a community alongside others.’’