Ea­gles so­ci­ety marks its 50th an­niver­sary

CHB Mail - - NEWS -

By ANENDRA SINGH

If the late Glad­stone Wil­son was around to­day he would have been im­mensely proud of what the Ea­gles So­ci­ety of Hawke’s Bay Inc has achieved, says his son, Stuart Wil­son.

“He was very proud of be­long­ing to the Ea­gles so­ci­ety and I’ve still got his blaz­ers,” said Stuart after the Hal­berg Dis­abil­ity Sport Foun­da­tion marked the 50th an­niver­sary of its as­so­ci­a­tion with the Ea­gles Golf­ing So­ci­ety of New Zealand (Inc) Bay branch with a morn­ing tea and round of golf at the Waipuku­rau Golf Club last month.

Glad­stone Wil­son was the first Hawke’s Bay rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the so­ci­ety in 1964 after a meet­ing at Wairakei, Taupo, had dis­cussed the con­cept of a na­tional so­ci­ety the year be­fore.

In 1980, the HB branch be­gan stag­ing an an­nual tour­na­ment to sup­port its na­tional body, which in turn had been sup­port­ing the Hal­berg foun­da­tion since 1969.

The tour­ney is played at the Napier Golf Club and this year the HB so­ci­ety will host its 40th. To date, it has raised $352,260 for the Hal­berg foun­da­tion, which Olympian Sir Mur­ray Hal­berg es­tab­lished in 1963 with the aim of en­hanc­ing the lives of phys­i­cally dis­abled New Zealan­ders by en­abling them to par­tic­i­pate in sport and recre­ation.

Glad­stone Wil­son, who won the Waipuku­rau club cham­pi­onship about eight times — the most any­one has — was ded­i­cated to golf.

“He used to smoke his pipe,” says 70-year-old Stuart, who em­u­lated his fa­ther’s feat in be­com­ing a scratch hand­i­cap­per.

“Ev­ery­one used to say as long as his pipe was lit and he was puff­ing out smoke he was pretty re­laxed,” he says.

Glad­stone Wil­son went on to be­come the in­au­gu­ral pres­i­dent of the HB branch, some­thing Stuart wasn’t aware of un­til branch sec­re­tary Jamie MacLeod had in­vited him two years ago to present a few awards at the an­nual tour­ney.

Stuart, a semi-re­tired crop­ping and live­stock farmer, still farms a stone’s throw away from the Waipuku­rau club and he re­calls when his fa­ther owned and farmed the prop­erty di­rectly op­po­site the club.

“I could walk across the road and play golf,” say Stuart, adding that his fa­ther would prob­a­bly have too.

“If you had had a bad shot you could have prob­a­bly ended up in one of our pad­docks.”

The Hal­berg foun­da­tion has a team of ad­vis­ers based through­out the coun­try who con­nect phys­i­cally dis­abled peo­ple with sport and recre­ational op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Bran­don Wool­ley, the Welling­ton/ Hawke’s Bay ad­viser, thanked the HB so­ci­ety at the func­tion last month.

The foun­da­tion pro­vides grants to phys­i­cally dis­abled young peo­ple to help cover the costs of adap­tive sports equip­ment, les­sons and camps. The NZ Ea­gles so­ci­ety raises funds for the grants and it is an­tic­i­pated $5 mil­lion will have been raised by the end of this year.

The Ea­gles’ con­cept was first con­sid­ered in 1956 when nine Auck­land men felt that they should be putting some­thing back into golf. Twenty men held an in­for­mal meet­ing and the name Ea­gle was adopted.

Ea­gles so­ci­ety na­tional pres­i­dent David Howie and na­tional sec­re­tary/ trea­surer Jeremy Bal­lan­tyne, both of HB, also were among the in­vited grant re­cip­i­ents and guests.

The na­tional body com­prises 15 re­gions with 104 mem­bers, com­pris­ing ac­tive, non-ac­tive and honorary af­fil­i­ates. The non-profit so­ci­ety also helps Bay clubs with vis­its, na­tional am­a­teur cham­pi­onships in­volv­ing men, women and ju­niors, pro­motes ju­nior golf in the prov­ince.

PHOTO / PHO­TO­SPORT

The Ea­gles Golf­ing So­ci­ety of Hawke’s Bay Inc mem­bers gath­ered at Waipuku­rau Golf Club to mark its 50th an­niver­sary of as­so­ci­a­tion with the Hal­berg Dis­abil­ity Sport Foun­da­tion last Sun­day.

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