Rotary’s new president Ken Yap

By Robert Muir

With over 34 years Rotary service, Ken Yap is the new president of Yarrawonga Mulwala Rotary Club.

The popular restauranteur of the Golden Inn Restaurant at Mulwala Water Ski Club takes over from Ian Barton and was inducted on Monday, June 29 via a zoom changeover meeting listened into by 50 members and guests.

Chaired by Assistant District Governor Dave Barrat, the meeting was huge with the changeover in presidency, the naming of four more Paul Harris Fellows, and presentation of the Jeff and Fred Haebich Award.

Special guest speakers were District Governor Brian Peters from Albury and District Governor Elect Bruce Anderson of Strathmerton.

Mr Yap congratulated Mr Barton on his “excellent leadership” over the past 12 months despite a difficult year with the coronavirus pandemic.

Ken, who is “a firm believer migrant to blend into the mainstream Australian value, culture society and live like a true Aussie”, is looking forward to the step from President Elect to President.

Born in Kuala Lumpur, the 65-year-old migrated to Australia with wife Phyliss from New Zealand 40 years ago, with their three children who were born in Wangaratta. 

In 1986 Ken joined Rotary in Wangaratta then at Ballarat and for over the last 20 years at the Yarrawonga Mulwala club.

Ken has provided outstanding volunteer community service with Yarrawonga Tourism for eight years in the 1990s, with the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and 2007 FINA World Swimming Championship, was a Torch Bearer of Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and Baton Bearer of 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

He was the sponsor of China Suzhou County six schoolchildren and three teachers for one term in an exchange program with Yarrawonga Sacred Heart Primary School in the late 1990s; organized a Friendship Exchange for Yarrawonga Hospital with China YiXin No 1 Hospital, helping Moira Shire Council to look after the Yunan Province Sixuanbana Government Prefecture Delegate when visiting the area.

The Paul Harris Fellow (PHF) recognition is Rotary’s way of celebrating Rotarians and others in our community, who exemplify the club’s motto of ‘Service Above Self’.

This year, Rotarians Jenni Murch and Cate Febey, were made Paul Harris Fellows for their outstanding service to the club and to the community.

Past District Governor, Bernie Bott was recognised for the significant contribution to the leadership of Rotary District 9790, and was presented with his award by District Governor (2019/20), Brian Peters.

Many years of community service by Yarrawonga Lions Club member Trevor (Jock) McDonald was also celebrated with a PHF Award.

For each Fellow, the club donates $US1000 to the Rotary Foundation whose aim is to advance world understanding, goodwill and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education and the alleviation of poverty.

Formerly The Fred Haebich Award, the now titled ‘The Jeff and Fred Haebich Award’ for 2020 goes to Rotarian John Taylor for John having made the most significant contribution to the club for the year as voted by the members.

This award was donated in 1994 by the Haebich family in memory of long term Rotarian, Fred Haebich.  With the passing of his son Jeff, also a long term Rotarian, his name was added this year. 

In his outgoing speech as Rotary President for 2019/20, Mr Barton said it was a privilege to be president “of this great club over the past 12 months”.

“There was a $9200 hospital donation for preparation of COVID-19 in the Yarrawonga Mulwala area for urgent items requested by CEO Elaine Mallows to help make lockdown more comfortable for patients and residents and $35,000 for a Stage 2 named suite in the Hilltop Cancer Accommodation build,” Mr Barton said.

“The Yarrawonga Mulwala community is the second highest user of this facility after Wangaratta and Moira Shire is the highest user.”

Mr Barton inducted six new members into the club this year under Membership Director Ed Rowlands: Marj Shand, Bill Farrell, Robin Harwood, Trish Lester, Cheryl Hartigan, Margaret Marchant. 

Mr Yap proudly introduced board members for 2020/21: Immediate Past President Ian Barton, President Elect: Ed Rowlands, Secretary Bruce Pitcher, Treasurer Ed Rowlands, Community Service Doug Evans OAM, Foundation Service Marj Shand, International Service Mick Shadwick, Membership Service Trish Lester and Vocational/Youth Service Trevor Gowland.