Clubs come together for festive fun

By Zoe McMaugh

Deniliquin Rotary and Deniliquin Lions Club members came together for a special Christmas in July celebration on Monday night.

While abiding with COVID-Safe regulations, the combined service clubs enjoyed themed games and a delicious Christmas feast prepared by the Deniliquin RSL Club.

Ian McAtamney won the prestigious ‘Jolliest Santa Trophy’ with his impression of Santa climbing a chimney.

Rotary president Denise Phillips said it was a ‘‘lovely’’ social night out.

‘‘It was a really pleasant night, and it was great to have the Lions join us,’’ Mrs Phillips said.

‘‘As two active service clubs, it’s good for us all to get together now and again and talk about our common goals of supporting the community.’’

Deniliquin Rotary still holds hope it can hold another combined celebration this year, and one on a much grander scale, to mark 70 years of Rotary in Deniliquin.

While impeded by the Coronavirus pandemic, Mrs Phillips said planning continues.

She said Rotary also intends to gift a present to the community in honour of the anniversary.

‘‘In our 50th year we built the gates at Rotary Park, and we also put out a book on the local club’s history called All Projects Great and Small,’’ Mrs Phillips said.

‘‘We had planned to have a celebration this year, until COVID hit.

‘‘We are looking forward to be able to still do something, when restrictions allow.’’

Deniliquin  Rotary Club received its charter in July 1950 and held its inaugural charter meeting on October 21 that year.

This was quite an occasion with 200 people seated at dinner on the balcony of the Royal Hotel, including visitors from 16 other Rotary Clubs.

Charter president Ron Prunster was a member of the club from 1950 to 1957, and again from 1975 to 1981.

Over a history that now spans nearly 70 years the club has since donated many hundreds of thousands of dollars to local, national and international causes, as well as  contributing countless hours of community service.

Significant projects which the club organises or supports include the annual Rotary Easter Art Show, Australia Day celebrations, charity auctions, Carols by Candlelight and Deniliquin Ute Muster.

It was the instigator of Rotary Park, which is now one of the town’s leading sporting venues.

At the Ute Muster, Rotary’s role for many years from the inaugural event in 1999 was coordinator of the gates to ensure the huge crowds are able to safely and efficiently enter the site. Now, it has taken on the task of feeding those who arrive early.

Rotary is also  to  the  fore  with emergency appeals. In  September 2010 the club held a fundraising dinner, which was organised in a fortnight, and raised $9000 for  the Pakistan flood appeal.

Earlier this year, it held a Bushfire Extravaganza concert at the Deniliquin Golf Club featuring more that 30 local artists and raising $17,121 for the Rotary Bushfire Appeal.

Rotary makes contributions each year to a wide range of organisations and causes; some of these are annual donations while others are a one off, like the Hilltop Accommodation Centre in Albury where the club raised significant funds to support this facility which provides accommodation for regional patients and their families who attend the new Border Oncology Centre.

Deniliquin Rotary over the years has hosted group study exchange teams and youth exchange students, and has partnered with Deniliquin Business Chamber to send another local person to the Rotary Youth Leadership Award conference.

The club organises an annual Rotary Golf Charity Day, the Brian Harrington Carers Day (to thank people who care for foster children), established the Multicultural Group and now works with it to organise regular Multicultural Days, Rotary Bowelscan Month and supports many other local events, often by providing the catering with its popular barbecue trailer.

The  club is also proud of its ongoing contribution to the Rotary International project that aims to eliminate polio throughout the world.

Deniliquin Rotary Club is an integral part of the community and looks forward to continuing its tradition of supporting local groups and causes.