Long-term Rotarian honoured

Jon SolmundsonGreat Southern Herald
Ken Allen, pictured with wife Barbara, has been honoured for long service to the Rotary Club of Geraldton.
Camera IconKen Allen, pictured with wife Barbara, has been honoured for long service to the Rotary Club of Geraldton. Credit: Erika Monique Osment

The Rotary Club of Geraldton has recognised the long service of one of its staunch members.

Ken Allen, aged 85, has been honoured for his 45 years of contribution to the Geraldton community through the club.

Mr Allen’s family didn’t have a history of Rotary membership but in 1956 the Apex Club was formed, and as a founding member, Mr Allen participated in Apex activities for around 10 years.

His interaction with Rotary began with games at the Geraldton Golf Club, where he began talking with members of Rotary, and heard about a “classification” opening up.

The idea behind classifications was to have only one representative from each industry in the region invited to Rotary, and in 1971, Mr Allen was inducted under the farming classification.

“In those days to get in Rotary you needed to enter through a classification,” he said.

“I was a farmer, and there was a spot which opened up for a farmer, so they asked if I wanted to join.

“If you want to join Rotary now we’ll say ‘Oh yeah, come on in.’

“It used to be on a Friday night.

“It was very exclusive — we all came in with suits and ties, you wouldn’t see a single open-necked shirt.”

But the loss of those formalities doesn’t change Mr Allen’s love for the club.

“It doesn’t worry me, that’s why I’m still a member — a lot of people see changes and say ‘this is nothing now, I’m out of here’, but in life there’s constant change, the only thing that remains constant is change.”

In his time with Rotary, Mr Allen is most proud of a cottage the club erected in Point Moore for people with disabilities to come and stay at while on holiday.

“That was in my year as president, in 1984,” he said.

“Leading up to that we had about three or four years trying to work up enough money, with all kinds of fundraising projects to try and get there.

“Since then we’ve had no control over it ... these are the things Rotary used to do, we would do a project then it was finished ... then we move on to another project and keep working.”

Mr Allen also moved to bring Paul Harris Fellowships into the local Rotary club of Geraldton, clashing against the opinions of several veteran Rotarians in the club at that time to ensure Geraldton people could be nominated for the international Rotary honour, with some success.

“Lew Eves, he was a very good Rotarian, and we thought he really deserved it. He was the first Paul Harris Fellow from Geraldton, and that was in my year.”

Mr Allen also emphasised the continued importance of the Rotary Exchange Student program, recalling in his year as president the very intelligent German student who came to Geraldton and topped the Australian students in English class before embarking on a round trip of Australia with his brother, unaccompanied by an adult.

“It’s really one of the most important things Rotary does,” he said.

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