At our meeting yesterday we said farewell to Gren Courtland, our last founding member of the Ascot Rotary Club as he embarks on a new chapter in his life - one that does not include having to get up for our 7.00 am meetings.  We wish him and his wife Jill all the very best.
Gren joined Rotary in 1966 as a member of the Belmont Rotary Club, then in 1969 he, and 8 other Belmont Rotarians became charter members of the Ascot Rotary Club.  When Gren spoke this morning at our club meeting, he even showed us the programme for the Charter Night.  During his time as Ascot Rotarian he has held every position on the Board, except for the Treasurer's position.  Gren recounted some stories about getting the Bulletin prepared and sent out - prior to computers.  He would get his secretary to type it up and then would have to go elsewhere to get it copied and mailed out - with people receiving it the day after it was posted.
 
He has run a Melbourne Cup Sweep at the Ascot Club every year up until this year when it was done by none other than Michael Evans.  Gren thought that the Kendalls always seemed to win so was pleased to see the sweeps were won by a number of people this year.  In the early days of Ascot, there would be 200 - 300 people at their special Melbourne Cup meeting event. 
 
Gren has been involved the Youth Exchange programme by hosting young people here while they are visiting from overseas; and also when his daughter went to Japan in the mid 70's.  He recounted the story of how his daughter, who when she arrived in Japan, knew no Japanese, but was told that in 6 weeks she would be giving a talk to her host Rotary club, for 20 minutes and it would be in Japanese.  Talk about having to become a fast learner!!    In another story one of the young Japanese exchange students phoned to ask him if he would come to her wedding; but it would be in Perth, so could he actually arrange it all for her.  About 20 guests came from Japan for the wedding, and Gren almost took a turn in a different career direction as one of the guests wanted him to set up a wedding service to create memorable wedding events for the Japanese tourists to come and get married here.  He decided to stick with his pottery business. 
 
He has also been involved in the Group Study Exchange programme as well.  He was involved with the visiting team from Oaklahoma and recounted one story of a young lad playing on his trumpet at a party held at their place in the evening.  He hears the phone ring, and expects that it is the local police telling them they are making too much noise and to cease the trumpet playing; but in fact it turns out it was a neighbour asking the lad to play "Danny Boy"!
 
Then in 1978 he took his own team to Colorado.  As Gren spoke about it he indicated that it was an experience of a life time, and managed to head back to Colorado a few years later to show Jill the places, and to meet the people he met there.    After this he then became the District GSE Chair for some time.
 
Another memory he recalled was seeing a trip to Turkey advertised in the Rotary Down Under magazine.  It was a trip to Turkey with RI President Glen Kinross and his wife Heather.  He phoned to find out about it, and was surprised to hear a Turkish voice speaking on the other end of the phone, saying to him 'just come'.  He said that was a wonderful trip too.
 
His involvement in the Fellowship of Golfing Rotarians was well known in our club as he would often recount stories about his trips to them - his first was the one held in Darwin in 2005.  He then got the club so involved in the idea that he persuaded us to not only host and run one tournament, but we have run two of them to date.
 
His final comments to the club was that he wished us every success for the future, and to make sure that we remember that Rotary is founded on fellowship so make the most of spending time together.
 
Thank you Gren for those wonderful stories.  We wish you and Jill all the very best as you embark on a new chapter in your lives together.
 
To thank Gren for his service above self, the Club gifted him a Ruby Paul Harris Fellowship pin.