Rotary honours tireless worker

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An Alexandra man driven by a passion to help those in his community has been awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship.

Brian Seymour was awarded the fellowship by the Rotary Club of Alexandra even though he was not a Rotarian, club member Robyn Bowman said. The fellowship was the highest award possible for Rotarians but was also often awarded to non-Rotarians for work done outside Rotary.

“The Rotary Foundation has the opportunity to confer awards to members of the public who make an enormous contribution to the community they service. We respect what [Brian] has done, is still doing and will continue to do.”

Mr Seymour, a former police senior sergeant, had made a tremendous contribution to sport in Central Otago and was the leader of the Salvation Army community garden in Alexandra, Mr Bowman said.

Alexandra Salvation Army Captain Murray McIntosh said Mr Seymour was driven by a desire to help those in his community – “it’s his passion for the community, to help people and to see them achieve”.

“It’s the whole notion of helping the community that he’s into.”

Mr Seymour had helped many young people through a long history of volunteering, including coaching basketball and through the Scouting movement, Capt McIntosh said.

Mr Seymour said the award came as a “bolt out of the blue” and joked he had been “ambushed” – he was invited to a Rotary meeting as guest speaker and did not know he was going to receive an award.

However, he said it was an honour to receive it and particularly special because his father, the late Royce Seymour, who was a Rotarian, had also received a Paul Harris Fellowship.

Mr Seymour, who was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal for public services in 2000, said he enjoyed all the community work he carried out.

A keen sportsman himself, Mr Seymour said he had enjoyed coaching and mentoring others in sport. He also spent about 40 years in the Scout movement, either as a Scout or a leader.

He had also spent 46 years being involved with basketball, as a player, coach, referee and administrator, been part of the Alexandra Swimming Club for 20 years and was president of the Central Otago Junior Football Club for 18 years.

He was also either chairman or secretary of the Otago Police Association for 20 years.

Mr Seymour moved to Alexandra in 1983 and retired from the police force in 2004 after a career of 37 years.

He now leads the team that runs the Alexandra Salvation Army community garden, which he established in its current format 10 years ago, and also manages large blocks of trees and roses on his home property.

Mr Seymour has more than 700 maple trees, about 60 each of hazel, pinenut and Pinus coulteri trees, a dozen almond and a dozen walnut trees, a home orchard of fruit trees, a stand of firewood trees and about 300 roses.