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OTOROHANGA Rotarian Les Phillips is still
pinching himself about being invested as a Paul
Harris Fellow in December.
The long-time Otorohanga resident who has
been an Otorohanga Rotary Club member for 13
years, was awarded the fellowship for his years of
behind-the-scenes community work.
“My first thought was why me? What have I
done?” says a modest Mr Phillips.
Barry Marx says his fellow Rotarian is “a doer”.
“Les has a long history of community service,”
“He was very involved in gymnastics in Otoro-
hanga and trained a lot of kids. He was also in-
volved with the American Field Scholar student
Since joining Rotary in 2004, Mr Phillips has
provided hands-on assistance in a wide range of
projects, and is a driving force behind the club’s
annual book sale.
“While he hasn’t held leadership roles or been
heavily involved in planning, he is someone you
can always rely on to be there and get the job
done,” says Mr Marx.
Paul Harris founded the Rotary Club move-
ment in Chicago, America in 1905.
Like all Paul Harris Fellows, Mr Phillips has
had US$1000 gifted in his name to the Rotary
Foundation which carries out multibillion dollar
charity works around the world.
Polio eradication is one project funded by
the foundation and since 1985, Rotary (and its
partners) have helped reduce the number of
new polio cases from 350,000 annually to only
16 in 2016.
Mr Marx says, in New Zealand and Australia,
the Paul Harris Fellowship is regarded as a very
high honour and is the most common award
made to Rotarians and others for outstanding
Mr Phillips says he was “absolutely shocked”
but “flattered” to receive the award.
“Helping run the book sale each year is prob-
ably the main thing I’ve been involved in – that’s
a big fundraiser for us,” he says.
“For some reason I get things done.
“It’s a funny thing, when I look at it there are
people who have done a hell of a lot more than me
and haven’t got a Paul Harris Fellowship, I’ve just
done things where people can see what I’m doing.
“I do think it is an honour, I’m still pinching
“When they started listing what I have done I
thought ‘oh . . . I have done a bit’.”
“TRUE ROTARY STYLE”
Speaking at the December meeting president
Trevor Coley said Mr Phillips was chosen as
a fellow because throughout his life, he had
“demonstrated the humanitarian and educa-
tional objectives of the Rotary Foundation in
true Rotary style”.
“For about 25 years Les was involved with
gymnastics in Piopio, Otorohanga and the Wai-
kato region,” he said.
“He coached and was involved in adminis-
ROTARY Club of Otorohanga president Trevor Coley (left) presented Rotarian Les Phillips with
a Paul Harris Fellowship for outstanding community service at the club’s December meeting.
tration, he travelled to gymnastics festivals in
Australia and Japan, and was involved in the
organisation of an International Gymfest in
Mr Phillips helped establish the Kawhia Sailing
Group and attended a traditional boat building
course to learn how to restore and maintain the
clinker-built boats used by the group.
He has also assisted the St John Ambulance
service in both Otorohanga and Kawhia.
Mr Coley said: “This presentation is about
Les, but I wish to acknowledge that [his wife]
Heather has been alongside Les as his partner in
their family and business life for all these years,
and in many ways has enabled him to make the
contribution he has to our club and community.”
Paul Harris Fellow award for Les
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