Sapphire honour for service


Retired honorary member of the Te Awamutu Rotary Club, Paul Hobbs, was presented with his Sapphire Pin for many years of service to the club, particularly in producing the weekly bulletin.

Mr Hobbs has previously been awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship and the Sapphire Pin is a higher honour in Rotary.

His citation was read by Rotarian and retired Te Awamutu College principal Keith Millar.

Mr Hobbs attended Cambridge University, where he graduated with a Masters Degree in Agriculture and Mathematics with Distinction.

In 1943 he was a lieutenant in the British army and sent to India to train troops in English/maths/engineering and construction.

In 1946 he met Kathy, his ballroom dancing teacher at university. They farmed in Devon then moved to Liverpool where Mr Hobbs managed a farm for Lord Derby.

In 1956 the couple emigrated to New Zealand and Mr Hobbs worked for the Dairy Board in Palmerston North.

In 1958 they moved to Kihikihi when he worked for the Pig Board at Korakonui.

In the early 1960s a bridge acquaintance suggested Mr Hobbs train as a teacher and he joined the staff of the new Fairfield College as a maths teacher, travelling daily in his Morris Minor with three students.

They developed nerves of steel as Mr Hobbs set new records for the journey.

In the mid 1960s he moved to Te Awamutu College where his wife was the librarian.

The pair was instrumental in starting the Te Awamutu Bridge Club and in 1976 Mr Hobbs accompanied the New Zealand Women's Bridge Club to India as their coach.

Since then he has been an integral part of the New Zealand Bridge Federation.

On his retirement at 65 he launched himself into Grey Power where he rose to the position of New Zealand president.

He fought to improve conditions for older citizens and had the ear of politicians including Prime Minister Helen Clark.

He was secretary/treasurer of the Te Awamutu branch for a number of years, only recently relinquishing this position. This included the production of the newsletter.

His work in this area and for the community was recognised with the award of a QSM six years ago.

Given a job, Mr Hobbs was thorough and organised.

He was the Te Awamutu weather scribe for the Courier, recording rainfall each week.

Mr Hobbs was also a computing pioneer, owning the first computer at the college as early as 1979. He helped not only teachers, but a host of community members with lessons at SeniorNet.

In 1991 he took over as temporary Rotary bulletin editor when the first editor left. He relinquished this position in 2010.

When the club was raising funds from the sale of firewood, he usually drove the delivery truck.

He spent a large number of Saturday mornings on this task, with no one aware that he had no heavy traffic licence.

Mr Hobbs served as Rotary president in 1985-86 and during his year supported Sister Money in the Solomon Islands - a major project, and was very active in overseas student exchanges, together with numerous local projects.

In 1993 Mr Hobbs was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship and in 2009 was made an honorary member.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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