The Mirror News

Foster Rotary honours Bill Davies with Paul Harris Fellowship

BILL Davies was accorded the great honour of a Paul Harris Fellowship at the meeting of the Rotary Club of Foster on October 8.

Paul Harris was a founding member of Rotary, which prides itself on being a world wide organisation which works towards the improved health, welfare, education and living conditions, including the near eradication of polio from the world, and local community projects.

The mission of Rotary is service to others and to bring peace and goodwill to all. For each $1,000 donated to Rotary International, a local club can nominate a community member who displays these characteristics in service to their local community.

The Rotary Club of Foster is delighted to honour local member Bill Davies with a Paul Harris Fellowship. He joins a select few local people who have been recognised for their contribution to the local and wider community.

In his presentation, Rotarian Barry Richards said of Bill:

“William Morgan Davies was born 31 January 1931, ‘fittingly’ in the main street of Foster – that’s where the hospital was in those days, the site now being occupied by the BP service station.

“Bill grew up in the area and attended school in Foster, leaving in the mid 1940s to help his father clean up the plains country on the Prom Road.

“Bill married June Vawser in 1954 and together they had five children – John, Gayle, twins Susan and Malcolm, and Phillip. June shared Bill’s interest in the community and they served in many organisations together. June, with Bill’s help, was a big supporter of the Anglican Church and the South Gippsland Hospital, along with the schools and many other organisations. Unfortunately, June lost her battle with cancer in 1996.

“Bill was inaugural President of the Young Farmers Club of Foster in 1950, and when ambulance drivers were community volunteers Bill was known to have driven the ambulance and always features on the donation list for the annual appeal.

“I can remember when the current hospital was built, it was not dissimilar to the effort we face for Prom Country Aged Care (PCAC). Bill, of course, had an impact here. The Foster War Memorial Arts Centre (FWMAC) – or Foster Hall as it was then known – burnt down in the early sixties and Bill was part of an enormous community effort to rebuild it.

“Bill has had a lifelong association with the Foster and District Agricultural Society and is a life member. He was the youngest ever President at the age of 21 after spending some years as Secretary. Sixty years later he is still a steward in the jumping arena. Maybe you remember the last Foster Show; it was a very hot day with many competitors choosing not to compete because of the heat, and Bill’s job was replacing the jumps when the horses knocked them down. This was 10 weeks after open heart surgery, and at 81 he still attends the working bees

“Bill served on School Council during the family’s primary education. He also served two terms as a councillor in the Shire of South Gippsland and one term as President prior to amalgamation. It is interesting to note that Bill’s father, John, served 32 years on Council unopposed and his daughter-in-law Mohya is currently a councillor.

“Bill is a long-time supporter of the Foster and District Historical Society and works the tourist roster, passing on his knowledge of the area’s history. Not only is Bill interested in our history, he is part of it.

“Bill is an active member of the Foster Community Association. One of his achievements within this organisation was the removal of the trees blocking the view from Foster North look out, a feat tried by many over the years but accomplished by Bill. The shire has now erected a viewing tower at the site.

“Over the years Bill has been a great supporter in the building and maintenance of the local swimming pool, basketball stadium, Banksia Lodge and showgrounds.

“In 1992 Bill was named Corner Inlet Citizen of the Year for service to the community.

“Bill volunteers at the Tourist Information Centre, passing on his local knowledge and making tourists feel welcome in the area. In fact, Bill has been known to turn up at his home after a shift with a foreign tourist to accommodate for the night, as they had been unable to find a bed through the centre!

“As you know, there is no transport from Foster to the Prom, making it difficult for tourists without vehicles to visit. Bill has been known on more than one occasion to put them in his car and drive them to the Prom.

“Bill’s greatest passion is football and the Foster Football Club of which he is a life member, and he takes most joy from seeing 190 young people play football and netball at this venue on any home game. I am told Bill was not a bad footballer in his day but he insists he was only assured of selection as he had a truck which was handy for player transport! He became President in 1978, winning a flag in his first year; we had not won a flag for 32 years. Those who claim to remember that celebration weren’t there! He went on to serve a further four years as president and win another flag in 1980.

“Just recently, when the new lights were turned on for a match against Stony Creek, Bill was on the gate at the start of proceedings, acted as interchange steward for the game, acted as MC for the opening ceremony, and returned next morning to clean up the ground rubbish.

“Bill has been a Probus member for many years, serving as President in 2001 and was instrumental in setting up the Meals On Wheels roster in Probus and has been known to deliver the meals on all five days.

“Bill is a great supporter of the community and I don’t think there would be a local organisation who has not benefitted in some way.

“Bill likes a night out and a bit of dancing and has a reputation as a stayer and whilst he enjoys himself until the end, he will never go home until the dishes are done, or the tables and chairs returned to storage, and the floor swept. He recently attended his grandson Scott’s wedding in Austria, the breakfast was held in a large hall and Bill told me how much he had enjoyed it. I said I suppose you helped with the tables and chairs. “Oh, I did give them a bit of a hand afterwards…”

“Over the last 10 or so years Bill has built a partnership with Agnes Van Tigglen who lost her husband Case to a heart condition. Agnes also is heavily involved in community service including Probus and the Hospital Auxiliary. Agnes can also be found on the gate along with Bill at Foster Football Club’s home games on the 7.30 am shift.

“Our community has benefitted greatly as a result of Bill’s “No problem, I’ll do it” attitude. And this Paul Harris Fellowship is the Rotary Club of Foster’s way of recognising a REAL GOOD BLOKE.”


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