ABOYNE – Chris Ecclestone attended a meeting for the Fergus Elora Rotary club on Nov. 21 at Aboyne Hall with no idea that she was to receive a Paul Harris Fellow award.
“The Paul Harris recognition [Ecclestone] received is the highest award given by Rotary Clubs,” said Rotary International member Rob Galloway.
It was established in 1957 to encourage and show appreciation for substantial contributions to Rotary. Many notable figures have been named Paul Harris Fellows, including U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Russian President Boris Yeltsin and astronaut James Lovell.
Although Ecclestone is not a member of the Rotary club, she actively volunteers for the club and runs its monthly bingo. Her husband, Ted Ecclestone has been a member for more than 30 years.
“I do go to meetings every once in a while, so I honestly thought my husband was getting something and they wanted me there for that,” she told the Advertiser.
There are two ways to receive a Paul Harris Fellow award: either by contributing $1,000 or more to the Rotary Club or contributing to the community in some way. In Ecclestone’s case, it was the latter.
She volunteers locally for Canadian Blood Services in Fergus and at Groves Memorial Community Hospital in the elderly life program, where she works with seniors, many suffering from dementia.
She also facilitates a Parkinson’s support group out of Orangeville.
“There’s been such a need, and we’ve had a number of people from Fergus join our group who don’t want to make the drive in the winter, so we’re starting a (Parkinson’s) group in Fergus in January. I’m excited about that,” she said.
Galloway was proud to present the award alongside co-president Bob Wright.
“Her contributions to the community through Rotary and her work with the hospital, blood donor clinics, and the Parkinson’s association is amazing,” Galloway said.
The number of Paul Harris Fellows reached one million recipients in 2006. Ecclestone was thrilled to be added to the list.
“I was so emotional, because I never expected that I would get one,” she said. “I was surprised and incredibly honoured because I know what it means to receive that kind of an award.”