Associates of Preston South Rotary Club had a gem of an evening to honour two founding members’ long service.
Tom Wignall and Joe Mather were awarded Paul Harris Sapphires - one of the highest accolades in Rotary - for their 50 years of continuous service during the club’s golden anniversary charter dinner at Wellington Park, in Leyland.
Presenting the honour was District Governor Malcolm Baldwin.
Tom, 87, has never missed a charter anniversary since the club was founded in 1967 and was surprised and delighted to receive the award. He says: “I have enjoyed my 50 years in the rotary club.”
Joe was unable to receive the accolade as he was in hospital, recovering from a traffic accident.
But he was delighted with the honour and asked his daughter Karen Whittle to accept the award on his behalf.
Following the presentation, an audience of more than 170 enjoyed entertainment by Voce, a male quartet singing popular songs in a classical style, and a comedian, Lea Roberts.
Frank Killen, membership chairman, says: “The Paul Harris Sapphire award is not handed out on a regular basis and it is the highest honour you can receive.
“Other than Tom and Joe, only one other member has it.
“It is agreed through the existing Paul Harris Sapphire recipients in the clubs.
“Tom and Joe were awarded for their continual dedication to Rotary.
“The other rotary members were excited for them and are very proud of them.
“Everyone was happy they were awarded and that it coincided with the golden anniversary.
“The evening was fantastic. Our charter nights are usually very formal, but as this was our 50th anniversary and it was a celebration, we didn’t want it so formal.
“It was very enjoyable and everyone gave good feedback about how great the night was.
“The male quartet Voce was incredible and the comedian was very humorous.
“Preston South Rotary Club is proud of its achievements during the last 50 years, having raised more than £1m for good causes.
“This includes more than £250,000 from the Annual Steam Rally in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Kirkham and Rural Fylde and more than £100,000 from the Annual Golf Day held at Penwortham Golf Club over the past 25 years.”