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