John’s commitment

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Recognition. Smithton’s John Harper has been honoured a Paul Harris Fellow.

Announced at the Rotary Club of Smithton’s annual changeover dinner last Tuesday, John believed his invitation to the event was to be recruited to the group.

“I thought I was there to find out more,” he said.

“It wasn’t until they were halfway through the description that I realised who they were talking about.”

The Paul Harris Fellow, named after the founder of Rotary International, is bestowed upon those who demonstrate a shared purpose with the objectives of the organisation.

The presentation of such an honour is in recognition and appreciation of the outstanding commitment and contribution to humanitarian and community involvement.

In presenting the award, Rotary Club of Smithton member Meredith Gracie said, “The name John Harper resonates with the Riverbend youth camps, boys rally and some great stories from his work days with Roberts Limited,” she said. 

“The Riverbend Youth Centre has been running youth camps since 1970. In talking to a number of people John has been there for most of these camps if not for all. The exact first date only John can tell us.” 

Watching generations enjoy the camps and, so to, the boys rallies at Montagu and Stanley, John continues to fulfil his commitment to the local groups.  

“I can see it’s having a good effect on the kids,” he says.

“I said I would be involved as long as the kids keep coming back, and with rally especially, we never advertise but they’re still coming and I’m still there.” 

Using annual leave to attend camps, Meredith described this as “an enormous selfless gift of his time and care to the youth”. Once the annual leave dries up, John volunteers through the night before returning to work the following day. 

“Certainly with Riverbend, it caters for the community,” he says.

“It’s more for the organisations themselves, they are doing some good in the community and I want to be a part of that.”

John has been involved in the Stanley Boys Rally for more than four decades as well as a number of years with the Montagu contingent where he has coordinated various camps and activities. 

He has also volunteered as a short term foster carer with Glenhaven Homes, often taking in foster children with little notice from challenging backgrounds.

“It is almost impossible to try and calculate the amount of people that John has had a positive influence on, and been such a great male role model for,” says Meredith.

Though for John, it is simple: “I like to think we are all doing something to better the world we live in.”

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