Saturday, 30 July 2016

By design and accident, Masterton Rotary has made a multi-generational contribution to Masterton

Tom Ward with Merv Brown QSM and the Splinter Group project 
Masterton Rotary was founded in 1925 and had made a huge impact on the Masterton landscape.  When I saw the projects Masterton Rotarians had achieved I could not help but reflect on our early pioneers who had created parks and amenities for future generations - and that is what Masterton Rotary has done.

Their flagship project is Henley Park which covers many hectares of parkland, paths, lakes and wetlands.  There are signs of Masterton Rotary everywhere - the covered barbeques, seating, bridges and the towers designed by Past Rotary International Director and PDG Neill Inkster.  Also the gates and paths created in 2005 as a Rotary Centennial project, to name a few.  And the work continues with Rotarians and other organisations, such as plantings by local schools.

DG Martin with Past Rotary International Director and
Past District Governor Neill Inkster
I was fortunate to be escorted by Rotarians Merv Brown and Tom Ward who were passionate about their projects.  For a town the size of Masterton, the park would have been enough to keep Masterton Rotary busy for many years - there are plantings, fitness stations, bridges, entry gates and fencing already built by Rotarians, and many other improvements to keep them busy.  The annual Masterton Teddy Bears' Picnic is held at Henley Park.  Many people were jogging or walking their dogs when we were there, indicating what a valuable community asset Henley Park is.   

But they also saw needs at the local hospital and at a local school.  So they refurbished an historic bell tower in a local school, extended the fencing at the local hospital to provide more open space for patients suffering from dementia and now have plans to fit out a courtyard in the hospital which will be used by patients undergoing rehabilitation.  And the architectural drawings for the courtyard have been done by architect PDG, PRID and now Honorary Masterton Rotary member Neill Inkster.  

Val Ball with the Australasian Gold Award for
Community Collaboration she accepted for
Masterton Rotary as Co-Chair of RYDA 
Neill was District Governor in 1974-75 and Denise and I were privileged to be in Masterton last year for the celebration of his 60 years as a Rotarian.  Neill is truly an inspiration.  Merv (whose son Stephen is also a member of Masterton Rotary) showed me photos of Neill, him and others working on a project in Tonga some years ago.       

Then there is the Men's Shed (which is not just for men) which is available to all sorts of organisations and a range of age groups.  The Men's Shed literally started by accident after Merv Brown was injured by a cricket ball in Armidale, NSW, Australia when touring with a Rotary Cricket team.  Through the subsequent relationship with Armidale Rotary, including a visit by Tom Ward, the concept was transferred to Masterton with Masterton Rotary clubs and other partners supporting the Henley Trust.      

There is also a "Splinter" Group who provide kindling and firewood as a community service and for fundraising. Masterton Rotary is also planning other projects such as bike tracks.  The Club also supports youth as demonstrated by Val Ball who is a Co-Chair for RYDA (Rotary Young Drivers Awareness) and accepted an Australasian award recently for Community Collaboration.  Masterton Rotary also does not forget people outside of its own community, has carried out overseas projects and is planning a water project in Vanuatu.   

The Men's Shed was adapted from Armidale Rotary, Australia, has facilities for multiple organisations, & is not just for men.

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