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Ngātea Lions Club member Frank Fullerton has been awarded with life membership. His peers say he exemplifies the “culture and the values” of the service organisation. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER

A lifetime of dedication

Frank Fullerton has always been a people person. Ask what he cares about most, and his community will be near the top of the list. 

Now, the Ngātea resident has been recognised for his work with the Ngātea Lions Club, serving the close-knit rural community with projects, events and outreach. 

The club chose to honour Frank with life membership, former district governor and club member Brian McMillian said, because he personified the values and ideals of Lions and was dedicated to enriching the Ngātea community. 

“Community spirit is all about support and it’s very strong in Frank’s ideals,” he said. 

“He’s the man with the ear on the ground of what’s going on in the community.”

Frank has been an active member of the group for 52 years, joining just a decade after the club formed in 1965. He has filled a number of committee roles in his time, but his main focus has always been hands-on service. Frank is the club’s almoner; providing support and wellbeing services to the elderly, bereaved, and ill. 

“Those are the sorts of things that I enjoy – I love working with people, and the older people especially,” Frank said. 

“We’ve had in our pensioner homes here, people in our Lions Club who I’ve looked after and taken to their appointments. A bit of stability, that’s what I try to bring.”

A steadfast presence in the club, Frank has been involved in most of the Lions’ activities – including the now-defunct Ngātea rodeo, the annual kids’ community fun day, compost fundraisers, and firewood deliveries. 

“I love working bees. I’m not so keen on the meetings and things,” Frank said. 

“I was doing community work with the council and I got a bit sick of that … and so I thought there was a bit of a change coming into Lions. You were part of it, you were real, you were appreciated for what you did.” 

It’s appreciation that the club is keen to show now as well. 

“He doesn’t like the accolades, he likes to fly under the radar,” Brian said. 

“[But] to have the services of Frank … Frank has been instrumental.

“He just knows what levers to pull in different areas and just coordinates everyone to work with everyone else.”

Frank said he was surprised to be put forward for life membership, as he was simply happy to do what he could for the people he considered a second family. 

“I’m no different to anybody else really,” he said. 

“I didn’t anticipate it or anything but [someone] had gone back in the record and found all the things I’d been involved in over the years. That’s quite interesting because you forget yourself, what you’ve done. 

“It’s been an interesting life.”

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air