Rotary of Perth-Andover honours three volunteers with Paul Harris Fellowships

by | Oct 27, 2023

International Rotary’s highest honour named after club founder

Three Southern Victoria residents who exemplified ‘service above self’ were lauded with Rotary International’s highest honour at a dinner and awards event on Saturday, Oct. 21.

Sheila Cummings, Susan Murchison and Dirk Bishop were presented with Paul Harris Fellowships by the Rotary Club of Perth-Andover.

“This event was planned for a long, long time. We started planning in January 2020. Soon, the whole world came to an abrupt pause. COVID-19 had other plans for us,” said Louiselle St. Amand, club president.

The fellowships are named after Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary.

“Rotarians believe we have a shared responsibility to take action on the world’s most persistent issues, promoting peace, fighting disease, sanitation and hygiene, helping mothers and children, supporting education, local economies and protecting the environment,” St. Amand told the audience.

Dirk Bishop

Marsha Lang, the club’s past president, said Rotarians decided to honour Dirk Bishop as a Paul Harris Fellow in recognition of his volunteer efforts.

“Dirk is an ambassador to Perth-Andover, New Brunswick and Canada by participating in Highland Games throughout the world, always making things better wherever he goes and whatever he does. We are fortunate to have an ambassador like Dirk.”

Kris Gallagher, a long-time friend, said Bishop’s commitment to community volunteerism and his personal accomplishments and character are inspiring.

“Dirk wanted to motivate people that wear a badge to improve their level of fitness… with a challenge of strength and conditioning. He has people from CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency), RCMP, firefighters, Canadian Armed Forces. He put them through these gruelling courses while benefitting local charities.”

Bishop has coached and officiated at swimming, softball, baseball and basketball and has gained an international reputation judging Highland games.

“He’s a fierce competitor… He’s a 10-time Canadian Masters champion, a five-time world champion, he’s a current world record holder in numerous events (in Highland games)… and a Guinness Book of Records holder,” Gallagher said.

He also serves on the Victoria Glen Manor board and is a member of the Canadian Parents for French.

Sheila Cummings

Rotarian Marianne Bell nominated Sheila Cummings for a Paul Harris Fellowship, citing her volunteer efforts for her church, community and municipal government.

“From hockey people to boards of directors of universities to victims of house fires to grieving people in our community and many, many other causes… (Sheila) is a wonderful person that puts service above self at every opportunity,” Bell said.

Paul Jamer, Cummings’ brother, said family members have a long community and volunteer service history.

“Perth-Andover and Victoria County are better because of her contributions… For the same 12-year period, Sheila served on the board of Crandall University. She was on the board for Future Footprints Family Centre, which is a local not-for-profit. Obviously, she is committed to quality education at all levels,” Jamer said.

Cummings had a long career as an educator and school principal, serves as a pastor and wedding and funeral officiant, volunteered as track and field coach and official, served on municipal council and was deputy mayor, volunteers with local hockey, is a choir member and volunteers at local senior homes.

“She’s the recipient of the Golden Jubilee medal for track and field, the Olympic Torch Medal, the Queen’s Jubilee Platinum Medal…. She and the others here at this table don’t do these things for awards and accolades… Volunteers are not paid. It’s not because they are worthless. They are priceless.”

Jamer said the new Paul Harris Fellows make outstanding contributions to their communities.

“Winston Churchill once said, ‘We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we did.’ And what a life she has made,” he said.

Susan Murchison

Sharron Moffatt, a former Rotarian, said Susan Murchison has been a friend and neighbour for decades, helping to make her community a better place to live.

Moffat and Eva McLaughlin introduced Murchison as a long-serving municipal councillor, a volunteer for school boards, the recreation commission, the Perth-Andover Electric Light Commission, River Valley Civic Centre and the outdoor pool.

“The past few years have been challenging. Things have changed personally, professionally and globally. Everyone has been affected. What has not been affected is the contributions made by these recipients in this community and the unwavering support for the betterment of Perth-Andover.”

McLaughlin said Susan is the “unofficial historian for the twin cities” (Perth and Andover), keen rivals before the municipal amalgamation in 1966. Murchison worked as an accountant and is a mother of two daughters and five grandchildren.

McLaughlin said Susan was a municipal councillor for 18 years, a long-time board member, chair of finance, vice chair and chairperson of the Board of Governors of the New Brunswick Community College system, and a long-time vestry member of Trinity Anglican Church. She is a keen spectator of local youth hockey and rugby.

“Susan Murchison exemplifies the humanitarian and educational objectives of the Rotary Foundation. I am pleased to present her for a Paul Harris Fellowship,” McLaughlin said.

The Rotary Club of Perth-Andover will donate $3,000 US to the Rotary International Foundation to honour the recipients.    

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