The Paul Harris Fellowship is an award bestowed upon worthy Rotary members. The presentation of Paul Harris Fellow recognition is The Rotary Foundation’s way of expressing its appreciation for a substantial contribution to its humanitarian and educational programs. It is named for our founder, Paul Harris, a Chicago lawyer who started Rotary International with three business associates in 1905.
Rotarians often designate a Paul Harris Fellow as a tribute to a person whose life demonstrates a shared purpose with the objectives of the Rotary Foundation.
Rotarian and former President Ken Haines presented this years winner Rotarian John Eldridge with the award.
His address follows:-
“John Eldridge was born on 19 July 1953 at the Mount Gambier Hospital to Claire and former Rotarian and Past President of the Rotary Club of Millicent – Doug Eldridge.
He has 2 brothers, older brother David and younger brother Peter. He lived in Mount Gambier for a few years, then moved to Beachport until the age of 8, then moved to Millicent.
John was more interested in sport than school work. He was a Prefect, House Captain and currently still holds the record for the 1,500 metres at Millicent High School. He used to go for a 6 mile run to Rocky Camp, across to Mt Muirhead and run in past the High School and home regularly after tea when training, in Volley sand shoes or Hush Puppies, which is probably why he was unable to continue playing hockey and has eventually needed knee replacements.
Hockey was his favourite sport as his knees could not handle football and he could not afford golf, as he lost too many golf balls with his slice. He used to maintain the grounds at Fred Bolton Oval during the hockey season and would umpire and coach hockey teams. Although he wasn’t the best gymnast he spent many years as a committee member and a coach at the Millicent Gym Club. He was presented Life Membership of both the Millicent Gymnasium and Millicent Hockey Clubs.
He commenced his working career at the Woods and Forest where he worked as a technical assistant for 2 years then went to Apcel Pty Ltd where he studied accounting by correspondence, obtained his accounting degree, and finished his employment as a Management Accountant, a job he greatly enjoyed, before being retrenched on the day of his 35 year milestone.
He met his wife Colleen while working at Apcel. She worked in the typing pool and after 7 years John eventually proposed and they were married in 1981. They have 3 children Heidi, Matthew and Belinda who to his delight all enjoyed participating in sport and gymnastics. This filled in many weekends taking them to their events, both locally and away, watching them compete.
John was on the committee and Chairperson of the Millicent North Primary School Governing Council for approximately 10 years and on the Committee of the Millicent High School Governing Council for 2-3 years.
He was Treasurer of the KCA Millicent Mill Social Club for over 20 years and was happy to be appointed to Kimberly Clark’s Community Care Committee by the KCA Managing Director at the time, Wayne Jones. John was able to convince the Managing Director to donate all the redundant computers to the local schools in this region rather than sending them back to Sydney which had originally been refused by management. He organised shipments of toilet paper to be donated to Greenhill Lodge and Fullarton Lodge Cancer accommodation Centres as part of the Community Care Program and numerous community donations were made by Community Care and the KCA Social Club.
While working at KCA, John always kept an eye on ways he could help the community by other means of raising money. He managed to have all of the railway sleepers removed from the redundant railway lines at the Millicent Mill and sold off for charitable causes and even the broken ones were cut up for a firewood raffle. John was made a Life Member of the KCA Millicent Mill Social Club in 2009.
He was a committeeman of the Blue Lake Y Swim Club while the children were involved in swimming competitively. He was a board member of the Millicent Work Option Centre for approximately 5 years until the merger with Bedford Industries. He volunteered his time during the construction of “The Domain” playground even though none of his children were still living at home.
John was inducted into The Rotary Club of Millicent on the 3rd of October 2003.
He has been a member of the Rotary board for 8 of his 10 years in Rotary serving as Treasurer for 3 years and having a break of 1 year to serve as President 2008-09 before returning to the Treasurer’s role, and has been in that position until the present time. He will continue as Treasurer next year.
He has been on the Photographic Art Show Committee since its inception 4 years ago and has spent many hours making trolleys for easier handling of the photographs and frames to display the photos.
John has been very involved in the planning, design and purchase of the new Rotary chip van and is always one of the first volunteers to work at any of the fundraising activities. He has been a regular participant at the Rotary Centenary Park working bees, weeding the young trees, spraying weeds or picking up fallen limbs and getting involved in cutting the old dead trees to sell for firewood to raise funds.
In 2009 a major highlight was being awarded the local Australia Day Award for his commitment to the community. John has never hesitated to give anyone a hand as he loves to keep busy.
John is currently on the Board of the Boneham Cottages and is Treasurer of the Rotary Club of Millicent.
During his retirement he has been involved in Rotary, helping out at the Rotary Park and other projects, playing Bowls, is a member of Canunda Friends of the Parks, Millicent Men’s Shed and likes tinkering around in his own shed.
He is trying to enjoy holidays in the caravan and has managed one overseas trip, last year to Canada.”
The Management and Board of 5THE FM congratulate John Eldridge on his win.