Com­mu­nity

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By TERESA HAT­TAN

Their smiles said it all. How proud, how shocked and how over­whelmed they were.

All three were at Ro­tary Mata­mata’s weekly meet­ing un­der false pre­tences and all three were blown away when it was an­nounced they were to be awarded Paul Har­ris Fel­low­ships.

Long-time Mata­mata res­i­dents Neil Al­gar and Joan and David Stan­ley all said they were hon­oured to be pre­sented with Ro­tary’s high­est hon­our on April 14.

Al­gar was up first, in at­ten­dance for what he thought was guest speaker du­ties. Don Stan­ley be­gan the spe­cial evening by in­tro­duc­ing the for­mer mayor.

He said he had a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to make in re­gards to at­tend­ing the weekly Ro­tary meet­ing.

‘‘Should I come to Ro­tary and make this in­tro­duc­tion in per­son or should I go to Auck­land and watch the grand­son Matthew swim in his favoured 400m event. Swim­ming sounded far more ex­cit­ing,’’ he said as the crowd erupted in laugh­ter.

‘‘But duty prevails . . . I asked to be able to in­tro­duce Dr Neil Al­bert Al­gar tonight, as I have known Neil most of the 58 years he has been in Mata­mata. I wanted the op­por­tu­nity to not only take the mickey out of him, but also to make some very sin­cere com­ment.’’

And sin­cere it was. Don re­told sto­ries of adventure and suc­cess, de­tail­ing Neil’s long list of achieve­ments that span nearly six decades.‘‘Not only did Neil lead the Mata­mata coun­cil, he also played a sig­nif­i­cant role in many Mata­mata and na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions.

‘‘It is im­pos­si­ble to give a com­pre­hen­sive list of all Neil’s achieve­ments, but suf­fice to say, he has re­ceived a con­ser­va­tion award, been recog­nised by Li­ons with both a Melvin Jones and Lloyd Mo­gan Fel­low­ship, along with a Queens Ser­vice award in 1983.

‘‘His hon­esty and in­tegrity has never been in ques­tion. His con­tri­bu­tion to Mata­mata is sec­ond to none. Mata­mata grew from strength to strength un­der his guid­ance and it is dif­fi­cult to be able to pay ap­pro­pri­ate trib­ute. We know that you’re go­ing to talk about the Firth Tower and the His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, but be­fore you speak I would ask pres­i­dent Owen to present you with a Paul Har­ris Fel­low­ship in recog­ni­tion of your long and val­ued work to our com­mu­nity.’’

A stand­ing ova­tion moved Al­gar to tears.

Af­ter Al­gar spoke to Ro­tary mem­bers about the his­tory per­tain­ing to the Firth Tower es­tate, Barry McKey in­tro­duced the next part of the evening, re­it­er­at­ing the fact that the Firth Tower com­plex wouldn’t be in its cur­rent state with­out the ded­i­cated work of Joan and David Stan­ley.

He went on to out­line the var­i­ous groups and com­mu­nity groups the pair had been in­volved in over the years, with a fo­cus of course on

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