In a glittering occasion held in Dannevirke's Town Hall last weekend, the Dannevirke Rotary Club celebrated its 90th birthday.

It was attended by more than 80 guests, including district governor Mitchell Brown, his deputy Claire Mathews, mayor Tracey Collis and Rotary president Dianna Mancer.

After grace said by past Rotarian Rob van Abs, the main course of a sumptuous meal by Joy Raffaelli was consumed before the oldest Rotarian Don Stephenson, 92, toasted absent friends.

Several toasts followed before district governor Mitchell Brown spoke about the role of Rotarians in the world and community, identifying 10 people in the hall who had received Paul Harris Fellowships for exceptional service to the community.


He highlighted the need for clubs to gain more members and to work with other service groups like Lions and fire brigades which also served the community in "a kind of parallel universe".

After dessert, Tararua mayor Tracey Collis commended the work Rotary clubs did in the community, growing young leaders through programmes like RYDA which helped youth learn driving, helping the elderly with Probus and other programmes.

Rotarian Chris Southgate then described the history of the Dannevirke club, decade by decade, describing key events such as:
• running Boys' Clubs in the 1920s
• being visited by Rotarian Paul Harris and aviator Jean Batten in the 1930s
• helping support refugees and the war effort in the 1940s
• providing a wheelchair for local identity Dick Wilson in the 1950s
• building A-frame cabins in the Lower Domain in the 1960s
• running Youth Exchange programmes in the 1970s
• starting a Rotoract group in the 1980s
• launching Probus in the 1990s
• running the Ruahine Mountain Bike Challenge in the 2000s
• and building, with Lions, the Adelaide Road Walkway in recent times.

An auction of two paintings and two quilts drew much hilarity as MC Craig Boyden raised the bids so that by the end the auction Rotary gained nearly $2000 towards its youth projects.

Newest and longest-serving Rotarians Di Carter and Alan Hewald then cut a commemorative cake to finish the evening.