“An ordinary Joe Soap from Mervue” has joined an elite list of presidents, royalty and world leaders to have been awarded with the highest accolade Rotary can bestow on a person
The Paul Harris Fellowship, named after Rotary’s founder, was awarded to Connacht Rugby coach Eric Elwood at a special ceremony this week
The fellowship is awarded to individuals who have served their communities and countries with distinction, and Salthill Rotary president Gerry Purcell said it was only the second time in the Salthill Rotary Club’s history that the award, which is recognised across the world, had been conferred on a non-rotary individual.
Purcell said Elwood was “the perfect candidate” to receive this prestigious award, having fulfilled the four central tenets that govern Rotary decisions - is it the truth, is it fair to all concerned, will it build good will and better friendships, and will it be beneficial to all concerned?
However the former Galwegian, Connacht, and Ireland international said he was “very humbled” to accept the award.
“I’m just an ordinary Joe Soap from Mervue who played a bit of rugby and now does a bit of coaching,” Elwood said.
“ It was always my ambition to play for Galwegians, Connacht and Ireland and they are some of my proudest moments, getting those caps.
“I would like to pay tribute to Michael Bradley (former Connacht coach ) for the opportunity to be assistant coach, to Gerry Kelly and the Connacht Branch for believing in me, and special thanks to my management team and players who are committed and dedicated and show huge character through the highs and lows of professional sport.”
District Governor Tom Murphy said each of Rotary’s 1.2 million members were “just regular people doing a bit extra for the greater good”.
The Paul Harris Fellowship, was the highest accolade Rotary could bestow on a person, he said, and it was the same award that had been awarded to presidents, royalty and world leaders and was recognised in each and every one of Rotary’s 32,000 branches world-wide.