TWO Rotarians are having a beer in a bar somewhere in Port Macquarie.
One fellow says to the other, "you know we've got someone in our club who's been there for 50 years?
The other one says, "Well I'll raise you one. We've got one in Wauchope who's been there 50 years and he's never missed a meeting".
That's our Andy Neal who has worn many hats in his life; most notably a devoted Rotarian, staunch Wauchopian, Life Member of the Wauchope Senior and Junior Rugby League Football Clubs and a South Sydney Rabbitohs' fanatic.
It is one thing to be committed to a community group for a half a century but quite another to be able to maintain 100% attendance.
In fact, probability would suggest it would be near impossible but apart from "about 25 makeups written on pieces of paper and beer coasters", Andy has been there front and centre, exemplifying the Rotary way.
"Attendance has always been my thing," explained a very humble Mr Neal when he dropped into the Gazette office this week.
"Look really that's what Rotary is about, turning up and getting involved.
Well you certainly managed that Andy; you must have been on some sort of mission?
"No no, it wasn't intentional, having 100% attendance.
"I guess it kind of got out of hand".
Wauchope Rotary club members, partners and guests joined in congratulating Andy on his incredible commitment to the club during a special dinner meeting on Tuesday, February 25 at the Rotary Hall in Wauchope.
Mayor Peter Besseling joined great friends of Andy and Robyn Neal, Paul "Speed" Jones and Allan and Colleen Ninness to hear from members who spoke of the great contribution by Andy to Wauchope Rotary and our community.
Andy joined the club in February 1964 serving as Wauchope Rotary as President in 1976-77 and as a director on several occasions, including many years as Sergeant-at-arms.
Secretary and Past District Governor Neville Parsons, who consequently is the second in line to the attendance throne with 33 years' service, spoke from the heart.
"Andy has given magnificent service, not only to our club, but to the cause of Rotary and the community over all of these 50 years.
"Throughout his years of service to the community, he's never been afraid of work and always puts his hand up for the mundane and thankless tasks.
"Andy has many stories to tell of his years in Rotary and of Wauchope. Wauchope Rotary is better for the 50 years that Andy Neal has been a member," said Mr Parsons.
Letters from the current Rotary International President Ron Burton and the General Secretary of Rotary International John Hewko were presented to Andy by Wauchope Rotary President Paul Froome.
Many of the members spoke of the great contribution by Andy to Wauchope Rotary and the community before Andy clearly moved by the recognition and the evening responded expressing his appreciation and enjoyment for the night and for the opportunity to serve his community.
"It was a fluke you know, us coming to Wauchope," explained Andy in his gentle, matter of fact way.
"My wife Robyn's aunty was married to a baker from here and there was an old plumber retiring and he said why don't you come over here and take over, because the sewerage is going in.
"So we did," he said.
"I came from Coogee, dad was a member of the Masonic Lodge and I wanted to join but for some reason I didn't qualify.
"Prince (Robert Prince) talked me into joining Rotary," he said softy.
Then with that twinkle in his eye, he shuffled out of the office and looked back over his shoulder. "It's all his fault".