HONOURED: Rotary Club of Airlie Beach president Fred Dixon, Paul Harris Fellow recipients Helene and Ron Telford and district governor Mike Woods.
HONOURED: Rotary Club of Airlie Beach president Fred Dixon, Paul Harris Fellow recipients Helene and Ron Telford and district governor Mike Woods.

Surprise recognition

SELFLESSNESS is a virtue preached by the St Vincent de Paul Society, and one lived wholeheartedly by two of its long-serving members - Ron and Helene Telford.

On Monday night, the Telfords were invited to a joint meeting of the Rotary Club of Airlie Beach and Whitsunday VMR for the presentation of $100,000 for a new rescue vessel.

But little did they know they were to feature in the night's events, each being awarded the Paul Harris Fellow - only given out to acknowledge "someone within Rotary or along the lines of what Rotary

does".

"I didn't even know this award existed, to be honest, so it was a complete surprise," Mrs Telford laughed.

Mrs Telford said she thought the visit by Rotary International district governor Mike Woods had been the reason for their invitation.

"I thought, 'Oh well - we must have been invited because we work at Vinnies'," she said.

"It didn't enter our heads that there could be something like this."

Despite their modesty, the couple's work with the organisation has been extensive, with Mr Telford having been a member for 50 years and Mrs Telford for 43 years.

"I think it's just in us to want to help people, so I don't think we'd ever leave the society."

The husband and wife team's work has seen them help all kinds of people, Mrs Telford said.

"It's very private as to what goes on," she said.

"But, yes - there have been some really extraordinary things that have happened.

"And you feel really good that you found someone for a family, and got support for the person that drifted away from the family."

Rotary Club of Airlie Beach's Fred Dixon said he respected the work done by the Telfords with St Vincent de Paul.

"So far (St Vincent de Paul) have had over 1300 cases of welfare handed out to people who are in need," he said.

"That's just in Airlie Beach."

Mrs Telford said she and her husband were blown away to be recognised by Rotary.

"I'm very honoured and humbled to think that someone had nominated us," she said.

"I don't know how they went about choosing, but it was a real surprise."


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