If there was ever a quiet achiever, it is Dubbo local Doug Elliott, who shared with Dubbo Photo News a snapshot of his life lived well, with some reservations about blowing his own trumpet.
Rotary mates dobbed him in on the occasion of his resignation from their club on February 23; an organisation he has served with dedication for 41 years.
Like us, they think he deserved time in the limelight because of his exemplary community spirit.
“I first joined Rotary in 1958 in Wauchope, then I moved to Berrigan, but the closest club was in Finley so I used to drive 44 kilometres every Monday night, over and back, to attend,” the 84 year-old said.
By the time he arrived in Dubbo in 1968 to take the job of director of Environmental Services with the former Dubbo City Council, he left behind committee and board memberships and even an honorary architect role.
Though busy in his new work signing off on developments like Dubbo Square, Orana Mall and Fletcher’s International, he still made time for the community over the following decades.
He became a member of the Old Dubbo Gaol restoration committee, joined the Friday Luncheon Club, the Dubbo Show Society, acted as area chairman for the National Heart Foundation in 1973, became an honorary member of the RAAF Officers Mess, and chaired the TAFE Dubbo College advisory council for eight years.
Doug was on the Dubbo Base Hospital board of directors for eight years and was deputy chairman for two; he joined the building committee for the Dubbo Golf Club, the Masonic building company, the Dubbo Regional Rehabilitation and Social Welfare committee, chaired the Clean Up Australia Day Committee in 1989, was treasurer of the Dubbo Pistol Club, Macquarie Credit Union board of directors, chief of the health and welfare section of SES Local Control, and was on the board of the Dubbo RSL Aged Care Association and Lourdes Hospital.
To be fair, Doug is now in his 80s, with plenty of years to get busy and tick all these community service boxes.
For 30 years he was on the management committee and deputy chairman of the Dubbo Rescue Squad, was a Lodge member for 37 years, an assessor for the NSW Tidy Towns program for two, and is it any wonder, in 2006, he was awarded an Order of Australia for services to education, health and the community?
“That was a big one. I was presented to (then NSW Governor) Marie Bashir at government house. She’s a lovely lady. I had my kids there, Karen, Megan and Bruce, and my wife Una. (The Governor) said, ‘Bring the family and we’ll have a photo together.’ She was delightful.
“My mum and dad used to buy their clothes at her dad’s store in Narrandera. I spoke to her about that. She remembered Narrandera well. There was absolutely no airs and graces about her. She was a very gracious person.”
There’s a good chance she thought the same about Doug Elliot who has also received the highest honour in Rotary in 1986, a Paul Harris Fellow, followed by a second Paul Harris in 2013.
He served as International director in 1992 and 2002 and was a foundation director from 2008.
This is how he defines his motivation: “To put something back into the community that provides my livelihood and support for my family. Hopefully by making those contributions you make Dubbo a better place to live for everyone, including yourself and your family.”
Doug hasn’t just put back into the Dubbo community.
“I was coordinator for a reconstruction party that went up from here to Darwin after Cyclone Tracy. It was organised by the Uniting Church. There was a group home for kids and it got wrecked.
“There was about 26 people, mostly from Dubbo, and we went up there for three weeks. We worked pretty hard and got the job done. It was pretty special.
“While we were there, we entered into the Darwin Beer Can Regatta. We got second in the sailing and third in the manpower. We only got beaten by a team of ladies from the air force whose sail was a parachute and the last we saw of them they were heading out to sea, we couldn’t get near them.”
A heart scare a few years ago has been a deciding factor for Doug to start slowing down and make the decision to leave Rotary.
“I didn’t want to be a knife and fork member,” he said.
While Doug has taken many opportunities to contribute to the community in which he lives, he does have one regret.
“I think it may have taken a toll on the family. Twenty nights out of 30 in a month I’d be at this committee meeting or that. I would have liked to have spent more time with them. But all my kids still like coming home to give me a hug, so that’s something,” he said.
Doug was made an Honorary Member of the Rotary Club of Dubbo West Inc. as a token of appreciation for his hard work and dedication to this club.