New president of the Rotary Club of Port Pirie Sebastian Mezzino paid tribute to his parents when he accepted his position on Saturday.
In an at-times emotional speech, Mr Mezzino outlined his late father Mauro’s contribution to the Lions Club of Port Pirie, of which he was a 100-percent attendance member for 43 years.
Mr Mezzino senior’s work was so significant that it inspired Rotarians of his era to make him a Paul Harris Fellow.
At the change-over dinner, Mr Sebastian bestowed the same honour on his mother Maria who was among a strong Italian family contingent at the event in the Virtus Soccer Club.
“When I joined Rotary in 2001, I felt intimidated to be part of a club with members who I looked up to as leaders in business and farming,” Mr Mezzino told the crowd.
“They included Brian Condon, Bruce James, Ron Johns, Alan Paterson, Russel Freak, the late Mick Prest, Dean Cretan, Brian Richards and Gordon Martin.
“Within a short time, I was made to feel comfortable and soon I was sharing a beer and joke with them after our weekly meetings. I can still do that with some of these members now.
“In the past 17 years, Rotary has given Angela and I the opportunity to find fellowship and friendship and change the lives of families and communities here and across the world. For this we are most grateful.”
Mr Mezzino said he had joined Rotary, not Lions, to fit with the timing of his business commitments.
“When I told my father that I was ready to join a service club, he said, 'well you had better join Rotary and, if you do, don’t become a knife-and-fork member’, so there was my inspiration,” he said.
“Apart from the time I spent at our fish shop, most of my childhood memories of my father are with his involvement in the community.”
Outgoing president Barry Mudge said that the theme for his year was Making a Difference and members could be confident this had been achieved through their efforts. More than $44,000 had been raised and distributed in this time.
“I would like to pass on my heartfelt thanks to the talented board for their assistance and dedication. Stephen Lynch has been an enormous help as secretary in guiding an inexperienced president,” he said.
The club’s Rotarian of the Year was the enthusiastic and ever-present Graham Nichols.
He has a great ability to seek out opportunities for fundraising and applies his services to successfully completing the task.
Paul Harris Fellows were awarded to Barbara and Dannielle Camporeale and Mario Valente. Mr Nichols, Dannielle Camporeale, Pam Menadue and Philip Johns achieved 100-percent attendance at meetings.